View Full Version : Week 3: Steelers Key Matchup

09-27-2009, 12:04 AM
Week 3: Steelers Key Matchup
By Mark Kaboly
Sunday, September 27, 2009

Steelers LT Max Starks vs. Bengals DE Antwan Odom


Starks has become one of the most consistent pass blocking lineman on the team even since making the switch from right tackle to left tackle a year ago. The Steelers have allowed six sacks in two games, but Starks has been strong against two top defenders in Tennessee's Jevon Kearse and Chicago's Alex Brown. Even though the two combined for three of the Steelers' six sacks allowed this year, it wasn't Starks' fault on all of them. Brown did beat Starks on his first sack Sunday of Roethlisberger, but wasn't the culprit on the second.


Odom has seven sacks in two games an NFL record. Since the league started counting sacks as an official stat in 1982, no player has collected more during the first two games than Odom. Odom had two sacks of Denver quarterback Kyle Orton and five last week of Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. Odom's five sacks last week was the most since the Giants' Osi Umenyiora got five against Philadelphia two years ago. Odom got two sacks against Chad Clifton before leaving with an ankle injury. He then took advantage of an already hobbled Daryn Colledge, who was moved from left guard to left tackle.


The Packers gave tight end help to their right tackle last week leaving both their left tackles on an island in which Odom took full advantage. The Steelers will more than likely have Heath Miller line up a lot on the left side to help out Starks. However, Starks has always had more trouble with speed guys over power guys. Oakland's Derrick Burgess, a speed rusher, had his way with Starks in 2006 with three sacks. Odom is more of a power/quick guy who likes to line up straight up or shade toward the inside and use a fast first step to beat his opponent. If Starks is able to get his hands on Odom then Starks will win the battle. If the Steelers use Miller to help, the Steelers will win the battle, but if it is man on man, Odom will have his way.

Mark Kaboly can be reached at mkaboly@dailynewsemail.com or 412-664-9161.

09-27-2009, 01:05 AM

Head to Head: Steelers LT Max Starks vs. Bengals DE Antwan Odom
A closer look at the game within the game
Sunday, September 27, 2009
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Steelers LT Max Starks vs. Bengals DE Antwan Odom

For a quarterback who has been sacked an NFL-high 139 times in three seasons, Ben Roethlisberger usually can't go too many games without being sacked. Unless, of course, he is facing the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals have not sacked Roethlisberger in any of their past three meetings and just twice in their past five games. Since the start of the 2006 season, Roethlisberger has played in five games in which he has not been sacked; three of those are against the Bengals.

"Unfortunately, each time we played them last year, they'd give up six or seven sacks the week before and then we'd get them and we'd look like the Sisters of the Poor because we couldn't get him to the ground," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

That, though, might change.

All of a sudden, the Bengals have become a sack-happy group, led by defensive end Antwan Odom, who tied an NFL record with seven sacks in his first two games.

Odom had five sacks in last week's 31-24 victory against Green Bay and is looking like the player who was given the largest free-agent contract in Bengals history last season.

"He took advantage of every player on the left side he went against -- two tackles, two guards, two tight ends," said left tackle Max Starks, who has the task of lining up against Odom and keeping from padding his league-leading sack total.

Thanks to Odom, the Bengals have nine sacks after two games, which already are more than half their total for the entire 2008 season, when they had 17 (second worst in the NFL). Odom had only three sacks last year, though he was injured much of the season.

But it won't be just Starks trying to stop Odom. When the Bengals use their nickel and dime defensive packages, they insert rookie Michael Johnson at defensive end and slide Odom down the line to an inside tackle position. Of Odom's seven sacks, three have come from the inside position.

"Regardless of how it has been happening, seven is a pretty impressive total two games into the season," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

The Steelers gave up only two sacks in last week's 17-14 loss in Chicago -- both to defensive end Alex Brown, who lined up opposite Starks -- but Starks was only partly responsible for one. That came in the third quarter when Brown got a coverage sack because Roethlisberger held the ball too long.

But, in the second quarter, Brown beat Starks with an inside move and hit Roethlisberger as he was throwing, resulting in an interception by Bears cornerback Charles Tillman.

That, though is life at left tackle, where Starks typically gets the opponent's best pass-rusher. Today, that's Odom, who had four of his sacks after Packers left tackle Chad Clifton left the game with an ankle injury early in the second half.

"It was a great opportunity for him," Starks said. "A couple times, the quarterback stepped up in the pocket, things collapsed and he happened to be right there and pushed the tackle back and disengaged from him. There was an opportunity he had available to him and he took full advantage of it."

