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Steelers Should Be Embarrassed By Time Of Possession Woes In First 3 Weeks

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Steelers Should Be Embarrassed By Time Of Possession Woes In First 3 Weeks

The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their second regular season game in a row on Thursday evening. It was an ugly loss as the Cleveland Browns defeated Pittsburgh, 29-17Mike Tomlin‘s team is now 1-2 and do not have a favorable schedule as they head into the month of October. There have been a plethora of clear issues thus far, but the most concerning is a statistic that isn’t talked about enough. The Steelers have been absolutely dominated in the time of possession category. With a lackluster offense, the defense rarely has time to even catch its breath throughout game. It could be an extremely long year if it continues.

Steelers Mike Tomlin

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin looks upon practice at 2022 training camp. | Jordan Schofield / SteelerNation (Twitter: @JSKO_PHOTO)

The issues began in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals. While the Steelers came away with a win, their division foe controlled the clock for 43:42 compared to Pittsburgh’s 26:18. The numbers are even scarier to look at given the fact that the defense forced five turnovers. Letting even remotely talented offense control the clock more often is a recipe to wear the defense out. They were lucky to come away with a wild overtime win, but had no real business prevailing in the season opener.

In Week 2, it was closer to even, but a 6:33 drive to end the game absolutely gassed the defense. The final numbers had the New England Patriots at 33:36 and Pittsburgh at 26:24. The Steelers only had two drives of five minutes or longer and five possessions that lasted three minutes or less. New England’s four total drives of four minutes or more made the biggest difference here. By game’s end, the defense displayed a strong amount of fatigue and was essentially unable to play at 100%.

Steelers Cam Heyward Before Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers’ Cam Heyward (#97) gets ready before taking on the New England Patriots. | Credit: Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers

The Patriots had three drives of 10 plays or more while the Steelers only had one. This turned out to be a big difference in the game and five drives of six plays or less isn’t going to make your defense happy.

On Thursday evening, the Browns were flat out dominant in this category. Cleveland possessed the ball for 36:09 while Pittsburgh only had the pigskin on offense for 23:51. It may or may have not had something to do with the Browns’ 38 rushes for 171 yards. As talented as the Steelers’ defense is, even without T.J. Watt, it is nearly impossible to stay fresh when you are constantly on the field and facing one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL.

This has a lot to with the limitations to the offense. It looked like the group was running the ball well early in Thursday night’s game, but it faded hard in the second half and the team simply couldn’t keep up. It isn’t a definite that a quarterback change would make this any better, but with an offensive line that seems to be improving and struggles from Mitch Trubisky, that should be in the cards. It isn’t at the moment however, according to Tomlin after the loss.

Steelers Mitch Trubisky

Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback, Mitch Trubisky (#10) at 2022 training camp in Latrobe, PA. | Jordan Schofield / SteelerNation (Twitter: @JSKO_PHOTO)

Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Says There Will Not Be An Unexpected QB Change Prior To Week 4

While the biggest gap in time of possession came against the Bengals when the Steelers had five turnovers, the defense has only forced one in the last two weeks. Flipping possessions and handing the ball back to the offense is a great way to control both the clock and momentum. Their opponents have controlled the ball offensively for over 112 minutes in 195 minutes of total game play. That means the defense is on the field over 57% of the time.

Can you imagine what teams coming up on the schedule like the Buffalo BillsTampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles will do? Each of these teams has the ability to fire on all cylinders and if they win the time of possession battle significantly, Tomlin may be looking at his first ever losing season. There are plenty of things that go into correcting this area and it needs to be a focal point throughout the next 10 days until the team hosts the New York Jets.


How do you think the Steelers can correct their time of possessions woes? Let us know in the comments below!




  1. Fred Theobald

    September 23, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    While I am not really in favor of having Pickett step in behind the line, and yes, it appears to be improving, but he did seem to be able to make quicker decisions and quicker throws than Trubisky in the preseason. If he can do that in a meaningful game, that should open up the run game more so they hold the ball longer on offense. But, you can’t keep calling the same plays over and over and expect the defense to not know what is coming. Play calling has to change and I’m not sure Canada is capable of changing or being creative. He hasn’t shown anything new since he took over last year.

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