All 22: This is how you be GREAT !!!
3rd & 6 from the Bengal 45 yard line. Score tied 17-17. Last play of the 3rd QTR
We see Steelers come out 3 wide shotgun set. Wallace and Sanders stacked to right side of formation, Antonio Brown to the boundary side in the X position. The formation shows equal strength with Heath Miller in a wing to the left. RB to the right of the QB evens out any protection with at minimum 3 blockers to each side of the formation with the OC declaring the threat and pivoting as 4th man to that side.
Reading the front shows both nickel LB's mugged up into A-gaps showing blitz, with DE's in wide 9 technique. A defensive formation that shows they're plan is to bring pressure.
One defensive key to read off this is shown in the stacked set. Normally the WR in front of the stack runs the clearing route. And with both WR's split inside the numbers usually suggest they are either in tight to be closer for a crossing route, or are leaving themselves room for a combination of out routes at the sticks. Another key is in Antonio Brown outside the numbers. It suggests vertical release
This pic shows the coverage shell. Bengals come in base nickel set in 2 deep shell. With LB's mugged up showing blitz, the bait is leaving the middle of the field open. At the bottom of this frame, we see the boundary CB over top of Antonio Brown showing inside technique, which is a key indicator of man coverage where the CB uses the sideline as an extra defender in coverage. At the top of the screen, we see the open field CB facing the QB in an open stance in outside technique which indicates zone coverage with intentions of funneling the route back inside to his help. The pre-snap read indicates some form of combination coverage. Something not uncommon when a threat like Mike Wallace is the on the field keeping safeties honest.
On the snap, all intentions are declared. As we see one of the ILB's drop out of the box into coverage, the other blitzes. That triggers RB Baron Batch to the A-gap to help with closest threat to QB in a pinch protection set. At the bottom of the screen, we see Antonio Brown with outside release off press coverage. We also see FS Reggie Nelson drop out of his cover 2 disguise into the box with a man coverage assignment on Heath Miller, who stays into block in max protect blocking assignment with protections rolled to the QB's right.
Not shown in this still frame is the cross at the line of scrimmage by Mike Wallace and Emmanual Sanders. Wallace immediately release wide and stems vertical, with Sanders releasing inside stemming vertical, but keeping an outside release on nickel CB who passed wallace off to the outside CB.
What stands out about this frame is the clean pocket for the QB in the max protect set. Mike Adams walks the DE in wide 9 set around the pocket, with Heath Miller handling the other outside threat. With Doug Legursky rolling right to help Ramon Foster, LG Willie Colon pancakes ILB Rey Maauluga.
Downfield, we see the other nickel LB dropped out of the box to his landmark on the hash to take away the slant option that was baited for Antonio Brown. Free Safety Reggie Nelson sits on the numbers without an assignment after Heath Miller doesn't release into a pattern, but leaves himself in position to be a potential threat to undercut the comeback route of Antonio Brown at the bottom of the screen if the QB looked his way.
On top of the screen, we see both Wallace and Sanders stemmed vertical and the nickel CB is playing trail technique on the underneath hip of Emmanual Sanders. By this point, coverage is revealed. Bengal secondary dropped out of cover 2 shell into standard cover 3 formation.
If there were options at the top of the route for Wallace and Sanders, they'll read the following keys. In cover 2, Wallace may break his route the post and split the safeties deep with Sanders running a deep in cut across the safeties face for bait. As we see cover 3 shell, Wallace runs the deep out route to clear the CB and draw the flat-footed read from the middle safety for Emmanual Sanders to break his route back inside and underneath the safety playing deep 1/3.
At this point the play takes shape. The ball is in Emmanual Sanders hands on deep crossing route. The key to this frame is the sheer speed of Emmanual Sanders beating his defender who is in underneath man coverage and Sanders crosses the face of the middle 1/3 safety and catches the ball between the hash.
The key to this was the protection. With such long developing routes, and 3rd & 6 an obvious blitz down, the max protection call coupled with the execution made this play a success for 31 yards down to the Bengals 14 yard line setting up the winning score just plays later.
This view from behind the safeties really show the kind of separation Sanders got on this play. Another thing it shows is the clear sight line with the football delivered on time. Notice how the ILB failed to get enough depth on his drop to impact this play. The risk thats taken when showing blitz on the line of scrimmage with a franchise QB that recognizes and understands how to exploit weakness