Steelers’ Defense In A League Of Their Own After Halftime

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had their fair share of comeback victories over the last month. In fact, three of their last four victories have been secured by a last second Chris Boswell field goal. But while much of the attention and focus of the Steelers’ winning streak and comeback victories have been on the Steelers’ offense, let’s not forget just how big of a part the defense has played in allowing these wins to facilitate.

Over the course of their seven-game winning streak, the Steelers’ defense has been one of the NFL’s best at making adjustments at halftime. During these last seven games, the defense is allowing less than seven points in the second half and less than three points during the fourth quarter.

The Steelers kept six of their last seven opponents to ten points or less during the second half. The defense stiffens up even further in the fourth quarter, holding five of their last seven opponents to three points or less during the fourth quarter. With a defense that minimizes scoring, the hole for the offense to dig out of is kept at a minimal size. Just ask the Cincinnati Bengals who over the course of two matchups this season have been held to just three second half points against the Steelers’ defense.

To put the Steelers’ numbers in comparison to the rest of the NFL, the Keith Butler led unit ranks third in the NFL in second half points allowed – allowing an average of eight points during the second half. The defense’s ability to shut down an offense in the latter half has also paid dividends to the Steelers’ road success this season. The Steelers hold a remarkable 6-1 road record this season, a mark inflated by the fact that the Steelers are allowing an average of 6.1 second half points on the road this season, third fewest in the NFL.

As for the fourth quarter, the Steelers are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for fewest points allowed with an average of 3.2. This is a full three-point improvement over their 2016 mark of 6.3 points.

The Steelers’ improvement on defense is a major reason why the team is off to their best start since 2004. At 10-2, the Steelers are atop the AFC and riding a seven-game win streak. While offensive superstars such as Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have received most of the talk around the media, the Steelers’ 10-2 record has been built on the back of the defense.

And while this back has taken its fair share of hits and early blows, the Steelers’ defense has proven to be a back that will not break.

About the Author

Daniel Valente

Steelers fan from birth, spending majority of my free time looking up statistics. Had the honor of meeting Mike Vanderjagt shortly after his infamous missed field goal in the 2005 Divisional Round. Currently pursuing a Journalism degree. Follow me on Twitter @StatsGuyDaniel

  • will

    “And while this back has taken its fair share of hits and early blows, the Steelers’ defense has proven to be a back that will not break.”

    Daniel…….I do not believe that this is the appropriate analogy to use in light of the Ryan Shazier injury.

  • Steve

    In the chiefs game the Steelers gave up 3 pts in the first 3 quarters and 10 pts in the 4th quarter. Now if we can cut down on the long plays.

  • Jason

    Really? Part of me hopes you’re joking but part of me thinks you may be a part of the “everything offends me” group we all have to deal with now. I’m sure Daniel is sensitive to Shaz’s injury.

  • PittShawnC

    I knew it was good, I didn’t know it was THAT good. Good stuff Daniel.

    Steelers since 2000
    # of games allowing 10 or fewer pts in 2H
    1) 2007, 08: 13
    2) 2001, 04, 05: 12
    2017: 9
    (NFL leader: 2016 Vikings, 15)

    # of games allowing 3 or less points in the 4Q
    1) 2007: 11
    2) 2012: 10
    2017: 8
    (NFL leader: 2003 Lions, 14)

  • EdJHJr

    Actually very interesting.

    There is talk of them not needing to win this game. That s interesting too since they win the division if they best the crows

  • Dshoff

    yep, they really seem to pump it up in the second half. Let’s hope that the Bengals didn’t show the rest of the league how to run the ball against us because that was scary bad. Hopefully the Steelers learned some valuable lessons on what not to do with their run defense in that game.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    ^Will is a douchebag

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Thank you coach Butts.

  • Rob H

    But….I thought that the Steelers coaching staff was horrible at making in game adjustments???
    I could swear I’ve heard that a time or two before.

  • will

    Tell me more…I thought that it was extremely insensitive that he used that analogy at this point in time. That is all I was saying. Thought that he should be more aware of his words.

  • will

    I would never joke about Shazier’s injury. I hope he is able to live a normal life. I just thought that it was insensitive and inappropriate to use that analogy at this point in time. Have some awareness about what one writes in the broader context. That is how his words struck me.

  • kakello34

    The truth as to what this D is capable of will be set free as the Patriots game unfolds. Especially without Shazier. Let’s just hope Hayden is back.

  • LHW

    Silly. That is a common football concept that has been around long before Shazier’s injury. Society is way to sensitive. We need to be stronger than that – this in no way indicated an insensitivity to Shazier’s situation. Legitimate statements in the appropriate context can’t be made because they might offend somebody? Or be taken the wrong way? I would tell them to go pound sand and develop a stronger character. Shazier has more to worry about right now than how some oversensitive people might misinterpret a legitimate insightful and well crafted article about football stats. And I know you are thinking – I don’t care about Shazier. If so, wrong. The world is losing it’s collective mind!

  • Guest12

    I can bet you that Ryan himself has thought about the football side of his injury more than he has anything else.

  • Guest12

    It’s time to lock up the division this weekend!

  • will

    I agree

  • will

    Ok so you do not think the reference was insensitive. I thought it was but not intentional. I did not intend to offend anyone here.

  • Steeler Nation!

    The PC police are out in force! I am offended by the soft nature of society that gets offended so easily! Everyone is worried about Shazier. Seriously. But not enough people are worried about this country becoming a bunch of crybaby pansies.

  • Steeler Nation!

    Doesn’t sound like JH will be back in time for Pats. That’s too bad to, as he is a difference maker for us. That game will probably determine home field advantage for the playoffs, and we are going to be without some key guys. Shazier loss will probably show up big against the Pats. That may become a game where the O has to score 30+ for us to have a chance.

  • DirtDawg1964

    No, no, no, no! You are not allowed to provide facts to refute the narrative the Steelers don’t make half time adjustments.

    Of course, now all those meatheads will simply switch gears and talk about how this only proves the Steelers aren’t prepared in the first place. Or not amped up enough. Or too amped up. Or whatever.


  • LHW

    I was not singling you out, I was only commenting on your points (turns out you were just commenting). I should have included that in my response. And nor should you be offended. If I were, I would not have said anything. I get offended quite often and I just deal with it. Things that don’t psychologically damage, cause physical pain, or affect my family just roll off my back. . .

  • LHW

    I will admit I am a squeaky wheel (hey, I admit it!). Sometimes as fans we feel like it is our “right” to win. And even when our team does, we complain the win is not by the margin or the manner in which we expect. Now – get out there boys and put a beat-down on the Ravens 34 – 3!

  • Steven Vincent

    #Pray50 #RyanShazier

    Do you think if we and all the world come together and #PRAY50 we can help make a big difference in Ryan Shazier’s recovery? I don’t think it, I know it! It starts now! #Pray50. Post #PRAYED50 here after you do your Prayer and maybe share your prayer and spread it on! Are you in?

    facebook: PRAY50RyanShazier/