Stats & Info: Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers' Bell makes strides with one play

December, 9, 2014
Dec 9

Aaron Doster/USA TodayLe’Veon Bell has averaged 7.9 yards before contact on his last 22 carries on the power play.
Le’Veon Bell on Sunday joined Walter Payton as the only players to record at least 200 scrimmage yards in three consecutive games.

Bell averaged a career-best 7.1 yards per rush last week in Cincinnati against the Bengals. The reason behind Bell’s recent surge can be found in a single play.

The play
Over the last three weeks, the Steelers have run the same play with Bell 22 times, including 10 times against the Bengals last week.

The formation is almost always the same. Two tight ends, Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth, are on the field every time, usually joined by fullback Will Johnson.

The execution
Each time, right guard David DeCastro pulls left to lead the way for Bell, followed closely by either Miller, Spaeth or Johnson, depending on the alignment.

The “power” play results in Bell finding room off tackle with the ability to cut back or bounce outside accordingly.

The execution has been a primary reason for the play’s success. Bell has averaged 7.9 yards before contact on his last 22 carries on the play.

The results
During the last three weeks, Bell has averaged 11 yards per carry on the power play, including three touchdowns. The play has gained at least three yards 20 of the 22 times Bell and the Steelers have run it the last three weeks.
  • Week 11 against the Titans, first and 10 from the Steelers’ 41, 4:50 remaining in the fourth quarter: DeCastro kicks out the outside linebacker and Johnson takes on the safety, allowing Bell to cut back for 10 yards.

  • Week 14 against the Bengals, first and 10 from the Steelers’ 20, 15:00 remaining in the fourth quarter: DeCastro kicks out the cornerback and Miller kicks out the safety, springing Bell for 53 yards, including 50 yards before being touched.

  • Week 14 against the Bengals, first and 10 from the Bengals’ 22, 5:17 remaining in the fourth quarter: DeCastro kicks out the cornerback, Miller seals the defensive end, and Bell bounces to the sideline for a 22-yard touchdown untouched.
Looking ahead
Bell and the Steelers saw the play peak Sunday against the Bengals. Bell ran 10 times for 138 yards and two touchdowns on the power play.

Cincinnati will be forced to make adjustments as the Bengals and Steelers meet again to close out the season in Week 17 with the AFC North title potentially on the line.

Bell joins Payton with huge game

December, 7, 2014
Dec 7
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell had another dominant performance Sunday, this time against his AFC North division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals. Here’s how Bell put himself in the company of Walter Payton.
Le'Veon Bell

With 185 yards on the ground and 50 more in the receiving game, Bell recorded his third consecutive game with at least 200 yards from scrimmage. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Bell joined Payton as the only players in NFL history with three straight games of 200 scrimmage yards. Payton stood alone on that list for 37 years before Bell joined him.

Bell has totaled 711 yards from scrimmage over the past three games. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that total is the second-most yards from scrimmage in a three-game span in NFL history, trailing the 746 that Payton posted during his 1977 streak.

How Bell dominated
• Bell rushed for a career-high 121 yards before contact, the fourth-highest total in a game this season. No Steelers player in the last six years gained more rush yards before contact in one game.

• Bell was the first Steelers player since Mewelde Moore in Week 7 of 2008 with multiple rushing touchdowns and a receiving TD in the same game. Moore’s opponent that day was also the Bengals.

• Bell had 110 rush yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone. He’s the fourth player in the last five years with at least 110 rush yards in a fourth quarter.

Bell opens up play action
Bell’s big day opened up play-action passing for Ben Roethlisberger, who had his best road game of the season (25-of-39, 350 yards, three touchdowns). Roethlisberger was 5-of-7 for 147 yards and two touchdowns on play-action passes Sunday.

Roethlisberger averaged 21 yards per attempt on play-action passes, compared with 6.3 yards per attempt on all other passes. Bell’s performance influenced the entire Steelers' offense, even when he wasn't running the ball.

Roethlisberger, Steelers focus on Jets

November, 4, 2014
Nov 4
Ben RoethlisbergerJustin K. Aller/Getty ImagesBen Roethlisberger has thrown for six touchdowns in each of his last two games.
Sunday’s game between the Steelers and the Jets has all the makings of a mismatch of epic proportions. Based on Ben Roethlisberger’s historic performance the last two weeks and the season-long struggles of the Jets’ pass defense, the stats strongly support the Steelers.

Through the first six weeks of the season, the Steelers were 3-3 and averaged 20.6 points per game (23rd in NFL). Roethlisberger had as many games with a sub-45 Total QBR as he had with a QBR greater than 65 (two each). In the last three games, however, Roethlisberger has averaged more than 375 pass yards per game and became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw six touchdown passes in back-to-back games.

