Nothing new or novel here, but I wanted to see just how few minutes the Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves trailing in ball games during the 2009 season. It took a bit longer than I had hoped and it's very possible some of my calculations are off slightly, but I think they are pretty close to accurate at worst. Here's a game by game breakdown. It should be noted that I didn't account for number of minutes tied with opponents, just trailing.
Week 1: Trailed by 3 points for 8:06 in the 4th quarter (W, 13-10)
Week 2: Trailed by 3 points for final 0:15 of 4th quarter (L, 14-17)
Week 3: Trailed by 3 points for final 0:14 of 4th quarter (L, 20-23)
Week 4: Never trailed
Week 5: Trailed by 3 points for 2:28 in the 1st quarter (W, 28-20)
Week 6: Never trailed
Week 7: Trailed by 4 points for 1:15 in 2nd quarter (W, 27-17)
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Trailed by 3 points for 12:34 in 1st and 2nd quarters (W, 28-10)
Week 10: Trailed by 3 or 6 points for 29:23 throughout game. (L, 12-18)
Week 11: Trailed by 7 for 14:54 in 1st and 2nd quarters; (L, 24-27)
Week 12: Trailed by 7 or fewer for 34:24 (L, 17-20)
Week 13: Trailed by 3 for 4:49 in 4th quarter (L, 24-27)
Week 14: Trailed entire 60 minutes!
Week 15: Trailed by 6 for 2:06 in 4th quarter (W. 37-36)
Week 16: Never trailed
Week 17: Never trailed
TOTAL TIME TRAILED: 170:58 of possible 960 minutes
Okay, great, we all know the Steelers lost a number of close games and that they blew late leads in five of their seven losses. Here's a bit of context though to show just how close the Steelers were to being much, much better than their 9-7 record indicated.
The New Orleans Saints - the Super Bowl Champion Saints who went 13-3 in the regular season - they trailed for 318:41 of the 960 regular season minutes that they played. To be fair, 60 of those minutes came in Week 17 when they had clinched the #1 seed in the NFC and were resting Brees and several other regular starters on both sides of the ball. Still, even without those 60 minutes, they still found themselves trailing for almost 50% more football minutes than did the Steelers.
What's the point or lesson learned? Not much necessarily. We all know this league is tightly contested most years from top to bottom of the league. What separates the winners from the losers is often not much at all and you better have a winning record in games decided by 3 points or fewer. We know all that. Still, it is fairly remarkable that the Steelers were behind on the scoreboard for less than 20% of the time they were on the field, yet still managed to barely finish their 2009 season with an above .500 record.