Mike Tomlin Calls on Steelers to ‘Build a Fence’ in Buffalo

Steelers tackle Cam Heyward attempts to rush Bills QB Josh Allen.

Mike Tomlin had an interesting response to a reporter’s question on how to stop Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

“When you’re dealing with [Josh] Allen and his ability to make plays off-platform, specifically, there was a play against Baltimore where it was a fourth down, and it looked like [Odafe] Oweh and [Marlon] Humphrey both kind of had him dead to rights, and he was able to beat them both,” the reporter said. “Are there coaching techniques or principles that you can give guys to try to deal with those situations?”

“Build a fence,” Tomlin said, laughing.

Tomlin paused briefly, leading some to believe that was all he’d say, then went into more detail on the complexities of defending a player of his skill to escape.

“Those are his talents. It’s just like trying to tackle Lamar Jackson. I was watching them on the other side of the ball deal with Lamar, and when you’re dealing with guys at the quarterback position that have arm and leg talent, it’s challenging.

“You can coach all you want about near leg and building a fence and all of those things, but when they get you in one-on-one circumstances, they’re going to win a lot of those. They’ve been winning a lot of those at every level that they’ve ever played at since Little League I would imagine.”

Can the Steelers Stop Josh Allen Without T.J. Watt?

The Pittsburgh Steelers will have to contend with Josh Allen without reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt. He’s sidelined for the fourth straight game after sustaining a partial tear of his pectoral muscle in the Steelers’ only win of the season in the September 11 season opener.

The Steelers shocked Buffalo, winning a road game against a playoff contender in the first game of the 2021 season. But it’s literally a whole different ballgame this time around. Not only was that win with Ben Roethlisberger at the offense’s helm but Watt was in full effect.

Watt had 2.0 sacks, three tackles (one for a loss), five quarterback hits and forced a fumble. As a unit, Pittsburgh’s defense forced four fumbles, recovering two.

The Steelers are 0-7 without T.J. Watt in the lineup, and it’s hard to fathom that changing, especially against a team of the Buffalo Bills caliber.

Bills Offensive Longevity Could be an Issue for Steelers’ Defense

The duality of Josh Allen’s talent brings a challenge to a Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense that’s 23rd versus the run and allows opponents four yards per carry.

As a runner, Allen’s logged 2,508 yards on 452 attempts for 5.5 yards per average and 33 touchdowns over his five-year career. The Steelers have done well to contain the mobile Allen in the past, holding him to just 33 yards per game and one score.

Excluding the New York Jets game, Pittsburgh’s defense has played a total of 231 defensive snaps for a 77 plays-per-game average, according to Steelers Nation. Should the defense remain on this astonishing pace, by the end of the regular season, they’ll have played a total of 1,309 defensive snaps — good for the most defensive plays in NFL history.

The defense has problems getting off the field, but until this point, the Steelers’ offense hasn’t helped. They haven’t been able to sustain drives, converting just 19 of 51 third-down attempts for a 37.3 percent conversion rate.

Regulation football is 60 minutes and four quarters. When a defense spends more time on the field than the offense, the players are physically and mentally drained — which is where Buffalo will take full advantage.

Pittsburgh’s rival Baltimore Ravens held Buffalo to just three points until the final nine seconds of the first half. The Bills came back from 17 points down to beat the Ravens 23-20, with most of their points coming in the second half. According to Steelers.com, the Bills have scored 44-0 third-quarter points to their opponents’ zero in 2022.

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