Opponents have sent four or fewer pass rushers after Roethlisberger on 80 percent of his dropbacks in the last three games, the seventh-highest rate in the league and comparable to the 83 percent rate of standard pressure he faced the first six weeks. Though he’s being pressured at the same rate in the last three games, Roethlisberger has dominated standard pass rushes.

So, after Roethlisberger and the Steelers dismantled the Colts and the Ravens, now along come the Jets, who have allowed 24 passing touchdowns with one interception this year. New York’s 24.0 touchdown-interception ratio is four times worse than the next-closest defense (Washington, 6.0). The Jets’ +23 touchdown-interception differential is greater than any other team’s number of passing touchdowns allowed, and only four other teams have a touchdown-interception differential that’s half as bad.

The blind résumé to the right works shows how bad the Jets have been: They have turned their average opposing quarterback into Tom Brady this season. New York’s 79.6 Total QBR allowed is the worst in the league and is 5.4 points worse than the worst full-season defense during the QBR era (since 2006) – the 0-16 2008 Detroit Lions (74.2).

QB A: Tom Brady
QB B: The composite of quarterbacks facing the Jets this season (Derek Carr, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Kyle Orton and Alex Smith)

Top stats to know: Steelers 30, Texans 23

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
The Houston Texans jumped out to an early 13-0 lead on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night. The Steelers then rode a late first-half surge to a 24-13 lead at halftime. After the Texans held that early lead, they were outscored 30-10 for the rest of the game.

The Steelers are now 8-2 on "Monday Night Football" under Mike Tomlin, and the Texans have lost three straight after a 3-1 start to the season.

The difference in the game was the quick 24 points the Steelers posted late in the second quarter, leading to their 16th straight "Monday Night Football" victory, the longest streak in the history of the franchise.

Steelers strike quickly
Pittsburgh scored 24 points in a span of 2:54 to completely change the momentum of the game. They had scored 27 points over their previous two games combined.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time an NFL team scored 24 or more points in less than three minutes was in Week 4 of 2002, when the Seattle Seahawks posted 28 points in 1:47 against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Steelers are the first team to score 21 points in the final two minutes of a half since the Texans in 2012 Week 1 (21 in first half versus Miami Dolphins). Furthermore, they are the only team in the past decade to score three touchdowns in the final 90 seconds of a half.

Killer B's attack for Steelers
Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was a jack-of-all-trades, catching nine passes for 90 yards and adding his first career touchdown pass for good measure during that 24-point surge at the end of the first half.

According to Elias, Brown is the third player in NFL history with at least nine receptions and a touchdown pass in a game, joining James Wilder (1984) and Jerry Rice (1995). He also extended his NFL-record streak of at least five receptions and 50 yards to 23 straight games.

With two touchdown passes, Ben Roethlisberger has at least 10 in each of his first 11 seasons. That ties Jim Kelly for the fourth most such seasons to start a career in NFL history.

Roethlisberger completed 23 passes, and 17 of them were either to Le'Veon Bell or Brown. He was 8-for-8 for 88 yards and a touchdown targeting Bell, who eclipsed 100 scrimmage yards for the seventh consecutive game this season. Bell joins DeMarco Murray as the only players with at least 100 yards from scrimmage in each of their team's games this season.

Other notable tidbits
Not to be forgotten was another outstanding effort from J.J. Watt. Watt had a sack and a fumble recovery on Monday, marking his third such game this season. No other player had more than one such game. Additionally, his fumble recovery was his NFL-leading third of the season.

With 77 receiving yards, Andre Johnson moved passed Hall of Famer Steve Largent for 14th on the career receiving yards list.

Again, Browns' QB is below average

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
Joe Sargent/Getty Images Brian Hoyer led a 24-point comeback but couldn’t get the Browns a victory.
One of the most stirring comebacks in Week 1 of the NFL season came in Pittsburgh, where the Cleveland Browns erased a 27-3 halftime deficit and tied the score less than four minutes into the fourth quarter. But three plays involving Brian Hoyer late in the game cost the Browns their last chance to win in regulation and added to the team’s already notable total of below-average quarterback performances.

With 1:53 left in the game, the Browns had the ball at their 20, and Hoyer had a 54 Total QBR. Hoyer was sacked on first down, threw an incompletion and then completed a pass for -6 yards. The Browns punted, and the Steelers ended up kicking a winning field goal on the final play.

Hoyer ended up with a 46 Total QBR, the 48th game in which the Browns’ starter has recorded a QBR of less than 50 in the last five seasons (QBR: 0-to-100 scale, 50 is average). Only the Jacksonville Jaguars, with 50, have more.

Eagles’ improbable comeback
The Philadelphia Eagles entered Sunday 1-39 since the merger in games they trailed by at least 17 points at the half.

