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lamberts-lost-tooth
09-24-2007, 07:56 AM
Steelers' relaxed approach fuels strong start


By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, September 24, 2007

There was a casual, almost cavalier attitude among Steelers players in the locker room following their final practice for Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.
With everything that their new coach touches turning to gold -- not to mention outscoring their first two opponents, 60-10 -- the Steelers weren't behaving like a team preparing for a big game in two days against another 2-0 team.

"Friday is sort of our winding-down day," inside linebacker James Farrior said. "Coach is not going to try to run us to death. He's going to have us fresh and ready to play. That's why everybody's a little bit more relaxed."

Confidence mixed with overconfidence can make for a dangerous combination.

Instead of taking San Francisco for granted yesterday, the Steelers took the 49ers to the woodshed, 37-16, at Heinz Field.
"That is the battle. We talk a lot about how it's not the destination, it's the journey," coach Mike Tomlin said of the Steelers' first 3-0 start in 15 years. "We have to appreciate the now and be who we are. This team is doing a nice job of living in the present. When you do that, you prepare, you have good men, you're capable of doing what they did today."

What the Steelers did against San Francisco is exactly what they did last Sunday against Buffalo, and two Sundays ago in Cleveland.

They methodically dismantled another opponent -- intimidating the 49ers with a swarming, suffocating defense, killing them softly with a balanced offensive attack paced by running back Willie Parker, and going for the jugular with big plays on special teams.

"As bad as we played last year, we don't want to go out and have that type of season again," said Farrior, who leads the Steelers with 20 tackles. "That's what we can control -- our effort. We're going to play hard every down, every play, and it's showing up out there."

For a change, the Steelers didn't blow the barn doors off early.

They trailed, 3-0, in the first quarter, marking not only their first deficit in 2007 but the first points they've allowed in the first half this season.

Before the 49ers could build on their momentum, the Steelers created some of their own.

Allen Rossum fielded the ensuing kickoff and scooted 98 yards, untouched, making it 7-3. San Francisco had held the lead for 12 seconds.

"They drove down the field and got a field goal on us, and we answered right back," Rossum said.

Since acquiring Rossum, who has returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in his career, Tomlin promised there would be days like these.

Tomlin said Rossum displayed flashes of breaking a return in the first two games, that it was a matter of time before he carried one all the way back to the house.

"We didn't get off to the start that maybe we wanted to in several phases. Things that we haven't done thus far this year," Tomlin said. "There's no blink in the men. They stayed the course. Hopefully, that's the personality of this football team, but you can't deny the spark of that special teams play."

Farrior can't deny Tomlin's influence on the Steelers' fast start.

"He's brought a lot of new energy to the team," Farrior said. I feel like he brought an extra spark that we probably were missing last year."

It's still early in the season, but so far Tomlin's Steelers haven't missed a beat.

SteelFist
09-24-2007, 10:17 AM
Great article!!

Hope we can keep up the effort and get better and better.