Numbers Crunch: Steelers vs Saints

By Alex Kozora

Breaking down the Pittsburgh Steelers 35-32 loss to the New Orleans Saints yesterday afternoon.

– It took the Steelers until the final 2:34 to surpass the 20 point threshold. Disappointing considering the sorry state of the Saints’ offense. New Orleans had allowed 20+ in all but two games in 2014.

Ben Roethlisberger had a horrific game. Before garbage time offense inflated the numbers, Roethlisberger was 19/41. That’s a completion percentage of 46.3, his worst since November of 2008.

– During the Steelers’ winning streak in Weeks 7-9,  Roethlisberger threw just one INT over 136 attempts. In the last three games, he’s thrown five INTs over 133.

– His 58 attempts today were a career high and the third most by a quarterback in 2014.

– He didn’t do a good job of spreading the wealth, either. 29 of Roethlisberger’s 32 completions came from starters.

– The Steelers allowed 5.5 YPC to the Saints Sunday, the third time this season that’s happened. That’s the second straight year that’s occurred. The last time the Steelers gave up 5.5+ YPC in three separate instances since 1999.

If you remove the garbage runs on the final drive, the Saints ran for 6 YPC. Still the third time that’s happened in 2014. And the last time that happened was 1954 – one of those instances coming against the Chicago Cardinals.

– 11 of the Saints 26 runs went for five or more yards.

Drew Brees threw 5 touchdowns on 19 completions. That’s only happened against the Steelers once in team history. 1962 when Eddie LeBaron and Dandy Don Meredith combined for 5 TDs on 13 completions as the Dallas Cowboys won 42-27.

– Brees threw for 257 yards Sunday but only one Saints’ receiver had more than 17 yards.

– The Steelers continue to allow explosive plays. For the third straight week, the Steelers were responsible for allowing the opponent’s longest pass play of the season. 67 against the New York Jets, 80 against the Tennessee Titans, and 69 against the Saints.

– I’ll preface this by saying I’m not positive if this stat is accurate but Pro Football Reference, my go to site for stats, says it is. This is the first time since 1947 – the only other time it happened – where the Steelers have allowed 7+ YPC in three games during the same season. They’ve given up 7.8 against the Indianapolis Colts, 8.0 against the Titans, and now 7.3 against the Saints.

Ben Watson, Erik Lorig, and Nick Toon all caught touchdown passes Sunday. Coming into this contest, they combined for the following line: 22 catches, 154 yards, 0 touchdowns.

– Over the last three games, the Steelers have also allowed touchdowns to T.J. Graham and Chase Coffman. Not Hall of Famers we’re talking about.

– The Saints had forced only 11 turnovers all season, 29th in the league. They hadn’t registered an interception since Week Nine. They had two takeaways Sunday, both in the form of interceptions.

– The Steelers’ haven’t had a safety intercept a pass over their last 15 games, the last coming in Week 14 of last year. Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a longer streak.

– We’re going to focus on the positives now, specifically around Le’Veon Bell’s day. Even if it was one infused with garbage stats.

– Bell had 200 yards from scrimmage for the second straight game, the first running back to do so since Ronnie Brown in 2007.

– Bell’s 159 yards receiving is the 11th most of 2014 by any player and the best of any running back. It’s more than what Antonio Brown has had in any game in 2014.

– Bell is the 12th back since 1960 with 10+ attempts and 159+ yards out of the backfield. Other notable names on that list include: Floyd Little, Marcus Allen, and Lenny Moore.

– Brown now sits at 96 receptions. He has at least seven grabs in each of his last seven games.

– Brown’s eight receptions Sunday gives him at least seven in his last seven games. He is the 4th wide receiver in NFL history to accomplish that. As of this writing, before tonight’s Denver Broncos game, Demaryius Thomas is your leader with an active streak of eight.

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