Steelers Offense Atrocious On First Downs Against Broncos

If an offense can\’t move the ball on first down in a football game, it sets the stage for a long night offensively, and it puts more pressure on the quarterback to convert 3rd and long situations. That is exactly what happened to the Pittsburgh Steelers last night in their 31-19 loss to the Denver Broncos in the Sunday night opener.

While the game plan was to possess the football and keep it away from Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, they were only able to do so thanks to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ability to convert several 3rd and longs, as the offense was atrocious on 1st downs during the game.

On the night, the Steelers offense finished with 13 first down rushing plays that produced 55 yards of offense (3.15 average yards per rush), and 13 passing plays that produced just 24 yards of offense (1.85 average yards per passing play). When you break down the first down plays by the half, the Steelers offense had all of 19 yards on 14 first half plays on first down.

The offensive line did not have a good night in the run blocking department and this is something that needs to be fixed immediately if offensive coordinator Todd Haley expects to run a ball control offense based primarily off of running the ball early. The ability to run the ball early in the game opens up the passing game and that did not happen last night in Denver. Instead, you had Roethlisberger having to extend plays once again and sometimes take extra hits as a result. This is no different from last year through one game and usually ends up with the quarterback being dinged up by the time the second half of the season rolls around.

Staying ahead of the chains is crucial for the offense and that certainly was not accomplished last night in Denver.

  • Bob Francis

    All week I heard analysts saying that the Broncos were weak in the middle on D and that the Steelers should control the interior of the line. Was the o-line that bad, or is Denver better than advertised?

  • JayBirdDC

    Those 3 wide receiver set RB draws must have been run at least 6-8 times. It would have been nice to see the I-formation or the use of Will Johnson as a FB a bit more. Sorry to sound like a Pittsburgh running homer.

  • Chris92021

    Welcome to Overreaction Monday, where teams like the Washington Redskins get crowned as Super Bowl favorites and teams like the Steelers and Saints are suddenly playing for the top pick of the 2013 draft. Overreaction Monday…the day where fantasy owners drop Chris Johnson in favor of Kevin Ogletree and pick up Alfred Morris and Cecil Shorts thinking it would win them their respective leagues. I love Overreaction Mondays.

    Guys, we have seen bad offensive lines before. Heck, we went to two Super Bowls with them (and won one) so this shouldn’t be anything new. Offense will be work in progress and we won’t really see everything come together probably for a while. Until then, we will see inconsistency and missed opportunities.

    The defense last night really missed Ryan Clark. They missed his coverage skills and his voice on the field. As long as we don’t have to play Bay Bay Thomas every week, I think we will be fine. Bay Bay owns Ike much like how Plaxico used to own Chris McAllister. Hey, it happens. Sometimes someone just has your number and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    The only thing I am more concerned about was the number of injuries we’ve suffered in preseason and last night. It is lucidly obvious Chris Carter is not going to be anything special. Heck, I would have been happy if he was Carlos Emmons but he’s more Alonzo Jackson/Bruce Davis. Are you telling me that Adrian Robinson is worse than him???

    We will be fine after we bring the Jets down to earth next week.

  • SteelerDave

    I agree JayBirdDC. Will Johnson could be the success story of the season for us and needs to be used more as both a blocking FB and in the pass game.

    We did not utilize the RB talent we have in the proper way in my view.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I agree with about everything except Ike being owned by Thomas…Thomas had 1 good catch against Ike on great coverage…the long pass play was more on Polo because Ike was picked on that play…not sure what Troy was doing on that play but it cost us.

  • Hope

    By halftime, I was so frustrated with the play calling (run (no gain or loss) run again (loss) pass on 3rd down with 15+ yards to go). Even Redman at one point appeared pissed off that there was absolutely NO hole for him to run thru. And the penalties….completely frustrating. Legursky got man handled. Starks looked to hold his own for the most part. Pope is an AWFUL blocker. Lots and lots of work to do.

  • Pete

    While what you said Dave is true, the Denver defense was 5th against the run last season. They are a good run stopping team. So yes, the Steelers need to improve running on 1st down. Yet, at the same time, they were up against one of the best run stopping teams in the league. it was a good test and something they will learn from.

  • Pete

    I take my comment back. I saw this briefly last night about Denver 5th against the run but I can’t verify it with stats from

  • Chris92021

    You can bet Pope will be gone when Saunders comes back from his suspension.

  • Yes…They have much work to do on both sides of the ball and Ben really needs to value the ball a bit more especially putting the ball at risk 5X before finally getting intercepted. Like I said…they have work to do…adjustments to make…Better call Chris Kemoeatu and get some extra special help on that line or this season will be over before it started.

  • Legursky got owned…I really don’t have many expectations. The pre-season was a very poor one. Outside of Rainey and the receivers…I have seen nothing. Oh yeah…Byron had some nice throws and so did Ben…we need some consistency! *Ugh*

  • No line at all…The entire line got owned. Willie Colon had 2 false starts and he knew the snap count. There are going to be some significant roster changes and I agree that Pope is out…

  • Both the OL and the DL got owned…

  • Not likely to ground the Jets next week either…Legursky? Colon? Starks?…Ike gets owned by everyone…LOL…Peyton always abuses him…I am not sure that I am over reacting, but I know both sides of the ball better get their collective acts together…Ben better value the ball a bit more…He missed quite a few open receivers…oh but that is really nothing to be concerned about…He only put the ball at risk 5X before finally giving the Steelers their death spike with that untimely and unfortunate, forced interception…No cause for panic…

  • Bob the only problem with what most of these so-called analysts say is that a high percentage of them have never played a down of football at any level. I love my Steelers, but this is going to be a very long season for the fans…We can’t win every year, but Ben better get some protection quickly because Legursky was frighteningly bad! Yikes! Colon…two false starts! Ben’s impatience cost the team valuable scoring opportunities…Ben cannot set up and throw…the opposition’s DL and LBs are in his face on a continual basis…He is going to get hurt if they don’t take better care of him…I cringed when I saw him go down after that pass in the 3rd qtr, because it was ugly…

  • SteelSpine

    I dont recall seeing any holes for our RBs to run thru. Only Bettis coulda created his own holes in that game. Our OLinemen were beat, outnumbered, & too-often just reached to the side instead of being quicker to get a body on the defender. This was not smashmouth. After last season, Rooney & Haley etc said wanted to emphasize the run more than last year, but this was the worst/least-prepared run “blocking” I’ve seen in a long time.

    Legursky used to be an OK guard, so I was shocked his play at RG dropped off, he appeared to be a short-armed turnstyle in Denver, lunging to the side & whiffing. Adams was the same with just longer arms on the whiffing turnstyle.

    Starks played as well as his physical ability allows, we’re getting as much outta him as he has left, but saw the limitations he now has, fat & surgically-repaired body didnt allow him to slide laterally so had to reach out arm to side & push people in their back as they sped past him. Yeah he was going against Dumerville & I agree Starks played ok considering that, but many teams have good speed-rushers at that spot to send against him. Here’s a nightmare: If Starks had gotten hurt early, Mike Adams woulda played LT all game, eeeh gads.

    On the opposite end of the agility scale was Pouncey, who showed his great agility by doing a fast 180 spin like a top to fool defenders then lead a sweep to the left. I shouldnt say sweep because he didnt have enough other blockers on the left, but that was a sweet move most OLineman dont have the feet to do.