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Friday, October 11, 2013
Jets plan to stop Big Ben

By Matt Ehalt

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The play was there for the making.

In last year's loss to Pittsburgh, Jets linebacker David Harris came in clean on a blitz and had a shot at sacking Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Ben Roethlisberger
David Harris and the Jets had a hard time bringing down Ben Roethlisberger in 2012.
When it comes to taking down Roethlisberger, though, things are never as easy as they seem.

"Stepped up on me, got the ball off and threw a touchdown," Harris recalled of Roethlisberger's 37-yard strike. "He's one of those guys who's good at that."

The Jets have a tall challenge ahead of them Sunday as they face off against one of the league's most elusive quarterbacks. While Roethlisberger can be prone to sacks, he's also a major problem for opposing defenses for his ability to extend plays and break away from individual tackles.

"The guy can seriously be a nightmare because once the play breaks down, that's where you really begin to worry about him," Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said Thursday. "He starts to run around and move around and it basically becomes playground football and there's no one in the league that does it better than he does by extending plays, looking around and all of sudden he finds somebody that's open and boom. A play that looked good for you ends up being a good play for them because of his ability to extend plays."

Several Jets said Roethlisberger's size is what makes him such a difficult quarterback to tackle. Standing at 6-5, 241 pounds, Roethlisberger has the necessary strength to break away from a defender and keep plays alive for an extra few seconds. Harris mentioned how Roethlisberger can even make a throw with a defender draped all over him.

For the Jets, their emphasis is making sure they do a great job wrapping up Roethlisberger and group-tackling him. Instead of risking Roethlisberger against a single defender, the Jets want to get as many bodies to him to ensure he goes down. In the back end, the secondary is making sure they cover for that extra two to three seconds to give their front seven the extra time they need to make that play.

"He's never down until you actually see him lying on the ground with the ball in his hand," Jets linebacker Calvin Pace said. "And he's a big guy. It's like tackling myself, 6-5, 250-plus."

While Roethlisberger can keep plays alive with his evasiveness, it sometimes comes back to haunt him as opponents can go after the ball while he's running around. He's already lost four fumbles this year, including one in the final minute of the Steelers' loss to Minnesota in their last game. He's been sacked 15 times and has already thrown five interceptions as the Steelers are 0-4.

The Jets are aware they will have opportunities to force fumbles Sunday.

"He's just like any other quarterback when they're scrambling out the pocket they tend to have the ball away from their body which makes it vulnerable to strip," Jets defensive lineman Damon Harrison said. "Just like any other quarterback when he feels the pressure he gets out the pocket and they don't do a good job keeping the ball to their body."