Depending on when you’re reading this story, we’re nearly a week removed from the embarrassing 48-37 Wild Card Weekend loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Time does not heal all wounds, apparently, because I – for one – and still embarrassed by that loss. Rewatching the debacle a couple of times to track missed tackles just hurt worse.
While the number isn’t the worst tackling performance of the year for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it was pretty darn ugly.
Let’s dive in and officially put that game behind us as we move into the off-season.
Missed tackles vs. Browns in Wild Card Game — 14
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 3
Mike Hilton – 3
Terrell Edmunds – 2
Cassius Marsh – 2 (special teams)
Jordan Dangerfield – 2 (special teams)
Vince Williams – 1
Robert Spillane – 1
Season Total — 147 (9.8 misses per game) (miss percentages included)
Mike Hilton – 16 (one on sack attempt) (53 tackles on 69 total attempts, 23.2% miss rate)
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 14 (80 tackles on 94 total attempts, 15% miss rate)
Cameron Sutton – 10 (one on special teams) (30 tackles on 40 total attempts, 25% miss rate)
Vince Williams – 10 (one on sack attempt) (76 tackles on 86 total attempts, 11.6% miss rate)
Terrell Edmunds – 9 (75 tackles on 84 total attempts, 10.7% miss rate)
Joe Haden – 8 (49 tackles on 57 total attempts, 14% miss rate)
Robert Spillane – 8 (one special teams) (54 tackles on 62 total attempts, 12.9% miss rate)
Steven Nelson – 7 (66 tackles on 73 total attempts, 9.5% miss rate)
Bud Dupree – 7 (four on sack attempts) (31 total tackles on 38 attempts, 18.4% miss rate)
Marcus Allen – 7 (30 tackles on 37 total attempts, 18.9% miss rate)
TJ Watt – 5 (two on sack attempts) (56 tackles on 61 total attempts, 8.2% miss rate)
Stephon Tuitt – 4 (two on sack attempts) (51 tackles on 55 attempts, 7.2% miss rate)
Justin Layne – 4 (one on special teams) (22 tackles on 26 total attempt, 15.4% miss rate)
Ola Adeniyi – 4 (one on sack attempt, two on special teams) (16 tackles on 20 total attempts, 20% miss rate)
Jordan Dangerfield – 3 (all on special teams), (10 tackles on 13 attempts, 23% miss rate)
Cassius Marsh – 3 (two on special teams) (four tackles on seven total attempts, 43% miss rate)
Avery Williamson – 3 (41 tackles on 44 total attempts with Steelers, 6.8% miss rate)
Henry Mondeaux – 3 (one on sack attempt, one on special teams) (five tackles on eight total attempts, 37.5% miss rate)
Tyson Alualu – 3 (42 tackles on 45 attempts, 6.6% miss rate)
Tegray Scales – 2 (one on special teams) (no tackles on two total attempts, 100% miss rate)
Derek Watt – 2 (both on special teams) (nine tackles on 11 total attempts, 18.1% miss rate
Alex Highsmith – 2 (41 tackles on 43 attempts, 4.6% miss rate)
Cam Heyward – 2 (51 tackles on 53 total attempts, 3.7% miss rate)
Chase Claypool – 2 (special teams) (6 tackles on 8 total attempts, 25% miss rate)
Devin Bush – 2 (23 tackles on 25 total attempts, 8% miss rate)
James Pierre – 1 (special teams) (12 tackles on 13 total attempts, 7.7% 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)
Jayrone Elliott – 1 (special teams), (seven tackles on eight attempts, 12.5% miss rate)
There was a theme down the stretch in the regular season with the Steelers’ defense when it came to tackling: the secondary was really struggling, especially against the run as running backs reached the second level.
That reared its ugly head in the Wild Card upset as Terrell Edmunds, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Mike Hilton combined for 8 of the 14 missed tackles on Sunday night.
Fitzpatrick played a decent game overall, coming downhill to stop the run at a decent pace as the Browns gashed the first two levels of the Steelers’ defense on the ground.
Three missed tackles from an All-Pro safety in a playoff game simply isn’t acceptable though.
Neither is the effort Edmunds displayed on Sunday night. He was incredibly passive, which leads me to believe he simply wasn’t healthy and was worried about his injured shoulder, which caused him to miss the Week 17 finale.
The Browns did a great job here getting Jarvis Landry isolated against Mike Hilton in the slot, especially coming off of the motion.
After that, it’s an easy pitch and catch between Baker Mayfield and Landry to convert. Watch Edmunds though. That’s about as poor of an attempted tackle you’ll see from a starting NFL safety.
He ole’s him. Embarrassing.
Landry sprints right on by and later breaks a tackle attempt from Hilton before diving into the end zone to make it 14-0.
Just two plays after failing to come downhill and pop Mayfield out of bounds short of a first down, Edmunds turns in yet another rough rep in the tackling department.
Nick Chubb is a tremendous running back, don’t get me wrong. He’s not known for having a ton of wiggle in the open field though.
Here, he jukes Edmunds out of his jock strap, leaving Edmunds to reach for air as Chubb skates right on by, moving the chains on a drive that eventually led to a touchdown and a 35-7 lead for the Browns late in the first half.
Finally, in the fourth quarter after the Steelers bizarrely punted on 4th and 1 year midfield, the Browns answered back quickly with a Chubb screen that resulted in another 40-yard touchdown.
The Browns catch the Steelers in a blitz and hit the screen perfectly. But man, Hilton and Vince Williams have to make this stop. Hilton goes low for the ankles of Chubb and knocks Williams off the tackle by taking his legs out.
It’s an ugly rep, and when ugly reps happen with this defense in the tackling department, there’s a good chance they end in six points.
Offensively, Pittsburgh quietly had a good day in the forced missed tackles department. On the night, Pittsburgh forced 13 missed tackles, meaning they lost the game within the game by a mark of -1.
Total forced missed tackles vs. Browns in Wild Card — 13
James Conner – 6
Diontae Johnson – 2
Benny Snell Jr. – 2
JuJu Smith-Schuster – 1
James Washington – 1
Ray-Ray McCloud – 1 (special teams)
Season Total — 189 (12.6 forced missed tackles per game)
James Conner – 51
Ray-Ray McCloud – 32 (24 on special teams)
Diontae Johnson – 30 (nine on special teams)
Benny Snell Jr. – 26
JuJu Smith-Schuster – 14
Chase Claypool –10
Anthony McFarland – 6
James Washington – 6
Eric Ebron – 4
Ben Roethlisberger – 3
Jaylen Samuels – 2
Vance McDonald – 2
Joshua Dobbs – 2
Sunday wasn’t all bad offensively for the Steelers, but without a key forced missed tackle on the first third down of the game the Steelers faced, they might have gone three-and-out after falling behind 7-0 on the first snap of the game without James Conner’s play.
On a third and three, pressure forced Ben Roethlisberger to have to hurriedly check it down to Conner over the middle. As soon as Conner catches the ball, he’s hit by Cleveland linebacker Sione Takitaki. Fortunately for the Steelers, Conner slides out of the tackle and converts the first down, keeping the drive alive for the time being.
Early in the second quarter with the Steelers down 21-0, James Washington made a heck of a play forcing a missed tackle on his first catch over the middle.
Washington does a great job of changing his angle just slightly, forcing Cleveland safety Karl Joseph to miss in space.
I did not give Washington a forced miss on Cleveland linebacker Jacob Phillips on the spin because Vance McDonald is blocking him slightly. Either way, it’s a heck of a play by Washington.
I’m looking forward to him getting more run next season.