Bears’ Backs Embarrass Steelers’ Run Defense

There is no shortage of valid reasons to complain about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ game today, most of which focuses directly on their play, even if some dubious non-calls by the officials ended up playing a critical role in the final outcome of the game. But the most egregious issue throughout the day was, quite simply, the shockingly bad run defense.

As a team, the Bears put up 220 rushing yards on 38 carries, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, and that is in spite of the fact that the Steelers made no fewer than six tackles for losses during the game, for a total of 18 yards.

So let’s do a very quick dive into just how bad the performance was, just from a statistical perspective. The Bears had nine runs that went for at least 10 yards, with two carries going for 20 or more yards. Both of them came courtesy of rookie Tarik Cohen.

In the middle of the second quarter, the diminutive running back was able to break free from the Bears’ 42-yard line, rattling of a 26-yard gain off left tackle to put them in field goal range. Six plays later, they scored their second touchdown of the game.

The other one was arguably the biggest play of the game, and certainly the (second-)most controversial, that being the long 36-yard gain in overtime. It was second and nine at their own 27-yard line when he was able to cut back upfield and race up the right sideline.

As I already talked about earlier in our post-game coverage, the run was greatly aided by a hold that was not penalized that enabled the running back to get to the outside, but it could have been even worse, had the officials not ruled that he stepped out of bounds at the 37-yard line.

Not that it proved to matter, because the run defense proceeded to give up long runs of 18 and then 19 yards immediately in the aftermath, the latter providing the game-winning walkoff touchdown that prevented the Steelers’ offense from seeing the ball in extra time—albeit, again, a hold that was not called factoring in to the success of the latter.

The Bears gained 73 yards on the ground over just those three plays, a fact made only more dreadful by the reality that the Steelers had two opportunities in the final five minutes of regulation to author a game-winning drive during a 17-17 tie score.

Unfortunately, I do not think that there is one issue, but many, when it comes to evaluating what went wrong with the run defense on this days. Missed tackles were an important contributor, as were poor or missed run fits leaving gaps open.

But the defensive front seven in general also simply did not win enough of their battles, and Jordan Howard, despite exiting twice with a shoulder injury, made them look bad. Further evaluation will be required to really get some answers as to why the run defense was so incredibly bad, but the eye test—and the stat sheet—suggest that there won’t be a surprise silver lining.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Pat Knotts

    We got what we deserve

  • Tobi Ge

    so the first two articles about the game are:
    -Referees missed calls
    -defense played bad

    supposed to be ‘best offense in the league’ gets a pass again.. dont score more than 17 points in a game? –> to many missed tackles!

  • NCSteel

    Amen, the team played in lackluster fasion and lost to an inferior opponent…. again.

    Next up… a Baltimore team that was internationally embarrased and should be pretty ticked off.
    Add on top of it that the Steelers should be favored and we’ve got a recipe for trouble.

  • Chris92021

    No way we are favored. I am betting Baltimore will be -3 in the opening line.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    The game wasn’t shown in my area but maybe the refs either just wanted to get off the field during insane heat or the heat wore down their senses. Either way it sounds like the unstoppable offence laid another egg.

  • 太阳三联

    Holds all day man. Should take 100+ rushing yrds off em

  • COSteel

    Haven’t started the season backing up the hype coming in. Outside of Brown on offense, there is nuttin’. Even Ben has looked pretty lame. Disappointing, they need to get this turned around cause this is the “easy” part of the schedule.

  • Tobi Ge

    i agree with the egg part

  • Alan Tman

    Offense stunk. They turned the ball over once, and never tried to run the ball or control TOP on a 90 degree day. Zero set at the one is a joke. 90 million dollars on that side of the ball and they are still struggling after 3 games. Special teams was terrible too!! Defense only gave up 14 points in 4 Quarters. If you can’t score 20 points with those weapons in 4 Quarters and your defense gives you two turnovers something is wrong.

  • pittsburghjoe

    Tomlin had the team prepared to stay in the locker room. Unfortunately, he did not have them prepared to play once they left the locker room.

  • Steeler4EverNoMore

    who cares…your team disrespected every true American watch your beloved Football tank

  • Chris92021

    They get no pass from me. They sucked today even more.

