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Old 12-18-2006, 04:38 AM   #1
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Default Steelers need help -- and lots of it

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, December 18, 2006


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Steelers claimed not to be scoreboard watching Sunday, and their 37-3 pasting of Carolina suggested they were as sincere as they were focused on pounding the Panthers.
But that didn't mean they still didn't need help -- and a lot of it -- elsewhere.

Welcome to the rest of the season, when the games that matter the most will be played simultaneously, rather than the oft-cited one at a time:

First quarter: The Steelers unveil a nickel defense that features James Farrior and Larry Foote positioned as upright linebackers and Ryan Clark, who didn't start at safety, replacing Anthony Smith, who did.

Chris Weinke throws incomplete for DeShaun Foster on third-and-2, forcing a Carolina punt right about the time Vikings receiver Travis Taylor and quarterback Brad Johnson hook up for a 30-yard score and a 7-0 Minnesota lead over the New York Jets. Good start.

First quarter: The Steelers surrender their second sack of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on as many third-down snaps right about the time Titans cornerback Pacman Jones races 83 yards with an interception for a 7-0 Tennessee lead over Jacksonville. That's where the help has to come for the Steelers first and foremost.

Second quarter: The good news is Roethlisberger has bootlegged his way into the end zone for a 7-0 lead. The Steelers are 7-0 all-time when Roethlisberger rushes for a touchdown. The bad news is the Jets have tied the Vikings, and the Jaguars have pulled even with the Titans.

Second quarter: Farrior sacks Weinke, knocking the Panthers back on their side of the 50. The Jets and Jaguars grab 10-7 leads via field goals.

Second quarter: As an apparent 8-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to receiver Santonio Holmes is overturned via a replay challenge into a 7-yard gain to the 1, Buffalo jumps ahead of Miami, 7-0, as quarterback J.P. Losman hits tight end Robert Royal for a 33-yard score. One of those teams is likely to lose, which is comforting. Sort of.

Second quarter:
Steelers linebacker James Harrison sets up a touchdown and a 17-0 lead by blocking a punt. But the Jets assume control in Minnesota, where quarterback Chad Pennington throws a TD pass to receiver Laveranues Coles for 17-7 lead.

Halftime: The Steelers are up, 17-3.

Tennessee could have been in the locker room even at 10-10, but Rob Bironas misses from 44 yards away.

Buffalo's up, 7-0.

The Jets are up, 23-7.

Third quarter: Weinke hits receiver Keyshawn Johnson for an apparent gain of 15 yards to the Steelers' 35. As a replay review is confirming that Johnson wasn't in bounds, the Titans get a 70-yard kickoff return from Jones, setting up a 27-yard Bironas field goal to tie that game, 10-10.

Third quarter: Jeff Reed hits from 45 yards out to give the Steelers a 20-3 advantage. In Tennessee, defensive back Cortland Finnegan returns a fumble 92 yards for a touchdown to put the Titans up, 17-10.

Third quarter: Willie Parker runs it in from the Carolina 41, and the rout is on.

As if on cue, former Steelers safety Chris Hope gives the Titans a 24-10 lead over the Jaguars with a 61-yard interception return.

Post-game: Jacksonville loses, 24-17, which means the Steelers can't be eliminated until at least Christmas weekend.

At 7-7 overall and 4-6 in the AFC, the Steelers still trail the Bengals (8-5), Jets (8-6), Jaguars (8-6), Bills (7-7, 5-5 in the AFC), Broncos (8-6, 7-4) for the conference's two wild-card spots. The Chiefs, who played last night, also are in the mix.

"The tough thing is having your playoff hopes in somebody else's hands," Steelers linebacker Joey Porter said.

Added Steelers coach Bill Cowher: "We're just gonna keep playing."

Make that playing and hoping.
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Old 12-18-2006, 11:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers need help -- and lots of it

I guess we will all be ultimate scoreboard watching fans over the last 2 weeks.
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Old 12-19-2006, 12:46 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers need help -- and lots of it

Yep. It sure does make it interesting and fun though. I haven't been more interested in other games in a long time.
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