Three-And-Outs Helped Sink Steelers In Field Position Battle Thursday

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense had 13 drives against the Ravens on Thursday night, 14 opportunities to score, and on just under half of them, they failed to even gain a first down. Six drives in Michael Vick’s first start with the black and gold went three-and-out, while an additional three drives lasted just four plays.

One other drive accumulated five plays before stalling. In total, then, 10 of their 14 drives went just five plays or less and failed to score any points, two of which included missed field goal attempts.

On the other occasions, however, Vick’s offense did an abysmal job of establishing a healthy relationship with the field position battle, which helped to put a young and transitioning defense in a tough spot that night.

As a result, in large part, of the Steelers’ inability to move the ball on offense, the Ravens had an average starting field position of 28.4 yards, a number that is skewed heavily by kickoffs and turnover-assisted drives.

On four kickoffs, three went for touchbacks, while the other was returned to the 25-yard line. The offense also stalled—went backwards, in fact—after the defense gave them the ball on the Ravens’ 36-yard line following an interception. A punt pinned the visiting team down at its own nine-yard line.

Only on one other occasion that did not result in a score did the offense manage to come close to flipping the field. Midway through the fourth quarter, following a touchback, the offense got out to the 37-yard line before a 51-yard punt put the Ravens on the 12-yard line.

Here are the rest of the numbers for starting field position, however: 40, 41, 28, 40, 39, 31, 39, 33. On eight of 14 occasions, the Ravens started from at least its own 28-yard line, with five times starting from at least 61 yards near the goal line. On these drives, their average starting field position was 36.4.

The last four numbers listed there are the Ravens’ last four drives of the game. The last five numbers are five of the last six. From 2:12 left to play in the third quarter, through the fourth quarter and overtime, the Ravens started off past the 30-yard line, more often than not near the 40, five times.

It should not be surprising that they managed to accumulate three field goals on those six drives, which started at the 40, the 31, and the 33, respectively. On none of those three occasions did that even get the ball into the red zone. The furthest they traveled on any of those drives was 45 yards, for the chance at a 42-yard field goal.

While the offense does need to score points, if not outright win some of these games, with Vick under center, what they really need to avoid doing for the remainder of time with him under center is getting off the field so quickly and giving the Steelers’ opponents such short fields to work with. The defense play well considering that, but the Ravens are not the most daunting opponent.

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