I almost couldn't believe my eyes when it happened in live action. I didn't even allow my self the opportunity to celebrate the result of a play that ended in a Steelers touchdown pass. I immediately rewound the play so I could re-watch it in slow motion, because I simply couldn't believe what I think I thought l just saw. Even after watching the play three or four more times, I sat in stunned silence. Was it even possible, or should the officials have thrown a flag for the Steelers breaking one of Ben Roethlisberger's unwritten rules?
For those of you who may have missed it; which at this point appears to be practically every member of both the local and national sports media, Ben Roethlisberger actually ran a play action play that resulted in a touchdown. It was Roethlisberger’s first play action touchdown pass on the season. Midway through the fourth quarter, Ben executed the play as you can see in the clip below:
4th quarter, 6:46. Eric Ebron is the tight end to the top of the screen.
I had no intention of writing this article immediately after the Steelers decisive victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, but that all changed after not hearing a single mention of the newest wrinkle added to the Steelers offensive attack after the game. Every living member of Steelers Nation is already aware of the fact that Roethlisberger isn't the biggest fan of running play action.
I have never heard him say so himself in an interview or otherwise, but it's believed that he doesn't like to turn his back to the defense because he loses sight of the coverage. Makes sense for a 17 year veteran QB who has complete trust in his ability to diagnosis and attack coverages. Ben prefers to control the tempo of his offense from the shotgun, from a vantage point where he can more easily scan the playing field pre-snap for mismatches.
After watching the Los Angeles Rams defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football, I knew I had to write this article. The Rams utilize play action more than any team in the NFL, and they do so quite effectively. They continued to run it throughout the game against the Buccaneers, even though they were having little success running the football effectively against the Buccaneers stout run defense. It stands to reason that the more successful a team is at running the football will only enhance the efficiency of their play action, but that didn't deter the Rams in the slightest. They continued to freeze the Buccaneers defense and exploit the open holes the play action created.
At this point in his Hall of Fame caliber career, Roethlisberger isn't going to suddenly morph into a quarterback who loves to run play action. However, if he continues to take the occasional snap from behind center it gives opposing defenses one more thing to be concerned about and have to game plan against. It only adds to the Steelers ability to be creative and unpredictable on offense, assisting the running attack and keeping the threat of play action alive in the process.
Sometimes the fear of an action is just as effective as the execution, and to think, the Steelers have yet to run a single gadget play on offense as I can recall this season. Not a single halfback or wide receiver pass as of yet. I hear that Chase Claypool has a pretty good throwing arm. That should create excitement for things to come in the Steel City.