It is always better to have 11 men on the field instead of 10. The defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers found this out in the first quarter of their 16-14 win Sunday over the Philadelphia Eagles and it almost cost them dearly.
The play I am pointing to took place on the second play of the Eagles second possession of the game. It was 2nd down and 10 from the Eagles 39 yard-line, and as the animated gif will show below, their was a ton of confusion on the defensive side of the ball for the Steelers. I pointed this out in my first half recap of the game, but Alan Gifford, one of my charters, alerted me that the Steelers only had 10 players on the field.
You can clearly see that nobody knows what is going on and it appears that linebacker James Harrison even tries to call a last second timeout. He doesn\’t get that accomplished and as a result Eagles running back LeSean McCoy goes around the left end for 10 yards and moves the chains in the process.
On the play, Harrison gets trapped inside and cornerback Keenan Lewis gets blown up by the fullback. Thankfully Troy Polamalu was still in the game as he uses his speed and a good angle to upend McCoy. This was very close to being a 61 yard touchdown for McCoy as you can see below.
The Steelers offense has already suffered a sack this season against the New York Jets when they had only 10 players on the field and the defense is lucky that the run by McCoy did not wind up in the end zone. This Eagles drive ultimately ended with quarterback Michael Vick fumbling at the Steelers 1 yard-line, so you can see how huge the stop by Polamalu was.
Should defensive captain Larry Foote have caught this and called a timeout? What about the coaching staff catching this and calling timeout?
On the 1st down play prior to this play the Steelers were in their base defense. Nose tackle Casey Hampton came off of the field after the incomplete pass and in all likelihood it was nickel cornerback Cortez Allen that should have replaced him, if indeed Hampton was to come off of the field.
Little errors like this is what is killing the Steelers and they need to be cleaned up quickly.