Steelers Versus Raiders Sack Breakdown

By Alex Kozora

Breaking down the five sacks allowed by the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Oakland Raiders in Sunday’s loss.


1. 1st and 10, 1:19 1st. 21 (2 RBs 1 TE) personnel. Six blocking vs a five man rush. Raiders blitz the WILL and MIKE while dropping the strong side end into coverage after showing an initial rush. Play action with the Steelers trying to sell it well. Marcus Gilbert showing low hat and doubling the DE on a zone block. But with the linebackers blitzing, the run fake isn’t effective and Le’Veon Bell is in a 2v1.




Some may argue Ben Roethlisberger should’ve gotten the ball out quicker but he doesn’t see the blitz until the last second because his back is turned on the playfake. His only option is Will Johnson, who is open in the flat, but that doesn’t appear to be Ben’s first read. With no time to recognize the blitz, Ben is forced to eat the ball and move onto the next play (he does make a half-hearted motion to throw it to Johnson at the last moment but thinks better of it and brings the ball back to his body).

There is some bad luck at work with the Raiders bringing both linebackers on this play, something they likely don’t do too often, but I’m not a big fan of the playcall. Gilbert’s block leaves you a little too vulnerable to blitzes like that.

Blame: Todd Haley

2. 2nd and 10, 1:28 2nd. Shotgun, 11. Six blocking vs a five man rush. Lots of shoddy offensive line play. The DT gets under Guy Whimper’s pads and gets him upright (picture below, look at how locked up his knees are), pushing him into the pocket.



Kelvin Beachum gets overextended vs LaMarr Houston’s rip/dip, shows flatback and lunges.


Blame: Half on Beachum, half on Whimper

3. 2nd and 8, 14:15 3rd. 13 personnel with Will Johnson being motioned from the backfield to the tight end. Blocking with six vs a six man rush. Le’Veon Bell never gets his feet under him to block Sio Moore, diving and fruitlessly lunging at the rookie linebacker.


Fernando Velasco continues to show issues with balance/weight distribution. Short-arms the defensive tackle and playing with his weight forward, not establishing a base.




Gets reverse pancaked. Said it before – Velasco has done a decent job but his biggest issue is an inability to stay off the ground.

And if you’re wondering what the coverage is, no one is open. Not going to see a lot of separation in your Heavy set with Will Johnson, Heath Miller, David Paulson, and Jerricho Cotchery running routes. Raiders can press, play single high safety with no vertical threat. Didn’t give them the blame on the sack since it happened quickly and wasn’t a coverage sack but didn’t help matters.


Blame: Half on Bell, half on Velasco.

4. 1st and 10, 10:04 4th. Shotgun, 11. Six blocking vs a five man rush. LOT going on here. Weakside drop of the end. Overload the strongside, loop the DE Houston to the inside and run a cat (corner) blitz off the edge. MIKE (53, Nick Roach) with an “A” gap rush. The stunt is difficult for the Steelers to pick up because Fernando Velasco is pulling to get in front of the cornerback, a tactic the team has used before. Better angle and much easier to cut the corner off with a pulling center than asking the tackle to move laterally with the blitz.



Bell has a tough time again getting square to Roach but is able to stick to him and drives him away so kudos to him.

Some may contend that Cody Wallace should have immediately pinched to pick up Roach but with the possibility of the end and tackle rushing, it’s the running backs responsibility to pick up the linebacker (BOB protection). If Wallace pinches and the end rushes, Bell is likely matched up with the DT, an obvious mismatch.


However, Wallace standing around in no man’s land after it’s clear the end has dropped is a bit perplexing.


The actual sack came from Vance Walker getting Mike Adams upright (check Adams knees in the picture below, completely locked up) shedding him and bringing Ben down from behind.


Part of the blame does fall on Ben though. Although the Steelers have more in to block than the Raiders are sending, it’s a chaotic blitz. At this point, when Ben feels pressure and the pocket starts to collapse, he needs to immediately find his checkdown (Miller) and hit him on the shallow cross. It won’t go for much but is better than a sack. Ben simply held onto the ball for too long.


Blame: Half on Mike Adams, half on Ben

5. 1st and 10, 2:10 4th. Shotgun, 11. Six block vs a four man rush. Raiders sugar the A gaps (show pre-snap A gap blitz, drop into coverage on the snap – pictures below). Messes with Ben as he wants to hit Miller on a hot read until the LBs drop, taking that away.




Left side of the line implodes. Daniel Muir with a good first punch working against Beachum, now at LG. Beachum as he usually does lunges and Muir scoots past.


Houston swims over Adams, who doubles over and is easily beaten. All 76 can do is dive at Houston’s legs and he actually grabs onto the defensive end’s foot, holding on like a toddler clinging to his mom. Awful play by Adams but Houston doesn’t record the sack so Adams doesn’t receive any blame here.



Blame: Kelvin Beachum

Sack Counter (Game)

Kelvin Beachum: 1.5

Todd Haley: 1

Guy Whimper: .5

Le’Veon Bell: .5

Fernando Velasco: .5

Mike Adams: .5

Ben Roethlisberger: .5

Sack Counter (Season)

Marcus Gilbert: 3.5

Kelvin Beachum: 3.5

Ramon Foster: 3

Mike Adams: 3

Defensive Scheme/Coverage: 2.5

Ben Roethlisberger: 2.5

Todd Haley/Bad Playcall: 1.5

David DeCastro: 1.5

LaRod Stephens-Howling: 1

Fernando Velasco: 1

Guy Whimper: 1

Isaac Redman: .5

Le’Veon Bell: .5

Penalties (Game)

None this week.

Penalties (Season)

Marcus Gilbert – 4 (2 false start , 1 trip, 1 hold,)

Kelvin Beachum – 3 (2 hold, 1 false start)

Ramon Foster – 1 (1 hold)

Mike Adams – 1 (1 hold)

Worth noting that despite playing on only 64% of offensive snaps for the season, Kelvin Beachum is tied for the team lead in sacks allowed and second in penalties.

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