Since the Ezekiel Elliott touchdown run to seal the game Sunday has been one of the hotter topics in the Steeler Nation this week I thought it was time to take a look at just what happened on this particular play. Obviously I am not in the huddle so I don’t know exactly what each player’s responsibility is on the play in question but I have a pretty good idea based on the situation.
Anyway, how did Elliott go untouched for this TD? Let’s go to the images on the All-22.
In the photo above, we see Sean Davis locked on the Dallas receiver at the bottom with Mike Mitchell over the top. When the ball is snapped, Davis makes a direct line for the backfield. My assumption here is that he has outside contain because Jarvis Jones will drive his man down inside. If true, then Davis isn’t as out of position as I thought. However, because his timing wasn’t great, the angle looks worse.
Here’s the view from behind the Steelers’ D. The Cowboys are clearly heavy to the left. Javon Hargrave is tilted in the A gap while Jones is set up outside on the tight end. Shazier covers the offensive tackle while Lawrence Timmons will blitz in the A gap opposite Hargrave.
The third image gives you a great idea of how solid the Cowboys’ offensive line is. The center has perfectly lined up Timmons as he enters the A gap and clears him aside while the guard washes down Hargrave with excellent form. At this point, there are only two Steelers who can make the tackle at the line of scrimmage. Shazier is sliding to his left as the offensive tackle bears down on him. He will over-run the play and slip to the ground trying to recover. That leaves Jarvis Jones. He is engaged with the Dallas tight end and rather than hold his position, Jones continues shoving the blocker down the line.
In the final frame, you can see where Sean Davis has entered the picture and has realized much too late he’s taken a poor angle. Over to the left, Robert Golden (the last line of defense on this play) has also sucked up way too far allowing Elliott to basically split he and Davis down the middle. The final problem here is Jones. As an outside linebacker you must be able to engage a blocker and see where the ball carrier is. It’s not easy but it’s expected. For whatever reason, Jones stays locked with the blocker and completely misses Elliott coming through to his immediate left. Unfortunately, this is a microcosm of Jones’ career in Pittsburgh. He always seems to be close but not close enough.
In the end, this is a well-executed football play by Dallas. They make the necessary blocks and take advantage of the Steelers’ lack of execution and poor decision-making.
This is why the Steelers find themselves at 4-5 right now.