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Statistical analysis of the Steelers Week 9 loss to the Ravens

A statistical analysis of the Steelers’ loss to Ravens in Week 9 of NFL action.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the BTSC statistical breakdown of the most recent Steelers game. After the bye week gave the team a week to get healthy the Steelers traveled to Baltimore to take on their divisional rivals to attempt to end the slide they’ve been on. Unfortunately, the Steelers probably could have used another day off because the team didn’t show up until the fourth quarter and looked out of sync all day on their way to their straight loss. Below are the stats from the frustrating weekend.

All stats are from the NFL, except for DYAR and DVOA rankings, which are from Football Outsiders.

Running Games: It was Ben Roethlisberger’s first game back from the knee injury that forced him to sit out the Patriots game, so it figured the franchise quarterback would be rusty out of the gate and the Steelers would try and ease him into the game by running the ball a lot. The Steelers only ran the ball 12 times with Le’Veon Bell and once with DeAngelo Williams. Bell gained 32 yards while Williams gained only one on his one attempt. The Steelers were forced to abandon the run game when they fell behind by double digits in the second half but 12 rushing attempts is putrid. Heading into the game the Ravens defense was ranked first in the NFL in DVOA against the run, and sixth overall, so moving the ball at all was going to be tough, but given the way Bell has looked this year his final stat line left a lot to be desired. Ben Roethlisberger did run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, his first time doing so in three seasons.

Passing: After seeing how he played on Sunday there are many fans speculating whether or not Roethlisberger rushed himself back into action too soon. Roethlisberger looked terrible up until the fourth quarter when the offense started using more no huddle and allowing Roethlisberger to call his own plays. At halftime, Roethlisberger was only 7 for 14 for 50 yards. He ended the game 23 of 45 for 264 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Fans and certain media members will speculate if there is a feud between Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger because of how much better the offense looked with Ben heading the unit. That speculation may be off base but it’s clear there was a disconnect between what the offensive coordinator wanted to run and what the quarterback felt confident in doing.

The leading receiver for the Steelers was Eli Rogers who had six receptions for 103 yards. Antonio Brown, who called out some of his teammates after the game for failing to show up, had seven receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown. Sammie Coates was targeted five times but didn’t record a single reception, not a good day for the young receiver, who just a few weeks ago was making big plays down the field. In total, six different Steelers caught a pass.

Defense: Joe Flacco completed 18 passes on 30 attempts for 241 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. 95 of those yards came on a touchdown pass to Mike Wallace when he took advantage of the Steelers poor tackling to take a short pass all the way to the end zone. Remove that one play and Flacco’s numbers don’t look like the typical numbers of a winning quarterback in 2016. The Ravens leading receiver was Wallace who had 124 yards and a touchdown on four receptions, but again, 95 of those yards came on one play.

The Ravens ground game wasn’t much better. Their leading rusher was Terrance West who had 21 yards on 15 attempts. As a team, the Ravens only rushed for 50 yards on 29 attempts. On the whole, the Steelers defense played well enough to keep Pittsburgh in the game. The Steelers held Baltimore to field goals on two promising drives to keep the score only 13-0 heading into the fourth. With the talent, the Steelers have on offense that should be enough to keep the game competitive, but the offense figuratively, and literally, dropped the ball.

The Ravens scored one offensive touchdown on Sunday, Wallace’s 95-yard score in the first quarter. Justin Tucker added field goals of 42 yards and 49 yards in the second and third quarters. On the opening play of the fourth quarter Ravens special teamer Javorius Allen blocked a Jordan Berry punt and Chris Moore picked it up for a 14-yard score. Joe Flacco hit Steve Smith for a two-point conversion to give the Ravens a 21-0 lead.

The Steelers had four passes defended (Lawrence Timmons and Artie Burns each had two), three sacks (James Harrison had two while Ryan Shazier and Anthony Chickillo each were credited with a half sack), and six quarterback hits. The Steelers intercepted Flacco once and were able to force two fumbles, but were not able to recover them.

The Steelers leading tacklers were Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier each with nine combined tackles.

Efficiency: The Steelers were 4/16 on third down while the Ravens were 4/17. The Steelers were 1/2 on fourth down. Both teams averaged 4.3 yards per play. Of the Steelers 15 drives in the game 9 were three and outs.

The Red Zone: The Steelers were 1/2 in the red zone while the Ravens were 0/1.

Turnovers: Ben Roethlisberger had one interception during the game. After a ball was batted at the line of scrimmage it fell right into the waiting hands of Ravens’ defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan.

For the Steelers, Artie Burns notched the first interception of his career when he picked off Joe Flacco in the first quarter. The Steelers were unable to put points on the board after the turnover to make it hurt the Ravens to the dismay of their fans. This has been a problem two weeks in a row now. Turnovers are great, but converting them into points really helps move a team closer to winning.

Ryan Shazier and James Harrison were each able to force fumbles but the Ravens recovered both of them.

Penalties: The Steelers had 13 penalties for 99 yards on Sunday, a horrendous lack of discipline by the players. The Ravens weren’t much better, committing ten penalties for 94 yards.

Under Pressure: James Harrison did his usual work against the Ravens where he had two sacks and a forced fumble on Joe Flacco. Anthony Chickillo and Ryan Shazier each had a half sack as well. Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward both recorded quarterback hits as well.

The Steelers offensive line did well against a vicious Ravens secondary. They limited the Ravens to two sacks (Matt Judon and Jerraud Powers) and three quarterback hits (Powers, Judon, and Suggs).

Kicking: Not that the Steelers were expected to win this game after trailing by 21 in the fourth, but the onside kick attempt by Boswell was pitiful. If the team is going to attempt some kind of fancy trick play they need to at least get the kick off to save face. Instead Boswell lightly grazed the ball forcing it to just roll over. Ball game Ravens.

The last time the Steelers had a successful onside kick was December 30th 2007, against Baltimore when Nate Washington recovered Jeff Reed’s kick in a loss.

The Steelers had a punt blocked against them for the first time since Ben Roethlisberger attempted a punt against the Colts in 2014 and Jonathan Newsome was able to block it.

This is a loss that should make the Steelers angry. As the stats show, the Ravens did not play a good game at all. Subtract the Wallace touchdown and the offense scored six points while the quarterback threw for 136 yards. In the offensively explosive era the NFL is currently in the middle of, that kind of offensive production is not typical of a winning football team. Essentially, the Ravens made two big plays and the Steelers couldn’t find a way to make any until it was too late.

As a team with a .500 record, the Steelers are at a crossroads with where the season can go from here. They have enough talent to pull it together and make a run in the second half of the year. But as the saying goes, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.