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Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Basic approach suits Steelers' defense

By Scott Brown

Steel City wake-up: morning links

Dick LeBeau talked about the Steelers simplifying things on defense prior to their 23-10 win over the Bills, and that approach held Buffalo’s formidable running game in check.

The Steelers allowed just 95 yards rushing in a win that they desperately needed, and they contained C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson by staying in their base defense more than they had done since inside linebacker Larry Foote went down in the opener with a season-ending injury.

Young players such as nose tackle Steve McLendon and Vince Williams, Foote’s replacement, were stout against the run while defensive end Cameron Heyward recorded a sack for the second game in a row.

Jarvis Jones joined Heyward in the sack column, and his takedown of Bills quarterback EJ Manuel is not one he will soon forget. It was Jones’ first NFL sack, and it at least puts to rest questions of when he is going to break through in that department.

The Steelers rushed for 136 yards in the win, but they are still without a 100-yard rusher in a game in more than a year. They did stay patient with the run against Buffalo, something they haven’t done often this season in part because of their tendency of falling behind early in games.

The Steelers are still throwing considerably more than they are running it and that punctures one of the myths about how quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been used since Todd Haley replaced Bruce Arians as the offensive coordinator.

Running the ball Sunday against the Lions won’t be easy as Detroit has a pair of premier tackles in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. What won’t make the task of blocking them any easier is yet another injury sustained by an offensive lineman.

Left guard Ramon Foster reportedly sustained a high-ankle sprain against the Bills, and he is unlikely to play Sunday.

Detroit will bring plenty of momentum with it to Heinz Field. The Lions are 6-3 and sit atop the rugged NFC North after beating the Bears last Sunday.