For the first time since 2013, the Steelers are 0-2 heading into Week 3 of the NFL season. While last year the Steelers had yet to record a victory after two weeks, they at least had a tie to help give the them half a game in the win column. It was a heartbreaking two-point loss in their home opener against the Seattle Seahawks as the Steelers defense couldn’t find a way to get the ball back in the last five minutes of the game.
Unlike the 2013 season, the Steelers opened up with two teams who made the playoffs the previous season. While their opponents have been formidable, the Steelers still need to be able to find a way to win these games if they hope to have any chance for the 2019 postseason. The Steelers opponents do not get much easier as the season goes on, so they need to write the ship as quickly as they can.
There were many things that contributed to the Steelers loss, and the numbers outlined here probably only scratch the surface. Unlike last week, the most glaring numbers were with the defense in my opinion even though there was plenty of blame to go around. So here are some of the numbers which contributed to the Steelers loss in Week 2.
The Steelers defense started off the second half with a great three and out stand forcing a punt 1:28 into the third quarter. Unfortunately, it was the last punt the Seahawks made on the day. The only stop the Steelers managed in the second half was the one splash play which caused a fumble due to a disruption in the backfield. Otherwise, the Seahawks were not consistently slowed down at all with anything they attempted to do on offense.
The Steelers defense started the game with a lot of promise by racking up four sacks in the first half. Every sack involved Stephon Tuitt who either got to the quarterback or did a great job occupying the offensive lineman as T.J. Watt came underneath on a stunt. Unfortunately, the Steelers followed up with a second-half performance where they failed to get to the quarterback. Recording zero sacks in the second half is part of what led to the Steelers surrendering 21 points.
The Steelers defense allowed 16 different plays by the Seahawks’ offense which went for 10 or more yards, not including plays with penalties. Seven plays of 10 or more yards were allowed in the first half with nine in the second half. Additionally, every touchdown scored by the Seahawks was 12 yards or longer.
The Steelers only rushed the ball 16 times against the Seahawks, but they averaged over five yards per attempt in those carries. One of those rushes was a quarterback scramble by Mason Rudolph for seven yards. James Conner only averaged 3.0 yards per carry on his 11 attempts for 33 yards. Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell Jr combined for only 25% of the carries, but for 51% of the rushing yards.
One thing the Steelers have to consider is too easily showing what they’re doing on offense based on their formation. One example is the plays run out of shotgun versus under center. The Steelers threw the ball 82.9% of the time in Week 2 when in shotgun and ran the ball 71.4% of the time when the quarterback was under center. If comparing plays out of shotgun between Rothlisberger and Rudolph, their stats were almost identical: 14 of 17 were passes for Rothlisberger and 15 of 18 were passes for Rudolph. But when taking snaps under center, Rothlisberger ran a running play 85.7% of the time while plays under center from Rudolph were less predictable with runs coming only 57.1% of the time.
7-7, 38, 2
In Week 1, it took more than 58 minutes to get Vance McDonald involved in the game plan. In Week 2, he was targeted the first two passes of the game by the Steelers. On the day, McDonald caught all seven of his targets for 38 yards and two touchdowns.
Chris Boswell has made all of his kicks in 2019. He is 3/3 in field goals with a long of 41 yards while going 2/2 on extra points. Last season after two weeks, Boswell was 6/7 on extra points and 0/2 in field goal attempts.
So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ performance in their home opener at Heinz Field. Do these numbers accurately describe what transpired Sunday? Were there any other numbers not listed which really stood out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below.