Post-Game Snapshot – Steelers 39 Ravens 38
What Stood Out on Offense
Let’s start with the positive. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg remained aggressive on first down. The play-action game had extra bite thanks to misdirection and terrific play-design. Michael Campanaro was a pre-snap motion chess piece used on fake jet sweeps to get the Steelers to take the bait laterally to one side, opening up the middle of the field for big plays.
Along with using jet sweep action and pre-snap motion to get the Pittsburgh defense out of sorts, the Ravens used hard run fakes in which the line would pull, and Alex Collins would carry out the run motion as if he received the handoff to really sell the play. Jeremy Maclin caught a wide-open seam pattern off a fake counter play with the decoy action going to the weak side.
Joe Flacco was also able to anticipate the Pittsburgh rush quickly and sprint up in the pocket to buy time for his backs on leak outs. All in all, Flacco displayed excellent poise in the face of the exotic Pittsburgh blitz looks (not an easy feat).
Lastly, how about those 3×1 formations? The touchdown to Chris Moore was set up by a 3×1 look in which Moore got a plus matchup working against safety Sean Davis from an inside seam pattern. Perfect call to exploit the mismatch opportunity the offense had from the slot.
What Stood Out on Defense
At one point during the SNF telecast, Cris Collinsworth remarked that Dean Pees comes from the Bill Belichick and Nick Saban coaching tree. Therefore, he’ll opt to take away the opposing team’s best receiver (Antonio Brown) and make someone else beat the defense like Belichick and Saban would.
Ah, no. No, no, no, Collinsworth. Pees does the opposite, every time. Look back through the years, and the top receivers get single-covered when the game is on the line.
Of course, Brown, as well.
At halftime, Tony Dungy was mystified like all of us that Brown could be left in single coverage so often – but that’s what you’ll get with Pees.
Pees’ use of defensive personnel also left a lot to be desired, especially in early downs. Too often, he had his base defense out there instead of the nickel or dime, and without fail, Big Ben would spread the defense out. In these instances, Le’Veon Bell would detach from the formation and line up wide against a backer or a safety (Tony Jefferson).
[Note to Jefferson: Next time you see Bell line up in front of you, jam him. Don’t give him a free release. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley coached circles around Pees with his use of Bell as a receiver.]
All in all, Ben had the Ravens’ number in the pre-snap phase. There were a few instances in which the defense got the better of him when they disguised their coverages and forced a quick throw to defeat a slot or overload blitz.
But overall, the future Hall of Famer had the answer to what Pees threw at him. To attack the slot blitz, Roethlisberger did a nice job hitting slants and quickly turning to his tight ends over the middle.
There was absolutely no pass rush to speak of. The only thing that worked were delayed blitzes from the safeties (Jefferson and Eric Weddle) in which the defensive backs started sprinting to the line a tick before the snap.
Conversely, the defense still got caught tipping their hand too soon on a C.J. Mosley blitz that Roethlisberger saw coming a mile away. Even after the QB made the protection adjustment to slide left, Mosley still came on the blitz, and Roethlisberger sliced and diced the defense.
Of course, he sliced and diced them all night long.