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Analyzing the Steelers Week 1 win over the Bengals, by the numbers

The Steelers pulled off the upset from the clutches of defeat.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 season is underway and the Steelers managed to get a road win in upset fashion. Additionally, with it being an AFC North matchup, the Steelers start off with a 1-0 record within the division as well. It started off well for the Steelers, but ultimately it took until the final seconds of overtime to secure the victory.

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


The Steelers defense had 5 takeaways against the Cincinnati Bengals and the offense took care of the football and didn’t have a turnover. Based on how the game played out, the Steelers needed a high turnover margin in order to secure victory. The Steelers scored 17 of their 23 points off turnovers and each one was a game-changer with the exception of their final interception which was on the fourth-down play and would have given the Steelers the ball regardless. The difference in these splash plays is what gave the Steelers the opportunity to squeak out the victory.


Not only did the Steelers take the ball away, they were putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. The Steelers finished the game with seven sacks of Joe Burrow and 11 quarterback hits.


There was a large discrepancy in the number of first downs each team achieved throughout the game. With the Bengals having 32 first downs with 22 coming by pass, 5 by rush, and 5 more from penalties, they had 19 more first downs in the Steelers who managed 13 in the game which were 4 from rushing, 8 from passing, and 1 from penalty.


Speaking of first downs, the Steelers actually won the battle of yards gained on first down against the Bengals as they gained 99 yards on 24 plays for a 4.125 yard per play average. Where the Steelers really came through in this category was in the first half and overtime. Over the first 30 minutes, the Steelers gained 50 yards on eight different first down plays for a 6.25 yards per play average. In overtime, the Steelers gained 39 yards on seven place for a 5.57 yards per play average. Where the Steelers lacked on first downs on offense came in the second half of the game where they only gained 10 yards on 9 plays as they had three plays with negative yardage. Although the Steelers gained more yards per play on first down, it was mainly due to the success of four plays of over 10 yards. Of the Steelers 24 first downs, 16 of them gained 2 yards or fewer.


Although the Bengals significantly out-gained the Steelers in the yardage department, the Steelers defense did a nice job of containing the Bengals most of the game on first down. Cincinnati had 166 yards on 43 plays for 3.86 yards per play average. The Steelers kept the Bengals under 4 yards per play throughout regulation but gave up 5.17 yards per play in overtime as the Bengals gained 31 yards on six first downs. In all, the Steelers threw the Bengals for a loss on six different first downs and held them to no gain on 12 more.


The Bengals ran 33 more players on offense than the Steelers as they nearly reached the century mark with 94. With all of this time moving the ball on offense, the Bengals had a decisive advantage in time of possession. Holding the ball for 43:43 of the 70 minutes played, they had a time of possession difference of 17:26 on the day.


Steelers struggled to run the ball in their opening game of the 2022 season. Even though they gained 75 yards on 22 carries which was a 3.4 Y/C, Steelers running backs only averaged 2.3 Y/C. Between Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, they rushed for 30 yards on 13 carries and both players had the same yards per rushing attempt. The Steelers leading rusher in the game was wide receiver Chase Claypool who had six carries for 36 yards.


Even though the Steelers surrendered 133 yards on the ground on Sunday, it was on 34 rushing attempts which was only for 3.9 yards per carry.


One of the big concerns of any game, win or loss, is the effect of injuries on the team moving forward. The Steelers had four players who left the game due to injury and did not return. It has been reported that Najee Harris should not be dealing with a serious injury to his foot as he left the game in overtime. Cornerback Levi Wallace left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury, and Robert Spillane was not able to finish the game due to an eye injury. The most concerning injury of them all came in the final moments of the fourth quarter when T.J. Watt left the game with what is believed to be a pectoral injury. While Steelers’ Nation fear Watt is going to be lost for a very significant amount of time, tests are set to take place on Monday.


The Steelers are one game into the season and one game down of their six AFC North contests. Although it wasn’t pretty, and there were multiple times it looked like it was going to be a defeat, the Steelers found a way to win the game and start their season by adding a number to their win column.

So there are some numbers to help put the Steelers Week 1 win in perspective. While it was not a complete game for the offense, the Steelers defense came through in a big way. If the Steelers can win games along the way as they look to improve each week, they will keep themselves in the discussion through January.

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