Scott Brown | ESPN.com
What that unmasking of a once-fearsome unit didn’t do — cause coach Mike Tomlin to question Dick LeBeau.
When asked why he still has faith in the Steelers’ longtime defensive coordinator, Tomlin said, “Because he’s Dick LeBeau. Does that answer your question?”
That was a sub-standard performance, and I appreciate their willingness to accept responsibility for that. I share that. But at the same time, I’ve got a great deal of confidence in them and their abilities to play winning football for us.
— Mike Tomlin, on
safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark
The Steelers led the NFL in most defensive categories from 2004, when LeBeau started his second stint as a defensive coordinator, to 2012.
The Steelers, who led the league in total defense each of the past two seasons, are No. 31 in rushing defense (131.2 yards allowed per game). Their points-against average (26.0) is 10th-worst in the NFL.
Tomlin didn’t give just LeBeau, 76, a vote of confidence Tuesday at his weekly news conference. He also said safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark can still play at a high level despite advancing age that has compromised their speed.
Brady torched the Steelers for 432 passing yards and four touchdowns in a 55-31 win last Sunday.
Afterward, both Polamalu and Clark took the blame for the lapses and breakdowns that gave Patriots receivers a free run in the secondary throughout the game.
“That was a sub-standard performance, and I appreciate their willingness to accept responsibility for that,” Tomlin said. “I share that. But at the same time, I’ve got a great deal of confidence in them and their abilities to play winning football for us.”
Tomlin did not make any changes to the Steelers’ depth chart after reviewing tape of the game. He said Sunday night that any players showing a lack of effort would find themselves on the bench.
But lack of effort didn’t contribute to the humbling loss in New England, Tomlin said.
“After really combing through the tape, there were really no blatant breaches of [effort],” Tomlin said. “I really feel like more than anything we were beaten. As humbling as it may seem, I think we can grow from this and move forward.”
The Steelers are 2-6, marking the first time they haven’t had a winning record under Tomlin at the midway point of a season. Tomlin, whose team hosts Buffalo on Sunday, said the losing has not taken an emotional toll on him.
“It’s difficult because of the result of games, but [I’m] not anything from a personal standpoint,” the seventh-year coach said. “I don’t care about my personal record and things of that nature, just the way that was framed. I want to be clear in that regard.
“We’re here to win. That’s our job, that’s our passion. We’re not getting it done consistently to this point, so that’s irritating and frustrating and all of the above.”
- Covered Steelers for six years for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
- Author of five books, including “Heaven Sent: The Heather Miller Story,” which highlights the friendship a young girl with cancer developed with several Steelers players