Steelers Under Roethlisberger Average Only 22.6 Points Per Game

By Jeremy Hritz

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin always talks about splash plays, and I wonder if he was watching the divisional playoff games this past Saturday night.

Huge bombs for touchdowns, long special teams returns for scores, pick sixes, quarterback scrambles for TDs, strip sacks: there was definitely no mistaking the Broncos, Ravens, 49ers, or Packers as the Steelers.

Most interesting is that all four of those teams scored at least 31 points, a total that the Steelers only reached once in 2012 in a loss against the Oakland Raiders.

There is no question that if the Steelers are to get back into the playoffs and threaten for a championship again, they are going to have to start scoring points, or at least start scoring points when they need them. However, when examining the total points scored by the Steelers since Ben Roethlisberger took over the helm as the starter, it is curious to see that the Steelers have only averaged 22.6 points per game, hardly a formidable number.

Points Scored by the Steelers Offense with Ben Roethlisberger at Quarterback
YearAverageTotal Points
Average of 22.6 points per game

The statistic to note from these numbers is that Steelers teams under Roethlisberger average only 22.6 points per game. When considering the type of ball-control offense that the Steelers run, the commitment to the running game, and the solid play of the Steelers defense, some of this statistic can be justified, yet as the offense becomes more pass-centric, the responsibility has to shouldered by Roethlisberger and his wide receivers.

As the Steelers move into the offseason almost certainly losing Mike Wallace and without a quality running back, the offense could be in some serious trouble in 2013. The wide receiver corps, which was touted too early as being one of the best in the league, minus Wallace, will feature Antonio Brown, who failed to live up to the expectation he set last season, and Emmanuel Sanders, who can make the big catch, but not without fumbling it away, especially in crucial situations. Without Wallace for defenses to focus on, teams will be able to commit to an already poor Steelers rushing attack, and the likelihood of scoring more than 22 points next season seems tenuous at best.

Outside of Roethlisberger, the Steelers do not have any players on offense that can take the game over and shift momentum, and heading into 2013, they cannot expect addition by subtraction by losing Wallace, or for a different result from run-of-the-mill running backs. Yeah, the offensive line was beat up again this year, but even with Isaac Redman or Jonathan Dwyer behind a consistent offensive line does not strike fear into any opponent.

With salary cap issues and holes at outside and middle linebacker, addressing the lackluster offense will be difficult to do. However, if a viable threat on offense is not added, the Steelers may dip below 22 points per game, unless a youngster can step up and emerge, but we have all seen how that has worked out for the players that have been drafted over the last few years.

Will the Steelers stay conservative and count of the development of their own players, or will they try to solve the cap puzzle and make a move in free agency?  History says yes to the conservative approach and no to being aggressive.

Just like their offensive philosophy.

  • Since the range of possibilities on offense seems to be 20-25 points per game regardless, maybe we should stop spending money on offense.

    I’m pretty solid in wanting a defensive player in the first round but maybe the key is indeed ball control and finally getting a line that guarantees you the push needed to make 2-3 yards on first down. It’s been too long playing games where the only way to win is for Ben to convert third down after third down in the air.

    I know we have spent far too many high choices on the line lately but the Alabama guard will be very tempting if he’s available. I’m liking Ogletree a little more right now but a line of Gilbert, Decastro, Pouncey, Warmack and Adams might finally give us a line that makes 3rd and 1 automatic. I know some blame the running backs but how many yards can you average when you always take your first hit in the backfield.

    On another topic….How can a real Steelers fan even watch the playoffs this year?

  • Wow, I can’t wait for fans to blame this on Haley, weak running game, a poor offensive line ect…Spend a little more time in the film room Benny.

