I talked all week about how I thought the Pittsburgh Steelers should have success running the ball up the middle against the Philadelphia Eagles and that is exactly where the running backs had their success Sunday in the 16-14 win at Heinz Field.
The running game of course was sparked by the return of Rashard Mendenhall, who was seeing his first game action since tearing the ACL in his right knee in the season finale last year against the Cleveland Browns.
According to the initial play-by-play report, Mendenhall and fellow running back Isaac Redman ran 11 times right up the middle for 48 yards. 24 runs in total by the running backs went between the tackles totaling 82 yards.
Although there was success between the tackles, Mendenhall added a 17 yard run off of left tackle and a 13 yard run to the right end. Mendenhall also had a 24 yard run up the middle that was called back because of an illegal formation penalty on wide receiver Mike Wallace.
Perhaps the biggest thing to note on Sunday is that only 3 runs by the running backs went for zero yardage and none of the runs by Mendenhall, Redman or rookie Chris Rainey went for negative yardage.
While there is certainly room for improvement moving forward, the play of the offensive line Sunday, outside of the 4 holding calls on left guard Willie Colon, was certainly above the line. The Steelers entered the game with a per rush average of well under 3 and they exited it with a 3.2 yards per carry on the season. Not great, but it is moving in the right direction, or more like in the direction of the middle.