Le’Veon Bell and the counter trap/power were executed to perfection by the Steelers offensive line to allow Bell to gain 185 yards on the ground. These plays will breakdown how the counter trap/power was performed.
Stats – 26 carries, 185 yards (7.1 ypc), 2 TD, 6 rec on 9 targets for 50 yards, 1 TD for 235 total yards
The Bengals’ defense was ranked 12th against the run according to DVOA defensive rankings and 17th overall going into week 13.
Situation: 2nd and 4 at PIT 26
Description: Q1 – (14:32) L.Bell left tackle to PIT 32 for 6 yards (V.Rey).
The first run of the day by Bell is a fullback counter trap/power run to the left from the singleback formation.
First, the tight end motions across the formation pre-snap. This pulls the outside linebackers play-side.
The ball is snapped and the right guard pulls across the formation followed by the fullback. Bell reads this exchange and waits patiently for his blocks to form. If Bell runs too quickly outside the edge defender would be able to stop the play negating the effect of the fullback trap.
Bell reads the block by FB46 Johnson and then runs into the opening sealed by WR84 Brown (off-screen) on the edge.
The fullback counter trap/power works because: (1) the TE motions across the formation forcing the outside linebackers to take a more angled route to rush the passer. This helps set up the blocks for the RG and the FB. (2) Bell is very patient with the ball as noted above. (3) The initial counter to the right and directional blocking of TE83 Miller helps pull the defensive lineman out of the play making this an easy one-on-one matchup for the RG on a linebacker and the FB on the inside linebacker. (4) The outside WR (Brown in this case) seals the edge so CB29 Hall can’t make a play on Bell.
Situation: 1st and 10 at PIT 32
Description: Q1 – (13:53) L.Bell left tackle to PIT 37 for 5 yards (D.Peko).
The play is an inside zone run to the left from the singleback formation. This play is successful due to C53 Pouncey block NT94 Peko and the double-team of RG66 DeCastro and RT76 Adams on DE96 Dunlap.
Bell sees the blocking on the left and the open hole between the RG and the C open up so he quickly cuts up the middle. At this point in the play, RG66 DeCastro and RT76 Adams were double-teaming DE96 Dunlap effectively.
Watch RT76 Adams lose his edge once RG66 DeCastro leaves the double-team to block LB58 Maualuga. He gets thrown out of the way by DE96 Dunlap to make the play on Bell.
Situation: 2nd and 8 at PIT 22
Description: Q1 – (6:05) L.Bell right guard to PIT 31 for 9 yards (R.Maualuga; G.Iloka).
Play 6 is an inside counter to the left guard from singleback formation. Watch how quickly RG66 DeCastro and RT76 Adams get off of the line of scrimmage to turn DT97 Atkins away from the play.
After the snap, Bell reads the RG and RT double-teaming Atkins. Bell then locates LB58 Maualuga on the opposite side of this double-team to determine which direction he should cut.
Bell cuts left and runs between the RG and C for a 9 yard gain up the middle. C53 Pouncey does an excellent job with LG73 Foster opening up the left side of the hole.
It must be noted the effort level of the two tight ends Miller and Spaeth on their commendable blocking on the right edge. They aren’t even play-side and are doing a good job keeping their men out of the play completely.
Situation: 1st and 10 at PIT 31
Description: Q1 – (5:32) L.Bell left guard to PIT 49 for 18 yards (G.Iloka).
The play is a tight end counter trap/power left. This play is very similar to Play 1, except the Steelers use TE89 Spaeth instead of the FB to set up the blocks downfield.
TE83 Miller motions across the formation pre-snap to shift the linebackers outside to allow the pulling blockers to set up their blocks. RG66 DeCastro pulls from the right side of the formation and is followed by TE89 Spaeth.
Bell takes the handoff and instantly reads his offensive line to see if they have the wall set up. It is set up, so Bell follows TE89 Spaeth through the hole created by the pulling RG66 DeCastro.
Bell continues to follow both of the TE’s 83 Miller and 89 Spaeth to the left edge and he continues to patiently allow his blocks to continue downfield.
Once Bell is clear of the tight ends and their defenders he sprints for the big gain on the play to be tackled by the safety. Great play design and even better execution by all parties.
WR84 Brown (off-screen for most of the play) is making an incredible downfield block to prevent his cornerback from returning to make a play. The play design was great, but a lot of credit goes to him to make this happen.
Situation: 1st and 10 at PIT 20
Description: Q4 – (15:00) L.Bell left tackle to CIN 27 for 53 yards (E.Lamur).
Play 21 is very similar to the counter trap/power plays above, except there is one key difference. TE83 motions from play-side to the opposite side of the formation to set up the counter trap/power.
In this play, Bell takes the handoff and simply waits for TE83 Miller to set up the block on the edge. Bell then reads this block and cuts back up the running lane to gain 53 yards on the play.
Situation: 2nd and 5 at CIN 45
Description: Q4 – (6:47) L.Bell left guard to CIN 37 for 8 yards (G.Iloka; V.Rey).
Play 25 is exactly the same as Play 21, but this time Bell chooses to cut inside because the outside linebackers get better penetration to seal the edge.
The Bengals weren’t expecting TE89 Spaeth and FB46 Johnson to open a huge gap through the middle of the pocket.
Here are the two touchdown runs in plays 23 and 27.
Both Plays 23 and 27 were exactly the same tight end counter trap/power to the left as plays 21 and 25. Bell slips some tackles and uses his vision to find the openings. Another great job by the pulling RG and blockers to create the running lanes for Bell to read.
There were definitely times early in the game like in Play 3 and Play 4 where the defensive line gets the better of the Steelers offensive line, but overall the counter trap/power was used repeatedly and effectively to punch holes in the usually stout Bengals’ run defense.