The Steelers secondary and pass defense has been a topic of discussion and concern for much of the regular season. In November, I took a look at the Steelers play against the pass and argued that it wan’t as bad as its reputation (a lot of 15 yard gains on third and 20).
Now that all 16 regular season games are in the books, here’s how they finished…
When all is said and done, the Steelers allowed the 12th most passing yards in the NFL (3,425), but did so while facing the fourth most pass attempts (593).
The other rankings…
* Yards Per Pass Attempt: 6.1 (lowest in the NFL)
* Passing Touchdowns Allowed: 15 (third lowest in the NFL)
* Passing Plays 20+ Yards: 35 (lowest in NFL)
* Interceptions: 21 (fifth most in the NFL)
* Opponents Passer Rating: 73.1 (second lowest in the NFL)
* Sacks: 48 (most in the NFL)
* Football OutsidersDVOA Against The Pass: -13.0% (second lowest in NFL)
That’s not bad at all, and the rankings are very similar to where they finished in 2008, when they were also first in yards per attempt, sixth in interceptions, third in touchdowns allowed, second in opponents passer rating, second in sacks, and first in DVOA against the pass.
We all saw what Tom Brady did to the Steelers back in November, and should the two teams happen to meet again (and I’m not looking ahead, the Steelers still have to win what will surely be a difficult game first; I’m not taking anything for granted), it very well could happen again. But I believe that has more to do with the way Brady and the Patriots are playing than how the Steelers are playing.
Brady is playing the best football of his career (yes, I think he’s been better than their 16-0 season in 2007) and has had 12 games with a passer rating over 100. The game against the Steelers was only his seventh best performance of the season.
Other than that, when teams are forced to throw 45 passes a game because they can’t run and are losing by 20 points in the fourth quarter, they’re going to pick up some yardage. Doesn’t mean it’s effective.
The Steelers don’t give up big plays, they don’t give up touchdowns, they force turnovers, they get sacks. And I’m still left wondering how Ike Taylor didn’t get more recognition for the job he did this season.