Steelers Defense Shines In Loss To Bengals

The Pittsburgh Steelers are no longer in contention to make the playoffs following their 13-10 loss Sunday at Heinz Field to the Cincinnati Bengals but the play of the defense certainly wasn\’t the reason why they lost.

The unit that struggled to get sacks and turnovers all season sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton six times on Sunday and forced three turnovers.

Second-year cornerback Cortez Allen, who was forced to miss the game last week against the Dallas Cowboys due to a groin injury, had a coming out party of sorts against the Bengals as he recorded two interceptions, forced one fumble, and defensed three passes. Allen also recorded seven total tackles in the game.

It was not a perfect game for the Citadel product, who lined up mostly against Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, but the arrow certainly is pointed in the right direction for him as the 2012 season comes to an end next week.

While not 100% healthy, cornerback Keenan Lewis battled through a hip and knee injury to have a nice game that included two more passes defensed to add to his league leading total and inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons recorded 10 total tackles in the game that included 2 sacks of Dalton. Even safety Troy Polamalu looked like his old self in the loss as he recorded a sack and 8 total tackles.

A few of the Steelers youngsters got into the mix on Sunday as undrafted cornerback Josh Victorian defensed two passes, one of which resulted in one of the two interceptions by Allen.

The Steelers defense was able to hold Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis to a measly 14 yards on 15 carries Sunday and they only allowed 4 conversions on third downs out of 14 attempted.

As far as points went on Sunday, the defense allowed only 6 of them. Unfortunately the final three points allowed following the late interception thrown by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ended their shot at making the playoffs.

The Steelers defensive unit figures to have some turnover in it next season as Lewis, nose tackle Casey Hampton, and linebacker Larry Foote are all scheduled to be unrestricted free agents following the season. There is no guarantees right now that any of the three will be back. Although not a free agent following the season, linebacker James Harrison might not be back in 2013 because of his $10 million plus salary cap hit next season.

A loss is still a loss though, and had we seen more of what we saw on Sunday from the defense earlier in the season, we might just be talking about the playoffs right now. Instead, the Steelers will host the Cleveland Browns next week with pride being the only prize in that game.

  • I can’t put that on the defense, our offense have been terrible all season. They need some house cleaning this off season

  • SoCal-Steel

    Once again, I don’t know how u keep putting this on the Def. The elite QBs in the game would love to have a Def that consistently puts them in a position to win it at the end. Unfortunately we can’t seem to take advantage of that….I’d like to see you comment on that in your weekly podcasts

  • Garrett Hunt

    Random thought, but how the f**** do the colts have more W’s than us?

  • SteelersDepot

    You must have missed earlier in the week where I posted how the offense needs to play better defense. I am not putting this all on the defense at all, but the lack of sacks, pressure and turnovers certainly hurt this team no matter how you slice it.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Defense overachieved overall.

    Tomlin benches RBs who fumble upon getting hit. So why didnt a coach yank Keisel for that long dragged out celebration pointing himself out for a sack. All Keisel needed to do was not exaggerate it that much. Automatic 1st down & 15 yards. Pass interferance penalties I can forgiv, but that was dumber than getting the ball knocked out tryin to make a play. Surprised didnt yank him for a series. Then can put him back in after one series, cant yank him for all the remainder of that game because we have no decent backup DE.

  • Tim Culligan

    I agree the lack of splash plays hurts, because those plays put the offense in favorable positions, good field position etc. But I view turnovers/sacks as bonuses. If the defense is getting off the field on 3rd down, not giving up long gains and forcing punts, you can’t say the defense is hurting you (and I know you aren’t really).

    Best example was the first FG today. Bengals got the ball around their 25/30, picked up two first downs and stalled around midfield. Bengals punt, down it inside the 10 (inside the 10! Hear that Drew!). Steelers offense does their run on first down and then gets sacked, 3 and out, then punts to midfield again + a return. Now Bengals begin at the Steelers 40, exactly where they ended their previous drive + 10 yards for have better special teams than the Steelers. Bengals pick up their 15 yards again, and boom, a FG.

    Good example of how the Offense and SPT really hurt the Steelers down the second half of the season. 3 and outs plus a weaker punter means the opponents continue drives right where they left off or better. Defense is helpless there.

  • ErikH

    I think the defense handled adversity with more elegance than was expected. They were down two star players for a good portion of the season on top of other injuries. Players stepped up and played. Sure, they could have done more but I think they answered the call for plays much more often than the offense did. As a whole, the defense was not a failure this season.

