View Full Version : SN: Steelers Can Upstage Patriots

11-24-2007, 05:04 PM
Amid all the gloom and doom from the media over the past week, this is an interesting read....it's long, but I thought it was worth posting the whole thing here. I wish I shared his view of the Jets loss as one to be "flicked away"!
Curtain Call: Steelers can upstage Patriots
November 24, 2007
Steve Greenberg

There are killer losses, and then there are those a good team can just sort of flick away like lint on a lapel. As unsightly as it was, the Steelers' 19-16 overtime loss to the Jets last week falls into the second category.

Not that it wasn't borderline hideous. Come to think of it, it probably was more crusty, month-old ****tail sauce stain than fleck of lint. But, hey, the suit still fits like new. If there's one thing the veteran Steelers have been good at for years, it's keeping their chins up and their eyes forward, win or lose. "We don't win pretty, never have. And once in a while, we lose ugly," says Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca. "And then we move on."

As sure as the Jets made Ben Roethlisberger their personal sack toy, as sure as Thomas Jones made Pittsburgh's 34-game streak without allowing a 100-yard rusher disappear into the New Jersey night, the Steelers will roll with this disappointment, learn from it and be better in the long run for it. That's the way it goes in Steel City, where the mood is still light, the players are tight and the home team is mighty good. No, we probably wouldn't advise you to bet on them to win their second Super Bowl in three years. But if there's a team the (nobody's) perfect Patriots -- who play host to the Steelers in Week 14 -- should be wary of, this is it.

We've seen this sort of thing before

"They're the '85 Bears," Faneca says of the Patriots, and certainly no team since then has been a more obvious Super Bowl favorite 10 games into the season. But times have changed--only one Super Bowl winner this decade (the 2003 Patriots) was a No. 1 playoff seed. The 2006 Colts were a No. 3 seed. The 2005 Steelers were a No. 6 seed. As quickly as power shifts in the NFL, no one should be surprised if New England looks more beatable in two months than it does now.

"The reality is the best team in November doesn't win the championship," says Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "It's the best team in the first week of February." Two years ago, Pittsburgh was 7-5 before it rolled through four straight regular season foes and then won three road playoff games. By the time Super Bowl 40 was in the books, most of us were wondering why we hadn't seen the Steelers coming.

The signs were there then, and they are there now. The Steelers, through 10 weeks of this season, were tops in the NFL against the run, against the pass and in points allowed. How can that alone not hit you like a bag of hammers? They were fifth in total offense, second in scoring differential and first in time of possession.

And they have the chance to get well Quickly -- with home games coming up against Miami and Cincinnati, they should be 9-3 by the time they reach Gillette Stadium on December 9 for likely the only remaining game in which they will not be favored.

"I wouldn't say New England is obviously better," says Steve Heiden, the ninth-year tight end whose Browns have lost to both teams -- the Steelers twice -- this season.

Unlike the Patriots, who have been in overdrive from the word go, the Steelers are building toward their peak. "Especially our quarterback," Tomlin says. "Ben Roethlisberger is not only getting better every week inside stadiums, he's been getting better on a day-to-day basis." After the coaches figure out how to shore up the team's pass blocking -- and they will -- their aim will be to turn loose Roethlisberger, which eventually could give the Steelers far better balance on offense than they had when they beat the Seahawks in Detroit.

For Tomlin, it's all geared toward peaking when the biggest money is in the pot, as the '05 team did under Bill Cowher. "Everything we do is with that in mind," he says. "Peaking is the honing and execution, the muscle memory you achieve by practicing all season with a great deal of intensity. There's a fine line you walk so you don't leave your game on the practice field, but peaking is not a mystical thing to me. It happens because of skill development, and in our case, it absolutely will happen by design."

X's and oh-nos

About those annoyingly unstoppable Patriots ... well, what's it going to take to slow them down?

