Welcome to the BTSC statistical breakdown of the most recent Steelers game. Rejoice Steeler Nation, our long national nightmare is finally over. The Steelers finally got back in the win column with a 24-9 thrashing of the Browns. It wasn’t a perfect win, but it counts just the same. Read below for a full breakdown of all the stats.
All stats are from the NFL, except for DYAR and DVOA rankings, which are from Football Outsiders.
Running Game: Le’Veon Bell was the star of the game for the Steelers on offense. Bell compiled 146 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries. This was the best rushing performance the Steelers have had in weeks. Bell’s famous patience was on display all game long as he waited for plays to develop, then used his athleticism to take advantage of the room that was available. Bell did fumble once in the game, but the ball went out of bounds so it didn’t hurt the Steelers. Bell has now found the end zone two weeks in a row on the ground.
Passing: Roethlisberger had a very strange game, statistically speaking. Big Ben threw for only 167 yards on 23 completions with no touchdowns or interceptions. The weather in Cleveland was miserable and Bell was having a dominant game on the ground, so it’s easy on some level to understand why the Steelers didn’t air it out more. On the other hand, the Steelers were playing the 0-11 Browns, so it’s a bit of a shock not to see a higher passing total from the Steelers star quarterback. Roethlisberger did successfully pass for a two-point conversion after Bell’s rushing touchdown when he located David Johnson in the end zone.
Despite his struggles, Ben Roethlisberger entered the record books Sunday afternoon because with the win Roethlisberger tied Derek Anderson for most wins at FirstEnergy stadium in Cleveland with ten. That stat perfectly shows how inept the Browns have been at finding a quarterback since their return to Cleveland.
The leading receiver for the Steelers was Antonio Brown, who caught eight passes for 76 yards. Brown made a few athletic plays during the game to move the chains for first downs that allowed the Steelers to run out the clock. Le’Veon Bell had eight receptions for 55 yards Sunday. When you combine Bell’s rushing and passing yards it comes to 201 yards from scrimmage, which is almost two thirds of the Steelers total yards on the day. Just a dominant performance by Bell. Cobi Hamilton, Jesse James and Eli Rogers also caught passes from Roethlisberger. Ladarius Green was targeted twice but failed to catch a ball on Sunday.
Defense: The Steelers defense should be the unit that gets the most praise from the coaches and fans this week. The Steelers held Browns quarterback Cody Kessler to 128 yards and only seven completions before he left the game with a concussion. Josh McCown didn’t do much better, completing only 14 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. Both quarterbacks only competed 50% of their passes. McCown did throw one 14-yard touchdown to tight end Gary Barnridge which made the score 17 -9 (Browns’ kicker Cody Parkey missed the extra point, a theme across the NFL on Sunday) in the fourth quarter. That’s as close as the Browns would come though.
Later in the fourth quarter the Steelers would end Cleveland’s threat of tying the game by scoring a defensive touchdown. Ryan Shazier forced a fumble a McCown fumble that rookie defensive tackle Javon Hargrave fell on in the end zone for a touchdown. That made the score 24-9 with a little over three minutes remaining in the game, which all but ended the game for the Browns.
The Steelers had eight passes defended (Shazier, Mike Mitchell twice, Artie Burns three times, Sean Davis and Daniel McCullers), eight sacks (Shazier, Stephon Tuitt, Lawrence Timmons, Arthur Moats, Hargrave, and James Harrison), and 14 quarterback hits. The Steelers leading tackler was Lawrence Timmons with eight combined tackles.
Efficiency: The Steelers were 5/12 on third down while the Browns were 4/15. The Steelers were 1/1 on fourth down while the Browns were a startling 5/5. The Steelers averaged 4.9 yards per play compared to 3.4 yards per play for the Browns. .
The Red Zone: The Steelers were 1/4 in the red zone while the Browns were 1/3.
Turnovers: The Steelers didn’t turn the ball over once. Le’Veon Bell fumbled but the ball fortunately hopped out of bounds.
Artie Burns earned his second interception of the year when he intercepted Cody Kessler early in the game. Ryan Shazier forced a fumble in the end zone that Javon Hargrave recovered for a touchdown.
Penalties: The Steelers continue to give up yards because of penalties. The Steelers gave up 70 yards on eight penalties. This is an area the Steelers desperately need to get under control in the second half of the year. The Browns gave up 52 yards on nine penalties.
Under Pressure: James Harrison became the Steelers all-time sack leader when he sacked Cody Kessler in the third quarter. Tuitt, Moats, Shazier, Hargrave, and Timmons all recorded sacks as well. Each Browns’ quarterback was sacked four times.
The Steelers offensive line did not surrender one sack and Roethlisberger was only hit four times. Jamie Collins and Danny Shelton each had one hit, while Emanuel Ogbah had two.
Kicking: Chris Boswell made all three of his field goal attempts and one extra point. He also had three kickoffs that were touchbacks, thus limiting the damage the Browns’ return game could do. A solid game from Boswell who hit field goals of 32, 33, and 22 yards.
As happy as Steelers fans are that their team won for the first time in a month, some are probably ready to discredit the win since it came against a Browns team that has a legitimate chance to go winless this year. That line of logic ignores the emotional impact of the win. The Steelers dominated an opponent that they were supposed to. After losing Cam Heyward for the seasons, the defense stood tall and was able to tally eight sacks. These are positive building blocks that instill a sense of confidence in the team, which is essential for a team like the Steelers that has been decimated by bad luck and injuries and now finds itself backed up against a wall having to fight to make the playoffs. The Steelers have a short week to be ready for the Indianapolis Colts on Thanksgiving night.