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Outside Zone And Explosive Plays Trouble Steelers Defense Once Again

While it felt like more, Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer only completed eight of the 17 passes that he attempted Sunday in his team’s 31-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

They key to Hoyer’s eight completions is that five of them went for 24 yards or more and that two of them, both to tight end Jordan Cameron, went for 41 or more yards.

“They hit two 50-yard plays, or whatever,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin after the game. “They threw a throw-back to the tight end that took them down to the four and they scored on the next play. They hit a play-pass, the tight end got behind them on 3rd and 2 for a touchdown. You can’t give up big plays. It changed the flow of the game in a positive way for them, a negative way for us.”

In addition to those five explosive plays that the Steelers allowed Sunday, they also allowed Browns running backs to gain 10 or more yards on six different carries. Many of those runs were outside zone plays that the defense had problems defending in their first two games of the season.

A week from Monday night the Steelers will host the Houston Texans and that’s yet another team that’s able to run the outside zone with good success. If they mix in good play action like the Browns did Sunday, it figures to be another long night for the Steelers defense as this problem isn’t going to be fixed anytime soon.

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