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Steelers offensive line ability to protect Ben Roethlisberger critical to Pittsburgh's postseason success

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense relies on Ben Roethlisberger, and the offensive line needs to protect their franchise quarterback against a very good Cincinnati Bengals pass rush in the Wild Card game.

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the 2015 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line has done a tremendous job protecting their franchise quarterback. In fact, the Steelers have only allowed Ben Roethlisberger to be sacked 20 times in the 12 games he has played this season. In those games, he has never been sacked more than three times, and hasn't been sacked at all in three games.

The protection the offensive line has provided for Roethlisberger has allowed him to make plays in the passing game at an alarming rate. Roethlisberger has thrown 21 touchdowns and for 3,938 yards in limited time. Looking at projections, if Roethlisberger had played a full 16 game season he very well could have broken his own franchise records for both touchdown passes and yards thrown.

With this said, when the Steelers go into Paul Brown Stadium to play the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card game, protection will be a huge factor in the outcome of the game. Will it be another one-and-done season for the black and gold, or will they make enough plays to advance to the next round of the postseason?

In the two games the Steelers and Bengals have already played this season the offensive line has surrendered 5 sacks to the pass rush made up of Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins and company (3 sacks in Week 8, 2 in Week 14). In both of those games, there were interceptions thrown due to pressure on Roethlisberger.

The Steelers lost in the AFC Wild Card game in 2014 to the Baltimore Ravens, largely due to the inconsistency of the offensive line. Mike Munchak, Steelers offensive line coach, has worked wonders with a group without their starting tackle, Kelvin Beachum, and All Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, but does he have one more miracle up his sleeve when the team needs it the most?

Only time will tell, but the play of the offensive line, and protecting Roethlisberger, cannot be understated as the Steelers prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals Saturday night.

Leading up to Super Bowl 50, Gillette Fusion ProShield - which features lubrication strips before and after the blades to shield from irritation while you shave - is partnering with select NFL offensive linemen to celebrate the importance of protection. They're calling all current, former and future offensive linemen and coaches - whether you play for fun, as part of an official team, or during your glory days - to submit a dance move that celebrates protection. To see the latest and share your signature dance move for fun perks in the lead-up to Super Bowl 50, check out and use the hashtag #ShieldMove on Twitter.