Patriots defenders say they had prepared for Ben Roethlisberger’s fake spike

"I was like 'Oh, they're running the play.'"

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 17: Duron Harmon #30 of the New England Patriots reacts after intercepting a pass thrown by Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth quarter during the game at Heinz Field on December 17, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Duron Harmon celebrates after intercepting Ben Roethlisberger on the final drive on Sunday's game. –Justin Berl / Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger tried to pull off his best Dan Marino imitation to win Sunday’s game. After all, the Steelers quarterback successfully executed the play last year.

But the Patriots defense was ready for it Sunday.

In the game’s dying seconds, Roethlisberger tried to catch the Patriots off guard by fake-spiking the ball and squeezing in a game-winning touchdown pass to Steelers receiver Eli Rogers. However, after being tipped into the air by Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe, the pass ultimately landed in the hands of safety Duron Harmon for a game-sealing interception.

It turns out that the Patriots defense had prepared for Roethlisberger’s trickery.

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“The fake spike is something we see (in practice) all the time,” safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty said after the game.

“I think all the great quarterbacks do that,” McCourty said. “If they can catch you sleeping and get an easy play, they’re going to try to do it. … We knew there was a chance.”

The two players immediately involved in the interception concurred.

“Everybody was in panic mode trying to get lined up and I just see Big Ben fake it — I was like ‘Oh, they’re running the play,”’ said Rowe.

Harmon also noted that the Patriots had prepared for the fake spike in practice and film study.

“We’ve seen it on film,” he said. “We was ready for it. And literally Eric Rowe made a great play and I was there to clean it up.”

For what it’s worth, Roethlisberger told reporters after the game that the spike wasn’t planned. Rather, it was last-second call.

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