Looking At A Key Run Fail Late In The Steelers Loss To The Titans

It is so hard to boil the Pittsburgh Steelers loss last Thursday night to the Tennessee Titans down to just one play as you could pick about 6 on each side of the ball and make a solid case for it being the play.

That being said, one play that could have made a huge difference was the final running play on the Steelers final drive where running back Baron Batch was stopped for a one yard loss. You can see the All-22 view of the play in the animated gif below.

Baron Batch Steelers Titans Animated Gif

To set it up, it was 2nd down and 6 from the Titans 35 yard-line with 1:08 left in the game. The Steelers had 11 personnel on the field in a single back, trips bunch right formation that featured Heath Miller, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown in the bunch.

At the snap, Ramon Foster chips right before releasing to help to his left. Although Mike Adams does allow some gap penetration on the play, he is able to anchor and turn Derrick Morgan inside, thus providing a lane off his right hip as Miller has the strong-side linebacker, Akeem Ayers, engaged. Instead of running it off the hip of Adams, Batch cuts back inside and right into the teeth of the defense.

Although you can\’t hear it in a gif, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger checks out of the original play after he identifies the Titans have only 3 down linemen with single gap responsibility. Batch should have read Morgan lined up in the B gap pre snap, which meant he had 1 gap responsibility, with Ayers having essentially 2 gap responsibility and outside contain.

Both Sanders and Brown do their part by clearing out the right side and this play could have also been bounced outside of Miller just as easily. Essentially the only block that Batch needs to read is the one of Miller. Even if he slams it in the skinny lane just outside of the hip of Adams and inside Miller, there was likely 2 or 3 yards to be had. At the very least the play would not have gone for negative yardage like it did and a 3 yard gain would have been a 4 yard swing based on the result.

Would it have changed what happened on third down or that play call? Impossible to say, but it would have at least perhaps turned a 54 yard field goal attempt by kicker Shaun Suisham into a 51 yard attempt instead.

No, I am not pinning this game on one play or Batch, but it was an important play in the game nonetheless. By the way, watch Roethlisberger point at the end of the play.

  • Tim Culligan

    Whats the injury status with mendenhall and redman? aka what are the odds my boy JD27 suits up sunday? i stil think dwyer can be a very good running back if he has the blocking.

  • These young backs need to start putting the ball where it needs to be…I will take Great Vision over Great Cutting ability anyday. Thanks for the animated gifs Dave! It definitely helps all of us keep a better perspective of what is actually going on. Nobody can blame the O-Line for that one…Wow…

  • Kenneth Wilt

    This wasn’t a vision vs. cutting problem. This was a Batch didn’t go to the correct hole. Everything on the online was set up to run off RT. Batch took it as if it was supposed to be in the hole between Adams and Foster. There was nothing there. This looks even worse than it did live.

  • JohnnyV1

    I knew you’d bring this item up, and it’s a great point. People can talk about it’s not about one play, but certain plays (interception, sack/strip, forced fumble, 4th down, and this play) become critical b/c the line between wins and losses is so small. It was a bad read by the running back. Dwyer would have taken that to the house, but he doesn’t play Special Teams, so he’s inactive.

  • 20 B Batch is still essentially a rook, this is a rookie mistake that hopefully 20 doesn’t repeat very often.

  • Douglas Andrews

    All i’m saying is look at BR pointing to that hole to the right. That tells you everything you need to know. JD would have made that a knock out blow with a big run.

  • Douglas Andrews

    What does Redman do that JD can’t do? plus JD has the ability to take it to the house. Hope he gets his chance this week

  • Itisafineday

    Mental talent has to go along “hand in hand” with physical talent. Some players are great mentally, but limited physically. This team seems to have too many players that are physically talented, but limited mentally. The need for the mental aspect of NFL football has grown greatly over the past 10 years. Some players, in past decades, would be so much better physically, that alone was enough for that player to dominate at his position. Reggie White was that kind of player. There was no one like him when he first entered the NFL. His combination of extreme size (for the time-period he played in) and speed, was one of a kind. Today’s NFL has players of White’s size and speed all over the place. Heck, look how big and fast many of the NFL linebackers are today.

    Two players from other teams that are good examples of this talking point, are Vince Young and Ray Lewis. Young never realized (or wasn’t able to) how important the mental part of the NFL game is… it is vital! If a player wants to be successful. Mr. Young supposed that he was big enough, strong enough and fast enough to be great at the QB position… wrong! Where as Ray Lewis also had fantastic physical talents out of college. But, RL understood early on that “to be great” in the NFL, a player must put a ton of effort into the study of the game.

  • Agreed..

  • it is also symptomatic of guys playing a spread in college and then trying to adgust to a power pro game, but that was not excusable, everyone did their job but batch.