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Unheralded plays in Steelers history

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Joined: 17 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:41 pm    Post subject: Unheralded plays in Steelers history Reply with quote

Thinking about championship teams, people tend to place a great emphasis on QB play or the contributions of skill guys in general. Sometimes there is one splash play everyone points to. Yet, if you look at most Super Bowl runs, it required a lot of great individual plays from relatively unheralded players to even get to those splash plays.

At this slow time of the year, I was interested to see what people would come up with. I'll start with a play I almost never see mentioned from the 2005-06 run that got the one-for-the-thumb. This play would be overshadowed by much more dramatic plays, but if you look back, it was perhaps just as significant and an incredible individual effort. It's the sort of play that puts teams over the top and wins championships that often goes unnoticed. The divisional round against the Colts is remembered for Roethlisberger's hot start, the dominant defense, the overturned INT, and the fumble/tackle followed by the missed FG that finally ended it. A few people will reference McFadden's coverage on two straight plays late, but there was something earlier in the game that was just as important...

The score was 14-0 in a game the Steelers had dominated. The Colts had possessed the ball for 9 minutes and 15 plays. Two minute warning hits after two straight, but off-setting penalties as the Colts possessed the ball on 3-1 at the goalline. Colts false started, Steelers Aaron Smith gets a neutral zone infraction. The end result is 3-3 from the 3.

The Colts came out with three wide, and the Steelers responded with their nickel. They ran their patented spread play to the right side of the defense on a Manning audible. Smith, whose screw-up allowed the Colts to run the play, is double-teamed. There's a man on Haggans and Polamalu. Fighting through the garbage, Smith meets Edgerrin James in the hole by himself. He plays the stretch perfectly keeping gap discipline, squares down and meets a very underrated RB in the hole. He doesn't get credit for the tackle, but he buys the time for Haggans and Polamalu to beat off their blocks and make the play for a no-gain.

The Colts are stuck on 4th down, and have to kick a FG to leave the Steelers up 14-3. Its a huge momentum swing. If they had scored the TD there, that obviously makes up the difference in points needed to win the game.
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