Steelers’ Defense Did More Than Just Stop The Dolphins’ Running Game

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Miami Dolphins in a convincing fashion Sunday at Heinz Field and it included their defense holding the opposing offense to just 52 rushing yards, which is a far cry from the 222 yards they allowed on the ground back in the Week 6 meeting the two teams. That aside, the Steelers defense still allowed Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore to complete all but seven of his 36 passing attempts for 289 yards and a touchdown.

On the surface, Moore’s passing completion percentage and yards per attempt was solid but when you dig deeper into the actual numbers, you’ll see that the Steelers defense was on point when it came to their tackle-the-catch philosophy.

According to our own early charting numbers from Sunday’s game, the Steelers defense allowed just 77 yards after the catch to the Dolphins offense on their 29 total completions. That works out to an average of just 2.66 yards after catch, which is quite impressive.

It’s probably also worth pointing out that 15 of Moore’s 29 total completions against the Steelers defense came in the fourth quarter along with 30 yards after the catch. The Steelers were of course leading the game 30-6 after the first three quarters so it’s easy to speculate that their defense was doing their best to not give up anything over their heads at that point of the contest.

If you were to eliminate what the Dolphins did passing-wise in the fourth quarter on Sunday, you’re left with Moore completing 14 of 18 of his pass attempts for 177 during the first three quarters of the game with 47 of those yards coming after the catch. That averages out to 3.36 yards after the catch, which still isn’t very bad at all.

Much like New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the Steelers Week 13 regular-season game at Heinz Field, you knew Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry was likely to get a high number receptions on Sunday and he did just that as he registered 11 total catches for 102 yards. What you should have probably been worried about the most about Landry prior to Sunday’s game was the fact that he entered the contest averaging a gaudy 6.7 yards after the catch during the regular season.

While Landry did manage did register 48 yards after the catch against the Steelers Sunday at Heinz Field, he only averaged 4.36 per reception. Additionally, five of his receptions came in the fourth quarter in addition to 21 of his total 48 yards after the catch. By the way, on six of Landry’s 11 total receptions he was limited to 2 yards or less after catching the football.

In short, the Steelers defense accomplished their weekly goal of stopping the run, tackling the catch and not giving up big plays. Sure, Moore completed three of his four deep passes for explosive plays against the Steelers on Sunday but when you consider the fact that the Pittsburgh defense gave up six plays of 20 yards or more to the Dolphins when the two teams met back in Week 6, that’s a remarkable improvement.

Oh, the Steelers defense also forced three turnovers on Sunday in addition to sacking Moore a total of five times. In the earlier season meeting between the two teams, the Steelers defense failed to register either of those two things.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    You are correct. It’s not about the yardage, just get off the field after 3rd down often.

  • steeltown

    Crazy turnaround. This Team has grown and changed over the course of the season. I remember thinking the worst after the first contest.

  • The Tony

    I love how I think it was Simms who said that Moore nearly played a perfect game. Two fumbles and a pick while being down 30-6 is perfect

  • mem359

    Normally when there are typos or strange grammar, I can figure out what the author meant.
    This time I am stumped. Any hints?

    “…allowed Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore to complete all seven of his 36 passing attempts…”

  • WilliamSekinger

    hehe should read: ‘…all but seven of his 36 passing attempts…’

  • Xclewsive

    The Steelers will face a similar style of QB in Alex Smith with a far better supporting cast. The Steelers will need to be better next week if they want to advance.

  • VaDave

    I guess it doesn’t take much to impress so people…He was probably speechless of our special teams….

  • VaDave

    Probably auto correct run amuck,,,

  • The Tony

    Where in VA are you from

  • Xclewsive

    To me the strategy was to let Moore pass but not give up big plays. The Steelers playing defense like they’ve always have in that the QB will make a mistake if he strictly passing.

  • Zib Hammad

    Pretty sure that should be “all but seven..”

  • Mark

    I watched KC against San Diego in a do or die game and they didn’t look that great. San Diego was actually running the ball against them and if not for Phillip “Ben” Rivers INT, they were driving for another score. KC’s ILB’s are horrible against the pass, especially cross routes by quick/shifty WRs. No kickoffs or punts to Tyrek and watch the jet sweeps! Put it all on Alex dump off Smith

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Absolutely, The king of the two yard pass (Smith) will try to do that all game long.

  • T3xassteelers

    Man glad to read some football stuff after a great win other than BB foot and Peezy.

  • mem359

    Thanks!
    (Since the previous sentence was about the Dolphin’s RB, I was wondering if there were 7 pass attempts to the RB that were all completed, which seemed unlikely.)

  • charles

    Article is a very good discussion about stat futilty. 4th qtr blew up very good stat. Thought I saw a stat line of Moore: 27 of 31 for 264. Your delineation of 14/18 through 3 is the real stat . Still Moore played very good football after being drilled by the Dentist. D maybe ready for Braidy.

