While there were plenty of positives to take away from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 27-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins—at least after the first quarter and on—there are still a number of concerns that remain for this team, still hovering just below the .500 mark on the season as they strive to crawl their way back to relevance.
And at least some of those concerns will have to be cleared up if they intend to be competitive come January, which at this point still seems to be a long way away, even if they are just two games back in the division race.
One of the issues that head coach Mike Tomlin has had with his defense through the first half of the season has been its struggles in producing complementary football in adverse situations, and in quick-change situations.
Too frequently this year, they have allowed offenses to produce touchdowns following turnovers by the offense, and this has been an occurrence whether that turnover happened in their own end or in opponent territory. He spoke out about this following the latest turnover by Mason Rudolph on the second play of the game.
“We took the field on a short field after a turnover and didn’t stand up. That’s something that we’ve been talking openly about, not only as a team, but in here, in this setting”, Tomlin told reporters on Tuesday during his pre-game press conference in preparation for the Indianapolis Colts.
“And it’s not something that’s exclusive to us. Playing complementary football is important if you want to be a good football team”, he added. “Offenses have to back up a defense’s turnovers with scoring drives, and we did that. Defenses have to support offenses when they turn the ball over by being stout, and again, we didn’t do that in the early stages of the game”.
Though the offense only formally turned the ball over once, they also had a turnover on downs in the first half following an incompletion on fourth and six that gave the Dolphins the ball on its own 37-yard line. They were able to command an 11-play, 68-yard drive (with a five-yard penalty against them) to produce their second of two touchdowns on the day.
They turned the ball over once against the Seattle Seahawks, an interception giving them the ball at the 40-yard line. They scored a touchdown six plays later. The San Francisco 49ers scored touchdowns off of both of Pittsburgh’s turnovers in their 24-20 loss. The Jaylen Samuels interception against the Baltimore Ravens that put the ball on the 15 also predictably led to the end zone. And the Los Angeles Chargers, too, added a touchdown off of a lone interception.
The Steelers have turned the ball over 10 times this season, and the defense has given up six touchdowns on the subsequent drives. That’s not complementary football, and that has to change in a hurry.