One thing that struck me about Sunday’s game for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Bills was one particular statistic, and that is the fact that the Steelers offense was able to possess the ball inside the red zone on six of their drives. That is impressive, considering that they only had 11 total drives throughout the game, and that includes the final possession that consisted of a trio of kneel downs to run out the clock. They also had a first and 10 at the Bills’ 23-yard line on a seventh possession.
Granted, on some of those drives, they had the benefit of good starting field position. They even began one drive just inside Buffalo territory, and twice more they began drives at around their own 40-yard line. Good starting field position will always help in getting into the red zone. But they did it the hard way a number of times as well.
What this tells us, obviously, is that the Steelers were able to work their way up and down the field virtually at well on Sunday against the Bills, up in the snows of Buffalo. The offense controlled the ball for nearly 39 minutes, running 73 plays, and averaging 6.3 yards every time they ran a play.
One wonders how things might have gone differently had Ben Roethlisberger had a better day throwing the ball, being that, as you no doubt well know, two of his three interceptions on the day occurred inside the red zone, with one coming from the Bills’ 15-yard line and the other coming at the seven.
Prior to that first interception, Roethlisberger had gone 136 pass attempts inside the red zone without having had a pass picked off, so we can safely say that that should not be the norm going forward—even if it did happen again later in the game.
But overall, I think that a positive can be taken away from the Steelers’ offensive performance against the Bills, and about how they have played in recent weeks, even if they have failed to put up 30 points even once during their four-game winning streak.
The fact that the team has moved the ball so well is an indicator of where the offense should be—if they could manage to stop getting out of their own way. The turnovers are what stalled the offense at times on Sunday, but foolish penalties have also been hurting them at key times and have likely been the difference between getting three or seven points on several occasions.
Of course, the Steelers have not always had to get into the end zone in order to score this year. In fact, as I have previously written, they have scored more points—on the offensive side of the ball—from outside of the 20-yard line, including the most touchdowns, than anybody else in the league. But a game like Sunday’s that shows that they can consistently crack the 20-yard line is a good omen.