Steelers defense fails under bad calls and poor performance

12/11/13 in NFL   |   BrianMaddock   |   1429 respect

December 30, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu (43) and inside linebacker Larry Foote (50) smile on the sidelines against the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsThe Pittsburgh Steelers defense has dropped its bar dramatically over the past few years and is no more the solid Steel Curtain it used to be. On Sunday coach Mike Tomlin proved that much with his bad calls. There were two minutes left on the clock and two more timeouts remaining and he gave the call to the offense to go pick a first down on fourth-and-10 at its 10.
There were chances that the Steelers would have tied the score by finishing off with a field goal. If only Tomlin had left it up to the defense to go and reclaim the ball for the offense, things would have turned out to be different.
Tomlin defended his play calling, saying that Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was already a problem and putting up a good game. Risking it on the defense would have been a bad choice as the risk involved was too much and offense seemed like a better option.
“We hadn’t done a great job of stopping him in the second half, so we weren’t ensured of getting the ball back. If you punt there, they have an opportunity to convert third downs and kill the clock and the game,” Tomlin said.
Steelers linebacker Larry Foote has been a key element of the defense since he was drafted in 2012. He was away with an year in Detroit but that did not mar his veteran respect. This season he has been spending his time on the injured reserve but still is present in all of the team meetings and is a touchstone for other linebackers and the rest of the team. He said it was peculiar to see Tomlin not calling the ball to be punted but he understood why he made that call.
“He said he didn’t have trust in our defense,” Foote said. “That’s a shot! We need to take that personally and get the faith back from our head coach.”
Foote said that their performance and stats had fallen since the start of the game when they seemed promising contenders for the playoffs.
“When you look at our numbers, the amount of big plays we gave up. I know last week before that game we ranked like 22 [vs. the run],” Foote said. “That’s uncharted waters for me, especially around this town and what we did this past decade in defensive football.”
Foote added that the way to improve on mistakes was to accept that they happened and Tomlin’s call to not leave it on the defense clearly stated that their game wasn’t good enough for them to make a critical difference.
“Hey, we have to take it, we have to own it, we have to accept it. The head man said ‘I didn’t trust you guys, you guys have to play better.’ He felt in order to win that game, our offense was going to have to do it and our defense didn’t give him what he wanted,” Foote said.
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