It’s a play that’s been talked about a lot among Steelers’ Nation. Here and elsewhere. Rob Gronkowski’s 36 yard touchdown, one of two splash plays given up by the defense in the second half. Myself and even Tunch Ilkin in his Chalk Talk over on Steelers.com circled on Sean Davis as a possible culprit for the breakdown,leaving Robert Golden one on one with Gronkowski.
But Carnell Lake told Mike Prisuta that Davis did his job on the play.
“They caught us in a defense. He was doing what he was supposed to do.”
I guess you have to take Lake at his word though you could argue he’s being protective of his rookie. And Lake has been caught being too honest before.
But if what he says is accurate, then it was Golden left one-on-one with Gronkowski down the seam, a difficult assignment for anyone with that much vertical space to cover. Even Tunch said during his Chalk Talk Bill Belichick has said teams don’t play true Cover 2 against the Patriots because of Gronk. So if that’s what the Steelers were in, or at least, a two high shell with the seams open, it feels like an impossible task for Golden to be in.
And Lake admitted basically as much.
“Yeah it was a tough play for Golden but that was a play for him to make.”
That means the Steelers put Golden in a no-win situation on both of Gronkowski’s big plays. That one, asked to carry him down the seam, and the 37 yard catch and run, where the Steelers were in Cover 1 and Golden definitely left by himself.
It’s a safety trying to showcase cornerback skills and he predictably struggled. It’s why I was extremely surprised to not see Justin Gilbert used – at all – in this game. He’s been matched up versus Travis Kelce, Quincy Enunwa, and even Dion Sims. But Gronkowski? On the sideline.
Playing a perfect defense all game against the Patriots is extremely difficult, let’s be fair, but these were two plays that broke the Steelers’ defense and secured New England’s victory. And schematically, not matter how you slice it, there were some serious breakdowns and disadvantages.