FOXBORO The goal for dealing with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is pretty cut and dry.
Hit him hard.
But Roethlisberger, all 6-foot-5, 241 pounds of him, is no easy take-down.
His size, strength and ability to throw on the road is challenging enough.
When you toss in the potential roughing the passer call, which seems to be happening more often these days throughout the NFL, containing a quarterback like Roethlisberger has the potential to put the most quarterback-hungry defender in a bit of a quandary.
"Sometimes it is; it's hard," said Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. "It's definitely hard, especially when you have a bigger quarterback. You have these big quarterbacks and they're not calling the play dead until they're on the ground sometimes."
Patriots defensive lineman Shaun Ellis acknowledges that the potential for roughing the passer is always present, regardless of how big a quarterback may be.
But, he added, it becomes a much larger issue when facing a quarterback like Roethlisberger.
"Ben is a big guy in the pocket," Ellis said. "He's elusive in the pocket -- not fast, but he's deceptive; he can get away from a lot of things."
While this is true, Roethlisberger has also taken his share of hits as well.
In fact, he has been sacked 20 times this season.
Only St. Louis' Sam Bradford and Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears have been sacked more than Roethlisberger this season.
Even with teams seemingly finding ways to put him on the ground, the Patriots are wise enough to know that he's still a dangerous threat, even when a defender seemingly has him wrapped up.
"You watch film and there are a lot of guys falling off him," Wilfork said. "There are a lot of guys that think they have him, but they don't have him, where at the last minute he flicks the ball. This is the only guy that you have him wrapped up and he can flick the ball 30 yards down the field."
"That's probably the worst thing about being on defense against them; when he scrambles around and start breaking tackles," said Pats cornerback Devin McCourty.
That's when Roethlisberger has the ability to inflict the most damage on a defense.
"With him, you have to get him to the ground and keep him there," McCourty said. "When you get him there, you don't worry about anything except for trying to get him down and holding on to him. He does it so easily, just swims people by with one hand. You can't worry about penalties and stuff like that. You just have to get him down."