When he isn't saying the NFL doesn't give a you-know-what about concussions or denying a visit to a strip club, Pittsburgh Steelers WR Hines Ward does talk a little bit about football. On Wednesday he met with reporters and and talked about one of the most underrated aspects of the 2011 Super Bowl matchup against the Green Bay Packers -- how the Pittsburgh receivers react to Ben Roethlisberger's scrambling.
It's not something you think about but it should be. Roethlisberger often scrambles and his receivers actually have routes and instructions on what to do if he scrambles. The Steelers ability to stay on the same page even if a play is breaking down is a significant part of their success. Ward explains the concept:
"You've got to run your route full-speed. Sometimes with Ben, either he'll break the protection down, or we don't protect it right and he escapes right to his left, but we all have to be on the same page. I remember earlier in the season, Emmanuel and I were in the same spot, and we can't do that. We have to pick how we're going to break our routes off and make sure we have receivers on three different levels."
In fact, this happened on what is, to date, the biggest play of the Steelers season. Facing a critical third down against the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game, Roethlisberger scrambled from the pocket and started running right looking for a receiver. Ward continues:
"He rolls right, I was the primary target, and then the next thing you know, here comes Antonio Brown getting into his vision, and Ben saw him out of the corner of his eye and he went down and made a huge third-down conversion that sealed the game."
Ward says he takes on a leadership role so a large part of the success when Roethlisberger scrambles can be credited to him.
This will be a major part of the 2011 Super Bowl. Everyone talks about how much Roethlisberger scrambles but no one seems to talk about how his receivers are able to get open.