"New England and Oakland opened a can of worms by going spread and putting receivers all over the place," Lewis said after the Steelers held on to beat Cincinnati 29-21 on Sunday at Heinz Field. "It kind of exposes some of your blitzes. Some of the blitzes we used to use against two running backs and a tight end are no longer any good against five wide receivers. You have to come up with a whole new package."
Lewis said the spread packages that the team is seeing every week has left the Steelers looking at everything they do on defense to try to combat it.
It's an ongoing process.
"It doesn't necessarily take you out of your strength, but it makes you recreate what you thought was your strength," Lewis said. "You have to rethink everything you're doing. You can't do what you've always done. Like the players keep saying, it's different. Sure it's different because people are doing different things to us. So we have to adjust. They're trying to create matchups in their favor and we're trying to create matchups in our favor. It's never going to stay the same."
But, Lewis thinks the Steelers' defense can take some pride in Sunday's stop on Cincinnati's final possession, when the Bengals were shut down on four consecutive plays from the Pittsburgh 5.
"I think we can build off of it," Lewis said. "When
you focus on the negative, what we're not doing, the fact of the matter is
that in the last seven games, we've lost one and won five. We're 5-1-1.
We're doing some things right. The sad part is that we've made some
of the games that we've won closer than they should be and we got tied by a
team we should have beaten. But the fact of the matter is that we've lost one
of seven games."
Here are some thoughts from a sportswriter who's got
better grass growing in the cracks between his sidewalk than the Steelers do at
Cornerback Chad Scott has always lacked great cover skills, but used to make up for that by catching most balls that hit him in the hands.
Sunday, however, Scott dropped yet another easy interception and still has only one pick this season. He was also targeted repeatedly by the Bengals, including on John Kitna's 55-yard catch-and-run by Chad Johnson on which Scott fell down.
To his credit, Scott did come back and make a good play on the Bengals' last gasp, knocking the ball out of Johnson's hands in the end zone on fourth down.
"Chad's making a habit of giving up a 55-yarder," said Lewis. "But then he broke the one up at the end. He redeemed himself."
The bottom line is that Scott used to be a solid corner when he was making the interceptions that came his way as a result of the pressure being applied up front. But now that he has developed Dewayne Washington's ball skills - without Washington's superior coverage skills - Scott is a liability at cornerback.
That move to safety can't come soon enough.
Kordell Stewart said he felt like a kid playing in his sandbox Sunday. That could be taken two different ways and both would be correct. Stewart was just out having fun Sunday and the field was again terrible.
Fear not, however, they are re-sodding it for the second time in a month. That is, after all, the best way to grow good grass.
The field conditions are a big reason we didn't see more of Amos Zereoue Sunday. The Steelers' scatback has had trouble with the footing on his cuts at Heinz Field.
I don't think that was any solace to Zereoue, however. After touching the ball just five times Sunday on five dump passes, Zereoue didn't speak to the media and had a pretty grim look on his face as he left the locker room after the game.
If T.J. Houshmanzadeh doesn't fumble a punt with just over six minutes left in the game, the Steelers may well have lost to the Bengals. That fumble was all that separated the Bengals and Steelers Sunday.
Hines Ward gets my vote as the Steelers most valuable player this season. It hasn't mattered who the quarterback is, Ward continues to put up big numbers.
Everyone wanted to talk about new placekicker Jeff Reed's kicking Sunday, and understandably so. But Reed's biggest play was to grab the facemask of Houshmanzadeh at the Steelers' 46 on a kickoff return, with the Steelers leading 29-21. Sure, Reed took a 15-yard penalty, but he also stopped Houshmanzadeh from scoring, setting the table for Scott's pass breakup in the end zone.
Jacksonville is going to be fired up to play the Steelers this week. The Steelers have always been the Jaguars' biggest rival. Forget the fact they've lost to Houston and Dallas in the past month, the Jags will come to play against the Steelers.
When Stewart is wearing that Bengals uniform next season, Cincinnati is going to be much more difficult to beat.