We said before last week's game that the Steelers needed to have a better performance against the Ravens' ground attack if they wanted to secure a victory in Baltimore. That did not happen, and the Ravens were able to put up 20 points thanks to a balanced offense that ran the ball at will on their way to sweeping the Steelers.
Where were the big mistakes? We take a look at this week's film room.
Notice how when Cameron Heyward stunts to the outside he leaves a gap in the defense that needs to be closed; now notice how nobody closes it and the Ravens get a big gain. Two players can take a claim on that not being done, namely Jarvis Jones and Lawrence Timmons. Jones comes down the line in what is supposed to crash the inside gap, but he fails to push his man into the hole and force Allen to cutback to the outside where Heyward is waiting. But at the second level Timmons has an opportunity to come down and limit the run as well. He reads the guard however and does not come down in time to close the hole which allows for a big gain.
Gap responsibility is a key element in stopping the run. Timmons and Ryan Shazier did not look like they did a good job throughout this game on their gap assignments. Steve McLendon gets double teamed which leaves a sizeable hole for Allen to run the ball to the right side of the defense, but nobody stays home behind McLendon's spot as everyone flows to the right side, leaving for a big cutback chance by the running back who takes the chance to score.
The defensive line did not do a bad job on Sunday, but the same could not be said for the rest of the defense. Logistically I do not understand who was supposed to account for the space to the right of Heyward on this play. We just talked about gap responsibility in the last GIF, and we could do so again here. By far, Heyward has the biggest space to fill of any defender on this play, but it's a serious question to ask who else was supposed to be involved on this play. The closest man to the gap is Robert Golden who is coming from the safety position.
The defense deserved praise from the way it had been playing against the run for the past several weeks, but it also deserved scrutiny for how it played last week. There seemed to be lanes which were left open for Baltimore to take and gain yards without having to make many defenders miss. Hopefully the defense can fix some of the mistakes and bring the lockdown run defense against the Cleveland Browns.