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Thread: Running game going nowhere quickly

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    Default Running game going nowhere quickly

    Running game has been going nowhere quickly

    NEW ORLEANS - In the weeks leading up to Ben Roethlisberger's return from his four-game suspension, all we heard from the Steelers was how the quarterback's return would open things up for the running game.

    At that point, the rushing attack - namely Rashard Mendenhall - had been the only consistent part of Pittsburgh's offense.

    But since Roethlisberger's return three weeks ago, the running game has taken a nose dive.

    In the four games without Roethlisberger, Mendenhall had 411 yards rushing on 89 carries, an average of 4.6 yards per carry.

    In the three games since Roethlisberger returned, Mendenhall has seen his numbers and production fall off considerably.

    In Roethlisberger's first game back, Mendenhall picked up a solid 84 yards, but took 27 carries to get there. That doesn't sound bad until you realize that effort came against perennial doormat Cleveland.

    Then came a 15-carry, 37-yard effort at Miami.

    That was followed up by Sunday night's ineffectiveness in an 20-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Yes, Mendenhall finally broke free in the fourth quarter for a 38-yard touchdown run, but that only masked what was otherwise a lackluster effort.

    Prior to that run, Mendenhall had 31 yards on 13 carries.

    At no point was the Steelers' inability to run the ball more apparent than in the second quarter against the Saints.

    After a catch by receiver Antwaan Randle El put the ball six inches shy of the goal line, the Steelers attempted three runs - one by Isaac Redman, two by Mendenhall. They failed to get in the end zone.

    Redman was stuffed for a loss of a yard on first down. Mendenhall then got that yard back on second down before getting stuffed for no gain on third down.

    It's strikingly familiar to the past two seasons, when the Steelers had to rely on the passing of Roethlisberger to get the ball into the end zone.

    This is a team that paid plenty of lip service in the offseason about wanting to get better at running the football. Even team president Art Rooney II spoke openly of it.

    But, at this point, the Steelers aren't running any better than in the last two seasons. They're just running it more.

    Establishing a mentality is one thing. Continually pounding the ball for two yards at a time is another.

    And to be a truly dominant offense, the Steelers must be able to gain a yard via the run when needed. Such was the case Sunday and they failed miserably.

    On the plus side, no team has been able to consistently run against the Steelers, either.

    The Saints were equally as inept as the Steelers after getting the football to the Pittsburgh 1-yard line on the opening possession of the second half. The Saints attempted one pass - to a reserve offensive lineman - and were stuffed for losses on second- and third-down running plays.

    But we expect to see that against the Steelers' defense. The inability of opposing teams to gain yardage on the ground is a given.

    If the Steelers expect to beat good opponents, such as the Saints, for the remainder of this season, they have to be more effective at running the football.

    F. Dale Lolley can be reached at
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    Default Re: Running game going nowhere quickly

    Y'know, a more cynical person than I might consider the possibility that the "run-up-the-gut" approach to our ground game is deliberate. It didn't really seem to set in until the return of Ben and then, voila!

    It's almost as if somebody might wish to validate a pass-heavy approach to strategy once the QB status quo was restored, in direct contravention of the "run smarter" edict.

    Well, there certainly wasn't much by way of running smarter last night.

    Just sayin'...
    'I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ***-kickers, ****-kickers and Methodists.'

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    Default Re: Running game going nowhere quickly

    that goal line stand by the Saints when we couldn't score in three tries from the 6 inch line was a key series in the game.

    Arians needs to come up with some new run/blocking designs because the current plays he's calling obviously aren't working.

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    Default Re: Running game going nowhere quickly

    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteeler View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    that goal line stand by the Saints when we couldn't score in three tries from the 6 inch line was a key series in the game.

    Arians needs to come up with some new run/blocking designs because the current plays he's calling obviously aren't working.
    ahh...remember the days of the Bus...

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    Default Re: Running game going nowhere quickly

    so how in the world does Essex think we were running a different play? that is definitely on him, but somewhere we are missing some coaching here too...

    Steelers' physical game spirited away by Saints

    Monday, November 01, 2010
    By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Peter Diana/Post-Gazette
    James Harrison sacks Saints quarterback Drew Brees in the first half Sunday in New Orleans.

    NEW ORLEANS -- It's one thing for the New Orleans Saints to settle for a field goal after a first-and-goal at the 1. They are a passing team -- a pretty, finesse team, if you will.

    It's something much worse for the Steelers to do it. They like to think of themselves as a powerful, physical football team. They weren't Sunday night and it cost them the game in the Louisiana Superdome.

    The Saints scored 17 points in the second half to win, 20-10. But that's not the big reason the Steelers lost for just the second time in seven games to fall back into a first-place tie with the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North Division. They were beaten early in the second quarter when they were whipped in the worst possible way.


    "They won the line of scrimmage," coach Mike Tomlin said.

    It happened after the Steelers appeared to score a touchdown on a 12-yard pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to wide receiver Antwaan Randle El. Saints coach Sean Payton challenged that Randle El was down before he scored and a replay review confirmed it. The Steelers were given the ball and a first down at the Saints' 6-inch line.

    No problem, right?

    Uh, wrong.

    Big problem.

    Running back Isaac Redman went off left guard and lost a yard. "That was my fault," Steelers guard Trai Essex said. "I didn't do my assignment. I thought we were running a different play."

    Running back Rashard Mendenhall tried right tackle and gained that yard back and maybe an inch or two more. "I thought he might have been in," Essex said.

    Mendenhall then was stopped on third down for no gain, again over right tackle.

    Steelers kicker Jeff Reed came on to kick a 19-yard field goal for a very unsatisfying 3-0 lead. Those were lost points that the Steelers desperately would need later.

    "It's a shame because we've been really good in short yardage situations this season," Essex said.

    It didn't make the Steelers feel any better when the same thing happened to the Saints early in the third quarter. The Saints had a first-and-goal at the Steelers' 1 and had to settle for a 23-yard field goal.

    This is a matter of perspective, remember?

    This is the second consecutive game in which the Steelers had trouble running the ball. They were fortunate to beat the Miami Dolphins Oct. 24 getting just 58 rushing yards on 27 carries, including 37 yards on 15 carries by Mendenhall. Through three quarters against the Saints, the numbers were just as disheartening: 19 rushes for 68 yards.

    The final stats didn't look nearly so bad because Mendenhall scored on a 38-yard run early in the fourth quarter to cut the Saints' lead to 13-10.

    Too little, too late.

    "Halloween night. A playoff crowd. Them coming off a big loss to Cleveland. We knew they'd respond," Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said.

    As losses go, this wasn't a bad one for the Steelers. They were facing a Saints team that was off to a 4-3 start in defense of its Super Bowl championship and was coming off that embarrassing 30-17 home loss to the Browns. Beyond that, the Saints are an NFC team. If you have to lose, losing to them is better than losing to an AFC team. It's sure better than losing at Cincinnati to the Bengals next Monday night.

    Clearly, though, the Steelers need to get their running game going. The great Roethlisberger can't win every game by himself. That's especially true on the nights when he is mediocre, as he was against the Saints. He was 17 for 28 for 195 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. His passer rating was a shabby 66.8 after being 132.0 against the Dolphins and 112.7 against the Browns Oct. 17.

    "It's hard to be a physical ballclub when you're just passing the ball," Ward said. "Last year, we threw the ball around left and right and we didn't get where we want to go. We've got to be able to run the ball and use our play-action passing game."

    That's the Steelers' best formula for success. Lucky for them they have an extra day this week to get back to it before they play the Bengals.

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