Running game is best defense against Packers

Written By Zach Boslett

The Pittsburgh Steelers have long been associated with a physical defense as well as a tough running game.In order for the Steelers to win Super Bowl XLV, both the defense and running game will have to elevate their games even higher than they did in the AFC Championship Game.Against the Jets in the first half, the Steelers dominated the time of possession and jumped to a 24-3 lead by simply not allowing the Jets offense to have the ball. Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 95 of his 121 yards in the first half and the Steelers defense limited the Jets offense to three points through 30 minutes.The Jets’ offense could not get into a rhythm because it had to stand on the sidelines in the cold and watch the Steelers’ ground game carve up the Jets’ usually stingy defense.This strategy and style of play has been the Steelers’ bread and butter for years and should once again give Pittsburgh another Lombardi Trophy.The Green Bay Packers are going to score points. They will be unable to run the ball against the Steelers so they will have to throw the ball all over the field. Green Bay’s quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, is more than capable of winning the Super Bowl all by himself if the Steelers’ defensive secondary is not up to the task.Therefore, the Steelers’ best defense against Rodgers should be to keep him off the field.That is easier said than done against the Packers’ defense, but their 24th ranked rush defense shows that they can be susceptible to the running game. The Chicago Bears managed to run the ball well against the Packers in the NFC Championship, but they were unable to capitalize on their ground game success due to their poor quarterback play.One factor working against the Steelers dominating the time of possession is their banged up offensive line. Pro Bowl Center Maurkice Pouncey is finally off of crutches according to multiple reports out of Texas but I am still skeptical that he will return for the Super Bowl considering his injury is often a four to six week injury, not a 14-day injury.Steelers’ left Tackle Jonathon Scott has also been banged up since the game against the Jets, but he is expected to play.Likewise, forcing Scott and Flozell Adams to contend with the Packers pass rush and, more importantly, Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Clay Matthews, is a recipe for disaster because it was Scott’s job to block Terrell Suggs, who ended up with three sacks and a forced fumble.Clay Matthews is better than Suggs and could cause even more of a problem for Ben Roethlisberger.The Steelers will only be successful on Sunday if they can run the ball to control the clock and keep Rodgers and the Packers deadly offense on the sidelines. Anything else could prove disastrous.