  • Steeler4EverNoMore

    Big Al made every news site out there. Fox news….Town hall etc.. Screw the steelers… a bunch of thugs who feel entitled because they are treated with kid gloves in college

  • AndreH

    I couldn’t agree more…

  • Alan Tman

    With 2 TO from the defense. 90 million dollar offense is underperfoming.

  • Offense did not play well, no question but they lost a possession due to a muffed punt, The team as a whole got behind the eight ball early and was almost able to recover. D line was tired in OT.

  • NCSteel

    I have said it on other posts but it bears repeating (no pun intended).
    I expext a young inexperienced defense to have games like this.
    I also expect a fantasy football all star team on offense to bail them out on days like this.
    They seem incapable at times.
    They really really do.

  • Tobi Ge

    as good as they can supposedly be, why do we never see a game where they come out on offense score on the first 2 drives and run it home from there with TOP 3 minutes? 🙁
    i feel you

  • pittsburghjoe

    They lost alot of fans today.

  • Tobi Ge

    yes i agree: the defense was tired in OT

  • John Mikita

    Big al is the victom here I hope he I hope he standees up for the milarity

  • ThatGuy

    I’m over the BS against bad teams. Waste of a Sunday

  • pittsburghjoe

    Dont forget, Ben donates canines to local police. Its one of his favorite charities.

  • JT

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s the state rivalry thing, but the Eagles disaster last year still hurt more for me. Because yeah the Eagles are more talented, but there was no hope in that game. At least here the Steelers still felt like the better team to me. Which I guess for many fans, makes it worse.

    Yes it was a lot of mistakes, but a lot of simple ones. Missed assignments on ST, poor angles or run fills on defense, and questionable play calling on offense. Plus you know, the circus that are the refs in 2017.

    So embarrassing? For sure. But I still like our odds in December. Take our lumps, and move onto Baltimore.

  • cencalsteeler

    With all due respect, Matt, your giving the Bears too much credit. Missed tackles. Shazier overpursuing and the DL hasn’t figured out how to combat the ZBS. The cut back has killed us for years with the ZBS. It just took the Bears a while to figure it out. It’s absolutely nothing we haven’t seen before and the ol doing the same thing over and over again resulting in insanity rears its ugly head again this season.

  • JT

    They’re both 2-1 coming off bad loses. I imagine a pretty even line and two angry teams.

  • Rocksolid20

    That’s called solidarity HPK .

  • cencalsteeler

    Do you think that throwing the long ball over and over again had anything to do with us getting behind the eight ball and eventually tiring out the D? Repeat of the last few years has cause for concern. Same ol same ol….

  • Tobi Ge

    10 had an awful day, too

  • Rocksolid20

    LMAO , never a truer statement .

  • cencalsteeler

    I also feel Tomlin and the Steelers will get bad press and get a taste of how the media twists things to gain ratings. Heck, they did it to Longfellow Deeds and everyone loves Longfellow!

  • Hec

    Can’t make excuse for a team who once again played down to the level of its competition. Where is our running game? It feels like #26 is still holding out his services!

  • Reginald Pippin

    Steelers made Jordan Howard look like the second COMING of the late, great Walter Payton. Effing disgraceful

  • mhurk

    Just terrible coaching, as usual, playing down to the competition on the road is a Tomlin Trademark.

  • Rod Hedrick

    When can this Defense ever learn how to stop Zone blocking. Once those backs made the cut huge holes all over. Remember that article that got mocked about Tomlin and emotion on the road…… Well like Pittsburgh Joe said Tomlin had them ready to stay in the locker room and they did!

  • AndreH

    The unstoppable offense has done nothing but sputter since the season started.

  • Dennis Nevinsky

    They were not who we thought they were.

  • I don’t care that they take deep shots. I know I love it when they connect. Live by the sword, die by the sword, I guess.

    The first play from scrimmage should have been a 75 yard TD but it went through Bryant’s hands.

    Deep shots keep the opposing DBs honest in defending every blade of grass.

    Give those guys some credit, they played a heck of a game.

