The Buccaneers host the Steelers and their fourth-ranked run defense Sunday afternoon, which makes the key to the game obvious.
Run the ball. Seems easy enough.
The Buccaneers have rushed for 214 yards in the first two games, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry with no touchdowns. Cadillac Williams leads the team with 126 rushing yards on 49 attempts.
Meanwhile, the Steelers have allowed just 104 yards on the ground in their first two games, only 20 points and just one touchdown, a two-yard pass in the closing minute of their 19-11 win against the Titans last Sunday. In that game, the Steelers held electrifying running back Chris Johnson to just 34 rushing yards and kept him out of the end zone.
That ended Johnson’s 12-game streak of 100-yard rushing performances and equaled his second-lowest rushing output in his three-year career.
The longest run the Steelers have allowed this season is 11 yards.
If the Buccaneers want to start 3-0 for the first time since 2005, they’ll have to run the ball and use their 11th-ranked passing defense to shut down the Steelers’ quarterback, whether it’s Charlie Batch or former Buccaneer Byron Leftwich. The Buccaneers are tied for first in the NFL with four interceptions and are third in turnover margin at plus-four.
The Buccaneers host the Steelers Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. EDT.