Roethlisberger Explains Red Zone Zone Failure Vs Chiefs

Red zone offense is one of the most critical components to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ success or really, any team. They were better in the big victory over the Kansas City Chiefs but still not perfect. Talking on his weekly radio spot with Ron Cook and Andrew Filliponi, , Roethlisberger broke down their late second quarter red zone possession that ended in a field goal.

The Steelers had the ball on the Chiefs’ two yard line with 3:07 left in the second quarter. On first down, Roethlisberger threw out of the end zone incomplete. Fans were upset it was a pass but according to Big Ben, it was a designed run.

“We actually called a playcall, they gave us a defense that we couldn’t run the play. We had a run play called. We had a lighter personnel in. They brought their goal line heavy package in. We called the play and the line looked at me like, ‘Ben, we can’t run that play. You gotta change it.’ I went to the shotgun and looked AB on a pass play and then threw it away.”

Roethlisberger called it a “make it up” play that ultimately didn’t work out.

On second down, the Steelers ran to the left but the Chiefs knifed in for a four yard loss. On third and goal from the six, the play, and the throw, went to Le’Veon Bell.

“We got the look where the linebacker was going with Le’Veon….we talked about it all week in practice, when that linebacker goes out with Le’Veon, and I told Le’Veon that, I’m kinda selling out to you. That’s the matchup we wanted, that’s the matchup we got. I told him to be patient on his route. I thought he ran a great route. I put the ball where I wanted to. Looking back on it yesterday, he didn’t just get grabbed. The guy had two arms around him. Pulling him, did all kinds of stuff. We had a good playcall, we had the matchup we wanted, everything was good.”

You can see linebacker Derrick Johnson grab around Bell’s waist in the article photo above but the refs didn’t throw a flag, forcing the Steelers to settle for a field goal. But it’s definitely the right matchup to target, the elder Johnson pitted against the best back in the league.

Most interesting from this conversation is his commentary on the first play. And you can bet it’s not the first time Roethlisberger has had to check out of a run play.

It’s why looking at just box score numbers can be tricky when determining a commitment to run. Because if an offense is committed to it, you can bet defenses are committed to stopping it. That’s what the Chiefs did and the Steelers’ offense was forced to respond.

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.
  • Cates Jamie

    They lined up in shotgun on first and second down. Regardless of whether or not you’re going to run it, they’d shouldn’t be in shotgun on 1st or 2nd and goal from the 2 with the personnel we have. Doesn’t give Bell a chance to get the ball with a full head of steam if he does run it like on 2nd down, and doesn’t make the defense have to respect the run as much. Throw or pass is fine, but put your people in good spots so they have a chance at least…

  • Michael James

    That was as blatant a hold as it gets. Would have been an easy TD. How on earth could the refs miss this?

  • Alex Kozora

    Ben seems to imply that he checked to the gun.

  • John

    You are absolutely correct. It does sound like Ben checked into the gun as well but that doesn’t work. You would have to run the ball out of the gun somehow to make it smart. BTW the Bears are inventing new ways to score in their games. Maybe we can copy them.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I understand not running the initial play, but not having a play in your back pocket that takes advantage of a heavy run defense? Making it up as you go? That’s poor coaching and poor planning. If all it takes is a personnel change to neutralize a 1st and goal from the 2-yard line, that’s sloppy.

  • Steelgator

    Bell isn’t Jerome Bettis. He doesn’t need a runway to get to full steam and getting the ball deeper in the backfield leaves him more options choose the best gap, which is what he does best. Running out of the shotgun actually IS putting Bell in position to succeed.

  • Josh

    anyone else suspicious that they want to give Bell the chance to “cash in” on his work with a TD rather than use Watson, who’s the best short-yardage option at the goal line?

  • Conserv_58

    In Alex’s right up he pointed out that Ben said that they had their lighter personnel in and when he saw that the Chief’s had their goal line heavy package he called a play that the lineman knew wouldn’t work so he had to call an alternate play. This is where you are missing a key point, that being, they didn’t have the time to change personnel to match the play they initially wanted to go with.

  • Sam Clonch

    Yet Chiefs fans on other sites will cry about how the refs gave the game to Pittsburgh, lol!

