Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall has received a lot of blame for the team’s loss in the Super Bowl following the 2010 season. But on February 7, ex-Steelers offensive tackle Max Starks appeared to send criticism in another direction.
“I think we were trying to make sure that guys had opportunities for bigger trophies at the end,” said Starks while appearing on The PM Team with Poni and Mueller on 93.7 The Fan. “I’ll just leave it at that.”
Starks didn’t leave it at that. He didn’t mention Roethlisberger by name, but it was pretty clear that he was referring to the Steelers quarterback.
“If you take one less pick away from that game, we’re talking about seven-time Super Bowl Champions instead of just six-time.”
Roethlisberger threw 2 interceptions, including a pick-six, in that Super Bowl defeat when the Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers, 31-25.
A Pass-Heavy Game Plan for Steelers in Super Bowl XLV?
Starks’s comments appeared to be a clear shot at Roethlisberger, but they were also criticism for the coaching staff. Starks explained during his radio appearance that he took issue with the Super Bowl game plan because of the matchup.
“I think if it was anybody else but the Packers that came out of the NFC that year, yes but the Packers [had] the number one secondary,” said Starks.
There’s a couple flaws with Starks’ argument.
The Packers finished the 2010 season with the fifth-fewest passing yards and fourth-fewest in passing touchdowns. While the Packers were an elite group against the pass, the New Orleans Saints were actually better.
The Saints were third in passing yards allowed and first in passing touchdowns yielded. But New Orleans, who were the defending champions and beat the Steelers during the 2010 regular season, lost in the NFC Wild Card round.
The Chicago Bears were also second in the league in passing touchdowns allowed. The Bears fell to the Packers in the NFC Championship.
Roethlisberger may have struggled against the Saints or Bears in the Super Bowl just as he did against the Packers.
However, Starks is correct that the Steelers’ run-pass ratio was out of sync in that Super Bowl. While the Packers were a top 5 defense against the pass, they were 18th in rushing yards allowed and 31st in rushing yards yielded per carry that season.
Despite that weakness, the Steelers attempted 40 passes versus only 23 runs.
Reasons for Roethlisberger’s 40 Pass Attempts in Super Bowl
“Big Ben’s” 40 pass attempts would support Starks’ argument that the Steelers game plan was designed around the pass attack. But there could also be a simply explanation to Pittsburgh’s high volume of passes in that game.
The Steelers fell behind 14-0 in the first 12 minutes of the contest and trailed the entire game.
On their first two drives, the Steelers called four passes versus three runs. Both possessions ended in punts.
Then trailing 7-0, Roethlisberger dropped back on first down from the Steelers 7-yard line. Packers defensive back Nick Collins intercepted Roethlisberger’s deep attempt and returned it for a touchdown.
The rest of the game, the Steelers run-pass ratio was lopsided as “Big Ben” tried to orchestrate a comeback that fell short. Had Green Bay not jumped out to such a big lead early, maybe the Steelers would have used their rushing attack more against the weak Packers run defense.
A deep pass on first down from the 7-yard line was also a questionable decision that supports Starks’ theory. However, Roethlisberger can share blame of the disastrous play with his offensive line.
The Packers defensive tackle Howard Green made contact with Roethlisberger’s arm on the play, which caused the deep pass to be severely under thrown, leading to the Collins interception.