By Alex Kozora
First half game notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 11 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans.
– Kick return unit. Front five. Terence Garvin, Antwon Blake, Vince Williams, Arthur Moats, and Robert Golden. Followed up by the usual suspects. Michael Palmer/Matt Spaeth, Cody Wallace/Will Johnson forming the wedge. The return unit had a new look with Justin Brown serving as the upback for Markus Wheaton.
– Steelers ran a Power O on the first play of the game, gaining 12. Sign of how the team wanted to use this as part of its gameplan.
– Split zone for 19 here. Down blocks from the line, key ones coming from Kelvin Beachum and Heath Miller, with Will Johnson pulling and kicking out the EMOL (#95).
– Picture that sums up the Steelers’ running game was unstoppable. Some miscommunication here with the handoff being slow to develop. Ben has to outstretch himself to hand the ball off. Still goes for a gain of five.
– 3rd and 6 run that ended the Steeler’s first drive. Guessing Ben Roethlisberger liked his chances of running it to the offense’s left versus just two defenders, one of those being a DB. Didn’t work obviously though the backside blocks didn’t hold, compounding the problem.
– Kick coverage from left to right. Cortez Allen, Robert Golden, Ross Ventrone, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Shaun Suisham, Sean Spence, Will Johnson, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Antwon Blake, BW Webb.
– Mike Mitchell is lucky this pass is off the mark and Kendall Wright has to go the ground for it. Know Mitchell was to work under the vertical route but this is a terrible angle that leaves the safety in no position to make the tackle should Wright turn upfield.
Also of note, Titans max protect, send only two out on routes against the Steelers dropping six, and still get an easy completion. Six versus two and two wins. Like the route concept from Tennessee but these crossers have eaten the Steelers alive in 2014.
– Missed tackles rampant on Bishop Sankey’s TD but Cam Thomas doesn’t help the cause by failing to shed this block against Michael Oher. If he gets off the block, he’ll probably make the tackle. Don’t think he ever even saw the runner as he decides to pancake the right tackle instead as the runner scoots past.
– Same play. Dan McCullers blows up center Brian Schwenke. Nearly makes the play down the line. Thought his play wasn’t bad. Surprised he got rotated out in the second half.
– Steelers create false keys by pulling left guard Ramon Foster on this fake Power O. Get the linebackers to suck up, hit Heath Miller down the seam for 19. Easy yards.
– Jurrell Casey shedding Marcus Gilbert – who found himself overextended throughout the night – and blowing this play up in the backfield.
– Heath Miller should show Martavis Bryant how to stem a route. Fake outside to get the cornerback to open his hips. Once he does, Miller plants inside and gains leverage on the post. Excellent route by the veteran, as you’d expect.
– And maybe Bryant learned? See similar here. Sell the route inside and then stem vertical to create tons of separation. Great route.
Although Roethlisberger underthrows this pass, Bryant has to do a better job fighting for it in the air. Use that nearly 6’4 frame of his.
– Kudos to Will Allen for getting off this block of the pulling guard Chance Warmack, makes the tackle.
– Would’ve been six points had the back not dropped this. Man coverage, Lawrence Timmons trying to defend the angle route and doesn’t have much of a chance.
– Cam Heyward, in a rare moment, driven off the ball, washed, and the Steelers give up a five yard gain. DL got blown off the ball a couple times in the red zone while in subpackage. Not a total surprise as the OL has an easier time securing double-teams. No big NT to worry about.
– Punt coverage. Ross Ventrone/Antwon Blake the gunners. Others: Michael Palmer, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, Greg Warren, Will Johnson, Sean Spence, Will Allen, Robert Golden, and Mr. Brad Wing.
– Check out all the separation Antonio Brown gets versus Jason McCourty. Such a fluid and incredible route runner. And then finishes the play by making the catch along the sideline.
– David DeCastro combo block. Covers a lot of ground here. Works down the line to block the end and give help to Marcus Gilbert and then works to the second level to seal the linebacker. Few guys would have the athleticism to execute this block. 66 does.
– Bell ran as well as he ever has but also did an excellent job in blitz pickup. Fine job here.
And Roethlisberger finishes with a perfect throw, leading Heath Miller on this crosser and away from safety Michael Griffin.
– Big Ben’s pick. Like his one lame duck in the Jets game, open shouldered and throwing flat-footed. Horrible footwork and it leads to a pick.
– Off the interception, the Titans’ 80 yard TD. Like Matt Bowen always says, every vertical route breaks at 12-15 yards. Washington chops his feet at ten, the 30. Alert for a double-move. William Gay is burned deep and gives up six.
– Other note from that TD. Arthur Moats gets there a tick late. Story of the year on some of these splash plays, it seems.