Against the Atlanta Falcons this past Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers defense allowed quarterback Matt Ryan to complete 4-of-6 passes thrown more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage. While allowing 66.7% of all deep passes to completed against you is never a good thing, at least only one of the six that Ryan connected on Sunday went for 20 yards or more.
This coming Sunday the Steelers will host the Kansas City Chiefs and while their quarterback Alex Smith doesn’t throw deep a lot, he’s fairly accurate when he does.
Through 15 games Smith has only attempted 49 passes that have flown 15 or more yards past the line of scrimmage. He has, however, completed 46.9% of those passes.
Against the Oakland Raiders this past week, Smith threw deep seven times and he completed three of those passes. It was the second time this season that he’s attempted that many deep passes in a game.
Surprisingly, ten of the 23 deep passes that Smith has completed this season have gone to tight ends with Travis Kelce leading all eligibles with seven receptions.
Smith has only thrown six interceptions all season, but four of those have come on passes thrown more than 15 yards down the field. Three of those four, however, came in the season-opener against the Tennessee Titans and the fourth came way back in Week 5. In other words, he hasn’t thrown a deep interception since early October.
Sunday against the Steelers, don’t be surprised if Smith exceeds his season average in deep passing attempts. When he does throw deep, look for him to target Kelce or wide receiver Jason Avant. The Steelers will likely be focused on stopping running backs Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis and that ought to set up a few play action deep pass attempts for Smith against a defense that has allowed 56.7% of all deep passes thrown this season to be completed.