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83-Steelers-43
11-22-2006, 08:46 AM
Cowher challenges Steelers to get better, and now

By The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 22, 2006


The Pittsburgh Steelers have won consecutive games for the first time this season, rallying to win both. They also won on the road for the first time. The offense remains erratic but has been increasingly productive.
That doesn't mean coach Bill Cowher is satisfied, not with the Steelers (4-6) still deficient in so many areas and time rapidly winding down on a season that has not begun to live up to their expectations.

Maybe that's why Cowher is challenging the Super Bowl champions to play down the stretch the way they did last season, when they had to win their final four games to get into the playoffs and did exactly that.

This time, they probably need to win eight in a row to get there, and they've won only two of those to date. Their remaining schedule isn't the easiest, with two games against Baltimore (8-2) and one each against Cincinnati (5-5) and Carolina (6-4).

The Steelers may have beaten the Saints (38-31) and Browns (24-20) in their last two games, but Cowher said playing Sunday in Baltimore (8-2) at the same level of those games won't get the job done.

"This is one of the premier teams in the AFC. They have no weaknesses," Cowher said Tuesday. "They're playing with a lot of confidence. We're going to have to play at a very high level and play our best game to even have a chance to compete with this team."

The Steelers have lost their last three games in Baltimore, two in overtime, although last season's 16-13 loss came with Tommy Maddox playing quarterback for the injured Ben Roethlisberger.

While the Ravens may lack the urgency to win Sunday that Pittsburgh does, there's no doubt the Ravens would like to all but end the Steelers' season by beating them. A Steelers loss would leave them five behind the Ravens in the division race with five games to play. Pittsburgh also would stay at least two games out in the AFC wild-card race.

The season after the Ravens won the Super Bowl in the 2000 season, the Steelers ended their chances of repeating by beating them in the playoffs.

"Right now, we have no margin for error," Cowher said. "This is a big game for us, as I know it is for Baltimore. This will be a measuring stick to see where we are. There are a lot of challenges."

Among them is to keep from turning the ball over, as the Steelers have done 13 times in their last four games despite having no turnovers against New Orleans on Nov. 12. Roethlisberger threw three interceptions in the first half against Cleveland, but came back to lead three long touchdown drives during a 21-point fourth quarter.

"He had a couple of throws get away from him, but I like his decision making," Cowher said. "At times, that's what got him into trouble at the beginning of the year. He's going to have to be careful this week."

Special teams remain an ongoing problem. They are third from the bottom in the league in punt return average and ninth from the bottom in kickoff returns. Jeff Reed also has missed five field goal attempts,

"We've consistently had breakdowns," Cowher said. "We've gotten nothing out of our punt return."

As a result, the Steelers have routinely been in poor field position, which could be a major problem against a Ravens defense that has given up the second fewest yards in the league.

"Against this team, we can't dig ourselves into a hole like we did last week and expect to come out of it," Cowher said. "It will take a complete game in all three phases to compete against this team."

Wide receiver Hines Ward (knee) and running back Najeh Davenport (groin) are questionable for the first of two Steelers-Ravens games this season. The other occurs Christmas Eve in Pittsburgh.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_480948.html

Infamix
11-22-2006, 08:55 AM
It sounds like Cowher is putting his players on the right path

steelfan 92
11-22-2006, 10:04 AM
it's about time, i think they got complacent coming off winning the superbowl. they have a shot at the playoffs, but they need to win out. take one game at a time and focus on it.

Black@Gold Forever32
11-22-2006, 12:11 PM
I think Cowher should have done this earlier in the season.

BigDuke6
11-22-2006, 12:50 PM
The Ravens arent as good as they think they are. We will win this one.