Let's take a look at how the Steelers are faring as a team statistically, as well as some of the more significant individual numbers.
*The Steelers are ranked 8th in the NFL in scoring at an even 24 points per game. Of the top ten scoring offenses, NONE have a losing record except us. Only the Cowboys have even a .500 record. They say defense wins championships, is it true?
*Well, the Steelers are ranked 15h in scoring defense , allowing 20.8 points per game. The top five defenses in the league are Denver, Chicago, Baltimore, New England, and San Diego. Their combined record? 24-6.
Pittsburgh's defensive numbers are a little difficult to figure out. We gave up fewer than 10 points to both Jacksonville and Kansas City, but gave up over 40 to Atlanta. Who knows how many Cincinnati would have scored had we not gift wrapped three turnovers in our own territory. The verdict is still out on this unit, but it's time for them to be far more consistent if we are going to string together some victories. Good offense can help win individual games, but it's extremely difficult to go on a sustained winning streak without the help of a stingy defense on a weekly basis.
*Did anyone know our defense was tied with Baltimore for the most interceptions ? I didn't. I'd have to go back and check, but it seems as if too many of our takeaways have not come at critical times of football games. Troy Polamalu leads the team with 3 picks.
*Speaking of turnovers, guess which teams have more giveaways than us? Dallas, Detroit, Arizona, Cleveland, and Oakland. That's HORRIBLE company to keep.
*As fun as it's been to watch our aerial assault this past two weeks, we need to get back to running the football a bit more. We barely crack the top 10 in rushing attempts per game . I don't think this is a huge problem though. For one, we haven't had too many leads to protect with the run late in games. Secondly, we're only a few more rushes a game away from the top 5.
Of the top 16 teams in number of rushing attempts per game, only two have losing records. The Steelers and the Redskins. Bizarre. This is a weird season. These stats suggest our record should be better.
*On to the individual stuff. Willie Parker is the league's 12th best runner with 481 yards thus far on the ground. However, of the top 15 backs in the league, only Larry Johnson has a lower average per carry than Fast Willie Parker.
*With his huge game Sunday, Hines Ward trails only Torry Holt in receiving TDs. I'm happy that Hines has battled back from his nagging hamstring injury to be a big force this month. He deserves whatever accolades he receives. I'm sure he'd rather be winning that compiling individual stats though. That's why we love him.
*Guys, our pass rush is becoming a serious problem. We've at times put pressure on our opponents' QBs (mostly in the Bengals game), but we need more of a pass rush from Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, and Joey Porter when he gets healthy. We don't have one player in the top 30 in sacks . Clark Hagans and Larry Foote are tied for the team lead with 3.
*Heath Miller has only 12 catches on the year. Two catches per game? That's unacceptable in my book. As we get the running game a bit more consistent, maybe he'll have more opportunities. I sure hope so.
*I wonder if Verron Haynes is pissed he's not getting the opportunities in the running game that were discussed this preseason. Through 6 games he has 15 rushes, despite averaging over 5 yards a pop. Dookie Davenport has equaled that number in just half the games. Speaking of Dookie, did anybody remember seeing much of him this past week? After a big game against the Chiefs, I thought we were going to have a Dookie sighting week in and week out. Guess not.