Roethlisberger Says He’d ‘Love’ To Run Quarterback Sneaks

I was nearly going to write that Ben Roethlisberger would like to run more quarterback sneaks but that would imply the Steelers run any at all. And they definitely don’t. But speaking with the media today, coming off a game where Pittsburgh was dreadful on third and short, Roethlisberger said he’s all for trying some.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler has the tweet with Big Ben’s comment.

The last sneak Roethlisberger ran was nearly two years ago. November 29th, 2015 against the Seattle Seahawks where he successfully sneaked twice in the second quarter. Take a look.

From 2014-2015, Roethlisberger was 5/6 on QB sneaks. But they haven’t run it since for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. It may be a ball security risk, the one he didn’t convert was a fumble, And maybe his older age has played a role. Of course, Tom Brady is 40 and still one of the league’s best at it.

But given the struggles the Steelers encountered Sunday, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to sprinkle in Roethlisberger falling over right guard once or twice. The Steelers put up a goose egg last week, going 0/4 on third or fourth and one. Le’Veon Bell and Terrell Watson were each stopped once and Roethlisberger threw two incompletions.

To my knowledge, Mike Tomlin hasn’t been asked about it and I’d love to know the Steelers’ rationale.


About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.


  • falconsaftey43

    I know we all want answers to why the offense struggles in certain situations, many looking to blame play calling. But sometimes, there is no good over arching explanation other than they didn’t do a good enough job to win on that down.

    Just this week we saw a straight ahead rush with Watson who was 3/3 until then.
    We also saw Bell get a carry where immediate penetration met him in the backfield.
    We had play action pass on a double move to AB where he got no separation.
    We saw another deep shot to AB where the defender clearly pinned down AB’s arm on what should have been a TD.

    Clearly we need to do better, but can we stop acting like it’s a simple fix and we all know what they need to do differently? Previously it was “run more” then it was “run Watson more” then “run Bell more” then it was “well you have to have Nix out there too,” or “more play action.” They’ve thrown a lot at the wall and aren’t having a ton of success. They certainly need to turn it around, but it’s also clearly not something easily fixed as they’ve tried a pretty large variety of things.

  • Froggy

    If memory serves correctly (and it does so less accurately with every passing year) they stopped running sneaks with any frequency because Roethlisberger was downright horrible at it. If he wants to try it again when they have a few inches or a half yard to go, have at it. But I’m not overly hopeful.

  • Charles Mullins

    It wasn’t that he was horrible it’s that he got a concussion and they said no more.

    looking for proof of said concussion…. all I have found so far is a shoulder injury form 2008 and now I feel old.

  • falconsaftey43

    For his career, when rushing on 3rd or 4th and 1, Ben averages 2.66 ypc and converted a 1st down 85.1% of the time.

  • Froggy

    Thanks for the stat.

  • Sam Clonch

    And I’d like Brady to take up MMA in the off-season….

  • TroymanianDevil

    Good points, I agree that we collectively arm-chair coach and arm-chair play call more than we should.

    But you simply can’t be 0/4. That’s unacceptable, for whatever reasons. It’s not that we went 2/4 or 3/4 and we’re upset about the other ones. It’s that literally not a single one was converted.

  • NinjaMountie

    QB sneaks are very useful, especially if we are known for not running them. I wouldn’t want it to become an frequent occurrence but why seemingly take it out of the playbook?

  • NinjaMountie

    Great stat! Thx!

  • blue

    QB sneak is better than going 5 wide on 4th and inches or the goaline.

  • WB Tarleton

    Re: Injuries with a QB sneak

    How many substantial injuries to a QB can anyone point out as a result of a sneak? Me neither. Even adjusting for the fact that sneaks are relatively uncommon, I would be quite certain that planned rushes that are not a sneak (think Cam with a QB draw), impromptu scrambles, and getting hit in the pocket on a pass play are far more injurious than falling forward behind your all world center or guard.

    In other words, Ben would be more likely to get hurt on a third and one pass play than a third and one sneak.

    It makes no sense not to run them occasionally.

    Brady does it almost weekly. I believe Brees did one this past weekend. Both are older and significantly smaller than Ben.

