Red Zone Recap

There's not one area that has been more responsible than the other, in defining why Pitt has only converted 14 touchdowns in 25 red zone attempts this season. Here's a look at each game's failed touchdown opportunities in the red zone.

Considering Pitt has been outscored in its three losses by a total of 37 points--28 of those in a deficit to Miami--it's scary in hindsight to see how if Pitt could have even converted two or three of these opportunities, they could be sitting at 8-0.

Here's a closer look at each of Pitt's failed 11 touchdown opportunities in the red zone, as they look to right the ship in this bye week:

UTAH
- Pitt converted one touchdown in four red zone attempts at Utah.

- Trailing Utah 17-7 in the third quarter, Nate Nix recovers a blocked punt on the Utah 8. Dion Lewis rushes for no gain. Pitt commits a false start. Tino Sunseri's pass is incomplete, then he is sacked on the third down play. Pitt loses 12 yards, settling for a Dan Hutchins field goal.

- In the fourth quarter, Pitt added another field goal to narrow the lead to 17-13. They missed on a touchdown, though. Pitt got all the way to the Utah four, after Sunseri converted a fourth-and-one, on a sneak. From the four, Pitt lost seven yards on its next three plays. It was the same combination of errors as earlier in this game--a loss of two by Lewis, an incompletion, and a delay of game penalty. Sunseri was stopped for no gain on third down.

- It looked like Pitt was going to steal one at the end, after Sunseri hit Mike Shanahan for a 19-yard gain to the Utah 14. Once they got to the 14, Pitt gained 1 yard on its next three plays. Sunseri threw two incompletions, before the coaching staff called for Lewis to run to the middle of the field, to get in better position for a field goal.

This game went to overtime, as the Panthers lost by three. Knowing now that Utah is ranked No. 6, imagine where Pitt would be had they converted at least one of these red zone opportunities to touchdowns.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
- Pitt fared better in week two, converting three touchdowns in four red zone opportunities.

- After an interception on the first play of the game, Pitt got the ball back and took over at the New Hampshire 16. Red zone problems continued. Sunseri hit Jon Baldwin for a one-yard gain on a screen pass. Following two incompletions, Pitt settled for a field goal.

MIAMI
- Pitt came away with no touchdowns, after three attempts in the red zone.

- Pitt didn't get a red zone opportunity against the Hurricanes until late in the third quarter. After Ramon Buchanan was flagged for roughing the passer, Pitt was set up at the Miami 15, and still was only down 17-0. Lewis got the Panthers to the 8 on a pair of runs, then was stopped for a loss of three, facing a 3rd-and-2.

- After a personal foul, following a 29-yard punt return from Cameron Saddler, Pitt took over a the Miami 20 with 6:27 left to play. Pat Bostick--now in the game for an injured Sunseri--threw an interception on the first play.

- With the second-team offense, Pitt drove 71 yards on six plays. Ray Graham ran for a gain of 42 to get Pitt to the Miami 7. Pitt ran out the clock, choosing not to run another play, after Graham carried for two yards to the Miami 5.

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
- Pitt scored three red zone touchdowns in four attempts against Florida International.

- Pitt's opening score was a 14-play, 50-yard drive that took 6:12 off the clock, and carried the game into the second quarter. Sunseri found Baldwin for a gain of seven, which got Pitt to the 9. Graham committed a false start penalty. It was 1st-and-goal at the 14. Graham carried once for a gain of one. Sunseri couldn't connect with Baldwin on his next pass, then was hurried for an incompletion on third down.

NOTRE DAME
- Pitt scored one touchdown in the red zone, out of four attempts.

- Pitt marched down the field on its opening drive, after forcing Notre Dame to punt. Sunseri found Henry Hynoski on a short pass, but Hynoski turned it in to a 13-yard gain. Lewis gained three yards on the next two plays. Facing a 3rd-and-7 at the Notre Dame 7, Sunseri found Devin Street for a completion, but Street was stopped two yards short of the first down. Pitt settled for a 26-yard field goal, which gave them an early 3-0 lead.

- Pitt went 66 yards on its second offensive series, trying to answer a Notre Dame touchdown. Notre Dame was penalized for roughing the passer, which got Pitt to the Notre Dame 26. Graham rushed for a gain of 12, which got Pitt in the red zone. Graham got Pitt inside the 10. Sunseri couldn't quite get the ball to Mike Shanahan on the second- and third-down attempts from the Notre Dame 10. This time, however, Dan Hutchins' 27-yard field goal went wide right.

- Special teams errors hit the Panthers again before the end of the half. Trailing 17-3, Pitt got to the Notre Dame 19. Sunseri completed a short pass to Lewis for a gain of three to get Pitt inside the 20. After trying one more pass for Baldwin--which went incomplete, Pitt attempted a 40-yard field goal. The hold was mishandled by Andrew Janocko, and Pitt went in to the locker room, still trialing 17-3.

SYRACUSE
- Having a breakthrough game, the offense converted touchdowns on three of its four red zone attempts.

- Pitt could have easily punched one in here. After Sunseri completed a 61-yard pass to Baldwin, which got Pitt all the way to the Syracuse 3, Pitt was called for holding on the very next play. Instead of 1st-and-goal at the 3, it was 1st-and-goal at the 13. The penalty hurt, as Sunseri tried to get Baldwin a touchdown, but he couldn't haul it in. Graham got Pitt one yard, and Hynoski was stopped short--after gaining five yards on a short reception. Dan Hutchins kicked a 24-yard field goal, extending Pitt's lead to 38-14 over Syracuse, with 9:48 left.

RUTGERS
- Pitt converted three touchdowns in five red zone opportunities.

- Pitt did convert their first three red zone opportunities. With Pitt clinging to a 21-14 lead in the third quarter, they got all the way to the Rutgers 1, with 3:44 left in the quarter. Sunseri found Baldwin for one of his two one-handed grabs in double coverage. That pass put Pitt at the Rutgers 2. Lewis gained a yard on his first attempt. Though Sunseri hit tight end Mike Cruz for two touchdowns, he couldn't connect on the same playaction pass this time. Lewis tried once more from the Rutgers 1--on third down--but was stopped for no gain. Pitt settled for a 18-yard field goal from Hutchins.

- Pitt failed on its very next trip to the red zone. After Sunseri found Street--who turned a short completion into a gain of 10, Pitt was at the Rutgers 18. After an incompletion, Sunseri took off and ran, getting Pitt to the Rutgers 10. Graham--who Rutgers keyed in on all day--was stuffed in the backfield for a loss of three on third down. Pitt extended its lead to 27-14 on a 34-yard field goal from Hutchins.

LOUISVILLE
- Pitt came away with no red zone touchdowns in two attempts.

- After Louisiville took their opening drive, answering with a field goal, it was imperative that Pitt get the early lead. The Panthers went 51 yards on 12 plays, taking 6:07 off the clock. Pitt got all the way to the Louisville 9, but could not punch it in. Twice--on the first down and third down plays--Sunseri was hurried, and threw incompletions. On the second down play, Lewis was held to a two-yard gain. Hutchins tied the score for Pitt with a 26-yard field goal.

- Pitt had a chance to extend its lead over Louisville, but instead took a 6-3 lead into the locker room. Sunseri completed an eight-yard pass to Baldwin, getting Pitt to the Louisville 14. Lewis gained three yards, giving Pitt a 2nd-and-7 at the Louisville 11. Sunseri looked for Lewis on a screen--who was bumped out of the play by Street. On third down, Sunseri wasn't able to connect with Shanahan in the end zone. Hutchins' 28-yard field goal went wide left, leaving Pitt with the 6-3 lead at halftime.


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