Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/19/12

Pittsburgh's offense has been getting away without production on the ground, and they don't want to continue in that vein.

The Steelers have the 30th-ranked run game, and they have averaged just 2.6 yards per carry. This after they let coordinator Bruce Arians go, in part because they did not like his philosophy when it came to the ground game. However, Arians oversaw a backfield that produced 4.4 yards per carry last season.

Rashard Mendenhall is not likely to return from his January ACL surgery until after their bye week, which comes after they play Sunday in Oakland. The two backs that have been their primary ball-carriers in his absence have not gotten the job done. Jonathan Dwyer leads the Steelers with 71 yards and a 3.4-yard average. Isaac Redman has 45 yards and a 2.0 average. They have almost evenly split 44 carries between them.

"We haven't run the ball as well as we have liked," head coach Mike Tomlin said. "I'm not interested in assigning blame in that regard. I will take responsibility for it. The reality is we've got room for growth."

The ground game perked up at the right time against the New York Jets last Sunday. During a fourth-quarter, 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that put the game away, the backs ran seven times for 30 yards. The final two were for 7-yards by Dwyer and a 2-yard TD by Isaac Redman.

Impressive, right?

"That's not what I'm looking for," Tomlin stated. "I'm actually looking for better than that."

He got better than that from Roethlisberger and the passing game, particularly on third downs, which is the main reason the Steelers have been able to string together five long scoring drives in their first two games.

He leads the NFL in third-down passing efficiency with a 146.8 passer rating. He has completed 19 of 25 passes for 251 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on third downs in two games. Among them was his 37-yard scoring pass to Mike Wallace on third-and-16 Sunday.

That third down success, though, can be a Catch 22. They can't have so many third down plays; once in awhile, they must make first downs earlier.

"We've been able to do that on third downs and make things happen, whether it's the tight ends, running backs, receivers, or the line giving me time,'' Roethlisberger said. "I don't know. I know we don't want to do it all year, I'll tell you that much."

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