Sunday, January 16, 2011

What happened on third-and-long?

How did the Baltimore Ravens allow the Pittsburgh Steelers to convert a first down on 3rd-and-19 in the final minutes of the AFC North champions' comeback playoff win?

Ben Roethlisberger launched a 58-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Antonio Brown.

That set up the game-winning touchdown run by running back Rashard Mendenhall.

The Ravens were in a prevent defense.

"That's been our philosophy all year is don't let the ball get thrown over your head," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "It's a prevent defense. It's a third and 19, you can give up 18. Get off the field, and the offense has an opportunity to win the game.

"But somehow we gave up a deep one. I don't know how, I wasn't back there. I don't know what happened. All I know is some dude caught the ball."

Brown simply dashed past Webb.

"He had a step," Webb said. "He got a step."

Roethlisberger was shocked that the Ravens only sent a three-man rush.

"We called the play and I told (offensive coordinator Bruce Arians) that even though all the outside guys are supposed to run 15-yard ‘stop' routes, just try to get something, but I said, ‘Let's send 'em, let's just take a shot. Who cares? Chuck it deep.'

"I'm thinking to myself, ‘If they pick it, it'll be a pick way down there, just as good as a punt. Let's take a chance.' Ed Reed lined up to the left and that's always a key, to find out where he is. Keep the safety in the middle of the field and throw it as far as I can."

The Steelers had Mike Wallace line up wide left and had Hines Ward in the slot on the left with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders lined up right and Brown wide right.

The Ravens essentially dropped eight players and rushed three.

"Yeah, I thought they were going to come all out," Roethlisberger said.

Added Suggs: "We were fully confident that our three-man rush could get there. That's what we wanted to do. You're not supposed to give up that big one."

Brown simply ran past Webb, who's one of the fastest Ravens.

"He got even with the guy," Roethlisberger said. "Like we say, if he's even, he's leavin'."

And Roethlisberger made another play against the Ravens, adding to his legend.

He has won seven consecutive games over Baltimore.

"It's Ben," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "You give this guy an opportunity to snap it, he's capable of producing plays. It's not always how you draw it up, but he has a no-blink mentality. He's a competitor and a winner.

"And those guys follow him. In third-and-20, there's no such thing as a primary guy. Hopefully, somebody down the field was open and he was."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended the strategy by defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, which was ultimately an ineffective gambit.

"I just think they made a great play over the top," Harbaugh said. "It was a great throw. They ran a nice route, got behind us obviously and made a play. It's going to happen sometimes. I thought our secondary played well the whole game. I don't have a problem with any individual performance. Our guys were battling out there. That's what you ask for."

In Harbaugh's opinion, Roethlisberger would have been able to escape the rush no matter how many people the Ravens sent after him.

"The ball would have been out either way," Harbaugh said. "That was a pretty quick throw. I don't think it would have mattered how many guys we brought in that particular situation. We could have brought more and moved the ball out quicker.

"I thought we had good pressure. We had six sacks. We had a bunch of knockdowns. These are two teams that play great defense, so I don't think pressure was the problem."

source:  National Football Post
author:  Aaron Wilson

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