The grades for the Pittsburgh Steelers offense were handed out on Tuesday. It’s time to hand out the grades for the Steelers defense for their performance against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon.
Things looked fairly good for the Steelers defense early on. They kept both the run game and the passing game in check, and left the offense in good a great position to put this game away before the first half was even over. Then, the wheels came off in the second half. The Steelers defense allowed the Browns to come back and tie the game in the 4th quarter, essentially blowing a 24 point lead. Luckily they were able to hold off the Browns offense and allow Ben Roethlisberger to notch his 33rd 4th quarter comeback of his career.
Let’s hand out some grades….
Sep 7, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) reacts after registering a sack against the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
An overall lack of push. An overall lack of pressure. And an overall lack of stopping the run. The Steelers were somehow able to hold Ben Tate to just 41 yards before Tate left the game with an injury. However, in the second half the defensive line collapsed and were not able to take up space nor containment from the outside to keep backup running back rookie Terrance West from getting 100 in less than three quarters of play. Cameron Heyward was able to get a key sack late in the game, but it’s difficult to look past the fact that this team is well on its way of being near dead last in defending the run again this season (27th already after one game).
Sep 7, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) is sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds (93) during the first half at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
It was a roller coaster game for the LB’s as much as it was for the defensive line. Again, the linebacker core played fairly well in the first half. Both Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones collected sacks in the first half of play. Both sacks were achieved more through hard work than through a breakdown in blocking from the Browns. The second half was a completely different story as this young core found itself out of position time and time again. At times Shazier looked like he was guessing at what he was doing. However, his collection of tackles and some of the more solid moments of his player were certainly big steps in the right direction. Much like the defensive line, the linebackers needed a better performance. Football is 60 minutes, and the defense showed up for the first 30 and the last 10.