The Pittsburgh Steelers performance against the Baltimore Ravens left a lot to be desired. For fans searching to take some positives out of the 26-6 loss, statistics show the Steelers weren't all bad in every category on Thursday night.
Steelers collecting the laundry
The Steelers were penalized 9 times for 75 yards on Thursday night, and those were just the accepted penalties. Of the Ravens 25 first downs, five of those came from penalties on Pittsburgh. In 2013, the Steelers were penalized 80 times in a 16-game season. After just two games in the 2014 season, the Steelers have already collected 20 penalties and are behind only the New England Patriots (24) as the most-penalized team in the NFL.
Not everything was purple and black
In terms of total yardage, the Steelers actually averaged more yards per play (5.3) than the Ravens, even though the Ravens out-gained the Steelers 323 to 301. On top of the total yards gained, the Steelers actually averaged five yards per carry, which was one yard more than the Ravens on the ground.
Move the chains
The Steelers struggled to sustain drives on Thursday night, and that was evident by the fact the Ravens had 25 first downs and the Steelers managed just 17. In fact, due to the lack of consistent drives from the Steelers' offense, the Ravens dominated the time of possession game by having the ball for 35:08 to Pittsburgh's 24:52. When a team isn't possessing the ball, and isn't scoring quickly, that typically leads to a result such as the 26-6 defeat the Steelers' suffered Thursday.
There were 9 Steelers offensive drives through four quarters in Baltimore. On those drives, the shotgun was used an exorbitant amount of times. The first drive: 10 of 12 plays were out of the shotgun; second drive: 2 of 3; third drive: 7 of 11; fourth drive: all 7 plays; fifth drive: all 5 plays; sixth drive: all 3 plays; seventh drive: the only play run was from the shotgun; eighth drive: all 6 plays; and the final drive: all 9 plays were out of the shotgun formation.
Understanding the Steelers wanted to give Roethlisberger the extra time the shotgun allows a quarterback, the elimination of standard plays with the quarterback under center certainly limits options in the run game as well as the play-action passing game.
Below the line
There's no debating Ben Roethlisberger was a bit off target Thursday night. He ended the night with a 64.8 passer rating. That marked only the sixth time since 2011 that Roethlisberger's rating dropped below 70, and the only time that happened in 2013 was the final game of the season vs. Cleveland when he had a 61.3 passer rating. On top of Roethlisberger's rating, just looking at his 2014 statistics show a completely different story. Roethlisberger's completion percentage vs. the Browns was 67.6 percent. Against the Ravens it dropped to 59.5 percent. In Week 1, Roethlisberger averaged 10.74 yards per completion against the Browns. Roethlisberger averaged only 5.87 yards per completion against the Ravens.
Spread the love
Roethlisberger targeted six different receivers in the loss to the Ravens. Antonio Brown had 12 targets, Markus Wheaton 8, Heath Miller 6, Le'Veon Bell 5, Justin Brown 4 and LeGarrette Blount 1. Of those 36 passes thrown, 22 were completed to receivers. The absence of Dri Archer from the lineup certainly altered the Steelers' plans heading into the Baltimore game, but bigger than the loss of Archer might have been the injury to Antonio Brown in the first quarter that had the Pro Bowler miss an entire quarter due to following proper concussion protocol.
Run Bell Run
Despite only carrying the ball 11 times, running back Le'Veon Bell was able to gain 59 yards on those carries, averaging a 5.4 yards per rush average. Through two games, Bell is averaging 5.3 yards per carry, and 84 yards per game. If the Steelers stick with the running game, that average could very well be over 100 yards per game before too long.
Eliminating the cushion
The Pittsburgh Steelers defensive backs were giving the Ravens' receivers plenty of cushion from the line of scrimmage, and it showed statistically. The Ravens averaged 5.7 yards per completion, and the Steelers only had two pass defenses the entire game. Cortez Allen and Ike Taylor both had one pass-deflection each. The Steelers' secondary's inability to stay with receivers and the tendency to be too soft in coverage is costing the defense not only in yards, but in time of possession.
'Rush the Quarterback'
That famous line uttered by Bill Cowher to Greg Lloyd remains famous throughout Steeler Nation. Too bad the current defense struggles with the premise. The Steelers registered zero quarterback hits on Joe Flacco and the Ravens. Flacco had all the time he needed to pick apart the secondary, and the secondary being exposed can be directly linked to the lack of quarterback pressure being delivered by the front seven.
Bend, but don't break
Although most was doom and gloom for the Steelers' defense, the red zone defense can certainly hang their hat on the fact they allowed the Ravens to go 2-6 in the red zone Thursday night. Granted, in a perfect world the defense wouldn't even allow the opponent into the red zone, but the defense kept the game somewhat close even though the offense was unable to put points on the board.
Did the Steelers find a punter?
Brad Wing had another solid game against the Ravens, and he was forced to be used more than in Week 1. Wing had 4 punts for 183 yards, or a 45.8 average. He pinned one punt inside the 20 and did not record a touchback. Although Wing is around 20th in almost all NFL statistics for punters, he is an improvement in an area the Steelers desperately needed consistency.
All statistics were gathered from ESPN.com.