CINCINNATI — The Steelers certainly did not open the game in the manner in which they wanted to do so. In fact, on their first possession, Ben Roethlisberger ended up throwing an interception straight to Bengals cornerback Eli Apple. It was a play that would set the tone for the rest of the Steelers’ woeful day as they stumbled and lost to the Bengals 41-10. Still, while they took a hard loss, it was a play that could have changed the entire dynamic of the game.
This play is a hard one to read. On one hand, the Bengals are giving Chase Claypool and Roethlisberger outside leverage. That should give the Steelers an indicator of what can work here and where to throw the ball. Now, the question here is this could be an option route or it could be a wrong route by Claypool. It is a three-step drop, but Claypool sees the leverage and hits on a double move. With Roethlisberger feeling pressure, he decides to let it rip, and throws it to Claypool’s outside shoulder.
Likely, Roethlisberger was expecting Claypool to run a stop route here just past the sticks. Technically, they are both right and both would work against this leverage. However, the fundamental miscommunication of the play itself is what dooms it. It is not a bad throw or wrong route by Claypool. He has no way of knowing Roethlisberger is under duress. So, by that virtue, the Steelers are doomed from the jump. As Roethlisbeger notes, the pressure greatly affected the play.
“I had to step up into the pocket and let go of it sooner than I wanted to,” Roethlisberger said. “It was a double move. I let go of it like he was going to go outside of it, but he was inside of it. It wasn’t the wrong route. I let go of the ball too soon.”