It was what Keith Butler talked about to the media throughout the week. And it was a message sent to his players leading up to Sunday’s game. Stop the Cleveland Browns’ running game. That’s exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers did.
The Browns rushed for just 15 yards on 14 carries including only five total yards from their running backs.
“One thing we wanted to establish especially this week was stop the run. We got the lead, kept the lead. giving up 15 yards, one of them was a QB scramble, it’s pretty big,” Cam Heyward told reporters in the locker room after the game.
The Steelers were motivated by revenge after the Browns ran roughshod over Pittsburgh in both meetings last season.
“If you look at the past two games we played the Browns, they had something like 300 yards rushing collectively. So the whole week, that was the emphasis, stop the run. They’re going to get off the bus trying to run the ball,” said Arthur Moats.
The exact number was 349 yards rushing from the Browns in two meetings last year. As I wrote after that second game, it was the most season rushing yards by the Browns against the Steelers since 1967, two years before Chuck Noll arrived.
The Browns’ run game had struggled all year so it isn’t as if the Steelers shut down a top flight unit. Still, you have to feel good about making the Browns’ one-dimensional, a goal for any team in every game.
The 15 yard total was the fewest rushing yards allowed since the Cincinnati Bengals ran for only 14 back in 2012. It was the fewest allowed in a Steelers’ win since 2004. It’s only the 7th time in franchise history the Steelers have held the opposing team to 15 or fewer yards.
Such strong run defense will have to carry over in Week 12 when the team visits the Seattle Seahawks and the powerful Marshawn Lynch.