It finally showed its ugly face again. The turnover monster returned to bite the Steelers on Sunday night at Heinz Field as they played their final home game of the 2019 season. With points being at a premium, the Steelers squandered too many opportunities to pull out the victory. With plenty of blame to go around, here are some of the numbers which led to the Steelers’ sixth loss on the season.
It’s the obvious number for the game. The Steelers turning the ball over five times was just too much to overcome. With four interceptions and the key fumble lost in the red zone, the Steelers could have had an even worse game in the turnover department as they were able to recover their own fumbles on multiple occasions.
And the timing of the Steelers turnovers were key. With the fumble occurring on the first and goal from the 10 yard line coming out of the two minute warning in the first half along with two interceptions in the end zone on the Steelers final two drives, the Steelers didn’t come through to put points on the board far too often. With another interception being returned into the red zone to set up a field goal, the turnovers were the most significant plays of the game.
With just under four minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Steelers lined up for their first punt of the game from their own 18 yard line. With the punt only going 22 yards, giving the Bills the ball on the Steelers 40 yard line basically acted like another turnover. The short field the Bills were gifted led to the first touchdown surrendered in the game.
Believe it or not, the Steelers held the lead in the game going into the fourth quarter. After surrendering a first down on third and two in the red zone on the first play of the final period, the Steelers forced three consecutive negative plays courtesy of their defense and pushed the Bills back from 8 to the 18 yard line to force a field goal. Only gaining 2 yards on their next drive, the Steelers quickly gave the ball back to the bills to march down the field and score the go-ahead touchdown.
15 vs 38
Even though the Steelers played for a majority of the second half with the lead or in a tie, and they felt the need to throw the ball more than twice as much as their rushing attempts. The most passing attempts quarterback Devlin Hodges had made in an NFL game prior to Sunday night was 21. Putting the ball into the air for 38 pass attempts versus only running 15 times got away from the typical ratio the Steelers have been using with Hodges as a starter.
4 vs 1
One of the key statistics going into the game was going to be the Steelers pressure on Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Unfortunately, the Steelers only got one sack on the Bills in the game which came in the first quarter. Unfortunately, it was the Steelers who struggled with their quarterback protection as they surrendered four sacks. Ironically, it was the same sack ratio the Steelers experienced in their previous loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 11.
Another problem with the Steelers offense was the fact they had five drives that went three and out. With only 12 drives in the game, coupled with another drive which only lasted two plays before the fumble in the red zone, the Steelers had half their drives last only three plays or less.
With only 229 yards of total offense, almost one-third of those yards came on the opening drive of the second-half. With the Steelers driving 69 yards in seven plays, 30.1% of their yards gained in the game came on their single touchdown drive. In fact, the Steelers out gained their first half yardage total by 5 yards in this drive alone.
After all the doom and gloom of the numbers which led to the Steelers loss, all the other key games in the NFL went in the Steelers favor and they continue to hold onto the six seed in the AFC playoff race. So while losing to the Bills made it impossible for the Steelers to move up to the five seed, they are still in the driver’s seat for the playoffs and control their own destiny.
So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ performance Sunday against the Bills. It was a rough game, but fortunately the Steelers still control their own destiny when it comes to the 2019 postseason. Were there any other numbers which stood out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below.