The Pittsburgh Steelers deserve lots of credit for hanging as tough as they have through the first nine games of the 2011 NFL season. Of course, when you’re the defending AFC champions, you’re expected to compete again the following year, but given the rash of injuries the team has been forced to deal with, the Steelers have done an admirable job of adapting each week and resiliently finding ways to win games despite not yet playing their best football of the season.
One way the Steelers could really help themselves out is improved offensive efficiency inside the red zone. The Steelers have to be moving the ball as well as any team in the league in between the 20s, but once the throwing windows narrow inside the 20, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense has faltered too often. Against the Patriots, the Steelers had to settle for three field goals on five red zone trips; on Sunday night against the Ravens, Pittsburgh again had to settle for three FG opportunities, this time on four red zone possessions.
Here’s how Pittsburgh stacks up in terms of red zone touchdown percentage through Week 9.
1) Tennessee Titans….73.68 percent
16) Seattle Seahawks….50 percent
22) Pittsburgh Steelers…46.67 percent
32) Tampa Bay Buccaneers….36.36 percent
If the Steelers offensive line can play as well as it did in their Week 9 loss to the Ravens, the Steelers should find themselves back in the red zone frequently in the second half of the season. If they hope to make a fourth trip to the playoffs in the five years that Mike Tomlin has been at the helm, they’d be well served increasing their TD percentage into at least the mid-50s.