  • The reason the Steelers have no momentum shifting players at the offensive skill positions is because we NEVER draft them. Sure, we get lucky with Wallace and Sanders in the 3rd round, and even luckier in the 6th with Brown, but we never take offensive skill players in the first 2 rounds of the draft. Last time the Steelers did that under Tomlin we took Mendenhall and Sweed 1-2 in 2008. That was FIVE years ago, yet we sit here and wonder why our offense can’t score more than 20-measly points per game. In fact, since Roethlisberger showed everyone he’d be our QB of the future in 2004, we’ve only taken 4 offensive skill players with our top 2 picks. Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller to go along with the other 2 from the 2008 draft failure.

  • …because if you don’t then you’re a sore loser and not much of a real football fan.

  • zyzak

    Haley needs to fix this. His short passing game is junk. Get Ben some receivers who can catch the long ones, they spend too much on defense and not enough on the “O”

  • zyzak

    Gilbert stinks he will never play LT for the Steelers

  • Or maybe because you’re a “real football fan” but don’t really care if the Steelers win or lose?

  • I would keep him on the right side.

  • SteelerFanInMD

    I think the Steelers run blocking schemes are the problem. They have struggled with the running game ever since Tomlin took over as head coach. I live in the Washington-Baltimore area and watched the Redskins rebuild the team under Shanahan and switch to a zone blocking scheme. After 3 years, they have one of the the best running attacks in the league using mostly undistinguished linemen. RGIII has a lot to do with that success, but still, Alfred Morris seems to have a lot of room to run and doesn’t get stuffed at the line of scrimmage as often as the Steelers RB’s do. I think the Steelers have better talent on the O-line than the Redskins, so the blocking schemes have to be the problem. Once the Steelers get a respectable running game, that will make play action passes more effective, allow for longer pass plays and more scoring from the offense.

  • Mike Carroll

    Five the top six salary cap numbers belong to defensive guys. Likewise, for eight of the top twelve. And you think the team is spending too much on offense?

  • Mike Carroll

    I agree with you about the O-line. The guys they’ve already drafted should be expected to produce immediately next year, from the start right through to the end of the year. Still, I wouldn’t be terribly upset if they added Warmack with their first pick.

  • Yup, you got it, dipshit. I could care less if the Steelers win or lose. That’s why I’m still following and posting on Steelers articles 2 weeks after their season ended. Anyways, your post makes no sense. Steelers hardly spend any money for offensive skill players, and if you refused to watch the Ravens game yesterday cause you’re too hard core of a Steelers fan then you missed out on something special.

  • walter mason

    I still remember 1st round bust Troy Edwards. (before Tomlin)

  • walter mason

    I dont watch it.

  • Matt Lipner

    I definitely agree that the run blocking scheme is largely to blame for the poor running attack. Our backs frequently takes hits in the backfield on routine runs. The inclusion of delayed handoffs followed by runs right into the teeth of the defense decreased our ypc even more. How can anyone watch these playoff teams (especially Washington, SF, Seattle, Houston, Denver, even Baltimore) and not see the significantly larger amount of running room on almost every run play?

  • What a loser.

  • I didn’t say we were spending too much on offense. I was making the observation that spending or drafting hasn’t seemed to effect our per game average and if that number is going to be be so steady maybe you can make a bigger income on the game outcomes by spending on other areas.

    If the best you can hope for is an extra 3 or 4 points per game is that the best place to invest your assets?

  • JT

    They’ve got 3 out of 5 lineman right now with first round grades (Adams would’ve been a first rounder if not for the pot), and another a solid second. But the missing piece is ANOTHER first round pick? I don’t buy it. The biggest move the Steelers make is the hiring of a new OL coach. Somebody needs to light a fire under these guys, because they’ve got the talent to dominate.

    And RB is a crapshoot. Maybe we find an Alfred Morris. Maybe we don’t. But if the line plays up to their abilities, they’ll be just fine pounding it with the guys they have. They need to get a respectable running game, because Ben is deadly on play action.

  • funny that was Ben’s passer rating for the first Super Bowl

  • grw1960

    Wrong, the offense is in desperate need of a # 1 WR , a better all around RB. Redman is a pounder and Dwyer is not the RB the Steelers hoped he would turn out to be.
    Plus Ben needs to stick to the program instead of trying to rely on late game heroics.

