Tim Benz: More grievances to air about Steelers’ bad defense | TribLIVE.com
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Tim Benz: More grievances to air about Steelers’ bad defense

Tim Benz
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady passes under pressure from Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass.

Hey! Get back here!

I’m not done berating you yet.

Something struck me when I finished my “Airing of Grievances” post Sunday night. I was almost 800 words into excoriating the Pittsburgh Steelers for their awful, season-opening loss to the New England Patriots, and I hadn’t even mentioned the defense yet.

When the score was 33-3, that’s saying something.

It’s saying the offense was pretty terrible. So bad, it masked the defense on a night where it was shredded.

Maybe I was too harsh on the offense because I’m so used to seeing Tom Brady pick apart the Steelers defense in Foxborough. But let’s even the score here.

Since, you know, the Steelers were about 30 points away from doing so themselves on the field.

So consider this a second “Airing of Grievances” because the season opener was every bit THAT bad.

No pass rush

The Steelers only sacked Tom Brady one time in 37 passing attempts.

Stunningly, that was exactly the same ratio as last year when the Steelers won 17-10. But, in that game, the pressure seemed to be more significant and impacted Brady’s throws more often, even if the quarterback hits on Sunday were similar to the 2018 game. It was seven last year compared to five on Sunday.

Yeah, I know. Tom Brady gets the ball out of his hands quickly. The Patriots were max-protecting. But what makes this year’s effort so maddening is that the Steelers were going up against a reconfigured offensive line that featured a backup center (Ted Karras) and a left tackle (Isaiah Wynn) who was starting his first game.

Yet Brady was hardly bothered the entire evening.

Can I see your identification?

After throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions Sunday night, Brady’s touchdown-interception ratio is 21-0 at home against the Steelers in six games.

At no point should a touchdown-interception ratio be able to buy alcohol.

Not only is that because Brady has gone unmolested in the pocket, as referenced above. It’s because the coverage on his receivers hasn’t been good enough.

Even when Brady has thrown the occasional bad ball in Foxborough, no one wearing Black and Gold has been in the vicinity.

Or if they are, they just miss by a fraction of an inch.

Just look at Sunday night’s initial New England drive as an example.

Brady is 6-0 against the Steelers in Foxborough. His team has never lost the turnover battle in those games. That’s largely due to the fact that the Steelers defense simply can’t force a fumble or get an interception whenever they vist.

Kam kouldn’t

Welcome to the club, Kameron Kelly.

He’s just the latest Steelers safety to be victimized by Brady at Gillette Stadium.

Anthony Smith, Mike Mitchell, Sean Davis, even Troy Polamalu. Just a few of the safeties to have been picked on in Massachusetts.

After getting sucked up into the middle of the field on Phillip Dorsett’s 58-yard touchdown, add Kelly’s name to the list.

This attempt at a big hit didn’t go great either.

It appears Jakobi Meyers was unphased.

Kelly’s rise from obscure signing to NFL starter is a great story. He just isn’t a good enough player to have been forced into making his NFL debut against Brady and the Pats in that house of horrors.

Terrible tackling

Kelly bouncing off that tackle attempt wasn’t the only example of bad tackling by the Steelers.

Of course, the easiest example to identify is Joe Haden fanning on Josh Gordon.

But he wasn’t alone. Rex Burkhead made almost the entire defensive roster miss on this run.

You get the point.

The crossing patterns

Ok. We’ll call them pick plays. Because that’s what they are.

They are illegal. And the Patriots are great at running them.

But if Brady is going to slice your zone…

…. he’s going to get you into man-on-man coverage. And if you are in man coverage, you need to avoid those (clears throat) “rub routes” against New England.

The defense managed to do so last year. They couldn’t this year.

Don’t complain about it. Fix it. The officials are only going to call that once or twice a game. They did so twice Sunday, once on both sides.

Or run them on offense as well as New England does.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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