Big Ben giveth, and taketh away

Well, we know all about Big Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to escape apparent doom, improvise and make plays. But sometimes he gets a little carried away. As we saw at the end of the last Pittsburgh drive, trying to elude that third set of defenders is a bit much for even him, and it resulted in a sack that negated a field-goal attempt.

You could see the frustration in the body language of the offensive linemen, and tackle Willie Colon in particular looked a bit winded/miffed after having to protect so long and run around like that. No one can predict where Roethlisberger is going and at some point he needed to throw that ball away.

It also ended up reversing field position, because for the first time the Titans weren’t backed up in the own end zone to start a drive. In a field position game between two run heavy teams who play great defense, that’s a vital factor. The sack was also a precursor to a dramatic change in the geography of the game.

On the next play RB Chris Johnson reversed field as only he can, getting the Steelers to overpursue to their right, then cutting and busting to his right for a 32 yard gain (and Troy Polamalu’s 15-yard late hit meant that on two plays the Titans picked up +66 yards and took just on offense snap, a run play at that. Keep watching the over-pursuit. Polamalu is a stud and is having a huge game already, but Johnson hits the crease like no one else and there needs to be a safety there containing the backside. On Johnson’s big both safeties ended up having to give chase, along with linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

(The safeties will also be key in the passing game, as the Titans don’t take too many shots but run lots of routes with double moves).

Surprisingly, Rod Bironas missed theĀ field goal for Tennessee, butĀ still the first Roethlisberger sack began a sequence of events that gave the Titans offense some room to manuever, and took some of the edge off this rowdy crowd.

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