Dick LeBeau's A game. Let's assume Bill Belichick has some advantages over Tomlin, a first-year head coach. The Steelers also have a schemer in defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau -- a 35-year NFL coaching veteran who can at least try to go toe to toe with the master.

"He is smart enough to figure out what the Patriots are doing," an AFC director of pro personnel says of LeBeau, "and he'll take away what they're doing."

An ambitious concept, indeed. But don't be surprised if LeBeau has success getting Tom Brady out of his comfort zone by sending blitzers straight at him through the interior of the offensive line, with an emphasis on attacking the right side. It'll take five rushers minimum to make Brady move. "You've got to stay in his face," the personnel man says. "And you have to make him move to his left."

The less time Brady has to stay in the pocket, the less effective Randy Moss will be -- and Moss is the game-breaker. As good as Wes Welker is at running hot routes and staying alive when Brady needs an outlet, it's better to have Welker moving the chains than Moss tilting the scoreboard.

Also, the Steelers -- who have a 10-year veteran (Deshea Townsend) and a five-year veteran (Ike Taylor) at cornerback and good depth throughout the secondary -- are as equipped as anybody to deal with the Patriots' multiple-receiver sets. "We play against Cincinnati twice a year, and they load it up. And now Cleveland is getting just like them," LeBeau says. "We're no strangers to playing against extra wide receivers, and good ones."

Sell out for big hits. For the Steelers, Job 1 always is stopping the run . But to beat the Patriots, they must forget about restarting that 100-yard streak and instruct run-stuffing safeties Troy Polamalu and Anthony Smith to focus on reminding Moss, Welker and finesse-oriented tight end Benjamin Watson that football is supposed to hurt like hell. That might open up the middle of the field for Brady, an effective runner, to get some first downs with his feet, but it's a small price to pay.

Steelers running back Willie Parker calls Polamalu "an animal; I've never seen anybody run and hit like that in my life." LeBeau says Smith is one of the best hitters he has coached. Let's see some proof.

Free Willie! Hey, there's nothing cheesy about an offense that routinely staggers opponents with the run, then knocks them out with a couple of play-action passes. The Steelers simply are better than any other team at old-school, man-on-man football. But outside of Faneca, Pittsburgh's offensive line has been inconsistent this season. And the Patriots' defensive line is so good at the point of attack that "you've got to use angles against them and use their own momentum against them," says the AFC personnel man. "Take advantage of their linebackers in space."

So play to Parker's biggest strength -- running at angles into the line with counters and cutbacks. "He goes from A-gap to B-gap faster than any back I've ever seen," says Parker's veteran backup, Najeh Davenport, who played with Ahman Green -- a great cutback runner -- in Green Bay. "He is so fast, he gets to that B-side gap in one step. Most backs kind of weave with it and take two or three steps to get there."

And remember that Parker, like Roethlisberger a fourth-year pro, is very much on the upside of his career. "I'm on a mission to be great," Parker says. "I'm doing everything to get to that rushing title, but right now I must not be doing enough because I don't think my name comes up like some guys' names come up. New England will be an opportunity for me, no doubt."

Don't change in the red zone. The Colts ran the ball between the 20s against the Patriots with a lot of pull blocks and traps, but they stalled in the red zone when they tried to block manon- man. The Steelers must take heed.

They also should let Roethlisberger take deep drops and not overprotect him from the Patriots' pass rush with a lot of safe passes. Big Ben is faster, stronger and harder to bring down than Brady; Roethlisberger's high release point (he's 6-5) and ability to shed pass rushers will be keys to his being able to

keep plays alive long enough for wideouts Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes and tight end Heath Miller to get separation in the end zone.

One more thing: Never let 'em see you sweat

To be sure, the Colts are the only opponent that hasn't wilted against the Patriots this season; even the Cowboys, the best and most confident team in the NFC, shrunk like frightened turtles and allowed a competitive game to turn into a blowout loss.

