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Hidden Play: Week 6 – Narrowly Avoiding Disaster

NFL.com

By G.Stryker

This week, I’m going in a slightly different direction for my hidden play.  It wasn’t a play that determined the outcome of the game, in fact the play didn’t even officially happen.  It had no bearing on winning or losing this game, but it almost changed the course of the season for Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Early in the first quarter, on the Steelers’ opening drive of the game, the offense found themselves at 3rd and 2 near midfield.  The Steelers, who rarely call QB sneaks, lined up and ran one.  Roethlisberger put his head down and pushed his way between all pro linemen Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro.  Even though Ben stretched and lunged far enough to reach the first down marker, a timeout was blown by the Steelers, negating the play before it even started.

So what is so impactful about a quarterback sneak being canceled due to a timeout?  It’s not the fact that the Steelers have added this play to their roster and now have run 2 more QB sneaks this year than they have all of the previous 3 years.  No, instead it is what nearly happened.

Vontaze Burfict was patrolling the middle of the defense, read the play, and did his damndest to knock Big Ben out of the game.  The instant Burfict saw Ben lower his helmet, he decided that this was his chance to lower his, and deliver as hard of a hit to Ben’s head as he possibly could.  He did this by leaning all the way down and launching himself to where Ben’s head was. It was a clear intent to hit the helmet of a QB, and could have been devastating to Ben’s health, but fortunately their paths never crossed.  When Ben ducked his head, he bumped into Pouncey, and rebounded to his right where he lunged for the first down. Burfict, with his head down, never saw the slight change of direction and flew past Big Ben, missing him completely.

This slight change of direction might be a change of fortune for Big Ben and Steeler fans everywhere.  Burfict may have missed his mark, but it set the tone for his targeting of James Conner and Antonio Brown later.  When you play as recklessly as Vontaze does, it’s only a matter of time before the league finds out.  And what better place to search than this hidden play?

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