PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers ran the ball against the New Orleans Saints with more success than they’ve had against any other opponent this year. Six different ball carriers to rush for 217 yards – 50% more than their next-highest single-game rushing total of 144 yards against Philadelphia two weeks ago.
The Saints are in the bottom half of the NFL in terms of total rushing yards allowed, but the Steelers made an internal adjustment to help them improve in that department. The biggest change came in terms of per was the full introduction of Jaylen Warren and Kenny Pickett. Both players set season-highs in rushes and both recorded runs of more than 20 yards. But their work came as a complement to Najee Harris’ strong day – 22 attempts for 99 yards including a long of 36 yards.
It was a particularly gratifying moment for Harris, but the Steelers as a whole took pride in being able to stack strong run on strong run, wear down the opposing defense and earn a win.
“It felt good,” Dotson said. “We’re just trying to get another one and another one and keep stacking them like that to give everybody yards.”
Part of what got the running game going was the diverse mix of runners they utilized. Steven Sims took a couple of jet sweeps, Derek Watt gained first downs on both of his runs and George Pickens ran twice for 23 yards and a touchdown. It slowed down the Saints, who had to defend the run from sideline to sideline.
“It does a whole lot to be able to make somebody think a little harder than they usually have,” Dotson said. “Making the defense think a little harder about who they need to look for and who they need to watch out for – that kind of thing, people don’t really realize just how much it impacts the game. It just makes it a lot tougher for them.”
Freiermuth said an improved running game opens up things for him and the rest of the passing game, so they’ll try to replicate that success this coming week against Cincinnatti.
“Like I said earlier, if we can run the ball, we feel like our offense is a lot more challenging to defend,” Freiermuth said. “The more we can get guys running, it’s going to open up that play action and that sweep and all that stuff.”
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