Woodley: Defense to blame for blowing leads
MIAMI -- The Steelers regularly started seven players on defense last season who were at least 30 years old. They lost five games that they led in the fourth quarter.
Fatigue could serve as a link between the two.
One thing outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley dismissed, however, is the notion that the defense would have been fresher in the fourth quarter had the Steelers run the ball more in 2009. That would have kept the defense off the field for longer stretches.
"They did what they were supposed to do," Woodley said of the offense. "It was our fault for letting teams score in the fourth quarter. No one to blame but ourselves."
One statistic in particular may back up Woodley's assertion.
The Steelers held the ball, on average, 5 1⁄2 minutes longer than their opponents in 2009 -- despite throwing the ball 56 percent of the time.
The Steelers were in the bottom half of the NFL in rushing; their 112.1 yards per game ranked 19th out of 32 teams.
Inconsistency in the running game, team president Art Rooney II said, contributed to the Steelers going 9-7 and missing the playoffs.
"Some of our troubles holding leads this year can be traced to that," Rooney said recently.
What can't be disputed is that a robust running game can physically and mentally wear down an opposing team.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said it can also energize a defense because of the tone it sets.
"Does a good running game help the defense?" Lewis said. "Absolutely. If your (defense is) on the sidelines, you win."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Heinz Field not in play for Bills-Jets
- Cut by Steelers, LeGarrette Blount joins Patriots
- Rossi: As Blount walked, Porter called
- Steelers Film Session: Sticking with what works
- Lack of experienced backup means more work for Steelers RB Bell
- Steelers notebook: Gay, secondary brace for Saints QB Brees
- Steelers cut ties with running back Blount after incident in Tennessee
- Workhorse role suits Steelers running back Bell
- Steelers’ Mitchell banned from social media
- Steelers’ Pouncey puts missteps behind him
- Steelers notebook: Finally, the bye week is on tap