Steelers ride big plays, bold decisions to romp over 49ers
PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley might want to alter his stated goal of averaging 30 points a game. Especially if he and coach Mike Tomlin are going to start treating every possession like a game of Madden.
Considering the array of options at their disposal – ones on full display during a 43-18 demolition of San Francisco on Sunday – kind of hard to blame them.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 369 yards and three touchdowns, including one to Antonio Brown. DeAngelo Williams tied a team record with three rushing scores and the Steelers converted a pair of early 2-point attempts to seize momentum and throttle the 49ers.
”Ben played like Ben,” Williams said. ”AB played like AB and we got production from the run game today. I think we were clicking on all cylinders.”
This from the guy who will have to give the starting job back to All-Pro Le’Veon Bell this week now that Bell has completed his two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
”When we get all our pieces back to this puzzle, it’s going to be a beautiful puzzle man,” Williams said.
Unless, of course, you’re trying to solve it. San Francisco (1-1) didn’t come close, falling behind by 26 points in the first half and never really challenging to spoil coach Jim Tomsula’s homecoming.
”It’s no secret,” Tomsula said. ”They do a wonderful job of creating. That’s what happened. You can’t give up big plays.”
It’s the only kind the Steelers (1-1) seemed to provide against San Francisco. Pittsburgh needed only 23 minutes to roll up 453 yards of total offense, and two of those minutes came when backup quarterback Michael Vick knelt down to end the game.
The longest of Pittsburgh’s six touchdown drives took all of eight plays.
”We didn’t possess the ball very long tonight,” Roethlisberger said. ”But we put up a lot of points.”
Including a couple that came when the Steelers bucked conventional wisdom.
Some things from the Steeler’s big win:
GOING FOR IT: Twice in the first half Pittsburgh opted to attempt a 2-point conversion after touchdowns rather than a traditional one-point kick. The Steelers converted both easily, with Roethlisberger casually flipping to Brown and Heath Miller. Call it a byproduct of the ”seven shots” drill the team ran relentlessly during training camp. The starters on both sides took seven snaps from the 2, with the offense usually getting the better of the defense. It looked just like camp on Sunday.
”We put so much time and effort into those plays and if you’re going to be successful doing them, why not do it?” Roethlisberger said.
HOME (NOT SO) SWEET HOME: Tomsula grew up just a few miles up the Monongahela River from downtown Pittsburgh. Coaching in front of friends and family, he could only watch as his team struggled to keep the Steelers in check and sometimes failed to get out of its own way. San Francisco gave up five sacks, committed seven penalties and failed to convert long drives into touchdowns.
”They got after our tails,” Tomsula said.
SIZZLING SHAZIER: The Steelers took linebacker Ryan Shazier in the first round of the 2014 Draft after becoming smitten with his speed. It was on full display against San Francisco. Chasing 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick all over the field, Shazier finished with a career-best 15 tackles, including a sack and three tackles for loss before leaving late with a shoulder stinger he stressed was no big deal.
”I knew I was going to be involved,” Shazier said. ”When you have a team that runs the ball a lot you know linebackers are going to get more snaps than we might against passing teams.”
ROAD TO NOWHERE: San Francisco had the ball for nearly 37 minutes and put together drives of 18, 17 and 15 plays. The grand total of points the 49ers scored during those drives? Three. Not exactly the way to keep pace with one of the league’s most prolific offenses.
”You can’t settle for field goals in that situation,” Kaepernick said. ”Obviously, with the offense the Steelers have, we have to match the touchdowns – and we didn’t do that today.
UP NEXT: Pittsburgh travels to St. Louis (1-1) while the 49ers play at Arizona (2-0).
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