During the 2015 season the defense has been the biggest inconsistency for the Pittsburgh Steelers. At times, the defense has shown flashes of greatness by coming up with big turnovers at big moments. Mike Mitchell’s interception of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer in Week 6 with the game on the line for example. At other times the defense has been dreadful, you don’t have to go back any further than last week’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens to see that. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler was asked on Thursday about what specifically he didn’t like from his defense on Sunday.
“I felt like we had to get some turnovers,” Butler said in an interview on Steelers Nation Radio. “If you can win the turnover ratio you have a better chance to win the game. We didn’t get any turnovers, we didn’t get any pressure. We wanted to try to get pressure with our front four and we didn’t get as much pressure as we wanted to at the time. They were letting the ball go pretty quick for the most part. There were times we had a chance to get pressure with a four man rush and we didn’t. We have to do a better job with that. Getting more pressure and doing what we have to do to get more pressure. If we have to blitz a little more then I’m going to blitz a little bit more to get pressure.
“They got a couple passes on us that hurt us, 2nd down and long really hurt us in this game. We should’ve been better than we were on 2nd down and long. I think they ran a draw play on us one time for quite a bit of yardage. Then they threw one down the field in the 4th quarter. We started the second half and played really good and then that one stretch when they got the ball down the field on 2nd and 19, they threw one to our right side. Then they threw a play-action pass on us that we missed. We probably should have got pressure there, we were blitzing at the time and we didn’t.”
Butler was then asked if the game Sunday felt similar to the first half of the game against the Denver Broncos.
“We had chances to get them out, we had four 3rd downs to get them out and we weren’t successful on any of them. In the Broncos game we were a little bit behind, we weren’t sure at time of what we were doing,” he said. “We had some checks that we missed, we made some mental mistakes. This time we didn’t make mental mistakes, we were just out of position a couple of times with some of the coverage we had called. They ended up getting first down because they made plays on third down when we needed to stop them. So those were the situations in the first half, we need to get a stop, get out of the game on 3rd down. If we had down that it wouldn’t have been a problem.”
The Steelers defense allowed 22 first downs, 9 of which came on 18 third downs. That was the most third down conversions allowed since they played the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7, allowing 9 conversions then also. This season when the Steelers fail to cause a turnover, they are 0-4 with losses coming against: New England, Kansas City, Seattle, and Baltimore. When the defense has a take-away the Steelers are 9-2.
Pittsburgh totaled only one sack on Sunday and that was from Brandon Boykin on a corner blitz. The lack of pressure resulted with Ravens quarterback Ryan Mallett throwing for 274 yards while going 28-of-41.
The Steelers defense looks to have a similar, if not better performance this week against the Cleveland Browns compared to when they played them back in Week 10. In that game the defense tallied 6 sacks and had 3 takeaways, but did allow quarterback Johnny Manziel to throw for a career-high 372 yards.