Welcome to the BTSC Steelers Thursday Statistical break down. Below is a breakdown of the Steelers most recent game, taking a look at what they did well, and what areas they need to work on. After being absolutely demolished by the Eagles the stats, as you may suspect, are not pretty. Still, they are worth examining to see what the team could change for next week.
All stats are from the NFL, except for DYAR and DVOA rankings, which are from Football Outsiders.
Running Games: The Eagles shut down the Steelers running game early on. As the Eagles pulled away on the scoreboard, Pittsburgh naturally had to start throwing more. Pittsburgh only ran for 29-yards as a team, led by DeAngelo Williams who had 21-yards on 8 attempts, only one of which was for a first down.
The good news for Pittsburgh is that Le’Veon Bell returns this week and should offer an immediate jolt to the offense. Kansas City is ranked only 16th in rush DVOA so Bell should have plenty of room to run.
Passing: Ben Roethlisberger was clearly not himself Sunday. His final stat line was 24-44 for 257 yards no touchdowns and one interception. This is now the third straight game Roethlisberger has thrown an interception. Roethlisberger also lost a fumble. Big Ben was facing pressure all game, and it clearly rattled him to some extent; however, with no running game and dropped balls from his receivers he didn’t receive much help either.
Leading the way among the receivers was Antonio Brown, who was targeted a whopping 18 times and caught balls for 140-yards. Unfortunately, nobody else on the team had more than 50-yards receiving. The lowlight of the group was Markus Wheaton having only one reception for two yards in his season debut, including a dropped pass in the end zone on the first drive of the game.
Defense: So far the Steelers had been utilizing a “bend but don’t break” method of defense. Last Sunday the Eagles were able to bend and break the defense. Rookie Carson Wentz was 23- 31 for 301-yards and two touchdowns. He wasn’t sacked once and was only hit three times. The leading receiver for the Eagles was Darren Sproles who had six receptions for 128-yards and a touchdown. Jordan Matthews also caught touchdown. The Eagles were able to take pressure off their rookie quarterback by running the ball effectively for 125 yards. Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner were able to score on the ground for Philadelphia.
Sean Davis led the Steelers with 7 combined tackles.
Efficiency: The Steelers were 4/11 on third down and 0/2 on fourth down. The Eagles were held to 4/10 on third down and 1/1 on fourth down. The Eagles averaged 7.0 yards per play compared to just 4.3 for the Steelers.
The Red Zone: So far this season the Steelers had been able to dig in once they got into the red zone. Their inability to do so last week cost them dearly. The Steelers were 0-2 while the Eagles went 3-5. Scoring touchdowns instead of field goals is a huge advantage. The Steelers couldn’t keep up on Sunday.
Turnovers: The Steelers weren’t able to get any takeaways against the Eagles Sunday.
The Eagles picked off Roethlisberger once (Rodney McLeod) and recovered a fumble by Roethlisberger (Brandon Graham). The Eagles were able to covert the latter into points.
Penalties: The Steelers were the more disciplined team, committing only seven penalties for 77 yards while the Eagles committed ten penalties for 99 yards. The Steelers weren’t able to make the Eagles pay for their indiscretions, but the Eagles were able to secure four first downs through penalties.
Under Pressure: A common theme that has emerged in 2016 that has angered the fans is the lack of pressure the defense is putting on quarterbacks. To be fair, some of the lack of pressure is certainly part of the scheme the Steelers want to run on defense. However, even with all the extra defenders playing back, Wentz was able to pick apart the secondary to the tune of 301 yards passing. The Steelers need to start rushing the passer more to take some of the pressure off of the young defensive backs.
The Steelers struggled to keep the Philadelphia pressure off Roethlisberger. The Eagles registered four sacks, (Two by Fletcher Cox, one by Bennie Logan and one by Brandon Graham) and seven QB Hits.
Kicking and Punting: The lone score for the Steelers was a 40-yard field goal from kicker Chris Boswell in the second quarter. Boswell also had a field goal blocked, which was the first time the Steelers had an attempted kick blocked since Houston blocked Shaun Suisham in 2011.
Jordan Berry had another good day punting the football. He averaged 55 -yards a punt with no touchbacks and one punt downed inside the 20. It’s a small consolation prize when your punter is your best player, but Berry deserves some recognition none the less.
The Steelers are still 2-1 and very much alive in the race. Outside of the most optimistic fans, nobody was betting on the Steelers going 16-0. Better to get a bad loss of out the way in September than in January. The Steelers look to get back on track against Kansas City next week in Pittsburgh.