Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Passing with Flying Colors Lately, Defense Unable to Stop Opposing Qbs through the Air

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Passing with Flying Colors Lately, Defense Unable to Stop Opposing Qbs through the Air

Article excerpt

The touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin Sunday that sealed Seattle's 39-30 victory against the Steelers had an eerily familiar feel. It was a short crossing route. There was a stiff-arm of a Steelers defender. And an 80-yard touchdown was the final result in the box score.

Almost four years ago, their season ended in Denver with a carbon copy of the Seattle play. That Tim Tebow strike to Demaryius Thomas ended the 2011 season with an overtime playoff loss. The strike from Wilson to Baldwin only feels that way.

The secondary was the biggest concern for the Steelers defense entering the season, and after some signs of growth early in the season, it's threatening to derail hopes of a playoff run.

Wilson was the third quarterback in as many games to throw for 300 yards against the Steelers. Derek Carr and Johnny Manziel also had their way against their defense. Carr threw for 301 yards and four touchdowns and Manziel threw for 379 yards and one touchdown.

In the past three games, the Steelers have allowed 1,025 passing yards and 10 touchdowns while only intercepting two passes.

In addition to the 80-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter, the Steelers also allowed a touchdown on third-and-goal from the 16 and a 30-yard touchdown after they retook the lead midway through the final period.

"The biggest thing that stood out was the big plays, and that's on us a whole," outside linebacker Arthur Moats said. "We can't give up big plays because it turns a day where we are feeling like we are having success into a disaster."

That has been a theme over the past four years. The Tebow-to- Thomas play isn't the exact point the Steelers pass defense went from impenetrable to imperfect, but it certainly is symbolic.

The Steelers led the NFL in pass defense in that 2011 regular season. Opponents passed for only 172 yards per game. …

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