Week 7: Steelers Key Matchup
Steelers run defense vs. Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson
STEELERS — RUN DEFENSE
The Steelers have allowed more than 100 yards rushing to a team only once this season and that was to the Detroit Lions, but the Steelers will get its toughest test when they take on Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings. The Steelers defense historically has been good against the run. It hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 24 regular-season games and have only gave up three over the past 78 games. Two weeks ago against San Diego, the Steelers run defense allowed only 16 yards rushing on eight attempts. It was the lowest rushing total against the Steelers since New England managed only five yards rushing in a 34-20 Steelers victory in 2004.
VIKINGS — RB ADRIAN PETERSON
The reigning league rushing champ has run for more than 100 yards in 18 of his 36 career games, and he will provide a stern challenge for the Steelers' front seven. Peterson is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 103 yards per game over his two-plus year career. He has scored 29 rushing touchdowns. Peterson again leads the league in rushing with 618 yards. The Vikings aren't afraid to continue to hand Peterson the ball and take the pressure off quarterback Brett Favre. Peterson is averages 20 carries per game. Only Jim Brown's 104.3 yards per game ranks higher than Peterson's 103.5.
ADVANTAGE: STEELERS RUN DEFENSE
The Steelers don't allow opposing running backs to gain 100 yards. They usually don't allow running backs even to get close. Cincinnati's Cedric Benson came the closest this year by gaining 76 yards in a Week 3 game. There was concern that the run defense would struggle with the loss of defensive end Aaron Smith to a shoulder injury, but it gave up only 91 last week to the Browns. Veterans Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason filled in admirably for Smith, and Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel played well along the defensive line to make up for Smith's loss.