That Pittsburgh Steelers Had a terrible time grounding opposing teams last year and finished bottom in the league in both total yards and yards per attempt. In 2022, Pittsburgh’s running defense got off to a rough start, allowing an average of 142.7 yards per game in the first three weeks, and many worried about a repeat of the previous season.
Now, after 10 weeks, the Steelers have made a huge leap to break into the league top ten in sixth place in both categories. defense coordinator Teryl Austin wants to continue this positive trend of suffocating opponents in the running game in 2022 and not allow other teams running backs to dictate the game.
“We went into every game with the idea that we have to stop the run first,” Austin said of Steelers.com’s Dale Lolley Thursday at the UPMC-Rooney Sports Complex. “A lot of people say, what are you talking about, it’s a temporary league? But that’s what it is for me.”
Pittsburgh, with the much welcomed return of 2021 AP Defensive Player of the Year TJ Watt to the lineup in week 11, held up five times Pro Bowl back race Alvin Kamara to his lowest total of the season, just 26 yards on eight attempts. The team had also specially prepared for the unique weapon Taysom Hill and held him to just one yard with three carries.
Austin emphasized the importance of the former Wisconsin Badger is due to the Steelers’ ability to slow down opposing teams’ running play.
“I know everyone’s talking about the sacks, but he’s a great run defender,” said the Sharon, Pennsylvania native. “If you watch him in the running game, you see how he disrupts things at the attack point. It makes it easier for a lot of guys to do their jobs.”
The challenge goes in week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengal will eliminate former Pro Bowl back race Joe Mixon out of the game. In nine career games against Pittsburgh, the Oakley, California native has averaged 5.06 yards per carry, and in his two career wins against the black-and-golds, both in 2021, he rushed for 90 and 165 yards.
Earlier this year, Pittsburgh allowed him to gain 82 yards, but it was 27 tries for an average of just a little over three yards per carry. Austin said stopping the Oklahoma Product will be key, even if the Bengals still lack star receiver Ja’marr Chase due to the other Bengali arms recipients Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and tight end Hayden Hurst.
“Our goal is to stop Joe Mixon because if Joe Mixon passes us, that doesn’t give us much of a chance,” said Austin. “If they get the game going, they can beat Tyler, they can hit tee, Hurst on the field.”
3 times All-Pro and defense captain Cam Heyward highlighted what Pittsburgh must do to quit Mixon when speaking to the media.
“You have to finish it really well,” said the 12-year NFL veteran. “He always tries to really punish the runner-up. He doesn’t shy away from contact and has a great balance.”
Heyward added that the team also needs to know what Joe Burrow can do with his legs. In the Week 1 Matchup, the former Heisman Trophy The winner ran for 48 yards six times.
That State of Ohio Product said it will be crucial for the Steelers not only to influence him in the passing game but also to ensure they close all the holes that would make 2020 possible National Champion in College Football break out of the bag and hurt her on the ground.
So, Steeler Nation, do you agree with Austin that if Pittsburgh can’t stop Mixon, they don’t stand a chance? Have you noticed an improvement in stopping the run this year?