There’s certainly not a lot to breakdown from the Pittsburgh Steelers preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers. However, wile there probably wasn’t much, if any, game planning done by either team ahead of the Thursday night game due to it being a super short week, there were some adjustments made during the contest that were easy to pick out.
The two plays I want to highlight from the Thursday night preseason finale in this post were two passes to wide receiver Johnny Holton.
2-16-PIT 47 – 2Q (9:19) (Shotgun) J.Dobbs pass short left to J.Holton to CAR 42 for 11 yards (R.Pulley).
Midway through the second quarter and with Joshua Dobbs at quarterback, the Steelers offense has a 3×1 formation with Holton playing the X on the weak-side. The Panthers are in a vanilla zone defense and Holton runs a nice 12-yard out to the sideline on 2nd and 16 to set up a makeable third down situation. Make sure to notice the rest of the routes run by the other Steelers eligibles on this play and also make sure to note that the Panthers corneback playing over top of Holton on this play is Ryan Pulley. It’s an easy pitch and catch and a high percentage one at that.
1-10-PIT 25 – 2Q (1:12) (Shotgun) M.Rudolph pass deep left to J.Holton to CAR 31 for 44 yards (R.Gaulden).
Two Steelers offensive possessions later in the second quarter, Mason Rudolph was in the game at quarterback and the Steelers offense once again came out in that same 3×1 formation as they did earlier. Once again the Panthers were in a zone defense. The route combinations are all the same on this play other than Holton faking like he will again be running a quick out route against Pulley like he did earlier in the quarter. Pulley takes the bait and as he breaks forward on Holton, the Steelers wide receiver double moves the cornerback and turns his route straight up the field. Now, Rudolph does a great job on this play as well as his pump fake to Holton on the out route helps to get Pulley and the underneath zone defender to both bite. The result of the fake and the nice route by Holton is Rudolph dropping a pass in the bucket to the streaking wide receiver for a gain of 44 yards. It was the longest offensive play the Steelers had all game as well.
You can see the iso below that shows the great double move by Holton. He uses his eyes and head well and keeps his pads even. He times the up part of his route perfectly.