The Pittsburgh Steelers did several things better on offense in their Sunday road win over the Cincinnati Bengals that are worth noting. Not only did the offense run the ball better on Sunday, the unit also had success in short-yardage situations at Paul Brown Field, an area that they have been miserable in all season.
Against the Bengals on Sunday, the Steelers offense faced four third downs in which 3 or less yards were needed and the unit converted three of them. Rookie running back Benny Snell Jr. converted two of them via runs off left guard and quarterback Mason Rudolph converted one other one via a quarterback sneak late in the first half. The one failed third and short, that also took place very late in the first half, was an incomplete pass from Rudolph to nobody that was ultimately flagged for intentional grounding.
The Steelers offense initially had one other third and short early in the game, however, that third and 3 turned into third and 8 thanks to presnap false start by running back Jaylen Samuels with 4:35 remaining in the first quarter. The Steelers did wind up converting that third and 8, however, thanks to Rudolph connecting with Diontae Johnson for 9 yards.
Entering Sunday’s game, the Steelers offense had converted a league-worst 28.6% of all third and fourth downs needing 3 yards or less. Curiously enough, Snell, who had missed the last three games prior to Sunday’s contest in Cincinnati with a knee injury, had been responsible for three of the 10 total conversions. He now has five of the 13 as of Sunday.
Snell ended Sunday with a career-high 98 yards rushing on 21 total carries. This year’s fourth-round draft pick out of Kentucky also had 10 total successful runs against the Bengals and a long of 21, his third explosive run of the season, which is now a team-high. That lonf run, by the way, came on a third and 1 from the Bengals 34-yard-line and effectively ensured a win for the Steelers.
The Steelers will next play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and you can bet that Snell will see his fair share of carries in that contest and especially if starting running back James Conner misses that game with the shoulder injury he’s currently nursing. At worst, Snell will be used in short-yardage situations against the Browns as he’s really shown to be a reliable option in that part of the Steelers offense.