Steelers can't 'sack' the running game

February, 8, 2012
2/08/12
4:15
PM ET
ESPN Insider Peter Keating makes the point that the one team that can draw inspiration from the Giants' success is the Pittsburgh Steelers. He suggests that the Steelers have to let quarterback Ben Roethlisberger air it out.

According to Keating, there is significant evidence that the Steelers' tried and true “balanced” approach on offense is costing them points. The Steelers ran the ball on 47.4 percent of plays in 2010 and 42.8 percent of plays in 2011, while the Giants, Packers and Saints all rushed on fewer than 40 percent of plays this season.

In my opinion, an offense has to play to its strengths and the Steelers' strength is Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. But you have to be smart. You can't abandon the run and throw at the same rate as the Giants, Packers and Saints.

Running the ball isn't reducing Roethlisberger's role. It's actually preserving it. He is getting hit at an alarming rate and it's taking its toll. Last season, he battled foot, ankle and thumb injuries. If Roethlisberger was healthy in the playoffs, the Steelers might have been playing in the Super Bowl instead of losing to Tim Tebow.

Until the Steelers improve their pass protection or Roethlisberger learns to get rid of the ball faster, Pittsburgh can't throw the ball like the Giants without risking Roethlisberger's health.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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