Large Ben One Of Shawne Merriman’s Favourite Challenges To Sack: ‘How Did He Get Rid Of The Ball?’

There are many things about the game of football I’m sure former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger misses, now a year into his retirement. Getting sacked surely isn’t one of them. But former San Diego Chargers edge rusher Shawne Merriman probably does.

Roethlisberger is the first quarterback he ever sacked back during his rookie season in 2005 in the fifth game of the season. He only added one more half-sack against the future Hall of Famer in their respectively long-lived careers, but it got the blood pumping, and the memory lasted.

Speaking to Cameron Heyward on the latter’s Not Just Football podcast, he was asked which players were his favorites to sack over the course of his career. While the recently retired Tom Brady was the name that immediately jumped out, Roethlisberger wasn’t far behind as the only two he named.

On Brady, he explained that his joy of sacking the seven-time Super Bowl champion was “because Tom didn’t think he should’ve been hit”. It was a different beast with Roethlisberger, who was a much more physical challenge.

“Big Ben I loved. Because Big Ben was always slippery, man”, he recalled. “A couple times I had him—we played you guys, it was a Sunday Night Football game in ’06 or ’07, and he got a ball off. He had me on the top of him and another guy on his legs and he threw the ball still. And I’m like, ‘How? How did he get rid of the ball?’ So it was fun getting Big Ben down”.

But not easy, as he recalled. In fact, back in 2021, Merriman appeared on our own The Terrible Podcast. During that appearance, he told us that Roethlisberger and Steve McNair were the two hardest quarterbacks to bring down that he’d ever played against.

I’m sure many pass rushers would rank Roethlisberger high on their lists of the toughest quarterbacks to bring down. And because of that, it’s probably a mixed bag whether or not they’re also included on each player’s list of their favorite to bring down.

For Merriman, he clearly enjoyed the challenge, and that was part of the reward of succeeding. Unfortunately for his sake, though, he didn’t have much success after his first time playing Roethlisberger, since he only ever managed another half sack, split with Derrick Robinson in 2006. They only faced each other three times, however, even though the quarterback was in the NFL for the entirety of Merriman’s career. The Steelers and Chargers did play six times during Merriman’s career, but the latter missed some due to injury.

Roethlisberger was sacked 554 times during his career by 393 different men. The only man to bring him down 10 or more times was Terrell Suggs, who did it 13 times. Up next was Elvis Dumervil with eight, and then seven by Robert Geathers, Geno Atkins, and Michael Johnson, a trio of Bengals defensive linemen. Of players outside of division rivalries, nobody sacked him more than Dwight Freeney with 5.5 sacks.

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