The Pittsburgh Steelers got back on track Sunday afternoon as they clinched the AFC North Championship by defeating the Indianapolis Colts. Looking like the offense Steelers’ fans had seen the previous four games, the Steelers came out of the locker room like the team that rolled off win after win to start the season.
After starting a new win streak at the end of the season, here are some of the numbers which helped lead to the Steelers 28-24 win over the Colts.
The Steelers were able to sack quarterback Philip Rivers 5 times during the game on Sunday. The Colts came into the game with the second fewest amount of sacks surrendered (16) only behind the Steelers (12). Yes, the Colts were missing their two starting tackles due to injury and COVID-19, but the Steelers took advantage of the situation and had the most sacks in a game since Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles. With the 5 sacks on Sunday, it marks the fourth straight season the Steelers will have reached the 50 sack plateau and has the team is 4 sacks away from tying the franchise record of 56 in 2017. T.J. Watt added 2.0 sacks on Sunday to bring his league-leading total to 15.0 in 2020.
The Steelers did their part in the turnover department on both sides of the ball on Sunday. Not only did the Steelers offense not turn the ball over, the defense had two takeaways. The first takeaway set up the offense to only need 3 yards for a touchdown in the first half where the second takeaway stopped the Colts’ drive in attempt to take the lead in the fourth quarter. The Steelers almost had a third takeaway in the fourth quarter to seal the victory but was nullified by a penalty.
With less than 20 minutes remaining in the game, the Pittsburgh Steelers trailed the Colts by 17 points. This comeback was the largest the Steelers had overcome under head coach Mike Tomlin.
It took the Steelers less than 11 minutes on the clock to erase a 17-point deficit and take a four-point lead by putting up 21 points with three touchdowns in the second half. The touchdowns came on three consecutive drives and happened in 10:45 of game time.
Not only did the Steelers offense have to do their part in Sunday’s comeback, the defense stepped up after the Steelers failed to score on their opening drive of the second half and turned the ball over on downs at the Colts’ 2 yard line. On the next three drives, the Steelers defense only surrendered 28 total yards and just one first down in order to give the offense the ball in the fourth quarter trailing by three points.
It was a big difference between the first and second half for the Pittsburgh Steelers, particularly Ben Roethlisberger. Passing for exactly 100 yards in the first half, with more than 40 of those yards coming inside the final 10 seconds of the half, Roethlisberger exploded with 242 passing yards in the second half against the Colts. After completeing 11 of 21 passes in the first half, Roethlisberger was 23 of 29 with 3 touchdown passes over the final 30 minutes.
In a repeat number, the Steelers scored 28 points against the Colts on Sunday. It snapped a streak of four consecutive games in which the Steelers did not score 20 points.
One thing which was very curious when it came to the Indianapolis Colts was their decision to only rush the ball 8 times in the second half. When comparing the two halves, the Colts ran 34 plays in the first half in which they rushed the ball 20 times for 77 yards. In the second half, the Colts also ran 34 plays but only rushed the ball 8 times for 50 yards. So the Colts were even more efficient rushing the ball in the second half even though they chose to run the ball less than half the amount of times.
After neither player was targeted in the first half, wide receivers Chase Claypool and James Washington saw 9 passes thrown their way in the second half against the Colts. Claypool finished the game with 4 catches on 6 targets for 54 yards while Washington caught 2 passes on 3 targets for 20 yards.
The more important number 9 is this season was the 9th time the Steelers have won the AFC North since the divisions were realigned for the 2002 season. The Steelers lead the way with their 9 AFC North Championships with the Baltimore Ravens having won 6 times and the Cincinnati Bengals 4 times.
So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ win over the Colts on Sunday. As shaky as the Steelers’ start was, turning things around after halftime was exactly what both the team and its fan base needed heading into the 2020 postseason.
There were so many more numbers than the ones listed above. Were there any other numbers which stood out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below.