It seems that the red zone is an annual discussion for the Pittsburgh Steelers and their offense, taking a disappointed tone, in that the personnel that they have on that side of the ball should lend itself to better results that they have not been seeing.
This year has been no different, which is largely the reason why that they rank just 13th in points scored per game with 22.7. And that result just got a big boost from their 40-point showing against the Titans. The game added nearly a full two points per game to their season total, previously averaging just under 20.8 points per game, which ranked 20th.
On Thursday, the Steelers cashed in on three consecutive trips in the red zone, but still went three-for-seven overall inside the 20. The final red-zone possession, however, came at the end of the game when they kneeled three times, so they were three-for-six when they were trying to score.
The Steelers have only scored a touchdown on 42.5 percent of their trips inside the red zone this season on the offensive side of the ball, a figure that has actually been better on the road than at home. Their 55-percent scoring rate on the road ranks in the middle of the pack, while their road rate of just 30 is the second-worst. Their overall rate is 31st in the league.
And they also rank 31st in terms of touchdowns per play run inside the red zone, according to Pro Football Focus—or actually in a four-way tie for 28th. Either way, the point is that just one team has been less efficient inside the 20 on a per-play basis than the Steelers, and that is the Broncos.
According to an article put up recently, Pittsburgh is only scoring on 14.1 percent of their plays run from within the red zone. The Ravens, 49ers, and Colts are the only team aside from the Broncos to have a ratio that low.
“Pittsburgh’s offensive weapons makes this number one of the most shocking in the list”, the article reads. “The Steelers have the weaponry to be the best offense in the game, but continue to struggle in 2017, and nowhere more than when the field gets compressed and they need to execute better. Only five teams have run more plays from the red zone than the Steelers”.
The fact that they have run the sixth-most plays inside the red zone is not surprising, as they have, for the most part, continued to move the ball well between the 20s, which has been the case for years now. It has been finishing drives that is at issue.
11 of Ben Roethlisberger’s 16 passing touchdowns have come inside the red zone this year, as have all five of Le’Veon Bell’s rushing touchdowns. Their 16 touchdowns inside the red zone works out to an average of about one and a half per game. They averaged 1.75 red-zone scores per game a year ago.