Arians Went For Jugular Instead Of Open Cut
Before I move on to Cincinnati, I had one final thought on the Bears game. The fourth quarter drive that followed the Bears game tying touchdown was an important one in the outcome of the game. Starting at their own 29-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger and company began the march down field using the no huddle offense. Taking nearly 3 minutes off the clock, the Steelers were faced with a crucial 3rd and 2 at the Bears 25 yard line.
The field at the time was very wet from the rain and was a bit chewed up from nearly a whole game being played on it. It had been re-sodded earlier in the week and players failed to get good traction on both sides of the ball all game. It also started sprinkling again. Normally reliable Steelers kicker Jeff Reed at this point had also missed a 38-yard field goal on the same end of which the Steelers were driving on the previous drive.
Up to this point, the Steelers had ran the ball rather effectively for a 4.8 yard average. They also had a 66% third down efficiency going into that third down as well. Then it happened! Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians went for the jugular vein, instead of just tapping into a smaller vein that was already cut open and dripping blood. The Steelers lined Mewelde Moore up in a one back set, three tight ends and one receiver in the form of Santonio Holmes. Tight end David Johnson motioned right and backpedaled into a fullback position. On the snap, all three tight ends broke right into short routes, Roethlisberger faked a look right and tried to go over the top to Holmes in the left corner of the endzone. The ball fell incomplete and appeared to go right through the hands of Holmes although Charles Tillman had excellent coverage on the play.
If the pass is completed, the Steelers likely win the game and Arians is patted on the back. Instead it set up a fourth down and Reed misses an even longer field goal than the first miss, turning the ball over on downs at the Bears 33-yard line. The 3rd down play was clearly not a high percentage one as it was designed to go to Holmes from the get go. If Arians had to do it all over again, a running play to the left or up the gut would of been higher percentage. The Bears right defensive end Alex Brown had left with an injury earlier in the drive as well. Even if you do not pick up the first down, the clock continues to run and the Steelers could then decide to go for it on fourth down with another running play. If they get the first down, they can continue to milk the clock and move the ball even closer for Reed on a wet field.
Hind sight is always 20/20, but hopefully Arians learned that sometimes going for the kill in certain weather, personal and clock situations should include a higher percentage play call. That one play call, could of meant the difference in a W or a L for the Steelers.