The second-half adjustments that shut out Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and kept Detroit off the scoreboard over the final 30 minutes were made by the players, says free safety Ryan Clark.
ESPN's Scott Brown went over the story Tuesday.
"We didn't necessarily change the defense Coach [Dick] LeBeau called, but we used the way the defense was set up to play it in ways to give Stafford looks where he felt like he'd have to force in into Calvin, and guys made plays on other players, which really helped," Clark said, as quoted by Brown.
The Steelers played with six defensive backs on the field for nearly the entire game, sacrificing strength in the run game for the sake of stopping the Lions' potent passing attack. That strategy didn't change from one half to the other, nor did the personnel get shaken up.
The key is where Troy Polamalu was playing. Much of the game, he was playing on the weak side as a linebacker - one gap away from Lawrence Timmons. Along with that, the Steelers played Ike Taylor and Will Gay as cornerbacks with Cortez Allen jumping between outside coverage, slot coverage and even some safety looks. Will Allen and Ryan Clark were in deep safety positions.
There were times the Steelers shifted into a traditional dime defense, with six defensive backs playing in a quarters package. If that was the adjustment to which Clark is referring - hopping back and forth between the two - then it doesn't seem as if it was any kind of genius stroke. Clearly it worked, and to an extent, it's been said players have the flexibility to make those kinds of adjustments - so long as they're right.
As Clark told Brown:
"We did a plethora of things, things you can do when there's three safeties in the game at one time," Clark said of himself, Troy Polamalu and Will Allen. "We talked about it, communicated it well. It wasn't hard to figure out who was catching the ball, and once we did that there was just some things we felt like we could tweak to our advantage because schematically they were just trying to attack us the same way."
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