It’s no secret the Pittsburgh Steelers sent every player and blitz package imaginable Joe Flacco’s way Thursday night. And it’s no secret that it worked.
But for Mike Tomlin, the true ability to judge a pass rush doesn’t come from X’s and O’s.
“Ultimately, I believe your ability to rush the quarterback is measured by your ability to rush with four. And we didn’t do that a lot in the game. We usually brought more than four. But that was that gameplan. As we go forward, we obviously want to establish a good, consistent rush that’s steeped in a four man principle,” he told reporters during his usual Tuesday press conference.
The data backs that up. According to our charting, the Steelers rushed five players on 16 of 39 opportunities in Thursday’s loss. That 44.4% clip was well above the other three games, rushing five or more 24.4% of the time.
As the numbers indicate, that former figure isn’t sustainable over the course of a year. But it worked against the Ravens. Baltimore was sacked twice on five man rushes, completed just 50% of their passes, and were intercepted on Ross Cockrell’s pick.
Through four weeks, the Steelers have 14 sacks. It puts them on track for 56, an unlikely number to hit but still a stark contrast from the 33 recorded in 2014.