Breaking down the tape: Roethlisberger wasn't fooled

A look back at the Steelers' 43-18 victory over the 49ers via the magic of the DVR:

WHAT WORKED:In the opener at New England, the Patriots played two safeties deep with regularity so the Steelers ran the ball.

In the home opener against San Francisco, the 49ers tried to disguise their version of Cover 2 and the Steelers responded by attacking down the field.

QB Ben Roethlisberger completed four passes of 40-plus yards on the way to a 369-yard day, and at times it was just too easy.

Some examples:
Third-and-10, Steelers 20-yard line, first quarter: S Eric Reid sprints back at the snap from a slot-right position at the line to support CB Kenneth Acker, who has press coverage on WR Antonio Brown, who the Steelers had split wide-left. Brown beats Acker off the line and then runs under Roethlisberger's pass down the left sideline just before Reid can get there. Gain of 28, first down.

Third-and-5, Steelers 22, first quarter: Roethlisberger uses play-action and a roll left to move S Antoine Bethea off the right hash then hits WR Darrius Heyward-Bey down the right seam. Heyward-Bey had been given a free release and inside position by CB Dontae Johnson. Gain of 41, first down.

Third-and-6, Steelers 39, second quarter: Reid walks up to the line of scrimmage pre-snap and then sprints back at the snap to help Acker on an anticipated deep sideline throw to Brown, who had lined up wide-left. Brown beats them both to the ball. Gain of 59, first down.

First-and-10, 49ers 35, second quarter: The 49ers are in Cover 2 this time, not crowding the line of scrimmage. Roethlisberger changes the play at the line and Heyward-Bey runs out of a bunch-right with TE Heath Miller and WR Markus Wheaton, beating CB Tramaine Brock, who gave up inside position, and then Bethea, who gave up inside position. Gain of 35, touchdown.

Third-and-2, Steelers 44, fourth quarter: Trailing 29-10, the 49ers are still crowding the line of scrimmage. Roethlisberger holds the ball this time and finally exploits a matchup of Wheaton on LB Michael Wilhoite, who never gets help from Bethea, who stays close to the line in the vicinity of Brown, or Reid, who seems more concerned with Heyward-Bey on the left sideline. Gain of 48, first down.

Third-and-3, Steelers 27, fourth quarter: The 49ers were in Cover 2 but Reid never reacts to Brown running past him after Brown runs past Brock at the line of scrimmage. Gain of 56, first down.

The 49ers, apparently, had hoped to force the Steelers to run shorter, quicker routes and to keep more players in pass protection, and still be able to provide deep help when necessary, by playing it the way they did.

Roethlisberger wasn't fooled.

The 49ers weren't able to influence the Steelers into a dunk-and-dunk approach and weren't able to defend down-the-field throws.


SACK ATTACK:**The Steelers dropped 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick five times and on all five occasions the 49ers had more players in protection than the Steelers had rushing.

Second-and-3, 49ers 45, first quarter: A four-man rush wins when Stephon Tuitt beats RG Jordan Devey with a swim move.

Third-and-22, Steelers 22, second quarter: A four-man rush wins when DE Cam Heyward beats LG Alex Boone up the middle and collects Kaepernick, who steps up into Heyward in response to outside pressure from LBs Bud Dupree and James Harrison.

Third-and-7, San Francisco 21, second quarter: CB Antwon Blake blitzes off the right corner inside LB Ryan Shazier to bring a five-man pressure. Blake is picked up by RB Carlos Hyde (sixth in protection) but Heyward, who stands up just before the snap, is not blocked. He turns Kaepernick into Shazier, who has beaten LT Joe Staley.

Second-and-18, 49ers 21, third quarter: A five-man pressure beats a six-man protection. Tuitt smokes Staley off the ball and is barely touched. LB Arthur Moats loops behind LB Jarvis Jones and isn't blocked. And Shazier gets pressure because RB Mike Davis sets up too wide in protection.

Third-and-goal, Steelers 11, fourth quarter: Dupree blows by RT Erik Pears on a four-man rush but keeps a proper angle and chases down Kaepernick as he steps up in the pocket.


Check out the highlight photos from the Steelers vs 49ers game.

TWO TIMES THREE:**The Steelers' two two-point conversions resembled the one they had converted at New England in that multiple-receivers formations were employed.

At New England, it was Brown wide-left, TE Heath Miller and Wheaton slot-right, Heyward-Bey wide- right and RB DeAngelo Williams in the backfield to Roethlisberger's right. The line run-blocked and Roethlisberger faked a handoff to Williams before hitting Wheaton on a slant.

On the first try against the 49ers, the Steelers lined up Williams wide-left, Brown slot-left, Miller on the right side of the line, Wheaton slot-right and Heyward-Bey wide-right. Roethlisberger caught the ball and played pitch-and-catch with Brown.

On the second try, the Steelers went with the same empty set, with Miller motioning from the left to the right side of the line this time. Roethlisberger looked left before finding Miller on a walk-in screen.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.