Pittsburgh showed a different mentality in the second half of their week 6 win against the Jets. They chose to run the ball against a Jets defense that had shut them out in the first half. In doing so the Steelers had some success running for 61 yards in the second half which was around what they average per game. Pittsburgh wanted to be physical and impose their will with their young but talented offensive line. They needed to carry over that physicality to their match up against the Baltimore Ravens which promised to be nothing if not physical.
It was clear from the very first play that right guard David DeCastro was looking to impose his will on whoever lined up in front of him for the Ravens.
Bell in this play showed patience and some better vision finding a hole on the backside of the play. It was created by a imposing block by DeCastro. Firing off the line DeCastro got his hands inside the defensive linemen, drove from his hips and pushed the defender back five yards to give Bell a good hole. To say DeCastro won his battle on this play would be an understatement to say the least. It would be wrong to over look the performance of center Fernando Velasco and left guard Ramon Foster on the play. They started out double teaming defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, and then Velasco peeled off to the linebacker who was attempting to fill the hole. While not as dominate a block as DeCastro's, picking up the linebacker gave Bell an opening in the second level of the defense.
What Bell did on the run was subtle but was effective. Instead of running up into the backs of his linemen, Bell skipped to the left, saw the hole DeCastro made and accelerated through it. Most importantly he kept his legs churning through contact and fell forward to increase the amount of yards on the run. That type of play will be overlooked in the stat sheet.
The Steelers used the Wildcat to help their run game as well. This new wrinkle took advantage of the running back Bell's exceptional vision and patients as well as the confusion of the opposing defense. Like any run, however, the blocking up front that determines the success of the play.
Bell starts to the right on the play, not see an opening he executes a skip step and waits for the hole to open. When he sees his he plants his foot and accelerates through the hole. This is a prime example of the old cliche of a one cut and go running back. The most important thing Bell did though was waiting and being patient behind the line of scrimmage. Doing this gave DeCastro enough time to chip Ngata and get onto the linebacker.
The hole was set up by an excellent block by the RT Mike Adams and the ability of David DeCastro to peel off the double team of Haloti Ngata and get on to the middle linebacker. The line opened a very big initial hole and if Miller could have held his block on the LB this play could have gone for more than just seven yards.
Against the Ravens, the offensive line wants to impose their will on the defense. By the third quarter, the running game was having success and all of the Steelers linemen played with a different mentality. They started to flash a little bit of swagger and nasty in their play.
This is DeCastro's best block of the day.
He drives his helmet into the chest of Arthur Jones, knocks him backwards and then sealed him to the outside. He had his way with Jones all game long. Foster too showed some nasty. He went to the Mack LB, made contact drove his hips forward, and kept his feet moving as he drove the LB backwards. Then he finishes the block driving the LB to the ground as he tries to get off the block.The RB Bell does an excellent job of accelerating through the hole and lower his shoulder on the safety. He doesn't go down easily. DeCastro sees Bell being held up an runs up field to push the pile forward for more positive yardage.
In this game the Steelers ran for 141 yards on 29 rushing attempts and 4.9 yards per run. Bell was patient and read the holes incredibly well. Perhaps best of all, Steelers running backs were only tackled for a loss once all night. This game had the type of physical, and nasty run game reminiscent of the Pittsburgh offenses of the past.
The Steelers' first offensive players drafted over the last two years, DeCastro and Bell, should be given some major credit with its revival this season.