  • treeher

    I actually kept expecting it after the first couple of 3 and 1s failed. Don’t know why we can’t have a 240 lb QB pound the line once in a while.

  • treeher

    I don’t recall Ben being injured on sneaks and I really can’t think of any other QBs who have been injured running them.

  • WB Tarleton

    Yep, and it would also help the short yardage running and passing game. The threat of a sneak changes how the D will line up, gives them one more thing to prepare for, and one more thing to diagnose on the field.

  • pittfan

    Stat Lives Matter

  • treeher

    How about we put in Dobbs on the 3 and 1s and run some options? Defenses know Ben is going to do one of two things … hand it off up the middle or check off and toss a low-percentage deep ball.

  • pittfan

    Now all you opposing defensive coordinators listen and listen good. We DO NOT have QB sneaks in our playbook so STOP trying to defend them, please.
    (We dont run fake punts either BTW,)

  • Chris92021

    Yes, when did he get concussed on a sneak? I’ve seen every game since Roethlisberger’s rookie season and I don’t remember him getting concussed on a sneak. I recall him being lit up by Bart Scott, Haloti Ngata, and bunch of other guys while in the pocket and I remember Barron rolling into Big Ben’s knees in 2015 but I don’t remember him getting concussed on a sneak.

    I think the Steelers don’t ask him to do it because he isn’t exactly Tom Brady or Drew Brees at it. You would think a 6’5 QB who weighs 250 lbs would be awesome at it but he’s not.

  • Alex Kozora

    Point taken but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer up solutions. It’s not that one solution is going to cure everything. But maybe several different ones will add up to the cure. This can be one of them. It’s ok to say, “they should run a sneak every now and then” and also say “it also won’t fix everything, but it’ll help.”

  • Chris92021

    I worry more about hand and finger injuries when the ball gets extended and some opportunistic LB or S swats at the ball (Drew Brees is the master at the over the top extension on the QB sneak). Brady is the master at finding a crease and going low. You would think someone of Big Ben’s size and strength would not have a problem getting 1 yard but he isn’t 100 percent at it like I thought he would be.

  • LHW

    Especially one who can make plays with a linebacker riding piggyback.

  • WB Tarleton

    Again, I would like to know how many such hand/finger injuries you can remember from the QB sneak. Defensive players swat and pull on the hands of QBs when they are throwing or being sacked as well.

    Again, if someone did the stats, I would almost guarantee that even hitting your hand on another person’s helmet when following through on a throw causes many times more injuries.

    And, no, Ben is not 100%. So what? No one is. RBS on third and fourth and one are something like 65% successful, IIRC. Brady is about 90%. Alex’s stats above have Ben at 83% from 2014-2015. Big difference, right?

  • razaard2

    My opinion about short yardage situations (not only for the Steelers) is: at least get the QB under center initially, so if he sees a good front he can quickly call a sneak. Force the defense to defend it. If he doesn’t like the front, the QB always can walk back to the shotgun if that’s the call
    Just take a look at the chance of sneaking every time you need one yard or less

  • Chris92021

    No doubt that the follow through that ends up on a helmet or a shoulder causes more finger injuries. How often have we seen that with Big Ben? Too many times for me.

  • Mark

    I think Ben has suffered concussions from running QB sneaks and they are trying to avoid it. My simple formula, 7 Olinemen (Finney and Hubbard at TE), Vance off the line strong side (must create a pass option), Ben, Nix, and Bell, Watson, or Connor. So many options, Bell straight ahead, Nix quick snap, short pass to Vance, Quick toss to Bell, off guard/tackle to Bell with Nix leading.

    Much better than what we’ve been doing

  • Charles Mullins

    I couldn’t find it. But according to falcon he has been successful on 85% of them. I still think it goes back to the injury even it if was just a shoulder.

  • Mark

    Only if he wasn’t on the inactive list. Imagine him at QB running the run/pass option with LeVeon. WR’s/TE’s would be open all day after the defense sneaks up. Also his ability to fly not only run would add a whole new dimension to the offense like when Ben could move and get 1st downs with his legs.

  • SteelerDieHard

    Never ever never seen a qb injured during a qb sneak in 40 years of watching and playing football. Absolutely Ridiculous if that’s their rationale. Fall forward for crying out loud!!

