Blocking and tackling. That’s what football is all about. Pittsburgh’s defense struggled to do the latter last night and was one reason why they blew a 14-0 halftime lead to the Seattle Seahawks, needing overtime to notch a victory. While the tackling was about as bad as you’ll see it from a Steelers’ coached team, Alex Highsmith and Tre Norwood believe the issues are fixable. Both spoke to the media on Monday to discuss how things can get better after the bye.
“I think it just coming down to doing our job,” Highsmith told reports on a Zoom call provided by the team. “Just not doing so much. If everyone just does their job, you know, they’re in the vicinity to make the play, that that’ll make it easier for us. It’ll cause us to have less missed tackles. If we continue to do our job, we’re going to get better.”
The tackling certainly needs to get better. We don’t have an exact number of missed tackles from last night but Josh Carney will post those numbers later in the week. It’s realistic to expect that number to come in around 15 to 20 misses against the Seahawks, an absurdly high number for a defense that overall, has done a decent job of getting runners on the ground.
Some of the ugliest missed tackles last night led to big plays. In the first half, the Steelers had a chance to get off the field on 3rd and 8 when QB Geno Smith threw short of the sticks to RB Travis Homer. Despite three Steelers surrounding him, Homer broke free for a 27-yard gain. Seattle ultimately didn’t get points out of the drive but flipped the field, forcing Pittsburgh to start their next drive at the 20.
There were two more missed tackles, one by Cam Sutton, one by Minkah Fitzpatrick, on TE Gerald Everett on his 41-yard gain last night. Everett nearly scored before stumbling at the two yard line.
Two plays later, Alex Collins dove over the goal line for the Seahawks’ first points of the day.
But they are far from the only examples. Just the most egregious ones. For Tre Norwood, he believes Pittsburgh will right the ship against the Browns in Week 8.
“For us on the defensive side, we knew that those couple of drives that we needed to make those tackles,” Norwood said also via Zoom. “Understanding we needed to make those plays…something that can be easily fixed. We just have to make sure we hone in on the details and fix those things.”
It will have to get better when Pittsburgh travels to Cleveland on Halloween. While the Browns are a banged up team, they still run the ball effectively and could have RB Nick Chubb back in the fold. He’s one of the hardest runners to tackle, something Pittsburgh’s found out over the years, and to win that game, the Steelers can’t let Chubb take over.