While it’s nice to be talking about a win for the first time in three weeks, it’s hard to overlook a season-worst performance by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the tackling department against the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field.
The first half was incredibly rough and lackluster from the Steelers’ defenses on Sunday, but as the offense kicked things into gear in the second half, so too did the defenses in the tackling department, recording just two misses in the second half.
Let’s take a look at the missed tackles report from Sunday’s 28-24 win.
Total missed tackles vs. Colts – 15
Vince Williams – 3
Cam Sutton – 2
Terrell Edmunds – 1
Steven Nelson – 1
Mike Hilton – 1
Joe Haden – 1
Cassius Marsh – 1
Tegray Scales – 1
Avery Williamson – 1
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 1
TJ Watt – 1
Derek Watt – 1 (special teams)
Season Total — 124 (8.26 misses per game) (miss percentages included)
Mike Hilton – 13 (one on sack attempt) (50 tackles on 63 total attempts, 20.6% miss rate)
Vince Williams – 9 (one on sack attempt) (68 tackles on 77 total attempts, 11.7% miss rate)
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 9 (69 tackles on 78 total attempts, 11.5% miss rate)
Joe Haden – 8 (49 tackles on 57 total attempts, 14% miss rate)
Cameron Sutton – 8 (one on special teams) (28 tackles on 36 total attempts, 22.2% miss rate)
Steven Nelson – 7 (57 tackles on 64 total attempts, 10.9% miss rate)
Terrell Edmunds – 7 (69 tackles on 76 total attempts, 9.2% miss rate)
Bud Dupree – 7 (four on sack attempts) (31 total tackles on 38 attempts, 18.4% miss rate)
Robert Spillane – 7 (one special teams) (45 tackles on 52 total attempts, 13.5% miss rate)
Marcus Allen – 6 (23 tackles on 29 total attempts, 20.7% miss rate)
TJ Watt – 5 (two on sack attempts) (53 tackles on 58 total attempts, 8.6% miss rate)
Stephon Tuitt – 4 (two on sack attempts) (42 tackles on 46 attempts, 8.7% miss rate)
Justin Layne – 4 (one on special teams) (18 tackles on 22 total attempt, 18.2% miss rate)
Ola Adeniyi – 4 (one on sack attempt, two on special teams) (15 tackles on 19 total attempts, 21.1% miss rate)
Avery Williamson – 3 (33 tackles on 36 total attempts with Steelers, 8.3% miss rate)
Henry Mondeaux – 3 (one on sack attempt, one on special teams) (four tackles on seven total attempts, 42.8% miss rate)
Cam Heyward – 2 (51 tackles on 53 total attempts, 3.7% miss rate)
Tyson Alualu – 2 (36 tackles on 38 attempts, 5.2% miss rate)
Chase Claypool – 2 (special teams) (5 tackles on 7 total attempts, 28.5% miss rate)
Devin Bush – 2 (23 tackles on 25 total attempts, 8% miss rate)
James Pierre – 1 (special teams) (9 tackles on 10 total attempts, 10% miss rate)
Antoine Brooks Jr. – 1 (two tackles on three total attempts, 33.3% miss rate)
Kam Canaday – 1 (special teams) (one tackle on two attempts, 50% miss rate)
Alex Highsmith – 1 (30 tackles on 31 attempts, 3.2% miss rate)
Jordan Dangerfield – 1 (special teams), (10 tackles on 11 attempts, 9.1% miss rate)
Jayrone Elliott – 1 (special teams), (three tackles on four attempts, 25% miss rate)
Cassius Marsh – 1 (two tackles on three total attempts, 33% miss rate)
Tegray Scales – 1 (no tackles on one total attempt, 100% miss rate)
Derek Watt – 1 (special teams) (eight tackles on nine total attempts, 11.1% miss rate)
Three new faces cracked the missed tackles report on Sunday in Tegray Scales, Cassius Marsh and Derek Watt, but the real concern coming out of Sunday’s win was the performance by Vince Williams, who missed a team-high three tackles defensively in his return from the COVID-19 list.
I don’t know if the virus affected his play on Sunday, but he was pretty rough in the tackling department, as was Cam Sutton, who missed both tackles on the first Colts’ drive of the game, leading to Jonathan Taylor’s game-opening touchdown.
Let’s take a look at some of the worst missed tackles from Sunday.
On the third offensive snap of the game for Indianapolis, Phillip Rivers found Michael Pittman on a short crossing route over the middle.
The quick throw led to a miss from Cam Sutton, before Steven Nelson then tried to recover and missed, bouncing off of Pittman’s strong lower half. Fortunately for the Steelers, Terrell Edmunds is there to clean up the mess, holding Pittman to a 26-yard gain.
This was a good call by Rivers to check into the draw play deep in Pittsburgh’s end with Taylor.
Sutton comes in clean on the blitz to get a shot at Taylor, but he whiffs badly. Then there’s Mike Hilton, how also whiffs, allowing the Colts’ rookie running back to walk into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
I’d like to see better effort there from two key defensive backs. I’m sure Mike Tomlin and Keith Butler would say the same thing.
This was a difficult one to judge for me, specifically with Vince Williams.
The Steelers call their traditional Cross Dog blitz with Williams and Avery Williamson against a run call here from the Colts. It’s well designed and well-timed, leaving Williams free to rush Taylor and Rivers.
I went back and forth on giving Williams a miss here, but knowing it was a blitz and he found himself rushing free at Rivers likely gave Williams blinders as he smelled blood on the quarterback. I didn’t give Williams a miss here because he was chasing Rivers.
I did give Terrell Edmunds a miss though. That whiff in the hole on Taylor looked like early-career Edmunds. I have to give credit where it’s due though: that’s a terrific move in the hole by Taylor to avoid a tackle and pick up the first down.
For the second straight week, Joe Haden came up small on the goal line against the run.
Haden does a good job closing down against the offensive line, but he comes up small and soft against Taylor at the goal line. It doesn’t help that Williams also misses in tight. Taylor is a powerful back, but that’s a matchup I’d want at the goal line if I’m the Steelers.
Once Haden and Williams miss, Taylor is an easy walk-in to the end zone. Minkah Fitzpatrick does his best to try and slow him up, but at that point it’s too late.
This was one of just two misses in the second half for the Steelers, and it came on the first drive of the second half for the Colts.
The Colts did a great job blocking this up, giving Taylor a lane to the second level. I liked the way Fitzpatrick comes downhill to fill the lane, but he has to finish this play in the hole against Taylor.
Offensively, the Steelers didn’t have much success creating forced missed tackles on Sunday, recording just five misses overall. That mark of five forced misses on Sunday means the Steelers lost the tackles battle by a mark of -10, the worst mark of the season.
Total forced misses vs. Colts – 5
Ray-Ray McCloud – 2 (special teams)
James Conner – 2
Diontae Johnson – 1
Season Total — 162 (10.8 forced missed tackles per game)
James Conner – 39
Ray-Ray McCloud – 30 (22 on special teams)
Diontae Johnson – 28 (nine on special teams)
Benny Snell Jr. – 23
JuJu Smith-Schuster – 13
Chase Claypool – 9
James Washington – 5
Anthony McFarland – 4
Eric Ebron – 4
Ben Roethlisberger – 3
Jaylen Samuels – 2
Vance McDonald – 1