Steelers Must Begin to Correct Mistakes on Third Downs Tonight


Aug 19, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) drops back to pass during the first half against the Washington Redskins at FedEX Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

"The significant thing if you look at that game against the Redskins, we were 1-of-13 on third down.  Four of those third downs we converted but they were called back due to penalties, and those penalties had no effect on the outcome of the play.  There was just poor technique or poor judgement, and that’s slowing us down.  You could that with a couple of mis-throws, and we could’ve been converting at 50 percent.  But we don’t deal in hypotheticals.  The reality is we were 1-of-13 and those are reasons why we were.  We need to fix it.-Mike Tomlin on Pittsburgh’s execution on third downs on Monday"

I for one applaud the fact that Mike Tomlin and the rest of his coaching staff recognized how poorly their team performed on third downs during Pittsburgh’s 24-13 loss to the Redskins on Monday evening.

Even if was during preseason play, 1-for-13 is a downright pathetic third down conversion ratio for any offense to post at any level.  What particularly disturbed me about that conversion rate though was the fact that Tomlin mentioned how his team had four conversions negated by penalties during the game!

Most of all though, I was disgusted with were the bone-headed mistakes by Pittsburgh’s first-team offense, most notably their starting offensive line.

Mike Adams’ illegal formation penalty cost the Steelers a first down on third-and-five in the first quarter after Ben Roethlisberger found Emmanuel Sanders through the air for nine yards.  That particular drive stalled and ended with a punt when a first down would have put Pittsburgh at their own 43 yard line with a fresh set of downs.

Then on the following series, Pittsburgh’s efforts stalled in the red zone when two potential first downs were negated by idiotic mistakes.   The first one was Maurkice Pouncey’s illegal hands to the face, and the other was a holding one by Adams.  Both of these penalties I might add occurred inside of Washington’s red zone when the game was only 7-0.

If it were Pittsburgh’s backups who were responsible for those penalties, I would be frustrated but not shocked by their lack of technique and discipline.  But when it is the starters who are taking points off of the scoreboard and destroying drives, then it is definitely an enormous cause for concern.  Thankfully, the starting offensive line and the rest Pittsburgh’s offense as a whole will receive more chances tonight to learn from their mistakes and improve against Kansas City.

If in fact these third-down penalties remain issues for the Steelers to deal with during the regular season though, then their offense will be in even more dire straits than they were last fall.

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