A three game tally of 376 rushing yards has turned early season ground game frowns upside-down. Against the G-Men, the 'Burgh ran roughshod.
Isaac Redman picked up where Jonathan Dwyer left off last weekend. Credit must be given to both backs for hitting the hole hard in recent weeks, continuing to drive their legs in the effort for every last available yard, and showcasing a beautiful combination of agility and power not seen since Jerome Bettis.
Part of the problem for the backs may have been an overly complicated and foreign playbook, considering the transition to the Todd Haley offense. Haley slimmed down the run options, and many on the team feel that this concerted focus on mastering a smaller number of rushing plays has benefited the offense as a whole.
Per guard Willie Colon, "Early in the year, we were doing a little too much maybe. We’re keeping it extremely simple and starting to be repetitive and really owning in to what we’ve got to do.”
However, the biggest reason for the sudden surge of the Steelers' running attack is the offensive line. Not only are the linemen blocking more effectively and keeping open holes that closed so quickly in the early weeks, but they're also not shooting themselves in the foot presnap.
Gone are the foolhardy penalties that put the offense "behind the sticks" in down and distance. The combination of great blocking and the everydown option to run has translated to a (drumroll!)... ground game.
In place of infractions and missed blocks, the offensive hogs are now winning their individual battles and even getting into the second level. Re-watch Redman's final, game-clinching run to witness a run blocking clinic.
On a line that is opening holes and showing a proficiency absent for at least a few seasons, Maurkice Pouncey and Willie Colon have been particularly special, blocking with authority and often continuing their onslaught into the second level of the defense. Colon has often demanded two defenders.
Additionally, despite little acclaim, Mike Adams- who has struggled in pass protection- has laid down solid blocks from his tackle spot. And, lastly, let's not forget the hard work in the run game put in by the tight ends and wide receivers.