On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense will be asked to slow down a potent Detroit Lions passing attack that includes a wide receiver Calvin Johnson, running back Reggie Bush and tight end Brandon Pettigrew as those three players have accounted for 51.5% of the team receptions so far this year and 54.4% of the total team receiving yardage. One of the ways that can be done is by limiting the amount of yards after catch.
Through the first nine games of the season, that Lions trio of pass catchers have compiled 49% of their receiving yards after the catch with an average yardage after the catch of 6.37.
Bush is the most dangerous of the bunch after the catch as 323 of his 343 receiving yards have come post reception. If you do the math on that, you will see that's 94% of his yardage and a 9.4 yard average post catch.
Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau always preaches to his defense that they must tackle the catch quickly and several times this season his unit has had problems carrying out that mandate.
Last week in the win over the Buffalo Bills, the defense allowed a mere 2.91 yards after the catch, but a week earlier in the loss to the New England Patriots, they allowed an average of 6.04. As a team this season, the Steelers defense has allowed an average YAC of 4.49.
When we look back on this game Sunday evening, the YAC stat might paint a pretty good picture as to what happened. Johnson, Bush and Pettigrew aren't going to be shut down, but by limiting their yards after the catch, that will extend the length of the field and perhaps limit the amount of trips the Lions offense makes inside the Steelers red zone. One less scoring drive could very well wind up being the difference in this game.