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Johnny's Week 14 Steelers Defensive Stat Sheet: If Defense Wins Championships, Give Us the Lombardi

The Steelers are heating up at the perfect time.  When compared to last year at this point, the winning streak feels even better.  At this point last year, we were coming off a huge losing streak and looking at playoff hopes from the outside.  This year is the complete opposite as the Steelers sit poised to snatch the #2 seed in the playoffs.  Actually, the Steelers can even clinch at least a WC ticket with a win this week.  Go Steelers!

Stat of the week: Troy Polamalu is the hottest player in football right now.  He has forced 5 turnovers (4 INT & 1 FF) in 4 games, and is a huge reason for the Steelers 4 game winning streak.

Defensive Ranks

Category Stat Week 14 Rank Week 13 Rank Trend
Points Per Game 15.2 2nd
2nd --
Total Yards Per Game 293.0 4th 5th
Yards Per Play 4.7 T-2nd 2nd --
Rush Yards Per Game 60.1 1st 1st --
Yards Per Rush Attempt 2.9 1st 1st --
Rush TDs Allowed 4 T-1st T-1st --
Pass Yards Per Game 232.9 23rd 24th
Yards Per Pass Attempt 6.6 T-7th T-8th
Passing TDs Allowed 14
5th 5th --
Sacks 39
T-1st --
QB Rating Against 77.2 6th 9th
Turnover Ratio +14 3rd 3rd --

The pass offense really is not doing that awful if you look at the more pertinent numbers.  Teams are pass happy against us (we see 4% than anyone else and about 10% more than average).  Therefore, the yards are going to come no matter what.  However, the more important number is that the Steelers are only allowing 6.6 yards per pass play, which is top 10 in the league.  Also, just as important they do not give up a lot of touchdowns and get a ton of sacks. 

One of the best numbers when looking at an offense's pass success is NY/A, or net yards per pass attempt.  This number takes into account sacks and incompletions, which are defensive successes.  The formula is (Passing Yards - Sack Yards)/(Pass Attempts+Times Sacked).  Therefore, unlike QB Rating it takes a look at sacks and yards lost from a sack, which is important because sacks usually stall drives.  The Steelers defense is giving up a NY/A of just 5.6, which is the 4th best in the league (the Charges lead with 5.1 and average is 6.2).

Another good number that is not often used is AY/A, or adjusted yards gained per pass attempt.  This number is more like QB rating, which takes into account yards, touchdowns, and interceptions.  However, it does not account for completion %.  That is because QB Rating is more of a game statistic, where as AY/A is a per play statistic, which I believe is a more accurate representation of how a defense is doing.  The formula is (Passing Yards + 20 * Passing TD - 45 * Interceptions) / Pass Attempts.  The 20 and 45 are constants determined by someone a lot more smarter than me.  Basically, they are determined through a ton of research that weights the values of a touchdown and an interception.  Anyway, the Steelers have a AY/A of 5.6, which also ranks 4th in the NFL (the Packers lead with 5.2 and league average is 6.6).

Lastly, a number that combines both NY/A and AY/A is ANY/A, or adjusted net yards gained per pass attempt.  This number combines the two formulas: (pass yards + 20 * (pass TD) - 45* (interceptions) - sack yards) / (pass attempts + sacks).  That's a calculator full, I know, but it's an interesting number that goes deeper than QB rating.  Again, the Steelers rank 4th with a 4.7 ANY/A (the Packers lead with 4.2 and the average is 5.8).  In conclusion, our pass defense is actually really good when you look at the whole picture and not just a really misleading yards per game number.


Field Position


Steelers: 8
Bengals: 10

Average Starting Field Position

Steelers: Own 21
Bengals: Own 24

Average Starting Field Position for Season

Steelers: 31.22 (6th)
Opponent: 29.95 (20th)
Differential: +1.27 (12th)


Corner Back Stats


Name Thrown At Rec Catch % Yds AVG YAC TD Alwd INT Pass Def.
Ike Taylor 5 4 80.0 51
10.2 4 0 0 0
Bryant McFadden 4 2 50.0 18 4.5 4 0 0 0
William Gay 4 4 100.0 51 12.8 24 0 0 0



Name Thrown At Rec Catch % Yds AVG YAC TD Alwd INT Pass Def.
Ike Taylor 78 45 57.7 581 12.9 172 1 2 4
Bryant McFadden 94 66 70.2 724 11.0 165 6 1 5
William Gay 58 41 70.7 472 11.5 161 5 0 6
Anthony Madison
5 3 60.0 24 8.0 10 0 0 0
Keenan Lewis 1 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
LEAGUE AVG 58 35 60.7 -- 12.3 -- 3 2 5



Quick Slants

  • DPotY Watch: After the last two games, Troy Polamalu has slung himself into the discussion.  His season totals are 62 tackles, 1 sack, 6 interceptions, 1 TD, 1 FF, and 10 PD.  The other people I would put in the discussion are James Harrison 79 tackles, 10 sacks, 2 interceptions, 6 FF, 4PD, Packers Clay Matthews with 51 tackles, 13 sacks, 1 int, 1 TD, 1 FF, 4 PD, Dolphins Cameron Wake with 49 tackles, 14 sacks, 3 FF, 4 PD, Giants Osi Umenyiora with 40 tackles, 10 sacks, 8 FF, 2 PD, Eagles Asante Samuel with 23 tackles, 7 interceptions, 12 PD, and Redskins DeAngelo Hall 83 tackles, 6 interceptions, 2 TDs, 2FF, 14 PD.  Why no Ravens Haloti Ngata?  Well his numbers are not that impressive and the "sexy" stats usually win you the award.  Off the bat I would eliminate Wake and Samuel, because they are 1 dimensional (sack leader and interception leader).  Then, I would take off Matthews and Umenyiora (as of now), because they have been much less disruptive lately (finishing strong is huge).  Hall has better numbers than Troy, so IMO it is Harrison vs. Hall right now. Harrison might have the edge because his team is relevant.
  • Take Him to the Woodshed: The Jets replacement RT, Wayne Hunter, has started 1 game in the NFL since being drafted in 2003 in the 3rd round by the Seattle Seahawks.  He got significant time against Miami and gave up 3 sacks to Cameron Wake.  He now faces LaMarr Woodley.  Good luck!
  • Going the Wrong Way: I recall at the beginning of the year it was Jets and Steelers at the top of the TO margin.  Unfortunately, for the J-E-T-S the tables have turned for them.  They have dropped from 1st down to 10th, largely because of Mark Sanchez.  Please turn away if you cannot handle things of an extreme nature.  Sanchez has thrown at least 1 interception in his last 8 games.  In those 8 games he has thrown 14 interceptions.  In the last 2 games he has thrown 4.  His performance last week, also not for the faint of heart, included a 38.6 completion % and 4 fumbles (1 lost).