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|12-09-2006, 12:29 AM||#1|
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Steelers rely on simple game plan against Browns
Steelers rely on simple game plan against Browns
By John Harris
Saturday, December 9, 2006
The Steelers had three days to prepare for Thursday night's game with the Cleveland Browns. Coach Bill Cowher didn't give his team any days off, and his practices were intense.
Cowher did a nice job of out-coaching Cleveland's Romeo Crennel (join the crowd, Bill). The Steelers are the better team. But they also were more ready to play and won handily, 27-7, at Heinz Field.
"I thought the best thing we did this week was to go outside and practice," Cowher said after the 6-7 Steelers won their second consecutive game and recorded their fourth win in five games. "We practiced Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. It made it a pretty normal week.
"I thought we played with that type of energy tonight. The way the guys responded to the short week, the way that we practiced, even on Monday, it didn't surprise me the way we played."
Cowher didn't want to wear out his players after last Sunday's easy home win over Tampa Bay, but there's something to be said for hard work.
Let's be realistic. The fact the Steelers are now playing their best football of the season, with their three most recent wins coming against the Browns (twice) and the Buccaneers, is hardly coincidental.
The Browns are a bad football team. If you thought Tampa Bay was terrible, get a load of the Browns. They don't know how to win, and some of their players appear to have lost interest.
"It's typical Cleveland football right now," Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards said. "There's passion at times, and you can see it in plays and players."
The Steelers haven't done a good job defending their Super Bowl XL crown. They've been up and down and all over the map. But no one can question their desire, or Cowher's ability to get them to play hard.
"There's competition in practice. You have guys going at it," said Steelers flanker Nate Washington, who started against Cleveland and caught a 49-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger.
Washington is one of four new starters to emerge in the past two games, along with fellow receiver and rookie Santonio Holmes, rookie free safety Anthony Smith and second-year cornerback Bryant McFadden.
Washington had two catches for 67 yards. Holmes had a team-high four catches for 81 yards. Smith had two tackles, two passes defensed and his first career interception. And McFadden had two tackles and one pass defensed.
"We had a short week, so it was kind of hard," Washington said. "But he (Cowher) kept us fighting. He let us know we were going to still work."
The Steelers had an extra day of prepration because they didn't have to travel. The Steelers normal routine didn't change,and Cowher kept the game plan simple.
The Steelers lined up and ran the ball. Willie Parker established a Steelers record with 223 yards on 32 carries -- his second 200-yard game of the season.
Overall, the Steelers rushed for 303 yards. And when the Browns brought up a safety to stop the run, Roethlisberger burned them with the pass.
It's the same blueprint the Steelers followed to win Super Bowl XL; the same blueprint that produced losses in six of their first eight games in 2006. Only, this time, the Steelers shot out to a 10-0 lead and didn't turn the ball over to the Browns while in scoring position.
In last month's 24-20 win at Cleveland, the Steelers fell behind, 10-0, and yielded touchdowns on an interception return and a kickoff return. The Steelers rushed for only 77 yards in that game.
"We hope, going into every game, we're going to make them stop the run," right guard Kendall Simmons said. "If you give them points off the bat, you have to change your mentality."
With three games remaining, the Steelers are playing their best football.
"Too bad we put ourselves in a hole," inside linebacker Larry Foote said. "We're playing with a lot of confidence -- doesn't matter who's in there, backups or starters."
What does matter is that Cowher believes in his system, and the Steelers believe in Cowher.
|12-09-2006, 12:57 AM||#2|
IRONMAN a.k.a. Tony Stark
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Re: Steelers rely on simple game plan against Browns
yet its the brain who has saved their job and cowher who should go. unbelievable
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