The sting still hasn’t gone away from Sunday’s 45-42 divisional round loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field, but some positive news may have come out of that game for the Pittsburgh Steelers: a beleaguered defense tied its mark for fewest missed tackles in the game on the season.
Now, what’s troubling is that despite missing just 5 tackles in the game, the Jaguars were still able to put up 38 of their 45 points offensively, due largely to wide open catch-and-runs, huge chunks of yardage on the ground and well-timed play-action passes.
Let’s take a look.
Total missed tackles vs. Jaguars — 5
Vince Williams – 1
Sean Spence – 1
Stephon Tuitt – 1
Sean Davis – 1
LJ Fort – 1
Total missed tackles during 2017-18 season (17 games) — 190 (average of 11.17 misses per game)
Ryan Shazier – 26
Sean Davis – 24
Mike Hilton – 17 (one on special teams)
Bud Dupree – 15
TJ Watt – 13
Vince Williams – 9 (one on special teams)
Artie Burns – 8
Mike Mitchell – 8
Cameron Heyward – 7
William Gay – 7
Joe Haden – 6
Javon Hargrave – 6
Sean Spence – 6
JJ Wilcox – 5
Anthony Chickillo – 5 (one on special teams)
LJ Fort – 5 (two on special teams)
Stephon Tuitt – 5
Coty Sensabaugh – 3
Tyson Alualu – 3
Robert Golden – 3
Arthur Moats – 3 (one on special teams)
Cam Sutton – 2 (1 on special teams)
Tyler Matakevich – 2
LT Walton – 1
Darrius Heyward-Bey – 1 (Special Teams)
Kameron Canaday – 1 (Special Teams)
Brian Allen – 1 (Special Teams)
The last time these two teams played back in Week 5 of the regular season, Pittsburgh missed 9 total tackles in a 30-9 loss. If you’d have told me before the game the Steelers would improve their missed tackles against the Jaguars WITHOUT Ryan Shazier, I’d have said there’s not a chance in the world they’d lose the game.
Instead, we’re left wondering what this team could have been if the defense didn’t utterly fall apart down the stretch, or if the Steelers converted both of those 4th and shorts on Sunday.
Lets take a look at the two worst missed tackles on Sunday, shall we?
Facing a 2nd and 10 in the red zone, the Jaguars call a run play to Leonard Fournette in hopes of pounding the ball into the end zone for a 21-0 lead.
Sean Davis reads this play well and comes down into the box prior to the snap. However, when given a one-on-one shot with Fournette in the hole, Davis ducks his head and goes low, allowing the powerful rookie running back to spin out of the tackle and pick up 8 yards, which led to a TJ Yeldon touchdown three plays later.
While this missed tackle hurt Davis at the time, both he and Fournette got another crack at each other on the same exact play in the third quarter. That time, Davis won big, stopping Fournette in the hole.
On a big third down late in the third quarter with the Steelers trailing by just one score, the defense needed a stop in a big way with the Jaguars deep in their own end of the field.
Blake Bortles dumps this screen off to Yeldon in the flat with LJ Fort in pursuit. Prior to the snap, Fort was lined up outside of Bud Dupree on the right side of the Jags’ formation, yet once the ball is snapped, Fort reads it the whole way and covers a lot of ground to even be in position to make the play.
Instead, he stumbles and lunges at Yeldon’s legs, missing the tackle, allowing the Jags’ running back to pick up a huge first down. Fort’s missed tackle ultimately lead to a touchdown pass from Bortles to Jacksonville fullback Tommy Bohanon, all but sealing the win on the road for the Jaguars.