As we start looking ahead to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday road game against the Baltimore Ravens, a few interesting things stick out when it comes to how both teams have fared so far this season when it comes to attacking and defending deep pass attempts.
For starters, opposing offenses have only thrown deep (more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage) a total of 32 times against the Steelers defense through the teams’ first seven games and only the Los Angeles Rams have faced less such throws heading into Monday night’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears.
While Steelers defense hasn’t had to face many deep pass attempts so far this season – a likely result of opposing offenses not needing to go deep very often – they haven’t been overly successful when it comes to defensing such throws. In fact, opposing offenses have completed a league-best 59.4% of all deep pass attempts against the Steelers defense heading into Week 9.
The Ravens defense, however, is on the other end of spectrum when it comes to their defensing of deep throws. So far through their first seven games of the regular season, their defense has faced 46 deep pass attempts and have only allowed 28.3% of them to be completed. Lost in that number is the fact that the Ravens defense has intercepted five of those deep pass attempts so far this season while the Steelers defense has registered just one deep pass interception heading into Week 9.
Now, heading into Sunday’s game, the Steelers ability to defend the deep pass against the Ravens should obviously be way down your list of worries and especially when you consider that Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco hasn’t been very good so far this season when it comes to him attempting to go long. In fact, of the 29 different quarterbacks who have attempted 29 or more deep passes so far this season, Flacco is tied for last in the league with Brock Osweiler of the Houston Texans when it comes to completion percentage (27.8%).
6 of Flacco’s 15 deep pass completions so far this season have gone to wide receiver Mike Wallace. It’s also worth pointing out that fellow Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. has also missed the last two games with an ankle injury and the jury is still out as to whether he’ll be healthy enough to play Sunday against the Steelers.
Just because the Ravens have been very good at defensing the deep pass so far this season doesn’t mean that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won’t test them long Sunday in Baltimore if he winds up playing. Roethlisberger has completed 50% of his 50 deep pass attempts so far this season with 13 of them landing in the hands of wide receiver Antonio Brown and another 7 being completed to fellow wide receiver Sammie Coates.
Explosive plays play a huge part in every football game and it will be interesting to see how many times the Steelers and Ravens try to attack each other deep this coming Sunday in Baltimore as both teams certainly have some differences so far this season when it comes to attacking and defending throws more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage.