The Steelers defense looked like the 08 version for three quarters on Sunday holding the Bengals offense to just a miss of a field goal. Problem was, they didn’t play a full 60 minutes. We all know by now what took place in the fourth and final disaster of a quarter for the Steelers defense, but just in case you forgot, here’s the gory details.
Two Bengals drives – 22 plays, 156 yards, two touchdowns to in the end win the game 23-20. Take into consideration before that the Steelers D held Cincy to 38 plays, 119 yards, and four of their first seven series the Bengals were three-and-out. So it wasn’t hard to believe that when the Steelers entered the fourth quarter up 20-9, the game felt well in hand.
But in the end, it wasn’t.
And where does that blame lie? Yes, the team is without star safety Troy Polamalu, but the Steelers have always prided themselves on not making excuses. They have some players on defense playing not 100 percent, but again, no excuses. So what is happening, and why has this team allowed two huge drives to lose their last two games?
“We as a defense love to be out on the field at the end of games with games in our hand,” linebacker Lamarr Woodley (1 tackle) said. “We’ve been allowing teams to come down and put points on the board, we’re the type of team that when the games on the line we get the job done, and the last two weeks we haven’t been doing it.”
James Farrior, who couldn’t bring down Brian Leonard on a 4th-and-10 play on that last drive that took place the play before the winning touchdown, stated in the locker room that it’s not mental, but physical mistakes – things like missing tackles and not doing the little things. So will this unit, a unit that was so good a season ago, be able to get itself right?
That’s the million dollar question, and one that can start to be answered this Sunday night when the team hosts the Chargers at home, a team they beat twice last season on their way to the Super Bowl. “It’s still early, but as a player when you have a game and you don’t come away with the game you tend to you start looking at yourself, and like ‘what’s going on’, we need to find answers,” Tyrone Carter said. “We take pride in our defense, but we are not finding ways to make plays to get off the football field, that’s the main thing.”
There has been little in the turnover department, and while the Steelers had a pair of sacks, they simply are not coming at big times, like the last drives vs the Bears and Bengals. Sure there’s time to get things right, but to say that the players know that the time to get going is now is a clear understatement. They can start making those things right Sunday vs the Chargers.