  • Don

    Excluding the 15-yarder on 4th and 31 at the end, Miami had only 37 yards on 20 carries.

  • Don

    I wouldn’t use the word “futility”, but your point is more generally correct. You just have to remain aware of the limitations of the numbers and how best to properly apply them. Also, I like Dentist 🙂

  • Dan

    Not to mention a very different ambiance at Arrowhead. Certainly will be a challenge. Nice to see how the defense is coming together though.

  • VaDave

    Outside of Richmond

  • The Tony

    Nice I’m about 45 minutes north of Richmond. There’s a huge Steelers following in Fredericksburg

  • dennisdoubleday

    You thought the worst after the easy win in Washington?

  • Daniel

    Lol

  • Milliken Steeler

    I was stationed at Fort Useless ( Eustis). lol I loved Newport News though and going down to VA Beach.

  • VaDave

    Milliken: A sincere thank you for your service. Navy? MOS? I managed to raise to Marines. Don’t know how, but I did. Virginia is a great state. Grew up a little north of the stadiums in the Burgh, and like a lot of the great Steeler Nation of baby boomers, moved on in the 70’s.

  • VaDave

    I’d love to come up to check it out, but I’m involved with Church ministry. By the time I’d get there on game day, the game would be half over. We have a few spots here in Richmond, but I’ve only done that scene once in the 20 years I’ve been here.

  • Milliken Steeler

    Thank you. I was a 67T20 in the Army which is a Black Hawk Crew Chief. Fort Eustis is where I trained on the Black Hawk after I finished basic In Fort Dix NJ.

    Looking at the Navy Behemoths in Norfolk was always a good trip too.

  • Jaybird

    I worked at a hospital that was contracted to do certain services for soldiers from Fort Dix / McGuire AFB. I did the MRI’s for soldiers coming and going at that base.
    I also did research for Aberdeen Proving Grounds( I think I said that correctly). I did MRI to show the effects of a non lethal weapon on the shoulders of the soldiers who were firing it. Coolest gig I ever did!

    And thanks again for your service Milliken !

  • gentry_gee

    I predict that the Chiefs will come at the Steelers with the screen game. They will utilize their incredible weapon, Hill. The Steelers D has been exposed by this and not enough offences have gone at them. They better be on their toes with Hill and Kelce. This will be an incredible challenge for them. For Steelers to win they will have to be flawless. They can’t give up the home runs. Also, Ben cannot continue to turn over the ball.

  • Brendon Glad

    Stats help, but just to the eye, it just seems so much different than weeks 1-thru-Dallas.
    Usually the stats coincide with the eye…but even when the Steelers haven’t gotten great stats, the overall eye-test just looks so much better in the 2nd half of the season.
    Getting off the field so much better. Having dominant 3 and outs. Receptions that have far less space to the defender than before. And then the sacks, and turnovers are obvious improvements.
    The difference between how they looked against, say, Philly and Miami, and Dallas, compared to now is stunning.

  • Brendon Glad

    Yeah, isn’t that improvement amazing this year? I mean they could NEVER get off the field on third down up to the Cleveland game in week 11. And without turnovers either…so it was literally 8-12 play drives by the opponent, 1 after another, and hoping to hold them to a FG. Much much improved now. I can’t believe it. I’m as relaxed as I’ve ever been for a Steelers playoffs. Because they have surpassed my expectations by so much that I am totally on house money in my own Steelers mindset.

  • RickM

    Good explanation as to why the 29 of 36 is a little misleading. You go by points on the scoreboard and it was a solid effort by the D, especially the Front 7. Smith gets rid of the ball very quickly for K.C. and he’s got the added running ability. Let’s hope we can shut them down as well.

  • Chris

    There’s only one stat that really matters. The final score. 30-12. That’s a three score victory. Take that any day, while the opponent has a high completion percentage, and a WR reception record.

  • Lil Smitty

    I wonder if he is faster than Bud Dupree and Ryan Shazier? Should be fun to watch. Have Deebo push Eric Fisher into Smith and flush him towards Bud.

  • Gautama Om

    Landry isn’t that “yards after catch” type of receiver. He’s a possession WR with very low break away speed. He ran 4.77 fourty at the combine.

  • I live like 45 minutes from McGuire AFB. Had a friend in high school who had a dad that was police chief for a neighboring town. He used to take us to the range at McGuire to shoot guns. Glocks, 1911s and M92fs were all they would let us fire.

    You still live in Jersey, Jaybird?

  • Jaybird

    I’m just across the Delaware in Bucks county PA now. But I still work in Jersey, and all my family is still there.

  • You cross the cheap bridges. I would much rather drive to PA than to NY. The tolls to cross the Hudson are outrageous!

  • Jaybird

    I use the Stockton bridge – it’s actually free!
    What county in jersey are you

  • Monmouth County.

    Lucky you, they make you pay a few bucks on the bridges to get in and out of Philly.