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fordfixer
11-21-2009, 03:42 AM
Steelers' offense must show patience
By John Harris, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, November 21, 2009

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 54291.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_654291.html)

When asked about the Steelers' offensive struggles against Cincinnati, wide receiver Hines Ward shrugged his response.


"They've been doing it the last three weeks,'' Ward said of Steelers' opponents. "Minnesota started it. Minnesota's a Cover-2 team. They really don't give up a lot of big plays.''


The Steelers will likely face more of the same defensive attention in Sunday's 1 p.m. game at Kansas City.


Big plays in the passing game normally occur less frequently against the Cover-2, a zone defense designed to force offenses to play more conservatively. In a Cover-2, the two safeties split the field and try to take away the deep pass.


In last week's 18-12 loss against the Bengals, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger recorded his lowest passer rating of the season (51.5). He completed 20-of-40 passes for a season-low 174 yards with one interception and was held without a touchdown pass for the first time this year.


Roethlisberger, who was sacked four times, didn't have a lot of time to scan the field. As a result, the Steelers' longest pass play was 21 yards, although rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace drew a 46-yard interference penalty in the second quarter.


"There were a couple of times I maybe had a (running) back (open), but the ball just wasn't coming off my hand well,'' Roethlisberger said.


What Roethlisberger described as a "bad day'' occured against a Bengals' defense intent on limiting big plays.


"They're taking away (some) of the big plays that we were getting at the beginning of the season,'' wide receiver Santonio Holmes said. "You've got to start finding all the wrinkles in every team's game and start putting together more and more things.''


Referring to Steelers opponents, Ward said: 'They're playing different. I've seen more bracket coverage in the slot. Denver maybe had three guys around me. They've really (focused on Holmes) and myself.''


Roethlisberger was sharp against Denver's Cover-2 the previous week in a 28-10 win, completing 21 of 29 for 233 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a 116.0 rating.

And in the 2008 playoffs, Roethlisberger played two of his best games against Cover-2 defenses. Taking what the defense gave him - hitting the underneath routes to his receivers and check-downs to his backs - Roethlisberger was 17 of 26 for 181 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in a 35-24 win against San Diego in a divisional playoff game.


The following week, in a 23-14 victory against Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game, Roethlisberger was the picture of patience: 16 of 33 for 255 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.


Holmes said the Steelers must take their time and repeat the game plan of last year's playoff success against the Cover-2.


"When you rush, things don't happen the way you want,'' Holmes said. "Ten yards, eight yards, five yards - you control the game, you slow the tempo, you go at your own pace. You win games.''

RuthlessBurgher
11-22-2009, 01:43 AM
Playing against a cover 2 defense specifically designed to take away the big play makes it all the more unbelieveable that we were throwing deep on our last series against Cincy. I don't want to start up a discussion about whether it was Arians' playcalling at that juncture or Ben's personal decisionmaking...I'm just sayin'.

This week, I think we will be able to run on the Chiefs, and after all of the hub-bub over the unbalanced run-pass ratio from last week, we may make a concerted effort to run more (particular since the Chiefs D tends to struggle against the run). I also think that this is the game when Parker starts getting a few more carries than he has been seeing in recent weeks.

I thinking something like 23 for 147 for Mendenhall, and perhaps 13 for 68 for Parker. I'd really like to see us rush for over 200 yards as a team like that. We haven't truly imposed our will on a team in that manner in some time. I think Ben can also improve his consistency over last week, being efficient with 20-something throws instead of 40.