Commentary

Running games could decide winner

Is it possible Arizona has the better rushing attack right now? Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton and Jeremy Green debate who will run the ball better on Super Bowl Sunday.

Originally Published: January 29, 2009
By Jeremy Green and Gary Horton | Scouts Inc.
Is it possible Arizona has a better rushing attack than Pittsburgh right now? Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton and Jeremy Green debate who will run the ball better on Super Bowl Sunday.

Great Debate: Who has the better rushing attack?

Pittsburgh

Gary Horton: The Steelers know they need to run the football in order to eat up the clock, which will keep the Cardinals' offense off the field. Plus, a good run game will set up solid play-action opportunities for QB Ben Roethlisberger, which could lead to a couple of deep passing plays.

However, this is not the power run game we are used to seeing from the Steelers. Part of the problem is that their running backs have been hit by numerous injuries and the other part is that their offensive line has been inconsistent. When Pittsburgh is in the bottom third of the NFL in rushing and almost at the bottom in yards per rush, you know something is wrong. But RB Willie Parker now is healthy and has shown glimpses of his explosive speed in recent weeks. He will face a Cardinals run defense that was ranked last in the NFL during the regular season but has been dramatically better in the playoffs. The Cardinals' defensive front is not as physical as Pittsburgh's offensive line, but they are more athletic and could give the Steelers problems with their one-gap, penetrating schemes. The Cardinals also will play a lot of games with their defensive line, including a lot stunts and twists to confuse the Steelers' blocking schemes. They might even throw in a couple of run blitzes.

If the Steelers try to run inside, they must be aware of DT Darnell Dockett, who is physical, active and tough to block. Parker certainly can run inside, but he is at his best when he presses the hole between the tackles, lures the defender into the box and then bounces outside. This will put considerable pressure on the Cardinals' corners to stay disciplined and maintain good angles to the ball without getting caught inside.


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Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.