Yes, The Steelers Were Prepared For The Colts’ Fake Punt

At least formationally, the Pittsburgh Steelers were in position to defend Pat McAfee’s fake punt Thursday night. Real quick look at it.

The Steelers are pretty clearly in a “safe” look with Jordan Dangerfield and Justin Gilbert pulled off the line of scrimmage, an alignment that rarely use.


And on the snap, the Steelers don’t rush but look to hold up the Colts’ line while Ryan Shazier and Roosevelt Nix staying at home and keying in the players releasing out.


Jordan Dangerfield just seems a little late rallying to Erik Swoope, the player who makes the catch, and comes *this* close to breaking the pass up. A lot closer than what some people might think and if he does, it’s a great play and playcall by Danny Smith.


Alas, it doesn’t happen, the Colts, convert, and find the end zone a couple plays later. It is, inarguably, a negative for Smith. The play happened, Dangerfield didn’t break the pass up, and the conversion occurred under Smith’s watch. But it isn’t the special teams meltdown that it felt like at the time. The Steelers were prepared. The execution was just lacking.

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.

  • mem359

    That’s what I saw too, especially from the view behind Dangerfield, was that he should have broken up that play. He was slow to react, but he was in the right position. What you mentioned that I didn’t notice was Nix and Shazier also looking to cover.

    Was *anyone* charging the punter? Pressure on the passer could also mess up the play.

  • k33ger

    execution has been an issue all season for the entire team.

  • RickM

    There’s just no pass from me, and I know you’re not suggesting that Smith should get one. There are certain areas of the field where players have to be taught or reminded to be more alert to fakes – usually between your 40-yard-line and mid-field. You pretty much know there will be no return on punts from that distance, so you always guard against the fake. There’s no reason for Dangerfield not to be alert to a fake and have the guy well-covered. Saying he was close is irrelevant. Sorry, I know that sounds harsh, but we can’t run our own fakes successfully; at least guard against their’s in such an obvious field position.

  • mem359

    I think Alex’s point was that the team WAS guarding against the fake (Nix and Shazier staying at home), and that Dangerfield was in the right position (“close”) to make the play. Don’t know why Dangerfield hesitated before closing to the TE, but he did.

  • Nunya

    I have been very harsh on the special teams this year. But, how much of that is actually Danny Smith? Our special teams have been borderline disastrous during some games. However, so has our defense, and occasionally our offense. The simple fact is, I don’t think we have the players to get it done Consistently. I am often harsh on head coaches and coordinators because they either have a say in the players they have, or can cover up deficiencies with scheme. But the special-teams coordinator is kind of stuck with what they give him, and there are only so many different things you can do to cover up deficiencies on a special teams unit. I just don’t think Smith has the horses.

  • Michael James

    Yep, it wasn’t Danny Smith’s fault on this one. just a lack of execution, which has sadly been the standard for our special teams for a long time…

  • Michael James

    Every single Steelers’ player knew the fake was coming, that’s the point. It’s just that Dangerfield somehow fell asleep for a moment, that’s on him.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Everyone knows the fake is coming as Danny Smith’s call suggests. The players cover it well but Dangerfield was about 3 inches from breaking the play up, thus requiring the punter to make a very good throw to lead his receiver. Hats off to them. How in Gods name can it be The fault of Danny Smith?

  • Alex Kozora


  • Jason Kelley

    Saw the grief you were taking on Twitter for saying the Steelers were prepared for the fake, as if the only way the pass could have been completed is because Danny Smith sucks and the team wasn’t ready.

  • popsiclesticks

    Exactly. If your fake calls for the punter to roll out and throw a 20 yard strike right on the money ahead of the DB, well, good job.

  • Alex Kozora

    It happens.

  • NW86

    Yep, and when you add in the injuries, the special teams players have been changing all year. This doesn’t seem to get noticed often, but other than the guys actually snapping and kicking the balls, almost EVERY important special teams player has missed time this year. From Shamarko to Nix to Steven Johnson to DHB to Dangerfield…the list goes on. I don’t think many ST units would be too great under those circumstances.

  • RickM

    Well if every single player knew it was coming and it still worked, that’s even more damning and we therefore have the wrong personnel on the field. We can’t keep saying well the blocked punt was on Davis or Golden, the failed rabona kick was on Boswell, the failure to stop the fake was on Dangerfield. A coach’s job is to have his players trained to do their jobs. Too many times lately that isn’t happening.

  • RickM

    I guess I look at it a little differently. When I see a pattern of not executing pretty routine stuff (Davis or Golden blocking on the blocked punt, Dangerfield not being alert, Boswell barely making contact on a short kickoff) I look to the coach. If it was an isolated event I’d absolutely look to the player, but it isn’t. There’s a real pattern of this lately. When I see multiple things happening, right or wrong my starting point is an ill-prepared ST unit. And that’s the ST Coordinator’s job.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    If your team goes 0-16 but are calling the right plays whose fault is it? In the end it is up to Smith to make sure the play is executed. So if he called the right play but the player didn’t execute correctly Smith still has some culpability in this. Why isn’t Dangerfield executing the play correctly? This falls on Smith IMO.