When looking at a 60-minute football game, only a handful of plays can completely change the game. A tipped pass, rather than a clean reception, could change the course of the game. It is what makes football so exciting, and also so infuriating at the same time.
After a Pittsburgh Steelers win, we here in the BTSC Film Room take a look at the plays which turned the tide for the black and gold. The plays where if the team didn’t make those plays the outcome of the game might have been completely different.
There were several plays which could have been selected, but as a group we decided on the following three. Time to break down the film.
Play 1: Lawrence Timmons Red-Zone interception
Before I even start the breakdown, it should be noted this interception was the battle of two veterans. No, this wasn’t Cody Kessler trying to fool Timmons, but a two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback. Eli Manning knows what he is doing, and tries to look off Timmons, moving him and Mike Mitchell to the middle of the field with his eyes.
Although his look-off has Mitchell take a step towards the middle of the field, Timmons isn’t fooled and is able to drop into coverage and make the biggest defensive play of the game for the Steelers.
You can see why Manning would think this play would be open, and it was a tremendous play by Timmons. Shades of a younger Timmons were seen on this play, and hopefully signs of this type of play will continue for the “Law Dog” here in the final quarter of the regular season. It should also be noted there was no where else for Manning to go with the football. Tremendous coverage by Pittsburgh in the Red-Zone.
After watching plays on loop, you sometimes notice things which wouldn’t normally be noticed. I love watching Mike Mitchell still finish off the wide receiver well after Timmons is making his way down the sideline.
Play Two: 4th and 1 - Goal Line Stand
You hate to see a defense get comfortable on 4th down situations deep in their own end, but this is exactly what Pittsburgh’s defense is doing. On this play Keith Butler and Lawrence Timmons create issues for Manning and company, again.
Timmons, who doesn’t tip his hand of a blitz, comes untouched up the middle. At that point Manning has to brace for impact and throw to the only receiver in his line of sight. Thankfully, Ryan Shazier had perfect coverage on the play, and although Giants fans will argue he made contact with the receiver early, it was a bang-bang play which resulted in a turnover on downs.
Huge play, great play call and great execution by the Steelers’ defense.
Play Three: 33 yard pass to Ladarius Green
Sometimes you watch players at the peak of their game and simply shake your head in amazement. I’ve always felt there are two things Ben Roethlisberger does well which he doesn’t get enough credit for: his hard count to draw the defense offsides, and his pump fake.
Well the latter is on display here in the third play, when he moves Landon Collins almost 5-yards off his mark, leaving Ladarius Green wide open. This play starts with great pass protection by the offensive line. Roethlisberger steps up in the face of the pass rush, and delivers a strike to Green. If the pump fake hadn’t worked, this play would have lead to a sack, or a turnover. Rather, it equates to a beautiful 33-yard completion to help keep a drive alive following the defensive stop.
The Steelers are a team which certainly looks like they are playing their best football at the right time. A defense who is playing within themselves, and an offense which is starting to make plays when they absolutely need them.
All good signs for the Steelers moving forward as they continue their push to win the AFC North, and punch their ticket to the AFC Playoffs.