Establish the run. Establish the run. Establish the run.
If it sounds repetitive, it certainly was last week as that is what everyone on offense was talking about.
Get the running game going, and everything else opens up.
That is what the offense went into the Falcons game focused on doing, and that is exactly what they did.
“We caught a good vibe on what was being called,” said Ramon Foster. “We executed up front and the calls just coming in as far as the run. When you have that going and you have the confidence of the offensive coordinator and your offensive line coach, it’s good to continue to keep it going.
“You have to be adamant about it. You stay consistent with it and it will crack and it did this weekend.
“It has to be a mindset. It’s going to start getting cold. Certain teams want to hold on to the ball. Also it complements your defense where you can give them a breather, they come out fresh. You saw how they played this week when they had an opportunity to get some rest. We kept them off the field. It was key for us to stay on. It’s getting to the point of the season where we have to be a team that holds onto the ball and runs it consistently.”
It was a fast start, jumping out to a 13-0 lead, that allowed the Steelers to continue to run the ball. Last week they had to abandon the run when they fell behind early. This week, a completely different story. They ran the ball from the get-go, with 39 of James Conner’s 110 yards rushing coming on the opening drive that culminated in his one-yard touchdown run.
“It feels great. All of the guys bought in,” said Marcus Gilbert. “Great team effort, great team win. We fought hard. After the first half we felt pretty good but we wanted to close it out and make a statement in the second half because we haven’t done so the past couple games. We took advantage of it. Run the ball, play great defense and keep Ben (Roethlisberger) upright. I think all of Steelers Nation was pleased with our performance. Now what we have to do is go out there and stack them. That is what championship teams do.”
It was Conner’s best outing since the season-opener when he rattled off 135 yards against the Browns, and something that took away the bad taste from last week’s performance when the running game was shut down playing from behind.
“I don’t think he liked the performance he had the week before,” said Gilbert. “We didn’t either. I think he came out with a chip on his shoulder and just ran his behind off. Kudos to him. I am proud of him. He keeps getting better and better each week.
“He is staying focused and working on his craft. The way he handles himself, even before he was drafted, he carried himself as a professional. He earned a lot of respect from guys around here. We love him. We love his presence. We love him as a player. We hope he keeps building and gets the opportunity to showcase his talents. He is a hell of a talent. He does it all in the run game, pass game, blocking. He really is an improved player.”
Do your job: A week ago Cameron Heyward also made a point of focus for the defense about the importance of doing your job, your 1/11th, and just focusing on that.
On Sunday, the results of everyone doing their job showed.
“I think so for the most part,” said Heyward of guys doing their job. “There are plays to be made, but the only way to do it is do your job. I thought we were in the right position to do that. It’s about all being in the right spot. When you are in the right spot, you are doing your job. T.J. (Watt) got some sacks, he was doing his job. When the run doesn’t get in the inside and doesn’t run up field, it means the defensive line is doing their job for the most part and inside linebackers. To hold their wide receiving corps to what we did, it means the safeties and corners are doing a heck of a job.”
Heyward said plain and simple Sunday’s performance was a reflection of a good week of work by everyone, something they have to continue.
“The level of detail was the best it’s been this year,” said Heyward. “We just have to keep doing that. Even with Vince (Williams) down, we had so many guys communicating, so many guys on the same page. There are still things we can improve on. We are still a work in progress. We can be more successful against the run. There are things we can improve on. We have to stay humble and hungry for this.”
Out of this world: Speaking of Watt, he had his second three sack game of the season, the first coming against the Browns in the season opener.
“He does a great job,” said Stephon Tuitt. “He has the one-on-one with the tackle all day. Our job was to take the guards away and let our athletic defensive ends do their thing. T.J. had an outstanding game. He was fun to watch.”
What is fun for Tuitt to watch from Watt, is his celebrations after those sacks.
“I don’t know what world he goes to after he makes a play,” said Tuitt. “I always wait until he comes back to our world. He does a great job and a lot of excitement when he makes plays.”