The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t have James Conner to get things going on the ground. They lost Maurkice Pouncey just hours before the game was set to kick off. Those were two significant blows to whatever they might have hoped to be able to do on the ground, even against a depleted defense like that the Baltimore Ravens were tasked with managing today.
They did, however, have Benny Snell, and they did use him—sort of. The second-year back came out of the game with 19 total touches for 93 yards, which included three receptions for 33 yards. He rushed for 60 yards on 16 attempts, which, even in a starting role, featured a number of short-yardage attempts, which has been the bulk of his work to date.
As a team, the Steelers dipped back below the 100-yard mark rushing, finishing the game with 689 total rushing yards on 19 attempts, the equivalent to just 3.63 yards per attempt. I haven’t broken it down play by play, however, but I believe the success rate of those carries may be higher than is reflected in the raw numbers.
Snell’s running in particular grew significant in the late stages of the game as the Steelers were looking to close it out after taking and then building upon a lead. He had six carries in roughly the final five minutes of the game, including the final four plays, with the exception of a kneeldown, which was preceded by a 3rd-and-1 conversion.
Asked what allowed them to run the ball effectively in the late stages of the game, head coach Mike Tomlin said, “it’s a positive in terms of the efforts of Benny Snell, to be quite honest with you, but it was too many unblocked people at the point of attack and things of that nature. It’s more reflective of the individual efforts of Benny Snell”.
In other words, like almost everything else, Tomlin wasn’t happy with the running game as a whole, but he was at least somewhat pleased by Snell’s ability to make a couple of plays during the course of the game beyond what was blocked for him. He did have a few broken tackles, including one produced by an emphatic stiff arm.
As we sit here today, it is not immediately clear as to whether or not Conner will be eligible to be activated to return to the roster from the Reserve/Covid-19 List for the Steelers’ next game on Monday, so we might get a second week of Benny Snell Football. And you know Tomlin will be looking for his team to give him more support.