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Thread: Late lapses on the defense becoming a concern

          
   
   
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  1. #1
    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Late lapses on the defense becoming a concern

    That late 92-yard winning drive Sunday by Baltimore surprised many members of the Steelers' No. 2-ranked defense, even though it has become more commonplace the past three seasons.

    They and their fans should be used to it by now because it happens more often than they might like to admit. That includes a loss in Houston this season when an 85-yard fourth-quarter touchdown drive gave the Texans a 17-10 victory. There also was the near embarrassment when the winless Indianapolis Colts scored a touchdown to tie the score with 2:09 left in the game.

    The defense slipped a spot to No. 3 this week after Joe Flacco hung 300 yards passing on the Steelers with yet another interception-free game. The Steelers defense's two interceptions are tied for fewest in the league and its four takeaways are tied with Miami for the fewest, although the Dolphins have played only eight games. The record low for a 16-game season is 12 by the 1986 Redskins.

    Couple the anemic takeaways with the defensive lapses late in the game, and it's a wonder the Steelers are 6-3 and only a half-game behind the two leaders in the AFC North Division.

    Linebacker James Farrior, who captains that defense, did not play last Sunday because of a hamstring injury, but acknowledged it was no fun to watch the long winning drive by Baltimore.
    "It was definitely sickening," Farrior said. "As a guy watching it from the sideline, I felt especially bad. We just have to get off the field. We had a lot of opportunities to get off the field, a lot of chances, and you just have to make that play. Somebody has to get that one play to get us off the field."

    It's become an all-too familiar sight, including a near classic collapse the last time the Steelers played in Cincinnati, Nov. 8, 2010. The Steelers were cruising, 27-7, in the fourth quarter. Then the Bengals scored two touchdowns and quarterback Carson Palmer had them perched on the Steelers 12 with two downs and 44 seconds left to win it. He threw incomplete to Terrell Owens, and then James Harrison broke up a pass to Jordan Shipley.

    "The same way Ben has engineered drives against other teams, it's tough against a good quarterback," safety Ryan Clark said. "And then sometimes on defense you do slack off, not saying your intensity but you make different calls than you would during the game to keep everything in front and you have a team that's patient enough to dink and dunk it down the field ..."

    The Steelers defense ranked second last season, yet fourth-quarter failings plagued them.

    Besides that Bengals game in 2010:

    • Baltimore beat them with a four-play, 40-yard drive to score a TD with 32 seconds left, 17-14.

    • Miami drove 52 yards to kick a field goal to take a 22-20 lead late before the offense pulled it out with a late field-goal drive.

    • After the Steelers scored a TD to climb within three of New Orleans, the Saints drove 55 yards for a late fourth-quarter touchdown to put the game away, 20-10.

    • New England scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 39-26 win.

    • Buffalo moved 23 yards in 44 seconds to send the game into overtime with a field goal.

    • The Jets moved 50 yards on 13 plays to kick the winning field goal in the fourth quarter.

    • The Packers moved 70 yards on 10 plays to kick a field goal with 2:07 left and won, 31-23.

    "I can't put my finger on why," said veteran defensive lineman Chris Hoke. "I don't think it's a lack of focus. I don't think it's a lack of conditioning. I just think that people are making plays and we're not.

    "Even when we were the No. 1 defense in the NFL, we had collapses at the time."
    That was 2008, when the defense in Super Bowl XLIII nearly suffered an epic collapse. Arizona, trailing, 20-7, took the lead on two fourth-quarter touchdowns after drives of 87 yards and 64 yards.

    Many believe that was a prelude of what was to come in '09, when the Steelers collapsed monumentally during an infamous five-game losing streak, much of it because their defense allowed fourth-quarter leads to evaporate.
    Hoke remembers those all too well, but he and no one is quite sure why the defense has failed late in games.

    "I don't know if guys are playing more cautious because they don't want to give up the big play or what. We don't talk about it. Maybe as D-linemen we don't want to rush too hard up field because we don't want to give up the extra scramble or extra time in the pocket. But it's frustrating to give up those things, very frustrating."
    At least they are not losing once they get a big lead. Like Bill Cowher's teams before his, Mike Tomlin's are money in the bank once they get a lead of more than 10 points. Cowher's teams were 105-1-1 in those situations. Tomlin's teams are 33-1.

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    The return of Woodley & Farrior will hopefully ease this going forward. They were able to come through in the Patriots game a couple weeks ago but the collapse against the Ravens is just beyond compare.

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    steelersbabex25's Avatar
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    Always has been a problem, always will be a problem until they do away with the prevent defense as far as I'm concerned.

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    Starter SnakeEyes43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steelersbabex25 View Post
    Always has been a problem, always will be a problem until they do away with the prevent defense as far as I'm concerned.
    Yeppers.
    Bleeding Black and Gold since 86'

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    2nd String harpo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlitzburghRockCity View Post
    safety Ryan Clark said. "And then sometimes on defense you do slack off, not saying your intensity but you make different calls than you would during the game to keep everything in front and you have a team that's patient enough to dink and dunk it down the field ..."
    Quote Originally Posted by BlitzburghRockCity View Post
    "I don't know if guys are playing more cautious because they don't want to give up the big play or what. We don't talk about it. Maybe as D-linemen we don't want to rush too hard up field because we don't want to give up the extra scramble or extra time in the pocket. But it's frustrating to give up those things, very frustrating."
    I think that these two quotes tell the story.....

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    The thing is, the Steelers used to never give up a lead when they had it. If they carried the lead into the 4th quarter, even a 3 or 4 point lead was secure if the defense was on the field.

    This was the case even a couple years ago. So what has changed in that time for the defense to start giving up too much late in the game?

    Players getting older and just losing a step, injuries are certainly part of it. There hasn't been a fundemental change on defense over the years. It's still been Lebeau running his same 34 style scheme, of course with some new wrinkles each year. If anything you'd think the defense would be more adept to holding a lead now because the offense can score more. Even when they don't and the game is tight, the defense would rise to the occasion.

    Where is that defense in 2010 and 2011?

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    The way i see it, the Offense has to step up, we had a 4 point lead and the defense made them go 3 and out, IMO the offense should had run the clock out with 4 mins left in the game, the defense is old and they were not stopping the Rats offense all game except for that one 3 and out late in the game imo the D did there job, we can't rely on them to close the game out all the time, the Offense won the game against the cheaters and the defense was fresh the whole game because we kept the ball on offense, they had the chance to win it against the Rats, the offense dropped the ball giving the Rats the game imo

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Normally I'll take a 4 point lead with 2 minutes to go anyday of the week. I can see where the offense should have stepped up and I can't refute that very much. However they gave us enough points to win, and since the Steelers are used to playing close games and winning ugly, it should have been a no brainer for the defense to pull it out.

    I have a feeling it's going to be this way the rest of the year and hopefully in 2012 we see an infusion of youth along the defensive line and middle linebacker spots in particular.

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    For me, the lack of even a small pass rush is one of the biggest problems of the team and a major contributor of the late game problems.

    Of course, if the F-ing refs actually did their job, that would have helped too.

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    Rookie Free Agent CoachC's Avatar
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    I agree that it is a concern. It's a concern ANY time you give up a lead late, but since '09, it almost seems like it's an every week deal.

    I also think that the O needs to take some of it too.... I mean, in Cincy last season, when we're up 27-7, all the O needs to do is get one more score and that ices it. The same happens in every game that we let a lead slide. If the offense goes out and gets a nice, time eating drive in the 4th quarter, than this is not an issue.
    "To play this game you must have fire in you, and there is nothing that strokes fire like hate."

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