Sunday’s performance against the run was nearly a carbon copy for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Detroit Lions’ running backs DeAndre Swift, Jermar Jefferson and Godwin Igwebuike consistently gashed the Steelers’ depleted front seven, taking advantage of poor tackling and effort in the process to rush for 229 yards and a two touchdowns against the Steelers, which played a key factor in the tie.
After Sunday’s tackling debacle that saw guys like Devin Bush, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cameron Sutton struggle mightily in that department, Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin addressed the issues, stating that while he didn’t want to take anything away from the Lions’ success on the ground, the issues started and ended with the Steelers.
“I’m not taking anything away from them, but they’re running the ability had a lot to do with our tackling or lack thereof,” Tomlin said to reporters following the tie, according to video via the Steelers’ YouTube page. “And that’s why I acknowledged it. Obviously they had a good plan, man. They had a bye week; they did some things that were challenging in all three phases, but that’s life in this league. You’re gonna play people coming off of bye weeks. We came off of a bye week last week; that’s just life in this league.
“For us, the significant component of their run game was our sloppy tackling at times…I’m not going to attribute it [tackling issues] to anything other than what it is.”
Though I’ll have a missed tackles report early in the week once the All-22 tape is out, the missed tackles on Sunday against the Lions were some of the worst I’ve charted all season. Guys like Fitzpatrick and Bush had woeful effort on a handful of plays, leading to the Lions extending plays and moving the chains, scoring in the process.
The tackling issues have been just that — an issue — for at least the last five years or so. It’s not only a problem in Pittsburgh, but across the league. Why that is remains to be seen, but the Steelers are falling into a funk in the tackling department in recent weeks after starting out the season so strongly.
How that gets corrected at this point in the season is anybody’s guess, but the fact that it’s a real issue as of late is a real problem for the Steelers’ defense, which is already playing with a hand tied behind its back with injuries. Inconsistently doing something that is so fundamentally apart of the game is a recipe for disaster, and that’s how it played out Sunday at Heinz Field.