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Statistical Breakdown of the Steelers Week 1 victory over the Redskins

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the BTSC Steelers Statistical break down. Below is a breakdown of the Steelers most recent game, taking a look at what they did well, and areas they need to work on. All stats are from the NFL, except for DYAR, success rate, and DVOA rankings which are from Football Outsiders.

You can read more about DVOA and DYAR on footballoutsiders.com, but in a nutshell DYAR is what a player does per season or game, while DVOA is what a player does per play. Both are useful for putting traditional stats in context.

The running game: Pittsburgh executed the running game perfectly all night. At first glance it appears the Steelers struggled to run the ball in the first half , then exploded in the second half. While heading into the locker room after the second quarter DeAngelo Williams had 38-yards on ten carries. However, four of those ten rushes were short runs for first downs to extend drives, something the Steelers struggled with last year, and two rushes were for at least eight yards to create second and short scenarios for the offense. While the yardage total wasn’t too impressive, in the context of the game it was a solid first half from Williams.

In the second half, after Pittsburgh had built up a lead using the passing game, they gave Williams the bulk of his carries to wind down the clock and take advantage of a Washington defense that was struggling to stop the pass. Williams finished with 26 carries for 143 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Williams finished week one with the most rushing yards, highest DVOA, and highest success rate among all running backs.

Passing Game: Five different players caught a pass, led by Antonio Brown with eight receptions for 126 yards. Eli Rogers rebounded from a miscommunication with Roethlisberger that led to an interception to catch his first regular season touchdown pass.

Ben Roethlisberger finished the game 27 for 37 with 300 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Roethlisberger also had two fumbles, but one was recovered by the Steelers and the other Roethlisberger picked up and turned into a completion to Sammie Coates.

Roethlisberger finished the week with the best QBR at 95.2 while he ranked a more pedestrian 14th and 15th in DYAR and DVOA. The Steelers’ commitment to the running game in the second half likely effected those rankings.

Run Defense: The Redskins found it to be tough sledding against the stout Steelers defense that held Washington to only 55-yards on the ground. As the Steelers increased their lead, Washington was forced to throw more and abandon the run, making their offense more predictable and one dimensional.

Third and Fourth Down Efficiency: The Steelers converted 64 percent of their third downs and were two for two on fourth down. Moreover, their decision to go for it on fourth and one in the second quarter when Brown scored his first touchdown of the night was mathematically correct. You can read more about that here.

The Red Zone: The Steelers converted all three trips into the red zone for points and held the Redskins to only 25-percent efficiency.

Takeaways: The Steelers got key interceptions from Ryan Shazier and James Harrison. The Shazier pick set up a touchdown, while Harrison’s was the nail in the coffin for the Skins coming on their final drive, with the score out of reach. Shazier also had a forced fumble that was recovered by Washington.

The Redskins were able to pickoff Roethlisberger once and force a fumble on him that was recovered by Steelers center Maurkice Poncey after a great effort. The Steelers survived this game but they’re going to have to take better care of the football going forward.

Penalties: The Steelers were only penalized four times, but for 81 yards. However, 61 of those yards came on a 46-yard pass interference call against Cockrell and a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for twerking against Antonio Brown. By comparison, the Redskins gave up 55 -yards on nine penalties.

No Pressure: Jeff got into this yesterday with his story on the Steelers defensive scheme, but the Steelers rarely blitzed and got no sacks on the Redskins Kirk Cousins. Given the results of the game, it’s hard to criticize the team too much, but it would have been nice to see the defense get a bit more pressure. The Steelers had no sacks, one tackle for loss (Harrison), and two QB hits (Stephon Tuitt and LJ Fort). The Redskins actually narrowly out gained the Steelers per pass (7.7 compared to 7.6), but the Redskins had six more attempts during the game.

The Redskins were able to sack Roethlisberger only once but got four hits on him. Game charting data for the offensive line isn’t available until week two, but anytime you can keep the franchise quarterback mostly upright, that’s an acceptable night.

Returns: The only punt by the Redskins was fair caught by Rogers, while the only kickoff returned by the Steelers was for 18-yards by Fitzgerald Toussaint. The ball was caught at the nine yard line and returned to the 27-yard line, so, not a bad job by Toussaint.

The Steelers started their season off on the right foot, with a dominant effort in Washington. Now they get to come home against division rival Cincinnati in what should be a hard-hitting affair.