Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau always preaches to his defense that they must stop the run, tackle the catch and not give up the big play in order to be successful. Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, his unit failed in all three of those areas and as a result the team now heads into their bye week at 0-4.
Not only did the defense allow five explosive plays of 20 or more yards during the Sunday loss, three of them went for 51 yards or more of which two went for touchdowns.
Since returning to Pittsburgh in 2004, a LeBeau led defense has never allowed three plays of 51 yards or more in one game. In fact, the last time a Steelers defense has allowed such a feat was in 1999 when they gave up four plays of 54 or more yards in the 31-24 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
The Steelers tackling Sunday was atrocious and it started on the Vikings second offensive possession when cornerback Cortez Allen took a bad angle and failed to bring down wide receiver Greg Jennings following a seven-yard catch. 63 yards later Jennings was in the end zone for the game’s first touchdown.
The bad tackling didn’t stop there as there were several missed tackles on the 60-yard touchdown run by Vikings running back Adrian Peterson with 12:52 left to go in the second half. On that play, Vince Williams, Lawrence Timmons, Ike Taylor and LaMarr Woodley all whiffed with their tackle attempts.
In total, the Steelers defense allowed 393 yards of offense Sunday and 226 yards of those yards came courtesy of five explosive plays. To make matters worse, the defense also allowed 154 yards after the 16 catches were made in the game.
During training camp, the Steelers coaching staff allowed a lot of live hitting to take place in an effort to sort out a roster full of young players. Sunday against the Vikings there was no evidence that extra work even took place.
While the Steelers offense was far from perfect Sunday, it was the defense that let the team down the most in the loss. Now that the bye week is here, LeBeau better review his three main principles with his unit and it wouldn’t be a bad a idea to mix in a few tackling drills during practice in addition.