Ben Roethlisberger aside, the biggest talking point exiting the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss Sunday was the lack of a run game against statistically one of the worst rush defenses. When the dust settled, the Steelers had thrown the ball 55 times. Le’Veon Bell had just 15 carries. It’s led many to ask why, including the media, who used that as the topic for Mike Tomlin’s first question at today’s press conference.
“Gameplans and things of that nature are often revealed over the second half of football games,” Tomlin said. “The last quarter-and-a-half of football games. The bomb went off on us in the third quarter. We threw a couple of pick 6’s. The stats are not going to reflect our plans or intentions.”
Tomlin also points to a lengthy fourth quarter drive the Jaguars had that chewed up even more clock and forced the Steelers to throw.
It’s true the 55 attempts are skewed by the fourth quarter and it isn’t an accurate number to use in criticism. But in reality, the Steelers came out with a pass-first offense. Before the game got out of hand, only including plays leading up to the second pick six, Roethlisberger had thrown the ball 35 times and Bell received only 13 carries.
There’s always needed context to those numbers. Roethlisberger surely exercised the freedom to check out of at least a couple runs and the Steelers relied on many screens and short throws as an extension of their run game. Bell still touched the ball plenty, 25 times in total. But there’s no denying the run game was not a key to the offense even before things got ugly.
For Tomlin, his focus isn’t on balance. Just on winning.
“It’s easy to talk about striking balance and analysis of stuff when you perform poorly. I just like to focus on winning. You win and all those questions get answered. You lose, you got a lot of questions. I’m not trying to answer the questions. Some of the questions you can’t answer. You can only answer with performance.”
That performance will be answered Sunday afternoon against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs enter with the fourth worst rush defense, allowing 4.6 yards per carry.