View Full Version : The Steelers are going to be very tough to beat ... - (from MMQ Peter King)

10-31-2011, 10:51 AM
Truths starting to emerge as season approaches midway point
Pete King SI - MMQ

Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/peter_king/10/31/Week8/index.html#ixzz1cNHypOP0

"The Steelers are going to be very tough to beat ... if they don't keep losing defensive players.

I like what Mike Tomlin said to his team before the Steelers played nemesis New England. Cliché, but true. "History's history,'' he told his team with a bit of disdain. "You can write tomorrow's history today.''

In the last four meetings with Tom Brady, the Steelers were 0-4, allowed 34 points per game, and watched as Brady threw nine touchdowns and one interception. So the old dog learned a new trick. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is a fan of funky zone blitzes and coverage on the back end; on Sunday, the Steelers instead pressed the Patriot receivers at the line of scrimmage, never let them get comfortable in their routes, and blanketed reliable slot receiver Wes Welker with cornerback Ike Taylor.

"Followed him everywhere -- inside, outside, in the slot,'' safety Ryan Clark told me after the game. "You can tell Welker was getting a little frazzled by it." And, Clark said, the Steelers played more press coverage "than any game I've ever seen here.'' Brady threw for 198 yards and didn't turn it over, but Welker's lack of impact (six catches, 39 yards) told the tale as Brady just couldn't generate consistent downfield offense. New England's 17 points were half its normal output in this recent series.

So now no team in the AFC has fewer than two losses, and Pittsburgh, which looked so old in September, looks revived now. The only scar on this game was the loss of LaMarr Woodley, who sacked Brady twice, to a strained hamstring. He Tweeted Sunday night he'd definitely be back for Sunday night's showdown at home with Baltimore, but that may depend on today's MRI of the hammy. On offense, Pittsburgh's almost immune to a slump, as long as Ben Roethlisberger stays upright.

"We knew we had to control the ball to keep them off the field,'' Mike Tomlin said after the game, and Roethlisberger's 50 passes did the trick. The fate of the division could turn on the next two weeks, with Pittsburgh hosting Baltimore and playing surprising Cincinnati on the road.

And here come the Ravens.

Trailing 24-6 at halftime, the Ravens were booed off their home field, and deservedly so. At the half, Anquan Boldin told the ineffective Joe Flacco he had a favorable matchup on the outside, to the left of the offensive formation. "Come to me,'' Boldin said. Flacco knew this wasn't just Ochocinco-like bravado. And so on the first series of the quarter, he found Boldin for 37, then later threw to him when Boldin drew an interference call in the end zone. That led to one touchdown. On the third series of the quarter, Flacco targeted Boldin seven times, completing four for 80 yards; Boldin drew another interference call, leading to another short Ray Rice score.

"The thing with Q,'' said Flacco afterward, "is that he might look covered, but he's physical enough to win some battles -- and I can throw back-shoulder to him too. I just had to get the ball to our playmakers.''

Flacco threw some excellent balls in the second half, particularly on the two drives where he zoned in Boldin. I asked him about his 52-percent completion rate coming in, and why that had regressed this year. "I don't think it's an accuracy issue,'' he said. (Maybe not, but completing passes does require that one little trait.) "It comes down to us executing better. There's some throwaways in there, and we've got to get a lot of new guys going. It takes time, but we'll be okay.'' The problems Sunday were special teams and a sputtering first-half offense. Not much time to work on them, with four tough defensive teams ahead -- Pittsburgh, Seattle, Cincinnati and San Francisco."

(Also from the same article - mesa)

The Award Section

Offensive Players of the Week

Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger, and not just for his 36-of-50, 365-yard passing performance over the Patriots, which helped break Tom Brady's four-game win streak over the Steelers. But Roethlisberger controlled the clock as well as the line of scrimmage. Pittsburgh has morphed from a running team into a passing one -- the Steeler ratio is 59-41 pass-run -- and Roethlisberger has handled the transition well. In this game, his scoring drives all were clock-eaters, of 11, 16, 10, 14 and 11 plays, and as a result, the Patriots had the ball for only 21 minutes.

