Despite being down their top two running backs, the Los Angeles Rams were still able to have success running the football against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Royce Freeman had 66 rushing yards on 12 carries and Darnell Henderson had 61 rushing yards on 18 carries. This is better than any Steelers back had in the 24-17 win over the Rams.
Steelers EDGE T.J. Watt acknowledged the continued concerns with stopping the run when he spoke to the media after the game. Watt is a perfectionist and you could see his frustration on the field.
You can hear Watt’s full comments about the problems stopping the run below in his post-game presser below.
T.J. Watt on the win over the Rams. pic.twitter.com/37OZONwjjc
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 22, 2023
There’s no secret as to why the Steelers were giving up chunks of rush yards on Sunday. Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Teryl Austin opted for a modified 4-2-5 base defense for much of the game where the faux defensive ends are outside linebackers Watt and Alex Highsmith. This put the Steelers at a serious size and strength disadvantage at the line of scrimmage.
Pittsburgh felt it appropriate to play Larry Ogunjobi and Montravius Adams on the inside but either the two of them only played 72 and 68 percent of snaps respectively. Defensive end DeMarvin Leal was next with only 34 percent of snaps and he is not a run stuffer by trade.
The rub is, that Pittsburgh had to commit to an extra defensive back because the Rams have some elite weapons in the passing game. An absolute Catch-22 for the Steelers that they can’t get out of as long as the secondary continues to struggle.