By Matthew Marczi
There is no doubt that errors of both a physical and mental variety on the defensive side of the ball led the Detroit Lions to 27 points in the second quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ last game, which they were able to overcome in the fourth quarter.
Examples of each are plentiful, but let’s stick with the physical errors for now, starting with a pair of missed tackles late in the first quarter that helped lead to a scoring drive early in the second for the Lions.
Running back Joique Bell got things started with two minutes remaining in the first quarter on an 18-yard run. He not only ran past a diving Troy Polamalu effort, he cut back across Ryan Clark and Will Allen. It’s one thing when your safeties miss tackles on the same play under normal circumstances, but when you have three on the field and they all miss? And Bell isn’t exactly the most fleet of foot.
Just two plays later was the first of many demerits on the day for Ike Taylor, who not only allowed Calvin Johnson to record his first reception, but proceeded to badly whiff on the tackle to allow a first down. You can talk about how hard it is to tackle Johnson all you want, but this particular effort would not have brought down a small child. In fairness, however, Taylor did swipe his towel. If this were flag football, that would have been a great effort.
At least that missed tackle only led to a few extra yards and a first down though.
Blame Ryan Clark all you want for bailing out on an underneath route rather than sticking to an over-under with Taylor on Johnson. That doesn’t change the fact that Taylor missed the tackle on the 34-yard line.
This is simply a poor tackling effort, and I’m surprised to see the amount of defenders he’s gotten this week. His missed tackles were bad. His tackling in general this year has been on the decline. Yes, it’s Calvin Johnson. If you know it’s Calvin Johnson, you approach the tackle accordingly.
Now this one has nothing to do with a missed tackle, but it most certainly is a physical error. Watch closely. Did you notice? The Lions sent a receiver on a crossing route over the middle with William Gay chasing. Little did he realize Lawrence Timmons was running the other way to shadow the back out of the backfield. The two collided and Bell got a free release with a caravan of linemen in front of him for a 37-yard gain. Bell found the end zone two plays later.