The Pittsburgh Steelers received some good news this week leading up to the Week 14 game vs. the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football. First, it was the return of James Conner off the Reserve/COVID-19 List. Conner being back will be an instant upgrade over Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland.
But the big news was on Thursday when Maurkice Pouncey was taken off the same Reserve/COVID-19 List. Pouncey was having a tremendous season before going on the COVID list prior to the Steelers’ Week 12 game vs. the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field. Without Pouncey, the Steelers failed to eclipse 20 points in a game, something they had no problem doing until Pouncey’s time away from the team.
If anyone on the team knows how important Pouncey is to the team, it would be Ben Roethlisberger. Here was his response to being asked about Pouncey, and this was before Pouncey was officially back on the active roster.
“I think J.C. [Hassenauer], first off, has done a great job, great communication. We did have one kind of CQ [Center to Quarterback] snap last game. Luckily, we didn’t lose the ball, but [Maurkice] Pouncey is Pouncey. We’ve been together for a long time.” Roethlisberger said. “He’s been a comfort blanket. He is, my opinion, the best in the business. He is a Hall of Fame center. Any time you’ve got that guy up there not just physically in terms of what he can do and brings to the game but emotionally, mentally, he is that lynchpin up front.
“I always say we go as they go up front, and he’s the main guy up there. They will all feel more comfortable if Pouncey’s back. I will feel more comfortable. He’s our captain for a reason. He’s the best in the business, and I hope we get him back.”
Roethlisberger’s wish has come true, and the Steelers will hope to not just win the game Sunday against red-hot Buffalo, but do it with a sense of balance. The Steelers running game has been abysmal, and the numbers back that up.
Just look at the stats:
Rushing Yards Per Game: 92.6 (28th)
Yards per Rush: 3.7 (T-Last in the League)
Total Yards: 1,111 yards (28th)
I don’t think many fans would say the Steelers need to improve their running game to be the absolute best in the NFL. That would be a pipe dream. However, if the Steelers’ running game could be ranked around middle of the league, that would be the balance the offense needs to be successful in the last quarter of the regular season, and beyond.
Keeping defenses honest is a necessity, and should be paramount on the offense’s to-do list heading into Week 14.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Buffalo Bills in prime time, in Buffalo, this Sunday in Week 14.