The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t been able to do much on the ground for weeks now, finishing with under 100 rushing yards as a team for the fourth consecutive week after today’s game. It hasn’t mattered, and the team doesn’t particularly seem to care or mind.
After all, they are winning, and minus the Baltimore Ravens game, they have still put up over 350 yards of offense each week. More importantly, they have been winning week in and week out, and throwing the ball more and more frequently.
In spite of this, head coach Mike Tomlin maintained following today’s 36-10 blowout win against the Cincinnati Bengals that they are “a balanced group” on offense. “We can give it to you however you want it”, he reasoned, referring to responding to how the defense is playing them.
“If you want to pack a bunch of people on the line of scrimmage, then we’re gonna throw it”, he said. “You play two high safeties, we’re capable of running it. That’s what I mean when I say we strive to be a balanced group. We want to be able to move it however. However we choose, or maybe overcommitments from defenses and so forth that dictate it. We’re okay with that, too”.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball 46 times today, completing 27 passes for a season-high 333 yards. He fired off four touchdown passes, which was also the most that he has had in a single game through the first nine weeks, averaging 7.2 yards per attempt.
They still ran the ball 20 times, but with little efficacy. James Conner was held to just 36 yards on 13 attempts, and had several tackles for loss on poorly-conceived outside zone runs that simply did not work at all.
Benny Snell got in some late work, finishing the game with three carries for 12 yards. They netted minus-four yards on three wide receiver sweeps that did not work at all. Roethlisberger also had one ‘rush’ for no gain on an aborted play due to a high snap.
Last week against the Dallas Cowboys, Roethlisberger attempted 42 passes against the team’s 18 runs. A week before that, it was 32 passing attempts to 16 runs. And a week before that, he attempted 49 passes to 25 runs as a team.
Prior to this four-game spurt, the Steelers were actually among the most balanced offenses in the NFL as measured by the run-pass ratio, but Roethlisberger has attempted 169 passes during that time, averaging more than 42 pass attempts per game.
Does it matter? No, not as long as he stays healthy and they keep winning. Maybe one week they have an opponent that plays in coverage and they run the ball down their throat instead.