Ravens discuss running game issues against Steelers
The Steelers have been either the worst or one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL this season. They've had all kinds problems mounting any kind of ground game.
But it was the running attack that played a big role in Pittsburgh's 19-16 victory over the Ravens Sunday afternoon. The Steelers didn't get a lot of long runs but did enough to cause problems for the Ravens throughout, something that was somewhat surprising.
The Ravens gave up 141 yards on the ground as Pittsburgh averaged a strong 4.9 yards per carry. Le'Veon Bell posted 93 yards on just 19 carries for a Steeler team ranked 31st (that's next-to-last) in rushing in the NFL.
On this day, though, the Pittsburgh offensive line looked much better than the one that's generated a lot of criticism so far this season. Bell got a lot of yards in the middle or between the tackles, and the Steelers kept drives going because of that success.
"To me, the fact that they were able to run the ball the way they did was the thing that allowed them to extend those drives," coach John Harbaugh said in his post-game press conference. "There were way too many third-and-ones, twos, threes and fours. Those are going to be tough to defend."
The Steeler offensive line controlled the Ravens' front throughout. They opened holes, and the Ravens could not find the answer to stopping them, and, as Harbaugh said, it's why they were able to chew up lots of time and yardage. They pulled out some stunts, even going to Bell on the Wildcat a few times.
In fact, the Steelers punted on their first drive of the game, but never kicked the ball away again. Many teams in the NFL love to throw the ball more often nowadays, but the best teams always run effectively. The Steelers did a good job of that to surprise the Ravens Sunday.