When Tony Romo escapes pressure, darts away from an opponent, and finds a receiver for a gain, the Ravens see similarities between the Dallas Cowboys quarterback and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger.
“This guy is very elusive, he’s athletic. It’s the same thing with Roethlisberger,” said defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who referenced a play in the Cowboys’ 27-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks where Romo spun out of a collapsing pocket and found wide receiver Miles Austin downfield for a 20-yard gain. “That’s what happens usually on plays like that. They end up being big plays because guys lose their coverage a little bit and then the receivers are good at knowing that’s the kind of quarterback they’ve got. So they get open. Pittsburgh’s always been good at that. That’s Roethlisberger, but a lot is the receivers knowing, ‘I’ve got this kind of quarterback back here, and I can get open.’”
Strong safety Bernard Pollard said Romo doesn’t get enough credit for using his footwork to buy him more time to scan the field for other options.
“A lot of people compare him to Ben Roethlisberger, just to be able to extend the play,” Pollard said. “He can throw the ball a good distance, he can make any throw. I think for our defense, we have to continue to just get pressure on him, to get him out of his groove. We’ve got to try because this guy, when he’s hot, he’s one of the best in the league.”
The Ravens are tied for 22nd in the NFL against the pass, but they and the St. Louis Rams have allowed just two passing touchdowns, which ranks as the stingiest in the league. But one of those scores occurred in a 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2 when quarterback Michael Vick ranged to his left and found wide receiver Jeremy Maclin alone in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown.
Pees said the defense must be aware that when Romo runs, he is usually looking to pass rather than run.
“He’s not really looking to run on a scramble. He’s looking to pass on a scramble,” Pees said. “That’s the biggest thing, just being able to contain the guy. And the other part of that is, if you’re in man coverage, what has the tendency to be is, if I’m man in the back and I kind of go up there to man the back and then he starts scrambling and I look at him and then all of a sudden he takes off, my back is open. … So we’ve got to be very disciplined.”