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Steelers Snap Totals vs. the Broncos points to Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt are the work horses of the defense

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Denver Broncos in Week 15, but what the snap totals showed were a change in coaching personnel, and the true iron men of the defense.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense was far from perfect in the team's 34-27 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 15. The first half saw Brock Osweiler do his best John Elway impersonation as he repeatedly drove the Broncos' offense down the field and scored with ease.

Something changed in the second half, and personnel was certainly one aspect of the change, but what never changes along the Steelers' defensive front are the two bookends at the defensive tackle/end position. Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward have developed into some of the best 3-4 defensive tackles in the NFL, and what is most interesting about these two linemen is they never leave the field.

Heyward played 72 of the teams 77 snaps, and Tuitt played 71. Those are ridiculous numbers and percentages for defensive linemen in today's NFL. Some might point to a lack of depth at the position as to why they rarely leave the field, and they would be right, but they are also arguably two of the best players on the team's defense. Why would you want to take them off?

This speaks more of the duo's dedication and conditioning than anything. Gone are the days of Casey Hampton rumbling on and off the field, in what looked to be in between snacks on the sideline. These players are much leaner, and their play, and the Steelers as a team, are benefiting from them being able to remain on the field for long stretches of time. Would it be better to see them get a few breaks from time to time? Sure, but if it isn't broken, why fix it?

An area of the team which was broken, and some would say still is, would be the team's secondary. In the second half Mike Tomlin and company made a change and played Brandon Boykin over Antwon Blake. Blake still saw the field, but only in specific sub packages. The snap totals show Boykin was only outplayed, from a snaps perspective, by William Gay. Gay played 75 snaps, Boykin 50, Blake 44 and Ross Cockrell 44.

It could be a changing of the guard in the team's secondary, and better late than never for such a change to occur.

For the rest of the Steelers snap totals, see the chart below courtesy of Pro-Football Reference.

(Editor's Note: Jarvis Jones is listed as Jacoby Jones.)

Steelers Snap Counts

Off. Def. ST
Pos Num Pct Num Pct Num Pct
Marcus Gilbert T 80 100% 0 0% 6 18%
David DeCastro G 80 100% 0 0% 6 18%
Alejandro Villanueva T 80 100% 0 0% 6 18%
Ramon Foster G 80 100% 0 0% 6 18%
Cody Wallace C 80 100% 0 0% 0 0%
Ben Roethlisberger QB 80 100% 0 0% 0 0%
Heath Miller TE 78 98% 0 0% 0 0%
Antonio Brown WR 77 96% 0 0% 6 18%
DeAngelo Williams RB 77 96% 0 0% 0 0%
Martavis Bryant WR 58 72% 0 0% 0 0%
Markus Wheaton WR 53 66% 0 0% 5 15%
Matt Spaeth TE 17 21% 0 0% 14 42%
Darrius Heyward-Bey WR 15 19% 0 0% 18 55%
Roosevelt Nix FB 13 16% 0 0% 23 70%
Jesse James TE 4 5% 0 0% 1 3%
Lawrence Timmons LB 3 4% 60 78% 4 12%
Fitzgerald Toussaint RB 3 4% 0 0% 11 33%
Will Johnson FB 2 2% 0 0% 16 48%
William Gay CB 0 0% 75 97% 4 12%
Michael Mitchell FS 0 0% 75 97% 4 12%
Will Allen SS 0 0% 74 96% 6 18%
Cameron Heyward DE 0 0% 72 94% 10 30%
Stephon Tuitt DE 0 0% 71 92% 10 30%
Ryan Shazier LB 0 0% 64 83% 3 9%
Brandon Boykin CB 0 0% 50 65% 11 33%
Antwon Blake CB 0 0% 44 57% 7 21%
Ross Cockrell CB 0 0% 44 57% 0 0%
Bud Dupree LB 0 0% 41 53% 6 18%
James Harrison LB 0 0% 41 53% 2 6%
Jacoby Jones LB 0 0% 36 47% 11 33%
Arthur Moats LB 0 0% 36 47% 6 18%
Steve McLendon NT 0 0% 23 30% 3 9%
Robert Golden FS 0 0% 22 29% 23 70%
Sean Spence LB 0 0% 13 17% 17 52%
Daniel McCullers NT 0 0% 3 4% 2 6%
Cam Thomas DE 0 0% 2 3% 0 0%
Vince Williams LB 0 0% 1 1% 22 67%
Shamarko Thomas SS 0 0% 0 0% 23 70%
Terence Garvin LB 0 0% 0 0% 23 70%
Chris Boswell K 0 0% 0 0% 13 39%
Greg Warren LS 0 0% 0 0% 11 33%
Jordan Berry P 0 0% 0 0% 11 33%
Doug Legursky C 0 0% 0 0% 6 18%
Doran Grant CB 0 0% 0 0% 6 18%