The Pittsburgh Steelers were 26-14 victors over the Cleveland Browns in Week 17 on Monday Night Football. The event was known by many simply for it being Ben Roethlisberger’s last game at Heinz Field. Nonetheless, when you look at some of the statistics from the game, via ESPN’s Next Generation (Gen) Stats, the performance was more than just Roethlisberger’s home swan song.
It was dominant.
T.J. Watt finished with four sacks on the night, but it has been an amazing season for the former Wisconsin Badger. Already with 21.5 sacks, his ability to rush the passer is better illustrated in the following stat:
T.J. Watt has generated a sack on 6.1% of his pass rushes this season, the highest single-season sack rate in the Next Gen Stats era. (minimum 200 pass rushes)
Steelers fans around the globe know the latter years of Ben Roethlisberger’s career have been known for quick passing. The ability for him to get the football out of his hands has been a signature of his game, whether you like it or not, for two seasons now. This trend continued in 2021 as Roethlisberger, again, led the NFL in quickest time to throw.
Ben Roethlisberger averaged 2.22 seconds time to throw on Monday Night Football. Of note, he released the ball in 1.2 sec on his 5-yard TD pass to Diontae Johnson. He’s had the quickest time to throw in back-to-back seasons (2021: 2.37 sec; 2020: 2.30 sec).
The Watt and Roethlisberger statistics are all well and good, but I can’t say I’ve seen a statistic like the one below in my life. Najee Harris hasn’t had an easy rookie season, not playing behind that offensive line. No, he has had to work for every yard gained, and Monday night was no different. According to Next Gen Stats, of Harris’ 188 yards, 181 of them came after contact.
Najee Harris set new career-highs for rushing yards (188) and RYOE (+65). He gained 181 of his 188 yards after contact, the 3rd most in a game in the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016).
These statistics, especially Watt and Harris, are absolutely mind-boggling. It was their performances which helped catapult the Steelers’ record to 8-7-1 and keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Without them playing out of their minds, fans might be singing a different tune heading into Week 18.
What do you think about these stats? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.