View Full Version : Steelers' Arians has bag of tricks

10-05-2009, 08:54 PM
Steelers' Arians has bag of tricks
By MATTHEW BURGLUND, mburglund@indianagazette.net
Published: Monday, October 5, 2009 10:35 AM EDT

PITTSBURGH - It seemed like when Ken Whisenhunt left Pittsburgh for Arizona, he took the trick play with him.

But Sunday night, the Steelers offered some flash with their smash.

Third-down back Mewelde Moore tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller in the fourth quarter on a halfback-option play that nobody - especially the San Diego Chargers - saw coming.

It was the perfect cap to an otherwise standout night for the Steelers offense, which led the way to a 38-28 win at Heinz Field.

``Every time we run that play in practice, I put a smiley face on it because I know it's gonna work,'' said Moore, who played some quarterback in high school. ``So I was just waiting for the play to be called.''

As far as gadget plays go, the halfback option is pretty basic. But for a team that has relied on the vanilla play calling of Bruce Arians since Whisenhunt gave up his post as offensive coordinator to take the head coaching job in Arizona in 2007, it was quite a departure from the norm.

But Moore said it isn't a sign of things to come, and that the play was called only because of the circumstance - a first-and-goal.

``Previously, we didn't have to do those type of things,'' Moore said of trick plays. ``But this time, the way the game was going and the way they were fighting for momentum, they just gave us an opportunity to hit them with a dagger, and we did a good job of executing.''

Depending on whom you ask, Moore's touchdown pass was the second trick play called Sunday.

Early in the second quarter, wide receiver Santonio Holmes took a handoff from Ben Roethlisberger on an end-around and appeared to be regripping the ball as he ran - as though he were going to throw a pass. But his obvious target, Hines Ward, was covered, and Holmes opted to run with the ball for a 7-yard gain.

When asked if the play was designed as a pass or a run, Holmes offered little insight.

``That was a reverse,'' he said with a sly smile.

So it wasn't a pass?

``No,'' he said sheepishly.

Moore's touchdown pass is the first by a Steelers' non-quarterback since the most famous gadget play in team history - Antwaan Randle El's strike on a reverse-pass to Ward in Super Bowl XL that sealed a 21-10 win over Seattle.

The scoring pass was the second of Moore's NFL career. He tossed a 15-yarder to Jermaine Wiggins while he was a member of the Minnesota Vikings in 2006, against the Seahawks.


Everyone knew Rashard Mendenhall would be the Steelers' starting tailback. What no one knew was how well he'd perform.

Subbing for the injured Willie Parker (toe), Mendenhall rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns, eclipsing his career yardage total in one night.

``He knew coming into this game that he was going to be the lead back,'' said left tackle Max Starks. ``He just came out there and played the game he knew how to play. We always knew he had it.''

It's a bit surprising that Mendenhall did so well considering he didn't get any carries in last week's loss to Cincinnati. Head coach Mike Tomlin said he didn't play the former first-round draft pick because Mendenhall didn't prepare well enough during the week.

Something must have clicked in Mendenhall this week, though, and he put up numbers that momentarily made him look as good as advertised.

``I've never had doubts in myself,'' Mendenhall said. ``I've been confident and calm and waiting on a chance and an opportunity.''


In losses to Chicago and Cincinnati the last two weeks, the Steelers were clearly lacking the ability to knock out an opponent when it had one on the ropes.

Maybe that's now a part of the past.

When the Chargers made it a 14-point game in the second half, the Steelers responded by driving down the field and scoring to jack the lead back to 21 points.

``We haven't been able to finish the last few weeks,'' said Roethlisberger. ``We did today.''

And for once, the offense bailed out the defense, which gave up a few easy scores in the second half.

``We just didn't make plays and we let them get back into the game,'' said defensive end Brett Keisel. ``We're grateful to the offense for putting so many points on the board.''


When Tomlin made the decision to let kicker Jeff Reed try a 46-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter, some eyebrows were raised because of Reed's recent troubles. But Ward said there was no lack of confidence on the Steelers' sideline.

``He's the best kicker ever to play in Heinz Field,'' Ward said, ``so there's no doubt about the decision there.''

Reed made Tomlin look smart, easily making the kick, which gave the Steelers a 10-point lead with 43 seconds to play.


With Sunday's loss, the Chargers fell to 0-14 against the Steelers in the regular season on the road since the teams first met in Pittsburgh in 1971. The Chargers have actually won twice in the Steel City, but both times were in the playoffs, in 1982 and 1994.

``It's always tough, no matter where you go,'' said San Diego safety Clinton Hart. ``It's been a tough road for us, but we'll put this one behind us and move on.''


Steelers safety Troy Polamalu missed his third consecutive game with a knee injury, and Tomlin said he was unsure of when the All-Pro would return. Polamalu walked with a noticeable limp in the locker room after the game. ... Roethlisberger is 4-2 against Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, the two quarterbacks who were taken before him in the 2004 NFL draft. He is 3-1 against Rivers. ... After having one sack in the first three games, linebacker James Harrison had two against the Chargers. ... Roethlisberger did not throw an interception for the first time this season. He has thrown touchdown passes in seven consecutive games dating to last season.

10-06-2009, 08:59 AM
I wasn't real crazy about the double reverse or whatever the heck that was supposed to be early in the game, but I loved seeing the halfback pass come back. I think overall, it was one of BA's better games, but I think he got some help with the solid play of the line and a depleted charger defensive unit.

10-06-2009, 11:49 AM
Arians really didn't do anything different then he has been all season. The players simply executed more crisply Sunday.