Game notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-35 win over the Oakland Raiders.
– Kick return team: Arthur Moats, Sean Spence, Shamarko Thomas, Bud Dupree, and Vince Williams the front five. Robert Golden in tow. Jesse James, replacing Matt Spaeth, Roosevelt Nix, and Will Johnson the three-man “wedge,” with Jordan Todman serving as Jacoby Jones’ upback.
– Punt coverage team: Shamarko Thomas and Darrius Heyward-Bey the gunners. Robert Golden the upback. On the line: Williams, Moats, Greg Warren, Will Johnson, Spence. Nix and Will Allen the wings. Allen at right wing, replacing Spaeth. Allen is usually the left wing.
– Continuing with special teams: Punt return. Darrius Heyward-Bey a jammer to one side with Thomas and Antwon Blake to the other. The rest: Golden, Williams, Johnson, Spence, Dupree, Brandon Boykin, and Nix.
– As the broadcast pointed out, lots of room for Jacoby Jones along the left side here. Runs to the right instead.
– Another Hank route. Results in Jesse James’ first catch.
– Ultimate illustration of Mike Tomlin’s “standard id the standard” policy. James’ first game. Go pass block Aldon Smith, just like the team would ask from Heath Miller or Matt Spaeth.
– Antonio Brown…just ridiculous.
– DeAngelo Williams decleating of Aldon Smith grabs the headlines but this is a great, less attractive play by him to. Comes across the formation and gets square to the linebacker.
– Kick coverage from left to right: Shark-Golden-Nix-Anthony Chickillo-Williams-Chris Boswell-Spence-Jarvis Jones-Blake-DHB-Boykin.
– Vert/crosser concept keeps killing the Steelers’ Cover 3. Receiver open here, just can’t hang onto the football.
– Nice playside flow on this zone. Ryan Shazier gives good chase backside while Steve McLendon works off a block and makes the tackle.
– Six on six blockers/defenders is a win for the offense. Three on three to the playside. Naturally opens up a big lane.
– Similar switch concept Amari Cooper scored on later in the game. Another WR left wide open. Steelers didn’t handle it well.
– Nice job by Lawrence Timmons at the catch point. His job in coverage has been strong.
– Lot of bark, not much bite on this blitz. Steelers stunting all around but this is as clean a pocket as you can give a quarterback.
– Ben Roethlisberger shouldn’t hit Markus Wheaton on the swing with the CB playing this tight. Better to fire one to Heath Miller down the seam.
– Proper stunt pickup by Alejandro Villanueva and Ramon Foster. Big improvement from last week, especially on Villanueva’s end, who was horrid in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals.
– Key down block by Marcus Gilbert on DeAngelo Williams’ first TD.
– Looks like Ryan Shazier is supposed to scrape over the tackle while Arthur Moats crashes down. Gets stuck on Austin Howard’s block, a routine occurrence. Not a good day for 50.
– Edge rushers starting to figure out Villanueva. Get into his chest before he can knock your hands down. That’s what Aldon Smith does to him here, shoving him into Roethlisberger.
– Nice open field tackle by Brandon Boykin. If he misses, this could have gone for a long return.
– Sammie Coates replaced Jarvis Jones as R2 on kickoffs.
– Hank concept with the receiver – Markus Wheaton – running the “hank” route.
– Ryan Shazier bites on the run action on the goal line. Gets put in trail position and in that area of the field, there is little margin for error.
– Golden is struggling as a blocker on the kick coverage unit over the last two weeks. Not the only issue but a big part of it. Not helping the cause.
– Roethlisberger made this throw earlier in the game against off coverage. But can’t make vs the CB in man and trail technique. Undercuts the comeback.
– Antwon Blake all turned around by the stem in Amari Cooper’s route. Pressure from Stephon Tuitt collapses the pocket and flushes Derek Carr, who can’t pull the trigger.
– Write about an excellent Marcus Gilbert combo block at least once a week in these things. Here he is opening up a big lane for D-Will.
– Nice bull rush by Arthur Moats against the RT.
– Some obvious, but key, blocks from Nix and DeCastro on Williams’ 53 yard run.
– Good downfield block by Jesse James, here.
– And of course, here on the Bryant TD.
– Shazier replaced Blake at R3 on kickoffs.
– Linebackers flowing so hard to try and get in front of the Steelers Counter OF, it opens up huge cutback lanes. Williams has the vision to bend the run back. That’s all him. Not a zone scheme, him creating on the fly. His vision is as good as Le’Veon Bell’s. Keep an eye on #53.
– Jordan Todman with late eyes on the LB blitz. Misses the block.
– Thought overall, the punt coverage unit did a nice job blocking the Raiders’ rush. Clean “pocket” for Jordan Berry all day.
– AB punt return fumble. Blake let the gunner go because he didn’t want to get called for pushing him out of bounds. Allowed a free release to Andre Holmes, who stripped AB. He was double-viced on the play. Very disappointing when you do that and the gunner gets a clean run at it.
– Blake has zero clue where the ball is on this Cooper near-TD. If it were me, I wouldn’t let him look back for the ball on anything vertical. Rather him just glue his eyes on the WR and play him the whole way. Keep him close and do what he does best – play the pocket and knock balls out at the catch point.
– Pass rush forced the ball out but Martavis Bryant with a nasty stop ‘n go to burn the CB. Would’ve been six if the ball was thrown. Bryant didn’t have a great game but kept his head in the game. Made plays after negative outcomes. You might say he lacked focus – to me, this game showed he is an extremely focused player.
– Steelers widen their splits on power runs with a fullback. Does show where the run is going but the team runs enough playaction so defenses can’t sell out.
– Last play before the final drive. Todd Haley went for it all. Fake the bubble with their vertical concept. Wheaton was open – kind of surprised Landry Jones didn’t test it. Wanted to be careful with the lead, I guess.
– Another example of Villanueva’s brutal chop. Cuts down Aldon Smith with no issue.
– Dupree rookie mistake. Quit on the play because he thought there was a penalty on Oakland. Misses the QB by *this* much. Would’ve have hit him if he didn’t stop.
– Do want to see Jesse James get off the ball quicker here. Late out of his stance.