The Pittsburgh Steelers offense sputtered constantly Sunday night in the 13-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field, but one third down play call deep inside the Baltimore red zone could have easily changed the outcome of the game.
With 44 seconds left in the third quarter the Steelers offense faced a third down and 2 at the Ravens four yard-line following a Pittsburgh timeout. The drive up until that point had included the Steelers running the ball for 38 yards on 6 carries as the Pittsburgh offensive line seemed to be having their way with the Ravens front.
Instead of running Jonathan Dwyer or Rashard Mendenhall up the middle, the Steelers chose instead to have an injured Byron Leftwich attempt to hit Mike Wallace on a fade route to the back right corner of the end zone. Wallace did wind up making the catch but was unable to get both feet in bounds in doing so.
The Steelers then opted to settle for a Shaun Suisham 22 yard field goal in what would wind up being their only trip inside the Ravens red zone in the game.
Had Dwyer or Mendenhall not made the two yards needed on the play, head coach Mike Tomlin still would have had the decision to go for it on fourth down depending on the distance needed or settle for the field goal that they ultimately got.
Even had the offense ultimately been stopped on fourth down, the Ravens offense would have been pinned deep in their own end and the Steelers more than likely would have gotten the ball back with their best field position of the game.
The pass play to Wallace was a very low percentage play call as it did not play to the strengths of Leftwich, and even more so being that he was clearly not 100% at that point. Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley really need to be questioned about this decision next week.