After a neutral zone infraction penalty by Trent Cole gave Jacksonville a 1st-and-5 at the Philadelphia 19 midway through the second quarter, the Eagles had a 4.5% win probability, their lowest in the game.

It’s the lowest win probability the Eagles have overcome in a game they ended up winning since Dec. 19, 2010, when they recovered from a 0.75% chance of winning against the New York Giants. The Eagles came back from 21 points down in that one, with DeSean Jackson scoring the game-winning touchdown as the clock expired on a punt return.

Brady, Patriots O-Line struggle
Tom Brady posted a 32.2 Total QBR against the Miami Dolphins, his lowest against the Dolphins since Week 14 of 2006, when he posted a 9.6.

Brady was sacked or under duress on 16 of his dropbacks, his second-most in any game since 2006 and his most since 2009.

Overall, the Patriots posted a -9.6 pass offensive efficiency, their fifth-worst in any game since 2006 (since ESPN began video tracking). The efficiency rating means the Patriots’ passing contributed about negative-10 points toward the team’s score.

Cowboys inefficient
The Dallas Cowboys’ offense gained 194 yards in the first half Sunday, the third-most yards the San Francisco 49ers have allowed in the first half in a game the last three seasons. But despite the yardage total, Dallas had a -13.6 offensive efficiency in the half, the Cowboys’ worst in any first half since 2008.

Offensive efficiency accounts for the impact of each play, including turnovers, on the potential point margin. Of the Cowboys’ four first-half turnovers, one was returned for a 49ers touchdown and another gave San Francisco possession at the Dallas 2-yard line. Nearly 14 points of Dallas’ 25-point halftime deficit can be attributed to the Cowboys’ offense.

Overall, the Cowboys posted a -7.3 pass efficiency, their worst in a game since 2010. Maybe this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The 49ers’ defense has a +49.9 defensive efficiency on pass plays in the last five seasons, second to the Seahawks’ +77.3.

Under the radar NFL stars: WR, TE, defense

November, 29, 2013
These under the radar stars have played as well as anyone at their respective positions this season. Let's take a closer look at how these emerging stars have found success.

Wide receiver: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers' fourth-year wide receiver entered Week 13 with the NFL lead in receptions while trailing only Calvin Johnson in receiving yards. Brown's 51 receiving first downs accounted for 35 percent of the Steelers' team total in that category, the fourth-highest percentage in the NFL.
Antonio Brown

Brown added five receptions and 59 yards to his impressive 2013 season totals on Thanksgiving. That makes 12 straight games with at least five receptions and fifty receiving yards for Brown. The last player with a streak that long in a single season was Laveranues Coles in 2002 (13 games).

Tight end: Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Julius Thomas has 10 receiving touchdowns in 10 games, tying Shannon Sharpe's franchise record for receiving touchdowns in a season by a tight end. The all-time record for touchdowns by a tight end was set in 2011 by Rob Gronkowski with 17. Two are tied for second with 13.
Julius Thomas

Thomas' impact on the Broncos' offense is not limited to his work down near the goal line. Peyton Manning is having an historic season but isn't the same without his star tight end on the field.

Manning has a Total QBR of just 32 in the 90 action plays that Thomas hasn't been on the field this season.

For the sake of comparison, Manning has a Total QBR of 93 in 71 action plays without his favorite slot receiver, Wes Welker.

Defense: Star Lotulelei, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers have drafted defense with their last two first round picks and the strategy appears to have paid off. After allowing more than 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground in 2011, the Panthers are on pace to allow around 1,300 yards and four rushing touchdowns in 2013.
Star Lotulelei

Rookie defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has played a huge role in that turnaround. The Panthers are allowing 3.4 yards per rush and 1.6 yards before contact with Lotulelei on the field. Carolina’s defense has allowed 4.6 yards per rush and 3.0 yards before contact per rush with Lotulelei off the field.

Keys to victory: No turnovers and kicking

November, 29, 2013

AP Photo/Nick WassRavens kicker Justin Tucker made a career-high five field goals on Thursday.

The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers played yet another close football game. Since 2003, the rivalry is as close as can be, with each team winning 12 games (including playoffs). Nine of the last 10 regular season games between the teams have been decided by three or fewer points.

Quarterbacks shine

Both quarterbacks played well, as evidenced by their Total QBRs of 79.7 (Roethlisberger) and 83.1 (Flacco), well above the average of 50. Ben Roethlisberger had two touchdown passes, giving him 212 for his career, tied with Terry Bradshaw for the most in Steelers franchise history.

He also notched his 25th consecutive game with a passing touchdown, tied with Tony Romo for second-longest active streak (Peyton Manning, 34).

