Outside of the fact that they won and some potential concern over injuries, at least from the fan perspective, the biggest story to emerge from Sunday’s game for the Pittsburgh Steelers was the backyard approach—in Ben Roethlisberger’s own words—that the offense took in the second half in attempting to beat the Baltimore Ravens and slow down their pass rush.
After barely being able to do anything in the first half—and only running a total of 20 plays—the Steelers changed some things up coming out of the locker room, attacking with an empty set and four wide receivers, and using the shiftier Ray-Ray McCloud ahead of James Washington in order to make Baltimore account for him. He ended up drawing a 20-yard pass interference penalty, and also a facemask penalty on his lone catch.
Roethlisberger talked about this ‘plan’, insofar as it was a plan, at some length after the game, but he added a bit more in speaking to reporters yesterday. “The second half probably 90 percent was make it up as we went”, he said, emphasizing that from play to play he was literally telling each receiver what route to run on that particular down, how to stack, and things of that nature.
But he wouldn’t take credit for the success. As he said, “it really comes back to those guys making plays, not physically but mentally, to line guys up and not really have many questions, it goes back to the offseason work we did”.
After the game, Roethlisberger made a remark that he told his guys, ‘don’t be a robot’, meaning that he is expecting them to be able to work independently in figuring out what to do once he gets them in alignment, understanding how to function once the ball is snapped, how to come back to the ball, and things of that nature.
“It just shows that it is sinking in, and they get it because I can tell them to do something”, he said. “Basically, just trying to direct guys. They’re doing the play. They’re doing the movie, and I’m just telling them what to do. And, they are doing it to perfection. It’s not about me. I just have to tell them what to do. They have to physically do it and mentally know what to do. They did it so well last week. I couldn’t be prouder of the guys for that. All of them”.
I don’t imagine this is the approach we’re going to continue to see moving forward, as this was largely ad-libbed as a halftime response to some issues that they were having playing against a tough division opponents coming off of their bye week, and running in packages with personnel that they haven’t run a lot.