Game notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 3 win over the St. Louis Rams.
– Kick return unit. Front five: Ross Ventrone, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, and Shamarko Thomas. Robert Golden behind them. Will Johnson, Matt Spaeth, and Roosevelt Nix the next three. Jordan Todman served as the upback for Dri Archer.
– Smart play by Ben Roethlisberger to motion Markus Wheaton down so he can crack the safety against this eight man box. Seal creates a lane for Le’Veon Bell.
– Alejandro Villanueva was split out wide and ran a route on the goal line. Amazed the broadcast never touched on this.
– Hindsight at work here but I’m surprised Kelvin Beachum wasn’t asked to cut block Robert Quinn on this swing to Bell. Batted down by the defensive end.
– Kick coverage from left to right. Shamarko Thomas, Robert Golden, Ross Ventrone, Terence Garvin, Vince Williams, Sean Spence, Josh Scobee, Jarvis Jones, Will Johnson, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Brandon Boykin.
– Punt return unit: Antwon Blake and Shamarko Thomas the jammers. Others: Ross Ventrone, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Bud Dupree, Vince Williams, Will Johnson, Terene Garvin, Sean Spence, and Robert Golden.
– Great fold block by Cody Wallace and Ramon Foster. Wallace pulls around Foster, who down blocks. David DeCastro works quickly to the second level and makes a key block. Big 19 yard gain for Bell.
– 3×1 to isolate Antonio Brown. Bubble screen is a call to the bottom but Ben has the freedom to hit Brown if the matchup is right. It is and it’s a 19 yard pickup.
– This is Ben throwing to open spots, not open receivers. NFL-level stuff we’ve come to expect from Roethlisberger. And on a designed screen no less, with a free defender right in his grill. Supreme trust in Brown to get open. And he does.
– Marcus Gilbert is lucky he didn’t get called for a chop block.
– Miscommunication by Markus Wheaton and DHB of who would block #25. Neither do and the DB knifes in to make the tackle.
– Kudos to Cody Wallace for sticking to Michael Brockers on Bell’s touchdown.
– Failed two-point conversion was the same attempt as the team ran in Week One. With the two identical ones last week, I would like to see some more variety in their two-point calls. Can’t run the same ones all the time.
– Like last week, for whatever reason, fresh bodies or something, Roosevelt Nix replaced Antwon Blake and Jordan Todman in for DHB on the team’s second kickoff.
– William Gay, as he always does, getting his nose dirty. Why you like having him in nickel. Impact run defender. Upends rookie Todd Gurley.
– Will Allen having to run the entire field on this play. Gets depth after seeing playaction to defend the crossing route, then has to rally downhill to close on the flat. Then has to fight through players to make the tackle.
– Aaron Donald dropped into coverage several times Sunday but Heath Miller shows his IQ, slipping past and finding the soft spot in the coverage. Dude just knows how to get open.
– Lawrence Timmons scrapes and flows down the line to make the tackle.
– Great backside close from Jarvis Jones. Really liked his chase and effort all day.
– Wonder if Antwon Blake vacated his zone on Lance Kendricks’ near-splash play early in the second half. Lucky he dropped the ball.
– Steelers are sometimes asking their outside linebackers to bump receivers at the line before proceeding into their rush. Part of the reason why the pass rush isn’t always as successful. I’m not crazy about it. Let your guys who make money getting after the QB get after the QB.
– Roethlisberger throwing hot to AB versus an eight man front.
– Steelers with a lot more man and gap schemes in their runs this week. Best way to try and counter an active, penetrating front. Here’s their Dart scheme, pulling the backside tackle, though Donald is still able to blow the play up.
– Six man protection vs a five man rush. Simple linebacker stunt gets one free. Can’t have that.
– Punt coverage. Ross Ventrone and Shamarko Thomas the gunners. On the line: Williams, Garvin, Greg Warren, Johnson, Spence. Will Allen and Matt Spaeth the wings. Robert Golden the upback.
– Rams called their X Cross several times. Floods the Steelers’ cover 3 defense and was generally effective throughout the day.
– Brandon Boykin knocked down in coverage on his first play of the game. Have to stay on your feet to compete.
– Nice concentration from AB on this fair catch. Big crowd gathered to watch him. Why you trust him to be back there.
– The team started this at some point last year but instead of their wings on the punt coverage unit one a yard deep, they’re now five yards deep. Nearly at the same depth as the upback.
– Thought Robert Golden did a nice job to maintain his lane in coverage even with Tavon Austin initially running away from his side. Allowed him to squeeze Austin’s lane when he brought it back, even though he didn’t make the tackle.
– Steve McLendon flowing well down the line. Was right there to engulf the back when he tried to cutback.
– Run defense was sound. Like last week, spacing was good and their run fills were sound. Here’s Timmons staying at home against this split zone. Meets the back in the hole and makes the tackle.
– Bell making something out of nothing. Supposed to be Lead Strong to the right but blown up. Bell has to bounce it left and picks up six yards.
– Kelvin Beachum and Nix block the same linebacker, leaving the strong safety free, who makes the tackle.
– Michael Vick can’t throw this slant on a corner with inside leverage. Just a poor, or no, pre-snap read. Should have been picked.
– Shark has to stay on his feet as a gunner. Falls down and with Ventrone drawing a double-team, Tavon Austin has a lot of room on the catch. Lucky this wasn’t a big return.
– Hate coaches asking corners to play with bail technique when they are already given a cushion. Happens to Blake and Ross Cockrell here. Doesn’t let them drive on underneath routes as quickly. More transition time. Ten yard gain to set up third and four.
– Same play. Jarvis Jones gets knocked off by Greg Robinson’s initial punch. Has to stay balanced.
– Sean Spence putting everything together. Stays step-for-step with the running back, flows down the line, fills, and makes the tackle.
– DeCastro struggled on his base blocks but did work when he got to the second level. Slight chip even and he’s able to come across the formation and knock off the linebacker, opening a lane for Bell. Great play, his best of the day.
– This throw from Vick was the same playcall and defensive coverage as Ben had on the first drive. Dual slants with the Rams blitzing a linebacker and matching two over three, with the safety responsible for #3. Roethlisberger hit the #3 receiver on the play for a 12 yard gain. Vick hits the #2, a player who is covered, is late with the throw, gets his receiver nailed, and it’s only a four yard gain.