CLEVELAND — The Steelers defense took the fight to a Browns’ rushing attack that was statistically one of the NFL’s best coming into the game Sunday. Averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 170.4 yards per game, the Browns led the NFL in both categories. However, the Steelers only allowed 96 yards on 23 carries for a mere 4.2 yards per carry. It proved to be the difference in the game as the Browns could never get a competent passing game going for more than a few plays at a time.
After a rough performance in their previous game against Seattle against the run, just how did Steelers do it?
On this outside zone run, for example, the Steelers do a great job of playing pursuit both in the gap and to the boundary. First, Cam Heyward is just superman out there and holds up any movement that Joel Bitonio tried to make. Bitonio is a real quality player too, so to say the least, this is extremely impressive from Heyward. Derrek Tuszka holds a strong edge to allow no cutback lane behind Heyward. More importantly, Terrell Edmunds does a great job to fill on the edge to allow the alley to clear for the second level defenders or someone playing over like Heyward. This was a real team defensive effort, and it was not the only play. Watt echoed that exact sentiment.
“I think it was scheme and I think it was execution,” Watt said. “We just had a really good gameplan coming into this game. Guys were able to execute and play really selflessly today.”
Watt also went to note how the group as a collective, not just those up front, really helped the Steelers spring their rushing defense forward against a great offensive line in Cleveland.
“As players, we did a really great job of mentally preparing for the run and always being aggressive,” Watt said. “Not biting on play fakes where it could potentially get into gaps and two gaps and all that stuff. For the most part, we played assignment and sound football”