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lamberts-lost-tooth
12-01-2008, 05:21 AM
Steelers' two-back attack pays off
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, December 1, 2008

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. Wonders never cease. The Steelers played their top two running backs for the majority of Sunday's game against the New England Patriots. A real, live two-back attack for the tradition-bound one-back Steelers. Imagine that.

Not because Willie Parker was injured during the contest - he wasn't. And not because Mewelde Moore is a superior pass receiver- which he is.

Just because.

I think it is a good thing,'' center Justin Hartwig said. "We have two guys that have been getting it done for us all year.''

Guess what? The Steelers' two-back attack worked to perfection during a satisfying 33-10 win at Gillette Stadium. Why it took so long to embrace playing two healthy running backs during the course of a 60-minute game is a question for another day for coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

The two-back attack worked yesterday because the Steelers believed it would work.

"That was the plan," Tomlin said. "We were going to use both guys.''

Alternating Parker and Moore in the backfield against New England made sense because the old way - run Willie until his wheels fall off; Tomlin's words, not mine - just wasn't working.

To be blunt, Parker hasn't been the same player since breaking his leg toward the end of last season and then suffering knee and shoulder injuries this season. He hasn't run with the same burst or explosiveness. That's understandable, considering the severity of his injury.

In fact, it was surprising to see Parker make such a fast recovery from the broken leg. It was even more surprising when Parker carried the ball 25 times for 138 yards and three touchdowns against Houston in the opener. The following week against Cleveland, Parker had 28 carries for 105 yards.

The following week against Philadelphia? Don't ask.

OK, Parker was held to 20 yards on 13 carries before leaving the game against the Eagles with a knee injury. He's been in and out of the lineup with injuries ever since.

Yesterday, Parker carried the ball 16 times for 87 yards, including 71 yards on 11 carries in the second half. More important, he appeared to run stronger and faster in the fourth quarter than he did in the first quarter. Parker's 31-yard bolt in the fourth quarter setting up a Jeff Reed field goal was his longest run since a 32-yarder in the opener.

"I never thought I'd be happy with something like that,'' Parker said of the two-back approach. "But that's the perfect thing for me right now and the perfect thing for the team.

"It really worked - I feel good,'' Parker said. "I'm not where I need to be, but I feel a lot better.''

Parker's body didn't absorb the same amount of punishment he would have received if he had carried the ball 28 times - the combined number of carries Parker and Moore shared against the Patriots. Moore rushed 12 times for 67 yards.

"It looked real good, didn't it?'' Moore said. "Given the opportunity, we made plays. We were real consistent, real patient, and we came through.''

Some people in the press box were under the mistaken impression that Parker, who wore a parka on the sideline when he wasn't in the game, was injured, so accustomed is everyone to seeing No. 39 in the lineup. Parker was simply attempting to stay dry and semi-warm in the wind, rain and cold weather.

It worked once. Let's hope this isn't the last we see of the Steelers' two-back attack.


http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_600866.html

DACEB
12-01-2008, 05:46 AM
I've been preaching this for quite some time. This was a great team win. There were great rotations all over on offense and defense. Great play by both RBs.

Did anyone notice Timmons and Foote on the field at the same time? They played well together, and looked quick to the ball.

Blonde Bomber
12-01-2008, 06:19 AM
That is a tradition that Cowher started his first year running Foster 390 times to Hoge's 41 times. Before that we were more balanced. Sure there was always Franco getting more carries than Rocky, but it was not so lopsided. Heck even Jackson, Pollard, and Abercrombie split carries pretty evenly.

X-Terminator
12-01-2008, 07:33 AM
This should make steelreserve happy...

The Duke
12-01-2008, 09:54 AM
This should make steelreserve happy...

Yeah. But it should make us all happy

The running game certainly works better using 2 backs. Moore helps willie, Willie helps Moore

I like it :thumbsup:

LambertIsGod58
12-01-2008, 09:57 AM
I agree but the ONE thing I hate about the two back system in the NFL now is that it ruins Fantasy Football!

The Duke
12-01-2008, 10:14 AM
I agree but the ONE thing I hate about the two back system in the NFL now is that it ruins Fantasy Football!

Lol. Especially when they give gary russell the touchdown

I'm happy for russell, but having willie in FF is not easy

Anyway.....I think the two back system may help pick up this 20th something ranked running game just in time for the playoffs :tt03:

KeiselPower99
12-01-2008, 02:17 PM
We have 3 good backs and all 3 need to touch the ball. Nw f we would bring Krieder back to black we can regain that nasty running attack.

X-Terminator
12-01-2008, 02:18 PM
We have 3 good backs and all 3 need to touch the ball. Nw f we would bring Krieder back to black we can regain that nasty running attack.

Kreider was cut by the Rams last week after being directly responsible for getting Marc Bulger killed on 2 different occasions. He ain't coming back.

fansince'76
12-01-2008, 02:20 PM
Kreider was cut by the Rams last week after being directly responsible for getting Marc Bulger killed on 2 different occasions. He ain't coming back.

We need to get Kuhn back! :toofunny:

steelpride12
12-01-2008, 03:18 PM
Parker and MeMo both could have reached 100 yards yesterday and having a 1-2 punch is the NFL is becoming automatic for good football teams.
I love the speed and agility of Parker, where MeMo has the second effort to rack up the yards plus break a 100 yard game.
Russell is just an added plus with the power. He is no Jerome Bettis, but one bruiser.

steelreserve
12-01-2008, 03:35 PM
This should make steelreserve happy...

Well, duh. I've only been saying we should do this for ... I don't know ... THREE YEARS.
This way definitely works better.

What I don't get is why they said the "tradition-bound Steelers" always use one back. It's never been that way. Before this, we had combinations of Bettis-Parker, Bettis-Staley, Bettis-Zereoue, Morris-Pegram, Foster-Morris, Foster-Hoge, Hoge-Worley (ugh) ... all the way back to Harris and Bleier. Most of the time we've been successful, we've had a couple of running backs that we rotate. It was only recently that we started this one-back-only-no-matter-the-cost horsecrap with Parker.

mesaSteeler
12-01-2008, 05:22 PM
Two backs is the best way to go. Not only does it confuse the opponents defense it also keeps both backs fresh. Using two backs will add to Parker's longevity.

Steely McSmash
12-01-2008, 07:08 PM
Love the two backs. I'd love to see Gary Russell wear teams down in the first half and then hit them with a fresh fast willie.

stillers4me
12-01-2008, 07:10 PM
Willie said tonight on KDKA that it's good for him and it's good for the team. I think last year really tore him up........it's nice to chase a personal record, but it's even nicer to have the wins and the postseason.

Makaveli
12-01-2008, 07:19 PM
Nw f we would bring Krieder back to black we can regain that nasty running attack.

Been thinking the same thing for quite a while now,......

BlackAndGold4Ever
12-01-2008, 07:36 PM
Yeah it was nice to see Parker and Moore splitting time, and thats the way it should be. Hell all the other teams in the NFL run two backs, the Giants use three. As a fantasy player yeah it sucks, but to keep the backs fresh (and healthy) its the best for the team.

devilsdancefloor
12-01-2008, 08:28 PM
im still waiting for this pony backfield! i think it would be deadly with willie and memo! hell put dixon in and throw russell out there too why not make it a wishbone :alcohol::laughing: (we do need a sarcasm smiley cause that last sentece is all in sarcasm LAUGH!)

Preacher
12-01-2008, 09:14 PM
We have 3 good backs and all 3 need to touch the ball. Nw f we would bring Krieder back to black we can regain that nasty running attack.

Been thinking the same thing for quite a while now,......

Why? He was cut... BY THE RAMS.

Sorry. We can't go back to the past.

Preacher
12-01-2008, 09:16 PM
Well, duh. I've only been saying we should do this for ... I don't know ... THREE YEARS.
This way definitely works better.

What I don't get is why they said the "tradition-bound Steelers" always use one back. It's never been that way. Before this, we had combinations of Bettis-Parker, Bettis-Staley, Bettis-Zereoue, Morris-Pegram, Foster-Morris, Foster-Hoge, Hoge-Worley (ugh) ... all the way back to Harris and Bleier. Most of the time we've been successful, we've had a couple of running backs that we rotate. It was only recently that we started this one-back-only-no-matter-the-cost horsecrap with Parker.

Um, it didn't start with Parker.

We had a "featured" back for years. Bettis was the featured back from the day he got here until the job was given to Amos (oops). Then, when Amos couldn't do it, they brought in Staley to be the featured back. The first half of that year, Bettis barely got on the field.

