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Short Passing Game Played A Big Role In Steelers Win Over Jets


It was obvious Sunday in the Pittsburgh Steelers win over the New York Jets that the focus on offense was a shorter passing game and it resulted in a win.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 23-of-30 passes in the game for 264 yards and 10 of those passes were behind the line of scrimmage with only one, the wide receiver screen that his tight end Heath Miller in the helmet early in the game, falling incomplete.

While those 10 passes only resulted in 40 yards of offense, it helped slow down the Jets pass rush a little and seemed to open up the middle of the field as the game wore on.

Of the 13 passes that Roethlisberger threw up to 11 yards past the line of scrimmage, he completed 11 of them for 126 yards.

As irritating as the wide receiver screens can be at times, they were needed against a Jets defensive front that is strong against the run and can get after the quarterback.

For the game, Roethlisberger’s average passing distance was 7.6 yards and while that is the lowest it has been all season, it resulted in the team notching their first win of the season.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • StarSpangledSteeler

    First time all year Ben throws zero INT’s = First win of the year.

    Coincidence? … I think not.

    Let me be clear, I’m not bashing Ben. I’m just saying that when Ben focuses on short safe passes (like in the Jets game) he is much less turnover prone. And it helps our OL tremendously.

  • Mike.H

    agreed but why didn’t Ben and OC Haley use this philosophy on the past four painful losses?

  • Nolrog

    Obviously not a coincidence. Teams that win the turn over battle typically win the game. Steelers were +2.It’s not so much Ben worrying about short passes versus long, it’s the OL not giving him time to properly set up and read the field for the longer throws. He’s quite capable of throwing it down field and winning, but the OL can’t even give him 3 or 4 seconds to set up.

  • Nolrog

    Weren’t they down quickly and early in some of those games though? That kind of forces you more vertical to play catch up.

  • Jason White

    Like I have been saying all along for the last year, while everyone else runs their mouth about Todd Haley and the “Dink and Dunk” offense they used last year I love that offense. Granted Todd could have mixed in some deep passing last year to keep defenses honest but you can’t run the wide open offense that Arians likes to employ either. We just don’t have a good enough O-line for Ben to take 7 step drops and launch it 50 yards on every play either.
    My ideal gameplan would be to utilize the dink and dunk mixed in with the run game to slow down the pass rush and keep the defense guessing. Of course this only works if they can get the ground game up and running (no pun intended) Then once the defense creeps up to shut down the run you unleash Big Ben and his godly abilities to use play action passes and start pummeling the secondary with deep passes. Build a lead with that strategy and let the defense do what we know it can do when we have a good lead.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Funny, I’ve been saying this for years even when Arians was around. Ben is always looking for the big play and willing to get killed trying to make it. If he takes the short game to set up the big ones (like Sunday) we will have much less turnover as you stated and it definitely helps the pass blocking.

    People can say whatever they want about the defense, special teams, offensive line, etc. The number one way to lose a game is to lose the turnover battle. Ben has been the biggest culprit and once he stopped it we have a 95% chance to win. The main reason (not the only reason) we were 0-4 was Ben turnovers. Period.

  • TheBlitz

    Here is a better question: Did Ben want to use this philosophy in the 1st four losses ?

  • steeltown

    This game plan keeps Ben upright (for the most part) and keeps the Defense honest… we’ll need this same game plan against the Teams in our Division

  • WilliamSekinger

    Agreed. Back to Haley ball finally! Although different than last year in that they are opening it up downfield a lot more. Keep dumping that ball off Ben, not every pass is gonna be a 20+ yarder.

  • Don

    Yes, and this goes for the defense, too. Playing with the lead makes it a little easier to get those takeaways.

  • cencalsteeler

    With a young offensive line, this style of play is the winning formula, period.

  • ATL96STEELER

    31 passes, 26 rushes…great balance…good job by Haley keep them out of 3rd & obvious passing down a lot…Again, Ben ate two balls that go down as sacks, but he took care of the ball and, the OL played well again in the 2nd half so halftime adjustments are working.

    I would like to see the rush avg higher but the Jets DEF is better than advertised…especially the DL.

  • Mike Carroll

    The defense making stops early in game was a huge difference this week compared to the last 2 games. Their play enabled the offense to maintain a more conservative approach throughout the game. Interestingly, the Steelers did nothing on their first two drives. But, trailing 3-0 the offense opened it a bit and tied the game despite Ben being sacked twice on the drive with big play coming on a long pass to Heath.

  • srdan

    Yes, you are right. Our temperamental OC is talking to the franchise quarterback like he is a 4 year old.

  • AndyR34

    Seems about appropriate.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    There should be a distinction between a short passing game and the wide receiver screens. To me, a short passing game emphasizes slants, quick outs, traditional screens and short crossing patterns. It may utilize play action and comes from 3 and 5 step drops. The wide receiver screen is a de facto run play.

    I’m in the minority, but I’ve always liked the frequency and efficiency of the Steelers’ wide receiver screen game. In most cases when it is used, the 3-5 yards it nets are as good as a run and they make the defense respect the edges. The fakes off of it also have to be respected given their success in creating big plays.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    At this point, I’m in favor of as many WR screens as we can throw (without tipped pass / INTs). Because it’s the best way of neutralizing the blitz. We don’t have WRs that scare anybody. We don’t have a running game that scares anybody. Why would our opponents NOT blitz every other play? I would (if I were them).

  • Jason White

    I wouldn’t say that. Defenses are starting to recognize Antonio Brown’s abilities. And if Sanders keeps doing what he did to Cromartie then defenses will have no choice but to show that respect. I know they aren’t Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson scary but if a defense underestimates them they will pay for it.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I been saying that all year. There seems to be a conflict with T Haley play calls and what Ben wants to run. Ben thinks the playground style works better and Haley uses the short passing game to cover for the O Line. All I’m saying is that got us to a 6-3 record last year. I think it works and even though Ben wants to go down the field, this is just not the O line for that to consistently happen.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Agreed…Look at Brady, Rodgers, and Brees. They all take what the defense gives them and move the chains. They take the big play when it’s there instead of forcing a possible turnover. I realize BB is a different QB and of course I like it when it does work, but the turnovers have been one of the reasons for the 0-4 start.

  • charles

    No it doesn’t

  • Douglas Andrews

    I agree only problem is will Ben buy into to it. Ben’s won 2 SB’s playing that playground style. I’m a fan of the offense being run like yesterday. It helps our offense because as you said with a young O line Ben can’t just expect to drop back and fling it down the field without missing some games due to injury. Overall good game plan just need more TD’s instead of FG’s

  • charles

    The difference in this game as opposed to the first 4 was that Ben had much greater accuracy, the play action pass to Sanders was a bullseye. The other diference that we won’t get the advantage on again is that it was GSmith’s 4th game in the NFL.
    I do think that Flacco is playing like a rookie and ironically the Ravens need a blindside tackle too. Lets hope that Jones can force Flacco to act like Geno. We also should not underestimate what Beachum brought to the game over Adams.

  • chris ward

    WR screens can be annoying at times, but it was what needed to be done to help out a struggling run game and slow down a good pass rush. I liked the couple of screen passes they threw to Miller to slow down the rush.

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