Sunday’s 20-13 win at Heinz Field was a major one for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as they not only knocked the Cleveland Browns seemingly out of the playoff picture, but also kept themselves firmly in the Wild Card race after all the adversity they’ve faced during the 2019 season.
While the win was a great one to see, the performance in the tackling department was downright dreadful, resulting in the worst performance of the year for the Steelers.
In total, 11 players missed at least one tackle in the win.
Total missed tackles vs. Browns — 15
Terrell Edmunds – 3 (six tackles vs. Browns, 33 percent miss rate)
Devin Bush – 2 (seven tackles vs. Browns, 22.2 percent miss rate)
Joe Haden – 2 (two tackles vs. Browns, 50 percent miss rate)
Mike Hilton – 1 (five tackles vs. Browns, 16.6 percent miss rate)
Steven Nelson – 1 (five tackles vs. Browns, 16.6 percent miss rate)
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 1 (three tackles vs. Browns, 25 percent miss rate)
Cameron Sutton – 1 (one tackle vs. Browns, 50 percent miss rate)
Bud Dupree – 1 (sack attempt) (six tackles vs. Browns, 14.2 percent miss rate)
Javon Hargrave – 1 (sack attempt) (six tackles vs. Browns, 14.2 percent miss rate)
Justin Layne – 1 (special teams) (zero tackles vs. Browns, 100 percent miss rate)
Johnny Holton – 1 (special teams) (one tackle vs. Browns, 50 percent miss rate)
Total missed tackles through 13 weeks (12 games) — 97 (8.81 misses per game)
Terrell Edmunds – 14 (76 total tackles, 15.5 percent miss rate)
Devin Bush – 11 (86 total tackles, 11.3 percent miss rate)
Mark Barron – 8 (62 total tackles, 11.5 percent miss rate)
TJ Watt – 7 (39 total tackles, 15.2 percent miss rate)
Mike Hilton – 7 (one on sack attempt) (45 total tackles, 13.4 percent miss rate)
Bud Dupree – 7 (two on sack attempts) (50 total tackles, 12.2 percent miss rate)
Joe Haden – 7 (54 total tackles, 11.4 percent miss rate)
Steven Nelson – 6 (43 total tackles, 12.2 percent miss rate)
Artie Burns – 5 (all five on special teams) (7 total tackles, 41.6 percent miss rate)
Johnny Holton – 5 (all five on special teams) (9 total tackles, 35.7 percent miss rate)
Vince Williams – 4 (37 total tackles, 9.7 percent miss rate)
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 4 (45 total tackles, 8.1 percent miss rate)
Javon Hargrave – 3 (one on sack attempt) (45 total tackles, 6.25 percent miss rate)
Anthony Chickillo – 2 (one on special teams) (13 total tackles, 13.3 percent miss rate)
Ola Adeniyi – 2 (both on special teams) (8 total tackles, 20percent miss rate)
Kameron Kelly – 2 (15 total tackles, 11.7 percent miss rate)
Trey Edmunds – 2 (both on special teams) (0 total tackles, 100 percent miss rate)
Tyler Matakevich – 2 (both on special teams) (14 total tackles, 12.5 percent miss rate)
Cameron Sutton – 2 (13 total tackles, 13.3 percent miss rate)
Justin Layne – 2 (both on special teams) (2 total tackles, 50 percent miss rate)
Cam Heyward – 1 (sack attempt) (61 total tackles, 1.6 percent miss rate)
Sean Davis – 1 (5 total tackles, 16.6 percent miss rate)
Rosie Nix – 1 (special teams) (0 total tackles, 100 percent miss rate)
Benny Snell – 1 (special teams) (0 total tackles, 100 percent miss rate)
Jaylen Samuels – 1 (special teams) (0 total tackles, 100 percent miss rate)
Jordan Berry – 1 (special teams) (0 total tackles, 100 percent miss rate)
Jordan Dangerfield – 1 (special teams) (10 total tackles, 9.1 percent miss rate)
As you can see, I included some miss percentages for the single game and the season totals for each offender.
To make it easier to understand, in the game against the Browns, Terrell Edmunds recorded 6 total tackles and had 3 missed tackles, giving him 9 tackle attempts total. Of those 9 tackle attempts, he missed 3, giving him a miss percentage rate of 33.3 percent. Does that make sense?
