Early 4th-Quarter FG Drive Exemplifies Steelers’ Struggles Stopping The Run

There has rightfully been a lot of attention paid to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ run defense, not just this week, but on the season, after having allowed two teams to rush for over 200 yards on them, both in their two losses on the season.

One of the topics that has been brought up is the fact that the Jaguars’ rushing statistics at the end of the game were heavily distorted by a 90-yard run by Leonard Fournette that came late in the game while the result was pretty much already in hand.

No doubt that run heavily distorted the rushing numbers on paper. That is just undeniable. Prior to that run, the Jaguars gained ‘just’ 141 rushing yards, but they did it on 36 carries, and they were averaging about 3.9 yards per carry. That’s still not far from terrible, but it’s a big difference in comparison to the 6.2-yard average they ended up with. It was carries 23 through 34, however, that really did the damage and helped seal the game.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Steelers were looking to drive, down 11 points. They were able to get to about midfield before they were stopped, taking a sack on third and long. But they, at least, flipped the field, and were able to pin the Jaguars deep at their own four-yard line.

So, sure, they were down 11 points. That’s not good. But after a punt opening the fourth quarter, they had 14:50 left to play in a two-possession game, and had just pinned their opponent deep in their own end. It could have been a lot worse. And they held Fournette tot just one yard on first down.

But then he ran off left guard for 13 yards. And on the next play, he pounded it up the middle for 11 yards. And just like that, two minutes were off the clock and they were at their own 29-yard line with some space to breathe.

One would think that the defense could have regathered themselves, and it looked like perhaps they had. They gave up just a yard on first down, though another six on second down. But it was third and three, and the Jaguars were going to run the ball. You have to make the stop against the run on third and three with your offense needing the ball back.

They didn’t, of course, and Chris Ivory checked in for the three-yard gain off left tackle and a new set of downs. That was the only third-down play they would have to face outside of field-goal territory. Two of the next three runs went for 12 and then 19 yards, putting the ball on the Steelers’ 28-yard line.

The defense after that ultimately gained a yard, and it ended up being fourth and 11, but the Jaguars connected on a 47-yard field goal, making it a 14-point lead. But even more damaging was the eight minutes that the drive consumed because they, at the worst possible time in the game, could not stop the run.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • falconsaftey43

    title doesn’t match article FYI

  • Stairway7

    Safety Valves In Passing Game Not Relieving Much Pressure This Year. What does the title have to do with the article? The article was about how the Jags beat the sh*t out us on the ground!

  • Kevin Artis

    i think we need to try Xavier Grimble.

  • AndreH

    The Vance McDonald trade hasn’t paid any dividends as of yet. I don’t think he has a single catch going into week 6. No production out of the TE group. Team need to be more balance across the board.

  • Charles Haines

    Why wouldn’t the Steelers put 7 or 8 in the box and make these average QB’s beat them? I would make #81 inactive and replace him with Hubbard for the foreseeable future, he was a major liability vs Jags

  • JT

    This makes so much sense now! I pulled up the run defense article, and thought I was out of my mind.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Haha, crap. Honestly, given how many articles I write I’m surprised this hasn’t happened before.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Maybe he hasn’t contributed in the passing game, but he has been an asset in the running game. The Steelers have gained more yards per carry when he has been on the field.

  • LucasY59

    …but there are still comments that are bashing the TEs, guess that shows how often commentors dont even read the article…

  • AndyR34

    Vance McDonald was replaced in SF by George Kittle. McDonald has 0 catches, 0 yards, and 0 TD’s. Kittle has 17 catches, 166 yds. (9.8 yds/r), and 1 TD. KIttle was drafted in the 4th round. Instead of Kittle, we drafted a very smart clipboard holder.

    I am very grateful that McDonald, is at least very important to our running game. I’m guessing he must be a better blocker than Finney or whomever out tackle-eligible is. It would have been nice if we tried to use him for that against the Jags. Oh, forgot…Jags appeared to show 7-8 in the box…running is a no-no.