  • Generic Steelers Fan

    Maybe haley just forgot about them

  • Mark

    Thank you kind fan, I’m dead wrong and will change my response above

  • Chris92021

    From 2014 to 2016, rushing 1st downs (remember that TDs also count as 1st downs):
    Aaron Rodgers, 65 rushing 1st downs
    Tom Brady, 35 rushing 1st downs (this is surprising)
    Ben Roethlisberger, 12 rushing 1st downs

    (BTW Joe Flacco had 17 rushing 1st downs in 2014)

    I know Big Ben isn’t exactly the most graceful athlete but I am surprised that he only has 12 rushing 1st downs. Sure, he is always looking for the big pass play down field but so does everyone else who plays QB in the NFL.

  • falconsaftey43

    Yeah, not suggesting we don’t discuss different things to try (QB sneak would certainly seem to be worth trying). I just get so tired of all the “that was a dumb call” type remarks. So many want to blame “play calling” like they are out there calling the exact same play every time and just banging their head against the wall without trying anything different. And just because it didn’t work doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try it again either.

  • Alex Kozora

    Of course. I agree.

  • Ken Krampert

    Im with both of you. Been watching football for 45 years and never once saw a QB get injured on a sneak. Ben is 250 lb for God’s sake, just run it already.

  • Intense Camel

    Fire Haley please

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    I think you have to run it every once in a while just to make the defense commit multiple guys to those gaps..

    However, his converting 5 of 6 surprises me. I’ve never thought that he looked particularly good running the sneak, compared to the guys like Brady who easily find the path of least resistance.

  • Intense Camel

    Lol where do you find these numbers? Just curious.

  • Intense Camel

    I mentioned this before. We should use him in the rezdone occasionally.

  • Antoine Devine

    The other shoe is why the OL got dominated by the Bungals on short yardage plays. I think zone blocking for Bell affects their one on one skills when called on to hit somebody and win the line of scrimmage.

  • falconsaftey43

    I don’t know if that’s true. From 2015-2017 Bell is the 3rd best RB in NFL at converting TDs inside the 10 yard line and the #1 RB once it’s inside the 5. That’s suggest they’ve overall been doing a good job blocking in tight spaces.

    But there are examples where the penetration just blows up short yardage plays like Bell’s 3rd and 1 this past game.

  • WB Tarleton

    I would just caution that the stat would also include scramble runs and not just sneaks. That is why Rodgers is so high and Brady is relatively low.

  • Obi Ryn Denobi

    About 7-8 years ago, we lost him for 4-5 games to a concussion on a sneak into the end-zone. Trashed the season. On top of Sidney Crosby, doctors in this town don’t mess around with concussions anymore. Nor coaches,

    Ben leads with his head and ALL the Tomlin haters screamed bloody murder about him making Ben run with the ball! Conveniently short memories.

  • It only takes one viscous hit by someone like Burfict to end a season. Just because you’ve never seen it happen doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Ben has been concussed before. He doesn’t need that again.

  • It only takes one viscous hit by someone like Burfict to end a season. Just because you’ve never seen it happen doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Ben has been concussed before. He doesn’t need that again..

  • Anthony Palmerston

    Maybe we’re saving for a crucial moment in the AFC Championship or the SB.

  • Bradshaw

    i’d like to see a sneak or two. apparently, ben is better at them than i remember. what frustrates me is how often we go empty in the backfield in short yardage situations. grr!

  • SteelerDieHard

    This doesn’t make sense. The hits and injuries on regular drop-backs are common and frequent. To say just because we haven’t seen it in 40 years doesn’t mean it can’t happen?? I mean I guess we can all break our ankle walking out of our house. If that’s what we’re worried about, just bubble wrap Ben and stand him on the sideline in street clothes.. I mean that’s the craziest rationale I’ve ever heard. Sneak the damn ball like the rest of the teams do. And 40-year-old Brady does, all the time … ugh…

  • treeher

    Don’t remember that. In week 12 2015 he was sacked and later took himself out of the game with concussion symptoms. Did not miss next game. Also in 2015 he left playoff game with symptoms after a 7 yard scramble. He’s taken other big hits, of course. But I don’t remember losing him to a concussion for 4-5 games after a quarterback sneak.