BrandonCarr39
12-01-2008, 09:46 PM
I was watching one of your games in '06(believe it was against the Ravens)-the announcers on there were saying how Bettis was sorely missed that season b/c of his leadership he brings on the field, on the sidelines, and in the locker room, and he brought fresh legs in the 4th quarter in tight games to wear down tiring defenses.

Anyhow-even despite his limited role in his last couple of years there, he was really that big of an asset for your team? I just keep thinking about that run you made at the end of '05 after that loss to Cincy and everyone thought the Steelers were RIP, and Bettis popped up in my mind.

tony hipchest
12-01-2008, 10:44 PM
I was watching one of your games in '06(believe it was against the Ravens)-the announcers on there were saying how Bettis was sorely missed that season b/c of his leadership he brings on the field, on the sidelines, and in the locker room, and he brought fresh legs in the 4th quarter in tight games to wear down tiring defenses.

Anyhow-even despite his limited role in his last couple of years there, he was really that big of an asset for your team? I just keep thinking about that run you made at the end of '05 after that loss to Cincy and everyone thought the Steelers were RIP, and Bettis popped up in my mind.you asked if the patriots were dirty players in another thread. in 04 we brought in duce staley to replace the bus and jerome stuck around as a back-up. duce was leading the league in rushing when a patriot cheap shotted him at the bottom of the pile and essentially ended his season. jerome stepped right in and the steelers didnt miss a beat, averaging about 100 ypg on way to a 15-1 season.

coming off the bench vs the patriots, and having his season end vs the patriots in the AFCC game probably inspired him to return for his final season. rookie ben promised him if he came back for 1 more year, he would get him a ring.

due to pre-season injuries to duce and jerome, 3rd string parker earned the starting job in 05, but jerome had proven the previous year he still had legs and would be a great pounder and closer. when our season and playoff hopes were on the line, he turned it around as the mudder vs the bears in the infamous play where he plowed over urlacher for a goal. his final game in pittsburgh (the final game of the season which was a must win) he scored 3td's.

he did well in 3 road playoff games (minus his fumble vs the colts- but look how ben was inspired to make a miracle tackle). his team mates had him run onto the field alone during player introductions at the superbowl, and the whole team then followed as a group. and when it was time to ice the game infront of his hometown crowd, he delivered and kept the ball away from the seahawks.

theres no question to how much inspiration he provided. in 06 it is noteworthy that in addition to bens motorcycle accident and the retirement of jerome, we also lost von oelhoffen, randle-el, and chris hope who were all a clubhouse presence and leaders in their own right.

BrandonCarr39
12-01-2008, 11:41 PM
you asked if the patriots were dirty players in another thread. in 04 we brought in duce staley to replace the bus and jerome stuck around as a back-up. duce was leading the league in rushing when a patriot cheap shotted him at the bottom of the pile and essentially ended his season. jerome stepped right in and the steelers didnt miss a beat, averaging about 100 ypg on way to a 15-1 season.

coming off the bench vs the patriots, and having his season end vs the patriots in the AFCC game probably inspired him to return for his final season. rookie ben promised him if he came back for 1 more year, he would get him a ring.

due to pre-season injuries to duce and jerome, 3rd string parker earned the starting job in 05, but jerome had proven the previous year he still had legs and would be a great pounder and closer. when our season and playoff hopes were on the line, he turned it around as the mudder vs the bears in the infamous play where he plowed over urlacher for a goal. his final game in pittsburgh (the final game of the season which was a must win) he scored 3td's.

he did well in 3 road playoff games (minus his fumble vs the colts- but look how ben was inspired to make a miracle tackle). his team mates had him run onto the field alone during player introductions at the superbowl, and the whole team then followed as a group. and when it was time to ice the game infront of his hometown crowd, he delivered and kept the ball away from the seahawks.

theres no question to how much inspiration he provided. in 06 it is noteworthy that in addition to bens motorcycle accident and the retirement of jerome, we also lost von oelhoffen, randle-el, and chris hope who were all a clubhouse presence and leaders in their own right.

Interesting...one good thing about coming to other teams' MBs is that you get alot of insight about these teams. Yeah-you need players to fit your scheme, but when you can have that SYNERGY as a TEAM, that's always a huge bonus. Prior to that run, I remember how Jim Rome and most of the ESPN analysts started saying how Cowher's days in Pitt were numbered.

BTW-speaking of RBs-over on our board around draft time and afterwards, we've had many Felix Jones vs. Mendenhall discussions, and opinions varied all over the map. Just curious, what were the reports coming out of the Steelers TC et al over Mendenhall?

Felix was put on IR recently BTW-he's a big loss b/c whether on ST or the run/pass game, he's our home run hitter.

Steelman16
12-01-2008, 11:50 PM
I think all the pressure has pretty much abated concerning Mendenhall. He's probably been written off as a bust by some, but I think he'll come back from that freak shoulder injury and prove himself to be a very good runningback for us.

I think the problem next year will be decided which runningbacks we can keep.

As far as Mendenhall Vs Jones...

I think Jones is a better home run spark, ala Chris Johnson, but Mendenhall is the better overall back. Mendenhall has more power than Jones which fits our system better. If y'all had drafted Mendenhall, I don't think we could have drafted Jones -- we probably would have traded down.

Both backs weren't totally ready for NFL action though, IMO. Both would have benifieted from a year on the sidelines and in the weight room. Hopefully they both come back strong next year.

BrandonCarr39
12-01-2008, 11:59 PM
I think all the pressure has pretty much abated concerning Mendenhall. He's probably been written off as a bust by some, but I think he'll come back from that freak shoulder injury and prove himself to be a very good runningback for us.

I think the problem next year will be decided which runningbacks we can keep.

As far as Mendenhall Vs Jones...

I think Jones is a better home run spark, ala Chris Johnson, but Mendenhall is the better overall back. Mendenhall has more power than Jones which fits our system better. If y'all had drafted Mendenhall, I don't think we could have drafted Jones -- we probably would have traded down.

Both backs weren't totally ready for NFL action though, IMO. Both would have benifieted from a year on the sidelines and in the weight room. Hopefully they both come back strong next year.

Speaking of last year's draft, Cleveland traded their #1 pick to us last year so they could nab Brady Quinn.

Remember at the time when EVERYONE thought they would make history and go winless last year...until some unknown from Oregon St started lighting it up out of nowhere.

Jerry and most of our fan base pretty much thought Darren McFadden was a lock for us until Anderson started going on a tear. Overall-it worked out for us with our lower #1 as we didn't have the cap room to overpay DM.

One thing's for sure-this league is hugely unpredictable.

Blonde Bomber
12-02-2008, 07:36 AM
Um, it didn't start with Parker.

We had a "featured" back for years. Bettis was the featured back from the day he got here until the job was given to Amos (oops). Then, when Amos couldn't do it, they brought in Staley to be the featured back. The first half of that year, Bettis barely got on the field.

Exactly, here the stats. Notice 1992, Cowhers first year.

Rushing Statistics 1976
Player Att Yds Yds/Att
Franco Harris 289 1128 3.9
Rocky Bleier 220 1036 4.7
Reggie Harrison 54 235 4.4

1977
Franco Harris 300 1162 3.9
Rocky Bleier 135 465 3.4

1978
Franco Harris 310 1082 3.5
Rocky Bleier 165 633 3.8

1979
Franco Harris 267 1186 4.4
Sidney Thornton 118 585 5.0
Rocky Bleier 92 434 4.7

1980
Franco Harris 208 789 3.8
Rocky Bleier 78 340 4.4
Sidney Thornton 78 325 4.2

1981
Franco Harris 242 987 4.1
Frank Pollard 123 570 4.6

1982
Franco Harris 140 604 4.3 yikes Franco only had 2 rushing TDs
Frank Pollard 62 238 3.8

1983
Franco Harris 279 1007 3.6
Frank Pollard 135 608 4.5
Walter Abercrombie 112 446 4.0
Cliff Stoudt 77 479 6.2 ??? 77 rushes for Stoudt??

1984
Frank Pollard 213 851 4.0
Walter Abercrombie 145 610 4.2

1985
Frank Pollard 233 991 4.3
Walter Abercrombie 227 851 3.7

1986
Earnest Jackson 216 910 4.2
Walter Abercrombie 214 877 4.1

1987
Earnest Jackson 180 696 3.9
Frank Pollard 128 536 4.2
Walter Abercrombie 123 459 3.7

1988
Merril Hoge 170 705 4.1
Warren Williams 87 409 4.7
Earnest Jackson 74 315 4.3
Bubby Brister 45 209 4.6 Bubby takes 36 sacks this year

1989
Tim Worley 195 770 3.9
Merril Hoge 186 621 3.3

1990
Merril Hoge 203 772 3.8
Tim Worley 109 418 3.8
Warren Williams 68 389 5.7
Barry Foster 36 203 5.6

1991
Merril Hoge 165 610 3.7
Barry Foster 96 488 5.1 O'Donnel 30 sacks, Bubby 15

1992
Barry Foster 390 1690 4.3
Merril Hoge 41 150 3.7

1993
Leroy Thompson 205 763 3.7
Barry Foster 177 711 4.0
Merril Hoge 51 249 4.9 O'Donnell 41 sacks, Tomczak 7

1994
Barry Foster 216 851 3.9
Bam Morris 198 836 4.2

1995
Erric Pegram 213 813 3.8
Bam Morris 148 559 3.8 Bam had 9 rushing TDS

1996
Jerome Bettis 320 1431 4.5
Erric Pegram 97 509 5.2

1997
Jerome Bettis 375 1665 4.4
Kordell Stewart 88 476 5.4 aaah the Kordell years

1998
Jerome Bettis 316 1185 3.8
Kordell Stewart 81 406 5.0

1999
Jerome Bettis 299 1091 3.6
Richard Huntley 93 567 6.1

2000
Jerome Bettis 355 1341 3.8
Kordell Stewart 78 436 5.6

2001
Jerome Bettis 225 1072 4.8
Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala 120 453 3.8

2002
Amos Zereoue 193 762 3.9 a better split, but Maddox was throwing
Jerome Bettis 187 666 3.6

2003
Jerome Bettis 246 811 3.3
Amos Zereoue 132 433 3.3

2004
Jerome Bettis 250 941 3.8
Duce Staley 192 830 4.3

2005
Willie Parker 255 1202 4.7
Jerome Bettis 110 368 3.3

2006
Willie Parker 337 1494 4.4
Najeh Davenport 60 221 3.7

2007
Willie Parker 321 1316 4.1 47 sacks for Ben
Najeh Davenport 107 499 4.7

2008
Willie Parker 142 572 4.0
Mewelde Moore 121 499 4.1


Ok I know I went waay back but I was having fun looking at the stats. A few of the years were not as bad as I remember, but some were ridiculous. I would much rather see them split than have a worn out beat up Willie in a year or two.

Dino 6 Rings
12-02-2008, 08:15 AM
We need to get Kuhn back! :toofunny:

No, that would not be fair at all. Pretty sure the NFL has a rule that Kuhn can't be a Steeler because it would give Us an unfair competetive advantage.

KeiselPower99
12-02-2008, 08:19 AM
Kuhn has nothing on Kreider but since yall dont want him how about Billy Latsko??

lilyoder6
12-02-2008, 10:26 AM
i was wondering when they were gonna do this.. i mean in the off-season ken did say he was going to use the pony backfield... but haven't seen it yet but at least we are using moore even tho parker is back

steelreserve
12-02-2008, 11:11 AM
Um, it didn't start with Parker.

We had a "featured" back for years. Bettis was the featured back from the day he got here until the job was given to Amos (oops). Then, when Amos couldn't do it, they brought in Staley to be the featured back. The first half of that year, Bettis barely got on the field.

Not really. When Bettis was here, we usually had a second guy running for 500+ yards a season, even though the name of that guy changed a few times. They also used the Kordell Stewart screwball offense as their change of pace pretty often, and we don't do that anymore (don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about that).

There were really only about two or three years where you could claim the running game was Bettis and no one else.

Oh yeah -- how well did we do in those seasons again? I can't remember.

steelreserve
12-02-2008, 11:20 AM
Exactly, here the stats. Notice 1992, Cowhers first year.

...

Ok I know I went waay back but I was having fun looking at the stats. A few of the years were not as bad as I remember, but some were ridiculous. I would much rather see them split than have a worn out beat up Willie in a year or two.

One more thing I ought to clarify ... "using more than one back" does not mean that the yards and carries have to be divided 50-50. If one guy gains 1,000 yards and you get 500 yards out of your second guy, that's pretty good.

It's when you see one guy get 75% or 80% of the carries and no one else is even a legitimate threat to do anything ... well, that's when your running game gets monotonous and starts to lick balls.