View Full Version : Steelers report: Inside slant

12-20-2010, 09:20 PM
Steelers report: Inside slant
The Sports Xchange
Dec. 20, 2010

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin does not want to sneak into the playoffs, as he believes his Steelers did Sunday when he learned they made it as at least a wild-card team following their loss to the New York Jets at home.

"I don't like how it unfolded," Tomlin said. "I feel like you're crawling in on your belly. But we've got two weeks to do something about that. Our focus is on Carolina this week. All of the goals we set out for ourselves are still attainable. We've got to play ball this week. I still think a division title is in our sights if we handle our business, but it starts with playing good, winning football Thursday night."

They won't need two weeks if they beat Carolina and Baltimore loses at Cleveland Sunday. That would clinch the AFC North Division title for them and also give them the No. 2 seed in the playoffs in the conference. They would beat Baltimore in a division tiebreaker based on record within the division and Kansas City, the only other division winner capable of tying them under that scenario, would lose out based on record in the AFC.

That would take all the sting out of their 22-17 loss to the Jets and render their game in Cleveland Jan. 2 meaningless. It would allow them to rest safety Troy Polamalu and a few other walking wounded another week, not to mention the first week of the playoffs.

But Tomlin on Monday was in no mood to talk about any kinds of playoff scenarios for his 10-4 team.

"I won't speak to it," he said. "I'll only speak about preparing for Carolina."

The Panthers are 2-12 after beating Arizona on Sunday, but Tomlin said Carolina does have one advantage coming to Heinz Field to play a game four days after the two teams last played.

"It's a quick turnaround, particularly for a veteran football team. We're going to be very conscious about how we prepare this week. We've got to prepare as smart as we can. We've got to preserve our guys in as many ways as we can because quite honestly working on this kind of week you've got to acknowledge that it's an advantage for the Carolina Panthers. They're a younger team than we are. Physically they're capable of bouncing back faster, no question, so we've got to prepare extremely smart and put our veteran outfit in the best position we can to play effective football Thursday night."

Steelers report: Strategy and personnel
The Sports Xchange
Dec. 20, 2010


--OT Jonathan Scott may lose his job to Trai Essex. Scott who has started the past six games since Max Starks went on injured reserve, was pulled from the game after he missed a block that cost the Steelers a safety.

--DE Aaron Smith, who had surgery to repair a torn triceps and has not played since Oct. 24, will be fitted for a shoulder brace this week. However, it's unlikely he will return to play until the playoffs.

--QB Ben Roethlisberger has an 18-6 record against NFC teams as he prepares for Carolina Thursday night at Heinz Field, where he is 11-1 against NFC teams in his career.

--TE Heath Miller has been called "fine" by coach Mike Tomlin and ready to return to practice and back to the starting lineup Thursday. Miller missed the past two games with post-concussion syndrome.

--SS Troy Polamalu walked around the Steelers' facility with no apparent limp after he missed his first game of the season with an injury to his calf/Achilles. The Steelers provided no update on his condition.



C-minus -- Counting three sacks for 33 yards in losses, the Steelers averaged 4.9 yards per pass attempt. Ben Roethlisberger completed only 23 of 44 passes with one touchdown, no interception and a 78.2 passer rating. Roethlisberger nearly pulled the game out with a drive in the final two minutes but threw twice incomplete from the 10 to come up short.


A -- The Steelers rushed for 147 yards on 25 carries, a robust 5.9 yards per attempt with Rashard Mendenhall leading the way with 100 yards on 17 carries and a 1-yard touchdown run. Roethlisberger scrambled twice for 25 yards. The only thing wrong with the running game against the Jets was the fact they did not lean on it enough.

C-minus -- Mark Sanchez had only 170 yards and no touchdowns (19 of 29) but he also had no interceptions, no turnovers whatsoever and one measly sack for zero lost yards. Sanchez has been a turnover machine and one of the league's best at it came up empty. Ryan Mundy, subbing for the injured Troy Polamalu at strong safety, missed a key sack when he had a bead on Sanchez on third-and-8 near midfield and somehow missed him. Sanchez completed the pass for a first down and the Jets drove toward the winning field goal.


B-minus -- The Jets had the most yards rushing against the Steelers this season but they still managed just 106 yards on 27 carries. The biggest was the 7-yard touchdown run by Sanchez on a boot around left end that fooled everyone, including the man charged to protect against a bootleg, linebacker James Harrison. They played well, just not well enough.


D-minus -- Start with the opening kickoff returned 97 yards against them for a touchdown by Brad Smith. Continue with two punt returns against them for 32 yards and Jeremy Kapinos averaging 38.0 yards on punts, 25.0 net with none of his four going inside the 20. Continue with the fact that the Steelers failed to field several punts, three of which were downed inside the 20. Stir in the fact they produced virtually nothing in their return game and you have a grade of F. Lift it up half a notch because Shaun Suisham kicked a 42-yard field goal, his only attempt.


D -- Even though they averaged 5.9 yards per carry, the Steelers chose to throw it twice as much :banging::banging::banging: and averaged just 4.9 yards doing so if you count the three sacks for 33 yards in losses. Some of the worst calls on offense occurred near the end zone. The Steelers were backed up to their own 3-yard line trailing by three and Roethlisberger lined up in a shotgun and then handed off to the lone back, Mewelde Moore, who was tackled for a safety. Later, after marching 82 yards to the Jets 10 with nine seconds left, Roethlisberger twice threw into the end zone and backup tight end Matt Spaeth caught neither. Hines Ward, the third-most productive receiver in the red zone among current players, had three passes thrown his way all game, none near scoring territory.

(Well I see Airhead Arians has reverted back to the same game plan he used in Clowntown last year when we lost. When the weather sucks and the field is frozen the Airhead passes the ball. Why? Who knows? Maybe the cold weather freezes his two brain cells into passing mode. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Airhead Arians is insane. - mesa)

Steelers report: Notes, quotes
The Sports Xchange
Dec. 20, 2010

--The Steelers will have their worst home record since Mike Tomlin became their coach in 2007. The best they can do is 5-3, which last happened in 2006 when they went 8-8 overall. Their worst record at Heinz Field was 2003 when they went 4-4. Their 6-1 road record is tied for best in the league.

--The Jets won for the first time in Pittsburgh after losing their previous six games there. Now come the Carolina Panthers, who are 0-2 in Pittsburgh.

--The Steelers have won five of their past six games on Thursday nights.

--A strange sight on Sunday was seeing referee Pete Morelli lose his penalty flag three different times inadvertently and having to say "no foul" afterward.

"The referee, it fell out of his waistband, and I think it fell out of his waistband on several occasions during the course of the game," Tomlin said.