Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Lance Moore started against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
And then he came off the field, after one snap, remaining on the sidelines for most of the rest of the first half.
But it was Justin Brown standing on the sidelines during the second half, as most of Moore’s 36 snaps occurred after halftime.
He didn’t get back onto the field until the Steelers were trailing 21-3 in the two-minute offense, when they abandoned the running game.
Before this game, the Steelers hadn’t spent much time trailing since Moore returned from his groin injury that made him sit out the first two games. The result was the veteran receiver spending most of his time off the field.
Mike Tomlin said that Moore needed to get on the moving train to earn his playing time, but he didn’t say what that train was. Apparently it’s just a very large deficit that forces the offense to air it out to have any chance of getting back in the game.
How else do you explain giving Moore a token start by trotting him out for the first snap of the game and then leaving him on the sidelines for the next 27-plus minutes, when the offensive strategy in between was to grind it out on the ground?
But with the Steelers ringing up a big deficit for the first time since the second game of the season, it was Ben Roethlisberger taking it to the air, and his choice of slot receiver for that purpose was the veteran Moore.
More than half of Brown’s snaps came on running plays. Only nine of Moore’s 36 snaps came on the ground. Those figures tell you all you need to know about what the team thinks of the blocking abilities of each.
But it might also be an indication of how they plan to use the two receivers going forward—hopefully without telegraphing their intentions to the defense when it can be avoided.
Moore actually struggled a fair bit in his playing time. He and Roethlisberger were unable to connect on their first four targets, with at least one of the five deserving of being considered a drop.
But they did connect on the Steelers’ only touchdown of the game, a 26-yard pass that Moore grabbed inside the five as he bounced off of two defenders into the end zone for his first score as a Steeler—and only the 11th offensive touchdown of the season.
Roethlisberger also threw to Moore on the team’s last offensive possession of the game, arcing a pass down the field while on the run, but a Browns defender was able to get in front of it and very nearly intercepted it.
Moore has seen fair playing time over the last three games, and he has three receptions to show for it, one in each contest. The first two games only produced one target apiece, but after he more than doubled his playing time, he became a favorite target of Roethlisberger’s.
It remains to be seen whether or not this translates into the regular offense or if he’ll only be used extensively when the Steelers are either trailing or game-planning a pass-heavy attack.