So Pittsburgh means Jerome Bettis on Boss 34, right?
"Nope. [Center] Dermontti Dawson," Fox says. "He's so gifted that he gives them blocking options other teams don't have. No matter how you play your nosetackle, the Steelers will always get a pulling lineman to the strong side, because Dermontti can nullify the nose guy. He can even pull and lead a play himself."
Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis coached the Pittsburgh linebackers from 1992 through '95. "Dawson's the X-factor," says Lewis, "because he can pull and cut off a linebacker. The tight end blocks down, the fullback gets the guy in the hole, the back-side linemen cut down their guys, and that's when the play works. With Bettis you'll probably see that play six to eight times a game, and if you don't stop it, 20 times."
X's and O's aside, no defense can be thrilled with the idea of 250 pounds hammering at it 20 to 30 times a game, whether he's running Boss 34 or another play. "He hits a hole, and even if it's not so big, his bulk sort of gets him through," says Vikings defensive coordinator Foge Fazio. "With a guy like Terrell Davis, he knows where the crease is, and he's going to hit it. Bettis is more one-way, like he's on a track. I particularly hate having to face him on a wet field. Guys just slide right off him. He gets his pads down, and you can't get him on the ground."
How do you stop Bettis?
"The way you stop any big-back attack," says Fazio. "Get ahead so they have to throw the ball."