HEADLINE

Steelers plotting counterpunch to Packers’ stout run D

Field Level Media

November 09, 2023 at 8:33 am.

The Pittsburgh Steelers intend to focus on scoring more points than their opponent — not necessarily gaining more yards — when they host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon.

Pittsburgh (5-3) has been outgained, based on total yards, in every game this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Steelers are the 34th team in NFL history to be outgained in each of their first eight games, and they are the first team in that group to boast a winning record.

Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett said he and his teammates believe they always can find a way.

“We all have faith in each other,” Pickett said. “We’ve got trust, and we all care for one another. There’s no one in there that has any doubt when it comes down to those fourth quarters that we’re going to be able to put a drive together and go down there and score.

“Right now, we’re just searching for that consistency all game.”

The Steelers’ next test comes against Green Bay (3-5), which is looking to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

The Packers are coming off a 20-3 win at home against the Los Angeles Rams. Quarterback Jordan Love completed a career-high 76.9 percent of his passes (20 of 26) and the defense allowed no touchdowns for the first time this season.

Green Bay’s run defense rates as particularly impressive as of late. The Packers have held opponents to only 2.3 yards per carry (57 rushes for 130 yards) in their last two games.

A statistic sure to snag the attention of the Steelers and their top running back, Najee Harris.

“That just goes to all the work we put in during the week,” Packers rookie defensive lineman Colby Wooden said. “We truly are invested in this. That’s the result we get when everybody is playing faster, everybody is trusting each other and playing physical. That’s the outcome we get — we win.”

Similarly, Pittsburgh has relied on its defense throughout much of the season. The Steelers are coming off a 20-16 win at home against the Tennessee Titans, which marked the fourth game in a row in which they have held opponents to 20 points or fewer.

T.J. Watt is a big reason why the Steelers’ defense has been so stout. Watt has 87 sacks in his first 95 games, and he can surpass his older brother J.J. Watt for the second-most sacks by a player in his first 100 games on Sunday.

J.J. Watt had 87 1/2 sacks in his first 100 contests. Reggie White is the all-time leader with 105 sacks in his first 100 games.

Both teams are dealing with some injured players.

The Packers started their practice week without cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder), guard Jon Runyan (neck), linebacker Quay Walker (groin) and tackle Yosh Nijman (back).

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh did not have safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (hamstring) or defensive tackle Montravius Adams Sr. (ankle) available for practice midway through the week. Fitzpatrick didn’t last week against Tennessee.

Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur said he expected a hard-fought battle ahead.

“This is a very competitive football team,” LaFleur said. “They pride themselves on physicality, and it shows up all over the tape.”