Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is known for his love of improvisation and backyard football, but that tendency may have backfired without fans in the stands to help drown out his drawn-up plans in 2020.
Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey, in an interview with Adam Lefkoe of Bleacher Report, said that last season, he could hear Roethlisberger calling out which routes to run to his wide receivers as Roethlisberger drew plays up at the line.
“The craziest thing about this year, we played with no fans and we played the Steelers,” Humphrey said. “I heard Big Ben say something to the wide receivers. I’m listening and I’m like, ‘Did he just tell him the play? Did he just tell him the route he’s about to run?’
“And he does it again like the next play. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know if they were in hurry up and that’s how they’d always done it or what, but he was just verbally telling them. … I was like, ‘Crap, I think I should be able to cover this route.’”
“Is he…telling them the play?” 🤯
Ravens CB @marlon_humphrey describes being able to hear Big Ben tell Steelers WRs what routes to run
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) May 11, 2021
Humphrey said he wasn’t ever able to take advantage of the situation, as Roethlisberger never looked his way on a play that he’d heard the call for.
“That happened a few times in the game,” Humphrey said. “He didn’t throw it to me when he told them. But I couldn’t believe that’s what happened.”
With the Steelers planning on full capacity crowds going forward, that won’t be as much of an issue for Roethlisberger in the future, but it’s noteworthy that at least some of the time last year, the defense knew what was coming when he dropped back to pass.