Red zone efficiency has plagued the Pittsburgh Steelers offense all season and in the 19-16 win Sunday over the Baltimore Ravens it remained a problem and something that must be fixed if the team is expecting to continue stacking wins.
Against the Ravens, the Steelers were one of three inside the red zone and for the season they are 6-of-16 (37.5%).
Of the six touchdowns produced by the Steelers inside their opponents red zone this season, wide receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders don't have any of them. For their careers, both Brown and Sanders have combined to produce just nine red zone touchdowns catches while third wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery has produced four on his own.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have to come up with more creative ways to finish drives with seven points instead of three and the shovel pass to tight end Heath Miller for the first score of the game against the Ravens is proof that they are doing just that.
"I'll take credit for that play, put that in this week," said Roethlisberger after the win. "I'm glad it worked, I'll put it that way."
In addition to the shovel pass, the Steelers broke out the wildcat Sunday against the Ravens and while it was used on just four plays, perhaps this can become an option inside the red zone moving forward. While those plays were by design and did not require reads, they can be expanded on from there and head coach Mike Tomlin talked about that during his post game press conference.
"It was nice little wrinkle," said Tomlin of the wildcat. "Obviously, if we want to continue to use it, it needs more layers, more depth. We’ll look at it. We’ll evaluate it and kind of move on from there."