Last week’s 2012 regular season debut of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall not only gave Pittsburgh’s offense a much-needed added dimension, but it also gave Steeler Nation hope for the rest of the season.
Mendenhall first was credited for rushing for 81 yards and a touchdown versus the Philadelphia Eagles last week, but the NFL just ruled that Mendy’s 13-yard touchdown was actually a swing pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and not a lateral. Now the fifth-year veteran’s rushing total is 68 yards.
Regardless of the rushing total, Mendenhall without a doubt has reestablished himself as the Steelers’ best rusher in just one game.
In tonight’s game against the Tennessee Titans, head coach Mike Tomlin mentioned that Mendenhall would get the bulk of the carries for Pittsburgh’s offense. This should work in Pittsburgh’s favor, considering that the Titans are ranked 28th in the league in defending the run (144.2 yards per game). In addition, Tennessee has allowed at least 30 points in each of their five games this season.
I predict that Mendenhall will have the Steelers’ first 100-yard rushing performance of the season tonight. Taking into account that both teams are coming into this game with a very short week of practice, and Mendy now has fresh legs, the outcome of the game will all come down to how effective Pittsburgh’s running game is.
In fact, the production of the running game will open up the Steelers’ play-action game, giving Pittsburgh a chance to exploit Tennessee’s 25th ranked pass defense.
Mendenhall will be the key to success for the Steelers tonight and their first road win of the 2012 season.
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