The Steelers are 3-0 this season when holding an opposing team to fewer than 100 yards rushing and 0-6 when the opponent runs for triple digits.
That’s a compelling statistic.
And it applies even when the opponent is coming to town with a receiver named Megatron.
“If we want to have a chance to win we’re going to have to stop them from running,” injured linebacker Larry Foote observed of Sunday’s showdown with Detroit.
That’s far from a given against the 6-3 Lions.
Reggie Bush isn’t regarded among running backs the way Calvin Johnson is in relation to other NFL receivers (better than each and every one of them), but Bush will still arrive at Heinz Field No. 6 in the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 966.
Bush has generated 623 of those yards on the ground.
The Steelers have to stop him before they can begin to contemplate containing Megatron.
With 904 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in nine games it’s pretty much a given Johnson will account for 100 or so more yards through the air and find the end zone again on Sunday. But if the Steelers are forced to commit extra bodies to get Bush and change-of-pace back Joique Bell on the ground Johnson will have an opportunity to post devastating numbers in what surely will become a blowout.
“The difference with the Lions this year is Reggie Bush and what they’ve been able to do on the ground,” Foote said.
Added cornerback Ike Taylor, one of those who will be challenged with trying to keep Megatron from going crazy, “We gotta stop the run first.
“We know what Megatron can do,” Taylor added. “We know what (quarterback Matthew) Stafford can do. But we better not forget about Reggie Bush and Co., because if you do they control the game.”
That sounds almost ridiculous in a game in which Calvin Johnson is playing.
It won’t be easy, either.
But it might well be decisive.