GREEN BAY, Wisc. — When looking at the statistical performances of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers from Sunday, one could be persuaded into thinking that the teams weren’t that far apart.
The Steelers averaged 4.9 yards per offensive play against the Packers. Green Bay managed 5.1 yards per offensive play.
The difference was in Green Bay’s consistency, and the Steelers lack of ability to overcome theirs with big plays. The Packers converted 60% of their third downs, sustaining drives that weren’t always at peak productivity on the scoreboard — the Packers had to settle for two Mason Crosby field goals from the red zone — but were plenty strong enough to dominate the time of possession by a near-nine-minute margin.
The Steelers, on the other hand, converted just 36% of their third-down conversion and were 0 for 2 on fourth down, with a third attempt thwarted by a penalty.
One way to make up for that lack of efficiency is connecting on more splash plays. The Steelers got one early when Ben Roethlisberger hit Diontae Johnson for a 45-yard touchdown. They had two more dialed up with Roethlisberger going for JuJu Smith-Schuster on double moves, but both passes went over the head of the streaking slot man.
“We’ve got to have those plays, particularly when we’re not playing as well as we’d like,” Tomlin said. “Chunks eliminate a lot of execution, we say in the coaching business. And by that I mean, if you’re not playing clean, splash plays or chunks of real estate aid you. And so, we’re not playing clean enough and we’re not getting enough chunks to offset it and that’s why we’re having the conversation we’re having.”
Tomlin was quick to point out that those splash plays came come in other areas of the game, as well.
“Just not enough splash,” he said. “We had our opportunities. We had opportunities to get behind them and so forth. We didn’t take advantage of it. We had opportunities to get off sooner on defense. We didn’t win enough third downs. We had a splash play in special teams to no avail.”
Tomlin was referring to the Steelers’ called-back field goal block touchdown that could have changed the course of the game, if not for a questionable offsides call against Joe Haden.
“We had some of those opportunities today,” he said. “We just didn’t hit enough of them.”