  • Jim DePaul

    1. Stupid decision to get involved in politics, just prepare to play the game as you are paid
    2. Terrible coaching by all three Haley, Tomlin and Butler, they all need to go
    3. WR routes constantly running into same areas, terrible spacing
    4. Chickillo over Harrison, really? Every big run was off tackle to Chikillo and he washed himself out of EVERY run play
    5. Can anybody on this team tackle?
    6. What was Grimble thinking on blocked FG?

  • cencalsteeler

    2 of 17 so far this year. Not one deep shot thrown when they drove down and scored .

  • DoctorNoah

    Run lane integrity was not terrible. Issue was tackling and poor angles in the secondary. Chick only got washed out once that I remember.

  • Jim DePaul

    Sorry Doc, just watch the NFL Network replay. He allowed himself to be run out and open huge off tackle holes.

  • Dan

    Wondering if the missed tackle report will be in a single installment this week? Let me know, as I might have buy more memory for my computer for it to cache such a large page.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Our offense had two drives to in the last five minutes to win the game. With one minute left, they started the drive by a screen play. This is offense currently has no identity. Ben refuses to look to move the chains but wants to throw it deep perpetually. I watch the Pats carve up the defense to win a game while we can’t drive for a fg against the hapless Bears. Disgusted.

  • Dan

    I was wondering most of this game, are the Bears that great? I didn’t think they were, but they looked fantastic today. Shut-down corners, stout run D, and an incredible running game. Looked like SB contenders today? Or maybe it was just us that made them look that way.

  • Matthew. How did you like our contain against Cohen? I agree about the hold, but in general he did real damage while playing less than half the snaps.

  • kev4heels

    big problem is that chickillo cannot set an edge. LT basically pushed him wide and gave RBs HUGE holes to run though.

  • cencalsteeler

    I see no reason why Terrance West shouldn’t have a big game against us next week.

  • will

    Chickello sucked in run defense. And Deebo was not inserted to stop the carnage. Butler is stupid.

  • Charles Mullins

    Find a picture without Harrison.


    Wow. Glad to talk about FOOTBALL today but wish it was better subject matter.
    Today is an example of what we ALWAYS talk about with our team.
    And I am NOT talking about losing to an ‘inferior’ team……
    What I am talking about is the repetitive lack of killer instinct and consistency – we had soooo many chances today (we were never down by more than 10) and for a SB caliber team we laid a big turd right in the middle if downtown Chicago!!
    Thought we came back nicely but anyone watching the Pats game saw a team that showed the ability to win the games (ugly) that they need to.
    Our O leader (BB) was ineffective. And the D largely wiffed all day.
    Meanwhile we coulda taken AT LEAST a one game lead over the dreaded Ratbirds and now have to beat them in BAL to lead our division.
    Not the stuff of SB Champs!!

  • Guillermo Garcia-Gomez

    Agree, and that falls on pretty much everyone besides AB. However, it’s amazing the the play of the Oline isn’t getting more attention. They have been getting absolutely dominated in the run game and Villanueva has been getting torched too. I’m not seeing enough coverage of how bad this line has been. I know two backups were in there today, but they didn’t look the same before today either. Huge part of the offense’s problems IMO.

  • ryan72384

    The only time our run defense looks good is when the other team is carving up our horrible secondary. They cannot stop zone blocking schemes and cannot tackle. My god I miss Casey Aaron Kiesel and Farrior. The only guy that could ever run on them was Fred Taylor lol.

  • nutty32

    Perhaps the coaches tape will prove that I’m off base, but it’s a little head scratching as to why Butler didn’t stack the box all day or at least after the Bears made clear that they were blowing huge holes/lanes through the D.

  • Edjhjr

    They stunk today. Coaches, players.

    Like I stated prior D plus. Cause I like them.

  • Edjhjr

    Yup greatest offense ever. I’m not sure they are even average

  • Edjhjr

    They should negotiate with Bell now. Give him 2.5M. Per year for 3 years.

    Or is that too much?

    It’s a business Bell, just ….. it’s now a bad business on your part. And YOU HIGHLIGHTED THE SITUATION.

