It was brutal.
If the notion were ever to apply to “burn the tape and just move on,” this would be one of those situations. In what was an embarrassing performance Sunday night in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the Pittsburgh Steelers fell to the New England Patriots by a score of 33-3. While usually there are at least some numbers that can be looked at positively in any Steelers game, it’s pretty difficult with this one.
There were many things that contributed to the Steelers loss, and the numbers outlined here probably only scratch the surface. When a game gets this far out of hand, there’s plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the ball. With that being said, the most glaring numbers in my opinion still lie with the offense. So here are some of the numbers which contributed to the Steelers loss in Week 1.
Game circumstances had a lot to do with it, but the Steelers only rushed the football on 21.3% of their offensive plays. A total of 14 rushing attempts in the contest, one of which was Roethlisberger on a seven-yard scramble, was all the Steelers chose to do Sunday night. Part of the reason the Steelers did not run the ball much was their running backs only averaged 2.08 yards per carry. James Conner rushed for 21 yards on 10 carries while Jaylen Samuels had a mere 4 yards on two rushing attempts. Even with the score being what it was, it was tough to continue to run the ball with such little production.
The Steelers finally got home on their pass rush of Tom Brady for the lone sack they managed for the game. Unfortunately, Bud Dupree’s sack didn’t come until there was under a minute left in the third quarter. It was imperative the Steelers get pressure on Tom Brady in order to have a successful night, but by the time the Steelers finally registered a sack the score was already 27-3.
It wasn’t until there was just over a minute left in the game when a Steelers’ tight end was targeted with a pass. On 3rd and 14 with 1:22 left in the 4th quarter, Ben Roethlisberger finally hit Vance McDonald for a 19 yard gain. In the final 90 seconds, McDonald ended up with two catches for 41 yards on four targets. While the stat line might not be the worst ever, the lack of inclusion in the game plan before the two-minute warning was baffling.
One thing many Steelers’s fans could not get over on Sunday night was Ben Roethlisberger’s insistence on continuing to throw the ball to Donte Moncrief. Targeted a team-high 10 times, Moncrief only ended up with 3 catches for 7 yards for an unimpressive average of 0.7 yards per target. Yes, you read that correctly. If the Steelers got the ball at their own 25 yard line, it would take 108 targets to Moncrief to get to the end zone based on the statistics from Week 1.
In the second quarter alone, the Steelers failed to convert three “and one yard” plays. With 10:40 left in the second quarter, the Steelers had a 3rd &1 on their own 30 yard line when James Conner came up inches short of the first down and the Steelers were forced to punt. On the next drive, James Conner lost 4 yards on 3rd & 1 on their own 44 yard line and were forced to punt again. Coming out of the two-minute warning, the Steelers went for it on 4th & 1 on the New England 47 yard line and failed to convert when Donte Moncrief did not come up with the catch. The only other drive in the quarter was a singe run play to end the half.
Since the NFL merger in 1970, Sunday was only the ninth game the Steelers lost by 30 or more points. The last time the Steelers lost by this many pints was the 34-3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 3 in 2016. So in 821 regular season and playoff games, the Steelers have only lost by 30 points or more 1.09% percent of the time, or every 91 games. Based on this average, hopefully Steelers’ fans do not have to feel this way again for another five seasons.
At least Chris Boswell made all of his kicks, even if it was just a 19-yard field goal.
So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ performance to open the 2019 season. Do these numbers accurately describe what transpired Sunday night? Were there any other numbers not listed which really stood out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below.