Tomlin Says Steelers’ Run Defense Lost ‘War Of Attrition’ Against Ravens, Knows Football Will Humble Teams

Over their last six quarters, the Pittsburgh Steelers have allowed 333 rushing yards. The Baltimore Ravens picked up where the Atlanta Falcons left off, running for 215 yards in Sunday’s 16-14 win over the Steelers. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Mike Tomlin echoed similar comments he made immediately after the loss, saying the Ravens won the battle and the war against Pittsburgh’s defensive front.

“I thought they won the war of attrition as the game wore on,” he said via the team’s YouTube channel. “I thought the pile fell the direction that they desired it to. What could be second and eight was second and six. You do that consecutively, what could be third and four to third and two and those downs are played out differently in the National Football League. Over the course of time, I thought that was the state of it. Increasingly so. We had to do a better job of getting them in position to minimize that pile. We gotta come off blocks a little better and we gotta understand the weight of possession down ball.”

Despite being on their second and then third-string quarterback, the Ravens ran at will over the Steelers. By halftime, they were well over 100 yards. And when the clock hit zero, they were over 200 yards, a game that felt similar to what happened throughout 2021 when Pittsburgh had the league’s worst-ranked run defense. A d-line that couldn’t get off blocks, linebackers who couldn’t make plays, forcing Minkah Fitzpatrick to make several open field tackles. Against Baltimore, he had eleven, the most he’s recorded in a game this season.

The Ravens got RB J.K. Dobbins just in time and he didn’t miss a beat from his IR stint. He finished the day with 120 yards and a touchdown with the longest play from scrimmage. Gus Edwards did the rest out of the backfield, 13 carries for 66 yards and helped close the game out on the Ravens’ final drive, converting on 3rd and 3 to allow Baltimore to run out the clock.

Tomlin said the run defense issues were individual and schematic.

“Oftentimes when you’re not successful, it’s both schematics and it’s performance.”

Tomlin didn’t elaborate much on the scheme element of it. Tomorrow, we’ll have a video breakdown highlighting both issue, the individual and the scheme that led to the Ravens running wild. But the individual performance breakdowns, Baltimore simply being the more physical team, was the core reason why they won. An offensive line that dominated the Steelers’ d-line. Fullbacks and tight ends that consistently outmuscled linebackers. Simply put, the Steelers were beat up by the Ravens and Tomlin acknowledged it’s an ego-check.

“The ball snaps, you kick butt or you get your butt kicked. Football is a legitimate, humble man’s game.”

For the third straight week, the Steelers will face a run-first team when they travel to Carolina and take on the Panthers this weekend. The Panthers are coming off their own 200+ yard rushing performance in an upset win over the Seattle Seahawks this weekend. Interim head coach Steve Wilks has the team on the right track, winning three of their last four, and in a terrible NFC South division, the Panthers are still in play to win it. Their run game is led by Chubba Hubbard and D’Onta Foreman, both players rushing for 74 yards in Sunday’s win.

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