The Dallas Cowboys come to Pittsburgh for a rare visit this Sunday and right now they are the best team in the National Football Conference at 7-1. I already detailed how I think the Steelers need to attack the Dallas offense so this time around I’m looking at what the Steelers can do to score on the Dallas defense.
Cowboys’ Defensive Ranking: Overall-9th, Passing-14th, Rushing-4th
Steelers’ Offensive Ranking: Overall-19th, Passing-20th, Rushing 11th
How the Steelers Attack
If ever there was a week for Ladarius Green to play this would be it. Opposing quarterbacks are completing 89% of their passes to tight ends against the Cowboys’ defense. We know Ben Roethlisberger would love to have Green at his disposal but may have to settle for Jesse James and company. Stay tuned on Green but that stat is something to pay attention to.
Dallas is solid against the run and it starts up the middle with Tyrone Crawford at one of the defensive tackle positions. He is a space-eater who will once again test the interior of the Steelers’ line and that’s a spot that has become troublesome this season. Sean Lee has always been one of the best tacklers in football but his health has been a question mark. Right now he’s playing well and the Steelers must account for him.
Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli relies on his guys up front to produce pressure which allows the back seven to do their thing. Pittsburgh can counter this early by establishing some type of running game and short passing game as well. As good as Ben Roethlisberger is with play-action, Todd Haley has hardly used it. The Steelers trail only one team in terms of fewest play-action passes called. That has to change.
The Cowboys have an athletic secondary led by Byron Jones. Ben Roethlisberger has to do a better job this week of looking off safeties or else he could be looking at more interceptions.
Whether Green plays or not doesn’t change the fact that someone has to step up across from Antonio Brown. Eli Rogers seems to be the most likely candidate after his 100 yards plus receiving effort last week but he has to do it early and often rather than in garbage time. The reemergence of Sammie Coates would be nice as well but his inconsistency (partially due to injury) has been troubling.
The Steelers’ offense has proven it typically puts up bigger numbers at home and they’ll need to on Sunday. The running game with Le’Veon Bell has to be better than last week and Haley has to find ways of getting the ball into Brown’s hands more often. If they can accomplish those things a victory isn’t out of the question.
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