The same goes for season totals. TJ Watt has 39 total tackles on the year and has missed 7 tackles, meaning he has made 46 tackle attempts. Of those 46 tackle attempts, 7 misses means he has a miss percentage rate of 15.2 percent.
I hope that makes things easier and puts them into perspective.
Now, to the game.
Edmunds had an up-and-down game, making some key open-field tackles while also whiffing at times. He made some plays in coverage, breaking up a touchdown to Demetrius Harris, but his bugaboo continues to be missed tackles.
For the second game in a row, Edmunds has missed double-digit stops, giving him 5 of his 14 misses in two games. That’s…not good.
Joe Haden and Cameron Sutton combined to miss tackles on a Kareem Hunt touchdown, while Bud Dupree and Javon Hargrave missed sacks on Baker Mayfield, giving the Browns life off of misses. Devin Bush really struggled to get off blocks against the run Sunday, leading to misses, while Mike Hilton’s miss came on the big stick in the backfield on Hunt that appeared to be a TFL until Hunt somehow stayed upright and gained a yard.
Let’s get to the miss breakdowns.
On the first drive of the game for the Browns, the Steelers missed 4 tackles, including the 2 here by Steven Nelson and Minkah Fitzpatrick on this 21-yard catch-and-run by Cleveland tight end Stephen Carlson.
Nelson takes a mean stiff-arm to the facemask, resulting in the miss, while Fitzpatrick comes flying in low to try and chop down the big tight end to no avail.
This play was a microcosm of what was to come for the secondary in the tackling department on the day. Fortunately, Nelson and Fitzpatrick didn’t miss again.
Hunt was a tough back to tackle on Sunday, with two of the most egregious plays from the Steelers resulting in splash plays for Hunt and the Browns. Here in the second quarter, Hunt takes a short dumpoff from Mayfield 15 yards to the house, running through tackles from Haden and Sutton.
I’d love to see more fight and want-to here from Sutton. At least try and give your defense a chance to defend some grass, rather than going easy on the tackle attempt to allow the touchdown.
Then, late in the second quarter, Hunt ripped off one of the best runs of the day across the league.
Hunt forced 3 missed tackles on this run: Edmunds, Haden, and Bush.
Edmunds is arguably the worst one here, simply because he has a clean look at Hunt and can’t get him to the ground, allowing Hunt to rip off an additional 8-10 yards on the carry.
This run allowed the Browns to take a couple of shots at the end zone late in the half, which ultimately hurt Mayfield’s hand and wrist.
Offensively, the Steelers had their best performance of the season in the missed tackles department, forcing 16 misses, meaning Pittsburgh won the tackles battle with a mark of +1.
Total forced missed tackles vs. Browns — 16
Benny Snell Jr. – 5
Kerrith Whyte Jr. – 4
Diontae Johnson – 3
Vance McDonald – 3
Jaylen Samuels – 1
Total forced misses through 13 weeks (12 games) — 72 (6.0 forced misses per game)
James Conner – 21
Diontae Johnson – 12
Benny Snell Jr. – 12
Jaylen Samuels – 8
Vance McDonald – 7
Kerrith Whyte Jr. – 6
Mason Rudolph – 4
JuJu Smith-Schuster – 3
Tony Brooks-James – 2
Ryan Switzer – 2
Cameron Sutton – 1
Trey Edmunds – 1
James Washington – 1
Devlin Hodges – 1
The real obvious one that jumps off the page is Benny Snell Jr.’s 5 forced missed tackles, all of which came on his two longest runs of the day. There’s an obvious correlation there for Snell: break tackles or force outright misses and they can lead to big plays for the Steelers.
I didn’t highlight Snell’s forced misses though, simply because Kerrith Whyte Jr. and Jaylen Samuels stood out in a bigger way, at least in individual plays.
Trailing 3-0 in the first quarter, Whyte Jr. ripped off a 34-yard kick return to set the Steelers up near midfield. Whyte Jr. gave the Steelers something they haven’t had in a returner in quite a while: someone with the ability to make a man or two miss.
Whyte Jr. ran through 3 tackles here, ripping off an explosive return to give the Steelers’ offense some life near midfield.
Later in the game, Samuels – who looked so much better Sunday, running with power and explosion – recorded his lone forced missed tackle.
I hope Greedy Williams got the license plate on that truck.
We simply hadn’t seen that from Samuels before in his Steelers’ career, so this was so good to see from a guy who has all the talent in the world, yet hasn’t put it together. Hopefully Sunday’s strong game was a step in the right direction.