Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys was forty seconds away from being written as ‘the turning point’ of the Pittsburgh Steelers season. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s “Watch Me” soundbite from earlier in the week accompanied by his fake spike go-ahead touchdown pass was the storybook turnaround Pittsburgh had been waiting for. Unfortunately, eleven members of the defense had other thoughts in mind as Ezekiel Elliott scampered for a game-winning touchdown untouched. Elliott is just one of the many NFL superstars who have had their way with the Steelers defense this season.
Elliott joins twelve other NFL players who have either passed for at least 300 yards, rushed for 100 yards or more and had 100 or more receiving yards against the Steelers. Sunday was the first time someone has done all three, as Dak Prescott threw for 319, Elliot ran for 114 and Dez Bryant racked 116 receiving yards. Below are the other marquee players who surpassed the mark against the Steelers defense this season.
It does not take the chart above to tell you that the Steelers defense has struggled to put together a full game this season, this is noticeable by anyone who has watched the games. What is telling about the chart is how many players are featured on it, thirteen players have been able to boss around the Steelers defense at will. When compared to the rest of the NFL, the full terrifying picture begins to unveil.
The Steelers defense ranks 3rd worst in the entire NFL at limiting opposing offense’s big three. The only teams worse than the Steelers in this category are the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers who are a combined 1-18 this season.
The doomsday prophecy can be further extended if the chart is filtered to include only 300 yard passers and 100 yard rushers. The Steelers have allowed four 300 yard passers and three 100 yard rushers, giving them seven total, which would be 2nd worst in the NFL only to 49ers’ ten.
It would be Mike Tomlin levels of obvious to say that you cannot go very far in the NFL with a highly suspect defense and the Steelers are no exception. Just look at their opponents, each team that has beaten the Steelers this season are ranked in the top 10 of the chart above.
While the data does align with linebacker James Harrison’s assessment of his defense – “Terrible”, luckily there is still almost half a season to flip the script. That could begin this Sunday when the Steelers take on the Browns, one of the few teams who ranked worse than them at containing opposing offense’s big three.