One has to wonder what the scoreboard might have looked like yesterday had the Pittsburgh Steelers been playing anybody but the Detroit Lions, because their defense was so riddled with issues from the middle of the second quarter through most of the second half.
Pittsburgh ultimately only allowed 16 points, which is usually enough to win a game in today’s NFL, but not when you can do no better. And it was only 16 because the Lions’ backup kicker missed an extra point attempt following a touchdown.
The Steelers played very sloppy in many areas, but the tackling stood out. They struggled in that area against the Seattle Seahawks and were able to right the ship a bit for a couple of weeks after that, though, so perhaps there is hope, but it isn’t easy.
“It’s something we have to go and execute, and it’s hard to execute in the middle of the season at practice”, linebacker Joe Schobert said after the game. “It’s something we have to work on, [to] get ourselves in those positions and take practice seriously to be able to improve on it”.
The final comment about taking practice seriously definitely had some people raising their eyebrows and wondering exactly what he meant by that. Was he suggesting that there are teammates of his that are not taking practice seriously enough on a regular basis? Is it a teamwide issue that he’s publicly acknowledging? Or was it something much more innocuous and generalized than that?
He did mention practice again when he was talking about the team being highly-penalized, as well, drawing seven penalty flags during the game for a total of 59 yards. One was an offensive hold that took a touchdown off the board, while another was a costly roughing the passer penalty. They even got a running into the kicker, which allowed the Lions to set up a 4th and 1 conversion.
“It was a sloppy game all around today out there, just, conditions, plays, penalties on the field”, he said. “I know we bring refs into practice to try to cut down on that, and really, with tackling, have to just execute it and take it seriously in practice to be able to show up on Sunday”.
Head coach Mike Tomlin did bring in officials to practice recently following another game in which the Steelers drew a lot of flags. Overall, he has struggled to get a handle on his team’s penalty issues, but part of that is just young players learning on the job—the holding penalty was on 2021 fourth-rounder Dan Moore Jr., for example.