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Steelers' Film Study: Tackles missing vs. Vikings

| Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, 11:45 p.m.
The Vikings' Greg Jennings spins away from the Steelers' Cortez Allen for a first-quarter touchdown on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, at Wembley Stadium in London.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Vikings' Greg Jennings spins away from the Steelers' Cortez Allen for a first-quarter touchdown on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, at Wembley Stadium in London.

Tackle the catch.

Or, in this case, just make the tackle.

If you spend any time listening to Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau speak about his defensive philosophy, it is all predicated on stopping the run, not allowing big plays and tackling the catch.

Against the Minnesota Vikings, the Steelers did none of that which led to a 34-27 loss and their first 0-4 start since 1968.

They allowed 145 yards rushing and three 50-plus yard plays for the first time in 15 years, but it all started with a missed tackle.

The Steelers missed 16 tackles, including a pair on special teams that led to 151 yards and directly to 14 of Minnesota's 34 points. The Steelers now have 41 missed tackles — the third most in the NFL, ranking only behind Washington and Jacksonville.

The biggest offender against the Vikings was cornerback Cortez Allen.

Allen missed three tackles, with the big one being a short 7-yard completion to Greg Jennings that he turned into a 70-yard touchdown. The score gave Minnesota a 10-0 first-quarter lead. The Vikings caught 16 passes for 248 yards Sunday and 154 of those yards came after the catch.

The other game-altering play came when four players missed tackles on Adrian Peterson — Vince Williams, Ike Taylor, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons were the offending parties — led to a 60-yard touchdown run.

Allen (3), Williams (2), Woodley (2), Brett Keisel (2), Jarvis Jones (2), William Gay (1), Taylor (1), Polamalu (1), Timmons (1) and Shaun Suisham (1) accounted for all of the missed tackles in the game.


• Left tackle Mike Adams struggled, to say the least, as he was responsible for 3.5 of the Vikings' five sacks. You would think that after allowing a sack and getting called for holding Jared Allen (negating what would've been another sack early in the game) the coaching staff would provide some help for Adams. That wasn't the case. Only six times out of Ben Roethlisberger's 56 drop backs did Adams get a chip from a running back or tight end. Three of the sacks came when Adams didn't get any help from a chip.

• So, the Steelers were waiting for Le'Veon Bell's return to unveil the outside zone. Think again. Out of Bell's 16 carries, only two were with the outside zone scheme — gaining 4 and 5 yards. They did run it three other times, including once on Antonio Brown's reverse.

• It was quite obvious that the Steelers' defensive game plan was to keep everything in front of them and make sure they accounted for Adrian Peterson. That was evident with the Steelers uncharacteristically staying in their base defense for all but 10 snaps and rarely allowing Ike Taylor to play press-man coverage. Taylor pressed only nine times during the Vikings' 52 offensive snaps, and the majority of those presses came midway through the fourth quarter with the Steelers trailing 34-17. Cortez Allen pressed only four times on the other side of the formation.

• Troy Polamalu is listed as a strong safety, but you might as well call him a fifth linebacker. Polamalu lined up within the realm of the front seven on 48 of the 52 defensive snaps. He was asked to blitz only twice.

• The Steelers are a self-admitted run-right, between-the-tackles team. Against the Vikings, they were more diverse and more balanced. They ran the ball 10 times to the left and 10 times to the right while running around both end five times apiece.

• Rookie first-round pick Jarvis Jones is finding getting to the quarterback quite difficult in the NFL. In four games, he's knocked the quarterback down only once. Against the Vikings, he rushed 16 times and didn't register one hurry/pressure.

• Bell got all of the credit for his first-quarter touchdown run in which he bounced to the outside and outraced everybody to the corner of the end zone. However, it was fullback Will Johnson who made the play happen. Johnson was lined up outside of tight end David Johnson to the left. Johnson recognized Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway sneaking up in between Johnson and left tackle Marcus Gilbert. With Johnson blocking Brian Robison, and Gilbert required to double team the defensive tackle with David DeCastro, Greenway was left unblocked. Johnson crossed behind David Johnson and got a piece of Greenway that allowed Bell to bounce outside. With a block like that, you wonder why Will Johnson has played only 34 snaps and 14 run-block opportunities in four games.

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