Over the course of the last several games, opposing defenses have done their best to limit the chunk plays made through the air by the Pittsburgh Steelers offense by playing a lot of two-deep safeties. On Thursday, offensive coordinator Todd Haley was asked about that and how his offense in turn has been forced to attack those coverages during his weekly interview on Steelers Nation Radio.
“Yeah, absolutely,” said Haley. “So in turn, we have to be a little more patient. Again, for a stretch there, we saw a lot of certain kinds of coverage and then we you see a team like that is giving you the run, you got to take it. But with that being said, when you’re throwing the football, you got to be patient there, too, and that’s not always easy when your mentality is attack. So I think it was real good learning experience for everybody involved, because as you do real good things people are going to change and adjust on you and we just didn’t do a good enough job of adjusting to those adjustments.”
Haley was then asked to describe in detail what it means to be more patient offensively.
“It may be check downs to the running back, to tight end, the shorter routes,” said Haley. “It may be why you don’t see a Martavis Bryant seeing a lot of footballs come his way. But again, there are plays to be made that when you get into games like that, and we’ve been in them before and had success, it comes down to being patient, taking what’s given to you and then our guys mak-ing plays with the football in their hands. Protecting it first and foremost, but run after catch and things like that. Running the football for chunks, which we did some in that game, especially early. So, it’s part of the NFL, it’s part of each and every week and why it’s so hard to win in this league on a week in and week out basis. You’ve got to play a little different each and every week.”
During Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers offense was patient for the most part and while they did have success running the football in the first half, they only came away with 3 points as they failed to finish drives. However, in the second half, they only ran the football 6 more times and while quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tried to remain patient with a shorter passing game, the offense only converted one third down on their way to scoring 14 more points.
Not only was Roethlisberger’s second half interception huge in the game, he was 1-of-7 on his deep passes during the final 30 minutes of action as well. Thankfully, the Ravens were called for pass interference on two of those deep throws during the Steelers first possession of the second half and that drive resulted in a touchdown.
Did the Steelers not run enough in the second half? Perhaps, but being down 10 points sure makes it hard to stick to a running game when you have a defense that was being carved up by the likes of Ravens quarterback Ryan Mallett.
If you take away the final Steelers offensive possession that started with 4 seconds left in the game, they only had the football five times in the second half with one of those coming with just on 3 minutes remaining in the game. They scored two touchdowns on two of those possessions and needed one more score to tie or win.