Ben Roethlisberger’s comments after the loss to the Cowboys are being made out to sound like complaints about Todd Haley’s offense. And made that is the way he intended.
But there are two sides to what happened in Dallas, and some clarity – and perhaps some re-directed blame -- might be in order.
First off, I do not believe Roethlisberger was being critical of Haley’s original play-call on the touchdown pass to Heath Miller at the end of the first half. All he was saying is that the original call was “not a good call” for the defense the Cowboys showed when Roethlisberger went to the line of scrimmage.
That happens all the time in football. That’s why they have something called audibles. It is the quarterback’s job then to check out to another play. And, if that doesn’t work or he’s unable to check to something else, call timeout. That’s why they have those, too, you know.
But, then Roethlisberger went on to say the Steelers did not call enough plays to get Heath Miller the ball in the second half. Miller had six catches in the first half, but only one after halftime.
The reality is, the Steelers called nine plays designed for Miller in the second half. However, the Cowboys’ coverage dictated otherwise and forced Roethlisberger away from throwing to Miller. Instead of jamming the ball to Miller and risking an interception, Roethlisberger went through his progressions and threw elsewhere. Again, his decision.
And the complaints about the little use of the no-huddle?
Well, the interception Roethlisberger threw in overtime that ended the game came in the no-huddle offense. It was a pass that was late and behind Mike Wallace and, according to Roethlisberger himself, did not have as much zip as he would have liked.
There are two reasons why the Steelers did not use a lot of no-huddle against the Cowboys.
One is that the offensive line was starting two rookies – guard David DeCastro and tackle Kelvin Beachum. And it was DeCastro’s first NFL start.
The other is that the coaches did not like the way the offense was performing or the decisions being made when they were in the no-huddle.
On top of all that, the first of two-back-to-back sacks from the Steelers 46 with 1:34 remaining came because the Steelers did not properly identify the Cowboys defense and call the right protection. The play was designed for Jerricho Cotchery down the middle of the field and he was open.
But the play was skewered when Roethlisberger was sacked by defensive tackle Sean Lissemore, certainly not the most feared of the Cowboys defenders.
All this reminds me of an old football expression: Sometimes it is better to look in the mirror than out the window.
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