Joe Flacco threw for 251 yards and a touchdown. For the first time since Week 7 (also against the Steelers), Flacco went through a game without throwing an interception. This reflected a larger theme, as it marked the first game in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry not to feature a turnover from either team (40 games including playoffs).

Flacco was effective in targeting Torrey Smith. Flacco was 6-of-10 for 93 yards and a touchdown when targeting Smith on Thursday, good for 9.3 yards per attempt. When targeting seven other Ravens pass catchers, he averaged 6.3 yards per attempt. He went farther downfield for Smith, and his average target depth was more than five yards longer to Smith than it was to his other receivers.

Where Flacco distinguished himself from Roethlisberger on Thursday was on third down, where the Ravens quarterback threw for 118 yards and a touchdown. Roethlisberger was good, but not to the level of Flacco, as he gained more than 50 fewer yards on third down.

Tucker gives the Ravens a kick

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker made a huge difference with his field goals. He made all five of his attempts on Thursday, reaching a career high for field goals made.

In fact, Tucker’s five field goals tied him for the most field goals made in any NFL game this season. After going 0-2 in Week 2, Tucker has made 27 consecutive field-goal attempts.

Did you know?

• Fun facts from the Elias Sports Bureau: Defending Super Bowl champions are 9-2 in Thanksgiving Day games, having won their last 7 contests. The Ravens were the second franchise to host a Thanksgiving Day game as the defending Super Bowl champion (the Cowboys have done so five times).

• The Steelers have not fared well in the national spotlight recently. Pittsburgh has lost four straight primetime games and seven of its last nine primetime games overall.

• The Steelers allowed two completions on passes traveling more than 30 yards downfield for the second time in a game in the last three seasons.

• The Ravens allowed their second rushing touchdown of the season. They have still allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns in the league.

Steelers D tough on rookie QBs

November, 6, 2013

Mitchell Leff/Getty ImagesThe Steelers defense has been tough on rookie quarterbacks.
When the Buffalo Bills face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, they will likely start one of two rookie quarterbacks, EJ Manuel or Jeff Tuel.

The Steelers defense is coming off a game in which it allowed the most points (55) and yards (610) in team history, but Dick LeBeau’s defensive scheme has always done well against rookies.

Including the playoffs, the Steelers are a league-best 16-2 vs rookie quarterbacks since 2004, when LeBeau re-joined the Steelers as defensive coordinator.

The only two rookie QBs to beat the Steelers under LeBeau: Troy Smith in 2007 (in a Week 17 game in which several Steelers starters, including Ben Roethlisberger, sat out to rest for the playoffs) and Brandon Weeden in 2012, when Charlie Batch started for an injured Roethlisberger.

• 61 – The Steelers defense has made a habit of dragging down rookie QBs, totaling 61 sacks in 18 games.

Prior to his injury, Manuel had been sacked 13 times in five games, and he was sacked eight times by the New York Jets in Week 3.

• 167 – Rookie quarterbacks have averaged 167 passing yards per game against Pittsburgh since 2004.

Manuel has averaged 197 passing yards per game in his rookie campaign, throwing for a season-high 296 yards in Week 2 against the Panthers.

• 20 – Pittsburgh has 20 interceptions (against just 12 passing touchdowns allowed) in that span. The Steelers have held rookie quarterbacks to one passing touchdown or fewer in 16 of the 18 games in that span.

Manuel has thrown three interceptions this season (to five touchdowns), including two against the Ravens in Week 4.

Ravens, Steelers offenses struggling in 2013

October, 15, 2013
When the Baltimore Ravens (12th) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (27th) meet this Sunday, it’ll be the first time since Week 16 of the 2009 season that the rivals will play when both outside the top 10 of’s NFL Power Rankings.

Although both offenses are being led by Super Bowl winners neither unit has effectively moved the ball this season.

Below is a look at how each offense has struggled this season:

Neither team can run
The Steelers and Ravens rank among the worst rushing teams in the NFL this season, as only the Jaguars are averaging fewer yards per rush.

The Steelers’ inability to run may not come as surprise. The team entered the season without a clear cut starter, with second-round draft pick Le’Veon Bell missing most of pre-season with a foot injury.

Felix Jones, who was acquired in August, leads the team with 92 rush yards. Jones is tied for 69th in the NFL in rushing this season with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

Bell has 91 rush yards, and a 2.8 yards per rush average. The 2.8 average is tied for the worst in the NFL (min. 30 rushes) with Willis McGahee and Ravens running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

Both Rice and Pierce averaged at least 4.4 yards per rush last season, making their struggles more unlikely. This season, the duo is having a tough time even getting out of the backfield unscathed.

