There are varying degrees of support for Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians amongst the Steelers faithful. No need to rehash the ups and downs of his tenure in Pittsburgh at this particular moment. Instead, I just wanted to comment on the game plan he called yesterday in our 13-9 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.
I felt Arians did a fairly good job mixing up the run and the pass; the short, intermediate, and down the field throws. I liked the end around to Nate; the way Moore and Parker were interchanged in the lineup. I liked the play call along the goal line to Matt Spaeth. I liked how Arians kept Ben Roethlisberger and the offense in reasonable 3rd down situations. That was partly a result of limited penalties from our offense, but it was also because we ran the ball fairly frequently, particularly on 2nd down. Anyway, we only had 13 points, and just 6 through the first 59 minutes of the game. But that didn't mean we didn't have some decent success moving the ball throughout the game.
I wanted to briefly comment on Cam Cameron's game calling plays as well. I thought he let the Steelers off the hook in a way. A couple plays in particular stood out to me. The first one was a 1st down play call early in the 3rd quarter. The Ravens had stopped us on our first drive of the 2nd half, and had a chance to really take control of the game up 6-3. The first two plays of the drive were LeRon McClain runs for 8 and 3 yards. I felt the Ravens could have kept punishing us on the ground - or at least kept moving the ball at a reasonable clip down the field with the run. But on 1st down from their own 43, Cameron elected to run a slow developing pass play. Aaron Smith sacked Flacco for 11 yards and the drive was all but shot.
I felt like when LeBeau realized that Cameron wasn't going to just pound the ball on the ground over and over, he took a fewer chances with his blitz calls. I'm sure you remember that we were at times rushing just 4 guys and opting to take protect against the big play in the passing game. I would have to go back and re-watch the first meeting between the two teams earlier in the year, but I recall that the Ravens tried far less play-action in that game, opting instead to just throw quick hitting pass plays. Finally, I'm glad that Cameron didn't continue to run more screen plays. Basically, I think Cameron overthought things yesterday and let us off the hook in a way by fixating on making big plays down the field.
Above all else, I hope that we avoid any injuries the next two weeks. But I also hope that Bruce Arians uses the next two games before the playoffs to continue the positive momentum we developed in the 4th quarter of Sunday's game. Congratulations to Arians and his offense for what I thought was a better day at the office than his counterpart Cam Cameron on the opposing sideline.