There wasn't much to complain about after the Pittsburgh Steelers dismantled the Carolina Panthers on Sunday Night Football, but if you look at the statistics from the game, the performance was even more impressive than you may think.
Own the clock
The Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the time of possession battle, and that was even with the special teams touchdown where the team didn't get a true possession on that drive. Steelers had the ball for 34:39, while the Panthers mustered only 25:21 of possession time.
Chunks at a time
The Steelers gained 454 total yards from scrimmage against Carolina, but more impressive than that was their seven yards gained per play. They weren't just possessing the ball and moving the chains, but were taking large chunks of yardage every time they snapped the football. On top of the yards per play, the team was scoring quickly. Out of those 10 drives, seven ended up in points. Of those seven drives, it took the Steelers an average of 7.14 plays per drive to put points on the scoreboard.
The Steelers' offense was very well-balanced Sunday and it showed on the stat sheet. Pittsburgh gained 24 first downs, nine through the air, 12 on the ground and three via penalties. On top of the first downs, the play-calling was very even, as the team called 30 passes and dialed up 34 runs. This type of balance normally is indicative of a winning performance.
Not so much shotgun
The Steelers had 10 drives in four quarters of football Sunday night. Looking at every play from those drives, the Steelers deployed a shotgun formation 45 percent of the time. This percentage is down significantly from the Week 2 loss to the Baltimore Ravens where they deployed the shotgun formation nearly 80 percent of the time.
Red hot red-zone
The Steelers finished 3-for-4 in terms of trips in the red-zone Sunday night, but if you look at their season totals, they're doing a great job of getting into the end zone once they reach the red-zone. In Week 2 against the Ravens, the team was 0-1 for trips in the red-zone after Justin Brown's costly fumble, but in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers were 3-for-5 in red-zone trips. Do the math and the team is scoring 54 percent of the time when entering the red-zone. Pretty solid numbers, even after only three weeks of play.
Dominate the offensive line
The Steelers' offensive line dominated the Panthers' fromidable defensive front. The offensive line surrendered just one sack for six yards, and opened gaping holes for running backs to the tune of 264 total yards on 34 carries, for an average of 7.8 yards per carry.
Third down woes
Although the Steelers' offense did a tremendous job moving the football, their third-down conversion rate was surprisigly poor. The team went 3-11 on third downs, which equates to a 27 percent success rate. This perfectly illustrates the team still has some areas that can be improved on.
Special Teams is special
Brad Wing continues to solidify himself as the starter for the Steelers at the punter position. Wing had only three punts in the game totaling 138 yards and a 46-yard-per-punt average. He pinned one punt inside the 20 and had a long punt of 59 yards which led to the Panthers' fumble, resulting in a touchdown for the Steelers. Wing's punt caused Philly Brown to backpedal and was a large factor in the turnover that turned the tide for Pittsburgh.
Shaun Suisham continued his fantastic run as a place-kicker. Suisham went 3-for-3 and continued his perfect season. Suisham has made 23 straight field goals and has the longest streak in franchise history after surpassing Jeff Reed by one for the record.
Thriving on turnovers
The Steelers defense hadn't caused a turnover in their first two games, but it didn't take them long to reverse that trend against the Panthers. The Steelers caused two fumbles that both resulted in touchdowns. Although the team was able to leave Charlotte, NC, at plus-2 in the turnover category, the team still sits at minus-2 overall for the season.
Push 'em back
Prior to Sunday, the Steelers' defense had yet to truly put an opposing quarterback in difficult situations in terms of generating a pass-rush. But they did just that against Cam Newton and the Panthers. The Steelers didn't just register three sacks (Jarvis Jones, Steve McLendon and Arthur Moats), but also had six quarterback hits and three tackles for losses. This is the type of negative play the Steelers thrived on in the past, and showed in Charlotte they could do again. Put opponents in unfavorable down-and-distances and you've got a great chance to get after the quarterback.
Still can't get rid of the laundry
Penalties have been a cause for concern in Pittsburgh, and Sunday night was no different. The team was flagged 11 times for 91 yards, and that was just the accepted penalties. Of those 11 penalties, four were self-inflicted wounds that were not related to the play. Illegal substitution, offsides, false start and unnecessary roughness, all flags that can and should be avoided in the near future to stem the ongoing trend of the Steelers and their penalty woes.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com.