It was a common occurrence Sunday night at Heinz Field for the Pittsburgh Steelers: a missed tackle here, a missed tackle there, and next thing you know the Seattle Seahawks are driving right down the field.
The third quarter showing by the defense may have been the worst quarter of football we’ve seen from the Steelers’ defense dating back to the 2017 Wild Card Round loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field.
It was more than just a rough third quarter though on Sunday night in the tackling department as the Steelers’ defense set a single-game high for missed tackles in my sixth season charting the numbers in that department here at Steelers Depot.
Let’s get to it.
Total missed tackles vs. Seahawks — 22
- Terrell Edmunds – 3
- Minkah Fitzpatrick – 3
- Joe Haden – 3
- Cameron Sutton – 3
- Devin Bush – 2
- Marcus Allen – 2 (both on special teams)
- Justin Layne – 1 (special teams)
- Robert Spillane – 1
- Alex Highsmith – 1
- Isaiah Buggs – 1
- Joe Schobert – 1
- T.J. Watt – 1
Total missed tackles through six games – 63 (10.5 misses per game)
- Joe Haden – 8 (20 tackles on 28 total attempts, 40% miss rate)
- Minkah Fitzpatrick — 7 (47 total tackles on 54 total attempts, 12.9% miss rate)
- Cameron Sutton – 6 (14 total tackles on 20 total attempts, 30% miss rate)
- Terrell Edmunds – 5 (33 total tackles on 38 total attempts, 13.1% miss rate)
- Joe Schobert – 5 (36 total tackles on 41 total attempts, 12.1% miss rate)
- Robert Spillane — 5 (two on special teams)(18 total tackles on 23 total attempts, 21.7% miss rate)
- Alex Highsmith — 3 (21 total tackles on 24 total attempts, 12.5% miss rate)
- Isaiah Buggs – 3 (eight total tackles on 11 total attempts, 27.2% miss rate)
- Devin Bush – 3 (25 tackles on 28 total attempts, 10.7% miss rate)
- Melvin Ingram — 3 (10 total tackles on 13 total attempts, 23.1% miss rate)
- Arthur Maulet — 2 (one on special teams) (14 total tackles on 16 total attempts, 12.5% miss rate)
- Chris Wormley — 2 (16 total tackles on 18 total attempts, 11% miss rate)
- Marcus Allen — 2 (special teams) (zero total tackles on two total attempts, 100% miss rate)
- Justin Layne – 1 (special teams) (six total tackles on seven total attempts, 14.3% miss rate)
- James Pierre – 1 (26 total tackles on 27 total attempts, 3.7% miss rate)
- Tre Norwood — 1 (15 total tackles on 16 total attempts, 6.25% miss rate)
- Jamir Jones — 1 (three total tackles on four total attempts, 25% miss rate)
- Miles Killebrew — 1 (special teams) (three total tackles on four total attempt, 25% miss rate)
- Henry Mondeaux — 1 (two total tackles on three total attempt, 33.3% miss rate)
- Benny Snell Jr. — 1 (special teams)(two tackles on three total attempts, 33.3% miss rate)
- Ulysees Gilbert III — 1 (special teams) (three tackles on four total attempts, 25% miss rate)
- T.J. Watt — 1 (21 total tackles on 22 total attempts, 4.5% miss rate)
Sunday’s game was full of ugly missed tackles all over the field, but once I sat down to truly start charging, it became apparent just how horrendous the showing was from the Steelers’ defense doing something very simple in the game of football, like tackling.
The secondary was about as bad as it gets, recording 12 of the 22 missed tackles on the night. Joe Haden, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds and Cameron Sutton easily had their worst showings of their careers in the department. The fact that it came on a night in which the Steelers held DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in check makes it all the more puzzling.
The defense showed how rough of a night it was going to be from a tackling perspective rather quickly, as on the Seahawks’ second drive of the game, facing a third down deep in their own territory, Geno Smith dumped the ball off to reserve running back Travis Homer short of the sticks. Homer then forced Edmunds, Robert Spillane, Fitzpatrick and Haden to all miss before being dragged down 27 yards later down the right sideline, extending the drive.
Edmunds has been so good in the tackling department the last two years, but this miss was really ugly from him, and showed he was going to have a rough night overall. He came in our of control and second-guessed going for the hit, instead reaching with his arms, leading to the miss. Spillane and Fitzpatrick took poor angles and missed, and Haden continues to be a liability on the boundary as a tackler. The effort simply isn’t there. He’d rather dive at ankles than be the physical tackler he was earlier in his career.
In the third quarter, Haden again whiffed badly on a quick throw to Metcalf off the line. All Haden has to do is break down and at least hang on for dear life until help arrives against the alien that is Metcalf. Instead, Haden dives at ankles. He’s incredibly consistent diving at ankles and ducking his head, whiffing in space.
I don’t want this to sound like I’m anti-Haden, but he has to be so much better in these situations.
The most egregious miss of the night for the Steelers against the Seahawks was Fitzpatrick and Sutton’s combined miss on tight end Gerald Everett in space, allowing the Seahawks’ tight end to race to the 1 yard line on a play that should have gone for maybe 15 yards at most.
There is simply no way that Everett should have been able to shake off both Sutton and Fitzpatrick in this instance.
Offensively, the Steelers had nowhere near the success the Seahawks had forcing missed tackles, recording just 12 in the win.
That mark means the Steelers lost the tackles battle by a startling -10 line, though the black and gold won the game in overtime. Make it make sense.
Total forced missed tackles vs. Seahawks — 12
- Najee Harris – 3
- Ray-Ray McCloud – 3 (two on special teams)
- Kalen Ballage – 2
- Diontae Johnson – 2
- Chase Claypool – 2
Total forced misses through six weeks — 71 (11.83 forced misses per game)
- Najee Harris – 34
- Diontae Johnson — 11
- JuJu Smith-Schuster – 8
- Chase Claypool — 6
- Ray-Ray McCloud — 6 (five on special teams)
- Kalen Ballage — 4
- Benny Snell Jr. — 1
- James Washington — 1
Najee Harris continues to be just an incredible addition to the Steelers’ offense. He refuses to go down on first contact, consistently fights for extra yardage and moves the chains more often than not. He’s a physical runner that has a great motor. An excellent combination.
Here in the red zone, Harris was bottled up but nearly fought his way to the goal line, drawing praise from his teammates.
Reserve running back Kalen Ballage had one of the better runs of the night for the Steelers, spinning out of a tackle near the line of scrimmage and then powering through a Seattle safety for an 11-yard run, racking up two forced misses in the process.
He does a really good job here maintaining balance and power, essentially backing into the contact with Seattle safety Marquis Blair and hybrid safety Jamal Adams, winning the battle in the process. That’s quite the run from a guy who is starting to get more and more work in the backfield, but still might be the odd man out here in the next few weeks.