Steelers 4th Quarter Offense Must Improve After Bye Week

The Steelers head into the bye week at 7-3 and while there have been plenty of bright spots during these first 10 games, there have also been a good share of dark spots. One of those that stick out stat wise and on the field is the play of the Steelers offense in the 4th quarter in close games. I define close in this post as a range of down by 7 to up by 7 points. We have seen the Steelers offense have trouble putting teams away in the fourth quarter this year, with the most recent example being Sunday against the Bengals.

I was curious to what the stats were and pulled both the rushing and passing stats that match the 4th quarter close game criteria I mentioned above. I knew it was bad, but not this bad. As you see in the table below in the last column, the Steelers are averaging a league worst 2.7 yards per play in the 4th quarter of close games. The rushing stats show a 1.9 yards per carry, and while not the worst in the league, it certainly is right near the bottom.

Passing wise is not much better in these situations as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a low 46.3% completion rate in these situations and a mere 5.6 yards per attempt to go along with it. 9 of the 31 sacks allowed by the Steelers this season have also come in these situations. That leads the league as well with 6 allowed being the closest.

Everyone always wants to point to play calling in these situations, but execution plays an even bigger role and I really see it when I re-watch these games as many times as I do. The Steelers have had a hard time running in any situation this year on a consistent basis and they have been even worse when other teams expect them to run. The sacks allowed also set up unfavorable down and distances to go along with everything else and although I do not have the number of drops in these situations, 3 or 4 come to mind right away over the last few weeks late in games.

Regardless of where you want to place the blame at here, it needs to improve following the bye. The Steelers have to do a better job at putting teams away in the 4th quarter or running out the clock when they get the ball back with 5 minutes or less to go in the game. I will be tracking this closely going forward, but you will not need stats to prove the point if you watch the games.

2011 4th Quarter Offense Stats Through Week 10 +/- 7 Points


  • Joel Miller

    There have been some bad drops in these situations, but I think that the primary reason was the one that got poo-pooed. The playcalling mindset in these situations has been one best characterized as “scared”.

  • sf4stlrs

    someone tell me what the O line is, smash mouth or finesse,and what type of backs are there?

  • JamesH

    All hail Bruce Arians, inventor of the Prevent Offense.

  • Eye-In-The-Sky

    Its all about execution, starting with the o-line and ending with everyone else including the bench. In situational football the element of surprise often ain’t there, its mono on mono, you gotta beat the guy in front ya’. We gotta man up. It’s that simple.

    We got guys with talent and skills, all the physical tools we need to dominate in those situations. Now is the time, this part of the schedule when we find out if we got the heart of a champion. Can we execute when they know what the deal is.

  • Joel Miller

    The line looks to me to still be disparate parts. Starks is huge, but is more of a pass blocker than a road grader. Foster and Kemoeatu are more smash mouth with their wide bodies and somewhat limited mobility(Kemoeatu is good pulling and going forward, but his quickness and recognition in small spaces in pass protection are not so good). Gilbert looks like a solid RT emerging. Some very interesting decisions should result from what they decide to do next year. Gilbert to LT or keep Starks?

    My suspicion is that the line is really 1 guy away from being a potentially good line. Kemo’s deficiencies could use an upgrade. Hopefully Colon is that guy and then they draft a future upgrade at guard. After witnessing this season, I would suggest they keep Starks regardless of their other plans and then you have at least 4 solid contributors on the OL.

  • sf4stlrs

    Thank you. With the backs they have what do you think their style should be?
    Subject: [steelersdepot] Re: Steelers 4th Quarter Offense Must Improve After Bye Week

  • Joel Miller

    I think that the Steelers are looking to transition into a more athletic zone blocking based line. Currently they are mid transition and I think they are finding most of their success with traps and counter pulling plays. They have had some success with straight power when the other team is backing off into coverage. They actually have been much improved of late and I expect that to continue as long as they are staying healthy.

    I still would like to see Legursky at LG for the better pass protection. I suspect the Steelers are going to have a 1st/2nd round OG or OT in the draft next season to add to the mix. They also still need to bring some youth in at DL/LB so I’d expect another selection high in the draft there.

  • sf4stlrs

    Good Morning , thank you again. Who is Dwyer ? What type back is he? I’m not trying to be mean ,but please explain to me why Ben is considered an elite QB,2 SB’ not withstanding .
    Subject: [steelersdepot] Re: Steelers 4th Quarter Offense Must Improve After Bye Week