Let’s take an inside look at one of the plays that gave the Steelers a chance to put away the Falcons late in the fourth quarter — had it not been for Jeff Reed’s miss from 40 yards.
All eyes on Stage A were on the game at that moment, and the play that made Reed’s attempt possible was Troy Polamalu’s interception of Matt Ryan with less than two minutes remaining. Deion Sanders diagnosed the play immediately, and the cat-and-mouse game between Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and Ryan.
The Steelers showed a two-deep coverage on the play, which Ryan read correctly. But it was safety Ryan Clark who was responsible for the deep half, with Polamalu coming up from the back end to take the underneath coverage. Clark left intended receiver Roddy White off the line of scrimmage, and Polamalu read Ryan, who never looked off from White.
Ryan didn’t read the disguise, and Polamalu made the interception.
Some trickery from LeBeau that might otherwise go unnoticed, along with Rashard Mendenhall’s 50-yard touchdown run on the Steelers’ first play from scrimmage in overtime, led directly to a win.
Yeah, this is some in-depth football, but it’s an example of one of those plays that doesn’t necessarily make the highlight film that helps decide games.
– Frank Tadych