  • Conserv_58

    Did you watch the game? If you did you would already know that Bell didn’t have a problem getting into the endzone when they had the right personnel blocking.

  • Conserv_58

    LMBO! Heck even the Seattle Seahawk fans and Mike Holmgren still can’t get over SB XLIII.

  • Josh

    wow – touchy much? 1st & goal from the 2. I think Watson (100% success rate in situations like this) would be a viable option here, as in 100% success rate.

  • Sam Clonch

    I think you’re sample size is too small to be reliable on Watson. And what’s the Steelers incentive to make Bell score the TD? To drive up his price for next season (It’s going to be the franchise tag, regardless of what he does)? Plus, come’on, 190+ yards from scrimmage, and you want to go with a nobody? Shocking.

  • Mark

    He failed to discuss the fact that AB was wide open on the other side because he was stuck on throwing the ball to Bell on that play. If you saw Bell being held then look backside to see if AB is open.

  • falconsaftey43

    Watson hasn’t had many opportunities, and there is a big difference between goal line and 3rd and short at mid field.

    Bell is an excellent redzone RB. For his career he scores on 56.8% of carries from the 5 or closer. 64% from the 2 or closer.

    Bettis for his career was 41.4% from 5 and in and 56.3% from 2 and in.

    Tomlinson in 2006 when he scored 28 TDs was 65.2% from 5 and in and 61.5% from 2 and in.

    There is no problem giving your proven all pro RB the touches in the redzone instead of Watson.

  • Uncle Rico.

    I’d have to go back and look again, but I’m pretty sure they went 2TE on that play. Same exact look as the earlier TD run, except that had 3WR instead of 2TE. Same tight bunch formation, just diff personnel. The TD was against nickel, and Im pretty sure this play was just base personnel on D, not goalline. Same personnel and formation and D on second down, just flipped that bunch to the left and ran ot anyways. They had noone assigned to block one of the DL at the point of attack. Maybe that goes back to the OL objection to the first play. I buy that, but why then is it suddenly ok on 2nd down. That same issue remains, safety came free as well. Nothing really changed on either side of the ball, just moved the bunch from one side to the other. I assume they wanted to run the same play Bell scored pn earlier, just with slightly bigger personnel. Maybe they should’ve gone back to 3wr personnel, if they wanted to duplicate the first TD, hoping that KC again matches with nickel and a smaller down front.

    I agree with the 3rd down look and thinking. Obviously expecting man there with KC. But they dropped out Houston or Ford into the throwing lane and had DJ stay over top with his back to goalpost to cut off most routes. Really good play by KC. Just wish Roetlisberger looked to the other side. Maybe the best rub route I’ve them execute in years. Nearly the only run route Ive seen them execute well in years. Brown was wide open.

  • Josh

    thanks – good stats to know & appreciate the thoughtful response. I agree that it’s not a chronic problem (though that 2nd down lateral run was tough to watch) but it’s interesting to think about Watson’s potential in this role.

  • CP72

    First and goal from the 2 yard line. You have been running the ball down their throat. You line up in shotgun with light personnel???

    Bring in a 6th lineman with Rosie Nix and pound the ball 4 times if necessary.

  • CP72

    Still had “light” personnel in on 1st and goal from the 2…..sigh.

    It’s just getting to cute.

  • ThatGuy

    SB XL*

  • PaeperCup

    Just run the run play. It’s first down, so if it fails you have 2 more plays with likely no more than a minimal loss. What would have happened if the loss of 4 came on first down? You now have two plays to pass, with a little room to breath, not the worst thing in the world. I always thought passing from the 3 or closer one of the toughest plays to convert. But instead, the loss comes on second down, and now you have 1 play to run in an obvious passing situation.

    Probably would have scored without the hold though. Gahhhh, these refs.

  • francesco

    I remember Ben looking at AB even before the snap. It was so obvious he was going there. But if you don’t have the right set up why not just call a time out? Why waste a down?
    They better fix these redzone issues.

