Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers QB
"WHEN YOU'RE getting hit, you're not sure what body part you'll land on, what's going to hurt. Going down, you're thinking, This is going to hurt bad. Sometimes you can't breathe afterward. You wiggle your toes, feel your legs, make sure everything works. The defenders tell you to stay down, put a knee into you. I had one sack in Houston [Sept. 18] that hurt so bad. It was Antwan Peek, who played at Cincinnati and who I played all the time [at Miami of Ohio]. We used to talk trash, friendly talking, so it hurt my feelings that he got me. He hit me so hard, I just remember hitting the ground and seeing flashes of light. I couldn't hear anything, I couldn't see anything. Luckily, it was just before halftime. I went in, lay down and regained my composure."
Carson Palmer, Bengals QB
"IT'S NOT the initial hit that gets you, not the helmet under the chin or in the shoulder or the back. It's once you hit the ground and who lands on top of you that make it hurt. All of a sudden [Bills 335-pound DT] Sam Adams comes doing the belly flop on your shoulder. That doesn't feel good. Afterward you're foggy. Things are ringing."
David Carr, Texans QB
CARR, WHO was sacked a league-high 68 times this season, knows when one is coming. "On the road the crowd gets louder. At home the crowd kind of gives an oohh," he says. "The biggest thing is that you know there's nothing you can do about it. The last two feet before he gets to you, you're just trying to get down, make yourself tiny and see if you can avoid a big one. Then you've got to bounce up faster than the guy who sacked you to show them your team is not defeated."
Drew Brees, Chargers QB
"THE ONES you know are coming are worse than the ones you don't know are coming. If a guy hits you in the back and you can't see him, a lot of times your body is relaxed because you're focusing on something else. It's like when you're asleep as a kid and you fall off the top bunk; I fell off it a bunch of times, and I was fine. If you knew you were falling and you tensed up, you might break something. When you get hit, you just try to be relaxed and not get driven down on your shoulder."
Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks QB
"I RELATE it to being at the beach, when you're standing in the water, looking back at your towel and umbrella, and out of nowhere, wham, you get hit by a wave. After the hit I say to myself, Act like it didn't hurt. Act like it didn't hurt. [Buffalo's] Takeo Spikes got me in 2004 and gave me the worst charley horse. He went right into my leg. I said to myself, Get up and jog off like you're fine. But it hurt. It still hurts a little."