The Pittsburgh Steelers remain the only undefeated squad in football after eight weeks, eking out another win against the Baltimore Ravens yesterday afternoon. It was a huge divisional victory for Pittsburgh, and they pulled it off despite giving up 265 yards on the ground and over 400 yards of total offense.
A large part of the reason they were able to do that was the offense coming alive in the final two quarters. Baltimore's defense completely shut down Ben Roethlisberger and his Steelers teammates in the first half; Big Ben threw for all of 24 yards and Pittsburgh as a whole managed only 90 yards of offense in the first 24 minutes of the contest. Something changed after halftime, and Roethlisberger had close to an immaculate second half, throwing for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
What, exactly, might have changed in the Steelers' locker room that caused such a dramatic turnaround? ESPN's Dianna Russinni says it was because Roethlisberger decided to toss the playbook out the window and just make it up as he goes along.
Roethlisberger has definitely been in the league long enough to justify having faith in the ol' "draw it up in the dirt" strategy. And it obviously worked out great. The Steelers put up 21 points in the last two quarters after failing to score a single offensive touchdown before halftime. There is still a fat zero in the loss column. All's well that end's well.
But let me throw something out there: while it ended up going well, it is actually bad that Pittsburgh's offensive gameplan was apparently so useless the starting quarterback decided to abandon it after four first-half possessions. This was the Steelers' biggest game of the year, a division matchup against the reigning MVP, a game that could ultimately decide who takes the AFC North. Baltimore's defense is good, but not impossible to crack by any means. Yet Pittsburgh OC Randy Fitchner and his staff were so flustered to start off that they let Roethlisberger draw up plays in the second half.
Again, it worked, so there's a limited amount of criticism to be fairly given, and even the best-laid plans go awry, especially in the NFL. But this should be a matter of some concern to the Steelers while looking ahead to the next time they face off against the Ravens on Thanksgiving.