If football was a 58 minute game, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ would’ve come out of Sunday’s game a lot happier, both on the score sheet and the win/loss final tally. But it’s a 60 minute game and critical breakdowns by the run defense in those final two minutes doomed the team.
In that span, Ezekiel Elliott torched the Steelers twice for rushing touchdowns, including the final one, a 32 yard untouched sprint with 15 seconds left.
It’s an obvious statement, one Mike Tomlin affirmed today, but to say it again: the execution was simply not good enough.
“Those last two minutes are as significant as any other. And obviously, they were significant in determining the outcome of the game. [Elliott] had two breakout runs in the last two minutes of the game that changed the climate of the game or the perception of how we defended him. But that’s life. That’s what I meant earlier when I said these games come down to a small number of plays.”
Prior to that, if it’s any consolation, Tomlin believed they had done a relatively good job of keeping the rookie sensation in check.
“We went into the game working hard to minimize Elliott’s impact on the game via the run. We realize that was the catalyst of a lot of ball for them. Largely we did a nice job of minimizing that and not allowing that to control the flow of the game for about 58 minutes.”
Tomlin did not offer much in way of an explanation for what went wrong on those plays, simply saying they weren’t good calls because the execution was poor, but we did break down Elliott’s final score earlier today and some of the apparent problems.
By game’s end, Elliott had 114 yards rushing, the fourth most by a rookie running back against the Steelers since 1950 and the most since Curtis Martin in 1995. Tack on another 95 yards receiving, led by an 83 yard touchdown, and the Steelers simply failed to stop the number one player they knew had to be in order to win. They didn’t and so they lost.