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Hawaii 5-0
03-01-2013, 11:59 PM
Can the Steelers Fix their Run Game for 2013?

by Steelblitz

There has been a lot of talk about whether or not the Steelers can get their run game back on track next season. In 2012 the Steelers rushed the ball for a total of 1537 yards. That is their worst total since the dreaded 2003 season when the Steelers turned the offense over to Tommy Maddox and the passing game. During that 2003 seasons the Steelers amassed only 1488 rushing yards and were tied for last in the league in yards per attempt.

Whatís also a bit alarming is the correlation between the run game and the Steelers success in a given season. In 2003 they ranked sixteenth in the league in terms of total rushing attempts. As mention above they also struggled gaining yards and they finished the season with a 6-10 record. That season will be out starting point and it is also tied for the Steelers second worst record since 1988.

That off-season the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger and for the next two seasons the Steelers led the league in rushing attempts. During the 2004 and 2005 seasons the Steelers gained a combined 4687 yards on the ground and ran the ball more than any other team in the league. They were the top rushing team in the NFL despite ranking just nineteenth and twelve in yards per carry during those seasons. Whatís most impressive, however, is that during those two seasons the Steelers had a combined regular season record of 26-6 and won Super Bowl XL.

In 2006 the Steelers fell back to the middle of the pack in rush attempts and finished fourteenth in the league. They also fell to the middle of the pack with an unimpressive 8-8 record despite being the eleventh best team in the NFL in terms of yards per attempt.

Following another off-year what did the Steelers do? They got back to running the football. In 2007 the Steelers finished third in rushing attempts and gained over 2000 yards on the ground. They have only exceeded 2000 yards once between the 2003 and 2012 seasons. The Steelers finished with a 10-6 record in 2007 and won the division, but they were bounced in the first round of the playoffs at home to the Jaguars.

In 2008 the Steelers ranked in the top ten once again in rush attempts coming in at ninth most in the league. They ran the ball 347 times that seasons despite coming in fourth to last in yards per carry with a very low 3.7 yards per attempt. The run game was enough, however, to create a balanced offense and behind the top defense in the league the Steelers went on to win Super Bowl 43.

During the 2009 seasons the Steelers ran the ball 368 times, but ranked just eighteenth in the league in rush attempts. With a respectable 4.2 yards per carry average the Steelers were able to rack up 1793 yards. However, like with most seasons since 2003 when the Steelers have ranked low in terms of rush attempts compared to the rest of the league they have struggled and 2009 was no different.

The Steelers finished with a 9-7 record and failed to make the playoffs.

In 2010 the Steelers were back in top ten in the NFL for rush attempts coming in eighth and once again a top ten finish in rush attempts led to a good record as the Steelers finished at 12-4. That season the Steelers finished with 1924 yards and went on to play in the Super Bowl.

The 2011 season is the only year since, and including, the 2003 season that the Steelers finished outside the top ten in rush attempts, but finished with a winning record. In 2011 the Steelers ranked nineteenth in rush attempts, but they finished the season with a 12-4 record. One thing the 2011 season did have, however, was the best yards per carry average of any season in that span so they did perform well in one area of the rushing game.

Last season, the 2012 season, the Steelers ranked twentieth in the league in rushing attempts. That is their lowest league ranking in this span (2003-2012). Whatís worse is unlike the 2011 season the Steelers yards per carry were not good coming in at a measly 3.7 yards per attempt. Pittsburgh finished the season with only 1537 rushing yards and a lackluster 8-8 record.

So based on past performance it would seem the Steelers need to increase their yards per carry back into the low to mid fours and also run the ball more often to be successful. Thereís no doubt the Steelers are trying to let Roethlisberger take over the offense, but a balance needs to be found and they havenít had that balance for a few years now.

The running the ball more times isnít going to solve the problem by itself, however. Pittsburgh also needs to run the ball more effectively in 2013. That means better efforts from the running backs, offensive line, and coaching staff. Weíll start with a look at the running backs.

Rashard Mendenhall is on his way out of Pittsburgh so he can be forgotten in this discussion. That leaves Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Baron Batch as the running backs most likely to be around in 2013. The Steelers will also be looking to add a running back in 2013 NFL draft. As for the starter in 2013 that will probably be either Dwyer or that draft pick. Dwyer has a career yards per carry of 4.3; now thatís not something to write home about, but it is plenty good enough for a starting running back.

