Steelers’ fake field goal trick play goes for naught
DENVER — The Pittsburgh Steelers offense was plagued Sunday by turnovers that crippled multiple drives, gave life to the Denver Broncos — who were far from flawless themselves — and ultimately contributed heavily to a 24-17 loss.
Those turnovers did something else, though: They spoiled the possibility of postgame celebration for a well-executed trick play in the final seconds before halftime.
After Denver scored the game’s first touchdown to take a 10-3 lead, the Steelers marched downfield in a battle against the clock. A timeout was called near the goal line after a short shovel pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster on third down failed to find the end zone.
With the Steelers facing fourth-and-goal from the Broncos 2-yard line, Boswell and the field-goal
unit took the field for a chip-shot attempt.
Instead, Boswell took a direct snap and found left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who had left the line of scrimmage to become an eligible receiver, in the end zone waiting. Boswell tossed a perfect spiral to Villanueva, who reeled in the ball for a touchdown.
“It’s just one of those (plays),” holder Jordan Berry said. “You always hope that you get to run a cool fake like that and get a touchdown. … It was a great call by (special teams coordinator) Danny Smith, and it worked out well.”
The play marked the first time a Steelers offensive lineman had scored since Ray Pinney versus the Cleveland Browns in 1983.
Villanueva was less enthusiastic about the accolade.
“I’m a tackle. I’m not a wide receiver,” Villanueva said. “I don’t get as excited about those plays. I get more excited when I can do my job blocking and giving Ben (Roethlisberger) time to throw to the playmakers.”
Although he certainly appears far different from a standard wide receiver, Villanueva isn’t a stranger to catching passes. While playing at Army, he changed positions more than once, seeing time on both the offensive and defensive lines. For his senior campaign in 2009, he was converted a final time into a wide receiver.
He had 34 receptions for 522 yards and scored five touchdowns.
“Al’s obviously a very athletic guy,” Berry said. “He played receiver in college, so he’s got the hands. We’ve run fakes with him in the past, about three or four years ago. It didn’t pan out how we wanted, so (the play) is just one of those that you’ve got in the book for when you might need something if the situation is available.”
Justin Guerriero is a freelance writer.