The 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their first game at Heinz Field this season as they fell to the Las Vegas Raiders by a score of 26-17. After coming up with the upset victory to start the year, the Steelers showed they are still a work in progress early in the season.
So without further ado, here are some of the numbers involved in the Steelers to the Raiders in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers surrendered 425 yards to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. The yardage came on 64 offensive plays with 52 rushing yards and 373 net passing yards. The Steelers only gave up 139 yards to the Raiders in the first half, but surrendered 286 yards in a second half.
It was a physical game on Sunday and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was roughed up throughout the game. In all, the Raiders were credited with 10 quarterback hits and two sacks. Maxx Crosby alone tallied five of the quarterback hits on Roethlisberger as the offensive line struggled to keep their QB upright.
Despite an offseason focus to improve their rushing attack, the Steelers only had 39 rushing yards on 14 carries for a 2.8 yard average. Of these yards, 38 of them belonged to Najee Harris on 10 carries for a 3.8 yard average. The lone rushing touchdown for the Steelers came courtesy of wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Harris was also involved with the passing game where he had 43 yards on 5 receptions and a touchdown.
By the end of the second quarter, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense was missing four starters. With Joe Haden and Devin Bush both on the inactive list with groin injuries sustained on Friday at practice, the Steelers also lost nose tackle Tyson Alualu on the first defensive drive of game with a fractured ankle. Late in the second quarter, T.J. Watt limped off the field and did not return due to a groin injury. The four missing starters are all former first-round picks with three of them being top-ten picks and the other being T.J. Watt. These missing starters do not include Stephon Tuitt who is currently on the Reserve/Injured List.
With just under 10 minutes left in the game, the Pittsburgh Steelers were defending a 3rd & 10 play on the Raiders 39-yard line. If the defense could hold, a punt would likely be forthcoming with a chance for Steelers to regain the lead. Instead, the Steelers surrendered a 61-yard pass from Derek Carr to Henry Ruggs. The score was the final touchdown of the game and ultimately secured the victory for Las Vegas as the two teams exchanged field goals from that point on.
Despite only scoring 17 points in the game, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense was more likely to push the ball down the field this week then they were in Week 1. Ben Roethlisberger attempted eight passes of 20 or more air yards after having none the previous week. Roethlisberger completed two of these passes with one of the incompletions being an interception.
Speaking of Ben Roethlisberger’s interception, the Steelers finished -1 in turnover margin this week with having one turnover and no takeaways. The Raiders were able to turn the Roethlisberger interception into three points and the Steelers were unable to force a takeaway to help balance the equation.
Since drafting Devin Bush in 2019, the Steelers have not fared well when both Bush and Joe Haden have been out of the lineup. Dropping games in 2020 to the Buffalo Bills and the final two games of the season to the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers pushed their record to 0–4 on Sunday when both Bush and Haden are not in the lineup. It is the sixth-straight loss the Steelers have suffered in games Joe Haden has missed.
Despite the loss, the Steelers were kept in the game when Chris Boswell hit a 56-yard field goal with just under four minutes remaining in the game. The successful kick turned it into a one-score game at the time as Boswell connected on the longest successful field goal in Heinz Field history.
When all the other numbers are said and done, the most significant is that Steelers now have a one in the loss column. With the entire AFC North now tied with a 1–1 record, the Steelers need to regroup quickly in order to get back to increasing their number in the win column.
Another use of the number one which may help keep things in perspective for the 2021 season is the Steelers offense actually scored one more point than the previous week. With the Steelers scoring a special teams touchdown in Week 1, the offense managed three field goals and a touchdown against the Bills while scoring two touchdowns and a field goal in Week 2.
So there are some numbers to help put the Steelers Week 2 loss in perspective. With the offense struggling to put points on the board again this week, the losses on defense appeared to be too much to pull out a victory. When looking at the two games so far this season, the Steelers are going to have to make significant strides each week as well as avoid the injury bug in order to grind out wins.
So what numbers from Sunday’s game stand out to you? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.