Steelers vs Saints First Half Notes And Observations

Below are my notes and observations upon reviewing the action of the first half from the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints game this past Sunday.

  • After failing to air it out on first down, and following a short gain on second, Ben Roethlisberger turned to Antonio Brown to prevent the Steelers from going three and out on their opening drive. Brown lined up in the slot to the left, curled short of the first down marker, and spun out of the tackle attempt of the trailing DB to lunge for the 30-yard line.
  • The one reception for Martavis Bryant came on the following play out of a run formation against off coverage. It was fairly straightforward, but he did use his size to help make the first tackler miss and gained about eight yards after the catch.
  • Flea flickers usually don’t work when you have to step up into the pocket to receive the pitch. Just saying.
  • On third down, the pocket collapsed on Roethlisberger, which resulted in an overthrow to Bryant and forced the Steelers to punt.
  • As expected, James Harrison started at right outside linebacker. He was in coverage on Pierre Thomas on first down and was beaten for 13 yards. On the next play, he drew a holding call.
  • On third down, Brice McCain had solid coverage on Marques Colston to force an incompletion. Also noteworthy on the play was Ike Taylor on Jimmy Graham in the slot. Antwon Blake was also on the field in the dime package.
  • Run right behind Will Johnson and David DeCastro Usually a good thing, and is on second down for 12 yards.
  • Same play, but a little less tidy, gets Le’Veon Bell to the first down marker, but then he shakes a few tackles for an extra eight yards.
  • Thank the win for that first field goal, Shaun Suisham.
  • He was pushed off the ball initially, but Cam Thomas stayed with the play and moved down the line to make the tackle on first down after a four-yard gain.
  • On the next play, Brett Keisel stunted inside, and the back failed to pick him up, allowing him to pressure Drew Brees into an incompletion. Cameron Heyward bullied his way to a pressure that may well have prevented a 76-yard score on third down with Kenny Stills four yards past William Gay in coverage.
  • Yes, Patrick Robinson dropped a pick six, but I don’t understand how you don’t have Heath Miller blocking the corner on that screen.
  • Roethlisberger hit his hand two plays later on a 21-yard reception by Brown. Bell was late picking up the blitzing linebacker, resulting in the collision in the pocket.
  • What ensued was five straight carries to Bell including a 16-yarder, but Roethlisberger finally put the ball in the air on third and three on a quick pass to Lance Moore.
  • I have to believe that Roethlisberger and Brown may not have been on the same page on the near-interception that followed. Brown clearly looked like he was running over the top, while the quarterback’s delivery suggested underneath. I don’t believe this was necessarily due to a poor pass. Brown’s body language after the play also suggests as much.
  • The third down play should have been a touchdown to Bryant, who clearly lost the ball before the DB had time to make a play on it.
  • The defense held the Saints to two first downs on their first three drives. From then on? Not so bueno.
  • The offense proceeded to go three and out after getting the ball back, with Roethlisberger delivering a high pass to Bell, who could not come down with it. The Saints then grabbed the lead eight plays later.
  • After burning the defense on three consecutive long runs, the Saints spread out their tight ends to the left to get Benjamin Watson open behind the defense for a 15-yard touchdown.
  • After the score, Markus Wheaton provided a spark with a return out to the 43-yard line, but Roethlisberger threw an ill-advised pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey 40+ yards down the field into double coverage, which was intercepted in the end zone.
  • Nevertheless, the defense quickly got the Saints into a third and five, but couldn’t get off the field. And again. On third and six. That time Stills beat Gay over the top for 44 yards.
  • It ended with Sean Spence beat by the fullback for a four-yard touchdown, and suddenly the Steelers were down eight despite controlling much of the first half.
  • Two long completions to Brown and Miller put the Steelers in a long field goal attempt situation. Another high pass to Miller and a third miss deep to Wheaton didn’t give them many options. Roethlisberger threw high to Miller again on a five-yard route for no good reason that necessitated a 54-yard attempt. The snap was low and the holder actually did a reasonable job of giving Suisham a shot at it, but it came up short.
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