PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Slowly, but surely, the Steelers got back to “Steeler football” against the Bengals, as, slowly, but surely, their running game has climbed from pro football’s basement to 25th in the league entering Sunday’s game against visiting Washington.
Jonathan Dwyer, in a backup role, ran for a season-best 122 yards on 17 carries in Week 7. The Redskins are decidedly more stubborn against the run, but offensive coordinator Todd Haley doesn’t mind leaning on him again, if necessary, as regulars Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman continue to sit with injuries.
“I think we’re still in sort of a wait-and-see mode as far as who’s going to be available, and who’s not. Because of how we entered the season, it’s served us well, especially in a week like this,” Haley said on the South Side Thursday. “Nobody blinks now. We’ve been doing it for a few months. Whoever’s up is up…guys have stepped up…and we’ve just got to make sure that continues.”
The Steelers have allowed 13 sacks, which puts them around the middle of the road in the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger was able to stay upright long enough to outperform Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton last Sunday night, despite playing behind a banged-up offensive line and backfield.
Perhaps no one, with the obvious exception of Big Ben, wants to see that number trend downward more than Haley.
“That’s something at the top of the priority list. He’s the leader of this team, and we’ve got to take sure he’s protected as much as he can be protected,” he added. “If teams are taking away the deep stuff, he’s done a great job of finding guys that are open, and we’ve got a bunch of guys who can run with it after the catch.
“The quarterback has to make the decisions each and every play, and he’s done a terrific job of that.”
To that point, Haley continues to positively characterize his much-publicized relationship with Roethlisberger as a positive one:
Kickoff between the Steelers (3-3) and Redskins (3-4) is set for 1:00 Sunday, with 93.7 The Fan pregame coverage beginning at 10:00 A.M.