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Old 09-21-2009, 08:08 AM   #1
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Default Pittsburgh must pass for dough

Pittsburgh must pass for dough

CHICAGO - If you had any doubts about how little trust the Steelers have in their running game, there were plenty of examples Sunday in a 17-14 loss to the Chicago Bears that made it abundantly obvious.

There was a pass on fourth-and-inches from the goal line in the first quarter. There was an empty backfield set on third-and-one in the third quarter. There were only 10 running plays and 18 passes in the first half, which was played in the rain.

The Steelers' running game isn't a work in progress. It's not even an afterthought. It's non-existent.

After gaining only 36 yards on the ground in their season-opening victory over Tennessee, the Steelers picked up 105 against the Bears - 39 of which came on one carry by Rashard Mendenhall in the third quarter.

The difference was that against Tennessee, the Steelers attempted 23 running plays despite going nowhere.

At least against the Bears, Pittsburgh realized early that it's running game wasn't going anywhere. With that in mind, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians mixed in a running play every once in a while to keep the Bears' defense honest. That helped the offense become more effective. The Bears were caught looking for the pass a couple of times and gashed for runs of 39 yards by Mendenhall and 15 by Mewelde Moore.

Don't look for that strategy to change anytime soon.

As quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said this week, these aren't your father's Steelers.

Heck, they aren't even the Steelers of three or four years ago.

They are a pass-first team, just like practically every other team in the NFL.

Of course, for the Steelers, throwing the ball more just makes sense. Roethlisberger is one of the league's top quarterbacks. And with Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller, he's got three playmakers to whom he can throw the football.

Add to that an offensive line that appears to be better at pass protection than run blocking and the formula is there for the Steelers to throw the ball more than run it. It's what they have to do in order to win each week.

That's not necessarily a bad thing - unless you happen to play in sloppy condititions, something that is known to happen in Pittsburgh.

But given the rules changes that have opened up the passing game, and the fact there aren't many college teams that run pure power offenses, it's only natural that even your Pittsburgh Steelers become a pass-first team.

In today's NFL, you run for show and you throw for dough, as the Steelers proved in Super Bowl XLIII against Arizona when Roethlisberger drove them for the game-winning score in the closing moments.

There will still be opponents whom the Steelers will run the ball effectively against. But the days of Roethlisberger being a quarterback who throws only 20 times per game are long gone.

F. Dale Lolley can be reached at dlolley@observer-reporter.com
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Old 09-21-2009, 10:10 AM   #2
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Default Re: Pittsburgh must pass for dough

Well, I guess we must keep up with the times. Really I just want us to win at all costs even if it means a nonexistent running game. We won SB 43 without running much so lets embrace it.
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Old 09-21-2009, 10:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: Pittsburgh must pass for dough

it wasn't totally nonexistent like last week.. just inconsistent and not very good.
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Old 09-21-2009, 05:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: Pittsburgh must pass for dough

I have no problems with us passing the football a lot more now.
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