The Pittsburgh Steelers got back into the win column Sunday, beating the New Orleans Saints 20-10 to take them to 3-6 on the season. It was a sloppy game in terms of the weather at Acrisure Stadium as well as the play on the football field as neither team cracked 200 yards passing on the afternoon. However, Pittsburgh’s running game showed up in a big way in this one as the team rushed for 217 yards with six players carrying the football including RB Najee Harris who led the way with 99 yards rushing.
It was Harris’ best game on the ground this season as the second-year runner has been subject to much criticism in recent weeks due to Pittsburgh’s ineffectiveness in the running game and with rookie UDFA Jaylen Warren playing better than him in various metrics. However, instead of giving the glory to himself and his improved play on the football field, Harris again showed humility and praised his offensive line for helping him get within a yard of reaching the century mark in this one.
“Like I said, it was just me,” Harris said to the media Sunday after the win in the locker room on video from Chris Adamski’s Twitter page. “I had to do better. The offensive line played their ass off, but they do every week especially in practice too. I think the way we did in practice this week moving forward to this game, we changed a couple of things, we’re finishing a lot more. But it all starts with them. The line did the best they did so far this year.”
Heading into this week, the Pittsburgh Steelers ranked 27th in the league in rushing with 759 yards in eight games played (94.8 YPG), averaging right at 4.0 YPC. However, Harris wasn’t pulling his weight on the ground despite being the team’s workhorse back, carrying the ball 108 times for 361 yards (3.3 YPC) and one TD. There was chatter throughout the week that Jaylen Warren was in-line to get more work in the backfield after providing more splash plays on the ground thus far in 2022 than Harris as well as being more effective and efficient on the carries he was getting as the backup.
However, Harris was clearly the team’s lead back as he toted the rock 20 times for 99 yards while Warren got nine carries for 37 yards. Harris was correct in saying that the offensive line played their best football of the season in the running game as the offense went over 200 yards rushing as a team and sprung four runs of over 20 yards, something that Pittsburgh hadn’t been able to do once in their first eight games of the season.
The offensive line and the runners who touched the football today both played well as the running game carried Pittsburgh to victory… a statement we have not been able to say for quite some time. Time will tell if this short-term success will stick, but for a team looking to get back on track, success in running the football with multiple bodies along with improved play upfront looks to be a recipe to have that continue as this team looks to close out the second half of the season on a high note.