Steelers' offense must show patience
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.''
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 finalize 53-man roster
- Former Steelers linebacker Harrison retires
- Veteran Keisel settles into role with Steelers
- Steelers claim former Cowboys cornerback Webb
- Steelers notebook: Team cuts 15 players, including LB So’oto, RB Hall
- Steelers notebook: Safety Mitchell faces former team, hurts leg
- For Steelers outside linebacker Jones, size is not an obstacle
- Steelers have plenty of new faces at wide receiver
- Why Steelers will — or won’t — snap out of their funk