The Ravens have been contacted in the backfield on an NFL-high 34 rushing plays this season, which accounts for 22 percent of their total rushes. Last season the Ravens were hit in the backfield on 13 percent of their rushes.

The quick hits have contributed to the Ravens averaging 1.6 rush yards before first contact this season (31st), more than a yard worse than their 2.9 yard average last season.

A lack of run game hasn’t helped either team’s quarterbacks, but those aren’t the only problems on offense for each.

No support for Flacco
After trading Anquan Boldin to the 49ers in the offseason and losing Dennis Pitta to injury, Flacco wasn’t left with much support in the passing game.

Torrey Smith still remains in Baltimore, but he has primarily been used as a deep threat. Since entering the NFL, Smith’s average target has been 17.7 yards downfield, highest in the NFL.

Rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown and veteran Dallas Clark have tried to fill Boldin and Pitta’s shoes this season but they haven’t been able to fill the void completely.

With few dependable options, Flacco has already targeted 13 different receivers this season, two more than all of last season (including playoffs).

Roethlisberger immobile and under pressure
Roethlisberger has always been susceptible to sacks in his career, but this season he has found himself under more pressure than usual.

Roethlisberger has been sacked or put under duress on 30 percent of his dropbacks this season, his highest rate in the last five seasons.

Unlike in years past, Roethlisberger hasn’t been able to escape the pocket and make plays.

Only 20 percent of his passes when under duress have been from outside the pocket (37 percent from 2009 to 2012), which has led to a diminished performance overall when under pressure.

Line struggles hurt Steelers, Giants

October, 4, 2013

Getty ImagesPoor line play has contributed to the Steelers and Giants starting 0-4 this season.
There have been some surprising starts to the NFL season, both good and bad. We take a look at issues that have contributed to 0-4 starts by the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants.

Check out Dean Oliver's in-depth analysis of the specific problems the Steelers and Giants face with their offensive lines.

The Steelers and Giants have combined to win four of the last eight Super Bowls but are off to their worst starts since 1968 and 1987, respectively.

Pittsburgh is the first team since the 2005 Houston Texans to fail to record a takeaway in their first four games. New York has been outscored by 85 points, the worst mark in team history through a season's first four games.

The bad news for the Steelers and Giants -- in addition to the 0-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars -- is that since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, only one team has started 0-4 and made the playoffs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That would be the 1992 San Diego Chargers.

Let’s take a look at some numbers to support why the Steelers and Giants are off to such bad starts.

The Steelers' offensive line struggles have been evident all season, especially after losing Maurkice Pouncey for the season in Week 1 when he tore two ligaments in his right knee.

Pittsburgh is averaging 58 yards per game on the ground, fourth fewest in the league. The Steelers' 232 total rush yards are their fewest through their first four games since 1935.

Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 15 times this year and has fumbled three times on sacks. Both totals are the most in the NFL.

The Steelers are allowing 27.5 points per game, which would be their most in a season since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. They are tied with the Giants for the fewest sacks in the NFL (four).

New York
Eli Manning is off to arguably the worst start of his career. He has thrown a league-high nine interceptions, most in his first four starts of a season.

His Total QBR of 30.0 ranks 29th in the league, worst in his first four starts to a season since 2006.

The Giants can’t stay on or get off the field, a recipe for a bad team. They have converted a league-low 23 percent of third-down plays, and they have allowed opponents to convert a league-high 50 percent on third down. That includes allowing the Chiefs to convert 9-of-16 third downs in Week 4.

The Giants' pass rush has been running on fumes all season. In fact, it extends into last season as New York has gone nine straight games without sacking the quarterback more than twice.

The last time the Giants had more than two sacks was Nov. 25, 2012, when they got to Aaron Rodgers five times in a 38-10 win.

Two of the four sacks they have this year have come with four or fewer pass rushers, or a sack on 1.9 percent of opposing QB dropbacks.

As recently as their 2011 Super Bowl season, the Giants' four-man pass rush sacked opposing quarterbacks on 7.3 percent of their dropbacks, tied for second in the league.

Remembering past games outside the U.S.

September, 25, 2013
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings will participate in the NFL’s 13th regular-season game played outside the United States on Sunday, traveling to Wembley Stadium for each team’s first international game.

Though the league has only recently held regular-season games outside the country, the NFL has held 58 preseason games outside the United States, including 13 in Tokyo alone.

Including preseason matchups, Sunday will be the 16th game London has hosted and seventh regular-season game, both the most of any city outside the United States.

