Steelers' o-line improving at right time

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers' offensive line, which has been much-maligned all season, is playing its best football during the playoffs.

The most noticeable difference is Pittsburgh's commitment to the running game and it's part of the reason the Steelers are facing the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. The team has amassed 217 rushing yards in two postseason wins against the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens.

A majority of those yards came against San Diego. But despite being held in check last week by Baltimore, gaining just 52 rushing yards, Pittsburgh had enough attempts (28) to keep the Ravens off balanced.

"We have a healthy running back situation where we needed to establish it and stay with it," Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "Baltimore is always tough. It's a thing that when you are going to play them, run efficiently. You aren't going to get six, seven and eights. You have to settle for twos and threes. But you are going to play the game of third-and-five and slow down that pass rush.

"I was very pleased with numerous times we were able to do it because we had the lead. That had something to do with it and it also kept our quarterback clean."

The pass protection is inconsistent. The Steelers allowed one sack against San Diego and four against Baltimore, although not everything can be pinned on the offensive line. Roethlisberger has a penchant for holding onto the football too long and playing a backyard style of football at times in an effort to make big plays.

Arizona's defense also is a unit which has recently improved and should present another challenge for Pittsburgh. According to Keith Kidd of Scouts Inc., the Cardinals front seven has the advantage in this matchup.

"The way Arizona's defense has played in the postseason, I think the Steelers are going to have a difficult time,” Kidd said. "Arizona is very fast. They play very good sideline to sideline, and Pittsburgh is going to have to hit them between the tackles downhill and smash them a little bit."