By Alex Kozora
Game notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ thrilling 51-34 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
– Kick coverage from left to right: Cortez Allen, Robert Golden, Ross Ventrone, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Will Allen, Shaun Suisham, Will Johnson, Antwon Blake, Darrius Heyward-Bey, William Gay.
– Brice McCain with the necessary hustle to chase down TY Hilton after missing a tackle on the Colts’ second throw of the game. At one point, he was ten yards behind the speedy receiver.
Disappointing that neither McCain on the catch and Mike Mitchell couldn’t use the sideline to their advantage to run Hilton out of bounds.
– Weird that Sean Spence’s only defensive snap came on the first drive. Didn’t see another the rest of the game despite being healthy.
– William Gay doesn’t make the tackle but he does a terrific job of keeping his balance taking on this block from the pulling tackle, not allowing Dan Herron to turn the corner.
– Kick return unit. Steelers mixed up this group again, changing their formation. Usually have five up front with two rows of two behind, finishing with an upback and a kick returner.
To summarize, instead of their traditional 5/2/2/2 formation, the Steelers used a 7/2/1/1 look.
Sunday they had seven players up front, a row of two, a lone “wedge” man and a returner.
The seven up front were: Arthur Moats, Ross Ventrone, Robert Golden, Vince Williams, Antwon Blake, Terence Garvin, Will Allen. Matt Spaeth/Michael Palmer as the usual next two. Will Johnson was the one man wedge. LeGarrette Blount your kick returner.
– Good adjustment by Ben Roethlisberger on Markus Wheaton’s TD. Safety playing the receiver s if the route is going to extend towards the back pylon. Ben throws it short and the safety doesn’t have a prayer.
– Same play. Blount did a good job in pass protection. Gave help to Heath Miller after the tight end got beat.
– He was left unblocked but still a quality open field tackle from Ryan Shazier. Brings those arms.
– McCain got lucky here. Playaction from the Colts which they sell by pulling the guard. McCain thinks run and takes a step up, getting smoked in the process. Had it not been for pressure on the play, that could turn into six.
And it was Troy Polamalu who created that pressure, blitzing and taking out the pulling guard and running back. Jason Worilds one on one with the tight end, an obvious matchup for 93.
– Maybe a little hard to see but Jason Worilds showing arm extension and bend to dip the edge. He showed that all game long. Gosder Cherilus was routinely beaten. Worilds is starting to turn it on.
– PR unit. Antwon Blake + Ross Ventrone/Brice McCain jammers. Others. Sean Spence, Will Johnson, Terence Garvin, Will Allen, Robert Golden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Arthur Moats.
– Mike Adams loses his block. Forces the tight end to help and there’s no second level blocker to pick up the linebacker. Running back cuts into the free defender.
– Thought Heath Miller did a nice job to push Bjoern Werner up the arc in pass protection. Not an easy task to solo block an OLB. Allows Big Ben step up into the pocket, which he does. All you can reasonably ask for from your tight end.
– One of Ben’s throws that really pops on the All-22. Window that exists on Roethlisberger’s completion to Lance Moore. Moore runs a flag route. Ben has to deal with the safety over the top, the defender trailing, and the defender sinking on his curl/flat.
Same play, kudos to Mike Adams for “finding work” and helping out his TE. Ensures Roethlisberger’s pocket stays clean and that he can make a sound, accurate throw. And Ben rips it.
– If you’ve read my stuff, you know I love angles in the run game. Lot easier to block it that way than trying to win straight up. Seal defenders and never give them the chance to shed.
That’s what we see here. Adams seals, David DeCastro post blocks, Miller cut blocks.
Lane opens for a Le’Veon Bell gain of 11, though he showed great balance to stay on his feet and extend the play.
– Martavis Bryant’s first TD. Love the route concept to get some spacing. Big receivers can run routes other than fades. Send Bell in the flat, Miller on an in-breaking route (picking the linebacker) and Bryant with an outside stem that breaks inside on a curl.
