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83-Steelers-43
11-27-2007, 09:09 AM
Sure, it was ugly, but no one will remember come January
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A month from now, when the NFL stamps a team's ticket to the playoffs, no one will care that the Steelers' 3-0 win against the dreadful and still winless Miami Dolphins last night was no Mozart.

An ugly win in the mud on a rainy November night means just as much as one on a sparkling summer day in early September.

"No one is going to put an asterisk on it, that's for sure," Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith said. "They're not going to say it came on a muddy field against a team that hasn't won. No one is going to care."

That was one of the two overriding emotions in the winning locker room late last night. This was the other: "This sure feels better than that game last week," cornerback Deshea Townsend said, grinning as he headed off into the early morning.

That would be the loss to the lowly New York Jets.

The loss that made this game so important to the Steelers.

Nothing less than control of the AFC North Division and maybe even a playoff spot was at stake.

Who says a 3-0 win can't be a Mozart?

"Give it back? I don't think so," Smith said. "In conditions like that, all you want to do is win. You're not going to look pretty doing it."

The Steelers knew the deal when they headed out into the slop. They had to regroup after that hurtful loss to the Jets. They needed to do it for their mental well-being, sure. You lose one week to the one-win Jets and lose the next to the no-win Dolphins, it's pretty hard to be confident about your chances of surviving the rest of the season, let alone competing for the Super Bowl. But the Steelers also had to get it together for another, equally important reason. The Cleveland Browns.

You might say the Browns are coming. They've won five of their past six games -- the lone loss to the Steelers -- to make a race of it again in the AFC North. They also have a much easier remaining schedule. They would have been the team to beat down the stretch if the Steelers had lost to the Dolphins.

You better believe the Steelers heard those footsteps and, at the end of a long, dreary night, found a way to take care of some very critical business.

Send your thank-you cards to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Hines Ward. Three times on the winning drive, they combined for pass gains of 21, 6 and 11 yards. The footing was lousy for everyone else, but it seemed just fine for Ward, who finished with nine catches for 88 yards. Big Ben didn't have many problems, either. He finished 18 of 21 for 165 yards.

"In clutch time, Ben kept saying to me, 'Make a play,' " Ward said. "It felt good to contribute."

While you're digging out those thank-you cards, write out another to the Steelers' defense. "They won this game for us," Ward said. "No one can win if you shut 'em out."

Steelers kicker Jeff Reed made sure the game didn't go into overtime and maybe even end 0-0 when he found one of the few pieces of secure turf to boot a 24-yard field goal with 17 seconds left.

Just like that, the Steelers (8-3) still had their one-game lead over the Browns (7-4) plus the tiebreaking edge.

Sure, you can argue the home team didn't deserve this one. Its mistakes -- not the relentless rain and rotten condition of the new sod that Steelers management put down Saturday night as a sign of surrender after the four WPIAL championship games and the Pitt-South Florida game earlier in the weekend -- was responsible for the game being scoreless for so long.

There was a Roethlisberger interception deep in Miami territory, to Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter no less. "You know Joey was loving that pick," said Steelers linebacker Larry Foote, still a close friend even though Porter has moved on. "His mouth was moving so fast you couldn't understand him. But you know he was talking trash. He was screaming."

There were five sacks of Roethlisberger, critical penalties on running back Najeh Davenport and tight end Heath Miller, and a missed 44-yard field goal by Reed, although that really could be blamed on the steady rain and the new grass.

The Steelers were fortunate that Reed found better footing at the other end of the big stadium at the very end.

Those sighs of relief you heard early this morning came from their locker room. "It's like coach [Mike] Tomlin always says, 'Style points don't matter,' " Miller said.

And those groans of disappointment?