Dwyer also excelled in his two games during the 2012 season with a consistent and productive offensive line in front of him. In back-to-back weeks against the Bengals, the twelfth best defense against the run in 2012, and Redskins, the fifth best defense against the run last year, Dwyer ran for a combined 229 yards on 6.75 yards per carry. That should be proof enough that when the offensive line is producing Dwyer can be the guy. However, if the Steelers choose to go to a primary zone blocking scheme they could look for a more agile running back.

As for the offensive line changes are already coming and the line will likely be much younger in 2013. The biggest issue with the line moving forward isnít figuring out who will play where, but how to keep these guys healthy. The Steelers have suffered an inordinate amount of offensive line injuries over the past few years and they need to get that sorted out. The players they have are talented enough to be very good, but when they are losing a lineman nearly every game they play itís hard for them to gel as a unit.

When it comes to coaching the play calling could also use a little tweaking. Things should get better in Todd Haleyís second year and the offense was actually very good in the first nine games of the 2012 season. However, there are some issues there and working on when to call run plays and which plays to call could still use some work. The Steelers ran way too many predictable first down run plays. It was bad enough that it became a common theme on Twitter.

Another issue with the run game is the delayed draw play. Iím not sure Iíve ever seen the Steelers have a successful run on the delayed draw it typically gets blown up in the backfield, but they continue to use it. Hopefully that page of the playbook will get lot this off-season. Another problem I have is the unwillingness to stick with the run at times or the effort to stick with an ineffective run game.

During the Steelers first possession against the Cowboys in 2012 they ran the ball on the first play for six yards. Thatís a nice gain on first down. It would allow the team to then run the ball two more times and only have to pick up two yards on each play to get a first down. It would also seem to be a telling point that they may have something brewing on the ground. However, instead of sticking with the run the Steelers threw the ball five straight time and punted. In fact, during that game the Steelers only ran the ball seventeen times despite a four yard average on the ground.

Now Iím not a Haley hater and I think his offense will continue to get better and add some years onto Roethlisbergerís career, but the Steelers need to create a balanced attack by incorporating an effective run game. That will take a joint effort between the coaching staff, running backs and offensive lineman, but they have the talent on the roster right now to do it and they will, most likely, be adding more talent to those groups this off-season. The Steelers run game was a disappointment in 2012, but things should be better in 2013 and hopefully they will be because as shown above when the Steelers can run the ball they win more games and thatís something weíd all like to see.

http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/article_external/can_the_pittsburgh_steelers_fix_their_run_game_for _2013/13031284

VaDave
03-02-2013, 10:33 AM
I agree that the biggest issue with our rushing attack was the amount of injuries on both the OL and running backs. Looking at 2013, keeping DeCastro in the lineup is key. If we get lucky and Jonathan Cooper is there for us at pick # 17, we'll have the best guard tandem in the league. Add to that Pouncey, and Adams run blocking potential, and it's not going to matter much who is in the backfield.

harrison'samonster
03-02-2013, 10:47 AM
I agree that the biggest issue with our rushing attack was the amount of injuries on both the OL and running backs. Looking at 2013, keeping DeCastro in the lineup is key. If we get lucky and Jonathan Cooper is there for us at pick # 17, we'll have the best guard tandem in the league. Add to that Pouncey, and Adams run blocking potential, and it's not going to matter much who is in the backfield.

I'm warming up to the idea of drafting a G early. If we get the running game going and have a balanced offense we can beat anybody.

WokeUpWithaWoodley
03-02-2013, 10:52 AM
I'm warming up to the idea of drafting a G early. If we get the running game going and have a balanced offense we can beat anybody.

If we are to use a zbs we need a running back will the skill set to fit that. Neither redman and Dwyer are zb running backs. So getting a zbs running back I believe is more important then adding another top notch guard ( where many believe they will try beachum at)

SteelersCanada
03-02-2013, 11:12 AM
Kelvin Beachum is athletic enough to be a LG, so I'm not keen on the idea of drafting Cooper or Warmack when we might have our guy on the roster already.

