October 1, 2009
By Donald Starver
The Steelers have lost two games in a row, and just as quickly as that, Chicken Little has come out of hiding. The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
The Steelers are 1-2, and some are quick to point out that the Steelers have the same record as the Detroit Lions and the Oakland Raiders. But is that really so bad?
Statistics can be often be misleading. Sure, the Steelers have more losses than wins. They are also in third place in the AFC North, and trail the Baltimore Ravens by 2 games. Despite this, I am not the least bit concerned about the Steelers. In fact, I feel quite confident.
Let’s look at a few facts that leave me feeling extremely optimistic.
1. The Steelers have outgained their opponents 704 yards to 563 yards in their two losses. That’s right, the Steelers had significantly more yards than their opponent in both losses.
2. Willie Parker was the leading rusher in each of the Steelers’ losses. Some have overlooked this statistic. Sure, Willie hasn’t had any 100+ yard performances, but he’s outperformed the opposing running backs in both games.
3. The Steelers led in time of possession in each loss. Usually, when you control the time of possession, you win the game. It is rare for a team to control the ball for a full 10 minutes more than their opponent and still lose. But that’s exactly what the Steelers did against the Bengals. Despite the loss, I’m still happy to see the Steelers dominating the time clock.
4. The Steelers punted a combined 5 times in their two losses compared to 11 total punts by their opponents. Any team that punts half as often as their opponent is very likely to win the game. Unfortunately in these two games it didn’t turn out that way. But if the defense can continue to force the opponents to punt, good things will happen.
5. The Steelers dropped easy touchdown passes in both losses. Santonio Holmes dropped a sure touchdown against the Bears, and Limas Sweed dropped one against the Bengals. Both of those touchdowns would have meant victory.
6. The Steelers lost the two games by a combined 6 points. That’s all. They lost by 3 points to the Bears, and by 3 points to the Bengals. That’s much better than losing by a large margin.
7. Jeff Reed missed 3 out of 5 field goal attempts in the two losses. Both games were lost by 3 points, so those missed field goals proved to be disastrous. Despite the missed field goals, I truly doubt that Reed is going to continue to hit less than 50% of his field goal attempts. The 3 missed field goals were an anomaly, not the norm.
8. After 3 games, the Steelers are only one game behind their pace during their last two Super Bowl seasons. In 2005, the Steelers started the season 2-1. They went on to finish 11-5, and won the Super Bowl. Last year, the Steelers also started off 2-1, and finished the season 12-4 before going on to win the Super Bowl. So after 3 games, this years’ team is only one game off of their recent Super Bowl pace.
9. The Steelers haven’t played the Baltimore Ravens yet. Remember, we beat them 3 times last year. Two wins over the Ravens this year will completely eliminate the current deficit.
10. Troy Polamalu will be back soon. Do I really need to say anything more?
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