Line struggles hurt Steelers, Giants

October, 4, 2013
10/04/13
2:02
PM ET

Getty ImagesPoor line play has contributed to the Steelers and Giants starting 0-4 this season.
There have been some surprising starts to the NFL season, both good and bad. We take a look at issues that have contributed to 0-4 starts by the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants.

Check out Dean Oliver's in-depth analysis of the specific problems the Steelers and Giants face with their offensive lines.

The Steelers and Giants have combined to win four of the last eight Super Bowls but are off to their worst starts since 1968 and 1987, respectively.

Pittsburgh is the first team since the 2005 Houston Texans to fail to record a takeaway in their first four games. New York has been outscored by 85 points, the worst mark in team history through a season's first four games.

The bad news for the Steelers and Giants -- in addition to the 0-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars -- is that since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, only one team has started 0-4 and made the playoffs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That would be the 1992 San Diego Chargers.

Let’s take a look at some numbers to support why the Steelers and Giants are off to such bad starts.

Pittsburgh
The Steelers' offensive line struggles have been evident all season, especially after losing Maurkice Pouncey for the season in Week 1 when he tore two ligaments in his right knee.

Pittsburgh is averaging 58 yards per game on the ground, fourth fewest in the league. The Steelers' 232 total rush yards are their fewest through their first four games since 1935.

Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 15 times this year and has fumbled three times on sacks. Both totals are the most in the NFL.

The Steelers are allowing 27.5 points per game, which would be their most in a season since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. They are tied with the Giants for the fewest sacks in the NFL (four).

New York
Eli Manning is off to arguably the worst start of his career. He has thrown a league-high nine interceptions, most in his first four starts of a season.

His Total QBR of 30.0 ranks 29th in the league, worst in his first four starts to a season since 2006.

The Giants can’t stay on or get off the field, a recipe for a bad team. They have converted a league-low 23 percent of third-down plays, and they have allowed opponents to convert a league-high 50 percent on third down. That includes allowing the Chiefs to convert 9-of-16 third downs in Week 4.

The Giants' pass rush has been running on fumes all season. In fact, it extends into last season as New York has gone nine straight games without sacking the quarterback more than twice.

The last time the Giants had more than two sacks was Nov. 25, 2012, when they got to Aaron Rodgers five times in a 38-10 win.

Two of the four sacks they have this year have come with four or fewer pass rushers, or a sack on 1.9 percent of opposing QB dropbacks.

As recently as their 2011 Super Bowl season, the Giants' four-man pass rush sacked opposing quarterbacks on 7.3 percent of their dropbacks, tied for second in the league.

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