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Chasing Roethlisberger

Cards must find way to sack Steelers QB when they have chance


Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett chases down Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the Cards' 2007 victory over Pittsburgh.

At 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, Kevin Kolb is not a small man.

But the Cardinals' quarterback isn't quite the same stature of his 6-foot-5, 241-pound counterpart from Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger. While both have made scrambling-but-not-running part of their game, even Kolb knows Roethlisberger has turned it into an art form.

"I would hope that, if the situation presents itself, maybe I could do some of it," Kolb said. "You don't practice those things. They just come naturally."

That's what the Cardinals face Sunday when the Steelers visit, something they know all too well, given that Roethlisberger's escape abilities were a big part of the reason his team was able to march to a game-winning touchdown drive in Super Bowl XLIII against the Cardinals.

It isn't that you can't get to Big Ben – for all the slings and arrows the Cardinals' offensive line has taken, the Steelers' line has encountered just as many – but it's what a defense can or can't do once they do get to him that often determines the outcome.

"It's definitely a challenge but it makes for opportunity," Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell said. "He's a tough tackle and he makes stuff happen when he moves his feet. But I feel like he might hold on to the ball a little bit longer so I feel like if I have a decent pass rush, if I just keep working, I have a chance to get there."

Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett set an NFL record with three sacks in the Super Bowl against Roethlisberger. In the teams' only other meeting since Roethlisberger entered the league, the Cardinals prevailed at University of Phoenix Stadium, 21-14, in 2007 in part because they sacked the quarterback four times – and Dockett had 2½ of those too.

"He's a big guy, a big competitor" Dockett said, "but the past don't mean nothing."

Dockett steered away from any direct Steelers' talk, preferring to emphasize the defensive need to have everyone be on the same page and do the correct jobs, regardless of the opponent.

That doesn't change how Roethlisberger can wreak havoc.

"I don't know if I scare anybody, but it's one of those things that you try to extend the play any way you can," Roethlisberger said. "Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I think the coaches and players around here have gotten used to the double-edged sword."

Roethlisberger has been sacked 18 times this season (Kolb has been brought down 16 times in one fewer game), but he does what he did in the Super Bowl when he somehow sidestepped the pass rush on a pair of completions during the final drive.

"All we can do is make a point of wrapping him up," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

The Cardinals did see something similar this season when they took on Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton, a player of similar size. Newton even had a Roethlisberger-esque play when linebacker Joey Porter was hanging all over him and somehow Newton stayed upright long enough to throw a pass away.

Still, Newton has a running ability that isn't really Roethlisberger's game. The Steelers' QB has "a skill set that is unique to him," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said.

"This guy makes no play into a lot," said Cardinals defensive lineman Nick Eason, who spent the last four seasons with the Steelers. "I won't be fooled come Sunday. I know what he can do. I've seen what he can do."

So has Kolb, who has had his moments moving around – think back to the touchdown pass to in Seattle after scrambling behind the line of scrimmage – but isn't exactly the same threat as Roethlisberger.

Then again, no one else is.

"He's pretty amazing," Kolb said. "He gets out of there and somehow finds a way."

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