PHILADELPHIA — The Steelers’ secondary could not handle the heat that A.J. Brown and Jalen Hurts threw their way. While it was not entirely surprising to see an undermanned defense get handled, it was a bit of a jarring experience for the Steelers to allow Brown to take over the game completely.
Minkah Fitzpatrick knew the struggles of the game all too well. He allowed Brown to make the first leaping grab over him. Then, throughout the rest of the game, Ahkello Witherspoon and others could simply not cover Brown around the football field. Pittsburgh failed to keep a lid on it, and Fitzpatrick was not happy about it.
“They started the game off with a big play that I could’ve made,” Fitzpatrick said. “I should’ve made a play on it. It could’ve been a pick. I get paid to make plays on the ball. I didn’t do that. That’s a turn. The dynamic of the game is totally different. I have to make plays. There were some lapses.”
Cam Sutton has seen all the Steelers do this season, and it is a lot of the same issues popping up again. In back-to-back weeks, the Dolphins and Eagles registered the most explosive plays in a game that they have all season. The Bills hurt the secondary previously as well. It is a concerning trend that the Steelers have.
“Yeah, it is what it is right now,” Sutton said. “Not to say that in that manner but we aren’t stopping people either. Never want to single anyone out outside of even myself. Just have to control what I can. Get these guys moving in the right direction. Turn around and make those adjustments, do the right things we need to do to be where we want to be.”
For Mike Tomlin, there is an element of not finishing the play in the secondary. He feels that the Steelers’ defensive backs were often in a spot to make plays, but struggled to completely close the deal. The playmaking in combat catch situations is not there for Tomlin to be happy with how his secondary is performing.
“Position is just a component of play-making,” Tomlin said. “The finish is equally as important as the positioning. We were in position, but their guy made a play. We didn’t. We were on one circumstance on the other side of the ball and it was a different outcome. One time we were out of bounds. One time was [offensive pass interference]. One time the ground dislodged the ball. That’s the minutia. That’s the playmaking. That’s the difference.”
Kenny Pickett was forced to throw the ball a stunning 38 times. Now, Pickett has thrown the ball 38 or more times in all three games he has played in thus far. With the Steelers seemingly always behind, Tomlin has been forced to make Pickett play hero ball. That is not something he looks to do, but it is necessary.
“We didn’t keep a lid on it today,” Tomlin said. “You give up three of those type of balls in the first half, it’s going to be Helter-Skelter and that’s just the reality of it.”
Ahkello Witherspoon struggled all night, but it was just not him. The Steelers must go back to the drawing board if they are going to figure out what the issues are in the secondary before the Saints come marching in to Pittsburgh.