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Ben Roethlisberger: I'm not free to check to QB sneak

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Ben Roethlisberger's big frame seemingly makes him an ideal candidate for quarterback sneaks. After Sunday's season-ending loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, many were wondering why the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't let Big Ben put his head down and try to burrow through the Jags' line on a pair of fourth down plays.

Speaking on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Roethlisberger said the team's long-running aversion to running sneaks is coach Mike Tomlin's decision and that he doesn't even "have the freedom to check to a quarterback sneak because we don't have that call if we're not in the huddle."

"I truly have never said I don't want to run it," Roethlisberger said, who added that Tomlin laughs when he lobbies to run a QB draw at the goal line. "I have asked for it. I am fine with it. If they want to call it, I'm all for it."

The Steelers failed to convert on fourth-and-one on two occasions during Sunday's loss -- Le'Veon Bell lost four yards on a first-quarter try and a pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster with 12:50 left in the game fell incomplete.

"It's been a while since we've run the quarterback sneak," Roethlisberger said in the postgame news conference. "I'm for it, but it's kinda over my head why we don't do it. I'm not going to second guess why we don't run the quarterback sneak. I don't know."

Tomlin gave a somewhat different characterization to how the team decides to deploy the QB sneak while speaking at his season-ending news conference Tuesday.

"We make decisions that we deem appropriate in circumstances," Tomlin said. "Whether we choose to call it at a specific moment is up for debate. To suggest there's a resistance to it, the concept, I'm not willing to say that."

Roethlisberger's last rushing attempt came against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 12 of the 2015 season, per NFL Research. His last carry attempt on fourth-and-one came in Week 4 of the 2014 season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Roethlisberger has 18 first downs on 19 QB sneaks during his career (highest success rate -- 94.7 percent -- of any QB over 10 attempts since 2004). Tomlin and the Steelers likely don't want to risk injury to the heartbeat of their offense, but Sunday's game provides a legitimate argument for a possible exception to Pittsburgh's apparent no-sneak rule for Big Ben.

If a change is coming, Roethlisberger seems to be on board with Todd Haley calling it. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported over the weekend that Haley's job could potentially be in jeopardy amid an ongoing rocky relationship with the quarterback. Roethlisberger downplayed any issues he might have with the offensive coordinator.

"...There's always issues in a competitive field," Roethlisberger said. "Everyone is trying to win and everyone is doing the best they can. You might butt heads at times, but that doesn't mean there's any problem or any personal problems."

Talking about the team, Roethlisberger added: "The least amount of change the better. We don't want to have big changes because we're right there, we're on the cusp. .... We feel we have some great things going for us."

Although Tomlin wouldn't say Tuesday whether Haley will be back next season, Big Ben's confidence might be enough to embolden the Steelers' coaching staff into rethinking their fourth-down strategy in crunch time for 2018.

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