  • Great comeback. You must be proud of yourself. What you’re failing to understand is that the article is about the Steelers not having enough offensive fire power to compare with other playoff teams, yet you suggest to stop spending money on the offense. Brilliant!!!

  • mokhkw

    Steelers haven’t been able to make the transition from a team that relies heavily on it’s D to win ( like the Patriots first 2 SB wins) to one that can rely on it’s Offense to pick up the slack when the once-dominant D starts to get old & decline ( Patriots from mid-last decade).

    There’s lots of factors you can point to but – to me at least – the problem is that the O has never been held to the same standards as the D & all too often relies on them to win the game or keep it close for a last minute rally.

    The really good Os come out and try to bury you each and every series, the Steeler’s O only seem to play with that type of urgency maybe 20 % of the time. This isn’t a new problem, it’s been that way since ’08. That season they won so many close games mostly due to a great D – including the SB – that I get the impression that they think they’re destined to win all the close ones. It frustrates the hell out of me tbh.

    If Haley stays I hope Rooney gives him some lee-way to start lighting a fire under the O’s collective arse. Ben isn’t the type of personality to do that to his guys but it needs to come from somewhere besides Tomlin benching the backs for fumbling.

  • I agree. Steelers desperately need a #1 receiver. AB is a better #2 and return specialist, and Sanders is not strong enough to be anything but a slot receiver. I know Wallace is as good as gone, but I’m worried the Steelers have no plan to replace him.

  • JT

    What? So you think they need an OG in the first round? That was the gist of my post. So for me to be “wrong” you either think the lines play was above average or that they need another first round lineman. I never said they don’t need a new RB. I even implied I think they will Draft one. But it shouldn’t matter. The running game could and should be better with the talent on the line. It won’t be tops in the league with top talent at RB, but it won’t be as pathetic as it was this season.

    A better running game improves the passing game. That’s a fact. I never said they didn’t need a big WR. Of course that will help. But teams that win as constantly as they have have a running game, and that still hasn’t changed.

  • Thanks dingle. I am.

    One of the many things you fail to understand is that I was making an observation about the chart in the article and the fact that the scoring didn’t seem to change much regardless of personnel and that this fact might be an indication that you could have more impact on outcome if you focus on an aspect of the game that is more variable.

    I’m sorry if you find this a little too complicated but you should probably be off watching other teams and let the real Steelers fans focus on our teams draft and what we’re going to do in the future.

  • I’m not sure if it’s exactly the same thing but lack or urgency feels like it’s an issue to me though not just on offense. The team as a whole seemed to think the playoffs was a foregone conclusion this year and it seems the idea of saving something for later was a fatal flaw.

  • Ughhhh, smh! You still don’t understand. The chart shows Bens career. He has never been surrounded by dominating skill players on offense. It’s always been a ball control offense, so obviously the numbers don’t change much. What the article is pointing to is that the offense NEEDS to rely on Ben and the receivers in order to compete with the other teams in the playoffs. Get it now? The problem is the Steelers are heading into a new year where they could have even less talent at the skill positions. We need to invest into some players that can make splash plays as the article suggests, not stop spending on offense like you suggest. Your right about one thing though. I was busy watching that awesome Atl-Sea game. Too bad you’re busy masterbating to your Polamalu poster instead of watching these div rd playoff games.

  • Maurice_hill_district


  • Maurice_hill_district

    It wuldnt hurt. Opposing DBs seemed to have studied film. Ben & recevers were rarely on same page.

  • Do I get what? LOL Do you think this is a comprehension contest where we comment on what we think the writer was trying to say? Your point that we should somehow get a bunch of high first round skill players is the closest thing to masterbating you’ll see on this site. This isn’t fantasy sports

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Thumbs up to at-least being open minded. Badly need a passRushing OLB & safeties. But our o-line sucked so bad, & I dont wanna hear excuses bcause i heard excuses after each previous seasons of our o-line, plus now Bungles have Gino Atkins eating our guards for lunch. So im just saying never rule-out getting a mauler at RG.

