Protect Ben? It's a snap

Mike Prisuta believes the key to keeping the Vikings' pass rush at bay lies with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Since being held to two tackles in the regular-season opener at Cleveland, the Vikings' Jared Allen has 7.5 sacks that resulted in a safety, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries, one of which he returned 52 yards for a touchdown.

The reign of terror would be even more profound had a sack and forced fumble that linebacker E.J. Henderson returned 37 yards for a touchdown last Sunday against Baltimore not been replay-reviewed into an incompletion.

Allen gets to the quarterback with relentless regularity because of ability and because of a commitment to do so above all else.

In the Ravens game, Allen and fellow defensive end Ray Edwards were flagged a combined four times for being offside. That's a trade-off both are quite content to make in their never-ending quest to time snap counts and get a jump-start toward the pocket.

The Vikings' 21 sacks is tied for the NFL lead. So the three false-start penalties incurred by Baltimore against Minnesota, and Minnesota's three sacks of Joe Flacco, suggest the Vikings are onto something in their adoption of such a philosophy. After all, what's 5 yards when you plan on smashing the quarterback and taking the ball away the next time he drops back to pass?

It'll be on Ben Roethlisberger first and foremost not to become predictable in his cadence when the Vikings visit Heinz Field on Sunday. The Steelers will need to employ quick counts, hard counts, and above all varied counts to give themselves a fighting chance to keep Minnesota's edge rushers at bay.

As for the other quarterback on Sunday, it was enlightening, entertaining and revealing to listen to the Steelers' coordinators pay homage to Brett Favre on Thursday afternoon. Said Bruce Arians:

"The biggest thing for me is his career starts. To never miss a game in I don't know how many years now, that speaks volumes as to how tough the guy is. And when you're that tough you know he's a hellacious competitor."

Said Dick LeBeau:

"To me the remarkable thing is his consecutive-starts record. It's unbelievable that a quarterback could do that. That's gotta tell you a lot about the man. In that regard he is totally unique."

That's two coaches from two different eras with two different backgrounds and two opposite disciplines of expertise in complete agreement as to Favre's signature statistic.

It isn't 476 career TD passes, 66,474 career passing yards, 98 career games with a 100-plus passer rating or 175 career wins as a starting QB, all of which are No. 1 on their respective all-time NFL lists. It's the 275 consecutive regular-season starts, the most ever made by any player at any position.

Could it be that Favre hasn't gotten enough credit for that? I'm guessing the mark has been achieved, at least in part, by not becoming too predictable on the snap count.


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