View Full Version : Steelers Prove Why They're Champs

09-12-2009, 05:52 PM
Steelers Prove Why They're Champs
Posted Sep 11, 2009 2:20AM By Calvin Watkins (RSS feed)

The Steelers won the Super Bowl last season, thanks in part to their poise while handling a difficult regular-season schedule.

In 2008, Pittsburgh played against seven playoff teams -- a grind that helped them prepare for the postseason. The Steelers celebrated that postseason on Thursday night, dropping a huge championship banner behind one of the Heinz Field goal posts before they took on Tennessee in the NFL's season opener.

The fans went crazy, but their team strolled onto the field as if that Super Bowl title never existed. There would be no ring ceremony. There would be no marching the Lombardi Trophy around at midfield.

Last year was last year, and if the Steelers are going to repeat, they have to play it cool.

Maybe that's why the Steelers feel like Thursday night's 13-10 overtime victory wasn't such a big deal. Maybe that's why the Steelers feel like they're supposed to win games like this.

"We live on pressure," linebacker James Harrison said. "We apply pressure, we don't feel it."

The Steelers, normally a running team, won this game despite rushing for just 36 yards on 23 carries. Pittsburgh's star quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was sacked four times and threw two interceptions. The Steelers also lost five-time Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu before halftime with a sprained MCL in his left knee.

But the Steelers overcame everything on Thursday, including their own mistakes. Pro Bowl wide receiver Hines Ward made the biggest of those late in the game.

With the game tied 10-10 and with a little more than a minute to play, Ward caught a pass from Roethlisberger deep in Titans territory. Instead of going down inside Tennessee's 20-yard-line and setting up kicker Jeff Reed for a short field-goal attempt, Ward charged toward the end zone -- then fumbled inside the Tennesee 10. The Titans recovered and forced a shocked Pittsburgh team and crowd to endure overtime.

Yet, somehow, the Steelers won this game.

"As always, playing a tough schedule, having a bunch of veteran guys helps," said Ward, who finished with eight catches for 103 yards. "Even when I fumbled the ball, all the guys were encouraging. The defense was like, 'You will get a second chance.' "

That second chance came after the Titans ran out the clock in regulation, instead of trying to pull off a desperate drive down the field. The Steelers then won the overtime coin toss and went 63 yards in 10 plays to put Reed in position to make a game-winning 33-yard field goal.

On the game-winning drive, instead of Ward or Santonio Holmes, Roethlisberger found a new target, hitting rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace for 22 yards to set up Reed's kick.

Reed easily converted the attempt, sending the Steelers faithful home happy.

Roethlisberger threw for 363 yards, Holmes duplicated his numbers from Super Bowl XLIII (nine catches, 131 yards and a touchdown), Polamalu had an interception, and the offense won the time of possession battle by nearly eight minutes (36:11 to 28:21).

It was far from perfect, though, providing yet another example of how the Steelers find ways to win.

"We had a lot of communication errors," tackle Willie Colon said. "We were kind of sloppy in protection at times, and that's going to happen in the first game. Obviously, we're going to look at the tape, and it's not going to be as good as we want it, and it's not going to be as bad as we think it is."

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has some issues to work out over the weekend.

First and foremost, he has to improve the offensive line's protection of Roethlisberger, who was knocked down numerous times and often found himself avoiding multiple onrushing defenders. He also must solve Pittsburgh's struggles on the ground -- the rushing attack, which finished a disappointing 23rd in the league last season, averaged a mere 1.6 yards per carry on Thursday, though running back Willie Parker said it was more about him than what the Titans defense did.

Still, the Steelers are 1-0. Yet if they expect to repeat -- something that's hard to do in this league -- they have to play much better.

"Chances are, the more violent team usually wins," Tomlin said. "The jury is out on that. The last thing we talked about was not riding the emotional roller coaster and being prepared to play 60-plus minutes of football."

09-12-2009, 07:15 PM
Mix in the no huddle with the short passing game. In addition, sometimes when FWP is in the backfield you must throw the ball otherwise the opponent loads up the DL.

Watching the game on tv you could figure out if it was run or pass before they snapped the ball. Play calling and formations need a little bit more creativity. Just because you wear black and gold uniforms doesn't mean you can always do whatever you want whenever you want. Coaching needs to get a little smarter.

But we can see what kind of team it is turning into. Might be a good idea to let BB call more plays. You have at least three receivers with solid hands you can throw to if you have 5 seconds before being hit. Use them.

09-12-2009, 07:35 PM
we just gotta get the o line on track and well be fine, the defense will hold its own, especially once timmons is back and then troy later in the season, but for now, the only problem is the o line/run game