Breaking Down The Doomed 3rd Down Play With Two Minutes Left Against The Bengals

One of the toughest plays to watch this past Sunday in the Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Cincinnati Bengals this past Sunday, outside of the two interceptions thrown by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, was the 3rd down and 8 play with two minutes left in the game. If the Steelers convert on this play they are more than likely in field goal range for kicker Shaun Suisham with an opportunity to run three more plays to get him even closer and take more time off the clock in the process.

The play in question, which you can see in the two animated gifs below, never had a chance to be successful thanks to the depth and types of routes run against the defense.

Steelers Bengals 3rd down

In the first animation you see the pre snap action where the Bengals have the line of scrimmage crowded and both safeties up in the box as if they are playing cover-0. The disguise is good because at this point the Steelers offense is unsure of how many people are coming. With 7 seconds left on the play clock the safeties drop back into a cover-2 shell and the middle linebacker drops back into his normal depth.

At the snap it is straight press man coverage across and the routes play right into it. Look at the depth of Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown at the top of their routes. Both are not only short of the chains, but short of the 34 yard-line as well, which is where they need to be to get within range of Suisham. Both are easily covered, as is Emmanuel Sanders, Isaac Redman in the flat and tight end David Paulson on the corner route.

Steelers Bengals 3rd down

The Bengals only essentially rushed three on the play, and with the receivers all covered and the middle of the field wide open Roethlisberger attempts to take off to try and get the first down himself, which he of course was unsuccessful at doing.

Even if the Bengals had stayed in cover-0 and sent both of the safeties this play would have been doomed. The Steelers did not have a route in this play that attacked the middle of the field and thus played right into the defense called by the Bengals.

Why in the world are only two of your eligible receivers running routes behind the chains here?

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Hey do you guys think you could do an article on players that are free agents and could have interests with the Steelers

  • SteelersDepot

    You expected the Steelers to change course and be active in free agency? what will they use for cap space?

  • PoKey21

    Personally I think the Steelers will let Mendenhall, Will Allen, and Casey Hampton walk. Either Batch needs to retire or we need to cut Leftwich, and draft a rookie in the late rounds to groom until 2016. And i think if the Steelers are serious about clearing cap space they need to look into cutting Ike Taylor, Willie Colon, or James Harrison. Those 3 will be getting paid a combined 20 million in 2013. I think cutting Ike would be the most problematic, but if we can resign Keenan Lewis for much cheaper it might have to happen. Others who could walk include Foote, Foster, Legursky, Mclendon, Redman, and Starks. All those players and the few listed above I think would clear up a little room, but then we would need to plug in the holes. Im sure some will be resigned, But as I mentioned if they want to clear a good amount of cap space a pretty good player is going to have to be cut.

  • zyzak

    Ask Haley, he needs to answer a lot of questins

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Hindsight’s 20/20, cant predict every move every defender gonna make on all plays, its why def coordinators get paid too. Only know tendencies ahead of time.

    If u want bonehead coaching there was worse than that.

    Starting with all last offseason bad planning of wrong players to count on for upcoming regular season. By the time our coaches figured that out which everyone else had already saw from last season, that cost us 3 losses this season.

    Then lack of nuff coaching cost us too many lackadasical (I cant spell) penalties & bad decisions by players which some were avoidable if been more coaching. & Shuld not call a pass play til u get the timing down in practice first, but in games receivers usually not on same page with QB. I like my bro Tomlin, but he shulda put more time in, seems like having got that contract then didnt coach players more who needed it.

    Then key bad coaching decisions. Not saying missed FG cost us but deciding to go for a FG that he shulda known was out if Suishums range, was typical lack of preparing.

    To overcome our injuries this year, could not afford to have anything other than good coaching.

  • zyzak

    Larry Foote played well and McLendon will replace Hampton. Ike aint goin nowhere

  • SoCal-Steel

    Vbarzey, I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment. Ben’s on field awareness has cost us waaaaaaay too many times. He took untimely sacks (holding the ball too long as opposed to helpless sack) not only in the SB game against GB, but also in last year’s playoff game against DEN when we only needed 10 or so yards for a FG. These unsmart plays coupled with the INTs make BR7 a liability right now.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Thats a good point to remember Steelers history, Rooneys dont compete for FAs. The only times Rooneys sign FAs from other teams are players no teams wanted to go after. A few times that panned out for us. But right there is no point discussing available FAs of other teams, bcaus Rooneys aint gonna start gettng into bidding for any of them.