View Full Version : Week 17: Steelers Key Matchup

01-03-2010, 12:42 AM
Week 17: Steelers Key Matchup
By The Tribune-Review

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Steelers Run Defense vs. Miami RB Ricky Williams


The Steelers didn't allow a 100-yard rusher in a league-high 32 games before Baltimore's Ray Rice gashed them for 141 last week. It has been a disturbing trend of allowing the opposition to run against them with success. They fell from No. 1 in the league against the run to No. 3 after last week's game. The Steelers have surrendered 100 or more rushing yards in four of the last five games and more than 170 in two of the last three to Cleveland and Baltimore. Before the recent fall, the Steelers allowed only one team (Detroit) to gain more than 100 yards as a team while giving up only 16 in a Week 4 game against the Chargers.


It seemed like all gloom and doom when Miami running back Ronnie Brown was lost for the season in mid-November with a foot injury. But Williams, a former Heisman Trophy winner from Texas, has stepped in and the running game hasn't missed a beat. They haven't run much Wildcat since the loss of Brown, but Williams has still been able to rack up big yards. Two weeks ago, Williams went over 1,000 yards for the season, setting a record for most time in between 1,000-yard seasons. The 32-year-old last went over 1,000 yards in 2003. Williams has rushed for more than 100 yards in three of his six starts and has four for the season. He has 11 touchdowns.


The Steelers have been ranked either first, second or third against the run over the past five years for a reason. Even if they have been without defensive end and run stopper Aaron Smith along with a significant change at inside linebacker from last year from Larry Foote to Lawrence Timmons, the Steelers still excel at stopping the run. What they have had trouble with is the Wildcat. Cleveland's Josh Cribbs executed the offense perfectly against the Steelers a few weeks back. If the Dolphins decide to use that offense with Williams and former West Virginia quarterback Pat White running it, it could present a problem for the Steelers. But that is an unlikely scenario since they haven't used it much the past two months since Brown went out thus giving the Steelers the advantage.

The Tribune-Review can be reached at or .

01-03-2010, 12:47 AM
Steelers Game 16 Matchup: vs. Dolphins
Gerry Dulac breaks down the must-win game in Miami
Sunday, January 03, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Game plan

When the Dolphins have the ball: Even without RB Ronnie Brown, the Dolphins have remained one of the best rush offenses in the league. Since Brown was injured, RB Ricky Williams has rushed for 532 yards on 129 carries and is 10th in the NFL with 1,090. If Williams, who injured his shoulder against Houston last week, plays, that will be a problem for the Steelers, whose rush defense, once No. 1 in the NFL, has faltered. They have allowed 171 and 175 yards rushing in two of their past three games -- their highest totals this season. What's more, their 36-game streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher ended against the Ravens when Ray Rice had 141 yards on 30 carries last week. The Dolphins' leading receivers are WR Davone Bess (71 catches) and Greg Camarillo (47), a pair of undrafted free agents who have combined for just one touchdown.

When the Steelers have the ball: The running game has suddenly disappeared. The Steelers have not rushed for more than 75 yards in any of the past three games and have combined for 188 yards on 64 carries in that time, an average of 2.9 yards per carry. They had just 48 yards on 23 carries against the Ravens, their fewest since the season opener. The absence of injured G Chris Kemoeatu the past two games has limited the amount of counter plays the offense will run. The Dolphins start a pair of rookie cornerbacks -- Vontae Davis and Sean Smith -- who have been susceptible to big plays. They have allowed a league-high 16 pass plays of 40 yards or longer and 54 plays of 20 or longer, third-most in the league. Ben Roethlisberger has had 15 pass plays of 20 or longer in the past two games. Roethlisberger, though, has been sacked 47 times, tying his personal high.

Keep your eye on

WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr.: The Steelers have not allowed a kick return for touchdown in the past five games after allowing four in the five prior. But Ginn and Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs are the only returners to have two kickoff returns for touchdown in the same game this season. Ginn did it Nov. 1 against the New York Jets when he returned kicks of 101 and 100 yards for touchdown. Only nine players have ever returned two kickoffs in the same game for a touchdown.


