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Even in Win, Steelers ‘Ticked’ about Run Defense



PITTSBURGH — The Steelers’ run defense continues to be a thorn in their side all year long. There has yet to be anything that has been successful in actually fixing the issues that face in run defense. However, they came out of this one with a win instead of a loss, as they did against the Vikings.

While the team is far from satisfied with the performance, they certainly know it is better to win while learning than lose while learning. For Cam Heyward, the run defense is something that he still views as a priority to fix.

“I’m still ticked about it,” Heyward said. “I never want to surrender that many yards. There’s a lot we’ve got to clean up. But it’s better to clean it up in a win than a loss. I’ll be banging my head tonight trying to figure out what we need to do. Too many times we set the edge, he cuts back or stays front side, and it gets out. Teams are going to do the same things from here on out. If we don’t do it, we’re going to be in a world of trouble.”

With Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Carlos Davis, Isaiah Buggs, and now Chris Wormley all banged up throughout the season, the Steelers have had rotating personnel all year. Still, it is upfront where some of those issues arise to fruition, Mike Tomlin says.

“I still think we had some lapses in gap control, but the lapses in gap control were six and seven-yard runs as opposed to some of those in Minnesota,” Tomlin said. “So I don’t know that we were any better, to be honest with you, from a gap-control standpoint. We just minimized some of the explosion plays when they did break.”

The Steelers continue to set highs in terms of stats for rushing defense. It is that bad in terms of historically bad. As Heyward and Tomlin will note, the rushing defense must improve, especially as the Steelers will welcome the Browns and Ravens in the coming weeks.

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