Up until yesterday’s game, the Pittsburgh Steelers had not been able to effectively play the brand of football that Pittsburgh has become known for. The tough, hard-nosed, ground and pound offense that embodied the city they played for was so crucial to many different eras of Steelers football, but had been missing this season.
However, Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints displayed an offense that got back to its roots and was able to control the clock and provide explosive plays through the ground, which resulted in a comfortable win. Heath Miller, retired tight end for the Steelers and new member of the Hall of Honor, mentioned pregame how an efficient run game would completely change the offense, and his perspective aged quite well later that day.
“I wish they could run the ball better and make [QB Kenny Pickett’s] life a little bit easier,” said Miller via Footbahlin’ with Ben Roethlisberger on Channel Seven’s YouTube Channel, an episode recorded before the Steelers’ game. “They have a young quarterback. I think a lot is on his plate…I hope they can get the running game going.”
Right on que, as if the offensive line and RB Najee Harris were listening, the running game was far more efficient and explosive than it had been all year. Specifically, the ground attack resulted in 217 yards, led by Harris’ 99 yards but also helped by Pickett’s 51 yards and RB Jaylen Warren’s 37 yards. On top of that, the Steelers’ offense had four different players achieve a run of 20 yards or further, which included the three aforementioned and WR George Pickens, a feat that has not even been sniffed all year.
“I think Najee Harris is a great back, and [Warren]…I know he’s been productive,” explained Miller. If they can get the run game going, it just makes the defense’s job easier, it makes the quarterback’s job easier, it makes the linemen’s job easier, so that’s my hope for these last [games].”
Evidently, Miller was right about the monumental effect that a dangerous run game could present for this year’s Steelers, as they looked like more of a complete team than any other previous game this year. Perhaps, if this rushing attack can prove consistent, Pittsburgh may find themselves going on a slight run to close out the year as their schedule eases up.