Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Offense Shot out of Bb Gun No-Huddle Quickly Gets into a Groove

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Offense Shot out of Bb Gun No-Huddle Quickly Gets into a Groove

Article excerpt

The groove Ben Roethlisberger found himself operating Friday night in New Orleans was Lorin Maazel-like, only he led the Steelers and not the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Like the late, great conductor, Roethlisberger was in command, directing his offense in rhythmic beats that had Steelers fans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome crowd stomping their feet.

And then . . . and then, someone stood up and shouted "Time out!"

"We have a play called, we're in the no-huddle mode," said Rothlisberger, describing the perfect harmony that had already carried the Steelers to a 7-0 lead over the New Orleans Saints.

But Todd Haley interrupted this performance. It was third down, 3 yards to go at the Steelers 43. The boss offered a suggestion after watching from the sideline, his offensive orchestra doing it mostly on its own.

"That's one of those instances where Todd wanted to call the play," Roethlisberger said. "We had to switch personnel, and we didn't get the personnel on in time. So rather than try and rush the play, we might as well call the timeout, besmart, be safe. We stuck with the play and AB did the rest."

Antonio Brown, the leading first violinist of the Steelers' music-makers, did as Haley instructed. He ran down the left side. Roethlisberger, also following Haley's play call, threw him the football. Brown, illegally bumped by rookie cornerback De'Vante Harris, never missed stride, caught the pass around the New Orleans 40 and beat it unimpeded to the end zone.

It was 14-0 Steelers, there were still nearly 52 minutes left in the performance but Haley and the rest had seen enough. The understudies could take over from here.

What that brief, near perfect 2016 debut for Roethlisberger, Brown and Co. showed in this third warm-up game is what they believe they can do once the curtains go up on the season that counts Sept. 12 against the Washington Redskins.

There will be plenty of no-huddle, just as there was Friday night when Roethlisberger performed out of that or the "muddle" 14 of the 15 plays in which he worked. There might be even more of it than was seen in 2015 or 2013 and 2014, the years Haley really cut loose Roethlisberger to run the offense and call his own plays.

The no-huddle might be the norm in 2016.

"I think so," Roethlisberger said. "I think our base offense is going to be up-tempo."

With veterans most everywhere at wide receiver, running back and offensive line and with the faith in them from Haley to run it, there is no reason not to do it often, the way Peyton Manning once did for the Indianapolis Colts, only without the pre-snap theatrics.

"I think it's just getting into the flow of the game," Roethlisberger said of the advantages, "being able to see what the defense is giving us, changing plays, calling plays. …

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