If you are like me, you were watching the beautiful two-minute drive by the Pittsburgh Steelers, orchestrated by Ben Roethlisberger, and thinking how beautiful it all looked.
Big completion to Ladarius Green.
Another completion to Le’Veon Bell, who gets plenty of yards after the catch.
A strike to Jesse James, who hurdles a defender and gets the Steelers into striking distance.
A quick look at the clock to see there is about 45-seconds remaining in the game, and you can see the Steelers hurrying to the line preparing to spike the ball.
“No...No...NO! Don’t spike the ball!” I said to no one in particular.
Little did I know Roethlisberger was going to pull a Dan Marino impersonation, fake the spike and hit Antonio Brown for the go-ahead touchdown with 42-seconds remaining in the game.
We all know how the game ended, trust me no one wants to relive that debacle. But when Roethlisberger was on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh for his usual Tuesday radio show, he talked about what was going on during that play.
After the 24-yard completion to Jesse James Roethlisberger was yelling, “Clock, clock, clock” to his teammates as they went to the line of scrimmage.
“(Todd) Haley was in my ear talking to me like, ‘Don’t waste the down, don’t waste the down,” Roethlisberger said. “He must have said that 20 times from the time I first started yelling spike it or clock. What he meant was don’t waste a down by just spiking it and I knew what he was talking about. But, I also knew that their defense was a little tired, they heard me saying, spike it, spike it. I looked at AB and just kind of gave him a little nod signal, and we did a quick little fake and I threw it to the back and AB did the rest of the work.”
Hindsight is always 20/20 when put in a situation like this, and the skeptics will say the team scored too early, leaving the Cowboys with 42-seconds and all three timeouts to get into field goal range and kick the game-winning field goal. However, I view it differently.
I look at this string of events and see an offense which needs a spark. Yes, I realize they put up 30-points on Dallas, something which hadn’t been done before Week 10, but the offense needs a shot in the arm. What could that shot be? Hand the reigns over to Big Ben.
In 2013, with the Steelers stumbling out of the gate to an 0-4 start, and the offense was turned into a no-huddle juggernaut which was dangerously close to making the postseason as they finished the season 8-8.
The same elixir could help remedy the current offense.
I am not a ‘Haley Hater’, but do think there are times when the play calling certainly makes me scratch my head. The team was clicking on all cylinders against the Cowboys in the first half, then came out in the second half to start throwing the ball deep with regularity. Sometimes you can out think yourself, and this is where handing the play calling duties to Roethlisberger certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Roethlisberger has developed into a master at the two-minute drill, where he calls all the plays. His pre-snap diagnosing of defenses has become every bit of elite as the rest of his game, and using his knowledge and experience on the field would be a great way to maximize this team’s offensive attributes on a weekly basis.
Todd Haley wouldn’t just become a statue on the sideline, but would help Roethlisberger when the offense isn’t on the field, and could offer suggestions to the quarterback when making decisions on the field.
Again, this isn’t to suggest the offensive failures of the team fall on Haley’s shoulders, far from it. What I am suggesting is allowing Roethlisberger to call the plays could be a change which could pay huge dividends at a time when the team desperately needs them. Yes, a small change, but if it means more points on the board, it would help them protect their shoddy defense, and ultimately give them a better chance to win more games.