The Ride 38 running play has been in the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive playbook for eons and they ran it twice Sunday night in second quarter in the loss to the Chicago Bears with two totally different results.
The first time they ran was on second and one with 8:27 left in the half. The play utilizes 12 personnel with tight ends David Johnson and Heath Miller lined up strong right and running back Jonathan Dwyer lined up in the eye.
At the snap, both Johnson and right tackle Marcus Gilbert block down inside while center Fernando Velasco releases to cutoff the weakside linebacker. Miller has responsibility of blocking down on the strongside linebacker if he attempts to shoot the gap, while right guard David DeCastro pulls out to the right to take on either the middle linebacker, if he reads the play properly, or the strong safety if he doesn’t.
On this particular play, Bears middle linebacker D.J. Williams reads the play well and is flowing to the outside. DeCastro notices this and pulls out a little flat which in turn cuts off Miller’s lane to block down on Lance Briggs. Miller, however, probably could have gotten off the ball a tick quicker, so he has to be charged with the run fail here as Briggs blows up the play.
Exactly six offensive plays later in the quarter, the Steelers give Ride 38 another shot and it is pretty amazing that Williams didn’t defend it as good as he did the first time. In the process, he made the jobs of both Miller and DeCastro much easier. Williams initially thinks he wants to shoot the A gap before realizing the play is going outside. Because of this, DeCastro doesn’t have to take as flat of a route to the edge as he can now concentrate on burying safety Major Wright, which he does nicely. Miller in turn has no problems cutting off Briggs and Dwyer is off to the races.
Being as the Minnesota Vikings also run a 4-3 defense, expect the Steelers to use 12 personnel quite a bit this coming Sunday. If things go well, you can probably expect to see Ride 38 ran two or three times in that game and it will be up to middle linebacker E.J. Henderson to read it correctly.