It’s the same philosophy Dick LeBeau had. Keep everything in front, tackle the catch.
It hasn’t been perfect but for Pittsburgh, things are improving. And when it does, the end result is typically a Steelers’ victory. Asked about it at today’s press conference, Mike Tomlin was happy with where his defense is at.
“I think we just have a desire to be a difficult team to beat. And for us, it starts with not beating ourselves. And defensively specifically, we look at not being a highly penalized group and one that makes our opponent earn it. And by that I mean keeping the ball in front of us.”
The numbers support that thought. Pittsburgh has only given up two completions of 40+ yards this season, one of the league’s better marks, and both of those came in one game. The Steelers are one of only eight teams to allow that in just one game.
That matchup, of course, was against the Philadelphia Eagles that were a result of communication breakdowns across the board than it was singular to the secondary.
It’s a far cry from where they were a year ago when they allowed the eighth most 40+ completions, a total of 12 occurring in nine games.
The air-tight seal Pittsburgh the secondary has created showed up against against the New York Jets. Despite a vertical attack with some big-framed receivers, the Jets’ longest completion went for only 19 yards. It’s a credit to sound scheme and even sounder tackling.
Despite the Miami Dolphins’ having a lackluster offense, they’ve been able to hit a couple of big plays. They rank tied for fourth in the league with five such completions, only one behind Pittsburgh. They’ve come from a variety of sources, too. One to Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Arian Foster, Kenny Stills, and Damien Williams.
Landry is their best player, Parker has a Marshall-like frame, Stills is one of their fastest players, and Foster/Williams were found out of the backfield. For struggling teams, a splash and momentum-swinging play is often the best medicine and way to stay competitive throughout the game.
Pittsburgh will need to play as they have the majority of the year. If Ryan Tannehill is forced to execute 10-12 play drives routinely, Miami has next to no chance of winning