Inside The Tape: Breakdown Of Steelers Versus Lions

By Alex Kozora

Game notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers week 11 victory over the Detroit Lions.


First Half

Jarvis Jones getting subpackage reps at ILB.

– Detroit uses a “man beater”, Trips Bunch. Reggie Bush with outside stem then bursts inside. Lawrence Timmons can’t stay with him and Jones can’t get there in time. Complete for a sizeable gain.



– Love this play by Ziggy Hood on a screen. Fairly easy to recognize with the lineman moving into space but love him forcing the back to the inside, shedding the RT, and helping on the tackle. He took advantage of his opportunity with Brett Keisel sidelined.



– Appears Will Allen screwed up on Bush wheel route on the Lions first possession (Stafford overthrew him). Man coverage, responsible on the back but gets a little greedy and tries to reroute the TE off the line. Breaks on the wheel late and out of position.




– Steelers not hiding what hole they’re going to run through in the run game. Still goes for 13.


At the same time, splits can get them into trouble. Something I’ve noticed off and on all year and another reason why the run game has been inconsistent. Issue versus fast, free-flowing defense.



Ben Roethlisberger with a bad decision to hit the flat vs Cover 2. WR did fall down (but was as Ben was throwing, not before) but shouldn’t have made the throw with the CB sitting. Wait for the WR to get up or the CB to sink on the route and then hit Heath Miller in the flat.


– Like the concept of the bubble screen with the WR working back inside. Little bit of a head start and the slot WR acts as a better buffer.

– Divide route (post/go) vs Cover 2 + Calvin Johnson double-move created island/separation on Lions’ second possession. Stafford with another overthrow, luckily.



– PR unit. Jonathan Dyer, Will Allen, Stevenson Sylvester, Will Johnson, Robert Golden, Markus Wheaton/Curtis Brown (jammers to one side), Terence Garvin, Cortez Allen/Antwon Blake (jammers to other side).

– As it’s been pointed out, Ben with a great job to climb the pocket on the 2nd Antonio Brown touchdown. Excellent downfield block by Emmanuel Sanders to spring him the last ten yards.


– KO coverage. No order. Brown, Golden, C.Allen, Jarvis Jones, Garvin, Sly, Blake, W.Allen, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Markus Wheaton, and Shaun Suisham.

– Great playcall by the Lions on 3rd and 2. Three wide, spreads the defense out in a two deep look, draw to the weakside. 3v3 on the right side. Picks up a first down.


– Nifty spin by Jarvis Jones vs the LT against the run to help slow down Joique Bell.

Lions attempted to run sluggo (slant and go) on the first play of the second quarter. Ike Taylor not fooled.

– Detroit clearly had chances early. Used some great route concepts. Just couldn’t execute. Would have been a completely different ball game.

Kelvin Beachum/Heath Miller attempt to block the same man on end around. No one picks up DE. Loss of 8.


– Know I’ve called Fernando Velasco average but credit to him for being consistent in the little things like having clean snaps all year. Details that get overlooked but matter. Especially with the extra hurry up used recently.

– Blake/Curtis Brown gunners. Golden upback. Others on punt coverage. Michael Palmer, Sly, Garvin, Greg Warren, Will Johnson, Jason Worilds, David Paulson.

– Poor slide protection leaves free rusher (Linebacker on “Hug” blitz). Nearly brings Ben down.


– Calvin Johnson 79 yard TD very similar to Danny Amendola’s 57 yard reception against New England.

Brandon Pettigrew 31 yard catch. Troy Polamalu and Will Allen in Robber Coverage watching the QB. No one pays attention to the route and sees the TE down the seam. Pitch and catch at that point.


– Next play, 25 yard catch. May look like the safety bit on playaction but he didn’t. Steelers rotate from two deep to single high with the giveaway being the FS rotating to the MOF (middle of field).


Lawrence Timmons does step up on the run and can’t gain depth in his middle zone.


Even if he doesn’t bite, still a tough play to make. Wide receiver will run through the zone until he finds an open quadrant.

– Following play. Megatron’s second TD. Matt Stafford manipulates Ryan Clark. Looks strong side and then comes back to Johnson on skinny post (Don Coryell’s Bang 8). Ike expects help to the inside, that’s why he has outside leverage, but it isn’t there.




– Key element of Joique Bell’s 35 yard screen. Run a drag with the WR running away from the screen and Timmons gets caught in the wash. One less defender to catch the back from behind.


– Two yard TD run two plays later. Steelers in dime on the goalline. Right guard Larry Warford pulls and kicks out Troy, an easy matchup for the rookie. Easy to see pre-snap. Warford gives it away in his stance, aligning deeper than normal. Sign he’s looking to gain depth to pull.


Second Half

– Jones/Worilds lined up on the same side and loop. Generates pressure.



– No it wasn’t pretty, facing a bull rush never is, but liked the way David DeCastro handled Suh’s rush here. Kept Ben’s pocket relatively clean.

Not against Suh or Nick Fairley but DeCastro good lateral movement vs a spin by CJ Mosley.

DeCastro did get beat on a swim move on this play, however.



– Wrinkle shown early in the season brought back Sunday. Jerricho Cotchery in two point stance.


– When was the last time the Steelers ran a true toss like they did mid-way through the 3rd? Twilight Zone stuff.

– Play with Paulson wide open in the end zone. Lions’ defenders flow to Miller in the flats. 81 wide open, Ben just missed him.


– Detroit showed a really effective use of playaction to get the linebackers to cheat up. Then they had to turn and bail, taking their eyes off the QB and the ball.

– Know he’s mainly been a red zone target but credit to Will Allen for holding the 6’7 Joseph Fauria in check. Not easy with such a size disadvantage and the Steelers playing a lot of Cover 2 man.

– Smash route on the goalline to Megatron. Clark not fooled. Plays the route better than the WR. Breaks it up. Next play is the fake field goal and the momentum turns from there.



– Huge 3rd down throw to Antonio Brown to keep the eventual TD drive alive. Marcus Gilbert walked into the pocket, Ben unable to hitch and drive the ball. Still completed it. Offensive play of the game, hands down.


– Pick/rub on Cotchery catch that got the Steelers to the two.


– Will Allen INT. Two deep, rotate from Cover 1 pre-snap. Heady play by the safety. WR on an out route so Allen continues to gain depth basically running into Calvin Johnson’s crossing route. That’s something Clark didn’t do on the 79 yard TD.



– Cotchery TD. Fake bubble screen. Cotchery sells his block, everyone bites. Clean release and it’s the easiest throw for a TD.. Ran it for 26 against Chicago. Ran it for 21 vs Cincy and Ben had Sanders wide open against Tennessee Week One.

But then the Bears figured it out when Todd Haley went back to the well and it resulted in sack/fumble/TD. So he backed off, let it get buried under tape for a few weeks, and then brought it back in a crucial moment. Excellent playcalling.


– Say it every week but Cameron Heyward is a man among boys out there. Strong and athletic.

Vince Willliams barley saw the field. Less than 15 snaps. Team didn’t use its base 3-4 until late in the 3rd quarter.

– Jarvis Jones looked slightly better this week than previous ones. Not spectacular but it’s an encouraging sign.

Le’Veon Bell doesn’t have the home run speed but shows good acceleration, balance, and will flash a second gear. Vision has been fantastic too. Not dancing that much.

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