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Steelers Pass Protection As Solid As It’s Been For Last 20 Years

You know the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line has played well this year. I’m not here to blow your mind with that type of information. But it’s worth putting in perspective, especially with the bye week and the chance to reflect on the first six weeks of the year. This group and their pass protection is thriving at a near-historic level.

Through their first six games, Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked only nine times, just one of those coming over the past three weeks, Pittsburgh hasn’t allowed so few sacks over that span since 1997, when they also allowed nine, and haven’t given up fewer since ’96, when that number dropped to six.

Since the 1970 merger, it’s only happened ten times. And unsurprisingly, more often the farther back you go when teams threw the ball a lot less and the run game dominated the day.

That makes the 2018 figure all the more impressive. Compare the pass attempts today to what happened in ’96 and ’97, the last two times this stat has happened.

2018: 261
1997: 137
1996: 157

Of all those other years were the Steelers gave up so few sacks, only twice they did they attempt over 200 passes. Even then, neither come close to this year. In 1995, they threw 214 and attempted 206 in 1974.

Bottom line: this line has done an amazing job of protecting its quarterback.

And to be fair, it’s notĀ justĀ the o-line doing their job. The Steelers tight ends actually feel like they’re blocking more this year than last and they’re doing a good job. Receivers have gotten open through scheme and execution and James Conner’s pass protection has continued to improve. And of course, the evolution of Roethlisberger’s game has been the most critical part of his sack numbers cut down and career prolonged.

Pittsburgh is on pace to let up just 24 sacks this season, the same as they did last year. The record for fewest allowed over a 16 game season is 20, set in 1986 and that aforementioned ’97 season. So this year’s group still has work to do. But regardless of what the final number is, it’s bound to be low, and if the first six weeks are any indication, it’s an offensive line that will continue to be among the best in the league.

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