View Full Version : Run game struggling on the road

11-24-2006, 06:36 AM
Run game struggling on the road

By Scott Brown
Friday, November 24, 2006

The Steelers will try to run the ball Sunday against one of the stoutest defenses in the NFL -- and against themselves, to a degree.
Starting running back Willie Parker has exceeded 100 rushing yards in four of his five games this season at Heinz Field. In as many games on the road, the NFL's fifth-leading rusher has run for just more than 250 yards.

Go figure.

"I know the numbers are really getting (skewed) from home," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said, "and I don't really have an answer for that."

Neither does Parker.

"It's just the way it is," he said. "I wish we could pick it up a little more on the road."

Parker and the Steelers will have to if they hope to knock off the Ravens in Baltimore and keep their playoff chances alive.

That, of course, is easier said than done. The Ravens have allowed just 3.2 yards per carry and 82.1 rushing yards a game, the latter of which is third-best in the NFL.

Not that airing it out against a secondary that features Ed Reed and cornerback Chris McAlister offers a path easier traveled. The Ravens have picked off the most passes in the NFL (18), and they prey on the kind of mistakes Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been prone to making while throwing a league-high 17 interceptions.

The more the Steelers throw this season, the worse Roethlisberger seems to fare. In three wins, Roethlisberger has averaged 30.3 pass attempts and has thrown three interceptions. In six losses, Roethlisberger has averaged 35.8 pass attempts and has thrown 14 interceptions.

"Regardless of what team you're playing, you've got to establish the run for our offense to work for the most part," offensive tackle Marvel Smith said. "I think we've shown we can do whatever we need to do to win a game -- running the ball, throwing the ball. We'd like to get the run game established early."

The Steelers have done that in Pittsburgh, but not anywhere else.

Parker may be on his way to becoming the third Steelers running back to post consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons -- Hall of Famer Franco Harris and future Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis are the others to accomplish the feat -- but Parker has barely gotten out of neutral on the road.

Despite a lack of success on the ground -- Parker is averaging 50.6 rushing yards in games away from Heinz Field this season -- Roethlisberger said the Steelers have to head into the Baltimore game with the mindset that they will be able to run the ball.

"As long as we stay with it," Roethlisberger said, "I think the (offensive) line will open up holes, and I think our backs will really be able to bust something open."

The Steelers have gotten away from running the ball at times, particularly on the road.

The reasons range from the opponent being too physical up front to simply not having the ball enough to establish anything, as was the case in last Sunday's 24-20 win at Cleveland.

The Ravens defense gives teams so many different looks by continually moving players around on its front seven, making the challenge of running against them particularly daunting.

"They're coming at you from so many different directions, so many different angles," guard Alan Faneca said. "Very rarely are they going to line up in the same spot, two plays in a row. They're going to test your ability to count them up and figure out who you've got."

Road weary

The Steelers have struggled on the road this season, especially with their running game. Here's a comparison between starting running back Willie Parker's games at Heinz Field and on the road:

Home Att. Yds. TDs Avg.
vs. Dolphins 29 115 0 3.9
vs. Bengals 31 133 2 4.3
vs. Chiefs 21 109 2 5.2
vs. Broncos 14 70 1 5.0
vs. Saints 22 213 2 9.7
Away Att. Yds. TDs Avg.
at Jaguars 11 20 0 1.8
at Chargers 14 57 1 4.1
at Falcons 20 47 0 2.4
at Raiders 22 83 0 3.8
at Browns 16 46 1 2.9


11-24-2006, 08:52 AM
This is the major problem. And I don't blame Willie, I blame our OL.

11-24-2006, 09:59 AM
If the OL blocks and Willie moves the ball well. We have a GOOD Chance of a W.

11-24-2006, 11:08 AM
Classic example of patience with the running game was KC last night vs Denver. I think Johnson had 70 yds in the 3rd quarter but they stayed patient and it paid off big time. Would love to see the Whiz exhibit the same.

11-24-2006, 11:09 AM
Would love to see the Whiz exhibit the same.

Don't hold your breath.

tony hipchest
11-24-2006, 11:28 AM
117 carries at home.
83 on the road.

those extra 7 carries a game would probably help him some on the road. the chargers game in particular was blown because the ball was taken out of willies hands and ben started throwing int's. (that was a game we were dominating from the beginning too)

11-24-2006, 12:15 PM
Don't hold your breath.

Wouldn't surprise me if he doesn't.

11-24-2006, 12:59 PM
I see alot of the same unless we get a big lead and they start handing it off to milk the clock. Other than that its going to be pass first.