They were coming from Cleveland.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07331/837062-87.stm

83-Steelers-43
11-27-2007, 09:15 AM
Steelers seem vulnerable
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Miami Dolphins, once a premier NFL franchise but now hobbled by injury and ineptitude, staggered into Heinz Field last night without a win and, as a 16-point underdog, little hope of finding one. But as might be expected against the suddenly very vulnerable Steelers, a tightly played football game broke out.

The hapless Dolphins, who have lost their leading rusher and starting quarterback to injury and their best receiver to a trade, battled the Steelers evenly for 59 minutes, 43 seconds only to lose, 3-0 last night, on a 24-yard field goal by Jeff Reed.

Weather conditions were horrible as the new sod put down on Heinz Field became a soggy mess through an all-day rain.

"Worse field I ever played on," Miami safety Cameron Worrell said.

But all the Dolphins were quick to point out the conditions favored neither team.

In view of this performance, there have to be grave doubts about the Steelers the rest of the way. The rosy prediction, here and elsewhere, about the team, look grossly unfounded today. It was one thing to lose eight days earlier to the one-win New York Jets. Those kinds of upsets, particularly on the road, are fairly standard in the NFL. It's quite another to play so poorly at home against a team that has been wrecked by injuries and without a win.

What was especially alarming was the five sacks the Steelers gave up to the Dolphins, a team that had only 12 in its first 10 games. The sacking of Ben Roethlisberger is becoming commonplace and does not bode well for the remainder of the season.

No one was having more fun for most of the game than former Steelers linebacker and defensive captain Joey Porter, who left after last season as a free agent when the Steelers showed no interest in re-signing him.

Porter was his typical self -- loud, demonstrative and effective. He had eight tackles and intercepted a Roethlisberger pass on the first possession of the game and returned it 14 yards. When the play was over, Porter strutted and pranced in front of the Steelers' bench while clutching the treasured football. It was an act that might have prompted a taunting penalty, but the officials did not call it.

"I was just trying to have some fun," Porter said.

Porter, always one of the most popular Steelers, mixed amicably with some of his former teammates before the game and exchanged hugs before the coin toss. He maintained coming back to Heinz Field was nothing special.

"It was what I expected. I knew I was coming into a hostile environment. I knew what it was going to be like. I told the guys not to do anything different."

Concerning competing against his former teammates, Porter said, "I saw them before the game. I'm on the other side now. It is what it is."

He was poised to record a sack in the second quarter but before he could, Roethlisberger was brought down from behind by defensive end Quentin Moses.

It was a credit to the Miami defense that it held off the Steelers much of the game. Blessed with superlative field position, mostly the result of Miami being unable to move the ball, the Steelers could not put together a scoring drive until the final minutes.

"Our defense has given us a chance to win every week," coach Cam Cameron said. "We've got to get our offense back to where it was earlier in the season."

After scoring 31 against Cleveland and 28 against New England, the Dolphins have scored only three touchdowns in their past four games.

The Dolphins' best scoring chance came early in the fourth quarter when they moved to the Steelers' 20. Jay Feely's field-goal attempt was blocked, but there was a delay-of-game penalty before the kick. Given the option to try again from where there appeared to be more solid ground but 5 yards farther back, Cameron opted not to.

"We were concerned about the distance and the field," he said. "Considering that and because we thought we had a good play, we decided to go for it."

Rookie quarterback John Beck was sacked and fumbled on the next play.

Feely was lobbying Cameron to kick a second time.

Asked about his chances, he said, "In those conditions, about 50-50, but I wanted to try."

It was a bitter defeat for the Dolphins (0-11), who lost for the fifth time by three points.

"I thought we could shock the world tonight," said Porter. "I really thought we could win."

They came about as close as possible to doing just that.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07331/837075-194.stm

83-Steelers-43
11-27-2007, 09:17 AM
Steelers seem vulnerable
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

And on November 22 Smizik typed up this gem......

Smizik: Don't panic over Steelers: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07326/835972-194.stm

So should we or shouldn't we start to panic Bob? You let me know okay buddy? Thanks.