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Johnny's Stat Sheet Week 2: A Steel City Miracle

Okay, it was not exactly a miracle, but that is the best pun I could come up with.  Moving on, I am pleasantly surprised with this 2-0 start.  I expected us to go 2-2 in the Ben-less games, beating the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Now, we have a chance to go 3-1 or better?  Bank it!  The defense has been an absolute monster, which brings up the always prevalent debate of youth or experienceBaltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals fans spent the preseason bragging about  the average age of their starting defense being lower than ours.  Youth is not a trump card, we have learned.  Experience can go a long way, especially when it comes to discipline.  We definitely need to get some youth to step up in a few years, but I am not ready to say goodbye to any of these talented veterans on our defense.

Stat of the week: The Steelers won with just 127 yards of offense.  In the Superbowl era of professional football only 24 teams (out of over 25,000 games) have ever won with 130 yards or less.  The Steelers have done so twice in their history.  The previous win was against the Houston Oilers in 1990, where they accumulated 123 yards and won 20-9.  The Oilers had 309 yards of offense, but turned the ball over 4 times to Pittsburgh's 0.  A few years later in 2002, the city of Houston paid back the Steelers when the Texans beat them with the lowest recorded offensive output (in a win) in the history of the NFL.  They put up just 47 yards of offense and beat the Steelers 24-6, because of 5 turnovers their defense created.  Tommy "The Gun" Maddox was in his usual form and threw 2 interceptions for touchdowns to Aaron Glenn.

Defense

Week 2 Ranks

Category Stat Week 2 Rank Week 1 Rank Trend
Points Per Game 10.0 T-1st 3rd
Total Yards Per Game 266.5 6th 13th
Yards Per Play 4.0 3rd 10th
Rush Yards Per Game 52.0 4th 6th
Yards Per Rush Attempt 2.2 4th 3rd
Rush TDs Allowed 0 T-1st T-1st --
Pass Yards Per Game 214.5 17th 22nd
Yards Per Pass Attempt 5.9 8th 11th
Passing TDs Allowed 1 T-3rd T-1st
Sacks 6 T-4th T-5th
QB Rating Against 63.6 6th 10th
Turnover Ratio +6 1st T-12th

The averages still remain a bit skewed, because of small sample sizes.  That shows up pretty clearly with the Chicago Bears rush defense.  They have only given up 56 yards in 2 games with a 1.4 yards per rush average.  They have a pretty good defense, but those numbers will not stay that low.  Anyway, Sunday's performance rocketed our TO Ratio to #1 in the league, just edging out the Saints and Jets who are both +5.  It should be an interesting week, because the Bucs are 4th in the league with a +4 TO Ratio.  Also, it is good to see a positive TO Ratio, last year we finished at -3, 20th in the league.  Our passing defense is our weakest point, which is actually, as of right now, averaging more yards per game than last year's defense.  No need to fret, however, when you are absolutely shutting down the run, a team is going to be forced to pass.  The most important thing to realize is that we are actually getting interceptions.  Already this year, the Steelers have accrued 25% of their interception total last year (12).

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Offense

Week 2 Ranks

Category Stat Week 2 Rank Week 1 Rank Trend
Points Per Game 17 21st 17th
Total Yards Per Game 240.5 31st 11th
Yards Per Play 4.2 28th T-5th
Time of Possession
32:53 8th 11th
3rd Down Completion % 21 32nd T-23rd
Rush Yards Per Game 124.5 10th 4th
Rush TDs
1 T-14th T-4th
Pass Yards Per Game
116.0 31st 16th
Yards Per Pass Attempt
6.5 T-18th T-2nd
Passing TDs
0 32nd T-25th
Sacks Allowed
7 T-28th T-23rd
QB Rating
71.8 21st 16th

Ouch!  The Steelers dropped off  in every category except for time of possession.  I suppose that is expected when your offense only puts up 127 yards and only gets 9 points off 7 turnovers.  Also, when selecting your OL on a down is like playing Russian Roulette because of injuries, you are going to struggle.  I give them major credit for not having any major turnovers and allowing the defense to win the game. 

