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Najee Harris Happy With Fast 2nd Half Start Because ‘Sometimes We Start Out Slow’

Leading 14-7 with the ball coming out of the half, the Pittsburgh Steelers put together one of their best drives of the season, going 91 yards on 21 plays and chewing 11:43 off the clock and capping the drive off with a touchdown on a Mitch Trubisky quarterback sneak to take a two-score lead. Running back Najee Harris talked after the game about the importance of that drive, especially given that Pittsburgh has come out flat out of the half on a few too many occasions.

“That was one thing I said coming into half. I said ‘you know, we gotta come out, start fast,’ cause sometimes we come out starting slow. So for us to take that much time off, and we knew it was going to be a game of possessions, cause they was gonna run the ball, we were gonna run the ball. So for it to come down to a game of possessions and for us to take off probably, what, 11 minutes or something like that, took off 11 minutes. On the sideline after we put it in the endzone, I was just telling everybody ‘that’s how you run the ball. That’s how you control the clock and help out the defense,’ because that’s what we talked about going in,” Harris said via a video posted to Steelers.com.

On that drive, Harris toted the rock seven times for 24 yards, as Pittsburgh ran the ball on 14 out of their 21 plays. That’s a big reason why they were able to control possession for as long as they did, and as Harris talked about, that’s important in a game of possessions. Pittsburgh being able to hold the ball and limit the number of possessions Carolina had was crucial, and it’s something the Steelers succeeded at doing all game, as they possessed the ball for almost 13 minutes more (36:11-23:49), while running the ball 45 times. In the Mike Tomlin era, the Steelers are 27-4-1 when they possess the ball for over 36 minutes. A 21-play drive will certainly help, but the Steelers need to continue to make ball control an emphasis going forward.

Being able to not only maintain possession for that long but also end the drive with a touchdown was important. The Steelers have struggled at times coming out of the half, as no matter how good they played in the first half, they sometimes can’t seem to string anything together in the second. The Cincinnati Bengals game in Week 10 is a good example of that, as the team was lifeless coming out of the locker room as they fell 37-30 to their division rivals.

Today was a different story though, and a big reason is the success of the run game. The drive also helped the defense out, as it gave them an extended breather coming out of the half and led them to play some of their best football of the season in the 2nd half, especially when it came to stopping the run and getting after the quarterback.

It was the perfect drive coming out of the locker room. It put a touchdown on the board, it wore out the opposing defense and it gave your own defense a break. There really isn’t much more you can ask for. It was a great drive by the Steelers, and while you won’t see too many 20+ play drives, hopefully Pittsburgh can continue to win the time of possession battle.

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