Just another day at the office for Willie Parker against the Bengals: 22 carries for 126 yards and 1 TD. As has been the case for much of the year, Parker picked up a significant portion of his yardage in big chunks. No monster runs, but several 25+ yard carries that led to points for the Steelers.
For all the grumbling about FWP's limitations as a short-yardage and goal-line back, Parker did a decent job running between the tackles. He did have 6 or 7 running plays that went for 3 yards or fewer, but when you have a QB who completes 6 of 8 passes on third down, it's not the end of the world. I was happy to see Parker get a goal-line opportunity yesterday.
Several facts about our running game from yesterday:
* FWP got 0 carries on third down. Najeh Davenport got two carries on third down in garbage time, but I was surprised to see we didn't run the ball once with Parker on 3rd down.
* The reason I'm so surprised is we only faced one 3rd down longer than 7 yards! That's impressive stuff. I'm fine with Ben throwing the ball on 3rd and 6, but I would imagine Parker might do some damage if given the opportunity to run when the defense is expecting a pass.
* Parker ran the ball 22 times yesterday. Two of those went up the middle. 7 went to the right side. And 13 were run to the left side. Clearly the left side of the line is stronger than the right - Faneca and M. Smith's side - but I think we're going to have to do a fantastic job mixing things up in the running game next week vs. Baltimore. The Ravens are too good against the run to just try to simply pound it on the left side. They've seen the tape and know what we like to do. If we're going to run the ball well and control the clock, which is something we've struggled mightily at accomplishing against Baltimore in recent memory, we're going to have to give them some looks they haven't seen before. We're just not physically imposing enough along the line to pound the rock without some misdirection or well-designed draws. Just something to think about.
A fine day for Parker overall. Good enough in fact, to put him in 2nd place in rushing yards behind rookie Adrian Peterson.
Keep it up Mr. Parker. We need your best game yet next week! Go Steelers!