Analyzing the Steelers Week 9 win over the Titans, by the numbers
The Pittsburgh Steelers were back in action for their first of two Thursday Night games this season, this time hosting the Titans in Week 9 of the 2023 NFL season. The Steelers had a much improved start to the game on offense, but missed opportunities left the Steelers trailing going into the fourth quarter and needing yet another comeback to seal the win.
So without further ado, here are some of the numbers involved in the Steelers Week 9 win over the Titans.
The Steelers managed to come out on top in the turnover margin yet again as they had one takeaway and played turnover free ball on the night. The game went 59:54 without a takeaway until Kwon Alexander picked off Will Levis in the end zone to seal the win for the Steelers.
5 & 83
The Steelers won the coin toss elected to receive. The last time Steelers did this they simply gave the ball quickly to the opposition. But on Thursday night, the Steelers had the ball for 4:49 as they had a 10-play, 83-yard touchdown drive (which was 78 yards nets as the Steelers had a 5-yard penalty against them). On the drive, the Steelers converted five first downs. During their first seven games of 2023, the Steelers only had three total first downs on their opening drive and 38 total yards. So for the Steelers to put up these numbers to open the game was definitely a break from the norm.
When the Titans received the ball for their first possession, they held the ball for 7:23 but only had 32 yards of offense coupled with 40 yards of penalties for 72 net yards and achieved five first downs. But of those 5 first downs, 4 of them came by way of penalty as the only other conversion they had being on a fourth-down try. But as much as the Steelers gave yardage to the Titans in penalties, some of which were justified and others maybe not, the Titans settled for a short field goal.
The Steelers had 166 rushing yards on 30 attempts, the most yards since week 17 of last season against the Ravens. The Steelers averaged 5.5 yards per carry and were led by Jaylen Warren who had 88 yards on 11 rushes. Najee Harris also added 69 yards on 16 carries. The other carries came from Calvin Austin who had two rushes for 10 yards and Kenny Pickett who took a knee to end the game for -1 yards.
The Steelers pass defense struggled in the game as Will Levis passed for 262 yards on 22 completions. The bigger issue was the Steelers gave up 7 catches of more than 20 yards. These catches came from six different receivers as Kyle Phillips was the only receiver with two such receptions. Compare this to the Steelers who had one pass over more than 20 yards which was the game-long 32-yard connection to Diontae Johnson on 3rd & 6 on the Steelers fourth-quarter touchdown drive. The Steelers did have two rushing plays of more than 20 yards with a 25-yard run by Najee Harris and a 22-yard run by Jaylen Warren. The longest run by the Titans was 15 yards by Derrick Henry.
The Tennessee Titans only converted 3 third downs during the entire game. The Titans were 3 of 13 for a 23% conversion rate on the night. All three of their conversions came in the second quarter on the same drive which was the only one for the Titans that ended in a touchdown, which was one of the conversions. The Steelers converted 50% of their third downs as they went 6 for 12.
Diontae Johnson ended his streak of being kept out of the end zone outside of two-point conversion plays as he pulled in a 3 yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter which proved to be the game-winning score with just over four minutes remaining. As he spoke about it in his post game press conference, Johnson had gone 665 days since his last touchdown reception.
The Steelers were slightly outgained by the Titans on Thursday night as Tennessee had 340 net yards to the Steelers 326. The 14-yard difference means the Steelers have been outgained in every game this season despite being 5–3. The Steelers have been outgained by 790 yards this season and are the first team in the Super Bowl era to be outgained in all of their first eight games and yet have a winning record according to CBS. The Steelers were outgained every contest the first eight games of last season as well, but held a 2–6 record.
The Steelers had four drives in this game in which they ran at least 10 plays. All four of the drives had at least five first downs and all of them ended in a score. Through the first seven games, the Steelers only had eight drives of 10 plays or more and had no more than two in any game. Of those eight, they only had five or more first downs in three drives and only five of the eight ended in scores.
It’s getting old, but I have to say it again that this is the only number that matters. Did the Steelers add a one to their win column? This week they did for the fifth time this year and hopefully the Steelers can stack wins moving forward.
So there are some numbers to help put the Steelers Week 9 win in perspective. After managing to pull out another ugly win, the Steelers now can take a few days to rest up with the extra time off before hosting the Green Bay Packers.
So what numbers from Sunday’s game stand out to you? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.