The real keys to Week 10's big performances
Posted: Sunday November 11, 2007 9:47PM; Updated: Sunday November 11, 2007 10:09PM
Ben Roethlisberger's athleticism is often underrated, but it has made him one of the tougher quarterbacks to defend when he flees the pocket. His running skills and ability to complete throws accurately on the move creates big play opportunity for the Steelers. His 30-yard touchdown run was one of the numerous plays he made with his feet to keep the offense rolling.
The Steelers have nicely complemented their aggressive zone blitz package with a soft eight-man zone defense with only three rushers. The zone is effective because the aggressive bluffing of the linebackers forces changes in the pass protection, limiting the number of receivers on routes. With fewer receivers to cover, the Steelers were able to blanket the Browns' passing game and hold Derek Anderson to just 123 passing yards.
The Packers surprisingly found success on the ground against the Vikings by being creative with their formations and play calls. Green Bay used the full house backfield (three running backs) to get Ryan Grant free on off-tackle runs during the first quarter. And the Packers later utilized a series of draws out of their bunch formations to take advantage of additional space created by their four-receiver sets. By unveiling several new wrinkles in their running game, Green Bay helped Grant accumulate 119 rushing yards.
Mike McCarthy called more shovel passes to take advantage of the Vikings' pass rush. By inviting the Vikings' front four up the field, Brett Favre was able to slip Grant and Vernand Morency past the defense off flip tosses. The combination of the shovel pass and draw slowed Minnesota's pass rush enough to allow Favre to work comfortably from the pocket.
The Packers slowed down Adrian Peterson without making major adjustments to their base defense. Without the threat of an effective passing game, the Packers pressed Charles Woodson and Al Harris on the Vikings' receivers and incorporated Atari Bigby as part of their eight-man fronts/run blitz package. With the additional defender in the box, A.J. Hawk and Brady Poppinga floated freely through the gaps to corral Peterson.