Tomlin Says Steelers’ Run Defense Wore Down Against Dolphins

In Sunday’s road loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense gave up 222 rushing yards on 36 attempts as they were gashed in all three directions mostly by running back Jay Ajayi, who ended the game with 204 yards on 25 carries. On Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked to talk about what went wrong with his run defense against the Dolphins.

“I think just as the game wore on, we wore down,” Tomlin said. “They had some explosion plays that bounced to the perimeter. We’ve got to do a good job of setting edges on our defense, but just largely, if I had to summarize it in a nutshell, I thought we wore down as the game wore on and a lot of that had to do with the total number of snaps and the time of possession, or our lack of possession.

“We only had the ball for 23-and-a-half minutes, they had the ball for 36 minutes and they won the war of attrition because of it.”

The Steelers came into Sunday’s game having only allowed 11 runs of 10 yards or more but gave up eight such runs to the Dolphins on Sunday. Ajayi’s first two carries of the game went for 12 and 10 yards respectively and he ended the first half with 51 rushing yards on 11 carries.

The Steelers were without the services of defensive end Cameron Heyward on Sunday against the Dolphins as he missed the game with a hamstring injury. Tomlin was asked Tuesday how the rest of the defensive line looked without having Heyward on the field.

“We didn’t make enough splash plays,” Tomlin said. “We didn’t come off of enough blocks and weren’t productive enough in the run game. Didn’t create enough disruption in the passing game, but that didn’t happen in a vacuum. I think those type of assessments can be descriptive of just about anybody that you would ask about.”

Tomlin was asked Tuesday if he expects teams moving forward to start spreading his defense out in order to run against them based on what happened Sunday against the Dolphins.

“I got no control over what New England does,” Tomlin said. “I doubt New England formulates their plan based on what others have done. I think generally, they stick to their script and their personality and their comfort zone. But, yes, certainly that’s something that people are capable of gleaning from that video.”

The Steelers will play the New England Patriots Sunday at Heinz Field and once again they won’t have Heyward as Tomlin ruled him out for the game on Tuesday. The Patriots enter Week 7 having averaged 3.8 yards per carry on offense and their led by running back LeGarrette Blount, who has 439 yards and 6 touchdowns already on 119 carries. Tomlin talked Tuesday about the Patriots running game ahead of Sunday’s contest.

“They’ve got an awesome running back combination in Blount and [James] White and they function in a way that their running back tandems have functioned in the past, Tomlin said. “Thunder and lighting, if you will. It seems like they’ve always had a big guy ala [Corey] Dillion or a small guy, ala [Kevin] Faulk, over the years and this tandem is doing the job for them.”

The Steelers better fix their run defense in a hurry and that will be a chore this week being as Heyward won’t play against the Patriots. If they can’t bottle up Blount and James White on early downs on Sunday and force Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to convert a large number of long third downs through the air, the Steelers defense will once again get wore down in the second half and it could result in not only another loss, but another blowout loss as well.

  • steelersfan

    So much for physical practices

  • steelersfan

    Ummm I’m no coach but I’m pretty sure bellicheat formulates a plan watching tape of the team they are playing and identifies weaknesses. Not sure what tomlin is thinking. Isn’t that coaching 101? Oh yeah and this is the same coach who recorded practices. Expect him to do what the eagles and dolphins did with a sprinkle of Gronk. Not looking good .

  • PaeperCup

    Why was the defense so tired this game? Was it unusually hot/humid? Are our players that unconditioned? Is it something they ate?

  • WeWantDaTruth

    Maybe our TOP would’ve been higher if we ran Lev Bell on 3rd & 1 rather than rely on a rusty Landry Jones passing attempt. I’m curious if Tomlin was asked about that play?

  • falconsaftey43

    The offense didn’t ever have the ball plus it was a hot/humid day. At one point in the 4th quarter, Miami had a 32 play, 16 minute 48 sec time of possession advantage.

  • Don2727

    Hargrave and Mathews had a poor showing in trying to replace Heyward. Bad game for Tuitt also. ILB’s (particularly VW) were out of position and hitting the wrong gaps. J.J. who’s normally descent on run defense was not setting the edge and allowing runs outside.

  • falconsaftey43

    Believe it or not, the defense actually kept them in this game. It wasn’t until after the second interception late in the 3rd that they

    finally broke and let it become a 2 score game.

  • PaeperCup

    seemed like they were tired right out the gate. Wasn’t it relatively early in the game that Timmons blew chunks?

  • falconsaftey43

    I don’t remember when that happened. IMO the defense did it’s job in this game. The offense provided no support, and this isn’t a team that can win when it’s offense doesn’t perform.

  • PaeperCup

    Classic over thinking type of play. Trying to catch the defense off guard, but just hand it off the the star.

  • Don2727

    Followed by William Gay dropping a sure interception on the next series (I think)..Game changers right there..

