Sometimes teams come out and do everything right and win in a decisive manner. Other times, every time a team is on the cusp of putting a game out of reach something just doesn’t go right. Unfortunately for the Steelers, it was the latter example for Week 2. Fortunately, the Steelers still found a way to win and push their record to 2-0 on the season. When it comes down to it, the win is all that matters as margin of victory means nothing in the NFL.
Even if the game stayed competitive longer than it appeared, here are some of the numbers which helped lead to the Steelers win on Sunday at the Heinz Field against the Broncos.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had both a 100 yard passer and a 100 yard rusher in Sunday’s win over the Broncos. With Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 311 yards and James Conner rushing for 106 yards, it was the first time the Steelers had a 300 yard passer and 100 yard rusher since Week 6 of the 2018 season. It was the same duo who shared this feat in 2018 in Cincinnati when Ben Roethlisberger threw for 369 yards and James Connor rushed for 111.
The main reason James Conner was able to go over 100 yards rushing for the day was due to his 59 yard run to seal the game with 1:44 remaining. Had it not been for this rush, instead of Conner finishing with 16 attempts for 106 yards and an average of 6.6 yards per carry, he would have only had 47 yards and an average of 3.1 yards per carry. So not only did the big run put away the game, it really helps to pad the stats.
With James Conner going over 100 yards rushing in the game, the Steelers are now the only team in the NFL to have a 100-yard rusher in each of their first two games in 2020. Ironically, it was not the same player each week as Benny Snell Jr rushed for over 100 yards in Week 1. In 2019, the Steelers only had a 100-yard rusher in one game. Two games into the 2020 season, they have already doubled their mark from last season.
How does a team follow up having a punt return for a touchdown called back on the penalty? They throw an 84 yard strike courtesy of Ben Roethlisberger to rookie Chase Claypool for his first NFL touchdown. With 127 receiving yards in his first two NFL games, Claypool has the third most receiving yards of a rookie in their first two games in Steelers history. Claypool is only behind Louis Lipps who had 260 yards in his first two games in 1984 and Ron Shanklin who had 196 receiving yards in his first two games in 1970.
59 & 25
The Steelers extended two league-leading streaks again in Week 2. The first one is continuing the frustrate Steelers’ fans as they have reached 25 staright games with at least one turnover. Ben Roethlisberger’s interception was the play which extended the streak, but it was Benny Snell’s fumble which really broke the hearts of Steelers’ Nation as it looked like they were just about to put the game away.
The other streak which continued for the Steelers was 59 regular season games with at least one sack. Recording the sacks for the Steelers were T.J. Watt (2.5), Tyson Alualu (1), Terrell Edmunds (1), Bud Dupree (1), Mike Hilton (1), and Cameron Heyward (0.5)
The Steelers managed to sack the Broncos quarterbacks seven times on Sunday. With five sacks occurring in the first half, it’s the most the Steelers had in the first half of a game since Week 1 of 2007. With 10 sacks through the first two weeks of the season, it was the first time the team hit double-digit sacks in only their second game since 2007.
The Steelers continued to turn their takeaways into points in 2020. This week, Steelers turned two takeaways into 10 points. Through their first two games, the Steelers have produced points on every takeaway this season with 19 points on three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
After being praised for their lack of penalties in Week 1, the Steelers had a rough day with the officials as they were flagged 10 times for 89 yards. Several of the flags came at key times after the Steelers had apparently made a third-down stop only to find the laundry on the field. The legitimacy of some of these penalties is open to interpretation. Regardless, this is an aspect of the Steelers’ game they need to clean up moving forward.
It’s not a stat, but to not recognize the great effort given by rookie offensive lineman Kevin Dotson is something I have to continually bring up. Forced into action due to injury very early in his career, Dotson stepped up in a big way and even earned a game ball from Ben Roethlisberger.
So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ performance Sunday against the Broncos. There were times the Steelers seemed to dominate while at others the outcome seemed to be highly in doubt. Although they are still a work in progress, it is great for the Steelers to pick up wins along the way as they continue to improve.
Were there any other numbers which stood out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below.