Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gilbert Absence May Be Felt in Red Zone

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gilbert Absence May Be Felt in Red Zone

Article excerpt

Coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers will have to adjust to the loss of suspended right tackle Marcus Gilbert for four games, but the impact will be lessened because backup Chris Hubbard already has started five games this season when Gilbert was injured.

But, one area where Gilbert's loss will be significantly felt is in the red zone, where the Steelers touchdown efficiency is much higher with him in the lineup.

Gilbert was suspended four games without pay for violating the NFL's performance enhancing substance policy. He will not allowed around the team or their South Side facility until the day after their Dec. 17 game against the New England Patriots.

"Sometimes you're faced with adversity and the things you do as to how you respond to it define you," Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference on the South Side. "Thankfully for us, Chris Hubbard playing is nothing new for us. He's upheld the standard."

The Steelers are unbeaten in the five games Gilbert started. They are 3-2 when when Gilbert was out with a recurring hamstring injury and Hubbard started.

Curiously, the Steelers have better rushing statistics and allowed fewer sacks when Hubbard has started.

They average 112.3 yards rushing and have allowed five sacks when Hubbard has been the starter. When Gilbert has been the starter, the Steelers average 90.2 yards rushing and have given up eight sacks.

Those numbers are based on Gilbert and Hubbard splitting the stats in Kansas City after Gilbert aggravated his hamstring injury in the second quarter and did not return.

But, when the Steelers get inside the 20, their offense performs better with Gilbert. They are 10 for 18 scoring touchdowns in the red zone (55.5 percent), and that includes the final drive in Indianapolis when all they needed was a field goal and a kneel-down on the final drive against Tennessee. …

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