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Analyzing the Steelers preseason win over the Eagles, by the numbers

The Steelers domination in the second half stood out about everything else.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 preseason is rolling on and game number two is in the books. While the outcomes of these games are basically meaningless, the Steelers are 2-0 going into their only home preseason game next Saturday night when Ben Roethlisberger and company are set to play. But before we jump on that train, there is still plenty to break down from the Steelers 24-16 win over the Eagles.

So without further ado, here are some of the numbers involved in the Steelers win over the Eagles.


These first few numbers are going to highlight the dominant performance the Steelers had in the second half, particularly on defense. After the midway intermission of the game, the Steelers came out in the second half and did not allow a single first down for the remainder of the night. That’s correct, zero first downs after halftime.


The Steelers dominance in the second half doesn’t end there. The Philadelphia Eagles offense only ran 11 plays in the second half. Of those 11 plays, two of them were interceptions by the Steelers with another play being a sack. The only downfall to this is it’s difficult to get multiple reserves into the game to get a look when there were so limited opportunities.


Between a sack and penalties, the Philadelphia Eagles had a total of -3 yards in the second half. That’s correct folks, the Steelers defense, albeit made up of reserves, held the Eagles to negative yards for the final 30 minutes of the game.


The Pittsburgh Steelers offense managed 26 first downs in the game. To put it into perspective, the Steelers had 15 first downs in the Hall of Fame Game, so a 73% increase in a week is a welcomed sight on the offensive side of the ball.


While we know it was true in the second half, the Steelers did not allow any third-down conversions in the first half either. In all, the Eagles were zero for eight on third-down conversions. Even though they put together four scoring drives, when the Steelers defense were given a play in which they could get off the field, they came through every time.


Seeing the Steelers notch 152 yards on the ground was a very welcomed site. If looking strictly at running back‘s, the Steelers had 160 yards rushing as Josh Dobbs, Chase Claypool, and Dwayne Haskins combined for -8 yards rushing. Still looking just at the running backs, the Steelers carried the ball 37 times for a 4.3 yard average. This is even after three of the best runs of the night were called back due to penalties.


The Steelers ran 38 more offensive plays than the Eagles on Thursday night. With the Steelers running 80 plays to the Eagles 42, they came up just short of doubling them in the number of plays. The Steelers did manage to more than double the time of possession as they held the ball for 41:13 where the Eagles only possessed the ball for 18:47.


The big stain on the Steelers overall performance was the 79-yard touchdown pass given up in the first quarter from Joe Flacco to Quez Watkins. The ball was thrown just behind the line of scrimmage for a wide receiver screen that busted through the crowd and went the distance. It was the first and only touchdown the Steelers have given up this preseason through two games. Still, it was a play the Steelers should have been able to stop.


Once again, the Steelers got a lot of players in on the action on offense, particularly in the passing game. The Steelers targeted 15 different receivers in the game, at every player who was targeted had at lest one reception. Leading the way was Rico Bussey with four receptions for 45 yards where he caught every one of his targets. The most targeted receiver was Cody White with six targets and five receptions for 39 yards. In all, the Steelers targeted six wide receivers, five running backs, and four tight ends.


The most concerning stat through two weeks of the NFL preseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers is a fact they have only put up seven total points in the first half. With the players likely to receive more playing time in the regular season seeing the field earlier in games, it is concerning that the Steelers offense has not come through when many potential starters have been in the game.

So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ second preseason game of the 2021 season. It wasn’t pretty early on, but the Steelers dominated the second half to win the game and get a good look at a lot of their young players, at least on offense.

So what numbers from Thursday night’s game stand out to you? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.