Steelers Versus Patriots Sack Breakdown

By Alex Kozora

A breakdown of the five sacks the Pittsburgh Steelers allowed against the New England Patriots.

1. 3rd and 2, 12:12 1st. Shotgun, empty set. Five blocking vs a four man rush. The play was designed for the ball to come out quick, hitting Felix Jones on an “in” route (why Jones was the primary receiver something I don’t entirely understand, guess trying to take advantage of matchup vs Dont’a Hightower). It’s obvious to know that because both tackles are asked to cut the linebackers.




The window to hit Jones on the in cut is tight with Brandon Spikes following Ben Roethlisberger’s eyes and driving on the route but the window exists.


Ben comes off that read and looks for anything else but no other receiver gets separation. Because of the cut block, the pressure gets to Ben a moment later and he fumbles with New England recovering.

Two issues on the play. Blame doesn’t lie on the tackles because the ball has to come out quick. Ben really didn’t have the luxury to go through his progressions. It’s a “one, two, ball out” read. And even though the first read is a difficult throw, it was best to take it.

The other half is the lack of separation from any other receiver. Four other guys can’t get a step on a defensive back, a recurring theme the last two games.

Blame: Half on Ben, half on the receivers

2. 1st and 25, 1:03 1st. Shotgun, empty. Five block vs four rush. Try to run slant/flat at the top of the screen with bubble screen at the bottom. Guessing Ben has a choice of what side he wants to look at first then can across the field if the first isn’t there.



Ben looks at the slant/flat first but it doesn’t develop after Antonio Brown trips.


Kelvin Beachum tries to cut block Chandler Jones but he gives an inside moves and Beachum doesn’t get much of the end. Ben doesn’t have time to look to the screen. Jones gets to Ben in 2.56 seconds.

It’s a tough block for the left tackle, cutting a player moving laterally at that moment, but part of the blame falls on him. The other on Antonio Brown for tripping. Bad luck but if he doesn’t, Ben likely pulls the trigger and the sack doesn’t happen.

Blame: Half on Beachum, half on the wide receivers.

3. 1st and 10, 11:33 3rd. Shotgun, 11. Five block (RB on block/release) vs four man rush. Ben looking at top of the screen to No.2 WR Jerricho Cotchery who is unable to separate.



Ben looks across the field (good!) and has Antonio Brown open on the dig.


But he pumps and doesn’t make the throw (bad!)

Brown hasn’t settled down either. It isn’t as if the safety can jump in front. With Brown running across, he can still box out the defensive back. Ben has to rip it. He tries to climb the pocket instead and Chandler Jones, on contain, brings him down. This one clearly on Ben.

Blame: Ben Roethlisberger

4. 3rd and 10, 13:31 4th. Shotgun, 11. Six block vs five man rush. Two deep shell for New England, letting CBs play trail technique. Nothing open downfield.



Steelers pick up stunt well between the strong side end and under tackle.

But Felix Jones misses his assignment, doubling Kelvin Beachum’s assignment. Linebacker on a “hug” blitz (rush if RB blocks) and he runs through free.



Blame: Felix Jones

5. 1st and 10, 5:15 4th. Shotgun, 11. Five block (TE on block/release) vs four man rush. Another two deep shell with trail technique from underneath defenders.



75 year old Andre Carter bullrushes Beachum, forcing Ben to roll out.


And then Carter sheds Beachum to bring Ben down from behind.


Blame: Kelvin Beachum

Before we get to the counter, want to point out four of the five sacks allowed came with the Patriots just rushing four. Extremely disappointing stat.

Sack Counter (Game)

Ben Roethlisberger: 1.5

Kelvin Beachum: 1.5

Wide Receivers: 1

Felix Jones: 1

Sack Counter (Season)

Kelvin Beachum: 5

Ben Roethlisberger: 4

Marcus Gilbert: 3.5

Ramon Foster: 3

Mike Adams: 3

Defensive Scheme/Coverage: 2.5

Todd Haley/Bad Playcall: 1.5

David DeCastro: 1.5

LaRod Stephens-Howling: 1

Fernando Velasco: 1

Guy Whimper: 1

Wide Receivers: 1

Felix Jones: 1

Isaac Redman: .5

Le’Veon Bell: .5

Penalties (Game)

Marcus Gilbert: 1

Fernando Velasco: 1

Penalties (Season)

Marcus Gilbert – 5 (3 false start , 1 trip, 1 hold,)

Kelvin Beachum – 3 (2 hold, 1 false start)

Ramon Foster – 1 (1 hold)

Mike Adams – 1 (1 hold)

Fernando Velasco – 1 (Illegal block below waist)

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.

  • treeher

    After a positive start, I’m not sure I’m seeing a significant upgrade with Beach replacing Adams at left tackle.

  • Paul

    They should blow up this line and start over next season. Tomlin is clueless

  • k33ger

    Regarding number 3: it looks to me like the middle linebacker is in a position where ben would have to throw over him. That’s a risky throw. if ben were to try to throw a dagger to the right of the backer, that is also risky, because the backer is moving in that direction. In short, very small window, closing rapidly, and db’s in trail of brown, so a throw behind is an Int. i don’t blame ben for that one.

    I think ben needs to do 1-2 read and then run more. All he needs is 5-6 yards and it will make the defense have to watch that more. low-risk, high-reward.

  • steeltown

    Velasco and Whimper both had another solid game, these guys deserve to be brought back in the offseason, whether its for depth purposes or whatever these guys came in as FA’s have played better than everyone not named DeCastro

    If we could only figure out the Tackle position

  • cencalsteeler

    I am going to stick my neck out here and come to the defense of the oline here. Has anyone figured out why Foster was tapping Velasco before the snap? Was it that loud in Foxboro? It was blatantly obvious when Velasco was going to snap the ball based on this tapping by Foster. This move gave the D a definite edge. It looked like something out of a pop warner game.

  • RG and Right Tackle are fine as well as LG & backup center LT is the problem so obviously not clueless No LT no consistent offense

  • Matthew Marczi

    On the last sack, I don’t see why you don’t credit Roethlisberger with at least half the blame. If I recall correctly, he had about seven seconds from the snap to the point where he is sacked. He had ample opportunity to at least throw the ball away.

  • JohnB

    I always love these breakdowns, thanks for always taking the time to do so.
    It would be nice to see the other side..but with us getting very little pressure, you’d probably only have one GIF for an entire article.

  • Alex Kozora

    There’s nothing available downfield. And I can get not throwing the ball away with little time left (even in a game already over). Ben’s just trying to hope something develops. The initial pressure by Beachum forced Ben to roll out and threw a monkey wrench into the play from the beginning. If anything, half should go to the receivers for not getting open.

  • Alex Kozora

    Yeah, that was something I didn’t get but I’d have to take a closer look at it. I’d have a hard time believing that the Steelers would have such a simple giveaway to the snap. They had to have been mixing up the call of when to snap it after the tap (silent count of one for play “x”, silent count of three for play “Y”).

  • charles

    Why did the genius, I mean Colbert, let Starks go until he found a sure replacement? Blindside protection is arguably second or third most important position offensively.

  • alex

    oh god! did you really have to show that first one?!

    both tackles do there worst attempt at a belly flop and end up on there own asses, except that were not in a pool!

    i just dont understand the desperate lunging technique that all three of our tackles have perfected!

  • Alex Kozora

    Just to follow up on this, after combing through about half the game so far, the team was mixing up the count. Lot of hard counts after Foster’s tap so NE couldn’t jump it.