Sacks of trouble for Big Ben


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Ben Roethlisberger and coordinator Bruce Arians publicly announced their intentions of running plenty of no-huddle offense tonight against Cleveland at Heinz Field, and they seemed not a bit concerned to let the Browns in on it.

"They should know it; we've done it three out of four weeks," Arians said. "As I get stale as a play-caller, I like to turn it over to No. 7. We have a wager on who gets to the end zone first."

Opponents might have wagers on who gets to Roethlisberger first, huddle or no-huddle.

The Browns are not a good pass-rushing team; they rank among the least productive at sacking the quarterback in the NFL with 23. But Roethlisberger has a way of making even the worst sacking defenses productive. The Indianapolis Colts, for example, rank at the bottom of the league with 19 sacks yet dropped Roethlisberger three times.


STEELERS vs. BROWNS
  • 8:20 p.m.
  • Heinz Field
  • TV: KDKA/NFL Network

Roethlisberger has been sacked 308 times, a Steelers career record, in nearly eight seasons. If he keeps going down at that pace, he would be the most-sacked quarterback in NFL history, or at least since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

No. 1? Brett Favre with 525, but he did it over 20 seasons and was never sacked more than 40 times in one year. No. 2 is John Elway at 516, but he did it over 16 seasons, more than twice the length of Roethlisberger's current career.

It may not be a record he would cherish, but it is one Roethlisberger can have if he maintains a pace that has been remarkably consistent.

A few things about that: He blames himself as much as anything, and he does not see it as a big deal.

"I don't go into a season or a game and say OK, I'm going to try to not get sacked. I play the game the way I know how to play it. I know the line takes a lot of heat for those things but you could probably cut those sacks in half if not for the style of game I play."

Roethlisberger has been playing with a splint on his broken right thumb, which occurred after he discarded the special shoe that protected his injured foot. Neither injury happened as the result of a sack, and neither No. 308 nor the prospect of many more in his career seems to concern the 6-foot-5, 241-pound quarterback.

"No, I'm still standing here. I mean, my thumb wasn't on a sack. The big injuries seem to just happen on regular plays. I don't think I take too many big shots -- except throwing blocks."

Roethlisberger wound up one short of tying Cliff Stoudt's 1983 team record when he was sacked 50 times in 2009. He has been sacked 34 times this season, on pace for about the usual 45. Over four consecutive seasons (2006 through 2009), he was never sacked fewer than 46 times. That string ended last season when he served a four-game suspension and was sacked 32 times.

At this pace, Roethlisberger will be sacked more than any quarterback in history -- provided he survives to play that long -- even though opposing coaches and players often talk about how difficult it is to tackle him.

Roethlisberger's 308 ranks him fifth among active players behind Mark Brunell (390), Kerry Collins (337), Matt Hasselbeck (324) and Jon Kitna (323). Some others: Tom Brady 265, Joe Montana 313, Dan Marino 270, Peyton Manning 231, Steve Young 358.

There is no evidence that deploying the no-huddle offense means more or fewer opportunities to sack Roethlisberger, but it is his favorite way to run the Steelers offense, and Arians has given him more headway doing so lately.

Roethlisberger, who calls the plays in the no-huddle, lobbies for its use constantly. They planned to use it Sunday against Cincinnati, but the game got out of hand quickly in the second quarter and the plan was abandoned. With a short week and only two light practices the past two days, the Steelers will lean heavily on what their offense wanted to do against the Bengals.

"It's not bad for us because the gameplan is very similar to last week, which helps," Roethlisberger said. "Having a relatively experienced group and a quarterback, we can do the no-huddle. That helps us a little bit.

"Bruce is comfortable being able to say we're going to use the no-huddle this game. Him feeling comfortable with me and me feeling comfortable with the offense we can utilize that. That can help you for not putting too much and overwhelm a gameplan."

Woodley likely out again

It looks as if LaMarr Woodley will miss his fourth start in the past five games. The Steelers listed him as doubtful for the game tonight with that nagging hamstring injury. He left the game early against the Bengals Sunday because he felt a twitch in his leg and also because he was wholly ineffective playing on it.

Listed as out for the game tonight: wide receiver/special-teams player Arnaz Battle (hamstring), linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring), running back Jonathan Dwyer (foot), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) and, of course, nose tackle Chris Hoke (neck).


For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com and Twitter @EdBouchette First Published December 8, 2011 5:00 AM


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