That was some great run defense from the Steelers Sunday in their Week 8 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
The leading rusher for the Colts, Ahmad Bradshaw, had 35 yards on the ground. Arian Foster had more yards halfway through the first quarter in the game against the Houston Texans. Of all the things we could have started this article with, you probably didn't think we'd start with the run defense, did you? But Sunday's game against the Colts is a perfect illustration of something that Steelers Film Room has talked about for two years now: A great offense impacts how the other team plays offense, whereas a great defense has no impact how the other team plays defense.
The best thing the Steelers can do, going forward, to help their run-defense is to score a bunch of points. To drill that down even further, the best thing to help the run-defense is to have the offense line consistently dominate the line of scrimmage as they did on this play:
If there's an NFL guard playing better than David DeCastro right now, I would love to see him. Moreover, Maurkice Pouncey is also playing very good ball. On this play, DeCastro drove Corey Redding about three yards off of the line of scrimmage. You just don't see that in the NFL. Pouncey dominates his man also. Keep in mind, this is a defense that forced the Cincinnati Bengals into eight straight 3-and-outs the previous week. They also played very well against the Baltimore Ravens.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger slaughtered the Colts.
They got beat up by the Steelers.
The pass protection was obviously excellent also. And Ben Roethlisberger played incredibly. This throw to Lance Moore was one of my favorites of the game.
This was completed on 2nd-and-17. Ben turned his back to the defense on a play-action fake, whipped his head around and delivered a terrific throw. Also, this is a great route by Lance Moore and great play-design by Todd Haley.
No. 20 for the Colts, Darius Butler, is playing the seam. Because he gets a vertical route, he carries it. Also, because he has safety help, he plays underneath the route. But because Moore drives inside, Butler stays on his inside hip. Additionally, the corner doesn't immediately sink. The Colts are playing Cover 2, so the corner has the flat. But when there's no threat in the flat, the corner is supposed to sink. On this play, the corner doesn't sink immediately because he also thinks Moore is breaking inside.
Moore finally breaks out toward the sideline and is able to secure the catch. Technically, this is triple-coverage, as you can see all three defenders quickly converge on Moore. This play is almost impossible to stop if, and it's a big if, you can protect the quarterback.
This play is a clinic on how to play off-man coverage.
To be honest, I'm not sure if William Gay is playing Cover 3 or if it is off-man. Doesn't matter as his technique is really the same in each. The Steelers have been getting a lot of grief lately for playing off of receivers. But when done correctly, this is what it should look like. The important thing is that Gay doesn't backpedal on the snap. Inside, he reads either the immediate stem of the receiver's route or the QB's drop. Then, because he's playing off, he can react. Gay reacts perfectly here.
This should give us some hope for Cortez Allen. Gay wasn't playing this well or with this great technique during his first tour with the Steelers. Hopefully, we can see the same improvement with Allen.