“Hip Hip Hooray for B.A. !!!” Say what? I’m hearing the proverbial diamond stylus drag across the vinyl record album. Yes, let’s give Steeler Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians (a.k.a. B.A.) his just due for implementing his ball-control-through-the-air offensive strategy against the Patriots last Sunday. But Defensive Coordinator Dick Lebeau’s plan to have the Steeler’s secondary play a man-to-man physical style of coverage on Patriot receivers was equally decisive in frustrating Tom Brady and securing the victory.
The Steeler Offense managed to dominate time of possession, thus aiding a shut-down Steeler “D” in keeping Brady and Company off the field. Roethlisberger racked up 365 yards through the air. But all this passing actuality netted the team one touchdown when you subtract the one the Roethlisberger pick deep in Steeler territory basically gave to the Pats.
So while the offense did manage to stay on the field… putting up 23 points on a bottom-rated Patriot defense isn’t really much to get excited about. In 2011 the Pats avg. in points allowed per game is 22.9 ( yards allowed = 424, worst in the league). The Steelers total offensive yardage on Sunday was 463.
Yes, the Steelers are winning. But once again,Dick Lebeau’s masterful defensive leadership, and the Steeler’s dominant defensive play this season deserve the lion’s share of credit for the 6-2 division-leading record. At the mid-point of the 2011 season, once again the Steeler’s are ranked at or near the top of the N.F.L. in fewest points allowed per game, at 17.3 (3rd lowest). And once again, the Steeler offense is mired in scoring mediocrity, or worse.
In case you hadn’t notice, scoring is up this year. More teams are putting more points on the board. Four teams are currently averaging over 30 p.p.g. In a typical year, the Steeler’s current average of 22 points-per-game would place them somewhere near the middle of the pack. This year it puts them 19th out of 32 teams. Damn, the Bungals are averaging 24.4!
Does any one doubt that Roethlisberger and Company are capable of scoring at a far more elite level? With the Steeler's present arsenal of offensive weapons, shouldn't they be averaging at least 26-29 p.p.g? Yet history tells us that under B.A. first four years as O.C., 23 p.p.g. is about all that can be expected. So far this year we are not even equaling that pedestrian average.
Currently we are ranked 9th is yards gained per game (388). Yet the Steeler offensive engine, mighty as it is, seems to stall in the red zone. Are we leading the league in 20-35 yard field goal attempts? Seems like it. Four Steeler drives stalled this past Sunday, yielding three short field goals, and a 44-yard miss by kicker Shaun Suisham.
Once again the Steelers are primed for a play-off run as we enter the second half of the season. We are beginning to look like the best team in the AFC. Kudos to all the coaches and players for jobs well done.
But if we are headed for another showdown with that offensive juggernaut known as the Green Bay Packers, let’s hope that the Steeler “O” can ramp up it’s scoring output going forward.
If “defense wins championships,” as the adage goes, we’re good. If it can’t, in 2011, we may be screwed.#