Breakdown of Pittsburgh's pass defense

December, 9, 2009
12/09/09
11:00
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The Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6) have allowed a lot of key passing plays during their four-game losing streak, particularly in the fourth quarter.

So the AFC North blog checked in with ESPN Stats & Information this week to find out exactly where the big plays were coming from the past four games.

Here is what we found:


Taylor

Pittsburgh's left side

Cornerback: Ike Taylor

Stats: 41-of-62 (66.1 percent), 425 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Ints.

Analysis: It looks like opponents are attacking short on Pittsburgh's left side, and the high completion percentage is a concern. That says Taylor is not getting his hands on the ball enough to create pass defenses. The Steelers also have zero interceptions from cornerbacks this year, which has to improve. Quarterbacks won't feel threatened throwing on the perimeter if the worst thing that happens is an incompletion.

Pittsburgh's middle

Clark


Carter

Safeties: Ryan Clark and Tyrone Carter

Stats: 11-for-20 (55 percent), 171 yards, 0 TDs, 0 Ints.

Analysis: On Monday, I wrongfully downed Clark and Carter during this four-game losing streak. But I definitely retract those statements, because these are solid numbers that proved me incorrect. Even without Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh’s safeties are preventing the big statistical plays. The Steelers are allowing just 42.75 passing yards a game up the middle during their skid. Clark continues to be around the football with 14 tackles in his past two games.

Pittsburgh's right side


Gay

Cornerback: William Gay

Stats: 24-of-47 (51.1 percent), 427 yards, 4 TDs and 0 Ints.

Analysis: The low completion percentage is solid, but the amount of big plays is off the charts on Pittsburgh's right side. Opponents in the past four games are averaging 17.8 yards per completion throwing in the direction of Gay. Four of those 24 completions have been touchdowns. Statistically, it looks like one side is giving up a high percentage of completions and the other is giving up big plays. These are issues Pittsburgh’s coaching staff will try to fix this week against the Cleveland Browns (1-11).

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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