I started this research initially to see how the Steelers did against the other 31 teams percent wise at staying out of 3rd and long situations and when they were in 3rd and long, how they did converting them. For this stat project I used 6-10 yards as the variable for "long" on 3rd downs. In the sortable table below, the first column is the number of plays each team ran needing between 1 and 10 yards for a first down. The second column is the number of plays ran on 3rd down needing 6-10 yards for a first down. The 3rd column is the percentage of the first and second columns to find out the percent of 3rd down plays with 10 or less yards to go were run from 3rd and long. That should be pretty clear.
As you can see, by sorting the 3rd column, that the Steelers did a pretty good job in relation to the number of 3rd downs needing 10 yards of less at staying out of 3rd and 6 or more yards to go for a 1st down. The Packers led the league in this percentage of staying out of 3rd and long which really helps open up your play selection a bit more. 9 of the 14 teams with percentages under 48% made it to the playoffs. The Bears and Jets were the two worst teams in this percentage and it is a testament to the play of their defense that they were able to make the playoffs.
I next wanted to see how teams did at converting these 3rd and longs percentage wise. The 4th column is the number of first downs converted on those 3rd and long plays and the last column is the success percentage of the 2nd column. As you can see, the Steelers did a great job of converting 3rd and long situations during the regular season as they converted 42% of the time with 6-10 yards to go on 3rd down. This was with Ben Roethlisberger even missing a quarter of the season due his suspension. Of the 12 teams converting at 37% or better, 8 made the playoffs. The Bears only converted 28% of the time in these situations and once again it is a testament to their defensive play. The Seahawks came in at 29%. They made the playoffs as we all know, but did so out of the week NFC West.
Nothing earth shattering really in summation. Stay out of 3rd and long or you better convert them at a 40% rate or better unless you have a top notch defense that keeps you in many of game.
|Team||3rd Plays||3rd L Plays||3rd L Plays %||FD||FD %|