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Film preparation is important in football, but it's not foolproof

| Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, 10:12 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Heath Miller on Jan. 2, 2011.

Whether it is on the offensive or defensive side of the ball, film study is the lifeline of how players prepare themselves for their upcoming game.

But sometimes the film lies, and you don't have to go much further than Ryan Clark to figure that out.

What the veteran Steelers safety saw on Sunday's game-altering and record-setting 93-yard touchdown run by Terrelle Pryor on the game's first offensive snap isn't what he saw in the hours of film he studied leading up to the game.

The previous film — at least in which the games Pryor played — revealed that if the offensive guard pulled during the read option formation that it was nearly a 100 percent certainty that the running back would get the ball.

Clark was aware of that and was a little too antsy when he saw that happen seconds into Sunday's 21-18 loss to the Raiders.

Oakland guard Mike Brisiel pulled left on a Power-O look forcing outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley to crash down the line of scrimmage, inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons to follow the flow inside and Clark to race to the opposite side of the formation than where the play went and toward Darren McFadden for run support.

It was a combination that proved to be volatile for the Steelers.

Pryor read the play and raced untouched to the end zone for the longest rushing touchdown by a quarterback in NFL history.

It's hard to blame Clark for trusting what he saw on film.

Heading into the game, Pryor kept the ball on the read option 15 times in the five games he played — not once did either guard pull.

On the flip side, Oakland running backs ran the ball 29 times this year out of the read option with 13 coming with the guard pulling.

Incidentally, the same formation that went for the 93-yard touchdown was used by the Raiders in a Week 3 game against the Broncos, and Pryor kept the ball, too. The play was ultimately called back because of a hold.

• Rookie outside linebacker Jarvis Jones appeared to have been benched in the second half because of his continued trouble with keeping outside contain. Jones did not start the game, didn't have his first defensive snap until the fourth series and took part in only two of the seven first-half defensive series. Jones was pulled in each of those series after losing contain. Jones played in only two plays in the second half — both on third-down pass-rush situations. Within the first five plays Jones was in the game, he lost contain on Terrelle Pryor and then didn't pick up tight end Michael Rivera in pass coverage. After being removed for a play, Jones was inserted back in on a third down in which he lost contain on Pryor again. However, Pryor floated a pass downfield into the arms of Troy Polamalu. Jones, who missed last week with a concussion, finished with 11 snaps while Jason Worilds played in 52.

• Zoltan Mesko's first-quarter punt block appeared to happen because he couldn't handle the snap from Greg Warren cleanly. However, that wasn't the case. Both his first punt (that wasn't blocked) and his blocked punt was off right around two seconds from the snap. The real issue was Mesko's trajectory. The punt that was blocked came off Mesko's foot a lot lower, which might have been because he bobbled the snap.

• After a couple of weeks of getting the ball away quickly, Ben Roethlisberger didn't throw many passes on rhythm against the Raiders, and it cost him. Roethlisberger was sacked five times, but three of them could've been avoided. Roethlisberger had quick check-down passes in the flat to Will Johnson and Heath Miller twice, but instead decided to hold onto the ball for a sack. A pump fake — a staple of Roethlisberger's game — was the reason for one of the other sacks. Roethlisberger holding the ball led to a touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders, but it cost them as well.

• On the second play of the game, tackle-playing-tight end Mike Adams went out for a pass. Adams, who lost his job to Kelvin Beachum earlier in the year, ran a 5-yard out. Roethlisberger threw the ball to Miller instead.

• On Pryor's pick by Polamalu, the entire Raiders offensive line was on the wrong snap count allowing pressure to be put on almost immediately by Jones.

• A week after playing almost exclusively a six-defensive-back look, the Steelers went to their quarter package only 11 out of 60 snaps.

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