    The offense, on the other hand, had the talent but consistently botched things up. They were awful all season long. Where were the 30 point games and blowouts everyone was predicting? Young Money? Give me a break. Everyone on that offense needs a reality check and they need to start practicing basic football skills… such as holding on to the ball. I place this sorry excuse for a football season squarely on the offensive players. (I’m cool with Haley, though… he can’t catch the ball for them)

  • Mike.H

    please in 6 words or less: What happened to Mike Wallace?

  • JT

    Easy schedule because they were horrible without a QB last year. Then teams like the Packers and Lions laid down for them in the 4th. Why couldn’t teams do that for us?

  • SoCal-Steel

    Agreed. When the Def was sucking earlier in the year, this wasn’t an issue cuz we were converting 3rd downs and not turning it over. I know the o-line has its woes, but I think they are equal to or better than unit that won SB against Az. While the Def has been in decline, this team is all about the offense…an offense that has consistently underachieved. Would be interested in knowing if offense would have continued high level of play if Ben had not gotten hurt.

  • SoCal-Steel

    I reread the article and agree…turnovers and poor field position cost us big time today. I don’t know if the field position has plagued us in all the losses, but in spite of defensive woes, my biggest issue is BR7 and offense not executing in the clutch. Pleeeeez speak on this….I see a troubling pattern of failures, examples as follows:

    1. Super Bowl vs GB — BR7 takes needless sack on 3rd down in 4th qtr knocking us out of FG range and keeping us from tying up the game. Def, while reeling keeps us in the game. BR7 has ball last and chance to win the game, but throws INT while forcing the ball to Wallace and missing Miller wide open underneath.

    2. Last years playoff game vs. DEN — BR7 has ball last in regulation with chance to drive for last score and win. As I recall we have ball with about 15 yds to go for FG range. BR7 takes 2 needless sacks and we don’t get close to FG range. We all know what happened in OT

    3. 2012 season Week 1 vs. DEN — BR7 has ball late in 4th qtr with chance to drive for game winning TD. Forcing the ball to Wallace, he throws a death blow pick 6 on an out route that appears to have been a pre-snap determined throw.

    4. 2012 season Week 15 vs. DAL — BR7 has ball in first in OT with chance to put some points on board. Instead of points or flipping field position, BR7 throws another death blow, near pick 6 on another out route that appears to have been a pre-snap determined throw.

    5. 2012 season Week 16 vs. CIN — BR7 has ball in tie game late in 4th qtr with chance to drive for game winning score. Instead of points or OT, BR7 throws another death blow pick INT.

    Maybe I’m being over critical, but this pattern is disturbing. How many times do the elite 4 (Brady, Brees, Manning, Rodgers) not come through given the same set of circumstances. I think Ben is more than capable, but seems to be more playground than football IQ.

    Pleeeeez speak on this.

  • One Trick Pony

  • I looked it up last week on Pro Football Reference, and Ben is 3rd in both INTs and Sacks in the 4th or OT since he entered the league. That is a disturbing, under-discussed trend.

  • I did some looking today, and before Ben’s injury, Haley’s “Dink and Dunk” offense was averaging 7.2 yards per pass, and was 1st in the league in 3rd down conversion percentage, as well as scoring about 4 more points per game than last season. Ben also only threw 4 INTs in the first 9 games in that offense.

    Now Ben is back, and getting his way more with the offense… and they are averaging 10.5 per pass, the scoring has dropped a little, but the 3rd down percentage has tanked and he has 4 INTs, including 2 game killers, in 3 games.

    Maybe Haley’s offense isn’t as bad as people think when the team sticks to it.

  • neighborhooddrunkpart2

    Ben actually force the ball to sanders not Wallace in the 2012 Den game.

  • B.J.Weaver

    All I want for Christmas is a new OC.

  • SoCal-Steel

    Thanks for the homework…I agree that this not discussed nearly enough. Even today when listening to one of the sportscasters on ESPN, Ben was referred to as Mr. Clutch. I haven’t seen clutch in a while. I also agree that Haley’s offense may not be as bad as people think. I think it forces Ben to make quick decisions and be disciplined as opposed to the no huddle that allows him to freelance and extend plays. It’s a double-edged sword that has produced only negative results as of late.

  • steeltown

    I hope K.Lewis and Foote are BOTH re-signed.. Foote could possibly soon be replaced by Spence, but that remains to be seen. Would be nice to see Foote given a 2yr deal he had arguably his best season in 2012

  • Steelhawk55

    Keisel does that celebration every time he gets a sack and has never been flagged for it. I don’t know why it is a problem all of a sudden.

  • Garrett Hunt

    True, but credit should be given where its due. They’ve had a heck of a turn-around

  • Garrett Hunt

    Haley + Holdout = Disappointing season