There’s been a lot of discussion about the run-pass option play the Pittsburgh Steelers ran on third down with five yards to go with less than two minutes to go that could have won the game Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During his Wednesday session with the media, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked if he had reviewed that key play from Sunday and if he could expound on the pass option part of it.
“Yeah it kind of is. It’s a run play that if they don’t cover a guy you can throw it to him,” said Roethlisberger. “So it’s not really a check to a pass play. The line was blocking run all the way so it’s not like you can drop back and throw a pass. It’s a run option that if they don’t cover one of the guys we can throw it to them. So if you want to call that a run-pass option, I guess it is. But it’s pretty much a run and we have to believe that we can get that when it’s called.”
As I showed in the breakdown of that play the Steelers ran a total of four times Sunday against the Buccaneers, Roethlisberger has the option of throwing to either tight end Heath Miller up the seam or wide receiver Markus Wheaton on a screen depending on the coverage. On the final third down play, however, the Buccaneers played press coverage all the way across and took away both of those pass options. Roethlisberger confirmed the obvious on Wednesday.
“Yeah, they covered the two guys that we have the option of throwing it to,” he said.
So was Roethlisberger happy with that particular run-pass option play call on third down and five with the game on the line? Judging by his comments made on Wednesday, it doesn’t sound like it.
“Not the way that play is set up,” said Roethlisberger when asked if he likes having the run-pass options in the game plan. “Like I said, that play is a run, if a guy is un-covered you can throw it to him. We do have options where it’s a run and then a drop back pass. Pretty much our no-huddle every play can be that. I think it helps get you in the best play possible in every situation.”
I don’t think I need to translate what Roethlisberger is trying to say right there.
As I stated on Monday, I didn’t like that play being run on third and five play because it had already been used three other times previously in the game. The Buccaneers playing press coverage against it the final time meant that they were willing to take their chances that a run wouldn’t gain five yards and Roethlisberger had no choice but to hand the ball off to Bell. Sure, it was a five on five situation at that point, but one missed block and the run is not likely to result in five yards.
During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin said he was the one that told offensive coordinator Todd Haley to call that particular play. In my opinion, Tomlin and Haley should’ve at least had Roethlisberger come over to the sideline during the timeout that preceded that play to at least get some input from him. Had they done that, I’m willing to bet that Roethlisberger would’ve lobbied for a play that had more pass option to it than the one they ended up running.
As a whole, I liked the play calling Sunday, but I didn’t like that final third down play. Apparently, neither did Roethlisberger.