November 4, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Isaac Redman (33) is tackled by New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) during the fourth quarter of an NFL game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE
The Steelers win over the Giants wasn’t spectacular or a runaway, but it is significant. Isacc Redman had 26 carries, ran for 147 yards, and got into the end zone for the winning touchdown. His statistics are great, but Redman’s determination to push for another yard while multiple defensive linemen are trying to push him back really stands out.
The Steelers running game has not been noteworthy until the last two or three games. After the Steelers’ win over Washington last week, Neil Coolong said that Dwyer’s style evoked memories of Jerome Bettis. I’ve missed watching “The Bus” play and thought the comment was an interesting comparison. This is the first time since Bettis retired that I think the comparison has been accurately applied to a Steeler’s player. Many times Redman would be swallowed up in a crush of bodies and I would be trying to follow his feet. One time as he pushed his way forward I thought: Bettis, this is also like Bettis. Sometimes the running game is about inches, maintaining forward progress and momentum. That was Sunday’s game.
July 26, 2012: Latrobe, PA, USA: Pittsburgh Steelers running back coach Kirby Wilson during training camp at St. Vincent College. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Pugliese-US PRESSWIRE
At one point I saw a shot of Rashard Mendenhall talking with Kirby Wilson, the Steeler’s running backs coach. Now, that’s some inspiration. Kirby Wilson’s resume is impressive; maybe he should be nicknamed the “running-back-whisperer.” Wilson has had success with other teams such as the Arizona Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s been with the Steelers for five years and now oversees the team’s serious commitment to the running game. Wilson must be gratified to watch these running backs succeed even as they all deal with injury. At the same time, the running backs have to be inspired by their coach, who has battled back from devastating injury. On Jan 6th 2012, Wilson was seriously burned when his home caught on fire suffering second and third degree burns over half his body. Wilson’s determination to return (he was back for the 2012 draft) is inspirational by itself. I’m glad he’s still on the Steeler’s staff to keep “whispering” to the running backs.
The game wasn’t perfect and there are plenty of things that you could point to and I’m sure the coaches will do just that this week. The first half officiating mistakes could have been a momentum shift, but the refs were better in the second half and the Steelers were refocused. Redman just kept pounding away every time he got the ball. Roethlisberger complimented Redman during his on-the-field interview following the game: “I can’t give him enough credit.” Redman deserves a lot of credit for Sunday’s win. His play extended the Steelers time of possession and kept Eli Manning off the field. At the beginning of the season, I questioned if the Steelers were shorting the offensive line for unnecessary depth at running back. I take it back. The formula is working and I hope that further inevitable injuries do not hinder the energized running game.
Two other notes from the game: I hated to see Chris Rainey get injured – several of his punt returns in Sunday’s game belong on the highlight reel. I hope part of his downtime was having the wind knocked out of him. I’m glad Roethlisberger gave his offensive line credit saying “The line stepped up tonight.” The o-line never gets the credit they deserve.
The Steelers are 5-3 and they face the Kansas City Chiefs next – Todd Hayley’s former team. The Steelers need to stay focused and not judge KC by their record. They need to play Steelers’ football.
Statistics from www.steelers.com
Information on Kirby Wilson from www.steelers.com and an ESPN.com interview.
Neil Coolong writes for SB Nation.