Points Allowed Per Game - 19.9.
That was good enough to rank the 2015 Steelers 11th in the NFL in that department.
That was just a little bit more than a field goal better (3.1 points) than the Steelers had managed in 2014 (23.0 points allowed per game), when they’d finished a disappointing 18th among the NFL’s 32 teams in that category.
But it was also the type of improvement not many if any were likely anticipating at the outset of the season, other than, perhaps, the defensive players and the defensive coaches.
That 19.9 figure is attributable to and reflective of many things, all of which bode well for the Steelers heading into 2016.
-Defensive end Cam Heyward’s relentless effort and presence on and off the field, which helped establish a fly-to-the-football and a whatever-it-takes mentality.
-The versatility and creativity of a defensive staff that wound up without cornerbacks
-An expectation that the run would be stuffed, especially close to the goal line and even if the other team was running an outside-zone scheme.
-An all-for-one mentality and chemistry that allowed for the sharing of one of the starting cornerback positions and both outside linebacker spots without any public complaining about roles or playing time.
None of that was a given on Sept. 10 at New England.
But throughout that night and the days and nights that followed the defense kept finding ways to get better.
And it did so while turning significant pages in terms of personnel and philosophy while transitioning to first-year coordinator Keith Butler and away from iconic defenders such as Ike Taylor, Brett Keisel and Troy Polamalu.
None of what was achieved on defense this season should be underrated or underappreciated.
And for a change there’s reason to suspect this offseason that the 19.9 figure will be lower rather than higher next season.