There are many actions in each game that you could perhaps point to and say things could have gone differently if just one thing had changed. Maybe not the end result of every game, but at least how to get there. And one play in Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers win in particular seemed to excite a few alumni.
Former Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger hosted RB Merril Hoge, who played and worked for the team in various capacities, on his Footbahlin podcast as they watched the game live against the Green Bay Packers. They both expressed frustration with RB Najee Harris’ decision to attempt a scramble late in the fourth quarter rather than lower his shoulder as he approached the first marker.
To set the stage, the Steelers led 20-19 on 2nd and 10 with 5:58 left at the Green Bay 25. Jaylen Warren had pounded the ball up to that point in practice, but exited the game a play early. after being arrested for no gain. Quarterback Kenny Pickett threw a screen to Harris’ left side and stuck his feet six yards beyond the line of scrimmage to try to clear 6-0, 210-pound Rudy Ford. The defensive back was able to grab him by the leg and knock him (and the ball) out of bounds before clearing the line for the win.
“All he does is jump,” Roethlisberger exclaimed in exasperation – and that, before the referees again spotted the ball two yards away after initially giving him the first down. He and Hoge lamented that Harris was going to get hurt. And then they spotted the ball to go 3rd and 2.
“If Naj doesn’t jump on that guy, drop his shoulder and run ahead, he gets the first down,” Roethlisberger said. “He jumps him and gets (carried out of bounds by the defender). He loses all his momentum… There you go, he’s a big guy, but are you telling me that his momentum (isn’t enough)?
Harris, by the way, is listed at 6-1 and 242 pounds. You’re not going to physically do many things to this man that he doesn’t want to do. He’s carried many defenders in the past, but he often chooses the north route – much to the chagrin of his former quarterback, even if he did score a touchdown.
“Come on. Run him over. Knock that guy over and you’ll be the first to go down. Man,” his rants continued after the Steelers failed to pick up the first down, deflating a successful drive with a field goal. “Drop it, you crush it and you guarantee the first down. And you avoid that touchdown… But now you score the field goal and you’re down to four points instead of running for the first down and getting it.”
“Go down first and stop jumping!” “.
How many salons around Pittsburgh have had a conversation like this about this piece, one might ask? It’s just interesting how similar a future Hall of Famer might look at his former team to the average fan’s experience. Of course, Roethlisberger sometimes knows a little more.
It turned out the four points wouldn’t matter, but maybe only thanks to CB Patrick Peterson’s blocked extra point in the first half. This lost point kept the score from being within a field goal, so the Packers had to search for the end zone at the end of the game rather than attempt to tie the game. And it resulted in an interception inside the red zone as time expired.