I hate to nag about 3rd downs again, but going 2 for 15 (13%) just slid us into last place in the league.  We had 2 designed runs on 3rd down and 13 designed passes.  Two of those were Dixon scrambles, and I believe the second one was a designed roll out.  8 of the 3rd downs were manageable (6 yards or less) and the rest (7) were 11 yards or more.  On those we had 6 incompletions, 2 sacks, 1 fumble, and 1 penalty (delay of game).  There is a pretty good case for some bad play calling in there, but you can also make the case that it is pretty hard to do well on 3rd down with a 4th string QB and a patchwork OL.  I just wish Bruce Arians would give Isaac Redman a chance more often on 3rd  and 4 or 5 and never put in Mewelde Moore.

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Field Position

Drives

Steelers: 14
Titans: 14

Starting Field Position

Steelers: Own 47 (100 given for return TD)
Titans: Own 32

Average Starting Field Position for Season

Steelers: 35.5 (25 total drives + 1 KR)
Opponent: 30.4 (27 total drives)
Differential: +5.1

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Numbers that Matter

Turnover Ratio/Margin

Without turnovers the Steelers do not win this game.  The offense failed to gain yards all day and the only reason they scored was accredited to the defense putting them in good great field position.  On the series following the turnovers  the Steelers offense gained a total 109 yards or 15.6 yards per series.  The majority of that came on the Dixon led 62 yard drive to start the 2nd quarter.  Additionally, they only scored 12 points on those 7 series.  That was enough to win it though (thanks again defense).  I hope Charlie Batch buys James Harrison and company dinner.

Historically, the last time the Steelers created 7 turnovers was on November 9, 1997 against the Baltimore Ravens.  The Steelers picked off Vinny Testaverde 3 times, Eric Zeier (?) once, and recovered 4 fumbles.  The game was a 37-0 shutout of the Ratbirds.  Also, the Steel Curtain '76 defense maxed out at 6 turnovers.

Let's take a look at the win% by TO ratio this year:

TO Margin W-L Win %
>3 3-0 100%
+3 3-0 100%
+2 8-1 88.89%
+1 8-4 66.67%


According to One.Cool.Customer, a fantastic statistical writer on the Cowboys blog, in 2009 the winning percentages were quite similar, with the +2 and +3 margins being slightly inflated so far.  Therefore, if our defense can continue playing at such a high level, I like our chance of winning.

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Quick Slants

  • LaMarr Woodley now has at least a half sack in 10 straight games.  Over that period, he has 13.5 sacks.  I am not sure we have ever seen both Wood and Deebo on hot streaks at the same time.  NFL QBs beware!
  • James Harrison recorded 2 sacks against the Titans.  James now has 10 games with more than 1 sack in his career.  He sits at 6th all time on the Steelers sack list (3.5 behind Aaron Smith in 5th and 35.5 behind #1 Jason Gildon).  Also, according to PFF James Harrison has 12 tackles and 12 stops. Wow.
  • Lawrence Timmons now has 26 tackles on the year (21 solo), which is one third of the total tackles he had last year.  Timmons had an even bigger impact this week by forcing a fumble.  Currently, he is rated as the best ILB in the league by PFF, while also being the best run stuffer.  His only weakness is his coverage right now.  He has been thrown at 9 times and given up 7 receptions (77.8 Ct%).
  • The Titans must not have seen the same thing in game tapes that the Atlanta Falcons did.  They only targeted Bryant McFadden 6 times, completing 2 (33%), compared to 14 targets in week 1.  McFadden did his thing again, making 10 tackles and giving up less than 2 YAC per reception against him.  Also, he had a beautiful athletic interception on an overthrown ball.
  • What happened to Ike Taylor?  He was targeted 10 times and allowed 8 receptions (80%).  One of those receptions was the touchdown and another was one of the longer passes on their TD drive.  Just an off day...I hope.
  • The Spin is in!  Rashard Mendenhall leads the league with 13 broken tackles (8 in week 1, 5 in week 2).  The closest behind him is Brandon Jackson of the Green Bay Packers with 8.  That also helped Mendy get the most yards after contact with 131 (2nd is Cadillac Williams with 119).
  • I love Charlie Batch, but, wow, did he have an awful game!  Chuck completed less than 50% of his pass attempts (5/11) for 25 total yards.  Giving him a 2.27 YPA, one of the worst I have seen in a win. That is the lowest YPA that Charlie has had in his entire career.  Worse than a game where he only completed 1 pass on 5 attempts.
  • Want a great break down of the OL?  No one does it better than Steelers Lounge.  Check it out here.
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