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Steelers

Steelers notebook: Staying patient with running game a priority

Joe Rutter
| Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016, 6:12 p.m.
Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams runs during the second quarter against the Eagles on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams runs during the second quarter against the Eagles on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

After using a 60-40 pass-to-run mix in wins over Washington and Cincinnati, the Steelers ran just 18.5 percent of the time in a 34-3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Of course, the large deficit dictated the pass-heavy play calls. The Steelers had just two runs after halftime, one coming on the final play of the game.

Did they abandon the run too quickly?

“We should have probably stayed with the run a little longer,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said on his weekly radio show, adding, “You can't be as one-dimensional and throwing it all the time when they're teeing off on you.”

Coach Mike Tomlin agreed.

“You could say that,” Tomlin answered when asked if the Steelers abandoned the running game too soon. “But we weren't doing a good enough job of stopping them.”

The Steelers had 15 rushing yards on eight attempts in the first half, and Tomlin wanted to re-establish a running game in the second half. Then, the Eagles took the kickoff and scored on a 73-yard pass play, turning a 10-point lead into a 20-3 advantage.

“Had we stopped them on the first possession of the second half, we probably would have continued to have a more balanced approach,” Tomlin said.

• Tomlin would like to have Chris Boswell employ more directional kickoffs, a tool the Patriots used to force two fumbles on returns last week against the Texans. Trouble was, the Steelers only kicked off twice against the Eagles. And just two of Boswell's kickoffs this season have been returned. “We've had extensive discussions about it, and we've worked on it in training camp and in practice,” Tomlin said. “We've yet to deploy some of those things, but I'm sure we will at some point.”

• Wide receiver Antonio Brown said on his radio show that officials made him change his blue shoes at halftime of the Eagles game. “They almost tried to take me out of the game,” said Brown, who was fined for wearing the blue shoes during Week 1.

• If Eli Rogers (turf toe) can't play against the Chiefs, Brown could resume punt return duties. Tomlin also didn't rule out using Markus Wheaton in that role. Rogers has returned four punts for 30 yards (7.5 average).

• The Steelers also were 2-0 in 2008 when they went to Philadelphia and were beaten. That was the season they won their sixth Lombardi Trophy, beating the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl. “Maybe that's the silver lining,” Roethlisberger said.

• Roethlisberger said he was “blessed” to have played a round of golf with Arnold Palmer, who died Sunday night. Early in his career, Roethlisberger played at Latrobe Country Club in a group that included his college coach, the late Terry Hoeppner, and Palmer. “I knew how special it was at the time, and as I've gotten older, I realize even more how special it was,” Roethlisberger said.

• Former Steelers linebacker Kevin Greene will receive his Hall of Fame ring during halftime Sunday. Greene's wife, Tara, will sing the national anthem. Styx will accompany Tara Greene and also will play during the ceremony. Greg Lloyd will present Greene with the Hall of Fame ring.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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