    And u are right about playoffs, not being in playoffs sux, too disgusting now to care about whichever teams to root for to go further.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Me neither. Getting stuff done instead.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Our RBs getting hit at the line was a real problem, just like points too were a problem. Too many problems with our offense, & there’s more than one way to skin a cat. I doubt anyone else suggested draft a mauler for our o-line, so be open minded to put anything on the table.

  • JT

    Ben absolutely need to work harder. But the running game being abysmal does him no favors. I miss the glory days of Ben rolling out of the pocket on play action and hitting the deep ball.

  • LOL, I know what he’s saying, and there is no contest since you obviously don’t or you would have never said “maybe we should stop spending money on offense”. LMAO, they don’t spend money on offense in the first place! As was already pointed out 8 of the 12 top paid Steelers players are on DEFENSE. You suggest we put money into other areas, but that’s what we already do. We’ve only spent 4 high draft picks(1’s and 2’s) on skill players since Roethlisberger took over, and no big time offensive free agents have been added during that time either. You say “spending or drafting hasn’t seemed to effect our per game average”, so please enlighten me. What spending and drafting on offense skill players from 2004-2012 are you referring to?

  • Maurice_hill_district

    I agree we might need an o-line coach to light a fire under o-lines’ arses, u mite be on to something there. Our o-linemen did not live up to whatever college ratings u said they have going into last draft.

    We assume & odds are Adams & DD will live up to the pro potential draft scouts said before they were drafted. Unfortunately surprises happen at pro level, u never know. We drafted a college dominating strong o-guard John Reinstra in 1st round we assumed wuld be solid pro & thats the only reason we kept him several years, he still stunk in pros, a bust.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Which position is he better at? I havent watched him enuff. Depot Dave probaly did to know what are Gilbert’s strenghths vs weaknesses, & can he get better.

  • grw1960

    Did I say theSteelers needed a OG in the first round and. I agree on that point. I think they may need an OL pick in this draft if they lose Foster or Colon. I don’t think they will take one in the first round.

    What I disagreed with was the statement , that the missing piece couldn’t be found in round one.
    But the missing piece for the offense might be found in round one
    A big strong # 1 WR early in this draft might be the missing piece the offense needs
    If Wallace , Brown and Sanders had not dropped passes or fumbled away balls without hardly any contact. The Steelers would have won at least two more games in 2012.
    All 3 are good WRs, none of the three are a # 1 WR who gets it done consistantly when it counts the most.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Cant resist mentioning Ed Bouchette has a great article in today (Sunday) PG, he is convinced Colon will be cut, & that Foster & Starks will leave via FA. He says our o-line left to right will be.

    Gilbert (LT) – Beachum (LG) – (C still Pouncy) – DD (RG)- Adams.

    To me this assumes Beachum will be or become strong enuff by then, I have fingers crossed for that.

    Re Colon to be cut, I trust Bouchette’s hunch or insight, becaus Ed was the one who before summer 2012 wrote about Wallace: Wallace will hold out all offseason and all preason games, will not show up till preseason ends then will play out the year the minimum tender then leave after that. While others then did their daily Wallace watch/rumors, Ed instead held his cards. Just sayin when someone wrote Colon wont be cut because of the cap hit, Ed seems to have inside sources & he is more reliable information.

  • Way too much to drink man. Stick with the TV and please don’t drive.

  • JT

    I was only saying the answer wasnt another first round pick spent on the line. Another weapon might help. However, I feel much better about a big WR than a RB that early. Heck, I’d take a new prototype TE.

  • JT

    I think Colon depends on how they’re spending in FA and if they keep Foster. If Foster goes and they aren’t pressed for the 1.5 cutting Colon gets, I think he’s safe due to the dead money issue. But if they keep Foster and want the wiggle room, I could see him leaving.

