The Steelers’ loss to the Bills was their fourth straight trip to the playoffs, ending with a one-and-done appearance. But it’s the trends that continue to happen in the same manner over and over again that raise alarm bells. Since their loss to the New England Patriots in 2016 during the AFC Championship game, the offense has turned the ball over, and the bend but don’t break defense has had the bottom fall out.
Those defensive performances are the most disappointing part of it all. With superstars on that side, the Steelers have allowed 202 points in their last five playoff games, all losses, and that is an NFL record for most points allowed over a five-game span in NFL history, according to Scott Kacsmar.
For their loss against the Bills, one area was still above the rest — their inability to slow down tight ends consistently.
I’ve tried asking around the locker room. The Steelers have used more guys and schematic changes than I can count. They still can’t stop tight ends. When that happens, there’s one logical answer — the answer is personnel-related, and the fix is not on the team. Maybe the fix could be Minkah Fitzpatrick, but the team needs his skills in the box and deep to cover ground with the lack of speed on the backend. Then, injuries at the linebacker and a true lack of a run-down slot cornerback forced them to peck him up into the box and become a SAM linebacker at times.
But there have been problems that crop up time and time again. The Steelers can not keep this up and expect to win playoff games, even if they fix the offensive side of the ball. It’s hard to make runs when the offense is dormant and the defense simply fails to show up on the biggest stage.