The biggest adjustment for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense Sunday probably wasn’t scheme. It much simpler than that.
Keep calm. Gain control.
That is the common thread players talked about to reporters following the team’s 34-27 victory over the Denver Broncos Sunday afternoon. A game where the defense spotted Denver 27 first half points, only to shut them out in the second. A 180 degree turnaround that seemed improbable at the break.
“Everybody just had to calm down. Everybody was antsy, trying to do too much,” Ryan Shazier said after the game. “We all just needed to focus on our job, and I think that’s what we did in the second half. We just calmed down and understood if we just get some stops and give the offense back the ball, it would be the turning point in the game.”
Shazier played a direct role on giving the offense the ball back, intercepting Brock Osweiler late in the fourth quarter. Three plays, Ben Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown for the game-winning touchdown.
“That was the biggest adjustment for us. Not trying to do too much, trying to over-communicate out there, kept things simple, and we just played ball,” said Jarvis Jones.
“We just weren’t communicating. And they took advantage of some things early. Those are things that frustrate you,” Mike Mitchell told reporters.
The most glaring of those communication breakdowns came on Emmanuel Sanders’ 61 yard touchdown reception, a Monongahela River sized gap between he and the closest defender. In a Week 15 home game, that is particularly disappointing. But the Steelers were able to recover.
“I thought we did a good job of just believing in one another. Knowing we’d get it fixed. And once we got things corrected, they wouldn’t be able to do anything.”
That’s what unfolded in the second half. The Broncos were shut out and held Osweiler to completing less than one-third of his passes.