The Steelers defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday night 26-21. If you haven’t already read my post-game recap, click here.
In my post-game analysis, I take a deeper look at how the Steelers did during the game, and I analyze the game stats to better understand how the Steelers are doing.
Though the scoreboard made it appear that the game was a closely fought battle, that was not really the case. The Steelers dominated the Jaguars in most key aspects of the game. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
On offense, one of the key statistics that I like to look at is time of possession. This statistic helps to show how effectively an offense is driving against their opponent. For the game, the Steelers offense won the time of possession battle, controlling the ball for 33:23 versus 26:37 for the Jaguars. If we look closer, we will see that the Steelers really dominated the Jaguars in the first half. In the first half of the game, the Steelers held the ball for a full 21:15 versus only 8:45 for the Jaguars. That’s more than twice the possession time of Jacksonville. Anytime a team can control the time of possession, it highly likely that they will control the game.
In this instance, the scoreboard did not actually reflect the Steelers true level of dominance. The Jaguars intercepted Ben Roethlisberger on the Steelers first offensive possession. Rashean Mathis ran back the interception for a touchdown, so the Jaguars got 7 points before their offense had ever even taken the field.
The Steelers controlled the ball and marched up the field so effectively against the Jaguars’ defense in the first quarter that the Jaguars offense never even stepped onto the field until there was only 5:18 left in the quarter.
For the game, the Steelers accumulated 28 first downs as compared to only 14 for the Jaguars. More importantly, they finished the game with almost twice the net yardage of the Jaguars. The Steelers had 415 net yards for the game, as opposed to only 213 net yards for the Jaguars. That’s an advantage of 202 yards.
Despite playing without their first, second, and third string running backs, the Steelers were very effective in the rushing game. In his first start since joining the Steelers, Mewelde Moore rushed for an impressive 99 yards on 17 carries. That’s a good day for any back, regardless of whether they’re a starter or a substitute.
Mewelde Moore averaged 5.8 yards per carry during the game. For perspective, Willie Parker is averaging 4.0 yards per carry, Rashard Mendenhall is averaging 3.1, and Carey Davis is averaging 1.8. Do you think that perhaps Moore is trying to show the coaches that he deserves more playing time?
As a whole, the Steelers ended up with 129 net rushing yards versus only 38 net rushing yards for the Jaguars. Can you believe that? The vaunted Jaguars rushing attack was held to only 38 yards rushing. “Steeler killer” Fred Taylor rushed for a whopping 19 yards, while Maurice Jones Drew rushed for only 7 yards more than I did.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger recorded his first 300+ yard passing game of the season. In fact, it was his first game passing for over 200 yards this year.
In a game that was very uncharacteristic for the Steelers, the offense attempted 41 passing plays as opposed to only 26 running plays. It has long been believed that the Steelers are most effective when Big Ben only throws the ball 20-25 times per game. Personally, I’ve never subscribed to that theory, and I believe that Ben is one of the most under-utilized weapons in the NFL. In my opinion, you don’t pay a quarterback $100 million dollars and then hold him back from taking over games.
Roethlisberger had one of the most successful first halves of his career, passing for239 yards and 2 touchdowns by halftime.
Roethlisberger ended up with a passer rating of 100.6 for the game. That leaves him as the 9th ranked quarterback in the NFL, with a passer rating of 95.7. If you were to eliminate the terrible “sack-fest” that Roethlisberger suffered versus the Philadelphia Eagles in which his passer rating was a paltry 50.6, Roethlisberger would actually be the 2nd highest rated quarterback in the NFL, behind only Brett Favre. This is where Steelers fans expect Roethlisberger to be. While he has never been a prolific passer in terms of total passing yards, Roethlisberger has always been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league.
For the first time this season, Roethlisberger got everyone involved in the passing game. Hines Ward caught 7 passes for 90 yards, and 1 TD. Nate Washington caught 6 passes for 94 yards and 1 TD. Heath Miller caught 5 passes for 45 yards and 1 TD. Santonio Holmes had 4 for 65 yards, Mewelde Moore had 3 for 17 yards, and Gary Russell had 1 reception for -2 yards.
Hines Ward reached a milestone during the game by surpassing 9,000 receiving yards for his career.
Overall, the Steelers’ defense played an excellent game. As always, they are one of the top defensive units in the NFL. They are ranked #2 in overall defense (231.6 total yards/game). They are ranked #2 in rushing defense (66.8 yards/game), and 5th in passing defense (164.8 YPG).
The offense so dominated the time of possession (particularly in the 1st half), that they allowed the Steelers’ defense to be fresh for most of the game. In response, the defense turned in another Steeler-like performance.
While Jacksonville did score 21 points, one touchdown was scored by the Jacksonville defense. Another touchdown was given to the Jaguars as a gift from the referees. Ike Taylor was called for pass interference on a 39 yard pass into the endzone. If Taylor had not made contact with Matt Jones, there was little chance that Jones would have been able to actually catch the ball. Nevertheless, Taylor did make contact, and Jacksonville got the ball on the 1 yard line. On the next play, Maurice Jones-Drew ran it in for a 1 yard TD. If you take away the interception and the pass interference call, the Jaguars offense really only earned 1 touchdown against the Steelers.
38 net yards rushing. What more do we need to say? Total domination.
David Garrard has been beating teams with his arm this season. The Steelers defense held him to only 200 yards passing on 18/32 attempts. Garrard finished the game with a passer rating of only 85.4.
Bryant McFadden had a tough time guarding Jaguars receiver Mike Walker (who?!!!). Walker caught 6 passes for 107 yards. Prior to this game, Walker had 6 receptions for 56 yards for the entire season. The Steelers can’t allow scrubs to have career games against them.
The Steelers’ linebackers continued their assault on quarterbacks. James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are becoming the most feared LB tandem in the NFL. James Harrison, who is second in the NFL in sacks with 6.5 sacks, dropped David Garrard for 1 sack during the game. Not to be outdone, LaMarr Woodley, who is third in the NFL with 5.5 sacks, sacked Garrard twice.
The Steelers lead the NFL in sacks with 18 (tied with the Philadelphia Eagles). Harrison and Woodley alone have combined for more sacks than 22 NFL teams this season. Each of them has more sacks than such feared pass rushers as Mario Williams, Albert Haynesworth, Dwight Freeney, Julius Peppers, DeMarcus Ware, and Terrell Suggs.