Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs on national television was a great outing in all phases of the game for the Pittsburgh Steelersfrom the passing and rushing attack to the front seven getting tons of pressure on Alex Smith in the Chiefs’ backfield.
With that, the tackling issues by the Steelers seemingly disappeared as well. Gone were the horrendous open-field tackles that allowed ball carriers to rack up YAC.
Like I do every week, I’ll take a look at the missed tackles by the Steelers and break down a few key plays.
Missed tackles against Chiefs: 11
Mike Mitchell: 3
Ross Cockrell: 1
Vince Williams: 1
Stephon Tuitt: 1
Jarvis Jones: 1
Justin Gilbert: 1
Sammie Coates: 1
Tyler Matakevich: 1
Steven Johnson: 1
Total Missed Tackles through four weeks: 51
Sean Davis — 9
Artie Burns — 6
Mike Mitchell — 6
Stephon Tuitt — 5
Lawrence Timmons — 4
Ryan Shazier — 4
William Gay — 4
Vince Williams — 3
Ross Cockrell — 2
Arthur Moats — 1
Robert Golden — 1
Cameron Heyward — 1
LJ Fort — 1
Steven Johnson — 1
Sammie Coates — 1
Tyler Matakevich — 1
Justin Gilbert — 1
Jarvis Jones — 1
Although the Steelers missed 11 tackles this week, four of those came on three kick-offs that the Chiefs brought out of the end zone, while one occurred on Tyreek Hill’s long punt return for a touchdown that was called back due to multiple penalties.
In fact, Tyler Matakevich’s missed tackle on Knile Davis in the first half on a kick-off return played a direct role in forcing Davis back towards his own goal line where Darrius Heyward-Bey was able to corral him to the ground.
No sweat off Matakevich’s back there.
The first missed tackle I wanted to take a look at today has to do with Justin Gilbert, who played a big role for the Steelers on special teams and on defense at cornerback. While the recently acquired defensive back did see plenty of defensive snaps, his missed tackle came right at the start of Hill’s long punt return.
At the start of the play, Gilbert is lined up at the bottom of the GIF as the right side gunner for the Steelers. The third-year player gets a great release off the line and easily outruns his defender down the field, giving him a one-on-one shot at Hill, who is gearing up to return the punt.
However, Gilbert seems to overrun the punt just a bit as Hill moves up the field towards the sideline to field the punt. That’s where things become dicey for Gilbert. He fails to use the sideline as help to shut down Hill’s return. By overrunning the play slightly, Gilbert has to come back to the ball out of control and attempts to go high on the diminutive Hill, who shakes off the tackle, stays in bounds and goes off for what appears to be touchdown.
Fortunately for Gilbert (and the Steelers) the play is called back due to an illegal block in the back. That being said, this return shouldn’t have happened because Gilbert should have forced Hill out of bounds.
The final GIF I wanted to take a look at was Mike Mitchell’s missed tackle on Spencer Ware’s long run in the fourth quarter that put the Chiefs in scoring position with the game already well out of reach.
I could be nitpicking here, but Mitchell has to do a better job of making the stop in the middle of the field after coming up strong from his safety position all night long.
Granted, there’s a big cutback lane for Ware to run through due to the over pursuit of Lawrence Timmons, and maybe (just maybe) Mitchell can’t see past Timmons and Cameron Heyward to find Ware cutting back, but once the Kansas City running back pops through the line, Mitchell is right there to make the stop.
But at times Mitchell throws technique out the window with tackling like he does here and simply goes diving at ankles. Mitchell has to recognize what is happening and then explode through Ware’s lower half to shut down the big run, but by becoming flat footed after covering about eight yards from his safety position, he’s in no position to make such a tackle, which results in a long run late in the game for the Chiefs.
Fortunately for Pittsburgh none of the missed tackles I charted during the game really hurt the Steelers, and just one allowed Kansas City to pull off an explosive play.
As a defensive unit, just seven missed tackles were recorded in roughly 70 offensive snaps by Kansas City. That’s a remarkable improvement.