As WokeUp said, we need to draft a ZBS Running Back. Someone with a similar skillset of Darren McFadden would be the best fit.

Steeldude
03-02-2013, 11:26 AM
Fix O-line. When it's fixed then you can look into upgrading the RB position if needed

kan_t
03-02-2013, 12:23 PM
Fix O-line. When it's fixed then you can look into upgrading the RB position if needed

The O-Line is fixed already, especially if the Steelers turn to zone blocking. DeCastro, Pouncey, Gilbert and Adams all played zone blocking in colleges. DeCastro and Pouncey were stud zone blockers back in their college days. The only unknown is Beachum but he has good foot work and should be able to do well in zone blocking scheme.

They need a RB who is good at zone running. Dwyer and Redman are not their answers.

WokeUpWithaWoodley
03-02-2013, 12:26 PM
The O-Line is fixed already, especially if the Steelers turn to zone blocking. DeCastro, Pouncey, Gilbert and Adams all played zone blocking in colleges. DeCastro and Pouncey were stud zone blockers back in their college days. The only unknown is Beachum but he has good foot work and should be able to do well in zone blocking scheme.

They need a RB who is good at zone running. Dwyer and Redman are not their answers.

Exactly they been fixing the oline the past 3 years the only thing know is they need to stay healthy.

Rb is a greater need than oline at this point esp when we don't have a zb running back on the roster.

WokeUpWithaWoodley
03-02-2013, 12:27 PM
Kelvin Beachum is athletic enough to be a LG, so I'm not keen on the idea of drafting Cooper or Warmack when we might have our guy on the roster already.

As WokeUp said, we need to draft a ZBS Running Back. Someone with a similar skillset of Darren McFadden would be the best fit.

Knile s Davis to me runs like McFadden.

But had fumble problems last year so I don't know a lot about him. But in 2010 he was amazing.

Fire Arians
03-02-2013, 12:46 PM
ask this question, can the o-line stay healthy in 2013? that answer will be the same as the answer to this thread

Steelers5895
03-02-2013, 01:22 PM
we need a dynamic rb who can catch out of the backfield. A mendy who cares and doesnt fumble at the worst possible time would be great,

FrancoLambert
03-02-2013, 01:34 PM
I can't project Beachum as a consistent and reliable starter at any position.
Too soon to do that.

I haven't seen enough from him to be sure he's a starter.

Not saying there isn't potential there.....showed flashes......but not enough work to pencil him in as a starter.

kan_t
03-02-2013, 01:46 PM
I can't project Beachum as a consistent and reliable starter at any position.
Too soon to do that.

I haven't seen enough from him to be sure he's a starter.

Not saying there isn't potential there.....showed flashes......but not enough work to pencil him in as a starter.
If the Steelers do turn to zone blocking scheme, I can see that Colon will be cut and Foster won't be brought back. They will draft a guard in the late rounds and let them compete the starting LG spot.

pete74
03-02-2013, 02:52 PM
If our line can't stay healthy again then it dosnt matter who we have running they will look like crap. With that said I would love to get Ben Tate

Steel_Bus_24
03-02-2013, 06:04 PM
Ive been in the Safety camp of Elam and vaccaro since the start.......but if Cooper has the same if not better talent and measurables as DeCastro then Its going to be really hard for the Steelers to pass on him......given how they graded out DeCastro last year and their love for BPA

harrison'samonster
03-02-2013, 06:19 PM
Ive been in the Safety camp of Elam and vaccaro since the start.......but if Cooper has the same if not better talent and measurables as DeCastro then Its going to be really hard for the Steelers to pass on him......given how they graded out DeCastro last year and their love for BPA

Too many good options really! There are a few good safetys in later rounds as well such as Swearinger, so it's a hard pick. I'm glad I don't have to make the decisions.

steeltheone
03-02-2013, 06:21 PM
If our line can't stay healthy again then it dosnt matter who we have running they will look like crap. With that said I would love to get Ben Tate

I would love to see Tate lugging the ball in the Burgh. He would come fairly cheap too.

VaDave
03-02-2013, 08:52 PM
Exactly they been fixing the oline the past 3 years the only thing know is they need to stay healthy.

Rb is a greater need than oline at this point esp when we don't have a zb running back on the roster.

