The Steelers take pride in stopping the run. It's what the defense was built for, has been part of their history since the 1970s. They have historically be amongst the leaders on defense against the run, ranked in the top 10 in defense in 31 of the last 44 years, since the NFL merger, and that's something they hang their hats on.
But after the first two games of the season, that proud run defense has faced some challenges. They allowed 183 yards on the ground against the Browns, and 157 against the Ravens.
"It is tough, especially any time your success comes from shutting down the run, and that is why we have been successful here," said defensive end Brett Keisel. "Everyone just needs to do a better job of preparing, preparing for the opponent, and that includes myself. We all just need to get back to the drawing board, prepare, work together as one and correct these mistakes.
"We have to continue to practice hard, work on the little things to be gap sound. That is the reason a defense is a good defense, they all understand their role and they are all accountable. When the ball is being snapped, they're where they are supposed to be. If one guy slips up, if one guy isn't there, these teams know how to exploit that and that has happened to us. We have to all be accountable, know where we need to be and be there."
There are a lot of new faces on the defense this year, including an infusion of young players, but Keisel said that can't be used as an excuse and now is the time to move in the right direction.
"It's going to take some time unfortunately, but we don't have time," said Keisel. "We don't have time for this to be a natural progression. It needs to happen now, it needed to happen yesterday. When we come in to work you have to be focused on your job and make sure when you are out there practicing you are executing your job."
Top Ten Photographs of Brett Keisel.
Keisel said working on the fundamentals, things as simple as getting two hands on a player to make the tackle, can make a difference.
"You have to work on the little things," said Keisel. "It's getting back to the basic fundamentals of football that sometimes as a pro you might get away from. We have to address those things more."
Keisel said he is getting closer to where he wants to be after signing back with the team on Aug. 20. He has seen plenty of playing time in the first two games of the season, and is getting back to his normal dominating self.
"This old model '78 is leaking oil a little bit, but it's out there having fun," said Keisel. "I enjoy this. I enjoy still being able to play, compete and feel relatively good.
"I was better this week than last week. I just want to continue to get better, work on the things I am struggling on. I feel pretty good. I still need to do better and play better. I look forward to working on that and doing it."