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Steelers allowed seventh-most splash plays in NFL last season

It's a somewhat misleading stat, but one thing is certain; allowing big plays doesn't contribute to winning. Making those big plays, however, may have more of an impact.

Jamie McDonald

The Steelers' defense gave up 68 plays of 20 yards or more in the 2013 season - an alarming, yet, odd, statistic.

Of the top eight teams in that category, five of them advanced to the playoffs, three of those five won at least one game and one (Denver) made it to the Super Bowl.

Clearly, a team's ability to surrender zero yards to its opponent would translate well into winning. But based on this, it wouldn't seem surrendering big plays would be as detrimental as it sounds.

Still, the Steelers were in the minority on that list in terms of powerful offenses over the course of the season. In Week 4, the Vikings put four plays of 20 yards or more on the Steelers. The Vikings were not exactly a power offensive team, but they were a decent one, believe it or not (24.4 points per game, 14th in the NFL). Perhaps it's not a coincidence the Steelers averaged fewer points a game (23.7) than the other seven teams.

Without a direct tie to allowing big plays and team success, the Steelers are left with the simple notion that allowing yards can't ever be considered a positive thing. The franchise is experiencing one of the lowest defensive production slumps in the last three decades, and with a draft ahead and a free agency period that added at least two starters (defensive end Cam Thomas and free safety Mike Mitchell), the Steelers can only hope one more wave of contributors can help drastically reduce that number.