Najee Harris Says Steelers Focused On Time Of Possession Coming Off Bye: ‘Helps Us Have More Explosive Plays’
Since the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 9 bye, they’ve run for over 100 yards in all three games. The Steelers totaled 217 yards in Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints, 102 yards in Week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals and 172 yards in Week 12 against the Indianapolis Colts, even without their top two running backs for the entire second half. Running back Najee Harris talked about Pittsburgh’s improving run game and how controlling the ball through the run was a focus coming out of the bye.
“Coming into the bye week, one thing we can talk about is control the ball, help our defense out a lot,” Harris said via a video posted to the team’s website. “So for us to control the ball, control the clock, keep pounding and pounding and wearing down the defense, it puts us in a good position and helps us have more explosive plays,” he added.
Since the bye week, Pittsburgh has controlled the ball for over 20 minutes more than their opponents. As far as creating more explosive plays, the Steelers had four explosive runs against the Saints (which is four more than they had all season) and have 12 total explosive plays since their bye. Given that they have 33 all season, that means that 36% of all the Steelers’ explosive plays have come within a three-week span.
Six of them came against the Saints, including the four runs, and then the Steelers had five explosives through the air against the Bengals. If the Steelers plan on using the run to set up the pass, you’d like to see the explosive plays count continue to increase.
They only had one explosive against the Colts on Monday on a 35-yard completion from Kenny Pickett to George Pickens, but while the explosive plays weren’t there, Pittsburgh consistently picked up chunk yardage both through the air and on the ground in what was probably Kenny Pickett’s best effort of the season. They also controlled the ball for almost 10 minutes more than the Colts, which speaks to what Harris said about making a concerted effort to control the clock. Pittsburgh was able to do so and was able to come out with a narrow win on the road.
Going forward, if Pittsburgh continues to run the ball successfully, take the pressure of their defense, and pressure off Pickett, I think this team could go on a little bit of a run to end the season. There’s a slim-to-none chance to make the playoffs, but given their upcoming schedule, the possibility of stacking some wins in the latter part of the season is definitely possible. With Harris likely returning to action on Sunday, we’ll see if the run game can continue to impress.