View Full Version : Turnovers, and lack thereof, the real issue

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12-17-2012, 12:14 AM
Cook: Turnovers, and lack thereof, the real issue

December 17, 2012
By Ron Cook / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Linebacker Lawrence Timmons had the Steelers' only sack Sunday, throwing Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo for a 13-yard loss in the third quarter. Linebacker James Harrison forced the Cowboys' only turnover, stripping the ball from running back DeMarco Murray late in the first quarter deep in Steelers territory to set up a fumble recovery by defensive end Brett Keisel. The defense didn't have an interception for the seventh time in 14 games and has just seven for the season.

"That's not going to win ballgames," Steelers safety Troy Polamalu said.

It didn't Sunday, that's for sure.

Not when the Cowboys defense had four sacks, recovered a fumble and had an overtime interception that won the game, 27-24.

The Steelers started the day with a turnover ratio of minus-13, which ranked 29th in the 32-team NFL. That it is now minus-14 is a pretty good reason the Steelers have lost four of five games, are a decidedly mediocre 7-7 and need to win their final two games at home against the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns to make the playoffs.

"Their defense outplayed our defense today," Polamalu said. "We weren't able to get field position with pressure the way their defense did. We couldn't stop the run in cover-2. We missed tackles and had to put eight men in the box. That put the corners on an island ...

"Everything worked together."

Or, more correctly, didn't work together.

It's not as if the Steelers offense bailed the team out. The guys who are supposed to be stars came up small at the worst times. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a horrible interception to cornerback Brandon Carr on the second play of overtime. His pass was well behind wide receiver Mike Wallace, who made things worse by turning into a spectator and allowing Carr to get up and return the interception 36 yards to the Steelers 1. Wide receiver Antonio Brown -- the team's Most Valuable Player last season -- lost a fumble at the end of a 22-yard punt return in the fourth quarter, let another punt roll to cost the Steelers valuable field position and failed to stay inbounds to stop the clock when the Steelers were going to have to punt late in regulation. The rebuilt offensive line -- rookie David DeCastro made his first NFL start at right guard, bumping Ramon Foster to left guard -- couldn't get the running game going and allowed Roethlisberger to be sacked four times in the second half.

"100 percent ... This is on me," Roethlisberger said. "I let the team, the fans, everybody down."

It's also easy to blame the Steelers' patched-up secondary for the loss. Starter Ike Taylor (ankle) missed his second consecutive game, not coincidentally a second loss.

His backup, Cortez Allen (hip) also sat out, forcing Josh Victorian to start at cornerback and Robert Golden to play nickel back. It didn't help that starting cornerback Keenan Lewis left midway through the fourth quarter after making a spectacular play to break up a pass for wide receiver Dez Bryant in the end zone. That forced cornerback Curtis Brown into action, a move the coaches clearly didn't want to make after Brown played lousy a week earlier in the loss to the San Diego Chargers.

Romo threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns and had a passer rating of 111.3. He regularly picked on Victorian, who admitted he was a "little shaky" in the first half but thought he played better in the second half. Steelers linebacker Larry Foote and safety Ryan Clark thought all of the young guys played better as the game went on.

"We played our same defense," Foote said. "We probably even went a little more zero coverage than usual. We left those guys on an island the whole game and they held up."

"That isn't why we lost," Clark said of the young secondary. "They were throwing a lot of hitches and outs. It's not like they were beating us with deep routes."

The old guys are right.

It took Brown's fumble at the Steelers 44 for the Cowboys to get the tying touchdown after the Steelers had gone ahead, 24-17, and Roethlisberger's interception for the Cowboys to get the winning field goal.

It's simple, isn't it?

The Cowboys won because they forced more turnovers.

You want to know the biggest reason the Steelers have lost four of five games?Their opponents forced 18 turnovers in those five games, they forced four.

It really is simple.


12-17-2012, 12:31 AM
I agree...our lack of takeaways is not helping

The Ben INT in OT was a bad toss

12-17-2012, 12:40 AM
Well that's one way to look at it. It just happens to be the wrong way given certain trends.

What they could do is NOT TURN THE BALL OVER!

12-17-2012, 12:47 AM
Our two traditional studs aren't what they used to be, and Dick has to protect them more than he did in the past. It's pretty impressive that he can scheme up such a good defense without a single Pro Bowl caliber player on it. We don't get the pressure that we used to because we're older and slower and the new guys haven't stepped up yet.

12-17-2012, 12:50 AM
Yea... I don't think I can recall us having so many players fumbling the ball like we are... We've had plenty of QB's rack up the INT's.... but never a flood of fumbles from several players....at least that I can recall.

turnovers are often a symptom of not being prepared. If you aren't sharp and well prepared it breads mistakes. Sloppy football always accompanies turnovers.

12-17-2012, 06:47 AM
Not only the turnovers but where was woodley, hampton, kiesel and Troy? Romo threw for over 300 yards. Romo is no Brady or manning but combine this with no pressure from our d-line and Troy. Our Corner backs can't cover all day waiting for these guys to pressure the ball. There has been no rush all year. We need change here.

12-17-2012, 06:48 AM
Been a problem for two years now. LeBeau is a genius when he has two Pro Bowl OLBs crushing the QB and a dynamic, HOF safety freelancing. Otherwise, he is very average. He is incapable of scheming pressure on the QB. It must come from guys beating their man, when they're not flailing around chasing WRs around the field, that is.

12-17-2012, 07:01 AM
Our two traditional studs aren't what they used to be, and Dick has to protect them more than he did in the past. It's pretty impressive that he can scheme up such a good defense without a single Pro Bowl caliber player on it. We don't get the pressure that we used to because we're older and slower and the new guys haven't stepped up yet.

What has he schemed up? No pressure and turnovers? Perfecting the sideline out pattern? Soft run defense?

12-17-2012, 08:26 AM
Ben's game yesterday reminded me of a classic Brett Favre performance. Up and down the field, lots of yards, playing great, somtimes brilliantly at times. But when the game is on the line he throws an ill-timed pick which costs his team the game.
I agree with Ron Cook's observance of Wallace on that final play. After Carr made the great leaping interception, Wallace simply stood there with Carr laying at his feet and watched Carr get up and run down to the 1 yard line. If he touches Carr down and our defense holds them, they would have been forced to try a 50 plus yard FG.

12-17-2012, 08:35 AM
Lebeau is the reason that it wasn't a blowout. The players are getting beat off the ball. Did you dissect the way they time the rush off the snap? Awful.

They are showing their hand in terms of who they are bringing. Romo pulled a Brady, walking up to the line, ready to snap it, seeing who started half-running, getting ready at the line - backed off, knew what was coming and then exploited the weakness.

Miles Austin proved his pay yesterday as much as I've hated on him. He ran a clinic yesterday on how to run a bubble screen and catch on the sidelines. Their pass protection was fantastic. They dinked and dunked them all day long.

12-17-2012, 08:35 AM
Small play defense. Look at recent SB winners - they get to the QB and force turnovers. This just isn't Super Bowl caliber defense.