Steelers Gamble With Fake Punt (But Maybe Not That Much)
By FirstDown PlayBook on Oct 23, 2017

Yesterday with 6:53 left in the fourth quarter the Pittsburgh Steelers had the ball on their own 40 yard line looking at a 4th and seven situation against division rival the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers were up two scores commanding a 26-14 lead. What happened next defied a lot of football logic when you look at the field position, time in the game and the score. However, the Steelers had obviously been  waiting on this play for a while.

Chances are that the Steelers have seen the look they got on this play previously from the Bengals and quite possibly several times since they play each other at least two times a year. As the play unfolded, it was a fake punt. The ball was direct snapped to the Personal Protector #20 Robert Golden who found the right Gunner #88 Darrius Hayward-Bey down the right sideline wide open as the Bengals had been busy setting up a five or six man overload look to that side designed to confuse the Steelers’ protection.

———————————–BANG ON THE DRAWING TO SEE THE PLAY!—————————————

Obviously, this is a gutsy call to even let Golden have the green light to run this play, regardless of the look he got. But, when you take a second look, you will see that the Steelers had a lot of things on their side when the ball was snapped.

Golden knew that #21 was the Corner and the one who would pop out to cover the Gunner. He knew this because he had been doing it all day, and once again, they play each other a lot.

  1. He knew that from Dennard’s alignment one of two things would have to happen.
    1. Dennard would see the ball snapped to Golden but could NEVER get to #88 or
    2. Dennard would leave and turn his back on the snap thus not even knowing that this was a fake. As far as he would know he was just running to intersect Hayward-Bey on the return.

Our hats are off to Golden for an accurate throw even though his form was little rough around the edges. But the truth being told, the pass probably did not have to be anything but near Hayward -Bey because the odds were Dennard wasn’t even going to know the ball was in the air. In fact, there is a real possibility on this play that Dennard could get a pass interference call and never know the ball was thrown to the Gunner on the fake punt.

So once again, this was a tremendous call and execution for the Steelers at a critical moment in the game that picked up 44 yards and a first down. Don’t think for one second however that they didn’t know that there were a lot of different ways this fake punt could work if they got this look the Bengals gave them in the fourth quarter last night!

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