Call this a Catch 22 that depends on a Run 22, a delicate balance in which success in one can produce more success in the other or failure can yield failure.
The NFL has become a passing league for reasons Bruce Arians, the Steelers offensive coordinator, will explain. He believes the Steelers will go along with it, that their passing attack right now must "carry" them. Before they can unleash the power that starts with Ben Roethlisberger's right arm, however, they must first show they can do more than grind out 3.3 yards per carry when they run, and therein lies the dilemma, or maybe a solution to what ails the Steelers offense.
"I usually script five home runs a game," Arians said of throwing the deep ball. "I don't like coming home with any of them not being called. That's something we just love to do, we like to throw the ball deep."
But they cannot do that if they keep coming up short on the run. They need that threat to bring one safety closer to the line and open those deep passing lanes.
"I'd like to run the ball a whole lot better so that we can use that play-action because it's hard to drop back and throw it deep," Arians said. "If you get play-action and your running game is working, you can get it deep because then you can eliminate some safety play. We better run the ball better to get it deep."
The question is how?
The answer has not surfaced in their first three games. The Steelers average 85.7 yards per game rushing. Rashard Mendenhall, Arians' lead dog, has 148 yards and a 3.0-yard average per carry.
And Sunday in Houston against a rampaging defense, it looks as though the Steelers will insert two more starters in a line that has seen more changes than a Macy's dressing room.
"It's a guy here or there," said Arians, explaining the ground game's problems.
"It's not a major concern right now. We're still young, we're still shifting around, getting to know what these new guys can do. It's one of those things where the passing game is going to have to carry us a little bit more than the running game, but we have to get it going."
As for it being easier to pass in a year in which records are falling through the air everywhere, Arians said it is natural.
"Ain't no doubt, because of the rule changes. It's harder to run the football than it used to be. People have gone back to a lot of eight-man fronts and a lot of stunts and blitzing to blow runs up. So, it's a lot easier to throw the football right now.
"And I think with the lockout, it's much easier to throw it than it is to run it. I think most people would think it's easier the other way, but guys can throw and catch in shorts all the time. It takes some time to grind out that running game and now, with only one day a week in pads, it even slows the process down."