By curious happenstance, the Pittsburgh Steelers have found themselves in the position to close every half of the season with the ball. One of those possessions ended in an interception after a sustained drive. Another resulted in a punt after a sustained drive. The other four were successful in either scoring or running out the clock.
In the season opener against the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers already had a 24-3 lead when they regained possession at their own 20 with 1:44 to play in the first half.
Ben Roethlisberger proceeded to execute a 10-play drive that culminated in a 34-yard Shaun Suisham field goal as time expired after scrambling for seven yards on the previous play, cognizant of the fact that he had a timeout left to play with.
The Browns managed to storm back and tied the game early in the fourth quarter. After punting at the two-minute warning, the defense was able to force a three-and-out to give Roethlisberger the ball back on his own 43 with 47 seconds and one timeout remaining.
After a short two-yard pass to Le’Veon Bell that wasted far too much time, Roethlisberger found Markus Wheaton on back-to-back plays for 31 yards, down to the 24-yard line, where he clocked the ball with five seconds remaining. Suisham sent the team home victorious with a game-winning field goal as time expired.
The Steelers only scored twice in the second game against the Baltimore Ravens, with the first of those two scoring drives coming late in the first half. But they got a second chance to close out the half with a score, receiving the ball at the 27-yard line with 1:40 to go.
After connecting with his receivers on three straight plays down to the Ravens’ 42-yard line, Marcus Gilbert was beaten for a sack that made it second and 18. While Wheaton got 14 yards back on second down, Gilbert false started to make it third and nine, and the eventual pass fell incomplete to the tight end.
Although the Steelers were already down and out with the score 26-6, they didn’t give up at the end of the game, taking the ball from their own 14 to the Ravens’ 14 before Roethlisberger’s pass was tipped at the line and intercepted by Haloti Ngata, effectively ending the game.
This past Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, Roethlisberger and the Steelers once again found success closing out halves as they did in the opener.
Receiving the ball with 1:35 to play, Roethlisberger was working down the field nicely, finding Antonio Brown for 15 yards before he drew a 19-yard pass interference call on the next play. Big Ben then connected with Wheaton for 15 yards down to the 28.
On second and 10 following a spike, David DeCastro was flagged for unnecessary roughness after sticking up for Justin Brown after a reception, which set the Steelers back 15 yards. Roethlisberger was forced to dump the ball off to Bell for 12 yards with time expiring to get into field goal range, which they did, bringing a 9-3 lead into halftime.
Though the game was already well in hand by the time the Steelers gained possession of the ball with just under four minutes to play milking an 18-point lead, they still finished the game strong, with LeGarrette Blount carrying the ball four times for 42 yards down to the Panthers’ 33-yard line before Pittsburgh was able to take a couple knees.
In all, the Steelers’ two-minute, or four-minute, offense has been in fairly good shape thus far this year. They’ve come away with three scoring drives in six attempts, with a fourth being a close-out drive. The other two drives showed promise before a sack and interception derailed them. There will always be kinks to work out, but these are positive early signs.