Social media last night was buzzing with Pittsburgh Steelers fans who were elated with their favorite team's performance in prime time with a 37-19 victory over the Carolina Panthers. What seemed amiss, though, was the substantial number of fans declaring the Steelers had gotten back to 'Steelers football,' in reference to their 264 yards rushing through four quarters.
Fans need to realize that, for this Steelers' offense to click on all cylinders, offensive balance should be the objective and not necessarily a run-heavy mentality. When the Steelers rely too much on the run, or the pass, it rarely equates to success. You saw a team in Week 2 in Baltimore rely on the pass too often and, therefore, any rhythm which had been developed within the running game was squandered.
Last night the Steelers were the epitome of balanced. Ben Roethlisberger threw 30 passes, completing 22, while the team ran the ball 34 times for that absurd, 264-yard statistic. A 30:34 pass-to-run ratio is about as balanced as you can get in today's NFL.
The Steelers' ability to run the ball gives the offensive line the opportunity to fire off the line and attack the opposition. Running effectively also stymies the opponent's pass rush and opens up plays downfield with play-action passing.
The unsung heroes of this equation are the offensive line. When the line gives Roethlisberger even an extra second of time, he's able to make plays from inside the pocket as well as extending plays outside of the pocket. Last night, the line was opening gaping holes for running backs and also was limiting the talented Panthers' defense to just one sack for six yards.
When the dust settles, a Steelers win is a Steelers win, but for the offense to be successful week in and week out, the goal should be to maintain balance across the board.