I've not disagreed much with your posts to date, but, here I will.

When you think of the classic ZBS running back, you think one cut and go. Right? Anticipation, and acceleration the key attributes. Dwyer has plenty of speed, but also has power that most true ZBS don't have. Think of him being a lighter Michael Turner.

What BOTH Redman and Dwyer lack are not skills, but better blocking. When they get it, the both do pretty well, and run the counter 34 pike properly blocked as well as any runners we've had, 34 pike being as close to a ZBS as we have run.

. Add to that, better blocking will also enhance our passing attack, and maybe we keep Ben healthy for a whole season.



Looking a little deeper depth wise since you brought up how thin we are at running back, there is a good possibility that Foster & Starks will move on. Beachum does have some potential as an interior lineman, and maybe a very valueable member for a long time. Cooper on the other hand is the real deal and is job ready, and will play at a much higher level.

Legurski, is a stop gap level talent at center at this point, is a major liability at either guard position, and may be a training camp cut.. Drafting Cooper will allow us to use Beachum the swingman, and more than likely Malecki the back up center.

Finally, early round runners on the average are not good value, and tend to have a short shelf life. A classic impact guards are often serviceable for 10 years or more. That's not to say we will not draft a running back, I fully expect us to draft one. That said, I assure you it will not be in the first round.

TheVet
03-05-2013, 01:29 AM
I've not disagreed much with your posts to date, but, here I will.

When you think of the classic ZBS running back, you think one cut and go. Right? Anticipation, and acceleration the key attributes. Dwyer has plenty of speed, but also has power that most true ZBS don't have. Think of him being a lighter Michael Turner.

What BOTH Redman and Dwyer lack are not skills, but better blocking. When they get it, the both do pretty well, and run the counter 34 pike properly blocked as well as any runners we've had, 34 pike being as close to a ZBS as we have run.

. Add to that, better blocking will also enhance our passing attack, and maybe we keep Ben healthy for a whole season.



Looking a little deeper depth wise since you brought up how thin we are at running back, there is a good possibility that Foster & Starks will move on. Beachum does have some potential as an interior lineman, and maybe a very valueable member for a long time. Cooper on the other hand is the real deal and is job ready, and will play at a much higher level.

Legurski, is a stop gap level talent at center at this point, is a major liability at either guard position, and may be a training camp cut.. Drafting Cooper will allow us to use Beachum the swingman, and more than likely Malecki the back up center.

Finally, early round runners on the average are not good value, and tend to have a short shelf life. A classic impact guards are often serviceable for 10 years or more. That's not to say we will not draft a running back, I fully expect us to draft one. That said, I assure you it will not be in the first round.

VERY well said. Amazing post. :tt::drink:

My only point of disagreement would be that I think Legursky is valuable for depth at C/G, don't see him as a training camp cut - not when we have several open positions on the OL. On the other hand, maybe you're right about Malecki - I haven't seen enough yet to have an opinion.

wootawnee
03-05-2013, 02:43 AM
Starks and Legursky are great team players.....Ya cant ditch that....Those boys are Steelers.....

VaDave
03-05-2013, 07:55 AM
I'm not saying Legs isn't a great guy, doesn't know his assignments, or that his work ethic sucks, or anything else, other than if you go back and look at the game film from last year, when he was in the lineup, the offense suffered greatly.

What I saw was, he just is not close to being strong or big enough to play guard, and that shows up in spades in the running game. In seasons past when he played some guard, he showed he could make our famous counter block, but in 2012, he was off target and mostly just got in the way bottling things up at the LOS. If he's mano on man, he folded more often than not.

At center, if he's got to one on one block, he'll get steamrolled. He can get by with good guard play that can help double up or chip. Now you can get by with that on passing plays, but that will kill you in the rushing attack, especially if he's got to play multiple consecutive games. If I'm a DC and know Legs is at center, I'm going to pound the snot out of the A-B gap.

Anyway, my opinion of Legs is much like my opinion of Ryan Munday, guys that know the game inside and out, have great attitudes, always in shape, know what their job is, never complain, no bad press, but just are not quite good enough to get the job done.

FrancoLambert
03-05-2013, 05:38 PM
If we're forced to rely on Legursky and Foster for an extended period of time, the running game will not be fixed.

