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The Steelers' Ground Game
Michael Silver
December 29, 1997
Philosophy: Pound the ball until the opponent succumbs. "It's not something you can turn on or off," coach Bill Cowher says. "With us it's an attitude—a general toughness—and it starts on the first day of training camp." Adds halfback Jerome Bettis (right), "Coach Cowher's philosophy is, in a word, relentlessness. He says, 'We will run the ball and you will stop us, but eventually we'll wear you down."
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December 29, 1997

The Steelers' Ground Game

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Philosophy: Pound the ball until the opponent succumbs. "It's not something you can turn on or off," coach Bill Cowher says. "With us it's an attitude—a general toughness—and it starts on the first day of training camp." Adds halfback Jerome Bettis (right), " Coach Cowher's philosophy is, in a word, relentlessness. He says, 'We will run the ball and you will stop us, but eventually we'll wear you down."

Leading the Way: Pittsburgh has two of the league's best run blockers in fullback Tim Lester and center Dermontti Dawson. The latter is a perennial All-Pro, the former deserves serious consideration. "He's a one-man wrecking crew," Bettis says of Lester. "He just destroys linebackers and safeties. By the end of the game they're doing everything they can to run around him." Dawson's ability to pull like a guard and call blocking assignments affords the Steelers an inordinate amount of flexibility. "Most defenses will use specific fronts to keep you from running certain plays," Bettis says. "But Dermontti can just make a call at the line, and we can run any play against any front."

X Factor: The Steelers have a second rushing threat, and he touches the ball on every play: Kordell Stewart, the NFLs fastest and most explosive quarterback. He's second in the league in percentage of runs that went for a first down (48.9%), trailing only Tennessee Oilers quarterback Steve McNair.

Prime Numbers: Not only did they lead the league in rushing, but the Steelers also ranked first in percentage of runs that went for first downs (26.9%) and second in runs of 10 or more yards (72).

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