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83-Steelers-43
12-01-2006, 08:00 AM
Steelers offensive line giving up ground

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, December 1, 2006


The starting offensive line from last year's Super Bowl champion returned intact. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is probably fortunate he is still intact.

Therein lies one of the biggest reasons why the Steelers, who are 4-7 and host Tampa Bay on Sunday, have been perhaps the biggest underachievers in the NFL this season.

The unit that figured to be a strength has instead been a sieve.

Roethlisberger has been sacked 36 times this season, with nine of those coming last week in a ghastly performance by the offense and the line in particular.

"I could care less about last week," left tackle Marvel Smith said. "I'm focusing on this week."

It is understandable why Smith would rather not discuss what happened in Baltimore. The Steelers couldn't keep Roethlisberger upright, and they couldn't generate any kind of running game, leading to more questions about the offensive line.

"I think, at times, we've been putting ourselves in bad situations where teams have been able to tee off on us and do what they want instead of us dictating what we want to do," guard Alan Faneca said.

The Steelers continually found themselves in second- and third-and-long against the Ravens in the 27-0 loss.

The Steelers averaged just 2.8 yards on 25 first-down plays against Baltimore. Couple that with the 11 third-down plays in which they needed at least 10 yards, and it's easy to see why Roethlisberger turned into such an easy target for the Ravens.

By contrast, the Steelers averaged 9.1 yards on first down earlier this season against the Kansas City Chiefs and had only three third-down plays in which they needed 10 yards or more.

The 45-7 win over the Chiefs represents the other extreme for the Steelers offense, and it would be generous to say it has played somewhere in the middle in the nine other games.

The offensive line has regressed, though Steelers coach Bill Cowher said that may be more attributable to circumstances than an across-the-board drop in performance.

"I think we've played from behind a lot this year," Cowher said. "When you play from behind, then you'll get involved in must-throw situations."

That's when bad things happen, such as Roethlisberger throwing an interception - he has an NFL-high 19 - or being knocked into last week, which Ravens linebacker Bart Scott essentially did to him last week.

The Steelers' run/pass ratio has basically flipped from last season to this one.

In 2005, the Steelers threw the ball 43 percent of the time in the regular season; this year, they have thrown the ball 58 percent of the time.

That imbalance has led to the kind of blitzing that teams are used to seeing from the Steelers, not doing to them.

"Teams watch film, and they're going to see that's the way to get things done (defensively), bring different guys from different positions," Roethlisberger said.

The Steelers have run the ball at Heinz Field -- they are averaging 169 rushing yards in five home games -- and that success may give the Buccaneers' pass rushers pause.

The Steelers, however, expect Tampa Bay to blitz early and often, especially after seeing the success Baltimore had with that approach.

As Faneca said, "If they're smart, they're going to do something like it."


http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_482162.html

Livinginthe past
12-01-2006, 10:37 AM
"I think, at times, we've been putting ourselves in bad situations where teams have been able to tee off on us and do what they want instead of us dictating what we want to do," guard Alan Faneca said.

That sounds like an excuse to me. I guess what he is saying is that they aren't good enough to block when the other team knows its going to be a pass?

Plenty of other teams around the league are in regular must-pass situations and dont get the crap beaten out of their QB.

NM

Black@Gold Forever32
12-01-2006, 10:43 AM
That sounds like an excuse to me. I guess what he is saying is that they aren't good enough to block when the other team knows its going to be a pass?

Plenty of other teams around the league are in regular must-pass situations and dont get the crap beaten out of their QB.

NM

Hey I agree its a excuse. But thats the one area Steelers have been good at this year is excuses.