The rollercoaster 2012 regular season moves into Big D for the weekend, and one can only wonder what Rob Ryan has in-store for the Steelers' offense. Can anyone say "A gap blitzes"? Putting aside our cynicism for a moment, statistically this looks like a good matchup for the Steelers, with Dallas' offense appearing to be up against a big challenge -- particularly running the football. However, last week the value of having Ike Taylor in the lineup became painfully clear, and one wonders if Mr. Taylor's replacement this week (please, not Curtis Brown) will be able to keep his head above water.
Offensively, after last week's horrendouos offensive performance, the Steelers' offense dropped from 10th in the league in total yards per game, to 19th -- the largest one week fall-off we can remember ever having seen this late in the season. Meanwhile the punt units (i.e. return and coverage) continue their inexorable slides. The punt return unit slipped from 20th in the league going into last week's game, and is now ranked 31st, and the punt coverage until fell from 15th to 25th.
In something of an oddity, the leading receiver for both teams is a tight end, with Heath Miller having fewer total receiving yards than the more heralded Jason Witten, but a higher per catch average and six more touchdowns.
Finally, who on the Steelers offensive line will be able to handle DeMarcus Ware?
Dallas Offense v. Steelers Defense
Average total yards per game: Dallas offense 10th (372.1) v. Steelers defense 1st (262.4)
Average net rushing yards per game: Dallas offense 31st (79.8) v. Steelers defense 5th (93.2)
Average net passing yards per game: Dallas offense 3rd (292.2) v. Steelers defense 1st (169.2)
Average points per game: Dallas offense 15th (23.1) v. Steelers defense 7th (20.3)
Steelers Offense v. Dallas Defense
Average total yards per game: Steelers offense 19th (341.8) v. Dallas defense 11th (336.6)
Average net rushing yards per game: Steelers offense 25th (98.6) v. Dallas defense 16th (118.8)
Average net passing yards per game: Steelers offense 11th (243.2) v. Dallas defense 23rd (217.8)
Average points per game: Steelers offense: 21st (21.4) v. Dallas defense 22nd (24.2)
Average yards per punt return: Dallas 13th (9.8) v. Steelers 31st (6.7)
Average yards allowed per punt return: Dallas 18th (9.5) v. Steelers 25th (11.0)
Average yards per kick return: Dallas 27th (21.2) v. Steelers 9th (25.7)
Average yards allowed per kick return: Dallas 9th (24.0) v. Steelers 17th (22.1)
Net yardage punting average: Dallas 21st (39.2) v. Steelers 25th (37.9)
Opponent net yardage punting average: Dallas 10th (38.4) v. Steelers 18th (39.8)
Turnover differential: Dallas 26th (-10) v. Steelers 29th (-13)
Time of possession: Dallas 6th (32:43) v. Steelers 2nd (31:29)
Red Zone touchdown efficiency (touchdowns): Dallas 26th (46.3%) v. Steelers 16th (53.7%)
Red Zone defense (touchdowns): Dallas 12th (51.2%) v. Steelers 15th (52.8%)
Sacks allowed: Dallas 16th (31) v. Steelers 14th (27)
Some Individual Numbers
Passer rating: Tony Romo, 8th/NFC (88.5, 349 Comp., 66.3% Comp. pct., 20 TDs, 16 INTs) v. Ben Roethlisberger, 3rd/AFC (101.4, 231 Comp., 64.5% Comp. pct., 20 TDs, 5 INTs)
Leading rushers: DeMarco Murray, 15th/NFC (466 yards, 3.9 yards per carry, 3 touchdowns) v. Jonathan Dwyer, 14th/AFC (510 yards, 1.2 yards per carry, 1 touchdown)
Leading receiver: Jason Witten, 3rd/NFC (92 catches, 880 yards, 9.6 per catch, 1 touchdown) v. Heath Miller, 11th/AFC (61 catches, 679 yards, 11.1 yards per catch, 7 touchdowns)
Sack Leaders: DeMarcus Ware, 2nd/NFC (11.0) v. Jason Worilds, 21st/AFC (5.0 each)
Labels: DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten, Punt coverage, Punt returns