(This series will appear exclusively on Behind The Steel Curtain, written by BTSC writer Neal Coolong. He analyzes one play as an example of excellent team execution. The result won't always be a touchdown or sack, but it's a play that stands out from others because 11 players all won their particular individual match-ups.)
The beauty in a successful running play is often attributed solely to one or two players. In reality, it's usually flawless execution from all or nearly all 11 offensive players.
Isaac Redman's 20-yard touchdown run in Sunday's 24-0 win over Seattle was highlighted for LG Ramon Foster's excellent block. Credit to Foster, he did an outstanding job in his assignment, but as I'll point out, every Steeler contributed positively in what may be the Steelers best-run play of the young 2011 season.
Down, Distance and Situation
It's 2nd and 7, the Steelers have the ball at Seattle's 20-yard-line, leading 7-0. There's 12:54 left in the second quarter, and Roethlisberger's complete decimation of Seahawks CB Brandon Browner has only just begun.
It's a prime running down when you have that kind of advantage in the passing game. They can set up a very doable 3rd-and-short with a solid run, maintain possession and chew up some more clock. The Seahawks are so terrified of their coverage, their corners are six and seven yards off the Steelers' trips receiver formation despite being in the shadow of their end zone.
To Roethlisberger's left are Mike Wallace (inside on the line) and Emmanuel Sanders (outside off the line). To Roethlisberger's right, Hines Ward is on the outside off the line, and Heath Miller is covering RT Marcus Gilbert. The offensive line, right to left, is Gilbert, Doug Legursky, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster and Jonathan Scott. Isaac Redman is the lone back, even and to the left of Roethlisberger in the shotgun.
Seattle is in a 4-2-5 nickel package, but expecting a run as evidenced by FS Earl Thomas playing at the line on the defensive left side. SS Kam Chancellor is the deep safety, Browner is in press coverage on Wallace, and CB Walter Thurmond is playing seven yards off Sanders. DE Chris Clemons is down on the line on Scott's outside shoulder (7 technique).
At the snap, Foster pulls from his left guard spot, and Gilbert and Legursky down block into the middle. Ward is marked on FS Earl Thomas the entire time. On the left side, Wallace blocks Browner to the outside, and Sanders carries Thurmond down the field. Clemons crashes hard on Scott, looking for a run and owning the edge.
Foster reaches the perfect seam created by Pouncey, Legursky and Gilbert, and Foster blocks one Seahawks defender into another, creating a huge lane in the 2 hole. The key block here, though, is Ward on Thomas. He plants his helmet into Thomas's chest, stoning him from moving forward. Because of that block, Thomas is in a poor tackling position. Considering the size of the hole, is the last Seahawks defender with a chance to get to Redman around the line, who took a simple 22 handoff from Roethlisberger.
Miller chucked his man, and drilled a linebacker on the second level, giving Redman a clear lane straight ahead. Gilbert, hustling all the way, reaches the second level to take out the backside linebacker, getting just enough of him for Redman to cut outside toward the hashes.
Chancellor is the only defender left, and Redman sharply cuts back inside, breaking Chancellor's ankles and dropping him to the ground. Redman walks into the end zone, untouched from the snap until DE Anthony Hargrove took him down just after he reached paydirt.
Some may think this is the 22 Double play the Steelers ran to great success in 2010. That play has two backs, two TEs and is run from under center. This came out of the shotgun with a lone back and 3 WRs. It has many of the same components, including a pulling left guard and down blocking from the right tackle and tight end.
It showed off the Steelers offensive versatility, considering Redman usually appears in bigger packages, not the 3 WR sets.
The results were just as devastating as the 22 Double, though, and it's a play sure to appear again in the future.