View Full Version : On the Steelers: Team savors 3-0 start

09-28-2010, 07:23 AM
On the Steelers: Team savors 3-0 start
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ben Roethlisberger dug a large hole and threw his team into it, and the Steelers have turned it into the foundation for the 2010 season.

The happiest fan watching the Steelers' first three games of the season at home had to be Roethlisberger, whose four-game suspension to start the season robbed them of their franchise quarterback.

Given little chance to get off to a decent start and underdogs in their first two games, the Steelers have swept their first three games behind a quarterback deemed not ready (Dennis Dixon) and one who was considered too old and brittle even by his own coaches (Charlie Batch).

One more game, at home Sunday against their most bitter rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Steelers can turn the offense back over to Roethlisberger. Whether they are 4-0 or 3-1, they will pass it on as a special gift to a man who could have stolen their season.

That, however, is not how they see it.

"Just because Ben isn't there, he's not the whole team," linebacker James Harrison said. "He's a big part of this team, no question, but he's not the whole team. He's not going to determine if we win or lose a game. It may be something that may be a contributing factor, but the next guy in line is just a starter in waiting, and that's how we look at everything."

The Steelers' defense and special teams virtually carved out victories in the first two games with the offense scoring one touchdown, Rashard Mendenhall's 50-yard run in overtime to win the opener against Atlanta. Sunday, Batch threw three touchdown passes, the offense scored four times and the defense did its thing again in a 38-13 victory at Tampa Bay.

No matter the outcome against Baltimore, the Steelers will reside in first place in the AFC North when Roethlisberger returns. At the end of the day Sunday, they were one of two NFL teams with a 3-0 record.

Chris Kemoeatu, one of the Steelers' offensive linemen who have hung out with Roethlisberger the most over the past few years, believes that Roethlisberger had to enjoy the first three games.

"Definitely, he was hungry to come back, but there's nothing he can do about it," Kemoeatu said. "All he can do is sit it out, and we have to do a good job too as far as covering for him until he gets back. Maybe when he gets back and he'll be ready to go and it will be downhill from there."

Kemoeatu acknowledged that Roethlisberger dug something of a hole for his team by getting suspended, but he noted that the Steelers were determined not only to stick by him but to forge ahead without him.

"That's the great thing about this, it's a family, a brotherhood. No matter what happens to each other, we're all we got and we have to stick together. Stuff like that happens all the time around the league, all we can do is support each other. Whether it's stuff on the field, off the field, we have to support each other."

Roethlisberger politely declined an interview request, and he is not permitted to speak to teammates or coaches about football strategy during his suspension. He has been working out at Hampton High School with a quarterbacks coach and some receivers.

The absence of the quarterback who posted the first 4,000-yard passing season in franchise history last year put pressure on the Steelers' defense to keep things close in the early going. They have allowed two late-game touchdowns with big leads and have scored one of their own, Brett Keisel's 79-yard interception return in Tampa.

"We just knew we had to play well on defense," said defensive captain James Farrior. "We felt we had to carry the load and give ourselves a chance, keep it close and we had to hang. And who knows what was going to happen?"

Linebacker LaMarr Woodley gave a verbal shrug about what it would mean to present Roethlisberger with a 4-0 record next week.

"That's our mindset, to go out and play hard each and every game; 3-0, that's small. A season is 16-0. I mean, you have to aim high.

"When Ben went down, everybody felt like the Pittsburgh Steelers would be down a little bit. But I think a lot of people forgot what kind of defense we play here.

"We're going to continue to play at a high level. When Ben comes back, he's going to take care of the offensive side of the ball, and we're going to continue to take care of the defensive side of the ball. The defense takes care of the defense and the offense takes care of the offense. We never worry about the offense out there. All we need for the offense to do is put a few points on the board and we'll take care of the rest."
For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette On the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10271/1090875-66.stm#ixzz10oYicnp0

09-28-2010, 10:14 AM
I just had this feeling when they brought McFadden back that this defense was going to be special this year. I am not sure how much depth we have in the secondary but the rest of the defense seems to have some great backups to come in and wreak havoc. There was definitely a Ziggy sighting this past week. McClendon came in off the practice squad and played well in Hampton's absence. Timmons, Harrison and Woodley are playing lights out. Not only are they the best LBs on the team, I think they are the best three LBs in the entire NFL right now. A bold statement but I think it has to be pretty darn close. They are certainly the best LB tandem in the NFL bar none. Good old LBU.