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mesaSteeler
01-04-2009, 08:09 AM
Steelers' run game still shaky
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer
http://www.observer-reporter.com/OR/Story/1-4-Steelers-Parker
dlolley@observer-reporter.com

PITTSBURGH - On paper, Willie Parker's 116-yard rushing effort against the Cleveland Browns in the Steelers' 31-0 victory in the regular season finale might look like window dressing.

It was pretty, but considering that it came against the hapless Browns, does it really show the Steelers can run the ball going into the playoffs?

For the Steelers (12-4), on a bye this weekend, it was an important step for a team that averaged just 105.6 yards rushing per game, its lowest average since 2003.

"We just had to let teams know going into the playoffs that we're for real and serious about running the ball," said Parker, who finished with a team-high 791 yards rushing, the fewest yards to lead the Steelers since Amos Zereoue had 762 in 2002.

Parker's rushing total was his lowest since he became a starter in 2005. His struggles with knee and shoulder injuries forced him to miss five games. The two-time Pro Bowl running back also was ineffective in the three games prior to the finale against Cleveland, combining for 103 yards on 35 carries against Dallas, Baltimore and Tennessee.

The 23 carries he had against the Browns were the most he had in a game since he gained 115 yards on 25 tries in an 11-10 win over San Diego Nov. 16.

"I think it will be a plus for us because teams can't just think we're going to come out and pass it every play," said Parker, who had four 100-yard games this season. "When you show you can do both of them, they have to respect both of them."

Parker publicly complained about the Steelers not using a fullback more, a set he prefers over a single-back offense.

The Steelers did more of that against the Browns, lining tight end Sean McHugh in the backfield on a number of occasions as a lead blocker.

But success running out of that set against the Browns guarantees nothing.

"It really depends on who we're playing and how the chips stack up," said head coach Mike Tomlin, when asked if he might use the I-formation more in the playoffs. "We're unable to develop a game plan at this point because we don't know who our opponent is.

"The extent of which we use that will be determined by a lot of things. Some of them are a question mark at this point."

Parker certainly wouldn't mind it.

"It made a difference. Running with a fullback, you know I like it," Parker said. "But I like just running the ball. I'm a running back. We called a certain amount of running plays, so I'm going to be happy regardless. We were successful, so I'm even more happy."

Copyright Observer Publishing Co.

joeyssteelcurtain
01-04-2009, 08:16 AM
When we won the bowl we did not run that often or well

markymarc
01-04-2009, 12:05 PM
Of course it doesn't guarantee anything, but I still want to see the I formation with McHugh a lot more the next game. Forget the double TE run sets. Get McHugh back there and let's see what happens.

TD_Sandy_Eggo
01-04-2009, 07:19 PM
I for one am NOT going to underestimate the running game. It's not about yards alone, but about field position. Willie Parker is due for a breakout game. Hopefully, Bolt DC Rivera will plan to contain his effect and force Ben to scramble a bit, but all it takes is one or two breakouts for Parker and suddenly, the Bolt D will have to make big adjustments.

markymarc
01-05-2009, 06:21 AM
If FWP and Moore can combine for 100 yards that should really boost our offense. Ben and the offense had good numbers in the first game, but just couldn't get it in the end zone enough. Arians better call a good game in the rematch to give us good chances of scoring when in the red zone.