Providing a spark: The Steelers got a real taste of 'Benny Snell Football' when the rookie running back rushed for 98 yards on 21 carries in the Steelers 16-10 win over the Bengals last week. And Snell did it in his first game back from a knee injury that had him sidelined for three games.
"Oh man, you talk about the spark," said offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. "Now we can talk real spark. His spark and just his run demeanor. The idea of coming back from injury and not blinking from the first time he stepped on the practice field through the game. He ran with strength. He ran with power."
Fichtner admits the 21 carries was a lot for Snell coming off the injury but was happy with the way it all played out.
"He handled it well, and that gives you comfort," said Fichtner. "I think in the end it probably just worked out that way, but we were going to try and share as many reps as possible because you didn't want to overload him. I think the situation kind of called and he kept begging. When he's begging you feel good. It's kind of like that wideout, that quarterback going, 'Hey, I got it today. Let's go. I feel good.' So there's a confidence level there that he shared with us."
Making strides: The Steelers have made huge strides in the takeaway department, forcing 28 takeaways so far this season, ranking second overall in the NFL. The 28 takeaways in the first 11 games of the season are the most the team has had since 1997, when they forced 30 in the first 11 games.
The credit has rightfully been given to the players for the flurry of takeaways, but defensive coordinator Keith Butler said credit also goes to new senior defensive assistant/secondary coach Teryl Austin.
"I think that he's done a good job," said Butler. "As secondary coach, he's done a great job with our secondary. Our secondary – we've got some pretty darn good players – and I'll say this, I've never seen a good coach without good players. We got some good players at the first of the year. With Minkah (Fitzpatrick), I think that was a real big get for us. It took him a couple of weeks to get used to the defense that we're playing and they're all starting to play together a little better together. The biggest thing for us is getting the communication right and being on the same page, and if they do that than we'll end up being pretty good. Teryl has done a good job of getting them there."