At minicamp, Steelers work on improving 2-minute situations
The first two days of minicamp practices for the Pittsburgh Steelers each ended with the first-team offense, followed by the second-team offense, trying to drive the length of the field and score a touchdown in a simulated 2-minute drill.
It wasn’t by happenstance.
Each of the final seven games last season came down to either the Steelers or their opponent possessing the ball in the last two minutes with a chance to tie or win the game. It worked out for the Steelers in wins against Jacksonville, New England and Cincinnati – not so much in losses against Denver, Oakland, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Chargers during a 2-4 closing stretch.
In the first half, the Steelers were involved in such games against Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Cincinnati.
“Not many games are won or lost and you know it going into the fourth quarter where there’s a 20-point difference,” offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said Wednesday. “You’re going to be playing four quarters and someone is going to have the ball at the end to win the damn game.”
The drill is a test for the defense as much for the offense. The Steelers frittered away late leads against Oakland and New Orleans and permitted the Chargers to drive for a game-winning field goal as time expired.
“I think we can be better than we were last year, and we have to be during those 2-minute periods because we are going to be in a lot of close games,” defensive coordinator Keith Butler said. “Those games that we had last year that we lost, we won the year before when we were 13-3. In those games, we’ve got to get the winning edge.”
Coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers have used the 2-minute drill in previous minicamp settings but didn’t break it out this year during organized team activities.
“It’s good to see guys operate under situations,” he said. “It aids on the drill when we have NFL officials here like we did this week.”
Tomlin said another benefit about running the 2-minute drill in minicamp is that a baseline will be established for training camp.
“You always want to have some of that situational stuff installed so you can get it on video as a teach tool when you reinstall it when you go to training camp,” he said. “When the real installation comes, we’re not talking in abstract fashion, they’re not looking at other people executing it. They’re looking and themselves and some way to execute it.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .