View Full Version : Steelers' offense may need more of Washington

11-19-2006, 12:47 AM
Sunday, November 19, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It's one thing, going from worst to first in sports, quite another when the road heads in reverse. That's something the Steelers want to avoid today, to tumble from Super Bowl champions into last place in the AFC North Division.

Unless they tie, either the Steelers or Browns will wind up 3-7 and rest at the bottom of the division by themselves after their 1 p.m. game in Cleveland Browns Stadium today. Already, the Steelers' 3-6 record is tied for worst by a Super Bowl defending team after nine games.

"That's not a good thing when you win a Super Bowl and now you're one of the worst teams in the league as far as records go," linebacker James Farrior said.

Players on good teams sometimes are asked about so-called "trap" games, those against lesser teams that seemingly are ready to sneak up on them and pull the switch.

"It's definitely not a trap game for us," Farrior said, "because we're already at the bottom of the barrel."

Playing the Cleveland Browns has been like shooting fish in a barrel for the Steelers. They've won 11 of the past 12 games, including five in a row. Never have these two teams met, however, where both records were this poor, although cornerback Deshea Townsend does not think it takes away from the game or the long-standing rivalry.

"The good thing about it, both teams are very optimistic about what they have in front of them. When you have that coming into the game, it's going to make for a good game."

It's been a confounding season for the defending Super Bowl champs and none more so than their record on the road. As they prepare to hit it the next two weeks against division foes with a trip to Baltimore next Sunday following their game in Cleveland, the Steelers still seek their first victory away from home. They are 0-4.

Last season, they tied the NFL's second-longest winning streak on the road when they won their 11th in a row. They were 7-1 away from home in 2004 and 6-2 last season. They became kings of the road when they pulled off an unprecedented achievement by winning three playoff games as visitors and followed by winning the Super Bowl. Coach Bill Cowher, given a choice of which jerseys to wear in Detroit, chose his team's road whites.

"It's been weird," defensive end Brett Keisel said, "because last year we were such road warriors and we got on a run and we took a lot of pride in shutting a whole stadium up.

"I don't know of any reason except the fact we were the Super Bowl champs and I think every road game we've had everyone played the best game of the year and we haven't. And we've played really good teams on the road, besides one. Hopefully, this week we can start that again."

Weird statistics have contributed in a large way. When the Steelers are good, they're very, very good. And when they're bad ...

Take Ben Roethlisberger, for instance. His passer rating in the first halves of games is a combined 102.7. In the second halves, it's 52.4.

The Steelers have been dynamic on offense most of this season, among the best in their history. According to the statistical experts at STATS, the Steelers are second in the league with 127 offensive plays of 10 yards or more, four fewer than No. 1 Dallas. Yet, they also yielded 123 points the past four games, second-highest in Cowher's tenure only to the 133 they gave up during four games in their 6-10 season of 1999. The 517 yards the Saints produced Sunday were the most allowed by a Steelers team in a victory since the 1970 NFL merger.

There also are those 24 turnovers, although for the first time this season they did not lose the football against the Saints.

"Turnovers do help the other team," Farrior said. "We have to create our own turnovers for ourselves. If our offense turns the ball over we got to go back and try to find a way to get it back for them."

The Steelers recovered three Saints fumbles last week to give them just four this season. Perhaps it's a sign the trend will reverse, as will the outcome of games; they're trying to win two in a row for the first time this season.

"We're just playing football, trying to win a game where we're sitting," guard Alan Faneca said. "That's it, win one game. We dug our hole and that's the only way we can approach it."

11-19-2006, 01:17 AM
sorry for the mix-up... i added the wrong title originally when i posted this article...