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Heyward Knows Poor Third Down Defense One Reason For Poor Performance

Cam Heyward is refreshing to listen to. Never one to mince words after the game, he’s as honest – sometimes brutally so – in his post-game interviews. And so you can imagine he was none too pleased after giving up 39 points and five passing touchdowns to Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.

“I have a lot of confidence in this team and our defense but five TDs and 100 yards rushing is unacceptable on any amount,” he told reporters following the Pittsburgh Steelers 39-30 loss yesterday.

Specifically, he circled one key area the Steelers failed.

“There were so many times we had them third and long, and we did not capitalize. Kept them on the field. That’s disheartening because it means we’re doing our job on first and second and not getting off on the critical downs. We talked about it going into this game, that was one of our goals, and we didn’t accomplish that.”

In the first half alone, the Steelers allowed Seattle to convert two 3rd and 16s, including one that went for a touchdown to Doug Baldwin. They also allowed two 3rd and 10s, on the same drive, to keep Seattle’s series going.

Seattle frankly didn’t have many third downs in the second half, much less any “and long” situation, but the one they did have was a dagger. Baldwin’s fourth quarter, 80 yard touchdown to practically seal the game came on third and ten. Overall, Seattle was 7/13 on third down, a percentage much higher than acceptable.

If you’re following along with the math, five of those seven conversions came on 3rd and 10+. It’s hard to play any worse than that in a given game. Compound that with Pittsburgh’s own woes on third down, the offense went 5/11, and it’s not hard to see why the Seahawks’ offense was much more efficient than the Steelers.

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