PITTSBURGH — The run defense issues that plagued the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday’s 16-16 tie with the Detroit Lions were primarily caused by a lack of tackling, head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game.
“There’s a guy out of place or two there initially, but if you had to wrap it in a bow and talk about it globally or largely, we had to tackle better,” Tomlin said.
Lions running back D’Andre Swift rushed 33 times fort 130 yards, and that didn’t even include the two big blows: a 28-yard Jermar Jefferson rush and a 42-yard Godwin Igwebuike rush that went for touchdowns.
The Lions frequently utilized an extra offensive lineman to help shore up their offensive line, but Tomlin minimized the impact that the Detroit scheme had on his team’s lack of success.
“Not taking anything away from them, but their running ability had a lot to do with our tackling or lack thereof, and that’s why I acknowledged it,” he said. “Obviously, they had a good plan. They had a bye week. They did some things that were challenging in all three phases, but that’s life in this league. You’re going to play people coming off of bye weeks. We came off of a bye week. That’s just life in this league. For us, the significant component of their run game was our sloppy tackling at times.”
The Steelers were able to tighten things up by the fourth quarter, and the Lions were unable to move the ball at all late in the game. After the Igwebuike touchdown with 12:09 left in the third quarter, the Lions punted in six consecutive possessions, missed a field goal in overtime, and then punted a seventh time.
That was little solace for a unit that gave up 229 yards rushing, after having allowed a high of 144 in a game this season coming in.
“As the game went on, we did, and we were able to settle it down, but the damage was the damage,” Tomlin said.