The Steelers are better than that. "I'll give you an example," says Taylor. "With Moss' speed and stride length, and as great as he is, I know he'll make some plays on me. But I can take it -- we can take it -- because we're mentally tough like that. We don't waver when things don't go our way."

And, come on, people, it's only November. In two months, the Steelers, for all we know now, could be looking to go two-for-two against the Patriots in the AFC title game. Says Parker: "We play the same game they play -- football. They started off and just ran away; it was a race to them. But it's a marathon. It's about longevity."

Consider yourselves warned, Patriots. Just because you're running a perfect race doesn't mean nobody will gain on you.


11-24-2007, 05:41 PM
Not bad. Not too bad at all..

Providence Steel
11-24-2007, 06:36 PM
I love the Steelers....

We don't have a snowball's chance in hell in beating the Patriots in the regular season.

We are still maturing. Wait till playoffs .

11-24-2007, 06:37 PM
I love the Steelers....

We don't have a snowball's chance in hell in beating the Patriots in the regular season.

We are still maturing. Wait till playoffs .

Are you sure your the same poster that was coming in here earlier this year?

That is a sane post... and one I actually agree with.

11-24-2007, 06:49 PM
Are you sure your the same poster that was coming in here earlier this year?

That is a sane post... and one I actually agree with.

Based on the Steelers team I saw Sunday against the Jets, you are both quite right that that team doesn't have the proverbial snowball's chance of a regular season win against NE. Of course, if the team that beat Seattle 21-0 showed up, well, maybe....

And although it would be very nice to get that win over the Pats, at this point all I care about is the correct combination of wins that will earn us the AFC North title. Then we'll worry about New England or Indy or whomever.

11-24-2007, 06:52 PM
that article is the glass half full version.

the only way we are going deep in the playoffs is to capture that "lightning in a bottle" we had in 2005.

heart warming read, though. thanks!!

Rhee Rhee
11-24-2007, 07:44 PM
what an ARTICLE!

for about 5 minutes i was reading that i believed... but idk patriots are just so loaded with talent..

11-24-2007, 07:47 PM
"They're the '85 Bears," Faneca says of the Patriots, and certainly no team since then has been a more obvious Super Bowl favorite 10 games into the season.

Is Faneca crazy? Pats might be the favorite, but it's not defense here. Unless he is just going by that aspect, I'd say he's due to end his NFL career. He's done nothing for us this year, and he won't get the money he wants. But, at one time...I can say he was the best.

11-24-2007, 07:55 PM
let's think about the DOLPHINS first not the Pats.

steel striker
11-24-2007, 07:56 PM
Nice article I like and hopefully we will having an ending like in 2005. Remeber it's not the size of the dog it is the size of the fight in the dog. I got all the faith in the world in our steelers and, karma is going to bite the pats in the playoffs.

11-25-2007, 12:01 AM
I've said since the Patriots have been showing their dominance that the only team that has a chance against the Pats are the Steelers, simply put when the Steelers play their A game they match up better. They have a better offense than most others and are capable of putting up a lot of points. Their defense is great. Special teams is one of their weeknesses. However the games that really count happen in the post season. I don't know about anyone else but I have this lovely fantasy of the Pats going undefeated up through the Championship game and losing to Pitt. especially since they are the ones that ruined our 15-1 season.

Will it happen, who knows? But that's the geat thing about the NFL games aren't won by TV analysts, they're won by the players. Go Steelers!

Galax Steeler
11-25-2007, 06:31 AM
Gotta believe we have a chance against these bums anybody that don't believe is not a true steeler fan.

11-25-2007, 06:43 AM
sounds great,(upset the pats) but the steelers must simply take it one game at a time
just like they did when they went to the super bowl, keys to beatin the pats, ben 10/12 125 4 tds, willie parker 125 yds 3 tds thats simply how will we will take down the
bell la check machine,we must beat the stank dolphins, one thing im not looking forward to
seeing is those two ugly and annoying dolphins reporters two Michele's lol