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Steelers Film Room: Haley Used Packaged Play One Too Many Times Against Buccaneers

Just because a play or packaged play works once in a game doesn’t necessary mean that it will work twice and such was the case Sunday in the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

With 4:33 left in the first quarter, running back Le’Veon Bell Picked up 16 yards off of right tackle. If you will notice, the Steelers are using 11 personnel with tight end Heath Miller detached from the line of scrimmage. Bell lines up sidecar to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the strong side of the formation and the run goes to the weakside. While the blocking is adequate on this play, Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy still almost gets to Bell for a modest gain.

With 10:18 left in the second quarter, the Steelers run the same play only this time it’s to the left side. Notice the formation and post snap assignments are nearly all the same. This time, however, the blocking up front is not nearly as good and with the safety coming down quickly to help, this play is only good for three yards.

With 10:58 left in the fourth quarter, the Steelers decide to pass out of the same formation and the throw is completed to Miller for 19 yards on second and 17. I really like this play as I feel the two previous runs helped set it up. It’s not uncommon for offensive coordinators to do this with their play selection as they have packaged plays that they can run out of the same formation, same personnel and same post snap actions.

In my opinion, offensive coordinator Todd Haley has won right with this packaged play as the Steelers have run three plays out of this formation for 38 yards.

With the game on the line, however, Haley tried to go back to the play once again, but the poor blocking up front resulted in a two-yard loss by Bell. Notice that the Buccaneers are also playing man coverage all the way across and not off or bailing like they had done the three previous times. This play, which needed five yards, basically boiled down to the Buccaneers six defensive players in the box versus the Steelers five offensive lineman and it’s easy to tell which set won.

Overall, I thought that Haley called a good game against the Buccaneers, but with the team needing five yards to secure the victory, I think he should have dug deeper into his playbook and run something that the Buccaneers defense hadn’t already seen earlier in the game. At least something that hadn’t already been seen three times.

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