Steelers Vs Dolphins: Sack Breakdown


Just one of these bad boys to look at today so let’s dive in.

1. 3rd and 7, 7:22 3rd. 12 personnel. Five blocking four rushers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers ran one of their favorite concepts of the past month, their mesh route, on third down. It’s a man-beater, the goal of the DBs getting picked on the crossing aspects of the mesh, and the X receiver getting free. But the Miami Dolphins are in zone coverage, passing routes off, and so the concept doesn’t work. That’s the first issue. Play is a bust.

To the line, RDE Andre Branch, beats Alejandro Villanueva. Villanueva is looking to be his usual aggressive self with a shorter set and trying to chop Branch’s hands down. But Branch is able to punch back, knock Villanueva’s hands, and render him useless. A 340 pound paperclip.


We’ve seen Villanueva get beat on this before. It’s one of his go-to moves and defenders study tape too. They know what’s in his toolbelt. Branch counters it well and swaps hips on his way to Ben Roethlisberger.

Branch gets the initial pressure but Roethlisberger is able to somehow shake it off. But Ndamukong Suh bull rushes back David DeCastro. A bull rush isn’t easy to defend, nor does it often look pretty, but DeCastro still has some problems. Tries a “hop step” to regain ground but he doesn’t reestablish a stagger and isn’t able to hold his ground.

That hop step and stagger is something Larry Zierlein had as a coaching point, as outlined here.

Suh is the one who finishes things off and picks up the sack. But Villanueva clearly allows the initial pressure and then DeCastro’s guys cleans it up.

Blame: Half on Villanueva, half on DeCastro

Sack Counter (Game)

David DeCastro: .5
Alejandro Villanueva: .5

Sack Counter (Season)

Alejandro Villanueva: 5
Marcus Gilbert: 4
Ben Roethlisberger: 3.5
David DeCastro: 2.5
Ramon Foster: 2
Jesse James: 1.5
B.J. Finney: 1
Fitzgerald Toussaint: 1
Antonio Brown: .5
Le’Veon Bell: .5
Landry Jones: .5

Penalty Counter (Game)

Ramon Foster: 1
David DeCastro: 1

Penalty Counter (Season)

David DeCastro: 12
Alejandro Villanueva: 6
Marcus Gilbert: 5
B.J. Finney: 2
Chris Hubbard: 2
Maurkice Pouncey: 2
Ramon Foster: 2

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.
  • Michael Mosgrove

    only 1.5 for jesse. seems way higher.

  • The Chin

    I’d take those numbers every single year.

  • Alex Kozora

    He’s improved a lot. But you can go through all the sacks and tell me which ones you think I’ve missed.

  • Garrett Hunt

    I love your film study Alex. The X’s and O’s breakdown sets this site apart. Thanks for putting in the time!

  • Alex Kozora

    Thanks so much Garrett!

  • Mark P

    Great analysis with these plays; easy to say, but would love to see the defensive sacks too!