Defensive Players of the Week

Pittsburgh CB Ike Taylor. "What an incredible job by Ike Taylor,'' Ryan Clark said of his teammate after the 25-17 win over the Patriots. "He got Wes Welker so frazzled out there.'' Taylor, playing the NFL's leading receiver all over the field, held Welker to six catches for a paltry 39 yards. Taylor was on the second tier of free-agent cornerbacks this season and signed with Pittsburgh when there wasn't widespread interest for him.

The fine 15

1. Green Bay (7-0). On his bye weekend, wideout Greg Jennings went to see The Mountaintop on Broadway. Who's better at his job, Greg? Samuel L. Jackson playing Martin Luther King Jr.? Or Aaron Rodgers playing Johnny Unitas?

2. San Francisco (6-1). Week after week, Frank Gore is keeping this team rolling. Thirty-one carries, 134 yards to beat Cleveland. That's some workhorse.

3. Pittsburgh (6-2). Antonio Brown, I'm a believer.

4. New England (5-2). These things happen, allowing 365 passing yards, when you lose two of your four best corners in the two days before playing a passing team.

5. Detroit (6-2). Lord. A 100-yard interception return for touchdown by Chris Houston. A 24-yard fumble return for touchdown by Cliff Avril. Of course it was against a weak offense in Denver, but Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham are building the kind of defense they aimed to when they arrived in Detroit three seasons ago.

6. Baltimore (5-2). Can you imagine seven worse days for any contender than the Ravens losing to previously 1-5 Jacksonville on Monday and previously 1-5 Arizona the following Sunday? They didn't, thanks to three guys named Flacco, Boldin and Rice in a great second-half rebound against Arizona.

7. Buffalo (5-2). If you saw that game in Toronto -- I doubt many of you did, seeing that it was not competitive -- you saw a defense that totally dismantled Washington, shredding a bad offensive line and holding the visitors to 178 yards.

8. Philadelphia (3-4). I believe Arlen Specter will begin an investigation this morning into how on God's green earth the Eagles could ever have lost four games in a row.

9. Houston (5-3). No Andre Johnson against the hottest defense in the league? No problem. The Texans rolled to a 358-yard day, helped -- again -- by Arian Foster, who, by the way, is absolutely, certainly, definitely not a one-year wonder.

10. Cincinnati (5-2). The Bengals are 3-1 on the road. Andy Dalton is 5-2 as an NFL quarterback. Those are two of the most surprising things about the first half of the season. Misleading stat of the week, by the way: The Bengals win at Seattle by 22 and get outgained by 159 yards.

11. New York Jets (4-3). Darrelle Revis allowed as many completions on his bye weekend as he allows in every other week. Almost.

12. San Diego (4-2). Doesn't it seem like San Diego should be better than a plus-five point differential?

13. New Orleans (5-3). Saints hadn't been shut out in the first half of a game for nearly 50 months until Sunday, at St. Louis. If you watched it, it wasn't a fluke. The Rams manhandled the Saints' offensive line.

14. Atlanta (4-3). Before you Bucs fans write in with pitchforks at the ready, I do understand that Tampa Bay beat both the Saints and Falcons. What can I say? Other than I saw the San Francisco and Chicago games.

15. (tie) New York Giants (5-2). All who had the Giants as a bottom-10 rushing team in terms of efficiency (3.2 per rush) and had Victor Cruz as the team's big deep-threat receiver halfway through the season, raise your hands ... Neither did I.

15. (tie) Chicago (4-3). Thank you, all 1,469 of you who wrote, tweeted, emailed, Pony-Expressed, Facebooked that I forgot the Bears in my Fine Fifteen last week -- which happened. My bad. I love having virtual watchdogs.

10-31-2011, 11:07 AM
Thanks to Flacco? Until the dumb ass figured out that all he had to do was keep throwing in Boldins direction and he would be fine, he was looking like Tebow. If the Cards wouldve stopped holding bolding, Flacco would not have had 3 pass interfence calls to work with.

Flacco in the end is STILL Flacco.

Atleast GB didnt win and it spared us more commentary on the great aaron rogers this week.