Game: Steelers (8-7) at Miami Dolphins (7-7).

When: 1 p.m.

Where: Land Shark Stadium, Miami.


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


The Dolphins have lost two in a row but still have a slim mathematical shot at making the playoffs. They are 7-4 lifetime at home against the Steelers, who have not played in Miami since 2004. The Steelers have won the past three meetings with the Dolphins, the most recent on Nov. 6, 2007 at Heinz Field. The Steelers have won two in a row and need a victory and some outside help to make the playoffs.
Keys to victory

To win, the Dolphins must ...

1. Pack a Big Snack. Their success on the ground will depend on controlling Pro Bowl NT Casey Hampton.

2. Swim off the edge. They have to keep Roethlisberger in the pocket. He makes big plays on the move better than any NFL QB.

3. Have Ginn be a tonic. It would only be fitting if the Steelers' season ended because of a fifth kick return for touchdown.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1. Have fins to the left ... And deep throws to the right in Land Shark Stadium vs. a secondary that allows more big plays than anyone in the league.

2. Not let Ricky be picky. Williams is going against a rush defense that has allowed an average of 135.3 yards in the past three games.

3. Not go easy on J-Peezy. Former Steelers OLB Joey Porter, who lines against LT Max Starks, leads the Dolphins with eight sacks.
Gerry Dulac can be reached at gdulac@post-gazette.com.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10003/1025396-66.stm#ixzz0bWsQrNIt

01-03-2010, 12:51 AM
Head to Head: Dolphins RT Vernon Carey vs. Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley
A closer look at the game within the game
Sunday, January 03, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

LaMarr Woodley figured he didn't make the Pro Bowl last year because his sack production slipped late in the season after getting 91/2 in his first eight games.

This year, though, he has done the opposite, overcoming a slow start in which he didn't have a sack in seven of the first eight games to register 91/2 sacks in his past seven games. That surge has allowed him to surpass outside linebacker James Harrison, the NFL's 2008 defensive player of the year, for the team lead with 111/2.

Still, he didn't get selected to the AFC Pro Bowl team, even though the only other linebacker in the league with more sacks is Denver's Elvis Dumervil, who has 17.

"I thought it was definitely a possibility, coming on strong late in the season," Woodley said. "They say James Harrison and me are the best duo of outside linebackers. But half of the duo goes [to the Pro Bowl], but the other half seems to not get in there."

Harrison was selected to his third consecutive Pro Bowl since replacing Joey Porter as the starter at right outside linebacker in 2007. But Harrison's production has tailed off since early in the season, getting just two sacks in his past eight games and none in the past five.

His forced fumble in last Sunday's victory against the Ravens was his first in 10 games -- a surprising drought for a player who led the NFL with seven in 2008.

Woodley's performance against the Ravens was another indication of just how disruptive he has been: A team-high 10 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and forcing an interception.

"In some way, people try to find a way to take credit away from you, like whether it's, 'Oh, he's got James Harrison on the other side of him and James Harrison is drawing a lot of double teams and that's freeing up Woodley,'" Woodley said. "I guess they don't see when Woodley is getting double-teamed.

"I get chipped. I got double-teamed last game. But sometimes people don't notice that. They try to make it seem like you got an easy route over there. James is a good player. We work together. That's what makes us so good. I take pressure off him, he takes pressure off me. I guess they don't want to see us both in there in the Pro Bowl."

No linebacker tandem in the league has as many combined sacks as Woodley and Harrison (211/2). Not even Miami's duo of Porter and Jason Taylor, who are the top active sack tandem in the NFL (2181/2 career), has as many combined sacks (15) as the Steelers' duo.

Dolphins right tackle Vernon Carey, who has started 74 games in a row, the longest streak on their offensive line, has the task today of trying to slow Woodley.

"It's hard to say what it is sometimes," Woodley said about not making the Pro Bowl. "I think it's popularity votes. Guess I'm not popular. Maybe I got to get 20 sacks to get noticed around the league."
Gerry Dulac can be reached at gdulac@post-gazette.com.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10003/1025395-66.stm#ixzz0bWtoVvIp