Where Mike Tomlin was wrong after the Steelers Week 14 loss
Steelers injury situation compounded in Week 14
Even worse the Steelers went from seeing Ben barely touched in the first half, to being sacked and hit a lot in the second. Ben would end the game being hit 10 times which accounts for nearly a third of the times he has been hit in this whole season at just 35. Buffalo was all over a patchwork line that at one point had every active lineman on the roster on the field due to a Chukwuma Okorafor injury. Chuks was able to return but had he not been able to, there would be no swing tackle, no heavy sets even available to run as they wouldn’t have enough linemen to do it. Dotson is quickly becoming one of our best offensive linemen and the running game and passing game from a blocking standpoint just looked better when he was in. After his injury, it would be clear that Pittsburgh was going to have little to no help at the line of scrimmage.
Defensively, the Steelers’ injury situation got worse. Alex Highsmith had done an excellent job of containing Josh Allen on his side of the line while still adding some pressure. Against a mobile QB, he didn’t get too focused on the sack and he stayed disciplined to avoid any huge runs from Allen escaping on his side of the line. When Highsmith got hurt, it opened things up for Allen both in and outside of the pocket.
The pressure wasn’t affecting him as much and Highsmith was not at 100%. Highsmith wasn’t repeating his first-half performance. The injury doesn’t seem that serious as he returned to the game and Tomlin would scratch it up to bumps and bruises associated with play. Whatever happened during this game did affect Highsmith and I hope it doesn’t in the future.
Injuries aren’t a great excuse to use in the NFL most of the time. However, the Steelers were dealt a ton of injuries to the heart of their defense and the schemes they like to employ. The offensive line may be the most important position group of any offense and it was forced to its last leg in Week 14 as well. This doesn’t mean the Steelers are finished by any means. The good news is that they should be getting healthier come playoff time and they are already locked into the playoffs. Don’t count Pittsburgh out yet, as I believe that when they are healthy they are a threat to any team in the league at any given time regardless of other circumstances.