PDA

View Full Version : Steelers' defense seems to snooze too early late in games


mesaSteeler
11-11-2011, 12:47 PM
Steelers' defense seems to snooze too early late in games
Friday, November 11, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Peter Diana/Post-Gazette
James Farrior called last week's loss to the Ravens "sickening."

That late 92-yard winning drive Sunday by Baltimore surprised many members of the Steelers' No. 2-ranked defense, even though it has become more commonplace the past three seasons.

They and their fans should be used to it by now because it happens more often than they might like to admit. That includes a loss in Houston this season when an 85-yard fourth-quarter touchdown drive gave the Texans a 17-10 victory. There also was the near embarrassment when the winless Indianapolis Colts scored a touchdown to tie the score with 2:09 left in the game.

The defense slipped a spot to No. 3 this week after Joe Flacco hung 300 yards passing on the Steelers with yet another interception-free game. The Steelers defense's two interceptions are tied for fewest in the league and its four takeaways are tied with Miami for the fewest, although the Dolphins have played only eight games. The record low for a 16-game season is 12 by the 1986 Redskins.

Couple the anemic takeaways with the defensive lapses late in the game, and it's a wonder the Steelers are 6-3 and only a half-game behind the two leaders in the AFC North Division.

Linebacker James Farrior, who captains that defense, did not play last Sunday because of a hamstring injury, but acknowledged it was no fun to watch the long winning drive by Baltimore.

"It was definitely sickening," Farrior said. "As a guy watching it from the sideline, I felt especially bad. We just have to get off the field. We had a lot of opportunities to get off the field, a lot of chances, and you just have to make that play. Somebody has to get that one play to get us off the field."

It's become an all-too familiar sight, including a near classic collapse the last time the Steelers played in Cincinnati, Nov. 8, 2010. The Steelers were cruising, 27-7, in the fourth quarter. Then the Bengals scored two touchdowns and quarterback Carson Palmer had them perched on the Steelers 12 with two downs and 44 seconds left to win it. He threw incomplete to Terrell Owens, and then James Harrison broke up a pass to Jordan Shipley.

"The same way Ben has engineered drives against other teams, it's tough against a good quarterback," safety Ryan Clark said. "And then sometimes on defense you do slack off, not saying your intensity but you make different calls than you would during the game to keep everything in front and you have a team that's patient enough to dink and dunk it down the field ..."

The Steelers defense ranked second last season, yet fourth-quarter failings plagued them.

Besides that Bengals game in 2010:

Baltimore beat them with a four-play, 40-yard drive to score a TD with 32 seconds left, 17-14.

Miami drove 52 yards to kick a field goal to take a 22-20 lead late before the offense pulled it out with a late field-goal drive.

After the Steelers scored a TD to climb within three of New Orleans, the Saints drove 55 yards for a late fourth-quarter touchdown to put the game away, 20-10.

New England scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 39-26 win.

Buffalo moved 23 yards in 44 seconds to send the game into overtime with a field goal.

The Jets moved 50 yards on 13 plays to kick the winning field goal in the fourth quarter.

The Packers moved 70 yards on 10 plays to kick a field goal with 2:07 left and won, 31-23.

"I can't put my finger on why," said veteran defensive lineman Chris Hoke. "I don't think it's a lack of focus. I don't think it's a lack of conditioning. I just think that people are making plays and we're not. (How about this for a theory, Maybe we need to spend a number 1 pick on a corner back rather than another linebacker. Teams are passing on us in the 4Q and we can't stop it. - mesa)

"Even when we were the No. 1 defense in the NFL, we had collapses at the time."

That was 2008, when the defense in Super Bowl XLIII nearly suffered an epic collapse. Arizona, trailing, 20-7, took the lead on two fourth-quarter touchdowns after drives of 87 yards and 64 yards.

Many believe that was a prelude of what was to come in '09, when the Steelers collapsed monumentally during an infamous five-game losing streak, much of it because their defense allowed fourth-quarter leads to evaporate.

Hoke remembers those all too well, but he and no one is quite sure why the defense has failed late in games.

"I don't know if guys are playing more cautious because they don't want to give up the big play or what. We don't talk about it. Maybe as D-linemen we don't want to rush too hard up field because we don't want to give up the extra scramble or extra time in the pocket. But it's frustrating to give up those things, very frustrating."