  • Alan Tman

    Yes on a 90 degree day the offense has to keep the defense off of the field and win time of possession. That’s why we lost. Ben is a very impatient QB, he needs to open up the deep ball by throwing underneath. You never see us go methodically down the field. You have to be able to do both.

  • Stephen

    Many on here get pissed when an opponent steps on a terrible towel but they are fine with disrespect of the American flag

  • francesco

    This team will once again squeak into the playoffs as a wildcard.
    Same old scenario.
    Defense has holes like swiss cheese.
    Offense is dangerous only on paper.
    Haley and Butler are clowns.

  • SouthernSteel

    Think I counted 1000000 missed tackles… Might have missed one or two… Heyward and Shazier just sucked…. Hey Tomlin it’s 90 freaking degrees out.. How about giving Chick a blow and put Harrison in for a play or 2

  • Matthew Marczi

    It’s the Illuminati, they decide what I write.

  • Matthew Marczi

    The Eagles game was definitely worse. I don’t get swayed all that much emotionally with wins and losses anymore, but that game really sucked the wind out of me.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I think I mentioned the missed tackles and all that. The thing is that they got a lot better playing against the zone in recent years (why they’ve emphasized lateral agility so much, guys like Hargrave who can move side-to-side) but for some reason today they were just bad at almost everything.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Their decision to stay in the locker room was literally a decision to try to stay OUT of the politics. Read what Tomlin said about that. The staying in the locker room was not an act of protest.

  • Matthew Marczi

    The best I can say is that it was inconsistent. I mean they had 6 stops for lost yardage against the run, but then they had all these runs of double-digit yardage.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He can set the edge. He’s done it well. He had a bad game.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Maybe they were expecting Glennon to throw more. He threw 85 passes over the first two games.

  • Bullfrog Man

    Yes, I reminded others of that. I think Philly where I live got one of them

  • Bullfrog Man

    Bell keeps this underperforming up and nobody will sign him next year at that money.

  • John A Stewart

    I hate too say it but sometimes I miss Bruce Ariens especially with all these toys Ben has.Haley is way to conservative with this passing league he doesn’t attack your defense it’s like he’s scared.

  • nutty32

    Perhaps, but dropping a safety down to near ilb level wouldn’t have been a huge sellout. Perhaps they did that. The run was contained in the 3rd, but that seemed due to Howard reinjuring the shoulder. Looking forward to what Butler says this week.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I bet he says ‘dadgum’.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Reasons why a Run Defense falters?

    The loss of a key player on the D-Line.
    The LB’s not working their way to the run lanes in time.
    The Safeties not understanding the last line of defense.
    CB’s getting manhandled by WR’s who aren’t interested in route-running but mugging.
    Lack of focus and intensity.
    Tackling like you are hugging your grandma.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I’ll take that bet.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Opening line is Pittsburgh -2.5

  • John Pennington

    Davis played like he didnt know where to be and lost.

  • Nolrog

    Embarrassed may be an understatement.

  • Tobi Ge

    over 12 hours after the game and there is still no article about the absolute
    horrendous game the offense had.. this is the only thing that annoys me about this site..
    as a german this is about the only way i can get my daily dose of steeler football..
    but the lack of complaints about the offense botheres me for quite a while now.

    Even when the defense was really bad a few years ago, the articles were always about how bad the defense was again.and i was thinking ‘we know that by now!! write an article about how the offense didnt score on their first 3 possesions and had 12 downs played till finally the defense crumbled’ … with all the stares and somthing like 6 of the 8 highest payed players on offense 🙁

  • Bradys_Dad

    So in sweltering heat in the 4th quarter and then OT someone is going to tell me that Chick (who played a pretty good game) was going to be more effective than Deebo who hadn’t played a down all day? Coach Porter is not telling us something or he has a beef with Deebo. It may not have made a difference but the coaching throughout this game was horrible. Poor deicsion making all-around.

  • Alan Tman

    They scored 10 points off of the two turnovers, so the offense really scored 7 whole points, and left the defense on the field all day in 90 degree heat.

  • kev4heels

    agree to disagree then…a bad game is having a few bad plays. there were at least 5 run plays yesterday where chickillo was so far off this spot b/c he got pushed by a bad LT, that he didn’t even touch the RB.
    that’s not a bad game