The Pittsburgh Steelers offense functions best with a big-play component to it. They haven’t been getting that nearly as much as they have in recent years so far, but Sunday’s performance against the Chiefs saw their biggest explosive play total of the season to date with six, previously having just 19 in the first five games—averaging fewer than four per game up to that point.
Now, perhaps that should come with something of a caveat, seeing as how by far their biggest play of the game was a fluke that shouldn’t have happened. Having a third and two late in the fourth quarter, Ben Roethlisberger looked for Antonio Brown down the field, but he couldn’t get the ball past the trailing defender.
The Steelers got a break, however, when a should-be interception turned into a touchdown. The ball bounced off of the cornerback’s facemask, and Brown showed incredible concentration and body control in snagging the ball on the deflection while avoiding a hit, running 35 yards down the field for a 51-yard touchdown.
But, as mentioned, that was only one of six explosive plays that the offense earned on the day, and none of the other ones were of a fluky variety. In fact, they had a 26-yard run taken off the board due to a holding call, negating a fantastic individual effort from Le’Veon Bell.
In the third quarter, for example, Roethlisberger connected with Brown again for a 30-yard gain, this on one of the only two throws of 20 or more air yards attempted during the game. He also added a 26-yard completion to Brown, and found Vance McDonald for 26 yards as well—previously missing him on a 33-yard pass.
Roethlisberger also found Martavis Bryant for a 20-yard catch-and-run on a deep slant, and Bell did finally get his explosive run of 27 yards early in the fourth quarter when they turned the ball over to Roosevelt Nix and the like.
The Steelers had four more plays that gained at least 15 yards, and in total saw 18 of 29 non-penalty offensive plays go for at least 10 yards, an impressive ratio of better than 30 percent. I don’t think I have to actually come out and say that the offense did a good job of moving the ball pretty frequently in that game, as it was evident to anybody who watched.
What they need to do is to continue that on a weekly basis. And they also have to work on cutting down on the drive-killing mistakes, like the run for a loss of four-yards at the two-yard line on second and goal, or the interception off of a stopped route.