Steelers have answer for pass rush
The Steelers have scored easier touchdowns, but not many.
Third-and-10 from the Philadelphia 19.
Ben Roethlisberger sees the Eagles showing blitz.
Santonio Holmes sees the same thing.
The quarterback and the receiver exchange a quick glance before the ball is snapped.
Roethlisberger accepts it from shotgun formation and releases it again before he can take two complete steps backward.
Holmes makes the catch, puts a move on cornerback Brian Dawkins and is gone.
"That was one of those plays that's almost drawn up in the dirt," Holmes said.
It was the only time Roethlisberger and Holmes hooked up in a preseason opener Friday night in which the first-team offense played just one series.
But for an offense determined to cut down on the 47 regular-season sacks Roethlisberger absorbed a season ago, once was enough.
There isn't a blitz conceivable that can get to the quarterback quickly enough in such situations.
The pass won't always be as accurate, the catch won't always be made and the receiver won't always leave the coverage searching for its athletic supporter, but the quarterback will not get planted.
That's the beauty of the "hot read."
And that's why the first touchdown of the preseason may remain etched in everyone's memory long after the scores of these for-the-most-part meaningless exhibitions have been forgotten.
"We were on the same page," Holmes said. "We didn't have to yell at each other to get each other's attention.
"We just took our best shot."
If that continues, opposing pass rushes ought to slow down considerably.
If they don't, Holmes on the outside one-one-one, or Hines Ward in a similar situation on the other side of the field ought to extract a big-play price from defenses determined to assault the pocket without the benefit of a safety or two deep.
Holmes already is contemplating the possibilities now that the Steelers are in the process of fine-tuning this "hot read" thing.
"It's gonna be a lot of fun this year if we can get an opportunity to just go out there and click every day, every game, every practice," he said. "It takes a lot of time. And I think spending all that time we did together throughout the offseason, as opposed to two years ago when I wasn't here the first year; this year we spent a lot of time together."
The Steelers scored on maybe two such plays a year ago. This season, Holmes is a second-year starter, which helps.
And Roethlisberger is coming off his first Pro Bowl season, one in which he was encouraged to ramp up his studying of defenses in exchange for more of a say in what plays are called and in what situation.
Holmes likened what took place against the Eagles to the football equivalent of an "alley-oop."
The resulting slam-dunk inspired hope that the Steelers are much-better prepared than they were a year ago to confront the blitzes they know will be coming.
"Maturation," Roethlisberger said.
He was talking about himself, his receivers and the offense as a whole.
Roethlisberger was eating an ice cream cone as he spoke, but he left the distinct impression that wasn't the only reason he was licking his chops.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers veteran defenders want young teammates to step up
- Steelers’ Brown combats disruptive defensive ploys
- Steelers notebook: Defense sags in NFL rankings because of struggles against the run
- Steelers not receiving big returns on their offseason investments
- Steelers film session: Missed tackles prove costly
- Steelers notebook: NFL fines Brown for kick to face
- Steelers’ defense out of sync
- Robinson: There’s no telling when play of aging QBs will fall off
- Steelers intrigued by athleticism of free agent Jones
- Rossi: Are NFL fans ready for some priorities?
- Mistakes multiply for Steelers in rout by Ravens