INDIANAPOLIS — The Steelers defense knew they had a challenge coming for them in Jonathan Taylor on Monday. So, when the All-Pro running back started to get going in the second quarter, it looked like disaster could be impending for a weary Steelers run defense. Nonetheless, instead, Taylor’s impact was far more minimal on the game than anticipated.
Pittsburgh held the Colts star to 86 yards rushing and a touchdown. While that is a modest statline for most running backs, Taylor’s run of dominance far exceeds the normal running back. Not only that, but after a Thursday night football drubbing from Nick Chubb earlier in the season, Pittsburgh had something to prove in the primetime lights. Even without Robert Spillane, Myles Jack and Devin Bush were able to help the linebackers put up a strong performance.
“We felt we were able to establish what type of a team they were,” Myles Jack said. “It was apparent they would have to establish the run pretty early at home to get their groove going. We had an understanding going in that we had to stop the run. Man, we did the best we could.”
So, what was the key to stopping Taylor? It seemed to be the selling out to stop the run at most times. Missing Spillane did not help in early downs, especially against the run. But the Steelers’ defense rallied together to try and make up for that absence. And what they came away with was a solid performance against one of the best pure runners in the entire NFL.
“Rob is super valuable, man,” Jack said. “It wasn’t easy, but I and Devin were ready to fill in. We have that three-man rotation and we have to be ready if any of us goes down.”
Pittsburgh has plenty of great rushing teams still on their schedule, including a rematch with Chubb and two games against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. The Colts are anything but an elite offense, but it is possible that this can be a barometer for the Steelers taking the next step forward in their maturation process as a defense. As of now, it appears their run defense is more than solid. And they have this performance against Taylor to prove just that.