Steelers Versus Bears Sack Breakdown

By Alex Kozora

Breaking down the Pittsburgh Steelers sacks from Week 3 versus the Chicago Bears.


Steelers Bears sack animated gif

1. 2nd and 4, 6:50 1st. 12 personnel. Bears rush five. Julius Peppers engages David Johnson but never actually rushes him so he’s not included in the above number.

Playaction, Steelers fake bucket step on outside zone to the left and pull Ramon Foster. The SAM and MIKE linebackers blitz. Foster doubles the SAM with Felix Jones leaving the MIKE (D.J. Williams) to rush in scot-free. Swats the ball away and the Bears fall on top of it.


Foster gets the blame on this one. Needs to pick up the inside blitzer, work inside out. No need to double the SAM.

Some may contend that looking at the picture, the slide protection leaves Fernando Velasco with no one to block meaning the blame should fall on someone else. But with the bucket step to sell playaction, there’s nothing Velasco can do. No time to have everyone fall back down the line. And if Peppers does rush, odds are Mike Adams will be helping out there, forcing Velasco to pick up three tech Henry Melton.

Bottom line is Foster can’t double. Let Jones block one-on-one. Worst case scenario is there’s pressure from the outside and Ben Roethlisberger is able to climb the pocket and slide away. Mental mistake that leads to a fumble and turnover.

Blame: Ramon Foster

Steelers Bears sack animated gif

2. 2nd and 5, :07 1st. 21. Six man rush vs five Steelers’ blocking. Left end Corey Wooten does show rush off the snap but after seeing Jonathan Dwyer run his route towards the flats, peels off and has flat responsibility.

Sack occurs quickly enough that it’s a bit difficult to see what Ben’s read was. Spot route at the bottom of the picture between David Johnson and Will Johnson (curl/flat).


Really sound playcall by the Bears. Safety rotation post-snap that no doubt messes with a QB on his drop. Reads Cover 2 pre-snap, SS comes down and you get a Cover 3 look post-snap.



On the defensive line, the closed end slants down one gap with the LB replacing on a blitz. MIKE and SAM blitz and the MIKE is open up the “B” gap. Blitz design Dick LeBeau has run a lot. Lure the guard with the crashing end and run a wide rush with a linebacker to open up the “B” gap.


There’s nothing Kelvin Beachum can do even after Wooten peels off. Happens too late for the line to slide back down the other way. And while I preach working inside/out, I don’t blame Adams for taking the wide rusher. So I can’t stick the blame on him.

To me, it’s just a solid playcall from Chicago. Have to give the other guys credit sometimes, too. As of this writing, I haven’t combed through the whole game yet but I’m guessing the Bears have gotten away from their vanilla Cover 2 with the departure of Lovie Smith.

Blame: Good defensive coverage

Steelers Bears sack animated gif

3. 1st and 10, 4:09 4th. Shotgun, 11. Six rushers vs six blocking. Pre-snap, seven on the line for the Bears. Every lineman is covered. DB blitzes off the edge with only the closed “A” gap LB dropping. T/E (tackle/end) stunt on the closed side.

BoB (back on backer) protection with Isaac Redman pitted against Lance Briggs. Does a decent job of getting himself square to Briggs but lunges and doesn’t generate a lot of power. Like an offensive tackle against an end, you can’t bend at the waist. Redman does and Briggs, running at full speed, is able to slide past.


He’s able to get to Ben and knock the ball away, falling into the waiting arms of Peppers who houses it. I didn’t really see Ben holding the football away from his body. He’s trying to tuck it back into his body right as Briggs knocks it away.


So half the blame falls on Redman for not making the play.

But the other half is actually going to go to Todd Haley. I did not like the playcall, and rarely am I critical of a coach. All the different variables that go into a play make it tough to even assign blame to a player, let alone a guy on the sidelines making a call fans aren’t privy too.

The call was a fake bubble screen then throw vertical down the seam. Chicago didn’t bite and Ben was forced to come across the field on his second read.


In a game where every second counts, that makes all the difference between a completion and game-ending fumble.

There’s nothing wrong with the playcall by itself. It’s worked before. Ben had a wide open Emmanuel Sanders on this play in Week One but overthrew him. It went for a gain of 21 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Haley ran the same exact play on the same down and distance from nearly the same yard line. On first and ten with 2:39 left in the third quarter from the Bears 47, it went for 26 to Jerricho Cotchery. He ran it here on first and ten from the Bears 48.

After giving up the big play the first time around, you can bet Chicago wasn’t going to be fooled again. And they weren’t.

Blame: Half on Todd Haley for the bad playcall, half on Isaac Redman for the lack of execution

Sack Counter (Game)

Ramon Foster: 1

Good defensive play: 1

Isaac Redman: .5

Todd Haley/Bad Playcall: .5

Sack Counter (Season)

Marcus Gilbert: 3

Ramon Foster: 1.5

Ben Roethlisberger: 1

LaRod Stephens-Howling: 1

Good defensive play: 1

Mike Adams: .5

Defensive Coverage: .5

David DeCastro: .5

Isaac Redman: .5

Todd Haley/Bad Playcall: .5


Just one. A Ramon Foster hold late in the 4th quarter.

