One week after setting a team-record (at least in the seven years I’ve been tracking missed tackles) of just two missed tackles against the New Orleans Saints, the Pittsburgh Steelers again had a rather strong day in the tackling department against the Cincinnati Bengals.
On the day, the Steelers missed just five tackles overall.
However, a pair of missed tackles ended up being critical in a 37-30 loss to the AFC North rival Bengals at Acrisure Stadium.
Though the Steelers have been rather solid overall in the tackling department on the year, key misses continue to hurt the Steelers in big spots.
Total missed tackles vs. Bengals — 5
Robert Spillane – 2
Arthur Maulet – 1
Levi Wallace – 1
Myles Jack – 1
Total missed tackles in 2022 (10 games) — 60 (6.0 misses per game)
Tre Norwood – 8 (21 tackles on 29 total attempts, 27.6% miss rate)
Arthur Maulet – 8 (one on sack attempt, two on special teams) (37 tackles on 45 total attempts, 17.8% miss rate)
Terrell Edmunds – 6 (36 tackles on 42 total attempts, 14.3% miss rate)
Myles Jack – 6 (81 tackles on 87 total attempts, 6.9% miss rate)
Levi Wallace – 5 (25 tackles on 30 total attempts, 16.6% miss rate)
Alex Highsmith – 4 (two on sack attempts) (37 tackles on 41 total attempts, 9.8% miss rate)
Robert Spillane – 3 (40 tackles on 43 total attempts, 7% miss rate)
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 3 (48 tackles on 51 total attempts, 5.9% miss rate)
Cameron Sutton – 3 (26 tackles on 29 total attempts, 10.3% miss rate)
Larry Ogunjobi – 2 (23 tackles on 25 total attempts, 8% miss rate)
DeMarvin Leal – 2 (nine tackles on 11 total attempts, 18.2% miss rate)
Devin Bush – 2 (54 tackles on 56 total attempts, 3.6% miss rate)
Chris Wormley – 2 (22 tackles on 24 total attempts, 8.3% miss rate)
Ahkello Witherspoon – 2 (20 tackles on 22 total attempts, 11.7% miss rate)
Tyson Alualu – 2 (nine tackles on 11 total attempts, 18.2% miss rate)
Delontae Scott – 1 (zero tackles on one total attempt, 100% miss rate)
Derek Watt – 1 (special teams) (two tackles on three total attempts, 33.3% miss rate)
Malik Reed – 1 (19 tackles on 20 total attempts, 5% miss rate)
Montravious Adams – 1 (11 tackles on 12 total attempts, 8.3% miss rate)
Cameron Heyward – 1 (41 tackles on 42 total attempts, 2.4% miss rate)
Benny Snell Jr. – 1 (special teams) (five tackles on six total attempts, 16.6% miss rate)
Quincy Wilson – 1 (zero tackles on one total attempt, 100% miss rate)
James Pierre – 1 (18 tackles on 19 total attempts, 5.3% miss rate)
For as hard as Robert Spillane plays week to week, he remains a massive liability on defense overall.
Sure, he’s strong against the run overall, but he’s constantly being attacked by the opposing offense through the air, much to great success. Not only does he struggle to cover in space, he struggles to get guys onto the ground in space when he’s there.
The same goes for Arthur Maulet, at least from a coverage perspective. The two have been targeted time and time again in recent weeks the more they’re on the field. The Steelers need to adjust there. Unfortunately, they didn’t adjust in Week 11 as the Bengals took advantage.
Early on against the Bengals, Joe Mixon made the pair miss in space on a check down from Joe Burrow near the Steelers sideline.
Maulet does a good job getting off the block to close the gap to Mixon in the flat, but he’s too aggressive cutting down the space, allowing Mixon to easily sidestep back inside, causing Maulet to whiff badly. Then, Mixon makes Spillane miss in much the same fashion.
Fortunately for the Steelers, Cameron Hayward is there to clean up the play, holding Mixon short of the sticks.
Spillane’s worst miss of the day came another checkdown to a running back, which unfortunately ended up in the end zone.
The veteran linebacker is right there to tackle Samaje Perine for a short gain in the right flat. Instead, he doesn’t bring his feet with him and is shrugged off by the running back, who then races into the end zone for his second of three touchdowns on the day.
If you’re going to miss a tackle, it better not result in the player reaching the end zone. Spillane’s miss here does just that. Can’t happen.
Finally, on the Bengals’ 93-yard drive in the fourth quarter to put the game away, Levi Wallace missed a tackle on the Steelers sideline against Trenton Irwin, allowing the Bengals’ receiver to pick up another 21 yards on the play, turning a short throw into an explosive play.
It looks like Wallace assumed Irwin was going to go out of bounds and just ran past him, allowing Irwin to spin back inside and race down the sideline.
Wallace’s miss is another example of sloppiness from the Steelers’ secondary this season in the tackling department. Poor angles, not enough urgency, and what looks like an assumption that the receiver would go out of bounds already past the first down marker. Have to play through the whistle and never assume.
It burned the Steelers as Perine scored a few plays later, putting the game away.
Offensively, the Steelers had a strong day in the forced missed tackles department, forcing 12 misses from the Bengals, winning the missed tackles battle by a mark of +7 to improve to 6-3-1 on the year.
Total forced missed tackles vs. Bengals — 12
Najee Harris – 7
Pat Freiermuth – 2
Steven Sims – 2 (special teams)
Kenny Pickett – 1
Total forced missed tackles through 10 games — 91 (9.1 forced missed tackles per game)
Najee Harris – 39
Jaylen Warren – 14
Steven Sims – 12 (all on special teams)
Diontae Johnson – 6
Pat Freiermuth – 6
Mitch Trubisky – 5
George Pickens – 4
Kenny Pickett – 4
Gunner Olszewski – 3 (special teams)
Chase Claypool – 3
Connor Heyward – 2
Zach Gentry – 1
Benny Snell Jr. – 1 (special teams)
Najee Harris continues to play rather well two weeks removed from a much-needed bye week, which seemingly allowed him to regroup, reset and get back to his style of football, which is one-cut, hard, physical downhill running.
That’s what he’s done the last two weeks, turning in back-to-back 90+ yard performances on the ground.
Against the Bengals he had his longest touchdown of the season, racing home from 19 yards out thanks to great blocks from Zach Gentry and George Pickens, making Cincinnati safety Jessie Bates miss late in the rep to end up in the end zone.
Harris is a special athlete overall for his size. Leaping over Bates with ease here is no small feat.
He makes it look routine, which is a testament to the athlete he is. Hopefully his hip isn’t too bruised.
Late in the first half the Steelers put together back-to-back impressive plays offensively in which key players made defenders miss.
Harris was up first on a short check down over the middle from Kenny Pickett on a first and 15. When Harris is given the football in space as a receiver, he’s extremely dangerous.
He showed that here, forcing Mike Hilton and Logan Wilson to miss before Tre Flowers gets him to the turf. Harris is very good setting guys up in space, which he showed here.
Pat Freiermuth showed off sheer determination on his catch-and-run one play later, forcing a missed tackle at the catch point before dragging a pair of Bengals defenders the rest of the way for the big 27-yard catch-and-run, helping set up Matthew Wright’s field goal to give the Steelers a 20-17 lead at the half.