Steelers' Harrison takes blame for letdown
Less than a week after saying his teammates needed to focus on doing their own job, Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison admittedly did not heed his own words.
As a result, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year repeatedly found himself out of position Thursday night at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Not coincidentally, the Browns, who entered the game last in the NFL in total offense, piled up 171 rushing yards in a 13-6 upset of the Steelers.
"We weren't gap sound, especially me," Harrison said after the Steelers allowed the most rushing yards in a game since December of 2007. "I was guilty of letting a few runs break out. I was doing things that wasn't my job to do, then I am not taking care of my job, and that is where it breaks down."
The Steelers slipped from first to third in the NFL in rushing defense (84.9 yards per game) following their first loss in Cleveland since 2000. They have given up an average of 137.3 rushing yards in their last three games.
"I think in the situation we're in, things are kind of snowballing, guys are kind of pressing and doing too much," nose tackle Casey Hampton said, "and when you try to do too much in this defense, you can mess everybody else up. I think that's been kind of happening to us."
Joshua Cribbs, Harrison's former teammate at Kent State, took advantage of several breakdowns to rush for 87 yards on just eight carries.
Cribbs, a wide receiver, burned the Steelers while taking direct snaps in the Wildcat formation. In the second quarter, he broke several tackles en route to a 37-yard run that set up a Phil Dawson field goal.
Harrison said the Steelers were ready for the Wildcat, which the Browns also had used in the teams' two previous meetings.
The two-time Pro Bowler took a large part of the blame for the Steelers' inability to contain Cribbs.
"It came down to guys really pressing and doing more than what their job is," Harrison said. "I am really the No. 1 person who was guilty of that. We really need to start to get back to fundamentals. Doing what it is what you are supposed to do."