Here’s a brief look at each regular-season game played outside the United States:

Oct. 2, 2005
Cardinals 31, 49ers 14
Estadio Azteca - Mexico City
Paid Attendance: 103,467

The first non-United States game in the regular season, this matchup also set an NFL regular-season attendance record that stood until 2009. The Cardinals-49ers tilt at the Azteca is still the only regular-season game outside the U.S. not played at London’s Wembley Stadium or the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

The Cardinals rolled behind a 385-yard, two-TD performance from Josh McCown. 49ers quarterback Tim Rattay was pulled in the fourth quarter after a poor showing, leading to Alex Smith’s first career completions.

Oct. 28, 2007
Giants 13, Dolphins 10
Wembley Stadium - London
Paid Attendance: 81,176

The NFL’s first effort in Europe was held in pouring rain. Eli Manning threw for 59 yards in this game and still won, sending the Dolphins to 0-8. Dolphins quarterback Cleo Lemon led an 80-yard touchdown drive late to make it 13-10, but Jay Feely’s onside kick went out of bounds.

Manning’s kneel downs led to boos from the Wembley crowd, not for the last time.

Oct. 26, 2008
Saints 37, Chargers 32
Wembley Stadium - London
Paid Attendance: 83,226

In what was the best pair of quarterback performances of the international games, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers combined for 680 yards and six touchdowns. Brees’s 339-yard performance with three touchdowns and no interceptions was enough to best his former backup.

Since the start of 2008, Brees has had nine games with at least 330 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, tied with Aaron Rodgers for the most in that span.

Dec. 7, 2008
Dolphins 16, Bills 3
Rogers Centre - Toronto
Paid Attendance: 52,134

This is the lowest-scoring international game to date, and was the start of Buffalo’s "home" series in Toronto. The Bills would lose their first three games in Toronto, and have only one win in five games north of the border.

J.P. Losman completed 1 of 10 passes at least 10 yards downfield, while Chad Pennington was 5-of-8 with a first-quarter touchdown to Anthony Fasano on those throws.

Oct. 25, 2009
Patriots 35, Buccaneers 7
Wembley Stadium - London
Paid Attendance: 82,254

Josh Johnson threw a touchdown pass to both teams in this game, while Tom Brady threw for over 300 yards. The quarterbacks did combine for five interceptions in this game, including a Brady interception by future teammate Aqib Talib.

Brady was excellent out of shotgun formations. Brady completed 16 of 20 attempts for 223 yards and all three touchdowns out of the shotgun in a Patriots rout.

Dec. 3, 2009
Jets 19, Bills 13
Rogers Centre - Toronto
Paid Attendance: 51,567

The only international game not played on a Sunday, the Jets won this Thursday night game in Toronto behind a sterling defensive effort. Buffalo gained 36 yards in the second half, the lowest second-half total by the Bills since 1996.

Second-year cornerback Darrelle Revis shut down Bills receiver Terrell Owens, holding Ryan Fitzpatrick to 2-of-8 passing for 16 yards and an interception targeting Owens.

Oct. 31, 2010
49ers 24, Broncos 16
Wembley Stadium - London
Paid Attendance: 83,941

Three straight 49ers touchdowns in the fourth quarter were too much to overcome for the Broncos. Troy Smith had a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown without a turnover.

Kyle Orton threw for 370 yards but took four sacks and threw an interception. Orton would make five more starts for the Broncos before ceding the starting job to Tim Tebow.

Nov. 7, 2010
Bears 22, Bills 19
Rogers Centre - Toronto
Paid Attendance: 50,746

Buffalo fell to 0-8 after the loss in Toronto to the Bears, who handed the Bills their third straight loss by three points or fewer. Jay Cutler threw for two touchdowns and the Bears defense forced three turnovers in the second half.

The Bears have had 30 games with at least three turnovers forced since the start of 2008, the most of any team.

Oct. 23, 2011
Bears 24, Buccaneers 18
Wembley Stadium - London
Paid Attendance: 76,981

The first team to repeat in London, the Buccaneers stayed winless at Wembley by not shutting down Matt Forte. Forte rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown with 38 receiving yards. Forte quadrupled the Buccaneers' rushing total himself, as Tampa Bay managed 30 yards on 11 rushes.

Cutler became the first quarterback with multiple international wins. Cutler would be joined by Brady the next year, though Cutler is the only quarterback with wins in three countries.

Oct. 30, 2011
Bills 23, Redskins 0
Rogers Centre - Toronto
Paid Attendance: 51,579

Finally, the Bills won a game in Canada, and a convincing one at that. The Redskins are still the only team to be shut out in an international game.

The Bills had four sacks in their first six games of 2011 but sacked John Beck 10 times in the game. That was only the sixth time since the start of 2011 a team had double-digit sacks in a game.

Oct. 28, 2012
Patriots 45, Rams 7
Wembley Stadium - London
Paid Attendance: 84,004

The biggest Wembley crowd for an NFL game saw a dominant offensive performance by the Patriots. After the Rams took a 7-0 lead, New England scored 45 straight points, including touchdowns on their first five possessions.

