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HometownGal
12-26-2007, 08:33 AM
This is a very good read. :thumbsup: I'm tickled pink with the success of this team thus far this season, considering I didn't expect those successes in Tomlin's first season as HC and despite the injuries that have befallen the Steelers off and on most of the season.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07360/844475-194.stm

Steelers' record a surprise

Wednesday, December 26, 2007
By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On the day before Christmas, Mike Tomlin said he was "not surprised by any stretch" that the Steelers were champions of the AFC North Division.

What else was he going to say?

But the fact is a lot of people -- possibly Tomlin -- were surprised, even if they will not admit it today.

The collapses of Baltimore (4-11) and Cincinnati (6-9) have been so complete it's almost hard to remember those teams, not the Steelers with their first-year coach, were the favorites to win the division.

The Ravens were 13-3 last year and allowed a ridiculously low 201 points. That's 38 fewer points than any NFL team has allowed this season with a week still remaining to play. They had Steve McNair returning at quarterback and Willis McGahee at running back to go with that superlative defense. The Bengals were 8-8, same as the Steelers, but had that exciting Carson Palmer-passing offense ready to roar.

The Steelers had a rookie coach, a quarterback whose progression was going backward, questions on the offensive line, lack of depth, at best, at wide receiver and an absence of the mystique of Bill Cowher.

All were formidable obstacles for the new coach, but maybe none more so than the spectre of Cowher, a probable Hall of Fame coach who has chosen to spend a year or two in broadcasting before resuming his football career. Tomlin was walking in a large shadow, one that he was reminded of frequently, particularly after defeats.

The mantra of Steelers fans after losses to Arizona, Denver and the New York Jets, all teams with losing records today, was that it would not have happened on Cowher's watch.

Ha! As though a Cowher-coached team never was upset, never disappointed.

Tomlin did not blink in the face of comparisons to Cowher. He clearly was his own man with his own way of doing things, and most people, including his players, seemed to like that way. Even if both of his coordinators were holdovers from Cowher's staff, Tomlin established a new and clearly different identity --for better or worse -- from his predecessor.

Now he is down to his final regular-season game, at 4:15 Sunday at Baltimore, and then the playoffs. It's never wise to look past an opponent in the NFL, but if ever there was team that has rolled over and died, it's the Ravens, who have lost nine games in a row. It appears their heroic but losing effort to New England Dec. 3 left the Ravens with nothing, as evidenced by their loss two weeks later to previously winless Miami.

Tomlin has a minor dilemma in front of him as he prepares for the Ravens. Does he rest, fully or partially, some of his regulars against the downtrodden Ravens or does he play it like every other game?

Ben Roethlisberger could use the day off, not only to rest his sprained right ankle but to avoid what has become the regular beating he takes from opposing defenses. Roethlisberger, easily the Steelers' MVP, has been sacked 12 times in the past three games and 47 times this season. Hines Ward likely could use the day off, not that he would ask for it. Same with Troy Polamalu, who has been playing hurt most of the season.

But Tomlin can't rest anybody, not at the start of the game, at least. To do so sends the kind of message that could make one team, his, relax and the other become inspired. If a sizable lead is gained, then, by all means, rest some players. But to do that at the start of the game is seeking the kind of trouble that even the Ravens can dispense.

It looks like the Steelers will play Jacksonville at home in the first round of the playoffs. The Jaguars have won six of their past seven games, with their only loss coming by three points at Indianapolis, the defending Super Bowl champion. The Jaguars are playing as well as anyone in the NFL, save New England. They beat the Steelers, 29-22, at Heinz Field Dec. 16. That's when the Steelers had Willie Parker, who was the league's leading rusher until a broken leg ended his season last week at St. Louis.

Parker's loss put the Steelers even further behind Jacksonville. But let's not forget that, when the teams last played, the score was tied with two minutes remaining. The Steelers are capable of beating Jacksonville, but it is a formidable challenge, even at Heinz Field.

Regardless of how far the Steelers go in the playoffs, it has been a good year. Better than most, including this column, expected. Nine wins seemed like a reasonable expectation. Tomlin and his team have delivered 10 and are looking hard at 11. That was good enough to win a Super Bowl two years ago. It won't be this year, but, if Baltimore is defeated, is something solid to build upon.

Jman
12-26-2007, 09:08 AM
....

Good post!!

Atlanta Dan
12-26-2007, 09:42 AM
Tomlin and his team have delivered 10 and are looking hard at 11. That was good enough to win a Super Bowl two years ago. It won't be this year, but, if Baltimore is defeated, is something solid to build upon.

Agree with Smizik - at best I hoped for a wild card slot preseason

Good article but odd last sentence - IMO the Ravens game has nothing to do with building a foundation of success for the future.

I would sit Troy & Ben - if they are not playing the whole game what is to be gained by playing them at all.

TackleMeBen
12-26-2007, 10:00 AM
i am very impressed with our record this year. i was looking at maybe 7 or 8 wins with a new rookie head coach.

stillers4me
12-26-2007, 10:14 AM
I don't know....as much as I'd like to rest Ben and a few others (and I realize they need it), we've got other starters out for the season and backup players that need the actual play time with all the remaining starters in order to prepare for the bigger games ahead.