VaDave
03-05-2013, 06:24 PM
Foster is quite a bit better than Legurski. A least Foster is mediocre......

steeltheone
03-05-2013, 07:17 PM
VERY well said. Amazing post. :tt::drink:

My only point of disagreement would be that I think Legursky is valuable for depth at C/G, don't see him as a training camp cut - not when we have several open positions on the OL. On the other hand, maybe you're right about Malecki - I haven't seen enough yet to have an opinion.

Legursky has been very good in relief at center.

TheVet
03-05-2013, 10:47 PM
Agreed. Legursky ain't much, but he does bring his best effort, and he knows the plays. I'm happy with Legursky subbing at C, and happy with Foster subbing at G. But I definitely don't want to see Foster starting at G, because quite frankly, he's an open door.

But since we're going to have roughly three open positions (maybe four), it's hard to see Legursky going. Foster, I'm thinking someone will pick him up - because he seems to have the native ability. But he's out of time here; we're short on cash, and we need players who perform to their capabilities at a market price. I'll take the inexpensive guy who tries his best.

Fire Haley
03-05-2013, 11:11 PM
Can the Steelers Fix their Run Game for 2013?

yes, dump all the RB's and get new ones

GoFor7
03-05-2013, 11:43 PM
Steeler method of fixing run game:

1st down: RUTM
2nd down: RUTM
3rd & long: BEN HELP!

tony hipchest
03-06-2013, 12:05 AM
"im a hick.

I hate yinzers.

Ben is the best QB the Steelers have or ever will have.

Artie hasnt watched enought football to recognize this.

If we throw the ball on every single down, there isnt a defense in teh world that can stop us! :muhaha:

ARENA BALL RULZ!"

fixed... :coffee:

Hawaii 5-0
03-06-2013, 12:32 AM
Steeler method of fixing run game:

1st down: RUTM
2nd down: RUTM
3rd & long: BEN HELP!

what I don't understand is this:

if we run 2/3 of the time, how is it that we ran the ball 412 times last season yet passed the ball 574 times?

I'm so confused...:noidea:

tony hipchest
03-06-2013, 12:45 AM
I'm so confused...:noidea:

:scratchchin:

you must be a "yinzer" or a Rooney.

:tap:

VaDave
03-06-2013, 07:17 AM
Legursky has been very good in relief at center.

"BEEN" is the operative word. Like prior to 2012. Last year he certainly was not very good. Watch the tape of the first Cleveland game. He was abysmal. He was worse for the second Cleveland game playing guard.

VaDave
03-06-2013, 07:22 AM
Steeler method of fixing run game:

1st down: RUTM
2nd down: RUTM
3rd & long: BEN HELP!

When you're guards ( Colon-Foster) can't get to the edge because their 40 is timed with a sun dial, you are going to run up the middle, a lot! A healthy DeCastro, and or the addition of say a Jonathan Cooper at guard, will allow us to get to the edge.

Another side benefit of guards that can fly, is we will not be so dependent running to the strongside ( right) as often as we do.

wwhickok
03-06-2013, 08:01 AM
My ideal draft, honestly, even though i really like Vaccaro would be:

Cooper, Hunter, Rambo, OLB, Terry Hawthorne, RB, DL.

Im not actually a huge fan of taking a G in the first round but i think it would really help our line. Id rather have Vacarro.

VaDave
03-06-2013, 08:59 AM
I know about Vacarro.... that's a tough one to pass up too.... but..... I'm not so sure he's another impact player like Troy...... No doubt he's pretty stinkin good.

wwhickok
03-06-2013, 10:08 AM
I know about Vacarro.... that's a tough one to pass up too.... but..... I'm not so sure he's another impact player like Troy...... No doubt he's pretty stinkin good.

I actually agree with you 100%. He is not going to.be the Elite player that Polamalu is. Frankly..I don't think there is going to be a truly Polamlu-esque player in the NFL for a long time. Bur I definitely think, as you said, he is going to be really good.

kan_t
03-06-2013, 10:28 AM
I know about Vacarro.... that's a tough one to pass up too.... but..... I'm not so sure he's another impact player like Troy...... No doubt he's pretty stinkin good.
Using Troy as a benchmark is unfair to any rookie safety. Troy is going to end up in the HOF.