So on the season…

Marcus Gilbert – 1 (1 trip)

Ramon Foster – 1 (1 hold)

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • steeltown

    I’ve been surprised at the lack of penalties.. sometimes I almost prefer they hold a little more in hopes of getting away with it, if it’ll keep Ben upright

  • chris ward

    The fake bubble has been a nice play for the Steelers, but I agree I think Haley called the play one to many times in this situation.

  • NW86

    Thanks for the analysis. Overall, even though Ben was under a lot of pressure and did get sacked 3 times, I’d say the OL played better then the previous two weeks – it’s a credit to the Bears, they brought a lot of pass rushers and you never knew where it was coming from.
    Yes, there is still improvement to be made, but I think we’re at least seeing some progress.

  • Virdin Barzey

    You ask any great lineman and they tell you that their is a holding on every single play by a lineman. You have to be smart and unfortunately I don’t think this o-line crew can pass that test. They’re a definitely trying but it looks bad and makes me wonder, what the heck are they doing at practice. Its not working since they don’t seem to be playing together as a unit.

  • steeltown

    Most definitely, its all about engaging and sustaining your block without getting caught for holding too long.. I think they need to work on sustaining blocks longer even if it means getting caught

  • cencalsteeler

    What was Foster thinking on that first gif? Is it just me, or does it look like he actually stutter steps around Williams to go help Jones?
    These gifs have me wondering what Bicknell is doing all week.
    I do give props to Velasco. This guy is quietly doing his job.

  • cencalsteeler

    There is no way those tackles get holding calls. They step to the side, give one push, and then try and chase end around possibly trying for one more push. Just pathetic.

  • charles

    Totally agreement. Coaching and penalties go hand in hand . This unit has played better each week against fairly stiff competiton. The O attack strategy showed signs of life as well. We are not done yet.

  • Alex Kozora

    It’s great to use it once as a counter off the regular bubble screen. But once Chicago saw it, especially on a play that went for a big gainer, the element of surprise was gone. Should not have been run again, especially not on same D/D & field position.

  • alex

    the first gif is hideous, but the second looks like ben is blind to half the field until his 5th step back in the pocket, then bang!

  • John

    The Foster misplay on the sack is about as bad as they come. He runs right by the guy he needs to block only to given the LB a straight run at Ben ending in a costly turnover. Plays like that cannot be made. You cannot scheme for players that will pick the wrong guy to block, run by wide open rushers, etc.
    BTW, how do you think Adams will do this week against Jared Allen. Horror show.

  • Dan

    After looking at those GIF images, I’m beginning to think that Cris Collinsworth was wrong when he said that Ben Roethlisberger was being “loosey goosey” with the ball. On the first fumble, it looks to me like Roethlisberger is holding the ball with both hands trying to protect it. And he got sacked so fast on the second fumble that he didn’t even get a chance to secure it when he saw the pressure coming. It didn’t help that the pressure came from the right on both of those sacks either.

  • Dan

    I’d like to keep Fernando Velasco even after Maurkice Pouncey comes back. I might even consider moving Pouncey out to LG and keeping Velasco at C. I think the Steelers are in a good place with the interior O-line. It’s the Ts that concern me, but they need more time as well.

  • Impact3697

    I’m not a ben basher but how hard is it to throw the ball to Sanders when he sees Chicago doesn’t bite on the fake screen and their dbs are backing off to cover Cotchery and Miller. Doesn’t seem like a tough throw, since he’s already looking to that side of the field. Maybe that’s not designed to be the second option on the play, but it really should be.. Even so he’s got to recognize the blitz and either get rid of the football or cover it up and take the sack. He can’t try to shrug off the blitzer every single time or he’s gonna keeping turning the ball over..

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Pouncey has great feet, quickness and is strong enough. We don’t need a tree at left tackle, we need someone who can give the QB 3 flippin seconds. Pouncey is starting LT next season.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    agree. Sack #2 is on BB

  • John

    A main problem here is that the Steelers best (and possibly only) offense was Big Ben getting harassed, then avoiding pressure somehow and making a throw. If he just threw everything away immediately like Peyton Manning or Brady do often, there would be no offense at all. In the first part of the game, it was like schoolyard football for us in that Ben had to avoid pressure consistently and then see what he could create. That is how bad the line is. It is a shame because other aspects of the team appear to be coming around a bit.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    He could audible out also.

  • alex

    push him inside to Foster, then go out in the flat as a tackle eligible…

    oops, Heath is back now, we dont need help at TE anymore!

    in all seriousness, with Heath, the Johnsons and now Bell back on offense, we finally have our starting 11 on the field…if you fail now, youre fired!

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    offensive line play 101, Never pass up making a block to chase one farther from the ball.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    the only time I noticed sanders in any of the above, he was running a slant about 10 yds, through the zone and never looked back, and ben was actually down when he got to the markers.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    not as simple as you want it to sound, the bears did a good job all game of showing one defense and running another at the snap, plus, you can only audible if there is clear intent of what the d may do and if, you have the personnel on the field to run a counter audible to beat it.