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Johnny_S(tatistics) Week 17: The Fat Lady's Ballad

Well we are out of the playoffs and I am honestly not as disappointed as I thought I'd be.  I think it was difficult for me to feel disappointed after many of the bad, bad losses we had this year.  I'm not mad at the teams that did not help us out, because we reap what we sow.  Additionally, we must remember that this year is not a complete failure.  Our QB has made gigantic progress. Our old crafty WR has somehow found a sip from the cup of youth. The emergence of a rookie WR has alleviated much of the stomach pains caused by Limas Sweed's drops.  Our suspicions that we have the most underrated TE in the league were confirmed.  Also, we have a new back in the backfield making great progress with many fun nicknames.  We learned that LaMarr Woodley is a beast to be reckoned with.  For all of these reasons and more, I find it hard for me to be completely disappointed by our exclusion from the playoffs.

This post is going to be shorter, I am going to try to keep my season break down for another post.

Statistic of the week:  Three. Three interceptions by defensive backs in our Week 17 game against the Miami Dolphins.  The last time that happened and the last time we had an interception by a DB was in Week 9 against the Denver Broncos.  It took our DBs 232 pass attempts to get an interception.  Interesting how it comes in waves.  Most impressive is that Ike Taylor actually caught his interception.  I'd check his gloves for stick-um if I was that ref.

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Defense

Final Ranks

20.3 points per game (T-12th with DEN)
305.3 yards per game (5th)
5.1 yards per play (T-10th with WAS)
89.9 rush yards per game (3rd)
3.9 yards per rush (T-5th with CIN, MIN)
7 rush TDs allowed (T-4th with DAL)
215.4 pass yards per game (16th)
5.8 yards per pass attempt (T-8th with CAR)
22 passing TDs allowed (T-14th with ARI,CLE,STL)
47 sacks (2nd)
-3 Turnover Ratio (20th) 

The majority of these numbers are very good and would seemingly be a playoff team.  I would have thought that having a top 5 defense would put your team in the playoffs.  However, the Washington Redskins were ranked 4th last year and did not make it.  Even crazier, in 2006 3 of the top 5 defenses did not make the playoffs.  Those three teams were the Jacksonville Jaguards (2nd), the Oakland Raiders (3rd), and the Miami Dolphins (4th).  Anyway, the numbers that stand out to me are large yards per play, passing yards allowed, and an awful turnover margin.  In turnover margin only 1 of the 12 teams has a turnover margin below 0.  The Arizona Cardinals are at -7, which is absurd.  However, it seems as if at least one team every year makes it with a bad TO margin.  Last year it was Minnesota and Carolina both at -6.

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Offense

Final Ranks

23.0 points per game (12th)
371.3 yards per game (7th)
5.9 yards per play (T-3rd with HOU,IND,NE,PHI,SD)
32:13 Time of Possession (4th)
39.4% 3rd down completion % (17th)
112.1 rush yards per game (19th)
4.1 yards per rush (T-15th with CLE,ATL,DEN)
10 rush TDs (T-20th with CLE)
259.3 pass yards per game (9th)
7.1 yards per pass attempt (T-7th with MIN)
28 passing TDs (T-7th with NYG,NE)
50 sacks allowed (31st)
25 turnovers (T-12th with ATL,CIN

As maryrose pointed out in her front page story, Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Thumbnail Review, this offense was 1,000 yards better than last year, but only 3 touchdowns (21 points) better than last  year.  IMO, poor play-calling in the RZ probably lead to this discrepancy.  Arians almost appears to be allergic to running the ball in the RZ.  Last year we had 6 more rush TDs .  On Sunday, the Steelers had 19 plays in the RZ, of those 9 were rushes.  On 10  plays with the goal line to go only 4 rushes were called.  Also, only 3 of those 19 plays were to our premiere back Rashard Mendenhall.  I'd like to see at least one red zone trip where we try running before throwing.

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Notes on the Week 17 Game

Starting Field Position

Steelers: Own 30.4 (excludes last drive of both halves)
Dolphins: Own 31.91

Average Starting Field Position for Season

Steelers: 29.02 (20th)
Opponent: 28.01 (8th)
Differential: 1.01 (14th)

Considering how bad our coverage team was you have to be impressed with having the 8th best opponent starting field position.