– William Gay’s pick six. Want to point out Worilds’ dirty spin move on Cherilus.
That’s the way you want to play it as an edge rusher. Beat the defender to the edge repeatedly and he starts to cheat. Starts to open the gate (open his hips). Then you counter inside.
And the reason why Gay was able to jump that route so easily? On seven routes, Hakeem Nicks had fun five curls up to that point. Predictable route tree.
– Why Heyward-Bey could still get a helmet. First one to get downfield on kick coverage. A full two yards ahead of everyone before Whalen makes the catch and everyone starts to slow up.
– Donte Moncrief 52 yard catch. Two issues. Lawrence Timmons does take a false step as Dwayne Allen releases outside.
Timmons versus the 4.4 Monrief is an advantage for the offense no matter what the linebacker’s first step is. The Colts’ concept is solid. The Steelers just need to eliminate all that YAC. And that blame probably falls on William Gay.
Invert look between him and Polamalu. Gay takes a bad angle off the catch and Moncrief’s speed is too great for Gay to recover.
— Daniel McCullers only got four snaps but again impressed me where I thought he’d struggle the most – getting off cut blocks. Fights off the cut here, flows freely down the line, makes the tackle.
– Believe it was pointed out on the broadcast but great eye manipulation by Andrew Luck against Troy Polamalu on his touchdown pass to Dwayne Allen. Looks him off to the left and then comes back to the right to throw a dime. Lawrence Timmons has no real shot at it.
– Kick return blocking woes continue. Blount already facing pressure before he hits his 15. Downfield, Antwon Blake is in no man’s land blocking positively no one. It’s one of the biggest handicaps for this team the last two weeks.
– Bryant’s 52 yard catch. Create a free released with the two stack look.
Bryant also showed ability to get vertical, something we knew he had. CB on the LOS, not off the ball, picks him up so it’s easy to swap hips. With the CB’s inside leverage, Roethlisberger’s dime to the outside is impossible to defend.
– David DeCastro cheating and looking for a stunt that never comes. Why you can’t guess. Allows pressure.
– Heyward-Bey also saw time as a jammer.
– Great block in the open field by Miller on D’Qwell Jackson, who had himself a heck of a game. Allows Will Johnson to take this reception for 18 yards.
– AB making one of those effort plays on his second TD. It’s a scramble drill. Brown comes across the whole field in order to work to his QB.
His initial route breaks here.
And he winds up here.
Why you gotta love him.
– James Harrison dipping the edge, slipping past Anthony Castonzo. Blasts Luck. Aid before the game the fact Harrison is seven inches shorter would bode well. Finished the day with two sacks.
– Lawrence Timmons doesn’t make the tackle but you have to appreciate him blasting right guard Hugh Thornton, putting him on his butt. 94 is a bad, bad man.
Also of note is Mike Mitchell throwing a shoulder at Ahmad Bradshaw instead of bringing his arms. Want to have him clean that up, be a little more consistent.
– Cortez Allen beat on this play but for comparison’s sake, I want to watch William Gay at the bottom of the screen. He punches with the wrong hand (inside) off the line against Nicks. Gets beat.
He’s out of phase. But he’s aiming for the hip and is actually able to get back in control.
Granted, Nicks is fairly slow and maybe he had started to pull up on the play but I still admire the technique from 22.
– Two stack again. Rub over top, throw the slant under. Easy six yards on 1st and 10.
– Watch Mike Adams in stunt pickup. Handles it beautifully. Say whaaa?
– Big Ben with his eyes/feet connected. Goes from his first to second read and immediately rips the ball. Knows there’s a blitz, knows the linebacker is dropping to cover Milller on the curl, knows a window will appear to hit Brown. Kudos to Bell for identifying to recognize the pre-snap safety blitz and pick it up.
– Too much depth for Mike Mitchell on TY Hilton’s 39 yard catch before the half. Lines up 15 yards off the ball pre-snap and backs up another 14 off the snap. Unable to cover the ground to drive on a throw.