The Pittsburgh Steelers are making lots of big plays on offense. Unfortunately for them, they're allowing even more of those big plays.
According to Sporting Charts, the Steelers have made the sixth-most amount of big plays (defined as runs of 10 yards and more and passes of 20 yards and more) per snap. They have 24 big pass plays and 24 big run plays in 549 snaps, a percentage of 8.74.
Defensively, they've allowed 51 of those plays, the highest total in the league (note: they have played eight games, many teams have played only seven).
Their Week 9 opponents, the Baltimore Ravens, are third in the league with 9.06 percent but have only allowed 36 such plays, a number in the bottom half of the league. The consistency the Ravens have shown through their first eight games this season is excellent and should be a primary concern for the Steelers this weekend.
With a few notable injuries, it's still the same Ravens team that largely controlled the Steelers in Baltimore in Week 2. Three Steelers turnovers didn't help that, but the Ravens' strategy in these games recently, as The Standard is The Standard host Lance Williams pointed out on the podcast Wednesday, is to get the ball out of the hands of quarterback Joe Flacco. The Steelers haven't had much pass rush due to Flacco's quick, decisive release in recent games, and he hasn't turned the ball over very often either.
This limits the Steelers' abilities to make plays on the defensive side, and the Ravens have leaned on an effective, if not outstanding, running game to win the last two. Add in a few big special teams plays, and you have your difference.
If the Steelers want to compete in this game, it's going to be due to their ability to force Flacco to push the ball down the field more and give their pass rush a chance to get a few sacks. That will require tight coverage in the short field, and sound tackling after the catch.
Offensively, they will have to find ways to do much of the same; drive the ball downfield, as Baltimore's tough zone in the short field has been enough to limit most of their opponents so far this year.
Big plays will rule the day. It's a question of which team can make more of them, while also preventing more of them.