Hixon: Blame this one on the defense

Posted on Jan 15 2018 - 2:58pm by Shalene Hixon
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First things first, I agree that Todd Haley won’t be the Steelers’ offensive coordinator much longer. His play calling, especially when the offense went for it on fourth down, was rather questionable.

Why would you call a pitch play there? It was fourth and inches, so it made no sense to have Bell run eight yards just to get back to the line of scrimmage. You already tried it earlier and basically had the same result.

Later in the game Ben Roethlisberger tried to hit Juju Smith-Schuster 15 yards down the field on another fourth and inches play. Again, why not call a simple run or a quarterback sneak? You only need a few inches, not yards.

Despite all that, he shouldn’t be blamed for the Steelers’ 45-42 upset loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Sunday’s AFC Championship game.

Everyone put your pitchforks and torches down for a second and hear me out. In all facets of the game, mistakes were made that contributed to the Steelers’ demise. But the ones you should be blaming the most are the defense.

378 total offensive yards given up (164 rushing and 214 receiving).

Zero-for-five when trying to stop the Jags in the red zone.

Zero sacks and zero interceptions. 

All against a Blake Bortles-led offense, the same one that only put up ten points against the Buffalo Bills last week. The defense made him look like an NFL Hall of Famer, when in reality he’s far from it.

The Steelers’ offense could have put up all the points it wanted, but their defense wouldn’t have stopped Jacksonville. Granted, the offense was responsible for 14 of the Jags’ 45 points, but still giving up the remaining 31 isn’t something to be proud of.

This was the one that started it all, on a fourth down conversion no less. The defense let Leonard Fournette and the Jags offense march right up the field in their opening drive and set the tone early. Not even their own offense could save them from the beating that would ensue.

Could they have left Tommy Bohanon any more open? He set a trap with that fake block and both Vince Williams and Robert Golden fell for it like a couple of suckers. That touchdown pass put them further ahead when it looked as if the Steelers were close to tying it.

Apparently, Artie Burns forgot how to play tight coverage. How far he strayed away from Keelan Cole on that catch still blows my mind. There are no excuses for it, no matter how much he tried to blame the refs for it after the game.

I could honestly go on and on with the bad plays, but I don’t want to write a novel. They had enough time to prepare, regardless of who they were going to play. But I guess some were looking a little too far ahead.

Remember saying that, Mike? Maybe next time you should focus on the opponent in front of you and not worry about the Pats. You can talk all the smack you want (and he did quite a lot of it outside the Jags’ locker room prior to the game), but you tend to look pretty stupid if you can’t back it up.

So many people were assuming it would be the Steelers versus the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. They just forgot one small detail: what if one of them didn’t make it there? Now, instead of a chance at another Lombardi trophy, the Steelers will sit at home once again.

Things need to change; Keith Butler needs to do something to help his defense or he might follow Haley out the door. It’s getting old seeing this talented team lose time after time in the playoffs, with nothing to show for their success.

They say that defense wins championships, maybe the Steelers need to take that saying to heart next season.

Photo of the Steelers defense courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers