View Full Version : Steelers are tough, but struggle on run

11-30-2008, 08:58 AM
Steelers are tough, but struggle on run
Ground game is merely 24th in NFL



FOXBORO— The Steelers have the NFL’s top-rated defense, but they’re near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to offense.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has struggled because of shoulder problems. Compounding the situation, Pittsburgh’s traditionally vaunted run game has been unable to shoulder the load — additional or otherwise.

The Steelers are ranked 24th in the NFL in rushing offense, averaging 101.7 yards a game and 3.6 yards a carry. They finished fifth, 10th and third the last three seasons.

But second-year coach Mike Tomlin denied his grounded ground game has compromised the offense.

“It hasn’t,” Tomlin said. “If we are going to be good, we have to be capable of winning games in a lot of ways — running it, throwing it — and if we are going to be a complete offense, a complete team, we have to be able to do that. Ultimately it’s about winning and losing for us.”

The Steelers are 8-3, but have been hindered by a less-than-healthy Willie Parker. The fifth-year pro and three-time 1,200-yard rusher has missed five games with a bum knee. He’s listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game with the Patriots although he was a full participant at practice the last two days.

Parker has gained a team-high 485 yards, but is averaging just 3.8 yards a carry. He has three 100-plus yard efforts, but last time out was limited to 37 yards and 10 carries against Cincinnati.

Mewelde Moore, who’s also in his fifth season, has been a capable replacement. He’s run for 432 yards and five touchdowns — or one more than Parker.

The numbers are close, but the players have contrasting running styles.

“I would say Moore is more along the Kevin Faulk lines,” coach Bill Belichick said. “He is a quicker, smaller guy, good receiver, kick returner. But I think Parker has a little more power and straight line speed. Parker is as fast as any back in the league. Fred Taylor and guys like that, they can really run. He can really run.”

Parker, whose nickname is “Fast Willie,” hasn’t shown that explosiveness very often, though. He has one run over 20 yards after having nine last season.

Parker averaged 27 receptions the last two seasons, but has just one this year. Moore, though, is third on the team with 31.

“Mewelde does a lot of things well,” Tomlin said of Moore, an offseason free agent pickup who spent his first four seasons in Minnesota. “He can run it. He can catch it. He’s a pretty good blitz pick-up guy. He’s been a pretty good addition to us, most importantly because he’s a good teammate.”

The Patriots check in 13th in rushing defense after having been as low as 20th in late October. The last five weeks they’ve surrendered a scant 3.2 yards a carry.

“I think it comes down to stopping the run and situations (red zone, third down),” nose tackle Vince Wilfork said.

Mankins stands tall

It’s been a tough year for the Patriots’ offensive line.

Right tackle Nick Kaczur had that offseason brush with the law, and right guard Stephen Neal missed the first five games while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Center Dan Koppen banged up his elbow against the Jets, and left tackle Matt Light was fined for his role in a brawl against the Dolphins. Then there’s left guard Logan Mankins.

“I would say Logan is one of our most consistent players on and off the field,” Belichick said. “He is really pretty much the same guy every day. It’s like time standing still. He has played that one spot. We have never really moved him. He has played well.” Mankins hasn’t missed a game since joining the Patriots three years ago. He has made 67 consecutive starts (playoffs included), which is the longest current streak on the Patriots.

Defense is porous

The Patriots have allowed 62 points the last two weeks while losing to the Jets and defeating the Dolphins.

“That’s a lot of points to give up,” Wilfork acknowledged. “At the same time, we won one and lost one — lost in overtime to the Jets, who are one of the best teams out there. It’s not like college football. We’re playing in the National Football League.”

Translation: The other team gets paid, too.

The Patriots have given up more than 21 points on four occasions. They are 1-3, having split with the Dolphins and lost to the Chargers and Jets.

The Patriots are yielding an average of 20.2 points, good for eighth in the league.

4 defenders questionable

Ten Patriots showed up on the injury report with four defensive starters listed as questionable.

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi (knee), cornerback Ellis Hobbs (shoulder) and defensive linemen Richard Seymour (knee) and Ty Warren (groin) are all considered 50-50 for tomorrow’s game. The smart money is on all four to play.

Running back LaMont Jordan is also questionable. He has missed seven straight games with a calf injury and was a limited participant in practice all week.

Linebacker Adalius Thomas was ruled out and will miss his third straight game with a broken forearm.

Extra Points
Hines Ward is the Steelers’ all-time leader in receptions (773), receiving yards (9,455) and touchdowns (70). He’s the only receiver in team history to be voted to four Pro Bowls and was a teammate of Seymour at the University of Georgia in 1997. … Wes Welker ranks second in the league with 80 receptions, one behind Houston’s André Johnson. … Matt Cassel is tied with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers for 10th with a quarterback rating of 90.5. His 13 touchdown passes are tied for 11th with Kansas City’s Tyler Thigpen.

11-30-2008, 11:57 AM
While we may not have a big game rushing, I do believe Moore, Russell and maybe FWP can do some damage to open up the passing game for Ben and company.

Cape Cod Steel Head
11-30-2008, 12:02 PM
Look at who the played the last five weeks. They have only faced one good running back in Thomas Jones and he ran for 104 yds on them.

11-30-2008, 01:08 PM
All 4 sports analysts on the Fox pre-game show think Pittsburgh will win today. I like our chances, people also dont realize that NE has a weak pass rush and just all in all, a crappy defense. Btw Willie has been confirmed to be starting today :tt02:. Do your thing Willie!

Not a good omen. Not good at all. I'd rather them all pick the Pats* to win.

11-30-2008, 01:59 PM
Considering our losing streak and propensity to have things go wrong against New England, I'm very nervous about this game.

11-30-2008, 02:09 PM
For us to win today, Willie NEEDS to get 3-4 yards a pop (and not 1,-1, 8) to make 3rd downs easy for Ben...and he needs to make SMART decisions like he has the last couple weeks. Get the ball out soon and we'll be fine.

Our D can handle Moss and Cassel.

11-30-2008, 02:22 PM
For us to win we have to keep there running game calm so they dont open up the pass

11-30-2008, 02:53 PM
For us to win today, Willie NEEDS to get 3-4 yards a pop (and not 1,-1, 8) to make 3rd downs easy for Ben...and he needs to make SMART decisions like he has the last couple weeks. Get the ball out soon and we'll be fine.

Our D can handle Moss and Cassel.

Don't think there'll be much passing today - the weather up there is brutal with rain and a little snow mixed in, and according to the radio guys, the QBs are having problems handling the ball.

11-30-2008, 10:17 PM
It was nice to see us run the ball well today. FWP and Moore did a very nice job today especially in the rainy mess.