The Pittsburgh Steelers are 11-2 and hoping to get back to their winning ways in Week 15 as they face the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. Even after starting off with the best record to open a season in franchise history, the Steelers still have some offensive issues from 2019 that have unfortunately made their way into 2020.
In this installment of Crunching the Numbers, we’ll take a look at the Steelers inability to hit the ground running on offense both to start the game and coming out of halftime.
In 2019, the Pittsburgh Steelers only scored 6 points on opening drives for the entire season. In 2020, it hasn’t been that much of an improvement. With three games left to go in the season, the Steelers have only scored 13 points on their opening drives. The Steelers scored field goals to open the game against the Houston Texans in Week 3 and the Cleveland Browns in Week 6. Their lone touchdown came in Week 7 against the Tennessee Titans.
With the last score on their opening drive being in Week 7, the Steelers have now gone 7 straight games where they have not scored points on their first drive of the game. In those last seven games, the Steelers have 5 punts, one fumble, and a missed field goal after recovering an attempted on side kick against Jacksonville.
To put into perspective how unacceptable it is the Steelers have not scored a point on their opening driver the game the last seven weeks, the 1-13 New York Jets extended their streak of scoring points in their opening possession to 8 games in their Week 15 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Over the last seven games, the Steelers only have a total of five first downs on their opening possessions. One first down came in Week 8 against Baltimore before the drive ended on a lost fumble by Chase Claypool. The following week the Steelers achieved two first downs against the Dallas Cowboys before having to punt. The Steelers also had one first down in Week 10 and Week 11 against the Bengals and Jaguars. For the last three games, the Steelers have gone to three and out on their opening position.
Over this seven-game stretch where the Steelers can’t score points on their first offensive possession, the longest drive was against the Dallas Cowboys which totaled 25 yards. Even worse, the Steelers only have 19 total yards of offense on their opening drive in the last three games combined.
When looking at the Steelers opening drive of the second half, some of the numbers are exactly the same. For example, the Steelers have scored 13 points on the season on their first drive of the second half. The Steelers scored a field goal to start the second half against the Houston Texans and found the end zone the following game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Once again, the last game in which the Steelers scored points on their opening drive the second half was in Week 7 against the Tennessee Titans when they scored a field goal. Unfortunately, the field goal against the Titans was their last score of the game in which they narrowly held on for the victory.
Because it was in Week 7 just like their possessions to open the game, the Steelers have also gone seven straight games without scoring on their opening possession of the second half. Over that stretch, they have six punts and one drive where they turned the ball over on downs.
Where the numbers begin to be even worse when it comes to the Steelers first drive of the second half starts with the number of first downs they’ve had since they played the Titans in Week 7. The Steelers only have a total of 3 first towns on the first drive coming out of the second half in their last seven games. Those first downs came one in each game in both matchups against the Ravens and their game against Washington.
Previously I listed the number of yards in the longest opening drive of the game over the Steelers last seven games. In this case, 34 yards is the total number of yards in drives to begin the second half for the Steelers in their past seven games. Even worse, 24 of the 34 yards came in Week 8 against Baltimore. This means the Steelers only have 10 total yards of offense on their first drive of the second half over the last six games. It definitely doesn’t help that three of those six games the Steelers had negative yardage on their first possession coming out of halftime.
So there are some numbers in regards to the Steelers first offensive possession of each half. Over the last seven games, the Steelers have been particularly terrible when it comes to starting each half. Starting the game slow is very frustrating, but starting the second half even slower is embarrassing. After the halftime break and getting an opportunity to make adjustments, the Steelers have been having some of the worst offensive drives of the season.
After crunching the numbers, Steelers’ fans should just be hopeful that this offense can get going these last three regular season games when it comes to their opening drive of the game and coming out after halftime.