Two plays prior to the Pittsburgh Steelers failed run on third down and five with 1:35 left in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the offense faced a second down and eight with 1:40 left on the clock. Had they picked up a first down on the play, the Buccaneers would’ve had to burn their final timeout and the Steelers would’ve likely been able to run out the clock at that point.
That second down play never happened, however, as center Maurkice Pouncey was flagged for a false start due to him dragging the football along the ground prior to snapping it. You can see the infraction in the gif below.
We saw enough of that play, however, to know that it had a good chance and being a long run. The play included 12 personnel and a balanced formation and was supposed to be a run to the left behind a pulling David DeCastro and Matt Spaeth. As you can see in the all-22 and end zone views of the play, this was looking good prior to the whistles being blown.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was even asked Wednesday about the possible success of that play as well as the penalty that was called on Pouncey.
“I think it would have been good,” said Roethlisberger. “I think it’s one of those things that happens that just never happens. We’ve got a Pro Bowl center that’s the best in the game and it was just something. It was kind of (a) crazy, fluky thing that happened and I think it would have been enough to get us a first down. But that’s a would-have, could-have, should-have that we can look back on a lot of things in a game.”
The Steelers offense had actually run that same play earlier in the game with the only difference being that Heath Miller was the pulling tight end from the right side instead of Spaeth. That play gained four yards and you can see it below.