    Starks isn’t coming back in my mind. He doesn’t wanna be a backup and I don’t blame him.

  • I figured you had nothing to add to that.

  • LucasY59

    It was interesting to see all the bickering on this comment one thing that I think is also interesting is how all of the 1-2 round offensive skill picks over the last 9 years since BR7 have been close to what you would call busts. (other than Heath) Holmes couldnt stop smokin weed (was really both of the 1st and 2nd round picks since they traded up if I remember correctly, eventually traded away for a 5th)Mendenhall gone after this year/not worth bringing back, never really being a star player, Sweed hardly even played. Yes this is a short list because the Steelers have not used their top 2 picks very often on offensive skill players, but it also looks like they have been the biggest gambles/busts they have had out of all the 1-2 round picks since that time. The only true superstar player pick was Pouncey 3 straight pro-bowls/all-pro selections.

  • That’s the problem with first round skill position guys. Just like at QB you either pick in the top half or you take a really big risk.

    You can’t honestly expect to get pro bowl skill position players with good character at the bottom of the first round on a regular basis.

  • yeah, when the crazy guy at the intersection comes to wash my windshield I usually just drive away.

  • LOL, funny. I’ll give you that. I live in SF, so I know all about that, but it still doesn’t answer my question. Of course you can’t come up with an answer because the truth is the Steelers offense comes at a bargain discount compared to the defense.

  • TJimmy

    It is because of this low offensive output that Ben Roethlisberger is not considered to be an elite quarterback in some circles.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Maybe a deal for Greg Jennings from the Packers may help the WR position, question is do the Steelers wanna pay what he may be asking? Would Jennings addition (off a down year w/ injury) be better than resigning Wallace? Also think the Steelers should draft 2 TE’s this year, one a better receiver (Ertz, Eifert) and one a thumper of a blocker (Sims, Williams).

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Steelers dont bid nor pay for good FAs of other teams, so theres no point wishing for Jennings.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    That all makes sense to me, Thanks.

  • Its funny how we forget so quickly on what makes this team great. We had a team that was devastated with injuries and with a few plays that go the other way we are in the playoffs and not having this conversation. Been in 3 SB’s over the last 10 years but that just isnt good enough for the spoiled Steeler fan base who have 1 off year and want to explode this team.

  • steeltown

    Exactly.. the OLine will be fine, especially if they re-sign Foster. I
    think a new OLine Coach will bring a fresh perspective and possibly
    some new blocking schemes. Also, as always, they need to stay healthy.

    On top of that, regarding the Offensive production they do need to draft
    another RB with some speed somewhere between the 3rd and 5th Rds AND
    please get a nice prospect at either the WR or TE position early, maybe in the 3rd Rd?

  • steeltown

    Dwyer is better than Redman, he is more nimble but has the same power, plus he has shown he can stay healthy for longer than a two game stretch, Redman has ankle issues that arise every 2-3 games

  • steeltown

    I would never draft a RB in the first Rd, unless he was a Adrian Peterson clone, I do hope they get one somewhere though after the 1st Rd and another WR/TE

  • Mike Carroll

    I guess it’s a good thing the Steelers have averaged 26.5 points per game in Ben’s 14 career playoff appearances. This number is greater than most quarterbacks past and present, including Brady (25.26), P. Manning (23.00), E. Manning (19.82), Favre (24.83), Bradshaw (24.79), Montana (25.35), and Elway (25.00).

    That’s a big why reason the team has advanced to and won Super Bowls during Ben’s career. They score more (4 PPG) in the postseason than the regular season! The same is not true for many other teams.

    This past season was tough and 22 points per game sounds pretty awful when you’re watching a divisional playoff round with historic scoring, but the team has gotten a few things right during Ben’s career.

