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|09-23-2006, 11:15 PM||#1|
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Galling numbers plague Steelers
By Scott Brown
Sunday, September 24, 2006
A couple of numbers captured Pittsburgh's Monday night loss in Jacksonville better than any amount of words could have.
The zero points the Steelers had marked the first time since 1981 that a reigning Super Bowl champion had been shut out.
Just as galling to the Steelers, as well as revealing of their offensive struggles, were the 26 rushing yards they managed against the Jaguars.
"That's unacceptable," starting left tackle Marvel Smith said. "Regardless of any team you play in this league, you can't win the game rushing for 26 yards."
A sold-out crowd at Heinz Field will find out today if Pittsburgh has corrected the problems that contributed to its lowest rushing output during coach Bill Cowher's tenure.
A Steelers victory against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals in an early AFC North showdown could well hinge on Pittsburgh posting an acceptable rushing total.
And that is probably something that exceeds 100 yards.
Consider that in their 11 regular-season wins last year the Steelers averaged 165.8 rushing yards.
In five losses, Pittsburgh averaged less than half of that (80.6) on the ground.
In two regular-season meetings against the Bengals last season, the Steelers rushed for 221 yards in a 27-13 win and 95 in a 38-31 loss.
Numbers crunching makes it clear that a Steelers offense without the run is like a Primanti Brothers sandwich without the slaw and fries.
It just isn't the same.
It just isn't Pittsburgh.
"I think I'd be more worried if it was 40 carries for 26 yards, but we only ran the ball 13 times so it is what it is," All-Pro guard Alan Faneca said of the Steelers' inability to establish the run against the Jaguars. "We weren't doing it good enough to be able to run it more."
To be sure, Jacksonville had something to do with that.
The Jaguars showed that the front seven on their defense may be as good as any in football. They also did a lot of moving around, which added to the difficulty of an offensive line that had to contend with mammoth defensive tackles John Henderson and Marcus Stroud.
"They slanted and blitzed, I think half the game, so it presented a challenge for us in trying to find things that work, plus you have a safety playing in the box the entire night," right tackle Max Starks said. "They went out with one goal in mind and that was to stop the run."
The Jaguars weren't forced to deviate from that plan because of Pittsburgh's passing game.
Or lack thereof.
Making his first start of the season, Ben Roethlisberger threw for just 141 yards on 17-of-32 passing, and he was intercepted twice.
Had the Steelers been able to throw the ball more effectively, that might have opened up running room for Willie Parker (20 yards on 11 carries).
"We started off throwing the ball real well and I missed a couple of throws here and there and I think that probably hurt us a little bit and then they started teeing off on us," Roethlisberger said.
The discrepancy in time of possession - Jacksonville had the ball for 15 more minutes than Pittsburgh - suggests that the Steelers hardly abandoned the run.
Nor will they as the Bengals are sure to find out today.
"We're not going to deviate from our approach," Cowher said. "We're just got to keep working at it and I think that's the only answer there is. (Establishing the run) is something we will make a priority and still recognize we've got to have balance on offense."
|09-24-2006, 09:40 AM||#2|
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Location: Pittsburgh, Ohio
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Re: Galling numbers plague Steelers
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