great breakdown. everyone should click the link to see the purty pictures. also greg easterbrook is proven more wrong and a know-it-all, blowhard (while minimizing troys talent) in regards to this play-
Dick LeBeau's zone rush -- TMQ prefers that term because often it isn't a blitz when only four defenders cross the line of scrimmage -- is about choreography that creates confusion regarding who's rushing and who's dropping. When it works, one rusher comes through the line unblocked. Announcers and fans see that action and think, "He made a great play." Actually he's done the easiest thing in sports, simply run straight ahead. It is the rush choreography -- happening before the snap and resulting in a rusher who isn't blocked -- that's impressive. A quarterback who sees the blitz coming usually has a man open -- all that's needed is for blockers to slow the rush for an instant. For a blitz to be devastating, somebody's got to come unblocked -- otherwise the ball will be gone.
Baltimore leading 10-6 with 3:22 remaining, the Nevermores had second-and-5 on their 43. LeBeau correctly guessed that Baltimore would pass, since the Steelers had been stopping the run -- though given the pace of the game, two rushes to grind the clock, followed by a punt, might not have been bad for the home team that also has a power defense. Pittsburgh showed mega-blitz, with seven men walking up to the line and shifting positions twice. At the snap, five actually rushed; Troy Polamalu came through unblocked and tomahawked the ball out of Joe Flacco's hand. Elegant blitz choreography!
Now the Steelers have third-and-9 on the Ravens' 9, still trailing 10-6 with 2:58 remaining. A pass is likely, as Baltimore has also been stopping the Pittsburgh rush. The Ravens walk up six to the line, showing blitz, but there's no deception regarding who will come. At the snap, all six plow straight ahead, and six Pittsburgh blockers each get a piece of a man, slowing the rush just enough that Ben Roethlisberger can release a "hot read" toss to undrafted Isaac Redman of Division II Bowie State. Because six men rushed, the hot-read completion became a touchdown and the winning points. On Baltimore's final drive, Pittsburgh did nothing funky, simply rushing four. Flacco kept anticipating the blitz but not getting it -- which was, itself, effective, especially when Flacco threw short, hot-read type passes on the Ravens' last two downs, when they needed major yardage.
some of these national writers really need to do a bit of research before making such grand statements. tomlin and the players all acknowledged that they guessed baltimore would run the ball, thus had a run blitz called.
tomlin attributed the great play to troys freakish instincts and talents. troy attributed it to leabeau putting him in the right position.
either way, pinning it on a simple DC "guess' is pretty far off the mark of what always makes a great play happen.