It may be cliche to say that a football team must win the field-position battle to win a game (and sounds especially like one after hearing Cris Collinsworth prattle on about it numerous times during the first half of the Sunday night game) but a look at the Steelers abysmal performance Sunday reaffirms that general thesis.
Mike Tomlin acknowledged as much in his post-game press conference saying, "It was a big factor."
He went on to say: "When they’re winning possession downs, they’re going to control the field position and that’s what happened, particularly in the first of this game. We didn’t convert third downs and they did. Even on drives in which they didn’t score, they converted a couple third downs and they flipped the field. That’s a function of winning possession downs."
The Steelers' average starting position was on their own 19-yard line. Thirteen of their fourteen drives started on their side of the field, seven of them at or inside their own 11-yard line. Five drives were three and outs.
As Tomlin noted, Forget about the fact that the Steelers couldn't convert drives to score, they couldn't convert drives to flip the field position and alleviate pressure on their defense. The Chargers' average starting position was their own 37-yard line. The Steelers defense continued to thwart San Diego drives that started with generous field position ...
The San Diego offense had only one substantial touchdown drive -- a 17-play, 78-yarder to start the second half. The other two came on short fields: 3 plays, 48 yards and 2 plays, 17 yards.
The Steelers did not start a single drive in Chargers territory until their very last of the game.A breakdown of each teams drives:
Starting Position / Plays- Net Yards / Result:
- Own 20 / 4-10 / Punt
- Own 8 / 3-9 / Punt
- Own 21 / 6-23 / Punt
- Own 9 / 3-5 / Punt
- Own 7 / 3-5 / Punt
- Own 11 / 3-minus 5 / Punt
- Own 38 / 4-9 / Downs
- Own 10 / 7-59 / Field Goal
- Own 8 / 1-minus 8 / Fumble
- Own 20 / 7-80 / Touchdown
- Own 6 / 2-6 / Interception
- Own 19 / 10-81 / Touchdown
- Own 27 / 3-minus 7 / Punt
- San Diego 44 / 6-44 / Touchdown
San Diego Chargers
Starting Position / Plays-Yards / Result:
- Own 40 / 5-12 / Punt
- Own 31 / 12-26 / Field Goal
- Own 18 / 9-30 / Punt
- Pittsburgh 46 / 3-1 / Punt
- Pittsburgh 36 / 3-0 / Punt
- Pittsburgh 48 / 3-48 / Touchdown
- Pittsburgh 47 / 8-26 / Field Goal
- Own 22 / 17-78 / Touchdown
- Own 20 / 11-27 / Punt
- Pittsburgh 17 / 2-17 / Touchdown
- Own 34 / 3-3 / Punt
- Own 1 / 3-4 / Punt
- Own 4 / 2 -2 / End of Game