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Steelers stingy against deep passes in 2012

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Pittsburgh was the only team in the NFL to not allow a pass that traveled 30 yards or longer from the line of scrimmage to the receiver. They prevented big plays, but didn't make any in their own right.

USA TODAY Sports

ESPN's AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley dug up an interesting stat recently, pointing out the Steelers did not allow a pass that traveled 30 yards or more from the line of scrimmage to the receiver's hands.

Not surprising, considering the Steelers led the league in passing yards allowed in 2013. The absence of deep passing certainly helps that statistic.

It wasn't for a lack of effort, either. The Steelers faced the third-most deep attempts in the NFL, with 30 passes traveling 30 yards or longer. Only the Darrelle Revis-less Jets (35) and the Texans (31) faced more.

Considering the Texans allowed completions on 15 of 31 deep passing attempts, one can easily surmise the Steelers were more of a prevention-based defense.

However, when that statistic for both teams is weighed next to two others - sacks and turnovers forced - the Steelers fall off a bit from the AFC South champions. The Texans' 44 sacks (5th best in the NFL) and 15 interceptions (15th in the league) beat out the Steelers' 37 and 10.

The absence of Troy Polamalu for more than half the season could account for some of this, and it isn't to suggest Houston is the gold standard of either category. But the Texans were playing at a high level for most of the season, and won a playoff game for the second consecutive year. Houston countered their relative lack of interceptions by signing Ravens castoff Ed Reed.

Perhaps the Steelers already have a legendary safety in place whose presence can ratchet up the turnover total a bit.