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Takeaways: Tomlin Scheme, Trubisky Perseverance Pay Off for Steelers



PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers did one of the most difficult things in all of football in Sunday’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: they made Tom Brady look human.

Maybe even more impressively, they did it with an under-manned defense missing its two best players and the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

The Steelers held Brady to 243 yards on 40 pass attempts and his 87.8 passer rating was well below his season average, despite Josh Jackson and James Pierre making their first starts of the season in the Pittsburgh defense.

Teryl Austin’s defense got the job done with a ton of impressive individual performances, from players like Devin Bush, Terrell Edmunds, Cam Heyward, Myles Jack, Larry Ogunjobi and Pierre. But perhaps most impressively, they also did it with scheme.

The Steelers used a half-dozen defensive personnel groupings on the first two drives alone, played every single guy that dressed, and came away with a hard-fought victory.

It’s not a complicated idea for a team that is undermanned personnel-wise to change things up with scheme in an attempt to level the playing field. But often, that’s easier said than done. It’s one thing for Austin, Mike Tomlin and Brian Flores to draw up a series of complicated schemes that they think will be successful. It’s a completely different thing for a young, inexperienced group of defenders, some of them playing in new positions for the first time, to execute that plan. 

The Steelers pulled it off flawlessly.

“I think it comes down to your I think it comes down to your communication,” said Heyward, the team’s defensive captain. “I thought we did a really good job of, whether we got the stops or not, just coming to the sideline, communicating what we did, making sure we knew where we were going to go from there. But that’s something we just got to continue to keep improving on and keep going into practice that way. We can’t assume guys know. We got a lot of young guys, and we got a lot of guys playing in new spots. So, it’s going to help us in the long run and we’re just going to be better because of it.”


The result was a defense that bent but didn’t ever break. Though the Bucs out-gained the Steelers 304-270, Tampa was stifled in the red zone all night, kicking field goals of 24, 27 and 30 yards. The one time that Brady finally got into the end zone, the Pittsburgh defense punched right back, with Devin Bush swatting a 2-point conversion pass out of the air to help secure the victory.

“I just thought we kept them off balance with some disguises and things of that nature, and rush and coverage kind of worked together,” Tomlin said. “I thought it was a collective. I don’t know if it was one individual component of what it is that we did. The guys played hard. They understood what we were trying to do. They dressed it up. Rush and coverage worked together.”

That was evident in the second quarter when Brady had the Bucs driving with a 2nd and 1 at the Steelers 1-yard line. Edmunds and Ogunjobi blew up a Fournette run for a three-yard loss and on third down, the Steelers double-teamed Brady’s favored target, giving Heyward time to come home with a sack.

That concert of pass rush and secondary working together is always tough, and the Steelers getting it executed correctly was the biggest reason they won on Sunday.


The Pittsburgh Steelers receivers have had a tough 2022 season. A lot of it hasn’t been their fault, as the overall struggles of the Steelers’ offense has limited the chances for everyone.

But the receivers have not covered themselves in glory when given opportunities. Chase Claypool’s catch percentage on the season was a career-worst 55.2% entering Sunday, but he made huge plays against the Bucs.

His touchdown might’ve been the easiest of them. Claypool caught a 17-yard pass on a 3rd and 15, a 26-yard pass on 3rd and 11 and a 16-yards pass on 3rd and 15 — all in the second half. Diontae Johnson and George Pickens also had big catches, and the Steelers receiving corps didn’t let the change at quarterback slow them down one bit.

“To step up like that, especially on those third downs, that’s what it’s all about,” Trubisky said. “That’s like football and that’s like life. You’re going to have ups and downs and you’re going to have weeks where it’s not really going your way. But you’ve got to stick with it and just continue to buy into the process and to have those big catches and to have a moment like this and get a win after the game, it kind of makes it all worth it. But it just goes to show you, you just continue to put your head down and work and good things will happen and continue to put the team first.”


Two weeks ago at Acrisure Stadium, Trubisky got benched. Fourteen days later, he was the hero in the Steelers’ upset win.

“You never know when your number is going to get called” Trubisky said. “I just tried to stay ready.

Trubisky had every right to feel sorry for himself after getting benched for a situation — subpar overall offense and the first-round draft pick sitting behind him — that he didn’t create.

But teammates were quick to point out last week how he bounced right back from the blow and got back to work.

“Mitch is one of the best teammates I’ve been able to come across,” Pickett said. “I’m extremely grateful to have him in this room. I supported him a ton when he was in there and he’s done the same for me. That’ll continue and we’re definitely great friends on the field and off the field. So, he’s definitely someone I’m going to lean on throughout this whole experience and he’s been nothing but great to me.”

Trubisky may not have worked out as the Steelers’ starting quarterback, but he’s already proven his worth to the team.


The banged up secondary that was missing four starters leaned heavily on the one that it had. Terrell Edmunds returned after missing the Buffalo game with a concussion and did a little bit of everything for the Steelers defense.

He helped execute a double-cover heavy pass coverage scheme that attempted to minimize the impacts of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. He helped the run defense hold Leonard Fournette to a three yards per carry average.

He also helped get all those young defensive backs lined up correctly all game. The Steelers didn’t have a single blown coverage all game and the longest play all game for Tampa was 28 yards.

“He had to be a hub of communication,” Tomlin said. “He was the only regular back there. I’m just appreciative. And not only that, but he was coming off of a missed action himself. So, I just thought he did a good job keeping the group cool today and communicating in that calm and soothing voice that’s needed sometimes when you’re in the huddle with some young people.”

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