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In the Film Room with Najee Harris: Breaking Down His Two Long Runs vs. Browns

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PITTSBURGH — Najee Harris ran like a man possessed on Monday night. With 188 yards on the ground and 181 of those after contact, Harris quite literally dragged the Browns to his career-best performance. However, a new wrinkle that was not previously seen in Harris’ game was seen in the game. Harris popped off two explosive runs, one of those being the touchdown, and the other being a run capped off by a nasty stiff arm.

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The way this run ends up breaking, it looks like a well-drawn-up counter play. That is until noticing there is no puller. The Steelers actively did a great job of blocking inside zone on Monday and this play is no different. John Leglue and Zach Gentry both throw key blocks to clear that left side of the line down. The Steelers effectively wash down the line to where Harris simply has a one-on-one opportunity in the alley, which is one he will win every time. That down block by Gentry really clears this out, though. His growth as a true second tight end has been delightful to watch. Of course, Harris throws a nasty stiff-arm to cap this run off. However, the Steelers got a two-high look and punished a lighter box from Cleveland, something they did all night. Harris said much of the same in this play.

“It was all inside zone,” Harris said. “On the first one, the stiff arm, Leglue did a good job of beating his man. Then, I was one-on-one with the linebacker. Anytime I get in a one-on-one position, that is what we are trying to do as a team. Linebacker, safety, corner, it doesn’t matter. I was in a one-on-one position and it sprung me on that one.”

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Yet again, this is another inside zone play, but specifically, this is a split zone. Derek Watt comes on the drive block to kick out the edge defender and help this one. With the help of Chase Claypool to filter down the edge, the Steelers did a nice job of blocking on the edge here. However, this run is largely made by Harris. He takes an extra lateral step to get that linebacker to commit to the trash so he can not scrape over the top. Then, from there, it is just breaking tackles and beating guys to the pylon. He does it all. However, that subtle jab he took to his left is exactly what filtered the linebackers down and away from where he would eventually cut. Harris largely made this play occur on his own.

“On the last one, it was inside zone, too,” Harris said. “Somebody came in free, so that made me go right. I tried to press as much as I could so the defense could go one way. I pressed as much as I could, but someone came in free so I had to go back. I was one-on-one with the safety. Every time I’m one-on-one with the safety, I have to win that. I did, and I knew there was green grass ahead.”

 

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