View Full Version : Run of offensive woes continues

09-21-2009, 07:02 AM
Run of offensive woes continues
Monday, September 21, 2009
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

CHICAGO -- So even by the singular authority of those six Super Bowl championships, it appears as though the Steelers will not be running the table in 2009, but at least they won't be tabling the run.

Not completely.

Yes that was Rashard Mendenhall, the much mistrusted, slicing through a hole cracked open by Chris Kemoeatu, rumbling 39 yards to set up a second-half touchdown yesterday 10 days after it appeared as though the Steelers couldn't run a hot dog stand. And that was Willie Parker, the recently reviled, slicing out 12-, 12-, and 13-yard chunks against a Bears defense working desperately in the face of significant casualties.

But for all that, you might have known this was an offense still not fully functional right from the moment that Santonio Holmes intercepted a pass intended for Heath Miller on the Steelers' first possession. Worse, that first series would be the Steelers' most efficient of the day.

Scoring exactly seven points on their final nine possessions, the Steelers lost quietly on the shores of Lake Michigan, where they've historically come to snooze. This was their 13th visit and their 12th loss, and it made for a thick week of analysis dead ahead.

"There's no question we left a lot of plays out there," said Hines Ward, who caught six of Ben Roethlisberger's 23 completions but accumulated only 57 yards. "We'll review it, study it, analyze it, and come back from it. When you play a 16-game season, you're going to have games like this, but the fact is, we didn't execute well enough. Regardless of what the stats show or the numbers show, we didn't get it done."

Relative to the numbers that matter, those being 13 points in overtime in the opener and 14 points against the Bears yesterday, you'll just have to tune in Sunday when the Steelers play at Cincinnati and attempt the unthinkable: 15 points.

"Cincinnati's playin' good ball," said Steelers tackle Willie Colon, enunciating a sentence rarely heard in the English language. "I think one upside for us is that we did get a little bit of a running game going, but we did a lot of little things wrong. They did a good job overloading to one side and it caused a lot of miscommunication. You've got to come off the ball clean out there and we weren't doing it all the time."

You'd never have suspected even the threat of offensive difficulties from yesterday's initial possession, even when Holmes swiped a pass headed for Miller, because he wound up taking it 24 yards for his longest gain of the day. Roethlisberger hit Miller on a slant for 15 yards to convert a third down, then hit Ward for 13 to convert another, and on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Ben rolled to his right and flipped a go-ahead touchdown pass to tight end Matt Spaeth.

It was a 92-yard drive that took 13 plays and raked 8:03 off the first-quarter clock -- and it was apparently a bad omen. The Steelers' offense had not scored a first quarter touchdown in its past 10 games.

"They kind of got us on our heels at the start," said Bears middle linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, starting for Brian Urlacher.

"Things weren't working and we were tired. A lot of guys had their hands on their hips during that first drive. Today wasn't a dominating performance by our defense, it was a total team win."

Similarly, you can't make the first Steelers loss since Dec. 21 stick exclusively to the offense. Ty Carter, who was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week last time he got a start, will not be so selected today after getting beat for both Bears touchdowns, once by tight end Kellen Davis and then by rookie wideout Johnny Knox on a simple slant in the fourth quarter that tied the score, 14-14. Jeff Reed's two missed field-goal attempts in that period might be getting some attention today as well.

But for me this first Steelers loss of the new season will be frozen in the mind's eye by two images, the first of the running game's continuing futility on first down, where nine of 14 run calls yesterday fell in the range of plus 3 to minus-5 yards, and the second will be the football repeatedly squishing through the famous fingers of Holmes, whose three drops were lowlighted by the end result of a third-and-2 call from the Chicago 25 with 3:29 left in the game and the Steelers in grand position to win.

Holmes beat cornerback Charles Tillman to the left rear pylon as Roethlisberger threw on an exquisite arc that took it right over Tillman's hands and between Holmes' mitts.

Yeah, like in the Super Bowl.

But this one fell to earth, or certainly at least into a column-ending metaphor for Mike Tomlin's fellas.
Gene Collier can be reached a gcollier@post-gazette.com. More articles by this author

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09264/999648-150.stm#ixzz0Rk2xLwJ0

09-21-2009, 08:42 AM
IMO two things need to happen in our run game. First we need to commit to the run game. We look like the year we had Tommy Gun as QB, throwing the ball all the time. We don't have an rythm in the run game. I like the passing game, but we still neet to be able to run the ball. Two, we need to commit to one back, my choice would be R. Mendenhall. If he is not getting snaps, he is not going to be comfortable and again, no rythm. I like WP but never have been sold on him. Too many times he has hit the hole and it looked like he ran into a brick wall. Sometime this year the RM needs to know he is the man. Just my $.02 worth.