Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defense Turns Stout at Stopping the Run

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defense Turns Stout at Stopping the Run

Article excerpt

There was a time in the not-too-distant past that a 300-yard rushing game seemed like a possibility against the Steelers. Chicago and Jacksonville each ran for more than 200 against them in the first five weeks of the season, with the Jaguars putting up 231 at Heinz Field.

Now, Leonard Fournette running up and down the field seems like a lifetime ago. The past five opponents haven't combined for 300 rushing yards against the Steelers. They've averaged a meager 58.7 yards per game.

"We are spending a little more time with it, guys are executing better and just trusting the defense," defensive end Cameron Heyward said. "If everyone just stays in their gap the ball has to go somewhere and we should have someone in that gap."

The streak started when the Steelers traveled to Kansas City and shut down rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who at the time was leading the NFL in rushing. The Steelers held Hunt to 21 yards, and the Chiefs managed just 28 yards rushing as a team.

"When we ended up beating the Chiefs that helped us out a lot and built some confidence," inside linebacker Ryan Shazier said. "I think everyone understood what we could do. That helped push the movement forward."

Since then, the highest rushing total against the Steelers is 71 yards, and they're coming off another strong performance against the Tennessee Titans, who entered Thursday night's game as one of the top 10 rushing teams in the league. The Steelers held Titans to 52 rushing yards. Their leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, had 10 yards on eight carries. Derrick Henry had 32 yards on seven carries.

The strong five-game stretch has vaulted the Steelers back among the top 10 run defenses in the NFL. They are No. 8 in the league entering this week's game against the Green Bay Packers.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Steelers enter the game on a five-game winning streak. By stopping the run, the Steelers are putting opponents in obvious passing situations, and they're taking advantage. …

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