Steelers Vs Vikings Sack Breakdown


Back to break down the two sacks given up by the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 26-9 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

1. 1st and 15, :40 1st. 11 personnel. Five block (plus RB chip/release) vs four man rush.

Steelers run a full slide to the offense’s right (defense’s left), leaving Alejandro Villanueva by himself on RDE Everson Griffen. Mostly by himself, at least. Le’Veon Bell leaks out to his side, trying to provide a chip.

The reason is understandable and common. Full slide, no guard help, and Griffen is their best pass rusher. But chips can have unintended consequences, rerouting and/or changing the DE’s pass rush plan. I think that may have influenced Griffen to use his inside spin move, though the fact he saw Foster work away from him probably also served as influence.


That said, Villanueva does need to understand he has outside help and if Griffen wants to run the edge, Bell is going to slow him up. Has to protect inside and not let Griffen cross his face. Unfortunately, that’s what happens, a really strong spin that Villanueva is unable to mirror.

Immediate pressure and Ben Roethlisberger goes down.

In hindsight, we found out Villanueva had been battling an illness throughout the week, losing 20 pounds. But we still have to blame someone for the sack and it’s an objectively bad rep.

Blame: Alejandro Villanueva

2. 3rd and 7, 5:46 3rd. 11 personnel. Six blockers vs four man rush (playaction).

It’s not often that I mark a sack on Todd Haley. But I think this one is clear. Steelers are in the red zone on third down. And Haley, unless Roethlisberger made a check, calls for playaction under center. We know Roethlisberger struggles more under center than he does out of the gun. And playaction, frankly, is just dumb. Not fooling anyone. If you want to run on 3rd and 7 when safeties get to naturally play closer to the LOS because it’s goal-line work, go right ahead.

And that puts Jesse James in a tough spot. Again, it’s Griffen, who can totally ignore the run fake and run after Roethlisberger. I get the Steelers will put tight ends on defensive ends but against these pass rushers? It’s a tall task and one he struggled at. I don’t get why James didn’t move his feet to try and reach Griffen, so that’s on him, but still, I don’t think anyone was put in a place to succeed on this one. Not James, not Roethlisberger, not the offense.

I will say that I am surprised Roethlisberger didn’t move more in the pocket after Griffen missed the first time or that Ben didn’t chuck the ball away. He’s gotta know Griffen is circling back around, that clock has to be screaming to get the ball out. Just lucky it wasn’t a fumble.

If you’re wondering, no one was open anyway.

All in all, poor design leads to some predictable results.

Blame: Todd Haley

Sack Counter (Game)

Alejandro Villanueva: 1
Todd Haley: 1

Sack Counter (Season)

Alejandro Villanueva: 2
Todd Haley: 1

Penalty Counter (Game)

Alejandro Villanueva: 1

Penalty Counter (Season)

Maurkice Pouncey: 1
Alejandro Villanueva: 1

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.
  • Froggy

    There’s something wrong with the blocking on that second sack. James looks like he expects to be part of a double team on Griffen with the left tackle, but the tackle slides inside, joining Foster in blocking no one. I don’t know who was at fault, but together they opened up a lane for Griffen to have a straight path to Ben.

  • Uncle Rico.

    Agree on both. That second one was pretty bad. Almost like Haley was confused on down and/or distance. Rare boot action off an OZB stretch, success predicated on Griffen coming inside and flat chasing down the line. James was suppose to help him along with an inside shove then release to the flat as the intended target. Fine enough play for 2nd down. Or 3rd and under 4. But 3rd and long, Griffen is playing the QB 10 times out of 10. A more favorable down and distance and Griffen flattens as they hoped, James likely picks up the first, if not scores.

  • VaDave

    Looks to me that Hubbard went after the wrong guy on the last gif. He should have caught the D leaving James to move to the flat. I think James saw when
    Hubbard didn’t pick up the DE did the best he could but in all fairness, was in no position to make that block

  • Uncle Rico.

    Suppose to look like a stretch run to the right, with Roethlisberger booting left. All the receivers are in the back left half of the EZ. Even though the play was misapplied to that down and distance, it still had a chance with better technique/smarts from James. He wants Griffen to go inside and given his split and relation to Juju and the situation, he should expect Griffen to go inside. He just needs to give Griffen a hard enough inside shove for Roethlisberger to get outside. But instead, the took a false little outside kick step which threw his balance and reach off. Just that one little misstep killed the whole play. But I still agree, bad play call for the situation was the bigger issue.

  • They only gave up 2 sacks to this front 7, that is a win in my opinion. I didn’t expect Ben to have enough time to wait for a pizza to be delivered to him back there.

  • The Tony

    I almost have to give AV a pass for the Vikings game. I can’t imagine losing 20 pounds over the weekend from being sick, playing in the heat and having to block that front 7. I have to imagine that we will see a much improved AV this week

  • Alex Kozora

    There’s a lot going wrong on the second sack period.

  • Alex Kozora

    Right. Really tough situation to play in. But sacks are sacks and someone’s gotta get the blame.

  • Mark

    I don’t think Jesse knew who to block on that sack and is definitely at fault. However, Ben should’ve dump the ball off to Jesse on that play. Always looking downfield instead of taking what the defense gives him.