Heading into the Week 14 game against the Buffalo Bills the Pittsburgh Steelers had been one of the most balanced offensive units in the NFL. Just take a look at the run/pass splits for the Steelers during their three game winning streak.
PIT vs. CLE: Pass Attempts: 36 / Rush Attempts: 28
PIT vs. IND: Pass Attempts: 20 / Rush Attempts: 29
PIT vs. NYG: Pass Attempts: 36 / Rush Attempts: 29
No, the numbers aren’t exactly 50-50, but that is about as close to balance between the pass and rush as you can find anywhere in the NFL in 2016. So, when the Steelers headed to Orchard Park, NY to play the Bills in a snow storm, you would think they would remain focused on the run, and balance it out with the pass — in that order. After all, it is this recipe which had them on a roll offensively.
What did fans see? The Steelers came out in a hurry-up, pass happy aerial attack. In the first half, the Steelers attempted 26 passes, completing 14, with two interceptions. They ran the ball 13 times.
The Steelers dominated the first half from a time of possession and total plays outlook. Pittsburgh had the ball for 18:05 in the first half, to Buffalo’s 11:55. So, let’s recap.
First half PIT vs. BUF: Pass Attempts: 26 / Rush Attempts: 13
Score at halftime: PIT: 14 / BUF: 7
The second half was a completely different story. In fact, the offense totally flipped the script from the first half, where the team threw twice as much as they ran the ball. It almost seemed as if the coaching staff was tired of Ben Roethlisberger’s mistakes, and wanted to simply bludgeon the Bills defense into submission.
And that is exactly what they did. Look at the numbers.
Second half PIT vs. BUF: Pass Attempts: 5 / Rush Attempts: 29
Add it all up and it seems more balanced than it really was.
PIT vs. BUF: Pass Attempts: 31 / Rush Attempts: 39 (not including kneel downs)
What do all these numbers show the Steelers? The team needs to remain balanced to succeed. This offense is based around Le’Veon Bell, and his freakish abilities as both a ball carrier and pass catcher. In other words, this offense is now the Le’Veon Bell show, and that isn’t a cut on Ben Roethlisberger or Antonio Brown. It has become very evident the team, and Roethlisberger, desperately need more viable weapons at the wide receiver position, but if the focus is on the running game the Roethlisberger will have the ability to pick his poison in the passing game.
The coaching staff might have tried to out-think themselves on Sunday when they decided to turn into Jim Kelly’s K-Gun offense in the snow at New Era Field, but hopefully this tale of two halves provides the blueprint for offensive success moving forward.