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lamberts-lost-tooth
10-20-2008, 07:08 AM
JV season ends for the Steelers
Monday, October 20, 2008
By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


CINCINNATI -- The Steelers completed the junior varsity portion of their schedule yesterday with a flexing of their defensive and offensive muscles that led to a walloping of the woebegone Cincinnati Bengals.

After a 38-10 win, they walked out of Paul Brown Stadium with a 5-1 record, a two-game lead in the AFC North Division and are ready to begin the serious portion of the season.

Other than a brief lack of focus in the first half when they allowed the Bengals to get where they never should have been -- back in the game -- the Steelers have shown they are the masters of the downtrodden.

They have done exactly what good teams are supposed to do: beat up on the weaklings. The five teams the Steelers have defeated -- Cleveland, Houston, Baltimore, Jacksonville and the Bengals -- were a combined 8-19 going into yesterday's games and none has a winning record.

Beginning Sunday at Heinz Field, against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, comes the hard part. That's when the Steelers will have to start doing what the really good teams do and beat other really good teams.

The schedule that many believed would do in the Steelers this season is hard upon them. In some cases, New England, Indianapolis and San Diego, it's not as difficult as expected. In others, the Giants and Tennessee Titans, it's more difficult. In any event, it will present a significantly better set of opponents than they have been playing.

The seven opponents the Steelers will face for the first time, along with repeats of the Browns, Ravens and Bengals, in the final 10 games were 26-12 before yesterday. It's a meat grinder with no weeks off, although the repeat with the hapless Bengals (0-7) serves almost as a second open date.

Immediately ahead are the Giants, Washington Redskins and Colts. If the Steelers came away with three losses in those games, some people might be surprised, but no one would be astonished.

There actually were some critical moments yesterday. "A play here, a play there and that game could have gone the other way," said Hines Ward, who caught four passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. That might have been a bit of an exaggeration, but two sacks of Cincinnati quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick -- one by James Harrison for 14 yards on the first possession of the second half and one of 6 yards by Lawrence Timmons early in the fourth quarter with the Steelers ahead by only 10 -- were highly pivotal.

So was a massive brain cramp by offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who went pass-happy early in the game against a Cincinnati defense that invites the run. On a first-and-goal from the 3 with the Steelers leading, 7-0, Arians called three consecutive passes, all of which fell incomplete. The Steelers had to settle for a field goal and a temporary loss of momentum. That pause allowed the Bengals -- after five consecutive three and outs -- to get some rhythm and score a touchdown that produced a 10-7 halftime score.

It was 17-10 late in the third quarter before the Steelers scored the final 21 points of the game.

Based on how they played for most of the game, the Steelers are ready for the upper-crust opposition, although coach Mike Tomlin looks no further than the Giants.

"We'll see everybody," he said, "but we'll only see them one at a time once a week. That's the way we approach it."

It's a healthy way -- the only way -- although the players can't help but notice that change in caliber of the opposition.

"We swept the first part of our division [3-0]," Ward said. "That's what it's all about. The season is still long, though. It's great to be 5-1 because we've got a tough stretch of games coming up and it's going to tell a lot about our team."

It will tell everything about the Steelers, who faltered down the stretch last season against good competition, losing three of their final four.

Their good start will hold the Steelers in good stead. Even if they only play .500 the remainder of the way, that would leave them 10-6 and the almost certain division winner.

The 5-1 start has been achieved despite significant injuries. There were three offensive starters -- Willie Parker, Marvel Smith and Carey Davis -- and one defensive starter -- Casey Hampton -- out of the lineup yesterday.

They also played part of the game without cornerback Bryant McFadden, who's having a strong season after replacing Deshea Townsend. McFadden injured his arm.

At full strength the Steelers could be something special. Against the caliber of upcoming opponents that's what they'll have to be
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08294/921311-194.stm

El-Gonzo Jackson
10-20-2008, 10:06 AM
I think the Giants are still on the JV circuit. Take a look at who they beat. Definately a step up, but not a team that we should be an underdog to.

Steelerfreak58
10-20-2008, 10:17 AM
It is all going to come down to which Steelers team shows up the awful stumbling bumbling Steelers we have seen the last 4 games or the Steelers that methodically move the football down field effeciently and score seven like it was no big deal. Our offense is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde you just don't seem to know what your going to get.

fansince'76
10-20-2008, 10:22 AM
They have done exactly what good teams are supposed to do: beat up on the weaklings.

Yep, just like the juggernaut Cowboys did against the Rams. Oh, wait....

These guys seem to think the NFL is the NCAA. It isn't. There aren't any "USC vs. Helen Keller School for the Blind" games at this level.

El-Gonzo Jackson
10-20-2008, 10:45 AM
. There aren't any "USC vs. Helen Keller School for the Blind" games at this level.

Ahhhhhh......The HKSB "Fighting Bats", have been banned from NCAA play ever since they sicked their seeing eye dogs on the Referee after a controversial call. :cool:

SteelMember
10-20-2008, 10:50 AM
So is next week homecoming?

steelreserve
10-20-2008, 11:57 AM
Yep, just like the juggernaut Cowboys did against the Rams. Oh, wait....

These guys seem to think the NFL is the NCAA. It isn't. There aren't any "USC vs. Helen Keller School for the Blind" games at this level.

What about the Bengals? I'm pretty sure USC could beat the Bengals.

Dino 6 Rings
10-20-2008, 12:02 PM
Whatever the talking heads want to say to discredit our 5-1 record, let them say.

It doesn't matter as long as we continue to win and continue to knock the snot out of all the teams we face.

The record is what it is. 5-1. Deal with it Haters. Next up, the Giants, the same Giants that lost a spotlight game on Monday night to the hapless Browns.

I like our chances. Even if they are the defending champs, heck, that'll just motivate us to hit even harder.

XxKnightxX
10-20-2008, 12:10 PM
well be fine, no worries. I do gotta admit that the schedule has lightened a tad bit from what we have seen this season. But i would rather stay under the radar but i doubt it will happen with the amount of "powerhouse" opponents that we have eventually. As far as the offense goes....they gotta stick to the running game PERIOD. I dont want to see another eagles game happen this season.

revefsreleets
10-20-2008, 12:12 PM
Giants, Redskins and Colts are all very beatable. We could certainly be 3-0 over the next 3 weeks. I think we'll drop one of these games and be 7-2 over the first 9, which, of course, will lead many of the more fickle fans to find the nearest bridge to jump off of...

Dino 6 Rings
10-20-2008, 12:24 PM
one at a time. Up next the Giants. To be the man you have to beat the man, and this is our chance to Beat the Crap out of the man.

Wanna bet that Ben wants to beat Eli head to head. Wanna bet that our linebackers want to combine for 6 sacks, again. I can't wait til this weekend. I freaking hate the Giants.