Miraculously, on a night in which a short-handed defense was under siege from the word go, the Pittsburgh Steelers turned in one of the best tackling performances of the 2021 season.
Granted, it’s hard to miss tackles when guys are running through massive lanes and scampering wide open through the secondary for easy completions, but let’s take some positives here!
In fact, just one player in the Steelers’ front seven missed a tackle on Sunday, and that was a reserve defender that typically won’t see the field when the Steelers are fully healthy. Silver lining? I’m trying here, folks.
Let’s look at the missed tackles report for Week 11 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Total missed tackles vs. Chargers — 6
- Tre Norwood – 2
- Terrell Edmunds – 2
- James Pierre – 1
- Derrek Tuszka – 1
Total missed tackles through 10 games – 104 (10.4 misses per game)
- Minkah Fitzpatrick — 13 (64 total tackles on 77 total attempts, 16.8% miss rate)
- Joe Haden – 9 (24 tackles on 33 total attempts, 27.27% miss rate)
- Cameron Sutton – 8 (30 total tackles on 38 total attempts, 21.0% miss rate)
- Terrell Edmunds – 8 (51 total tackles on 59 total attempts, 13.5% miss rate)
- Joe Schobert – 6 (67 total tackles on 73 total attempts, 8.2% miss rate)
- Alex Highsmith — 6 (45 total tackles on 51 total attempts, 11.7% miss rate)
- Devin Bush – 6 (46 tackles on 52 total attempts, 11.5% miss rate)
- Tre Norwood — 5 (one on special teams) (26 total tackles on 31 total attempts, 16.1% miss rate)
- Robert Spillane — 5 (two on special teams)(25 total tackles on 30 total attempts, 16.6% miss rate)
- T.J. Watt — 4 (one on sack attempt) (39 total tackles on 43 total attempts, 9.3% miss rate)
- Isaiah Buggs – 4 (17 total tackles on 21 total attempts, 19% miss rate)
- James Pierre – 3 (one on special teams) (40 total tackles on 43 total attempts, 5.4% miss rate)
- Miles Killebrew — 3 (special teams) (seven total tackles on 10 total attempt, 30% miss rate)
- Melvin Ingram — 3 (10 total tackles on 13 total attempts, 23.1% miss rate)
- Arthur Maulet — 3 (one on special teams) (25 total tackles on 28 total attempts, 10.7% miss rate)
- Chris Wormley — 3 (one on sack attempt) (28 total tackles on 31 total attempts, 9.6% miss rate)
- Derrek Tuszka – 2 (five total tackles on seven total attempts, 28.5% miss rate)
- Cameron Heyward — 2 (49 total tackles on 51 total attempts, 3.9% miss rate)
- Marcus Allen — 2 (special teams) (two total tackles on four total attempts, 50% miss rate)
- Justin Layne – 2 (two on special teams) (nine total tackles on 11 total attempts, 18.1% miss rate)
- Henry Mondeaux — 2 (five total tackles on seven total attempt, 28.5% miss rate)
- Jamir Jones — 1 (three total tackles on four total attempts, 25% miss rate)
- Benny Snell Jr. — 1 (special teams)(three tackles on four total attempts, 25% miss rate)
- Ulysees Gilbert III — 1 (special teams) (five tackles on six total attempts, 16.6% miss rate)
- Derek Watt – 1 (special teams) (eight tackles on nine total attempts, 11.1% miss rate)
- Isaiahh Loudermilk — 1 (seven tackles on eight total attempts, 12.5% miss rate)
This week, with so few missed tackles to choose from (again, progress folks!) I have just two that I wanted to highlight for the report.
The first miss I want to look at comes from Steelers’ rookie defensive back Tre Norwood, who was filling in for Minkah Fitzpatrick in Week 11 at free safety with the All-Pro on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Norwood did a good job throughout the game coming downhill to defend the run and short throws from Chargers’ quarterback Justin Herbert, but on the Chargers’ drive midway through the second quarter Norwood recorded his first of two misses in the loss.
The Chargers execute a screen to reserve tight end Donald Parham here, as he lets pass rusher Derreck Tuszka through, leading up to the easy completion.
Norwood fills well, but he’s unable to finish the tackle, allowing Parham to slip out of the arm tackle, picking up additional yardage on the play.
I don’t really have issues with the way Norwood played this other than I’d like to see him stay on his feet and drive through contact, rather than laying out and trying to chop Parham’s legs out from under him. If he stays on his feet and drives through, he makes the great stick in space. Diving the way he did gave Parham enough time to see him coming downhill and shift his point of contact just enough to force the miss.
Early in the third quarter the Steelers had a comical display of tackling on Chargers’ running back Austin Ekeler’s receiving touchdown to put Los Angeles up 24-10 on the night.
It’s a simple swing pass from Herbert to Ekeler hot out of the backfield. Steelers’ cornerback James Pierre is right there and does a good job of breaking down and staying square to make the stop. Where he fails is stopping his feet entirely, becoming flat-footed, which Ekeler sees, allowing him to spring inside of the flat-footed Pierre for the easy forced miss.
Ekeler then does the same thing to Steelers’ safety Terrell Edmunds in support, and then uses his block perfectly to get around Joe Schobert and carry Taco Charlton across the goal line for a touchdown on a play that should have gone for maybe 5 yards.
Offensively, the Steelers were rather quiet forcing missed tackles on a night in which they put up 37 points. The Steelers force nine misses on the night, winning the tackles battle with a mark of +3.
Total forced missed tackles vs. Chargers – 9
- Ray-Ray McCloud – 5 (three on special teams)
- Najee Harris – 2
- Diontae Johnson – 1
- Chase Claypool – 1
Total forced misses through 10 games— 123 (12.3 forced misses per game)
- Najee Harris – 60
- Ray-Ray McCloud — 18 (14 on special teams)
- Diontae Johnson — 15
- Chase Claypool — 10
- JuJu Smith-Schuster – 8
- Kalen Ballage — 4
- Pat Freiermuth — 3
- James Washington — 2
- Benny Snell Jr. — 1
- Mason Rudolph — 1
Ray-Ray McCloud is starting to find his game, and he’s doing that at the same time he’s starting to force some missed tackles.
On Sunday in Los Angeles, McCloud recorded a career-high five forced missed tackles against the Chargers, three of which came on special teams.
He isn’t the strongest and won’t work through first contact often, but he has certainly done so in recent weeks.
McCloud’s ability to run through the tackle attempt of Chargers’ edge Uchena Nwosu may not have changed the outcome of a scoring drive for the Steelers in the first half, but it at least gave the Steelers a chance to continue a drive that they’d ultimately turn the football over on downs.
Nwosu blew up the end around from the start, making contact with McCloud five yards in the backfield. Credit to McCloud though for stretching the run backwards just enough to slip through Nwosu’s arms, allowing him to then race upfield, turn the corner and pick up a handful of yards, avoiding a disastrous loss and turning it into a big positive run on a night in which successful runs were hard to come by for Pittsburgh.
Then, trailing 27-13, McCloud got the Steelers out of a rough spot with a solid punt return, forcing two missed tackles along the sideline.
It’s nothing that’s game-altering, but his ability to make guys like this miss while hemmed in along the sideline is pretty darn special. You can see the confidence with the football in his hands here. Maybe head coach Mike Tomlin sticking by his side after a rough last couple of weeks was just the shot of confidence he needed?