Steelers notebook: Lions' success limits opposing offenses
The Steelers have run the ball this poorly in their first nine games only once, in 1966. They have been outrushed by 420 yards — 1,145 to 725 — or nearly 47 yards per game.
Now, they go against a Lions defense that has yielded only 157 yards rushing its past three games. No opposing back has rushed for more than 45 yards against Detroit since Packers rookie Eddie Lacy ran for 99 yards on Oct. 6.
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley credits the Lions' running game shutdown in part to … the offense.
“They averaging in the high 20s (26.4 points per game), and I think teams get behind the 8-ball a little bit and end up having to throw it to try to score points,” Haley said. “We've got to score points. They're not a team that you're going to expect to go out and score seven, 10, 13 points (against and win). They're a prolific offense with some big-time players and playing at a high level.”
Now that he's a starter rather than the No. 3 receiver, Emmanuel Sanders is seeing more complex coverages from defenses, right? Wrong.
“In the slot, you've really got to know coverages because the coverages change and your routes change,” Sanders said. “As far as the outside, you don't have to pay as much attention to coverages because there's one guy you've got beat. (So there's) less coverage this year than last year.”
The Lions' offense centers around Calvin Johnson, arguably the best wide receiver in football, but running back Reggie Bush has gained 75 yards or more in three of his past four games, including 105 against Chicago and 92 against Dallas in his past two games.
“We have some explosive ability in our offense, and we lacked that last year,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “We were at the bottom of the NFL in explosive runs, and he's gone a long way to reversing that trend.”
The Lions are 0-8-1 in Pittsburgh since last winning here in 1955, a stretch that includes losses at four different stadiums: Forbes Field, Pitt Stadium, Three Rivers Stadium and Heinz Field.