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Analyzing the Steelers Week 5 loss to the Bills, by the numbers

When the final score is 38-3, there’s not a lot of numbers to be encouraged.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 season is now more than a quarter of the way over and the Steelers suffered a humiliating defeat in Buffalo. Dropping to 1-4, the Steelers now have put themselves in a big hole to start the season with not a lot to be encouraged about from their most recent performance. In such a bad loss, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit when it comes to numbers and I’m going to grab it.

So without further ado, here are some of the numbers involved in the Steelers loss to the Bills.


I start with this number each week, but I’ll use this particular digit in a lot of other places. Although the Steelers did turn the ball over twice, it wasn’t that they were big losers in that department. Getting two takeaways themselves, the turnover margin ended up even for the day. But the Bills didn’t need it.


The Steelers thought they were starting the game on the right foot, but they ultimately surrendered a 98-yard touchdown on the Bills’ third offensive play of the game. Less than a minute into the game, the Bills had already scored enough points to ultimately secure the victory.


Because of the fumbled kickoff, the Steelers did not get an offensive possession until the Bills had possessed the ball twice. On that first possession, a promising drive ended with a 29-yard field goal by Chris Boswell. In the next 10 drives by the Pittsburgh Steelers, they came away with zero points for the remainder of the game.


Despite only throwing one pass in the fourth quarter before being pulled from the game, Bills quarterback Josh Allen passed for 424 yards in the game. It was the most passing yards the Steelers have surrendered to a quarterback since Tom Brady threw for 432 yards in Week 9 of 2013.


Having only scored three points in the game, the Steelers obviously did not convert any touchdowns in the red zone. Getting inside their opponents 20-yard line on four occasions, the 0–4 red zone efficiency is yet another negative to take away from the game.


Being on the wrong side of the time of possession the first three weeks of the season, the Steelers were basically dead even in their last matchup. Against the Bills, the Steelers held a more than 12 minute advantage as they possessed the ball for 36:08 compared to the Bills 23:52. With the Bills scoring so quickly, it makes sense that the Steelers have the ball longer. The Steelers actually had two more first downs than the Bills (23 to 21), and ran 18 more plays (72 to 54).


Although the Steelers did come away with two takeaways, they did not force a punt by the Buffalo Bills until after Josh Allen had been pulled from the game.


The Steelers got the ball on their second possession trailing the Bills by a score of 10–3. Needing to keep pace with the high-powered Buffalo offense, the Steelers went three and out on the next three positions. In the three drives, the Steelers only gained 14 yards and on the first drive they were also set back on a 10-yard holding penalty. The Steelers ran five times for 11 yards on the three drives and completed two of four passes for 13 yards. The Steelers also added another three and out in the fourth quarter.


The Steelers defense defended 36 passing attempts but could not get home to get a sack. Not only were there no sacks, there was only one quarterback hit by the Steelers and it was attributed to safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.


After looking at the significant time of possession for the Steelers, a lot of it can be contributed to the Bills ability to score quickly. In their five touchdowns on the day, four of the touchdown drives consisted of three plays or less. Buffalo had scoring drives that were three plays, one play, two plays, and two plays. On these four scoring drives, the Bills gained 278 yards on eight plays for an average of 34.75 yards per play.


It’s still the only number that matters. Whether the Steelers lost by 35 points or by one point, it’s still a loss and it pushed them to 1–4 on the season.

So there are some numbers to help put the Steelers Week 5 loss in perspective. Even though the offense moved the ball between the 20s, the were unable to find the end zone as the defense gave up over 500 yards.

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