As difficult as this piece was to write last week when the numbers were so bad for the Steelers when they went to Baltimore, this week was a complete 180° turn. The Steelers’ numbers for playing games on Thursdays are better than average, but when narrowing those games down to just the home games, they take a fantastic turn.
Before diving into things, it’s important to understand the data when it comes to Thursday games. Since 2012, every team plays at least one game on Thursday. Teams that play in the kickoff game to start the season, as well as some teams who play on Thanksgiving day, play a second Thursday game.
It was in 2006 when the number of Thursday games first expanded when a program called the “run to the playoffs” began. For the most part, these games were in November and December, but they were not spread evenly between NFL teams. The Steelers’s have played at least one Thursday game since 2006. The Steelers played in the kickoff game in 2006, 2009, and 2015, all seasons in which they played two games on Thursdays.
Since 2006, the Steelers are 9–6 on Thursday nights, but 7-1 at home. The only home loss was in Week 4 of 2015 when the Michael Vick led Steelers fell to the Ravens 23–20 in overtime. For those who don’t recall, this was the game where Josh Scobee missed two field goals in the last 2:29 which allowed the Ravens to send the game to overtime.
When looking at Ben Roethlisberger’s Thursday night record, he is undefeated home at 6-0. In the those games, he has thrown for 10 touchdowns with only three interceptions. Additionally, he has rushed for three touchdowns.
In the last two games the Steelers have played on Thursday night (one at home and one away), they have outscored their opponents 68 –24. In those two games, Ben Roethlisberger was 44 of 65 in passing attempts while throwing for 520 yards. He has thrown 7 touchdowns with no interceptions.
As impressive is Ben Roethlisberger has been in the last two Thursday night games, Antonio Brown has been nearly unstoppable. While being targeted 19 times, Brown had 15 receptions for 235 yards. The most impressive statistic is he had six touchdowns in those two games. That’s correct- six touchdowns!
It should be noted that the Carolina Panthers come into this game with a record of 6–2, which is the best winning percentage of any team the Steelers have played on Thursday night since 2006. The next closest winning percentage was from last year‘s Thursday night game when the Steelers defeated the 6–3 Tennessee Titans 40 –17.
The Steelers currently have a 4-game winning streak coming into Thursday night’s game. This was the same winning streak when they played at Heinz Field on Thursday night in 2017. Last season the Steelers extended their win streak all the way to eight games. This Thursday night will be the first test if the 2018 Steelers can do the same.