The lone aspect of the Patriots offense to draw London’s ire was again the quarterback kneel down. Ryan Mallett drew boos for running out the clock, sealing a win that made New England the first team with multiple victories in England.

Dec. 16, 2012
Seahawks 50, Bills 17
Rogers Centre - Toronto
Paid Attendance: 40,770

Buffalo followed up a 2011 win in Toronto by allowing the most points in an international game. The Seahawks dominated the Bills, with Russell Wilson accounting for four touchdowns and Earl Thomas intercepting a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass and returning it for another.

The game drew more than 20,000 fewer fans than the typical Bills home game at Ralph Wilson Stadium (62,527).

Bengals keep it short and sweet to win

September, 17, 2013

Andy Dalton made good use of the center of the field in the Bengals' win.

The Cincinnati Bengals seem to have turned an important corner when it comes to beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, with wins in the last two meetings. In each instance, they held the Steelers to 10 points.

The Steelers are 0-2 for the first time under Mike Tomlin. This was only the second time in 10 games that Ben Roethlisberger lost in Cincinnati.

On this night, it was a rookie who stole the show.

Bernard makes the Bengals go
Rookie Giovani Bernard scored the first two touchdowns of his NFL career. He’s the third rookie to score two offensive touchdowns against the Steelers in a Monday Night Football game, joining Fred Taylor and Earl Campbell.

He’s also the first Bengals rookie with two offensive touchdowns on Monday Night Football since Stan Fritts in 1975.

Bernard was the first Bengal to score two touchdowns in any game against the Steelers since Terrell Owens in 2010.

Dalton wins by keeping it simple
On a day in which Andy Dalton threw his 50th career touchdown pass, he won by keeping his passes short and letting his receivers do the work.

Dalton finished 17-for-20 for 134 yards and a touchdown on passes within five yards of the line of scrimmage. He also took advantage of the middle of the field, as the image atop this story shows.

Big Ben comes up small
Roethlisberger had a rough go of it against a very stellar Bengals defense.

Roethlisberger completed only two of his first 12 passes that traveled at least 15 yards in the air (he was 2-for-3 on the final drive, with the Bengals in a prevent defense). Roethlisberger had a completion rate of 40 percent on those passes last season.

Roethlisberger threw 11 incomplete passes of that length. On nine of those 11, he overthrew his intended receiver.

Roethlisberger was 1-for-9 when he was under duress from the Bengals defense. The only completion went for one yard.

The Steelers also failed to maintain the success they had rushing the ball in the first quarter. They had 37 rushing yards in the game’s first 15 minutes, and only seven rushing yards the rest of the game.

The Steelers and Cardinals are tied for the longest active streak without rushing for 100 yards (eight games, dating back to last season). That matches the longest streak in Steeelers history, done once in 1933-1934 and again in 1935.

Did You Know?
The Steelers are 0-2 for the fifth time in the last 25 seasons, but they’ve shown the ability to bounce back from those poor starts. In each of the four other instances, they’ve finished the season with a winning record. Three of those seasons ended with a playoff spot.

Top things to know: Steelers at Bengals

September, 16, 2013

USA Today SportsBen Roethlisberger (left) and Andy Dalton (right) look to lead their team to victory on MNF.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals meet for the 86th time in a series that started in 1970 (8:30 ET on ESPN). The Steelers are looking for their fourth straight win in Cincinnati and 11th in the last 12 meetings in the Queen City.

Here are five stats Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will be talking about during the game.

1. One of these teams will be 0-2 after the game. History says an 0-2 start means different things for these teams.

Over the last 25 years, the Steelers have started 0-2 four times. They finished with a winning record in each of the four seasons, making the playoffs three times.

By contrast, the Bengals have never finished with a winning record or made the playoffs in any of the 15 previous seasons in which they started 0-2.

2. Ben Roethlisberger is going for his 14th win against the Bengals, which would break a tie with Warren Moon for the most wins by a starting QB against Cincinnati.

He may need more help from a running game that has gone seven straight games without 100 yards, one shy of the longest such streak in franchise history set back in the 1930s.

3. A.J. Green is coming off a monster Week 1 performance in which he caught two touchdowns and set a franchise record for most receiving yards in a season opener (162).

However, he has struggled at home against the Steelers. Green has just three career games in which he’s been held to a single catch, two coming against the Steelers and both at home (the other was at the Cleveland Browns in 2011).

4. Andy Dalton is just 1-3 against the Steelers. While he won the last time out, he did struggle, throwing two interceptions with no touchdowns. Overall, Dalton has more interceptions (five) than touchdown passes (four) in his career against Pittsburgh.

