Steelers run game broke out of slump in Week 7 of 2012 as well

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers ran the ball better against Baltimore in Week 7 than it had all season. It was the same way in 2012, too. While still vastly different, it's hard to ignore one common element both of those games had.

There's a massive amount of difference between the 2012 Steelers and the 2013 version. But the similarities between its Week 7 last season and this season are remarkable.

Wins over divisional opponents in Week 7, biggest rushing performance of the season to date, for all intents and purposes, a must-win game.

And Marcus Gilbert played a combined seven snaps in both of these games.

Granted, center Maurkice Pouncey missed both games as well, but it further strengthens the idea the Steelers' offensive line has come to be known as something more of a change-on-the-fly unit, with its best combination usually not being the one that starts the season.

This isn't to suggest Gilbert has been the problem with the running game, but what is known is the Steelers ran the ball well, early and often against one of the better run defenses in the league. They did it in Week 7 last year as well, and it was the first in a streak of three games in which the Steelers were a dominant run unit.

Gilbert missed all of those games. He also missed the ones after it, when the run game was largely non-existent. Ruling out the idea Gilbert is the cause of any and all problems, it goes to show the fact the Steelers are capable of running the football, and good things happen if they continue to try to establish it.

The Steelers' next opponent, the Oakland Raiders, is not an extraordinary team in pretty much any standard definition. They do have the advantage of whatever bizarre curse prevents the Steelers from winning in their stadium, but if current trends continue, the Steelers will mirror their Week 8 performance from last year - a dominant effort against a rookie quarterback leading to a big win.

We'll find out Gilbert's status later this week, but it seems the Steelers offensive line did pretty not-bad without him in there.

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