PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – The Steelers defense came within five yards this season of allowing less than 1,000 total rushing yards.
That mark of less than 1,000 yards for the entire 16 game season has only happened twice since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule back in 1978.
Even during one of the most prolific passing seasons the NFL has seen, 100-yard rushers are commonplace – except against Pittsburgh. The Steelers didn’t give up one to an individual all season while allowing a scant 1,004 yards in 16 games.
Only two teams, the Jets and Patriots, ran for more than 100 yards against a Steelers’ defense that permitted 62.8 yards per game.
Many teams try to establish a running game early against Pittsburgh, but fail miserably and abandon the run. The evidence: The Steelers allowed 58 yards rushing or fewer seven times. The 333 attempts were the fewest in any NFL full season – 14-game or 16-game – since 1970.
The Ravens come in Saturday with the only running back to gain more than 100 yards against the Steelers in the last 50 games. In that game in 2009, Ray Rice rushed for 141 yards in a Ravens 23-20 loss.
Rice, who ran for more than 1,200 yards this season, will try and help the Ravens establish the run against Dick LeBeau’s defense. That task won’t be easy as Rice ran for only 52 yards on 17 carries against the Steelers in two games this season. As a team, the Ravens ran for 113 yards during the season series.
“We always stop the run around here,” said 340-pound nose tackle Casey Hampton. “Look at the last 10 years, that’s what we do. It’s nothing new to anyone around here.”
Steelers safety Ryan Clark watched the Ravens game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round and one thing he noticed was the Ravens “used the pass to kind of set up the run.”
“I don’t know what their approach is going to be, but we’re ready for both,” Clark said.