2017 South Side Questions: Game Edition – Will Emphasis Be On Running Game?

The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Game Edition – Will we see the Steelers focus on the ground game in Cincinnati?

Over the course of the past couple of weeks, the Steelers have been relying more on the passing game than the running game, which is in contrast to the trend that they seemed to be heading in during the middle of the first half of the season.

Not that that has been a bad thing, of course, as it has produced their two highest scoring outputs of the season, both topping 30 yards, and Ben Roethlisberger has thrown four touchdown passes apiece in the past two games.

The first game against the Bengals was one of the better outputs for the running game on the season, as one of the three games in which Le’Veon Bell topped 100 yards on the ground, though it came through a war of attrition, and he still only averaged 3.8 yards per carry.

But his 35 carries for 134 yards helped the offense control the pace and the tone of the game, and we saw fullback Roosevelt Nix get plenty of work, I believe his most of the season if I’m not mistaken. That came just a week after Bell rushed for 179 yards on 32 carries.

He only has 58 carries over the course of the past three games since the bye week however, which, yes, for him is comparatively a light load. He’s also had extra rest in between his past two games, seeing 12 and 20 carries in those games, respectively.

And that was also one of his better games, averaging 4.8 yards per carry and 7.3 yards per reception, which would have been higher if not for an ill-advised pass at the end of the game that resulted in him losing two yards.

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