DAVIE, Fla. -- Ben Roethlisberger has been the focus at the Miami Dolphins' training facility this week. Whether it's coaches or players, it's clear that Miami has a healthy respect for the Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback and two-time Super Bowl champion, who is having another Pro Bowl-type season.
“He's an excellent quarterback overall,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “He can make every single throw that you want to make. He is a big man. He has outstanding awareness in the pocket. He's hard to get on the ground because he's big and physical.”
The Dolphins (6-6) will try to solve the Roethlisberger puzzle when they face the Steelers (5-7) in a game with playoff implications.
Roethlisberger is putting up tremendous numbers in his 10th season. He's thrown for 3,375 yards, 21 touchdowns and has a 92.4 passer rating. Roethlisberger also is a big reason that Steelers receiver Antonio Brown is leading the NFL with 85 receptions.
Roethlisberger has overcome an uneven offensive line and an inconsistent running game to keep the Steelers' offense afloat. Miami's defense will need to pressure Roethlisberger and complete sacks once they get to Pittsburgh's burly quarterback.
“He's like a defensive end or a linebacker back there shrugging guys off,” said Dolphins linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who faced Roethlisberger numerous times as a former member of the Baltimore Ravens. “He's a big guy and he's strong. He's just able to break the tackles of anybody -- defensive linemen, linebackers, defensive ends. It doesn't matter. He's able to prolong the play, get outside and make something happen.”
Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said he coached against Roethlisberger 17 times during his tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals within the AFC North. Coyle has plenty of familiarity with Roethlisberger but not a lot of career success.
“We are not on the winning ledger in a good number of those,” Coyle admitted this week. “He's a heck of a challenge, and he's got some real good talent around him particularly at the wide receiver position. He's a unique challenge in that so many of his plays he's able to extend and create plays.”
The good news for Miami is its defense is coming off its best game of the season. The Dolphins confused and pummeled to New York Jets during a 23-3 victory for Miami. It was the first game this season in which the Dolphins haven't allowed a touchdown.
The Dolphins need a another strong performance from their defense this week in order to leave Heinz Field with a victory.