  • PaeperCup

    The run defense didn’t do it’s job. The pass rush didn’t do it’s job. The offense completely stunk, but the Miami Offense is rubbish, but we some how let them have a career day. BUT at least we’ve come to expect that from this defense.

  • RickM

    You have to be kidding. A terrible offense has the ball for almost 37 minutes, scores 30 points and could easily have had 40 and the D did their job? They didn’t even remotely do their job. They are paid athletes just like the offense. What did Miami have 500+ yards of offense. What exactly qualifies as “not doing their job” if that doesn’t. Man I watched the game tape again and the D stunk other than in the Red Zone.

  • falconsaftey43

    We know what this defense is. They give up a ton of yards but are fairly stingy when it comes to points. This is not a good defense, and expecting them to stop any team from moving the ball and scoring on a day when the Steelers offense is doing nothing is unrealistic. Go through the drive chart and you’ll realize the defense did it’s part, yes they fell apart at the end, but this defense will do that against any team when the Steelers can’t get their offense going even a little.

  • falconsaftey43

    That’s exactly what we should expect when the offense does nothing. Did I miss the part where our Defense suddenly got really talented? This team was down Heyward and Shazier. Be honest, how many of those guys that started that game on D would start for a good defense? Tuitt, Mitchel…that’s all I’ve got. None of those other guys are above average starters if they’re even starter quality.

  • RickM

    So your pre-game pep talk to them would be: ‘We know you’re not good enough, so there’s no need for you to have decent games. Don’t worry if you’re on the field for 37 minutes every game, and give up 500+ yards and give our offense few possesions. We have no expectations for you, so you will never hear any harsh words from us.’

    I re-watched the game. I don’t have to read a drive chart. The D allowed six different possessions in the Red Zone. If you’re right, then all these post-game articles criticizing different aspects of the D must be wrong. And they’re not. That’s my last comment. The floor is yours if desired. By the way, I wouldn’t suggest that you tell Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Lawrence Timmons, Vince Williams, Mike Mitchell, etc, that we don’t expect you to be any good.

    You’re right about the injury situation, but Sunday’s defense didn’t have Heyward for 3/4 of the game and Shazier for the whole game the week before and they played very well without them. Yesterday they were just embarrassed by a bad football team.

  • Kevin artis

    I would play four down linemen until Heyward comes back. Or at least three. Tuitt, Hargraves, McCullers and Harrison.

  • Thomas

    Something is seriously wrong with this defense. Heyward isn’t JJ Watt, there is no reason to give up 200 yards and 30 points to the 31st rushing defense in the league. Butler needs to get this defense back to 2015 where we were 3rd in sacks, 10th in points, and 5th in turnovers.

  • Disqussant

    Could put Missi Matthews in there for an upgrade.

  • Disqussant

    I would expect any rational coach to formulate a plan based upon an opponent’s weakness.

  • steelersfan

    They did that all the time last year in crucial situations with Vick at QB. Obviously didn’t learn their lesson .

  • EdJHJr

    Uh….. offense did not exist. Defense started ok and allowed them FGS but went downhill then on. Special teams were bad.

    Coaching was with the offense where ever that was.

    Overall D minus , because I like them

  • falconsaftey43

    Here are all the drives, you tell me where I’m been too easy of a grader. W-win, L-loss, D-draw
    Offense: Punt L, TD W, Punt but pinned deep D, INT L, Punt L, halftime D, INT L, Punt L, Punt L, TD with 1 min left W, turnover on downs L.

    Defense: long FG drive D, Punt W, long FG drive D, held to FG after INT at PIT 13 W, TD L, Block FG W, TD L, Missed FG W, Punt W, TD with less than 1 min left L, knee D.

    So the offense won 2 possession with one of them coming with only 1 minute left in the game. They had 2 draws and 7 possessions they lost on.

    The defense won 5 drives, had 3 draws and 3 losses. One of those losses being at the end of the game when the opponent had nearly a full quarter TOP advantage.

  • PaeperCup

    team is cursed or something. Gay catches that 99 out of 100 times

  • thomas hmmmm

    Mike Pouncey took the Steelers out to the strip club the night before the game and bought out the bar.. The Steelers drank, drank and drank all night long.
    This is the reason why the Steelers were so dehydrated.

  • mrallnite111 .

    When are you going to take a look at your Quarterback, Tomlin? We are know in the midst of Todd Hailey 5th year as O.C… There are a plethora of games now to make a sound judgement… Just look, NO touchdowns in the first half against an anemic Dolphin defense, which would latter leave the field with their first & second ints of the season courtesy of 1 Benjamin Roethlisberger..

    Tomlin you can do 2 things, either bring in a hypnotist or bring in a priest to perform an exorcism, either way, the demons of Bruce Arians have to be removed.

  • mrallnite111 .

    Finally someone whom knows how to view a football game.