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Analyzing the Steelers’ Week 13 loss to the Chargers, by the numbers

Just when statistics show what the Steelers need to do to assure victory, they manage to lose regardless of the numbers.

Los Angeles Chargers v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images


Coming in to Sunday night, the Steelers were 10-3 in their last 13 home prime-time games. The Steelers are 2-3 in those games against the Baltimore Ravens. So in prime-time home games not against the Ravens dating back to 2013, the Steelers were 8-0. Now they are 8-1.


The Steelers managed to score two touchdowns for a total of 13 points in the first quarter Sunday night. The Steelers were 2–0 when scoring multiple times in the first quarter in 2018 with a margin on victory over 20 points. Additionally, the Steelers were 4-0 when scoring at all in the first period. Now they are 2-1 and 4-1.


Antonio Brown had his largest yardage output of the season with 154 yards on 10 receptions with one touchdown. Brown also came close to matching his total yards in the first quarter in 2018 with 75 receiving yards on four catches. Unfortunately, these nice stats were in a losing effort.


The Chargers longest run in the first half was one yard, achieved five times. With one play of -3 yards, Los Angeles managed only 2 total yards on 9 attempts. Unfortunately they added 83 yards on 13 attempts in the second half. Even after being unsuccessful and trailing by multiple scores, the Chargers made sure they didn’t abandon the run.


The Steelers held the Chargers to 5.59 yards on first down. Although this number might seem high at first glance, they were averaging 7.05 yards on first down coming into the game, which was second in the league only behind the Los Angeles Rams. The Chargers managed to move the chains yet again on the first-down plays six times in the game, which was 20.7% of their chances to do so. Once again, this might seem high, but their average for the season of getting another first down on a first-down play was 29.9%.


Not only did the Steelers’ special teams unit give up a punt return for a touchdown, they were penalized 5 times for 39 yards. It’s not just the yardage assessed from the penalties, it’s the problem of penalties negating 31 return yards. The offense only had two untimely holding penalties, while the defense did not have an accepted penalty enforced against them.


There are many cases in professional sports where going three out of four is a good thing. Extra point kicks in the NFL is not one of the cases. Although he connected on three attempts, Chris Boswell’s missed PAT was a major factor as the game progressed. When leading by 16 points in the second half, one more point would have made it a three-score game rather than two.


Even playing with the lead into the fourth quarter, the Steelers only ran the ball 17 times against the Chargers. James Conner rushed 15 times for 60 yards while Jaylen Samuels rushed twice for five yards. Even though Conner had an average of 4 yards per carry, the Steelers still didn’t give him the ball for more than 15 rushes before he was injured with just over five minutes left in the game. The Steelers are 1-4 in games where they do not rush the ball at least 20 times, with the only win being the come -from-behind victory in Jacksonville.