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Steelers Pass Defense Has Made Strides, But Run Defense Suffered Against Chiefs


The shoulder injury suffered by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger certainly is the top story right now, but now that we have some clarity as to what it actually is, we can now move on to other topics.

One of those topics should be the play of the Steelers pass defense in the last four games. Sure, all four of those games only saw them face one upper tier quarterback in the form of Eli Manning, but this same pass defense didn\’t fare so well earlier in the season against the likes of Matt Hasselbeck and Carson Palmer, both of whom are considered middle of the road quarterbacks at this stage in their careers.

In the last four games the Steelers pass defense has allowed a completion rate of 45.1%. There were certainly a few dropped passes included in there, but also a few nicely defensed passes as well. In addition to that stat, teams have averaged just 4.96 yards per attempt and have thrown 3 interceptions compared to just 2 touchdowns over the course of those four games. In the first five games of the season the defense only picked off 2 passes while allowing 9 touchdown passes.

The defense as a whole has allowed only 12 conversions on 3rd downs out of 48 attempts (25%) during the last four games. Prior to that they had allowed a 49% conversion on 3rd downs. That is an amazing turnaround regardless of who they faced.

A negative? Sacks have been down, but consistent pressure seems to be up.

Should Roethlisberger indeed be out for an extended period of time, the Steelers will need this strong third down defensive effort to continue should they have hopes of beating the Baltimore Ravens, who they play twice over the course of the next three weeks. Head coach Mike Tomlin mentioned as recently as today that the defense was moving in the right direction and hopefully it continues.

While everything is rosey right now as far as the pass defense is concerned, the defense did allow the Kansas City Chiefs to rush for a season high 142 yards Monday night. You can bet that the Ravens will try to exploit this with running back Ray Rice Sunday night in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers pride themselves in stopping the run first and it will not matter which direction that the pass defense is moving in if they allow the Ravens to shorten the field, and the game for that matter, by running the ball down the Steelers throat.

PASS DEFENSE LAST 4 GAMES
TEAM YDS ATT COMP COMP % YPA INT TD SACKS 3rd %
CIN 105 28 14 50.0% 3.75 1 1 0 38.5%
WAS 177 35 16 45.7% 5.06 0 1 1 25.0%
NYG 125 24 10 41.7% 5.21 1 0 2 20.0%
KC 154 26 11 42.3% 5.92 1 0 2 15.4%
TOT 561 113 51 45.1% 4.96 3 2 5 25.0%
PASS DEFENSE FIRST 5 GAMES
TEAM YDS ATT COMP COMP % YPA INT TD SACKS 3rd %
DEN 253 26 19 73.1% 9.73 0 2 2 55.6%
NYJ 138 27 10 37.0% 5.11 0 1 2 33.3%
OAK 209 34 24 70.6% 6.15 1 3 1 58.3%
PHI 175 30 20 66.7% 5.83 0 2 3 40.0%
TEN 290 44 25 56.8% 6.59 1 1 3 56.3%
TOT 1065 161 98 60.9% 6.61 2 9 11 49.2%

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Kenneth Wilt

    I really think Ben’s injury could…note the word could….potentially be a great thing for this defense. They now know the following. You wanna win the division, you wanna win games in the playoffs, you wanna beat Baltimore….YOU are going to have to do it. Lefty will give you half the point Ben was going to give you…maybe a little more. You wanna win Defense, you go out and earn it. IMO they did that last night in the 4th quarter AFTER Ben got hurt. They raised their play.

    Now how does this help us, if we can start to understand what it will take to be an elite D, maybe that doesn’t go away even when Ben comes back.

  • Amuzon12

    Number 92…..where are you? For the past couple of weeks, I’ve kept thinking that James Harrison will have his “break out” game and we would all conclude that “James is back”. What gives? Is he not quite 100%? I really expected him to be more of a factor at this stage of his season. Maybe this weekend will be THE weekend! It would be great timing!! Come on James, Whack-o Joe Flacco!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dvnwarren Devin Warren

    I feel you on that one

  • SteelSpine

    Was Ziggy pulled because of performance? TV crew said poor defense against the run is why Ziggy was yanked & replaced by Al Woods. If Tomlin was asked why Zig was pulled or if you explained it already, sorry I missed it. If instead Zig was pulled because of being winded, I thought offseason sculpting of him was supposed to improve his endurance.

  • JT

    I’ve noticed Woods being subbed in a lot. I think it’s a planned rotation.

  • Bob Loblaw

    At first, I wondered how much of this might be the loss of Farrior, but looking at his numbers last year compared to Foote’s at this point in the season they’re nearly identical. But then I remembered our run defense wasn’t all that great last year either.

    But looking back to 2010, Farrior had about 20 more tackles at this point in the season. Whether this is more of a problem with the defensive line or the linebacker position, I’m not sure.

  • Bob Loblaw

    James can’t seem to get around the edge like he could. Knee definitely isn’t 100%.

  • SteelSpine

    I think you have that nailed, & I think PG writers or TV crew quoted Harrison saying he hasnt blitzed as often because of knee(s). A ROLB in a LeBeau 3-4 who cant blitz as much, is like you-know-whats on a boar. So I think they have Harrison there now just for the threat so QBs have to worry about that position, & the other reason is our coaches apparently think our backups suck there (that’s not my observation, just saying the not-even-working in any replacement for Harrison on some downs, tells me what our coaches think of Worilds/Jonson/Robinson for regular-season games). I wish we did not need to use a high draft pick next draft on a OLB because we have other high needs, but I anticipate having to use a high draft pick on a OLB prospect.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Here’s a stat for you, every time Ben gets sacked I lose some hair on my head.

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