    The main reason they’ve been average in scoring during the regular season is due to the fact the team is primarily built around the defense. They pay more to their defense than offense. Again, the same is not true for most teams.

  • Clint Martin

    The sad part is the Steelers are a way better team than Ravens hands down! I know I know we r at home they are in the AFC championship again. This team they have is not very good it killed me to watch Manning give the game to them, Why did I think Manning could win in the cold weather in Denver come postseason?

    Anyways bronco’s lost their game due to mistakes The safety play for the Bronco’s was terrible 3 plays change that game 3 deep plays 2 to Smith and the last one which was kind of funny to Jones at the end of the game. Manning’s pick six was huge.

    Why didn’t the Bronco’s attack the Ravens vertically? The longest pass play was to Decker for only 32 yards. If it weren’t for the Bronco’s special teams touchdown returns this wouldn’t have been much of a game.

    Manning can’t dominate the postseason the way he does in the regular he is 9-11 with eight one and done postseason trips.
    Brady now has 17 postseason wins putting him ahead of Montana.

  • Clint Martin

    Steeler fans thought process if we don’t think we will go far into the playoffs we would rather not go. Because we have such high expectations for our team.
    Browns fans thought process lets just get into the playoffs please let us in!

  • Mike Carroll

    It pains me to say it, but the Ravens have been better than the Steelers for two years in a row. And as you pointed out the Broncos benefitted greatly from two long special teams return TDs. Otherwise, the Raven D only gave up 21 points (over 5+ quarters of play) to Manning team averaging over 30 PPG at home during the regular season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ravens beat the Pats this week.

  • Well, just look at the other side. Ricardo Colclough, Bryant McFadden, Ziggy Hood, Jason Worilds, Cameron Heyward. They’re all 1-2 defensive picks since BR7, but they’re either busts or haven’t produced yet. Heath and Pouncey seem to be the only offensive picks to work out well, but you can also make the case that only Lawrence Timmons has produced from the defensive side. Sure, LaMarr Woodley has played great and made the pro bowl, but now everyone thinks he’s fat and lazy. If Holmes and Mendenhall are considered busts after having good seasons, then Woodley has to be considered one too. However, it’s real tough to evaluate drafting skill positions, wether offense or defense, because the Steelers have drafted so many lineman the last four years. Out of our last seven 1st or 2nd round picks we’ve had we took lineman with six of them.

  • LucasY59

    I agree there is a way bigger chance for a bust when drafting skill positions (high risk high reward) and there have been more disapointing picks than there have been superstars, there has been a lot of linemen picked, but it has also been a position of need. I am not in favor of drafting a lineman anymore than any other position this draft. I am just hoping that the player picked is someone who will be solid pro bowl type player at any position of need, instead of reaching for a player that may end up being a bust. obviously if the steelers had picked pro bowlers with every 1st and 2nd round pick there wouldnt be anything to complain about.

  • Mike Carroll

    Yes! It’s been years since they’ve rolled him out on play action.

  • Mike Carroll

    Consider this comparison of offensive/defensive spending based on 2013 salary cap numbers:

    5 of the top 6 cap numbers belong to defensive players.
    Likewise, 8 of top 12 belong to defensive players.

    8 of top 11 cap numbers belong to offensive players (one of the other three is for their FG kicker).

    It’s a pretty simple difference in philosophy. The Steelers pay for a top defense, while the Patriots pay for a top offense. Therefore, I don’t think it’s too surprising the Steeler offense doesn’t perform as well by comparison. Likewise, with the Patriot defense.

  • Mike Carroll

    I hope Bouchette winds up being correct. There’s not much point trying to hold together a sub-standard line when you have the alternative of playing a line composed mainly of recent high draft picks. The team needs to find out, on the playing field, if they have drafted wisely. Even if they missed on some picks, it’s hard to imagine the line being any worse than it’s been.

    But, I would bet that at least one of the three guys Bouchette predicts to leave will still find their way on the team one way or another, along with Doug Legursky, for depth purposes.