Bengals Fim Study: Cowboys Laid the Blueprint to Beat Steelers

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Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) stands over Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) after getting a penalty for roughing the passer at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys won 27-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

While re-watching the Steelers  loss to Dallas to see what the Bengals could use to help them attack, a few things popped out. The Steelers’ defense is still the master at misleading looks, but coordinator Dick LeBeau has a few tendencies that his linebackers  with only average athleticism can not overcome.

On the other side of the ball, Todd Haley has always had a tendency to grab a few of his favorite plays when backed up against the wall. He uses a lot of play action before the snap to determine the coverage for a check-with-me play that Ben Roethlisberger calls based on if they are playing zone or man coverage.

Disguising coverage is something the Cowboys do well, the Bengals maybe less so. But they have similarly physical defensive backs, which will help the Bengals do what Dallas did: win the point of attack against wide receiver screens to nullify the big YAC opportunities that Pittsburgh loves. With Leon Hall likely shadowing Antonio Brown again, although playing at a higher level than the last meeting, he could play a huge role against the wide receiver screens.

A few other notes:

  • Steelers stay in base personnel whenever possible, Dallas split out a wide receiver to the left to neutralize Harrison and make him cover since he is not good in coverage.
  • Pittsburgh safeties have to respect the pass more with Ike Taylor out, can’t stay in the box as much to stop the run, especially against spread formations.
  • Polamalu ran with Austin for ten yards, handed him off as soon as WR broke off route
  • Dallas held point of attack, waited for runner to commit.
  • Haley’s Steelers want you to play the run, get in Cover 1, then create mismatches in the passing game. Being able to stop the run with two high safeties is paramount, and the Bengals could not do it last time.
  • Go to tendencies when in a tight spot: out route with high/low crossing routes

The interception that Ben Roethlisberger threw in overtime was a direct result of going to the well one too many times, something that the Steelers often find themselves guilty of. Not that trying to replicate success is a terrible thing, but only to an extent.

With Mike Wallace facing off against Brandon Carr head-to-head all day, Roethlisberger was able to hit Wallace on a few quick out routes. Carr was playing press man and had to respect Wallace’s speed, but began closing in on the play more and more often.

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