One of the most remarkable qualities about the Pittsburgh Steelers is a negative one. In spite of the fact that they are in the top 10 in scoring offense in the NFL, they have to be one of the very worst offenses to open the game in the entire NFL.
We saw them go three and out on each of their first two drives last week, finally getting one single third down on their third drive. Although the order was different on Sunday night against the Buffalo Bills, the result was the game: three drives, one first down, two three and outs to start the game. A total of 26 yards, with two drops and a batted pass, plus a pass defensed as well.
Of course, when you drop the ball on first down, you are putting yourself behind the chains right away and throwing yourself out of sync, which makes it difficult to be successful out of the gate. Perhaps if Diontae Johnson doesn’t drop that ball, they start the game with a nice gain, and things are different. Or perhaps not.
They have a whopping six points through the first quarter in their last four games combined, which is of course the equivalent of the length of an entire game. Throughout the entire year, they have put up a total of 62 points in the first quarter of games over 13 games, and 13 of those points have come off of pick sixes, so the offense itself has only scored 49 points in the first quarter since the season begun.
That is an average of 3.8 points per quarter. If you extrapolate that into the equivalent of entire games, which translates into three games plus a quarter, it works out to an average of 15.1 points per four quarters. That’s almost a couple of touchdowns off of their actual four-quarter average.
The Steelers punted on each of their first five possessions. Of their nine possessions in the first half, they punted six times, let the half run out on another, and threw an interception. The other was a touchdown on a drive that was set up by a defensive takeaway that put the ball 30 yards out from the end zone.
They gained just yards over nine drives. That’s an average of 16.2 yards per drive. They picked up a total of eight first downs on those nine drives. I am hopeful that I don’t have to tell you that that is slightly under one first down per drive, nor should I have to tell you that that is bad.
Unfortunately, the second half wasn’t much better. They only had four drives, and one of them was a 10-play, 81-yard touchdown drives, but the other three were three and outs, the final of the three ending in an interception. So we can’t even just talk about slow starts anymore, because this just is not a good offense for 60 minutes.