As the weeks progress, the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to greatly improve in the tackling department. Sunday’s performance in a 28-21 win over the Houston Texans at Heinz Field was another great step in the right direction for the 2020 Steelers as Pittsburgh turned in one of its best tackling performances I’ve charted in five years with Steelers Depot.
Total missed tackles vs. Texans – 4
Vince Williams – 1
Mike Hilton – 1
Bud Dupree – 1 (sack attempt)
TJ Watt – 1 (sack attempt)
Season Total — 25 (8.3 misses per game) (miss percentages included)
Mike Hilton – 4 (21 tackles on 25 total attempts, 16% miss rate)
Bud Dupree – 4 (three on sack attempts) (8 total tackles on 12 attempts, 33% miss rate)
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 3 (13 tackles on 16 total attempts, 18.7% miss rate)
Chase Claypool – 2 (special teams) (4 tackles on 6 total attempts, 33.3% miss rate)
Terrell Edmunds – 2 (16 tackles on 18 total attempts, 11% miss rate)
Devin Bush – 2 (15 tackles on 17 total attempts, 11.7% miss rate)
TJ Watt – 2 (both sack attempt) (9 tackles on 11 total attempts, 18.2% miss rate)
Robert Spillane – 1 (special teams) (one tackle on two total attempts, 50% miss rate)
Justin Layne – 1 (special teams) (2 tackles on 3 total attempt, 33.3% miss rate)
Stephon Tuitt – 1 (sack attempt) (6 tackles on 7 attempts, 14.3% miss rate)
Ola Adeniyi – 1 (sack attempt) (3 tackle on 5 total attempts, 40% miss rate)
Steven Nelson – 1 (8 tackles on 9 total attempts, 11% miss rate)
Vince Williams – 1 (12 tackles on 13 total attempts, 7.7% miss rate)
It was truly a remarkable performance in the tackling department Sunday, especially in the second half. Pittsburgh missed just one tackle in the second half, and that miss resulted in just a 1-yard gain by David Johnson after Mike Hilton came free off the edge on a run blitz.
Overall, the Steelers did a nice job rallying to the football and getting guys on the ground. Remarkably, Deshaun Watson burned them just once in the pocket forcing missed tackles and it came against Bud Dupree and TJ Watt.
Watson is a master in the pocket of moving around and extending plays with his legs, but this is a play one of Watt or Dupree has to make, especially with the Steelers essentially spying Watson here with Dupree.
Instead, Watson steps through the tackles to fire a dart to the 2-yard line, setting up Johnson’s rushing touchdown on the next play.
Late in the first half, Vince Williams missed his first tackle of the season, overrunning a quick throw to Brandin Cooks on the outside.
Williams does a great job dropping to his spot quickly with his eyes on Watson, but after the ball is thrown he overpursues just a tad, allowing Cooks to slip back inside. Fortunately for Williams, Terrell Edmunds is right there to clean up the miss.
Offensively, the Steelers forced 14 missed tackles on Sunday, winning the tackle battle by an astounding +10.
Ray-Ray McCloud and James Conner led the charge for the Steelers in the forced missed tackles department, combining for half of the forced misses in the win.
Total forced missed tackles vs. Texans — 14
Ray-Ray McCloud – 4
James Conner – 3
Chase Claypool – 2
Benny Snell Jr. – 2
JuJu Smith-Schuster – 1
Anthony McFarland – 1
James Washington – 1
Season Total — 41 (13.6 forced missed tackles per game)
Diontae Johnson – 12 (nine on special teams)
James Conner – 8
Benny Snell Jr. – 6
Ray-Ray McCloud – 6 (all six on special teams)
James Washington – 2
JuJu Smith-Schuster – 2
Chase Claypool – 2
Ben Roethlisberger – 1
Vance McDonald – 1
Anthony McFarland – 1
It was great to see the rookies in Chase Claypool and Anthony McFarland get on the board in the forced missed tackles department on Sunday. Claypool recorded both forced missed on his 24-yard catch and run late in the game, splitting two Texans defenders to zip down the sideline.
Benny Snell Jr. quietly had a strong game in the forced missed tackles department as well, showing off some impressive lateral explosion with his back to his own goal line early in the game.
You don’t usually see this type of stuff from Snell in tight, but this immediately jumped out to me on the TV broadcast, and it looks even better on coaches film. He did a great job of setting up this Texans defender by pushing horizontally here, before then springing back inside, leaving the defender grasping for air on the 8-yard run.
McCloud continues to be quite the find on special teams in the return game. He’s getting so close to breaking one here, and it’s largely because of his ability to force missed tackles, something the Steelers haven’t had in the kick return game in a few years.
That’s some impressive strength by McCloud to shrug this defender off. If he doesn’t trip over the edge of the pile in front of him, he’s still running. It’s so refreshing to have a home run hitter deep like McCloud.
As far as James Conner goes, I read a lot of takes that he didn’t create anything himself and took what the defense gave him. Quite honestly, I don’t see a single thing wrong with taking what the defense gives you, but he forced three misses on Sunday on 18 carries. I’ll take that all day with Conner.
One of his last runs of the game was a beauty, moving the chains. He does a great job of running through Benardrick McKinney early here. Maurkice Pouncey comes through with a timely cut block, but McKinney still gets a ton of Conner’s lower half in the hole. The Pitt product runs right through it.
Then, he has the power to stay upright and pick up the first down, shrugging off Zach Cunningham’s tackle attempt.