TackleMeBen
12-26-2007, 10:16 AM
I don't know....as much as I'd like to rest Ben and a few others (and I realize they need it), we've got other starters out for the season and backup players that need the actual play time with all the remaining starters in order to prepare for the bigger games ahead.

:iagree: but we dont need our other starters getting hurt before the playoffs.

vasteeler
12-26-2007, 10:40 AM
The only reason I would play Ben is we all know how Ben plays after a game off its usually not very good

Stlrs4Life
12-26-2007, 10:45 AM
Pretty good read. All so true. I think we have to be thankful that the Ratbirds and Bungles imloded like they did.

revefsreleets
12-26-2007, 11:11 AM
I always had this team at 11-5 or 12-4, so I won't be shocked if they pull off 11-5. I will be shocked if they can make a run in the playoffs, since this team lacks one essential element all teams need to go deep into the postseason.

stillers4me
12-26-2007, 11:15 AM
:iagree: but we dont need our other starters getting hurt before the playoffs.

It's a catch twenty-two, as they say. Damned if we do, damned if we don't. :wink02:

DACEB
12-26-2007, 11:27 AM
I always had this team at 11-5 or 12-4, so I won't be shocked if they pull off 11-5. I will be shocked if they can make a run in the playoffs, since this team lacks one essential element all teams need to go deep into the postseason.

And the drumroll please,,, that element is???

bozz723
12-26-2007, 12:58 PM
I actually expected at least 13-3.

Last year was an aberration and things could have easily been different.

Borski
12-26-2007, 01:30 PM
The only reason I would play Ben is we all know how Ben plays after a game off its usually not very good

I would say have everyone play a couple of drives but if the O-line lets a couple of sacks early then take Ben out, we cant afford to lose him for the playoffs.

HometownGal
12-26-2007, 02:03 PM
:iagree: but we dont need our other starters getting hurt before the playoffs.

While it would be great to get that 11th win, I don't want it at the risk of injuring our top guys headed into the playoffs. At the very most, I'd play them the first quarter or a couple of series just to keep 'em fresh. We've already won the division and pretty much knowing going in that we'll have the 4th seed. I'd rather have them as rested and healthy as possible than beaten up and hurting going into the Jax game.

Dynasty
12-26-2007, 10:23 PM
I think it would be a great statement if we went undefeated in the division

Preacher
12-26-2007, 10:54 PM
While it would be great to get that 11th win, I don't want it at the risk of injuring our top guys headed into the playoffs. At the very most, I'd play them the first quarter or a couple of series just to keep 'em fresh. We've already won the division and pretty much knowing going in that we'll have the 4th seed. I'd rather have them as rested and healthy as possible than beaten up and hurting going into the Jax game.

Absolutely.

Put them in four a quarter. Let them get two sustained drives, and then pull them out. Let Batch get some work in, because you never know when we may need him in the playoffs as well. Then bring in our backs that are last on the list, and let them get some pounding in. Heck, I even want to see Kemo playing.

Galax Steeler
12-27-2007, 03:58 AM
Absolutely.

Put them in four a quarter. Let them get two sustained drives, and then pull them out. Let Batch get some work in, because you never know when we may need him in the playoffs as well. Then bring in our backs that are last on the list, and let them get some pounding in. Heck, I even want to see Kemo playing.

Agreed let them rest after about a quarter but let the running backs have at it all game including russell.

The_WARDen
12-27-2007, 01:40 PM
The only reason I would play Ben is we all know how Ben plays after a game off its usually not very good

This year he went 24-35 for 290 yds 4 TDs w/ 2 picks for an 108 QB rating after the bye...not too shabby.

revefsreleets
12-27-2007, 06:15 PM
And the drumroll please,,, that element is???

An offensive line that can both pass protect and open holes for the RB.

SteelDogFan
12-27-2007, 07:27 PM
I think we all kind-of saw the decline in Cinci, but the total callaps of the Ravens (even though they are a little old as a group) has to be a complete shocker. THEY LOST TO MIAMI!!!

As for the Steelers I believe you have to completely wipe out Ben's 2006 year and as the QB goes so goes the team in the NFL. In the begining all the writers were stating the fact that Ben had an almost fatal motorcycle accident. Then before he completely recovered he an appendectomy and a severe concussion. By the middle of the season they were only stating his decline in play 2006 and saying how bad of a year he had.

Your average in shape human could not recover that fast from all that. Then consider he was trying to play QB in a league where you get three seconds to process information before a 300LB defensive lineman is trying to pound your head into the ground.

I thought the Steelers would win 10 but when I look at the games they lost they could easily have 12-13 wins. I mean they loss to Arizona and the Jets.

Rhee Rhee
12-28-2007, 12:30 AM
i wish he'd play just to rack up some more stats... but not at the expense of having a freak injury like willie's.... but anyway... charlie will do fine... and tomlin should be coach of the year... although he does have some very stiff competition...