Steelers-Broncos key matchup
By Mike Prisuta
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Broncos DT Sam Adams vs. Steelers G Kendall Simmons
BRONCOS DT SAM ADAMS:
He's been around since 1994, and when we say around, we mean a-round. Adams (6-foot-3, 350 pounds) has 44 career sacks in 14 NFL seasons (3.1 per), but he keeps getting jobs because of his potential as a run-stuffer. He's bounced from Seattle to Baltimore to Oakland to Buffalo to Cincinnati, and now to Denver. So far, it hasn't worked out as the Broncos envisioned.
Adams has nine tackles in four games (he was designated inactive for the Broncos' loss on Sept. 30 at Indianapolis), and Denver is last in the NFL in rushing defense, having allowed an average of 187.6 yards per game.
Adams won a Super Bowl in Baltimore in 2000, the year he qualified for the first of his three Pro Bowls. Adams also started for the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII (against Mike Tomlin and Tampa Bay).
Adams' last Pro Bowl recognition came in 2004, and you have to wonder what he has left to offer besides girth.
He's not the terror he used to be lining up next to Tony Siragusa in the middle of the Ravens' defense.
STEELERS G KENDALL SIMMONS:
He came to training camp having to fight for his job as a four-year starter at right guard. Simmons has emerged with a contract extension, and his spot along the Steelers' offensive line solidified.
At 6-foot-3, 315 pounds, Simmons combines strength with athleticism. His problem in recent seasons has been consistency. The Steelers have split practice snaps between Simmons and Chris Kemoeatu in recent seasons and made no secret of the challenge Kemoeatu presented heading into camp. Simmons responded and has been a key contributor on a line that has been better than advertised while protecting Ben Roethlisberger (for the most part) and opening enough holes for the rushing attack to rank second in the NFL heading to Denver (167.0 per game).
The Steelers will want to run the ball, and to do so they'll have to control Adams. That might require Simmons getting a little help from RT Willie Colon. The Steelers will also have to be alert to recognize and quick to adjust to any unforeseen wrinkles they might see from the Denver defense coming out of a bye week.
The Broncos not altering what they've tried to do on run defense so far would be a surprise, given that Denver has allowed 112, 200, 186, 226 and 214 yards on the ground in five games. The Broncos have given up their share of big plays on the ground while failing to stop everyone they've encountered, including a 74-yard run to San Diego's Michael Turner (10 carries, 147 yards) on Oct. 7 in Denver.
Seahawks LB Julian Peterson had his moments (10 tackles, a sack, a quarterback hurry and a hellacious stuffing of RB Najeh Davenport at the goal line) on Oct. 10 at Heinz Field. But when that stuff wasn't happening, the Steelers' offense was controlling the ball for agonizingly long stretches and inflicting its will on the Seahawks' defense in a 21-0 win.