Steelers Need Run Right Success Versus Ravens To Win

The Steelers have not had great overall success as a whole running the ball on the Baltimore Ravens this year, but have managed to split the 2 games against them this season. In the two games this season, the Steelers have averaged just 2.79 yards per carry this season on 48 carries by a running back, as shown in the table below. All of the limited success the Steelers have had on the ground against the Ravens has come by running to the right.

Steelers Rush Offense Against Ravens In 2010

Total vs RavensTOTALLeft EndLeft TackleLeft GuardMiddleRight GuardRight TackleRight End
ATT486479589
YDS134631321143839
YPA2.7910.751.862.332.84.754.33
YAC61758115178
LG 124361081112
TD 20001001

Using the stats of both Rashard Mendenhall games this season against the Ravens below, Mendenhall has 20 carries for 79 yards on all carries right of middle for nearly a 4 yard a carry average. Throw in the 2 carries by Isaac Redman to that side and you have a very healthy 4.1 yards per carry. The remaining 26 carries up the middle and to the left resulted in just 43 yards for a measly 1.65 yards per carry. The inability to run to the left against the Ravens is a combination of the run blocking on that side of course mixed with the play of Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis.

Steelers Rush Offense Against Ravens In 2010 By Running Back & Game

Mendenhall Game 1TOTALLeft EndLeft TackleLeft GuardMiddleRight GuardRight TackleRight End
ATT254134256
YDS798261442124
YPA3.22223.524.24
YAC347255195
LG 11426102119
TD 20001001
Mendenhall Game 2TOTALLeft EndLeft TackleLeft GuardMiddleRight GuardRight TackleRight End
ATT192244232
YDS45-237710173
YPA2.4-11.51.81.7555.71.5
YAC210333282
LG 80337883
TD 00000000
Redman Game 2TOTALLeft EndLeft TackleLeft GuardMiddleRight GuardRight TackleRight End
ATT40101101
YDS100-2000012
YPA2.50-2000012
YAC60003201
LG 120-2000012
TD 00000000

The Ravens are not impervious to run on however as the chart below shows that they are mostly strongest against the run when teams run left on them. They have been run on with some success to the right guard, right tackle and right end spot as they have given up 3.85 yards per carry or more in each of those directions.

Ravens 2010 Rush Defense

Left EndLeft TackleLeft GuardMiddleRight GuardRight TackleRight End
Plays: 40Plays: 58Plays: 61Plays: 66Plays: 73Plays: 48Plays: 26
Avg Gain: 4.00Avg Gain: 4.34Avg Gain: 3.13Avg Gain: 4.15Avg Gain: 3.85Avg Gain: 4.23Avg Gain: 5.92
NFL Rank: 2NFL Rank: 18NFL Rank: 5NFL Rank: 23NFL Rank: 16NFL Rank: 18NFL Rank: 25

Being able to run right against the Ravens plays into the strength the Steelers have had all season long, not just against the Ravens, but other teams as well. The last chart below shows that from right guard over to right end, the Steelers have averaged 4.41 yards or better a carry running that way and ranked 2nd in the NFL in running at the right tackle spot.

Steelers 2010 Rush Offense

Left EndLeft TackleLeft GuardMiddleRight GuardRight TackleRight End
Plays: 22Plays: 49Plays: 71Plays: 116Plays: 87Plays: 78Plays: 29
Avg Gain: 6.27Avg Gain: 3.41Avg Gain: 3.46Avg Gain: 3.39Avg Gain: 4.41Avg Gain: 5.33Avg Gain: 6.62
NFL Rank: 10NFL Rank: 28NFL Rank: 20NFL Rank: 27NFL Rank: 12NFL Rank: 2NFL Rank: 6

The Ravens will likely try to dare the Steelers to run first as to keep the safeties back to prevent Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders from getting free for a big play over the top. The Steelers will need a strong game from Flozell Adams and Ramon Foster, the right side run anchors, as well as from the tight ends Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth, who are often used in two tight end formations quite a bit. The bye week off will help with any fatigue that the long season may have created and as a whole, the Steelers seem very healthy offensively. Should the Steelers have early success running and not fall behind quickly, it will open up some shots down field as the game wears on. The goal is to get the strong safety up in run support and leave Ed Reed to cover as much ground as possible in the secondary giving help.

The Ravens run defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 14 consecutive playoff games and it would go a long way to getting a Steelers win should Mendenhall gain or come close to that 100 yard measuring stick. Any success the Steelers have running left or up the middle will be a plus, but I would not count on it, they are indeed a right handed offense and I have a feeling that the magic rushing yards needed by Mendenhall to win this game will be 90. If they reach that number, you can bet that most of it was because of the success running to the right.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.