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Pittsburgh Steelers

Stadium: Heinz Field | Coach: Mike Tomlin
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense5th119.5 (10th)286.9 (5th)
Defense13th102.2 (10th)241.6 (16th)

Steelers report: Inside slant

The Sports Xchange
 
Inside slant · Notes, quotes · Strategy and personnel
 

Pittsburgh continues not to strike the balance on offense it professes, and some believe it has cost them some in their passing game as well.

The Steelers' ratio is almost 60-40 pass-run after they ran only 18 times in an 18-12 loss to Cincinnati last Sunday. As a result, their play-action passing has been hurt and their big pass plays have plummeted.

"It's just the way things have been going," wide receiver Santonio Holmes said. "If we maybe run the ball a little more in the last game those big plays open up for us."

Of the Steelers' seven pass plays of 40 yards or more, none have come in the past two games. They tried several against Cincinnati but the only positive yardage they got out of it was one pass interference penalty.

"Minnesota started it," wide receiver Hines Ward said of their Oct. 25 game. "They're a cover 2 team and really don't give up a lot of big plays." Others have followed with that kind of defense, Ward claimed.

Coach Mike Tomlin said the deep passes that Ben Roethlisberger underthrew against the Bengals were not the result of pressure up the middle or anything Cincinnati did to prevent them.

"No, I just think they were misconnects," Tomlin said. "That happens from time to time. I'm sure that Ben will bounce back, as will we."

Roethlisberger had his lowest passer rating of the season, 51.5, against the Bengals.

Kansas City has the NFL's 27th-ranked run defense and the Steelers believe they can get their 17th-ranked run offense finally untracked Sunday.

"That's what our big emphasis is this week, to get some run plays in there," guard Chris Kemoeatu said.

The Steelers ranked only 23rd running the ball last season, their second-lowest ranking since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. They had been doing better this season behind Rashard Mendenhall, but took a big step backward against Cincinnati, particularly in their commitment to the run.

"We definitely have to get better, but for whatever reason it just didn't happen," Ward said. "We're going to stay the course and not hit the panic button. There's still a lot of football left."

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has come under heavy criticism from fans as he birthed the Steelers through a new offensive philosophy, basically from a run-dominated team to one that passes more often behind Roethlisberger.

Pittsburgh has a long history of running the ball. Despite Arians directing an offense to a Super Bowl victory, he is perhaps the least popular coach in town. Yet Roethlisberger loves him and it's doubtful Tomlin will make any change there in the offseason.

The Steelers' offense has entered a new world and like it or not, it's one where they will pass more often than run.

SERIES HISTORY
26th regular-season meeting. Steelers lead series 17-8. They are 9-4 in Kansas City, not counting their loss there in their only playoff game between the teams. Pittsburgh beat the Chiefs 45-7 in their most recent game at Heinz Field in 2006. This will be the ninth time in their past 10 meetings that these teams will play in Kansas City.

Copyright (C) 2009 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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