"Oct 28, 2012; Pittsburgh , PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor (24) reacts after breaking up a pass against the Washington Redskins during the second half of the game at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 27-12. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports Not giving them yards with the penalties, but making them have to earn yards, … We all know that. It will be difficult for them to just drive. You have to play some good teams and that is going to happen sometimes, teams are going to be able to drive on you. But when you give them yards, Christmas gifts early, it makes it easy on them and tough on our team. As long as we eliminate some of those things, we will be straight. -Ike Taylor as reported by Teresa Varley of Steelers.com"
I for one cannot blame Taylor for his comments on how much the Steelers’ penalty-laden play has cost them during the preseason. Penalties have wiped turnovers, first downs, and even points off of the scoreboard for Pittsburgh during preseason play. Overall, Pittsburgh’s players have already racked up 24 penalties for 243 yards during the team’s first three preseason games!
Last Saturday, the Steelers’ defense had a Jarvis Jones game-clinching interception nullified by a pass interference penalty, three unnecessary roughness calls (although two of which were extremely “ticky-tack”) changed the field position, and an illegal horse-collar tackle gained an extra 15 yards for Kansas City on their game-winning drive in overtime.
Although Pittsburgh’s first-team defense has looked terrific, particularly with a healthy Troy Polamalu, the penalties for big yards must be eliminated. Allowing drives to extend and extra points to be added to the scoreboard is unacceptable for a veteran-laden unit like the Steelers’, especially one that allowed game-tying or game-winning drives in the fourth quarter to the likes of Tennessee, Oakland, Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Dallas last season.
While the first-team defense is unlikely to receive much work during Pittsburgh’s preseason finale against Carolina this Thursday, they had better be ready to play close to “mistake-free” football when the regular season begins two Sundays from now.
I do not want to say that it could get any “worse” for this unit, especially because I do not want to know what “worse” than last Saturday is. I do however have faith that the veterans on the defensive side of the ball are determined to keep the self-inflicted wounds at a minimum this fall.
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