One more well executed play action pass by the Steelers this past Suday. This play was a product of good running earlier in the game but it also highlights two other critical things:
1) Look at the score when this play is run. We're not content to just run and kick a FG there. Good stuff.
2) This is the kind of play and throw from Ben Roethlisberger that demonstrates just how good and accurate he can be when he's playing in rhythm and with confidence.
Let's take a look:
Before the ball is snapped and Hines Ward not yet set, the two relevant Chargers defenders have been boxed.
Now, look above at this last moment before the ball is snapped. Notice how the SD defender who is lined up next to the LBs - see how his shoulders are fairly square to Hines and the rest of the play??
Well, check now as it appears the Steelers are running the ball..
Now his body angle is not in good shape to keep up with Ward, who is not being bumped by the SD defender next to him. He's too busy watching the run as well. I put that yellow line on his shoulders to highlight how they are not squared up the way they should be. The price for that will be this...
It's not a great image but as I mentioned above, the SD defender now finds himself a step behind where he needs to be to make the tackle for a marginal gain. Don't forget, great offense always will beat good defense, but great defense requires being just a half step behind the offense, not a full step or step and a half. It's fuzzy, but you can see that the ball is just about in Hines's hands above, even though the defender still has some closing out to do.
The consequence of that is...
Hines is already out of his break and heading up field as the defender lunges towards him. When you're a step late, you lunge, which the SD defender is obviously doing above. Instead of just a 5 yard gain to set up 3rd and 10, Hines is off to the races with no Chargers defenders immediately in sight.
A good block from Santonio - who definitely has picked up some good habits and techniques from Mr. Ward himself - and Hines is in shape to pick up the first down.
When you execute like that, you can't help but do a little of this: