Steelers v. Ravens Game Notes: Breakdown of the Offense in the First Half

The following is the incomplete breakdown of the Steelers offense in the first half against the Ravens. It hasn't been edited so excuse some of the errors. There will also not be a second half breakdown released. Hopefully some people enjoy it.

The Opening Drive

1st & 10, ball on the Steelers 20 yard line. Simple dive play. Pouncey is pushed off the ball. He looks surprised by the speed at which Brandon Williams gets off the line. Loses leverage battle and hands on the shoulders instead of inside, as he is pushed back two yards into the back field. Disrupts the plays timing goes for one yard.

2nd & 9, ball on the Steelers 21 yard line. Pass play. DeCastro is pushed back into the QB by Haloti Ngata. His hands are inside but he needs to be lower in his stance. Beachum does a nice job on Dumervil, good hand usage. Ben has to hurry his throw from inside pressure. Incomplete pass.

3rd & 9, ball on the Steelers 21 yard line. Pass play. DeCastro looking inside as the ball was snap not ready for McPhee. Poor recognition of a stunt by Gilbert. He should have switched to McPhee and I think DeCastro was hoping he would. DeCastro can get in front of McPhee from his first step. Roethlieberger takes a huge hit. Unnecessary Roughness called.

1st & 10, ball on the Steelers 36 yard line. A. Brown in jet sweep motion with Roethlisberger in the gun. Fake to Brown throw to Bell in the opposite flat. Zone coverage with a Raven defender right there gain of 2 yards.

2nd & 8, ball on the Steelers 38 yard line. Single back, inside zone left. Poor footwork by Foster, hands on the outside gets pushed a yard into the backfield. Playside blocked well other wise. Bell cuts back gain of 5.

3rd & 2, ball on Steelers 44 yard line. Gun. Screen to Wheaton in the flat. Need to work on timing as Miller doesn't block the ILB thinking the ball hasn't been thrown. If he blocks Smith Wheaton is one-on-one with the safety in a big alley. Gain of 8 yards. I will bet Haley will go back to this play later on this season.

1st & 10, ball on Baltimore 48 yard line. Single back 2 TE on the right. Fake inside zone hand off to Brown on the end around with Heath as the lead blocker. Nice play design. Gain of 9 yards.

2nd & 1, ball on Baltimore 39. Gun. Inside zone block to the right. Really nice block by DeCastro to pave the way. EMOL on the left makes the tackle. Should have had Beachum and Foster cut him from the start and this is a big play. Gain of 2 yards.

1st & 10, ball on Baltimore 38. Gun, A. Brown in the backfield . Flat route by Brown, Roethlisberger doesn't read the zone coverage and Brown takes a shot because of it. 0 gain.

2nd & 10, ball on Balt. 38. Single back 2 TE right. Simple dive play. Confusion between Pouncey and Foster as to who is responsible for the 1-tech DT. (Should have been Pouncey) Play gets stop for 1 yard because of the confusion.

3rd & 9, ball on Balt. 37. Screen pass play. Bell reads the free blitzer and decides to block instead of go out on screen. Horrible cut block. Ben slides right hit Miller. Penalty: Ineligible Down field on DeCastro. Why didn't Foster slow down the blitzing LB?

3rd & 14, ball on Balt. 42. Gun. Roethlisberger hits A. Brown on a post in between the zone. DeCasto walked back into the QB. He needs to play lower in his pass sets. Gilbert puts his head down to deliver a punch and Dumervil takes him off balance. Would have given up a sack had Roethlisberger held it half a second longer.

1st & 10, ball on Balt. 24. Inside zone right out of the Gun. Once again EMOL disrupts play. Should of had Miller cut him. Gilbert needs to attack blocker instead of treating this play like a draw like he did. Gain of 2.

2nd & 9 ball on Balt 22. Gun. Double clear out routes. Pass to J. Brown. he gets 8 yards and fumbles the ball. Like this play design but I want to see the outside receivers stick with the route for a yard longer, they cut in too earlier and did cause the zone player to question the play at all. Delaying the cut by a yard cause the defender to worry about getting depth because of Millers route.

The Second drive.

1st & 10, ball on Steelers 20 yard line. Shotgun. Receiver screen to Wheaton in the slot. Poor block by Heyward-Bey and Wheaton is taken down after one yard gain. Questionable play design to me.

2nd & 9, ball on Steelers 21. Singleback 11 personnel. Fake the inside zone to the right give to Wheaton on the end around with Miller pulling from right to left. Beautiful play design and call as the Ravens were caught out of position. Hold by Heyward-Bey after Wheaton get nine yards, negates a great play.

2nd & 7 ball on the Steelers 23. Shotgun. Give to Blount on inside run. Blount cuts behind DeCastro who chips the NT then takes the LB Smith for a 3 yard ride. Gain of six yards. Foster shaken up leaves game.

3rd &1, ball on the Steelers 29. Singleback bunch right. Roethlisberger looks right pump fakes then looks back to J. Brown who is wide open on the post because of the fake. Roethlisberger's pass is well behind Brown and he can't secure it. Horrible missed opportunity for a big play. Great play to counter the Cover 2 the Ravens had run a lot the last drive. Punt.

The Third Drive

1 & 10, ball on the Steelers 20. Singleback bunch right. Play action left, roll out right. Roethlisberger has some pressure and no one apparently open so he throws it away.

2 &10, ball on the Steelers 20. Shotgun. Inside zone left. Poor playside blocks as both Foster and Beachum are pushed back a yard. Bell reads a hole on the backside. DeCastro pushed back half a yard. Gilbert finds ILB. Miller's man gets off his block to make a tackle. Once again why not cut backside EMOL.

3rd & 9, ball on the Steelers 21. Shotgun. Roethlisberger looks left comes back to the inside screen to Miller. Great job of getting down field by Gilbert. J. Brown has to get to the FS and this would be a much bigger play. He completely whiffs. Bell on an angle route back to the inside all he does is watch Miller should have picked up the LB. I expect Haley to tweak this by maybe giving Bell a seam route so he isn't taking the LB straight to the play. Couple that with the WR actually blocking the safety and this play will yield big results. Still nice design and execution gain of 10 yards.

1&10, ball on the Steelers 31. Singleback bunch right. HB dive left. Really difficult block for DeCastro, would like to see Pouncey chip a little more so that DeCastro could get in front of the 1 technique. Foster makes a mistake leaving the double team on Ngata he has to feel that Beachum is not in position to win there. Gain of 2.

2nd & 8, ball on Steelers 33. Shotgun empty set with a bunch to the right. Clear out route from the bunch as J. Brown runs a post and Wheaton runs a deep out. Miller just slows his realse then sits in the open spot left by those two routes. Nice play design gain of 13 yards.

1st & 10 ball on the Steelers 46. Single back 11 personnel. Counter to the left. DeCastro and Miller pick up their defenders nicely on a pull and then it is all Bell as he breaks tackles for 21 yards. Need to tweak that play as they left Suggs and Smith the play side OLB and ILB unblock. This is likely because they pull Miller and DeCastro but I would rather see Beachum let Suggs go and go to Smith. DeCastro can then kick out Suggs and Millers acts as the lead blocker in the hole. Poor blocks by Beachum on Mosely and Pouncey on Suggs. Both need to do a better job of putting their bodies between the defender and the hole.

1st & 10, ball on Baltimore 33. Shotgun, A. Brown in the backfield. Motions to the right behind Roethlisberger. This is your typical college spread pass to the flat but it is covered by the Ravens Cover 4 defense. Roethlisberger run up in the pocket see Bell on the delay route and does a shovel pas to him. Gain of 19 yards.

1st & 10, ball on Baltimore 14. Shotgun. Quick in to A. Brown against off coverage. Gain of 6 yards.

2nd &4, ball on Baltimore 8. Shotgun empty set. Reothlisberger tries to hit J. Brown in the flat. J. Brown has difficulty getting off the press coverage of the SS Elam which disrupts the timing. Incomplete.

3rd &4, ball on Baltimore 8. Shotgun A. Brown in motion from left slot to the right. Snap in mid motion. Roethlisberger hands the ball to to A. Brown but it is late. No where to run. Gain of 2 yards. Why run this to the short side of the field? Bad play call. Field Goal.

The Final Drive. (Inside 2:00 left in the half)

1st & 10, ball on the Steelers 27. Shotgun. Power right. Horrible pull block by Foster on Suggs who makes the tackle at the line. Gain of 1 yard. Why all the emphasis on running from the shotgun?

2nd & 9, ball on the Steelers 28. Shotgun. Flanker screen to Wheaton on the left. Miller has a hard time getting to the safety Elam. Pouncey has a harder time trying to get to the ILB. Still nice job by Wheaton to set up Miller to be successful an a gain of 6 yards.

3rd & 3, ball on the Steelers 34. Shotgun. bunch left. 10 yard speed out by Wheaton against the Cover 4. Roethlisberger caught Elam trying to jump the route to Miller inside of widening his zone. Nice read by the QB.

1st & 10, ball on the Steelers 44. Shotgun. Quick in to A. Brown against Cover 4 off coverage. Not the first time the Steelers have run this. Brown makes two defenders, Elam and Smith, miss in space and takes it down the right side line for 15 yard. Brown is really dangerous in space.

1st & 10, ball on the Ravens 41. Shotgun. Roethlisberger wants to go deep left. Just as he steps up the defenders jump in the throwing window. Roethlisberger doesn't know what to do and tries to flow to his right. Sack Gilbert should have known better than to be fooled by the fake inside this was a three step drop from the shotgun and he needs to keep his butt to the QB and set deeper. Instead he takes a shallow set and has to open up when he realizes he is beat. Still Roethliberger has to know to not take a sack when in field goal range. Especially when he had five seconds of time in the pocket and could have thrown at Bell's feet.

2nd & 18, ball on the 50 yard line. Shotgun. Curl to Wheaton on the left. He makes some nice moves to make defenders miss in space and has 14 yards.

3rd & 4, ball on Ravens 36. Shotgun. False start on Marcus Gilbert. Can't have stupid pre-snap penalties especially on crucial downs.

3rd & 9, ball on Ravens 41. Shotgun. Roethlisberger throw down the middle to no one. He had Miller on the post and a clean pocket. It would have been a big gain right between the safeties in a Cover 2. Looks like an option route on Miller either the seam or the post. Roethlisberger read one thing and Miller another. From the looks of it Miller should have run the seam because the ILB came up and didn't widen out his zone. That incomplete pass is on Miller. Punt.


Overall the first half was one of missed opportunities. These missed opportunities were highlighted by a Justin Brown fumble and two big incomplete passes on 3rd down. One was one incomplete pass was on Roethlisberger. The other incomplete pass was on a misread option route by Miller. If Brown doesn't fumble or Miller runs the correct route it would have been at least a 10-6 game going into half time. It could have been a 10-9 game if neither of those two plays happened. The Steelers also seems thrown off by Baltimore's heavy use of zone coverage, they seemed to switch between the Cover 2 and Cover 4 throughout out most of the half. The team also had very little success running the ball outside of one big Bell run that was almost completely on Bell making something out of nothing.

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