So far this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has only given up 37 explosive plays of 20 or more yards. While that number currently ties them for fourth best in the league, it is a deceptive stat.
11 of those 37 plays that they have allowed have been double explosive or better and five of those have resulted in touchdowns.
To better illustrate this, the Steelers average per explosive play allowed this season is 38.77 yards and that is the worst in the league. That’s nearly the equivalent of allowing two explosive plays per every one. Last season their average was 30.14 and in 2011 it was a league-best 27.07.
As many of you well know, I am a big fan of the TOX stat, which measures explosive plays and turnover differential, but even that stat becomes flawed and needs adjusting when you consider what the Steelers have allowed this season in the way of double explosive plays.
A lot of these double explosive plays have been the result of poor tackling and such was the case this past Sunday in the win over the Detroit Lions. Had cornerback Ike Taylor tackled Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson at the Steelers 35 yard-line after the big catch he made in the second quarter, the defense still would have had a chance to hold for a field goal.
In the games that the Steelers have allowed a double explosive play in so far this season, they are 2-5.
This coming Sunday, the Steelers will play a Cleveland Browns team that has only produced 32 offensive explosive plays of 20 yards or more. Of those 32 plays, eight have been double explosive and 19 of them have gone for 30 yards or more.
So who are the Browns explosive play threats? Wide receiver Josh Gordon has registered 12 plays of 20 yards or more so far this season while tight end Jordan Cameron has seven to his credit.
The Browns have a solid defense and they have only allowed 28 explosive plays this season. Only two of those 28 have been double explosive, so as you can clearly see, the TOX stat is likely to play a big role in this game. The Steelers defense will likely give up a few explosive plays in this game, but they can’t allow any of those to be double explosive.