View Full Version : Steelers' Parker has something to prove

12-08-2007, 05:39 AM
Steelers' Parker has something to prove
By Scott Brown
Saturday, December 8, 2007

Willie Parker seemed to have a little extra drive in his legs during practice this week. Turns out the Steelers running back has been a bit on edge.
"He's (ticked), and he should be," Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "He's got a lot of pride."

The New England Patriots also have a lot of pride and are still probably stewing over the fact that the Ravens gashed their defense for 166 rushing yards Monday night.

A peeved running back goes against an angry defense Sunday in New England, and that match-up should be one of the determining factors in the outcome of the Steelers-Patriots game.

Controlling the clock Sunday is paramount for the Steelers so they can keep New England's explosive offense off the field. The Patriots themselves provided plenty of hope that the Steelers will be able to play keep-away from Tom Brady and Co. when their run defense seemed to spring one leak after another in a 27-24 win over the Ravens.
"That was very interesting to see them do that," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said of the success Baltimore had running the ball against the Patriots.

Said Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel: "If we don't fix the problems that we had, I'm sure it's going to show up again on Sunday. I would say that Pittsburgh runs the ball on average a little better than Baltimore does. I think it is a concern."

Parker may be the leading rusher in the AFC (1,093 yards), but his play in recent weeks has also been a cause for concern.

The 5-foot-10 209-pounder has averaged just over 3 yards per carry in the last three game, and Sunday against Cincinnati he lost two fumbles.

His problems holding onto the ball in the Steelers' 24-10 win over the Bengals were such that Parker knows what to expect from the Patriots.

"They're going to come at the ball," Parker said. "It's going to be a tough game as far as them hacking at the ball. I know what they're saying (about trying to pry the ball loose). I'm ready for the challenge."

Running the ball has been a challenge for the Steelers lately, if the statistics are any indication, but coach Mike Tomlin said he has been pleased with that part of the offense.

He said the Steelers, who have won the time of possession battle in every game this season, have been controlling the clock with their ground game. The only thing that has been missing, Tomlin said, is the big play.

One thing that bodes well for Parker breaking a long run Sunday -- his longest run of the season is just 32 yards -- is the Patriots have FieldTurf at Gillette Stadium.

It is a faster and firmer surface than the grass field the Steelers have played on the last two weeks at home.

As Arians said, "Willie's not a mudder."

Tomlin likes excuses as much as he does second-year players guaranteeing victories.

But even he conceded that the rainy weather the Steelers have played in their last two games has not been conducive to Parker putting up big rushing numbers.

Arians said the Steelers and Parker are close to running the ball like they did earlier this season, when they dominated with their ground game.

"We can run it better," Arians said. "We're not as consistent as I'd like to be, but we're getting better."

12-08-2007, 09:08 AM
I hope Willie can turn this thing around and pick up some good yardage on the Patriots. We need the run game on Sunday, and if Parker has a great day, we can expect a good outcome.

12-08-2007, 01:46 PM
Lets go Willie, he has not produced the yards we have been used to lately with the most out of the last three games being 87 yards, but 4(ouch) fumbles.
Im so confident this is a small slum and he will be back to normal soon and i hope it starts tom!

12-08-2007, 01:58 PM
Yo Steeler Fan.... Fast Willie in Overdrive is coming! He's ready, and any smart defense knows he's about to break one loose!