  • falconsaftey43

    Stats say run and pass are pretty similar. NFL last 3 season from the 3 or closer teams score on 47% of run plays and 44.5% of pass plays.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    No, I understand quite perfectly. My criticism is that they had no ALTERNATE play other than for Ben to call a “make it up” play. If you have no secondary play other than, “Hey AB, get open” when they bring out guys to stop the run, then you’re ill-prepared. You should go to the line with an actual alternate play in your back pocket. The Steelers didn’t, and ended up wasting 1st and goal.

  • Bill

    I have no problem with play change because of the defense; that’s why Ben was in the gun. Bell is not a fast back so to run wide seems like a bad option. The problem I do see is over dependence on AB. Ben and Haley need to find ways to use the big guys to use their height to make plays. Teams are stacking the box because of the running game. The weakness of the Steelers offense seems to be failure of the passing game to take advantage of 7 or 8 men in the box.

  • John Noh

    Over dependence, until he’s wide open as he was on the third down throw to Bell.

  • Runner1967

    Not only was Bell held, JJ was held and Ju Ju was held as well. Refs decided to go with the “blind” package on 3rd down. Wow.

  • Intense Camel


  • Intense Camel


  • Smitty 6788

    Yeah KC is not rushing the QB plus the guy held after Ben threw the ball. Ben did nothing wrong on the play

  • J.

    Hey we are on the two lets send out our light personal smh.

  • Bobby h.

    I say Ben should be allowed to call his own plays like terry Bradshaw did an others also did Montana.. D. Moreno etc

  • Bobby h.

    True Ben needs to improve his vision brown was wide open!

  • Buccos9

    So, if a team puts in a big defense, Ben thinks that means you can’t run. What about a stretch run to the outside? Larger players aren’t as mobile. There must be other options rather than having the opponent dictate pass/run from the 2 yard line based on their personnel. Even if you decide to pass, what in the world has happened to the idea of throwing into the middle of the end zone to a tight end or receiver?

  • Balok’s Plight

    Agree 100% – no way they should be in shot gun inside the 5, empty back field no less.

  • Balok’s Plight

    Seems like Haley had more imagination the first few seasons, the offense is so flat and predictable. No misdirections, counters, little motion. How about going no huddle once in a while for some urgency

  • PA2AK_

    Like Malkin said…try to play beautiful every time

  • Steven Vincent

    They had a run play called with their light package in? Is that supposed to be some kind of fake? I mean we have the line and the back, on the 2 play the play like you mean it with the full package. Plus Rosie.

  • Code Warrior

    Agreed. And it’s not like this is first time Ben has audibled out of a run on the goal line to a failed pass… just last week remember that failed out and up double move fade to AB. Man, just hand it off when you’re down there (cuz what they’re doin’ ain’t workin’)

  • Zach Ribel

    Of course chiefs had their heavy package we were on the 2.5 yrs line lol… bell was obviously PI, completely impeded. That was a perfect throw and route it was so obvious his momentum was stopped

  • John Pennington

    Why when you need 2 yards Nix and Watson should be in the game and run right at them.In camp they worked on redzone play then in games they try to invent the wheel.Use the players you have Watson in short yardage and get MB and tightends more involved in the game.It can’t be the AB Ben show.

  • MintDragon

    Yah, but dude, it’s a chess match. OC on DC. and it goes on during the game. Critical of the move, yes. But keep in mind that your OC’s previous decisions enter the opponents DC’s head.

    So for what it’s worth (and I’m not blaming nor forgiving Haley), the chess match ain’t over til 0:00. We won. And maybe. Just maybe, it will help us juke KC in a critical moment if we face them in the playoffs. I’m sure it won’t be the last rope-a-dope moment the Steelers are trying to set up for opponents.

    I still believe this is the year.

  • Mister Wirez

    Why not start with our jumbo package at the 2?

  • FATCAT716

    He made the necessary read which was100% correct but the defense got away with a hold. As a quarterback that’s your job. Now in hind sight yes he should have did something else but who has time to look to see if the guy is being held on every play? We live in a Madden world today but that position is hard enough to look any other than this guy is open like I thought throw it

  • Mark

    Disagree, because he was protected in the pocket and didn’t even look to his right for any receiver. However, all I care about W and leaning on the running game to win.