VaDave
03-06-2013, 10:29 AM
Good point, K

WokeUpWithaWoodley
03-06-2013, 10:55 AM
Gotta find a back who has the skills for a zbs. That's the number 1 priority to fix the running game.

Hawaii 5-0
07-21-2013, 02:31 PM
NFL: Batch, Steeler RBs face fierce competition

Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013

http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/mywesttexas.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/0f/80f75690-fa3b-11e1-bad7-001a4bcf887a/504c230bd6e58.preview-300.jpg

Pittsburgh running back Baron Batch rushes past Philadelphia Eagles defenders during an Aug. 9 preseason game in Philadelphia. Batch is a Midland High and Texas Tech grad.

Baron Batch doesn't want to go into training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers putting any extra added pressure on himself to make up for last season. Just like before he starts one of his paintings, Batch is hoping to start the 2013 season with a blank canvas.

Last year didn't go necessarily as planned for the Midland High and Texas Tech grad in his first full season in the NFL.

Coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee suffered during preseason camp in 2011, Batch admitted he wasn't his old self and struggled because of it. He rushed for just 49 yards on 25 carries to go with four receptions for 31 yards in 12 games.

"There were times when my knee didn't necessarily feel the same," said Batch, a seventh-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2011. "Anybody coming off an ACL injury will tell you the same. When you're healthy and you know in your mind that you are, you're a different player."

He was released last November before spending three weeks on the Steelers practice squad. He rejoined the 53-man roster with three games remaining in the season, but an arm injury put him back on the injured reserve list.

This time when the Steelers report to training camp at Saint Vincent College, located 40 miles outside of Pittsburgh in Latrobe, Pa., on Friday, Batch's main goal is mainly to get better, which in turn will show the Steelers he belongs on the 53-man roster when the season begins Sept. 8 against Tennessee.

"The goal is always the same every training camp, find a way to get better," said the 25-year-old. "It's the first time I've been really confident and comfortable with the offense. Coming into this year I went through all the OTAs (organized team activities) and mini camps. It has always been my mentality to get better every day. The key for me is consistency. When you stack days like that on top of each other, it pays off. Consistency is one of the few things a player can control. You can't control injuries."

Going into this season, Batch will have his work cut out for him to make the 53-man roster thanks to the Steelers having plenty of competition at the running back position. Along with returning veterans Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, the Steelers added veteran free agent LaRod Stephens-Howling and drafted Le'Veon Bell in the second round out of Michigan State.

Batch, though, is not fazed by the added competition in the locker room.

"It's pretty similar to when I was drafted or last year, there are always going to be challenges," he said.

"Running back has probably the most competition out of any room. That's been the case since I started playing football. If you're not OK with competition, then you're never going to be the player that you should be. I love competing in whatever it might be, whether it's football, bowling, ping-pong or my art. All the running backs are talented and they all bring something to the table. I want to show them what I can do and help on special teams."

Speaking of his art, that is something that has recently gotten him some attention away from the football field.
Batch, who has had an interest in drawing since he was a kid, recently had his artwork displayed at the Lubbock Arts Festival, and just last week he sold 25 original pieces to a gallery in Lubbock.

His inspiration, he said, is life itself.

"Most of the concepts are of stories, things I've gone through or something that has been meaningful in my life," Batch said. "The are is always something that I connect with. (Art) is definitely something I want to do when I'm done playing. Unlike football, I could do it as long as I have working hands.

"For me, a lot of things outside of football whether it's the business sense of things, my painting or even the column that I wrote, the competitive side of me pours over everything I do and I try to give it my all."

Maybe it's that competitive side of Batch that will earn him a spot on an NFL roster this season and keep him there the entire season.

http://www.mywesttexas.com/sports/article_915de34d-c9bd-592e-a361-90d6f13dcf51.html#ixzz2ZhMY6mBe

FrancoLambert
07-21-2013, 05:19 PM
From camp "somehat of a possible phenom" to camp "hope I make a team" he has his work cut out for him. All of his competitors clearly have it over him.

If I remember correctly, he got a lot of good press last preseason and many thought he'd be a nice surprise from the draft.

And now, a longshot to make the Steelers. Fate and fortune rear their ugly heads. :hit: