Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Stopping the Run Not Trademark of Defense Right Now

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Stopping the Run Not Trademark of Defense Right Now

Article excerpt

There was a time when opponents never attempted to run against the Steelers. Now they're lining up to bludgeon a beleaguered defensive line that's down a starter and thin on reserve talent.

For the second consecutive week, an opposing running back rushed for 100 yards against the Steelers.

The Patriots, of all teams, decided their best path to victory Sunday was to have Tom Brady turn around and hand off to LeGarrette Blount, who gashed the Steelers for 5.3 yards per carry. He carried 24 times for 127 yards, one week after Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi rushed for 204 yards.

"He's a big guy, he's a good runner, but we didn't get blocks," inside linebacker Ryan Shazier said. "We didn't make tackles. Everyone is responsible. We have to hold each other accountable. We have to make sure we can be the defense we can be. Right now, we're looking like garbage. This is terrible right now."

Brady, who usually relishes the opportunity to pick apart the Steelers secondary, oversaw a game plan that revolved around Blount. Brady attempted 26 passes and threw for just 222 yards. He made some big passes when he had to, but the Patriots were content to methodically run the ball down the field.

"We're normally known for stopping the run, but, if teams feel like they can get 100 or 200 yards rushing on us every game, they're going to continue to run," Shazier said.

"If we keep playing like this, they're going to keep doing this. We have to make sure when we come back we're going to force them to stop running the ball and do whatever we want them to do. Right now, they can do whatever they want to do. and that's going to hurt us. We're going to continue to lose if that happens."

The Steelers have their off week to figure out what ails their rush defense. Some of the problems can be traced to the absence of defensive end Cam Heyward, who missed a second consecutive game with a hamstring injury.

The first five opponents didn't have nearly as much success running the ball when Heyward was healthy. …

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