While Sunday’s performance on the road by the Pittsburgh Steelers was far from the prettiest road performance they’ve put together, the Steelers did just enough on both sides of the ball to pick up the key win, including on the defensive side in the tackling department.
Sure, there were some glaring misses by guys like Henry Mondeaux and Steven Nelson, but overall the Steelers tackled well and held on for the win.
Let’s dive in.
Total missed tackles at Cowboys – 7
Steven Nelson – 2
Henry Mondeaux – 1 (sack attempt)
Ola Adeniyi – 1 (special teams)
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 1
Joe Haden – 1
Robert Spillane – 1
Season Total — 57 (7.125 misses per game) (miss percentages included)
Bud Dupree – 7 (four on sack attempts) (19 total tackles on 26 attempts, 27% miss rate)
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 7 (37 tackles on 44 total attempts, 16% miss rate)
Mike Hilton – 6 (29 tackles on 35 total attempts, 17.1% miss rate)
Vince Williams – 6 (one on sack attempt) (43 tackles on 49 total attempts, 12.2% miss rate)
Steven Nelson – 4 (27 tackles on 31 total attempts, 13% miss rate)
TJ Watt – 3 (both sack attempt) (26 tackles on 29 total attempts, 10.3% miss rate)
Stephon Tuitt – 3 (one sack attempt) (30 tackles on 33 attempts, 9.1% miss rate)
Joe Haden – 3 (35 tackles on 38 total attempts, 7.8%)
Robert Spillane – 3 (one special teams) (28 tackles on 31 total attempts, 9.7% miss rate)
Chase Claypool – 2 (special teams) (5 tackles on 7 total attempts, 28.5% miss rate)
Terrell Edmunds – 2 (33 tackles on 35 total attempts, 5.7% miss rate)
Devin Bush – 2 (23 tackles on 25 total attempts, 8% miss rate)
Ola Adeniyi – 2 (one on sack attempt, one on special teams) (9 tackles on 11 total attempts, 18.2% miss rate)
Justin Layne – 1 (special teams) (6 tackles on 7 total attempt, 14.3% miss rate)
James Pierre – 1 (special teams) (5 tackles on 6 total attempts, 16.6% miss rate)
Marcus Allen – 1 (5 tackles on 6 total attempts, 16.6% miss rate)
Cameron Sutton – 1 (12 tackles on 13 total attempts, 7.7% miss rate)
Henry Mondeaux – 1 (sack attempt) (one tackle on two total attempts, 50% miss rate)
As you can see, Mondeaux cracked the missed tackles report list for the first time this season, which comes in just three weeks of action.
Aside from Mondeaux, I was disappointed in some of the effort plays by the secondary when it came to tackling on Sunday. Nelson was hot garbage in the tackling department, missing key open-field stops that led to first-down pickups.
Joe Haden had a great day overall in the tackling department, but as you’ll see later he had really poor effort on one run stop, which allowed Tony Pollard to pick up a chunk more.
Let’s take a look.
Mondeaux does a good job working down the line here on the pass rush to try and get to Garret Gilbert, but once he’s there he just whiffs, which results in Gilbert extending the drive by scrambling 15 yards to midfield.
A few plays after Mondeaux’s whiff, Gilbert found rookie CeeDee Lamb for a touchdown, putting the Cowboys up 10-0 in the second quarter.
Early in the third quarter, Haden comes through with some poor effort defensively.
First off, just admire the lightning-quick swim move from Stephon Tuitt here. That’s against All-Pro guard Zach Martin. He had no shot getting a block on Tuitt; that’s the type of year Tuitt is putting together.
I didn’t give Tuitt a miss there despite being in the backfield, but I did give Haden one. I’m not quite sure what in the world he’s attempting there leaping at Pollard, who has a full head of steam. It’s not good enough though.
If he was going for the punch on the ball, it was a bad attempt. After Haden misses, Pollard picks up another 10 yards. That’s not going to cut it. Haden was much better late in the game though, wrestling Ezekiel Elliott to the ground in space on what could have been a big play.
On this one though, the effort just wasn’t good enough.
Finally, Nelson came up really small in a big spot for the Steelers.
It’s second and 12 with the Cowboys behind the sticks late in the third quarter. This is a chance for the Steelers to get a stop and get off the field.
Instead, Gilbert completes a short little dump-off to Elliott over the middle where Nelson meets him almost immediately. However, Nelson doesn’t have the strength to finish the play, easily sliding off of Elliott, who picks up another 10 yards and a first down, pushing the Cowboys down the field towards another field goal to go up 19-9.
Offensively, it was a rather quiet day for Pittsburgh in the forced missed tackles department as the Steelers forced just five misses, losing the battle by a mark of -2.
Total forced missed tackles at Cowboys – 5
Diontae Johnson – 2
JuJu Smith-Schuster – 2
Eric Ebron – 1
Season Total — 83(10.37 forced missed tackles per game)
James Conner – 23
Diontae Johnson – 18 (nine on special teams)
Ray-Ray McCloud – 13 (11 on special teams)
Benny Snell Jr. – 8
JuJu Smith-Schuster – 8
Chase Claypool – 5
James Washington – 2
Anthony McFarland – 2
Eric Ebron – 2
Ben Roethlisberger – 1
Vance McDonald – 1
Once again, JuJu Smith-Schuster continues to look like Hines Ward on the field, picking up tough yards after the catch thanks to his RAC abilities.
Much like James Washington did in Week 1 at the New York Giants, Smith-Schuster split two defenders for a score near the goal line, willing his way across the line for the touchdown.
His will to win and his overall determination with the football in his hands as of late is a thing to behold. He’s quite the star. Who knows where this offense might be without him the last few weeks in crunch time.
Then, there’s Diontae Johnson in space.
He’d been rather quiet with the football in his hands lately, at least from a missed tackles perspective, but he got an opportunity late Sunday in space and made a Cowboys defender pay dearly, ripping off a 42-yard catch-and-run to set up the game-winning score.
It’s truly remarkable the body control and awareness he has to make this catch and duck underneath the tackle attempt all in one motion.