Explosive plays have killed the Pittsburgh Steelers defense this season, but in their Sunday night win over the Cincinnati Bengals, they didn't allow any plays of 20 yards or more and that was the first time that's been accomplished all season.
The Bengals had two plays good for 19 yards, but the rest went for 13 yards or less. During his talk with the media on Thursday, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau talked about having to stop explosive plays.
"We have given up many more big plays than we’re certainly used to seeing around here," said LeBeau. "That’s been our strength for years and years, and until we cut them out of the defense, we’re still going to have those same problems."
After the game, safety Ryan Clark also talked about the defensive effort when it came to not allowing big plays.
“We really focused on the big play,” Clark said. “When you have guys like (wide receiver) A.J. Green, (running back) Giovani Bernard, that’s the way they get the ball down the field. They get big chunks and then they get into the end zone, so stopping that was huge for us."
It certainly helped Sunday night that the Steelers jumped out to a 24-0 lead as it made the Bengals a bit more predictable because of their need to abandon the run. You still hate to see them give up touchdowns on the two long fourth quarter drives, but you could tell that the big emphasis at that time was to make them earn it underneath while eating up clock time in the process.
No, the defense wasn't without it's faults Sunday night, but at least the Bengals offense wasn't getting yardage in chunks.