Safety First? What About Roethlisberger?

The hits keep coming for Ben Roethlisberger -- late hits, low hits, cheap hits. But he won't complain, and for good reason. See who is complaining.

PITTSBURGH – It's bugging Ben Roethlisberger, make no mistake.

The Steelers' quarterback was hit late after his first pass of his first preseason game this season, and then was hit late after his first pass of his second preseason game.

After both plays, replays showed the referee clearly eyeballing the late hit, but neither time did he throw a flag.

Roethlisberger was asked Tuesday whether he wanted to comment, but he chose to keep quiet.

"If I start complaining about that, they might call in-the-grasp more quickly, more often," Roethlisberger said of what was another poor call last Thursday against Philadelphia.

"It's too fine of a line right now," he said.

So, what is it with the officiating in this alleged era of safety? Why does the Steelers' quarterback continue to take a pounding and yet no one has anything to say about it?

"We'll let you do all the complaining," said Brett Keisel, one of Roethlisberger's close friends. "Or better yet, go ask Pounce about it."

Maurkice Pouncey, young, tough, respected center, is also a known hot head.

Hey, Maurkice, you got a minute?

"Sure, babe, what you need?"

What about your quarterback getting hit late in the first two preseason games?

"Man, that ain't right," said last season's rookie Pro Bowler. "Any other team that would happen to, things would probably differently. We've just got to deal with it and hopefully they pick it up next time."

What would you do if you saw someone hitting him late?

"I'd run up to the dude and say something – at the least," Pouncey said. "That just ain't right."

OK, that's a start.

Ramon Foster, last year's right guard, has a hot streak to him. What do you think, Ramon?

"It's definitely getting a little ridiculous right now," Foster said. "I know we have a tough quarterback and stuff like that but certain things should be called fairly throughout the whole league, no matter if you're a prime-time guy or just a guy getting his first start. It's one of those things where you take care of the quarterback like that."

Do officials let defenders get away with hitting Roethlisberger late because of his size and toughness?

"I really couldn't tell you," Foster said. "But you can't really say too much about it because you may get a fine. Um, just hopefully they catch it and call it when they see it."

"We've been trying to shine a light on it for a while," said right tackle Willie Colon. "But it's up to the referees. No matter how much you complain about it, they're still going to react how they want to react."

Might an all-out brawl help?

Colon smiled a knowing smile. "A lot of times I haven't seen it. Most of the time I'm blocking my guy," he said. "But if I ever saw anything deliberate or out of bounds, I'd be the first one to step up."

Yep. That's a start.


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