We’ve covered it a couple times ourselves, but it’s worth hearing Tre Norwood break down the breakdown that led to Mike Williams’ 53-yard touchdown and ultimately, the game-winning score of Sunday’s shootout against the Los Angeles Chargers. Norwood joined reporters after Wednesday’s practice to discuss what went wrong.
“We just had some miscommunication on the backend that we all need to clean up,” he told reporters via the team website. “At the end of things, whether the miscommunication happened or whatnot, I was the last line of defense, so I need to be better on my end. That’s something that, I’ll take coaching from the coaches, clean up in the film room and learn from it. Something we’re going to get better at as a unit.”
In our Tuesday breakdown, we noted Norwood had deep 1/2 responsibility on that play, responsible for taking anything vertical, while CB Cam Sutton had the underneath flat. As Norwood said today, he was the last line of defense. But he bit on the underneath route by #2, failing to get width and depth, and lost a footrace down the sideline to Williams.
Going back through the tape even more, it’s clear the Chargers were biding their time to take that deep shot. Throughout the game, they ran the same route combination. Each time, Norwood did his job and got on his landmark. Until the last play, when Norwood bit and Justin Herbert made him pay.
Chargers were running the same route combination, #1 vertical, #2 curl/stick and throwing short all game long. Tre Norwood did his job every time. Until he didn't. Finally bit on #2. And Herbert made him pay.
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) November 24, 2021
Norwood went on to say he wasn’t surprised by what the Chargers did, and the issues were entirely on the Steelers’ side of the ball.
“I saw two of their best receivers on the same side of the field. Knowing it was coming to that side of the field. But for me it was nothing of surprise. Like I said, got to clean up the little things, the details with communication and making sure having the proper technique.”
Norwood is citing miscommunication multiple times in his answers, so it’s fair to wonder if wires got crossed about what the coverage was on that snap. It certainly wouldn’t be the first example of that from the game. Perhaps Norwood thought they were in 2 Man, where Sutton would be carrying Williams downfield more. But even then, the safety is responsible for anything over the top. Matching that play with the play run correctly in the above examples, it’s hard to put the blame anywhere else but on Norwood.
He’s had a good rookie season and still has a bright future with the team, but that error proved costly, and makes Sunday’s game against the Bengals a near must-win scenario.