Steelers Still Don't Understand Run Game

A bubble screen at the goal line? Matt Steel asks this question and more in his game notes.

Spread them out and get the ball out quickly was the Pittsburgh Steelers' plan for the day to limit the St. Louis Rams' extremely talented front four.

The plan worked to perfection in the first two drives with Ben Roethlisberger's precision passing. Yet, the Steelers were unable to finish an opening drive that saw second-and-goal from the two-yard line. It's why being able to own the line of scrimmage is so critical. It makes scoring in the red zone so much easier. I like my chances lining up under center and handing it to the superstar running back who, as he showed on his touchdown run on the second possession, seems to always find a way to squeeze out a yard at the goal line.

On the second possession, the Steelers again methodically moved the ball to inside the five-yard line. A pass interference call on Heath Miller saved the Steelers from potentially settling for another field goal. First-and-goal from the two-yard line, and the call came in to run a bubble screen. That call is about as illogical as giving DeAngelo Williams one carry for the entire game.

I believe the offensive coaches could have developed a well-designed running plan to take advantage of the Rams' ultra aggressive front four. Too many passes and eventually a team like that is going to repeatedly get to the quarterback, as they did on back-to-back plays that ultimately ended with Roethlisberger's injury.

Forty-three points last week but only nine points before Roethlisberger went down with an injury this week. It had the same feeling of the up-and-down scoring performances from 2014. Like many games last year, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Roethlisberger were making fantasy owners in PPR leagues happy without scoring many points in the game.

* I am not a fan of Mike Tomlin going for two more often. Statistics say that over time, a team will score more if they went for two every time. However, statistics don't necessarily illustrate how costly it can be if you miss a conversion in comparison to converting. Even if the Steelers converted, the Rams could have still tied the game with a conversion of their own. By missing their two-point attempt, all the Rams had to do was score and kick an extra point to win.

* I'm really liking what I see out of the front three. Stephon Tuitt is a monster. He just might be another guy that can grow into a superstar. He hit Tre Mason so hard hustling down the field, he nearly knocked him into field goal range.

* Jarvis Jones hasn't gotten home yet and missed a tackle in the backfield, but he is doing some nice things, particularly in the run game.

* As is Bud Dupree. I really like as a whole what the outside linebackers are doing in the run game.

* Mike Mitchell is playing really well. A turnover or two might get him more recognition. Dude plays PHYSICAL.

* I like what I'm seeing out of Ross Cockrell. His pass defense on third down in the third quarter nearly caused a turnover.

* William Gay is William Gay, Mr. Solid and dependable, today's Deshea Townsend.

* The pass interference call is the most botched call in football, which is why Antwon Blake has to know where he's at on the field and get his head around.

* Josh Scobee came through with the field goal just under the two-minute warning. But the subsequent kickoff was awful, choke job-ish. Great job by the kick coverage in not allowing a long return.

* I like how Cockrell and Blake closed out with great coverage to finish the game. That tackle on Kenny Britt that forced the ball out and sealed the win is why you love the feistiness of Blake on the field.

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