The Pittsburgh Steelers lost what was basically a must-win game to keep their already bleak playoff hopes alive against the Cincinnati Bengals last night, falling by a score of 37-30 in Pittsburgh. The offense again failed to get anything going coming out of half time until the final minutes of the game where Cincinnati was playing soft as the held a two-score lead.
Still, while Pittsburgh’s offense still is battling to put together a full 60 minutes, the running game that plagued this team for the first half of the beginning of the season has shown some life in recent weeks. After running as a team for 217 yards against the Saints last week, the Steelers rushed for 102 yards on 24 carries with Najee Harris putting together another strong performance to the tune of 20 carries for 90 yards and two rushing TDs.
LG Kevin Dotson was asked about the gradual improvement of the running game the last two weeks in the locker room Monday, to which he responded
“Well see, I feel like we’re feeling way more confident in our run game,” Dotson said to the media Monday in the locker room on video from Chris Adamski’s Twitter page. “Definitely still needs improvement. If we can improve upon that, it just makes everything else easier.”
While it is true that Pittsburgh’s running game is starting to get back on track in terms of being a functional unit compared to the rest of the league, Dotson is correct in saying that they still need to improve to get where they want to be in terms of being one of the better running games in the NFL. The Steelers came out to start the game with Najee Harris running hard and the offensive line blocking relatively well, marching down the field and having Harris spring a 19-yard run to the end zone which would be Pittsburgh’s longest scoring play yet this season.
However, much like how the offense as a whole stalled in the second half, so did the running game who couldn’t sustain drives, eat up clock, and keep QB Joe Burrow on the sidelines as Pittsburgh wasted away lead when they had momentum at the half.
It’s great to see this running game improve with Harris running with more confidence and blockers like LT Dan Moore Jr. showing improvement in execution, but this team needs to stay consistent in sustaining an effective run game for an entire game to effectively close out games and stack wins together. Having already taken a step in the right direction, we will have to see if Pittsburgh’s running game can take another step forward next week as the take on the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night.