How much time did the Steelers spend in their no-huddle offense in Denver?
Enough to use three wide receivers on 54 of their 71 plays against the Broncos, the second most by a National Football League team on opening weekend. The Steelers always use three wide receivers in their no-huddle offense, but that doesn't mean all the plays are passes. In fact, the Steelers attempted 45 passes against the Broncos and ran the ball 26 times.
Compare that to the pass-happy New Orleans Saints, who had just 10 running plays -- and 28 incompletions -- in their upset loss at home against the Washington Redskins.
"Even though we were in the no-huddle at the end of the first half and most of the second half, I was calling a lot of those runs," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "I think people need to realize that just because we're in the no-huddle and we're calling the plays doesn't mean I'm calling all passes."
Roethlisberger will hope to keep the New York Jets (1-0) off-balance when they come to Heinz Field today to face the Steelers (0-1). The Jets have had communication problems with no-huddle attacks, a concern heightened because of two new safeties in the secondary -- Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry.
Conversely, the Jets will try to do against Roethlisberger what they do best -- confuse him with simulated pressure and get him to force throws against a secondary that often drops seven players in coverage. Two of those players are Darrelle Revis (Aliquippa High School, Pitt) and Antonio Cromartie, maybe the best tandem of cornerbacks in the league.
"I think Revis gets a lot of the talk and deservedly so -- he's one of the best," Roethlisberger said. "But, I think it's unfair to the rest of that secondary, especially Antonio Cromartie. He's a great, long defensive back and ball-hawker that makes plays. I don't know if he gets the credit that he is due."
Roethlisberger was sacked five times against the Broncos, but the numbers are misleading. Three of the sacks came on the final series when the Broncos "were pinning their ears," Roethlisberger said, and attacked the pocket. For the most part, the protection in Denver was pretty good. And, when it wasn't, Roethlisberger extended the play and turned several breakdowns into long gainers, including a 27-yarder to Antonio Brown.
Still, since 2007, no quarterback in the NFL has been sacked as many times as Roethlisberger (220).
And, in Denver, Roethlisberger completed just 6 of 14 passes for 60 yards when the Broncos brought five or more rushers. Conversely, the Jets brought only four rushers on nine of the first 13 pass plays by the Buffalo Bills last week.
But they also forced three turnovers on the first 23 plays, in part because they confused the Bills by simulating pressure with five or six players and then dropping seven into coverage.
But the Jets know this about Roethlisberger, too: His numbers are better at home than on the road.Steelers