At least they are not losing once they get a big lead. Like Bill Cowher's teams before his, Mike Tomlin's are money in the bank once they get a lead of more than 10 points. Cowher's teams were 105-1-1 in those situations. Tomlin's teams are 33-1.
Quick hits

Despite reports that he would be fined for a hit on Ray Rice, linebacker James Harrison said he received no such fine from the NFL this week.

Trouble looming? Troy Polamalu did not practice for a second day in a row because of a rib injury. Others who did not: LaMarr Woodley (hamstring), Arnaz Battle (hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (knee). Everyone else practiced, although the Steelers listed Harrison as being limited because of a toe injury.

Ben Roethlisberger has an ever-so-slight right shoulder injury from when he stretched the ball out to try to score. He said, however, it will cause him no problems Sunday.

For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com and Twitter @EdBouchette.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11315/1189112-66-0.stm#ixzz1dQ69M5dc

DanRooney
11-11-2011, 12:52 PM
Oh yeah it's been apparent ever since our last SB win. I think LeBeau falls asleep 3 minutes before most games end.

steelers33
11-11-2011, 01:02 PM
Honestly I think it is due to conditioning and speed. Once our secondary is spread out, and on the attack constantly in a hurry up situation, they seem to collapse. Then our aging front 7 is unable to get pressure, because of lack of conditioning and wear and tear of the whole game. It is not a " lack of focus ", because it has happened many times that it is much more deep rooted than that.

DanRooney
11-11-2011, 01:04 PM
Did you see the Raiders last night? They had no problem getting to Rivers on every attempt of his to get downfield to tie the game.

tony hipchest
11-11-2011, 01:32 PM
too bad we're not playing rivers and his decimated 0-line, weak receivers, and lack of a running game...

Goldsteel86
11-11-2011, 01:41 PM
too bad we're not playing rivers and his decimated 0-line, weak receivers, and lack of a running game...

Oh yes, always good to beat Phillip in a close game, very nice. What is nicer is seeing his "crybaby" attitude, is anything his fault????

steelerjim58
11-12-2011, 01:48 AM
I know that it is always easy to crucify the defense, but when you have a mediocre offense, there is just that much more pressure on the defense. Everytime they give up a late score to lose a game it is magnified a 100 times. Give this d to Peyton Manning and he has 4-5 rings. The offense has not carried its own weight for a while.

ggoldman
11-12-2011, 02:12 AM
I know that it is always easy to crucify the defense, but when you have a mediocre offense, there is just that much more pressure on the defense. Everytime they give up a late score to lose a game it is magnified a 100 times. Give this d to Peyton Manning and he has 4-5 rings. The offense has not carried its own weight for a while.

The offence brought this team back last game. Down by 10, and they scored two TD's against a very good D. They also had an opportunity to close out the game, but thats pretty hard to do. A team shouldn't be able to go 92 yards for the TD against us, there were too many mental errors by Ryan Clark, and it cost us the game.

steelfury02
11-12-2011, 06:44 AM
Yes - this offense has had one clutch season - but even in the SB XLIII year, they pretty much forced a lot of heart attacks on me

If they could just live up to their potential andiscore in the red zone in the first 3 quarters of the game, we wouldn't be talking about it.

It does get frustrating for me, always finding that it is the defense having to bail this team out - having to defend to win the game will eventually fail and has.

The offense has NOT been carrying its weight since about 2007. Say what you want about Ben's clutch moments but the lack of production has come back to bite us numerous time - don't blame the defense or conditioning. Everyone on that team is aware that they aren't made to keep coming back on the field time and time again. The offense needs to be able to sustain drives and come away with points - and they don't. They average about 3 touchdowns a game. Against mediocre/below average teams that is great - but you aren't going to beat any team with a capable offense unless the team plays out of its mind - which isn't a justified expectation game in and game out.

DanRooney
11-12-2011, 11:31 AM
I know that it is always easy to crucify the defense, but when you have a mediocre offense, there is just that much more pressure on the defense. Everytime they give up a late score to lose a game it is magnified a 100 times. Give this d to Peyton Manning and he has 4-5 rings. The offense has not carried its own weight for a while.

Written in 2010 via PGH:

"DW: In eight post season losses (most of which were ONE AND DONE), Manning’s offense averaged just 13 points per game. As to how many points his offense scored in each loss, here is the list: 16, 17, 0, 14, 3, 18, 24, 17. Now ask yourself a question. Was his defense really the problem?"


Most overrated player in the history of the game.