It was an ugly game for the Steelers all around, even before the horrible incident at the end. The Steelers defense seemed confused early, and the offense never really got it all together. Yes, injuries plagued the Steelers on Thursday, particularly on offense. Shockingly, the Steelers found themselves in the game more than midway through the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the turnovers were too much for the team to overcome and they fell 21-7 to the Browns.
As much as I would like to forget this game and move on, there are still things to be learned. Here are some of the numbers which led to the Steelers loss to the Browns on Thursday night.
This was billed as a game the Steelers were supposed to pad their stats in the sack department in order to make a push for three straight seasons with at least 50. Going up against a team who had surrendered 25 sacks in nine games compared to the Steelers 11, it was Pittsburgh who came up short in this department only recording one on the night. Unfortunately, the Browns got to Rudolph four times.
The reason this number is so important is because there were a number of chances when Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield was able to escape pressure and make a play down the field. If the Steelers had been able to get home more often than one time, perhaps one of the key scoring plays in the game may not have ever happened.
Although I usually prefer to keep the numbers strictly to the Steelers past game, it should be noted that in the Steelers last two trips to Cleveland they have surrendered a total of 10 turnovers. Giving up four interceptions on Thursday may have been the most important statistic leading to the final score.
The Steelers lost five players in-game to injuries where they could not return. James Conner reaggravated his shoulder injury and Artie Burns left because he was dealing with a knee. Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Diontae Johnson all left the game with concussions.
Once Diontae Johnson left the game in the third quarter, the Steelers only had three wide receivers available. Combined between all three players, they had a total of 20 receptions in 2019 entering the game. Johnny Holton had yet to catch a pass for the Steelers in the regular season until after Johnson was knocked out with a concussion. Tevin Jones was just activated from the practice squad and it was his first NFL regular season game. James Washington was the only player who had a catch in the NFL in 2019, so all 20 receptions belong to him.
Speaking of Tevin Jones, both he and Jayrone Elliott were called into action only five hours after being officially added to the Steelers 53-man roster.
As bad of an effort the Steelers gave all around, they had three possessions in the fourth quarter of the game where they had an opportunity to score a touchdown to pull even with the Browns. In fact, their very first drive in which they could have scored a game-tying touchdown started at their own 40-yard line after the Browns missed a 50-yard field goal. On those three drives, the Steelers only managed one first down and they also turned the ball over with one of their four interceptions.
While the Steelers only rushed the ball 16 times on Thursday, they averaged over 3.5 yards per carry. Gaining 58 yards, the Steelers running game started to open up late as the Steelers attempted to stretch the field. Running the ball 16 times seems a little low, especially when seeing that the Steelers attempted 44 passes. For comparisons sake, the Browns yards per rush were under 3.0 in the game.
This may be the most important number of all. After suffering many injuries and falling to the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers have 10 days off until their next scheduled game.
So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ performance Sunday against the Browns. The game looked ugly, felt ugly, and the numbers support that it was ugly. But were there any other numbers which stood out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below.