It doesn’t take much number-crunching to figure out why the Steelers weren’t victorious on Sunday. It was the six turnovers.
There were five “Numbers For Victory” coming into the game which the Steelers needed in order to leave with the “W.” They managed to accomplish four of them. But the six giveaways out-weighed the rest.
- Start fast and hold a significant halftime lead (7+ points).
I wouldn’t call it a super-fast start, but the Steelers did hold a 7-0 lead at halftime. They even expanded that lead to 21-7 going into the fourth quarter.
- Run the ball 30 or more times for over 100 yards.
Mission accomplished here. The Steelers rushed for 159 yards on 35 rushing attempts. That’s both the most yards and attempts in a Week-1 game for the Steelers since 2008. It’s also important to point out that the Browns out-rushed the Steelers with 177 yards on 38 attempts.
- Out-gain the Browns in total yards.
Check. The 472 total yards is the second most Week-1 total in the Mike Tomlin era. The 503 yards gained in the 2014 victory over the Browns (30-27) is only time the Steelers had more yards. Granted, they did gain 45 more yards of offense during the 10-minute overtime.
- Limit turnovers (no more than 1) while forcing takeaways.
Total fail in this department. This game is the third most turnovers in a game under coach Tomlin. The Steelers had eight giveaways in Week 12 of the 2012 season when they lost 20-14 in Cleveland. In Week 1 of 2011, the Steelers had seven turnovers in Baltimore on their way to 35-7 loss. Given the fact that the Steelers had six giveaways on the day, it’s surprising that they aren’t currently 0-1.
- Get after the Browns QB and keep the pressure off Ben.
The Steelers definitely got after the Tyrod Taylor. They had seven sacks on the day, four of which belonged to T.J. Watt. The Steelers did okay protecting Ben Roethlisberger by only giving up four sacks. Unfortunately, two of those sacks were also fumbles that the Steelers lost.
- Numbers That Stand Out
It’s really hard to get past the six turnovers. But the other numbers that really added to the outcome were the penalties. Looking at the Browns and their 11 penalties for 87 yards, it’s hard to imagine that they would hold an advantage in this category. But the Steelers had 12 penalties for 116 yards.
The other interesting number from the game is 0-0-1. This is the first time since the NFL implemented an overtime period for the 1974 season that two teams started the season with this record. It’s also only the third time the Steelers finished in a tie in an overtime game. The Steelers played in the first overtime game in NFL history on September 22, 1974, in Denver. Ironically, that game ended in a 35-35 tie. More recently, the Steelers played to a tie at Heinz Field in 2002 against the Falcons. That game finished 34-34 when Plaxico Burress caught a Hail Mary pass at the 1-yard line as the game ended.
There were a lot of “positives” in this game: +3 in first downs, +138 in passing yards, +145 in total yards, +3 in sacks, and even +0:24 in time of possession. But these are only positive stat lines, not a positive outcome.
It would be really easy to look at the numbers and try to find a silver lining from this game. I just can’t bring myself do it. Like coach Tomlin said in his post game press conference, “we play and play to win. We didn’t win today.”