I talked yesterday about the fact that one of the ugliest and most egregious aspects of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the Bears on Sunday was the fact that they squandered not just one, but two opportunities to provide themselves with a go-ahead score in the final five minutes of the game, which needless to say would have avoided overtime play.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin talked about that yesterday during his weekly pre-game press conference, and also talked about the fact that the offense came up short and had to settle for a field goal after the defense came up with an interception that gave them a short field. They had the opportunity to take the lead there, but only mustered a tie.
Tomlin did not leave the defense off the hook at the end of regular either, however. “Specifically on defense”, he said, “there were two sequences late in that football game [where] we had an opportunity to provide a short field for our offense again, after having done it twice in the second half”, and they failed to do so.
“We had a ball on the ground that J.J. Wilcox was unable to recover and the very next play Mike Mitchell had a very nice break on a pass for a potential interception that he wasn’t able to get”, Tomlin said. “We get those plays, we provide the short field for our offense again, we win the game”.
That might seem a bitch harsh considering the fact that the defense did actually do its job at that late juncture in the game, getting the Bears’ offense off the field rather quickly, but the fact of the matter is that they had the opportunity to make splash plays and failed to do so.
Tomlin ultimately chalked up the Steelers’ loss to the occurrence of some “catastrophic” incidents on special teams—a muffed punt and a blocked field goal—and the “inability to finish off the comeback in the second half after we gained some traction and found some rhythm”.
The 11th-year head coach has talked on a number of occasions in this year and in recent years in general about the need for the defense to produce more splash plays. The defense had one takeaway in each of the first two games, and actually had two on Sunday, but there are at least as many that they missed as those that they produced, and they start to add up.
In truth, of the Steelers’ four turnovers that they have produced this year, perhaps the only one of particular achievement was the T.J. Watt interception. Wilcox’s interception was delivered to him on a bad through, though he did a nice job to bring it in. The fumble that they were credited for recovering may not even have actually been a fumble.