What the Steelers will do: There is no question the running game needs lots of work (36 yards on 23 carries vs. Titans). And probably nobody needs more work than Willie Parker, who carried 16 times for 19 yards and, admittedly, failed to hit several holes. But Rashard Mendenhall needs to take advantage of the opportunity, and he hasn't. Expect the Bears to pressure Ben Roethlisberger with more blitzes, something they did against the Packers that resulted in nine plays for negative yards. But look for Roethlisberger to attack the Bears' secondary, especially rookie SS Al Afalava and CB Zack Bowman, who is expected to replace Nathan Vasher.

When the Bears have the ball: QB Jay Cutler looked like he was trying to do too much and quickly got out of rhythm in last week's loss in Green Bay, though he settled down in the second half. But part of the reason he threw four INTs is because he doesn't have experienced receivers who know how to get open. His top receiver was second-year WR Earl Bennett (7 catches, 66 yards), a former teammate at Vanderbilt. What's more, the Packers kept hurrying Cutler by blitzing out of Dom Capers' new 3-4 defense, which is patterned after the Steelers. The Bears rushed for 79 yards, 55 coming on 25 carries by RB Matt Forte, and they will need to at least be that effective if they want to keep the pressure off Cutler.

Keep an eye on ...

Bears DE Adewale Ogunleye:He had two of the four sacks in last week's opener in Green Bay and just tortured Packers RT Alan Barbre. Ogunleye will line against RT Willie Colon, who was considered the team's best lineman last season. Colon's specialty is run blocking, but his pass protection will get a good test against Ogunleye, who is an up-the-field rusher who combines strength and quickness.


Game: Steelers (1-0) at Chicago Bears (0-1).

When: 4:15 p.m.

Where: Soldier Field.


Radio: WDVE-FM (102.5), WBGG-AM (970)


The Steelers have only one victory in 12 games in Chicago. However, their previous game there -- in 1995 when Neil O'Donnell rallied the team to a 37-34 OT victory -- propelled them to the Super Bowl. This is the home opener for the Bears, who will be without MLB Brian Urlacher, but it will also be the first meaningful game at home for QB Jay Cutler, who doesn't want a repeat of his performance in Green Bay.

To win, the Bears must ...

1Go to their Forte. He led the team in receiving and rushing in 2008, but didn't catch a pass vs. the Packers. Expect that to change.

2Keep Pace with the blitz.LT Orlando Pace is one of four new starters and he will see plenty of pressure from the Steelers.

3Have Briggs be Briggs.They will be without Urlacher and possibly OLB Pisa Tinoisamoa, putting more pressure on Pro Bowl LB Lance Briggs.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1Confuse Cutler. Last season in Denver, Cutler came back from a three-INT performance by throwing for 447 yards the following week.

2Not let Hester fester. Devin Hester is the best return specialist in the league who can turn one mistake into a touchdown.

3Get some runs in the sun. Parker and Mendenhall need to have greater production because the longest run against the Titans was 8 yards.

Keys to victory

Gerry Dulac can be reached at gdulac@post-gazette.com.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09270/1001095-66.stm#ixzz0SHROj1Ha

09-27-2009, 07:12 AM
Let's hope Starks earns his pay today.

I'd rather see Miller catching passes and scoring touchdowns..... :thumbsup:

Galax Steeler
09-27-2009, 07:20 AM
Let's hope Starks earns his pay today.

I'd rather see Miller catching passes and scoring touchdowns..... :thumbsup:

I would to but if it means keeping big ben off of his back then I say use Miller to help Starks.

09-27-2009, 08:28 AM
Did the Bengals play above their past record or did Green Bay suck so bad that it made Cinci look good?

09-27-2009, 08:59 AM
So what Odom has had a couple of good games, before that he was a nobody. I wouldn't be supprised if we actually used Odom's aggresive pass rushing nature against him. E.g. little dump off's to Moore. I honestly can't see this being a problem, although I hope i don't eat my words. :-|

El-Gonzo Jackson
09-27-2009, 09:32 AM
I'll be happy of Odom only gets 2 sacks and the Steelers still win the game.

09-27-2009, 11:05 AM
To me this is the biggest match up today. Starks is going to have his work cut out for him and needs to earn his paycheck today. I see a lot of TE help along with RB chips on Odom.

steel striker
09-27-2009, 11:14 AM
As long as we win the game and, keep everyone healthy. Maybe this is the week our running game breaks out. I know what has been said about the bengals improved defense but, talk is cheap. I guess we will find out today 4:15. Go steelers!