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Quick Shots

  • LaMarr Woodley kept his sack streak alive by sacking Chad Henne two times.  Woodley now has at least a half sack in 8 straight games.  Henne was removed from the game because Woodley's 2nd sack blurred his vision, ouch!  Henne got a ride on the "roller coaster".  If LaMarr can play consistent all season he could be the NFL's sack leader.
  • That was Ike Taylor's first interception in 21 games. Glad it came at a key moment, Ike.
  • Deshea Townsend's pick was the 21st of his career (13th all time Steelers).  After doing my decade recap of plays and seeing some of Deshea's interceptions, I'd be really sad if that was his last in black and gold.
  • James Harrison was blanked again in the sack category.  Harrison has not had a sack in 6 games.  What was worse, is that on Tyler Thigpen's 34 yard TD connection to Davone Bess, Harrison had Thigpen right in front of him and completely whiffed.  Harrison has been a victim of over pursuit quite often this year.  This year Harrison is still making plays in coverage and against the run game, but he is not making those game changing plays like last year.
  • Mike Wallace added another "big play" reception (35+ yards) to his year, for a total of 7 this year.  If this kid learns to run routes better he could end up breaking some Steelers receiving records.
  • Speaking of WRs, Santionio Holmes now has a career QB completion % of 0 for 0 yards and an interception.  Compared to other known receivers acting as QBs: Antwaan Randle El had 14 completions on 16 attempts for 128 yards and two touchdowns, Hines Ward has 1 completion on 2 attempts for 17 yards.
  • Jeff Reed kicked a 2 balls into the endzone this week, one was a touchback.  And this week, they were not on penalties.  Seriously though, Reed has connected on 11 straight field goals and 25 in a row under 50 yards.  A season of 87.1% is very good.
  • 38 rush plays and 28 passes. Zero rushing touchdowns.  Smash mouth football includes running the ball when you get near the goal line Bruce.
  • The Steelers had the ball for 10:12 to Miami's 4:48 in the 4th quarter, but still gave up 14 points and 120 yards.  That is a fitting way to end the season, I suppose.   
  • The Steelers had 5 plays of 20+ yards, but gave up 4 plays of 20+ yards.
  • Up by 17 going into the 4th, BA starts the quarter with 8 passes to 4 rushes.  Miraculously, he figures it out on the last series and FWP does the rest with 9 rushes for 84 yards (9.3 ypc).

Career Records Set

  • Ben Roethlisberger broke his career yardage record (also a Steelers record, previously held by Bradshaw for 30  years) with 4,328 passing yards.  Additionally, Ben set his career record of 66.6 completion % and 337 completions (both of which are also Steelers records).  On a down note, Ben set a record for his career by being sacked 50 times (1 short of Cliff Stoudt's 1983 Steelers record).  Ben has now been sacked 242 times in his career.  The Steelers record is held by Bradshaw at 307.  Ben is just 65 sacks behind that in about half as many games (81 less games).
  • Santonio Holmes crushed some of his career highs with 79 receptions (+24 from last year) for 1,248 yards (+304 from 2007).  This season moved Holmes into 9th all time for Steelers receivers with 3,835 yards.  I am not sure if he will ever surpass the record Ward will set, but that is 1,276 more yards than Ward had in his first 4 seasons of his career.
  • LaMarr Woodley had 13.5 sacks (+2 from 2008), 6 pass deflections (+4 from 2008), and 62 tackles (+2 from 2008).  He now has 29 career sacks in 3 seasons.  The Steelers record is 77 sacks by Jason Gildon. Do you think he can break this record?  I do. Gildon took 10 seasons to set that record and Woodley is a bit under half way there in 3.
  • Our Tight End, Heath Miller, definitely had the best season of his career.  He caught 76 balls (+28 over 2008) for 789 yards (+223 yards over 2007).
  • Casey Hampton had a career high 2.5 sacks, just a half sack over his previous record.  Also, he set his career record in tackles at 43 (+1 from 2005)
  • Lawrence Timmons had 7 sacks, 2 better than last year.  Also, he had 13 more tackles than last year with 78.
  • Ryan Clark set a career high 89 tackle, 1 more than last year.
  • William Gay had 78 tackles, 37 more than last year, lol.
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