5. James Harrison spent 10 seasons playing linebacker for the Steelers (2002-03, 2005-12), winning the 2008 AP Defensive Player of the Year award.

In Week 1, he played 62.5 percent of the Bengals’ defensive snaps. In his last five seasons with the Steelers in games he played, Harrison played in at least 84.1 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

Eight Steelers turnovers more than enough

November, 26, 2012

David Richard/US PresswireThe Cleveland Browns were always around the ball on Sunday.
How costly were those eight turnovers by the Pittsburgh Steelers in that shocking loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday?

Here are eight notes to know on the Steelers misfortunes, one for each of the eight miscues they committed.

1-- The Steelers had more possessions that ended with turnovers (8) than they had possessions that ended in other ways (7).

2--The eight turnovers committed by the Steelers on Sunday combined to cost Pittsburgh 20.5 “expected points” in a game decided by six.

When we say expected points, we’re basing it on historical data referring to how much the average team would have scored if given the same situations of field position, down, distance, and time remaining.

The five lost fumbles alone cost the Steelers 12.8 expected points.

3-- The overall play of the Steelers offense cost Pittsburgh 23.8 expected points on Sunday, the worst performance by the Steelers offense since the start of 2008.

4-- Overall, the Steelers lost 75.9 percentage points in win probability with their eight turnovers.

5-- The last time the Steelers had at least seven turnovers in a game against the Browns was September 10, 1989, when they had eight. Cleveland won that game 51-0 at Three Rivers Stadium.

6-- Since 1993, six teams have committed eight turnovers in a game. Those teams are 0-6, and the five teams before the Steelers lost by an average of 18.2 points.

7-- Since 1940, a team has been -7 in turnover differential 75 times, Those teams are 3-72 in those 75 games. The Steelers were lucky to keep it close. Only 10 of those 75 were decided by six points or less.

8--In the 347 instances since 1993 in which a team’s quarterback has thrown at least three interceptions and no touchdowns, those teams are 23-323-1. That’s a .067 winning percentage.

Get to know your backup QBs

November, 16, 2012
We know that two backup quarterbacks will start this week, and as many as four. Here’s a look at what they’ve done in the limited playing time.

NICK FOLES, PHI (34.9 Total QBR in Week 10)

Nick Foles
Nick Foles went 22-of-32 with a touchdown and an interception in his NFL debut last week. Although Foles threw only one interception (which was returned for a TD), it could have been worse. Foles had two potential interceptions dropped and another interception called back due to a penalty. It was the fourth time this season that a quarterback had multiple interceptions dropped in game. It wasn’t all bad for Foles. He connected on 4-of-6 attempts more than 10 yards downfield, with two of those completions gaining 30-plus yards. Michael Vick had two 30-plus yard plays in a game only twice this season.

BYRON LEFTWICH, PIT (61.7 Total QBR in Week 10)

In his limited playing time since the start of 2008, Byron Leftwich has posted a 52.2 Total QBR, which means he has played at an average level. If there’s one area in particular that Leftwich has performed below average during that time, it’s on deep throws. Leftwich hasn’t completed a pass more than 20 yards downfield since Week 2 of the 2009 season when he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and has completed just 4-of-21 attempts of more than 20 yards downfield since the start of 2008. That’s the third worst completion percentage of any quarterback with at least 20 attempts.

JASON CAMPBELL, CHI (21.7 Total QBR in Week 10)

Similar to Leftwich, Jason Campbell’s 50.9 Total QBR over the last five seasons puts his performance at an average level, but he may be able to capably fill Jay Cutler’s void. The San Francisco 49ers have sent four or fewer pass rushers 78.8 percent of the time since the start of last season, that’s the second-highest rate in the NFL. Both Cutler and Campbell have posted Total QBRs over 60.0 against such pressure, with Campbell actually posting a better completion percentage.

Don’t expect Campbell to air it out too often, though. Of the 30 quarterbacks with at least 1,000 attempts in the last five seasons, Campbell’s 6.6 yard average throw distance ranks as the shortest. Cutler’s 8.2 average is tied for the ninth highest.

COLIN KAEPERNICK, SF (40.7 Total QBR in Week 10)

Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick’s biggest strength so far this season has been running the ball. Kaepernick has averaged 8.8 yards per rush on 14 designed runs. That rate is best among quarterbacks, and 3.8 yards higher than Cam Newton’s 5.0 designed yards per rush average. However, Kaepernick might be too quick to run on pass plays this season, scrambling on seven of his 38 dropbacks (18.4 percent). Not only is that the highest scramble rate in the NFL (minimum 20 dropbacks), but it’s nearly double that of the next highest quarterback (Robert Griffin III, 9.7 percent).