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Steelers Vs Eagles X-Factor: Second Quarter Defense

As we’ll do every week to get you ready for the upcoming game, our X-Factor of the week. Sometimes it’s a player, unit, concept, or scheme. Here’s our X-Factor for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

X-FACTOR: Second Quarter Defense

I’ve highlighted this point several times this week but I have to repeat it once more and to isolate it in a post like this. For all the weird stats, there might not be a stranger one than what the Eagles are doing in the second quarter. They are one of the league’s worst scoring offenses in the first, third, and fourth quarters. But the second? They’re playing Madden on Rookie mode. A league-high 112 points in the second quarter, outscoring the next closest team by 26 points. In fact, they’ve scored more second quarter points than they’ve scored in the other three quarters combined by 63 points.

Here’s their quarterly output and NFL rank.

1st Quarter: 14 points (26th)
2nd Quarter: 112 points (1st)
3rd Quarter: 17 points (T-25th)
4th Quarter: 18 points (29th)

Wild. Now here’s the game-by-game second quarter points they’ve registered this season.

Week 1 – 24
Week 2 – 17
Week 3 – 24
Week 4 – 20
Week 5 – 7
Week 6 – 20

They’ve scored 17+ second quarter points in five of their six games this season and put up 20+ in four of those. In other words, they’ve averaging more points in the second quarter, 18.6 per game, than Pittsburgh is on the entire year across all four quarters (15.3).

So…why? What makes the second quarter so good to the Eagles? It’s hard to say. In theory, they’re adjusting well coming off their opening script, finding out how defenses are playing them and making quick and effective counters. Regardless of reason, it’s a consistent trend and pattern and one the Steelers can’t have happen this weekend. One quick-scoring quarter could doom Pittsburgh’s chances, this game and this season, so they’ll have to find a way to keep the score down.

The defensive coaching staff will have to know its plan going in and make changes even before the Eagles start counterpunching and racking up the points. Perhaps the best solution is simply controlling the ball and the clock, not getting Philadelphia’s offense on the field, though that’s always a sound strategy to victory regardless of opponent or circumstance.

I wish I had better answers but facts are facts. Win the second quarter and the Steelers just might win this game.

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