Steelers Have New-Look Offense


Pittsburgh no longer has the ground-and-pound attack of yesteryear.

It's not even the offense centered around Ben Roethlisberger's backyard scrambling style.

Under new Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley, Pittsburgh has undergone a transition this year.

"It's still a downhill [running] team, but as far as the passing game, it's more of a west coast style," linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. "They get the ball out quick and run a lot of screens. It's something we're looking forward to."

That's part of the reason why Head Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens are preparing more for Pittsburgh's offense as a whole than a particular quarterback.

Even though Roethlisberger is sidelined by rib and shoulder injuries, veteran Byron Leftwich's task will be to put the ball in his playmakers' hands as quickly as possible. And Harbaugh said he's "fully capable of running that offense very well."

The Steelers rank 11th in the NFL in passing yards per game (250). But they're 22nd in the NFL in passing attempts of more than 20 yards with just 28. It's been a lot of short and intermediate passes.

Ravens safety Bernard Pollard saw the same thing from Haley before departing Kansas City in 2009.

"He knows what he wants," Pollard said. "He's going to get his home run hitters the ball."

"They've got speedy guys outside, they want to throw crosses, they want to put the ball in their best players' hands," cornerback Cary Williams added.

The Steelers frequently run wide receiver screens or quick outside passes to set up speedy wide receivers Mike Wallace or Antonio Brown for run-after-catch opportunities. Brown is 13th in the NFL in yards after catch this season (270).

Pittsburgh showed on Monday Night Football that they frequently have two options for a play. The Steelers set up the wide receiver screen and either use it or run the ball based on the defensive formation.

If the Steelers do opt for a lot of quick passes, the Ravens have to do a sound job of swarming and tackling, which has at times been a problem this year. Baltimore missed 14 tackles against Dallas on Oct. 14, nine against the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 4 and seven last week against the speedy Oakland Raiders.

"It's a situation where you have to rally to the ball," linebacker Jameel McClain said.

"Screens are always dangerous. You've got to make sure everybody is getting to the ball. If one or two people decide it's a play they want to take off, it's a play that can break out on your defense."

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