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Old 12-20-2007, 08:09 AM   #1
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Default Head To Head - Steven Jackson v. Steelers #3 Rush Defense

Key to winning tonight in St. Louie? STOP STEVEN JACKSON!


Head to Head: Rams RB Steven Jackson vs. No. 3-ranked Steelers rush defense
A closer look at the game within the game

Thursday, December 20, 2007
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Most of the Steelers' players never have played against St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson, even though he is in his fourth National Football League season. An exception is Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu, who played against him in college.

"I think it's really obvious with him," said Polamalu, when asked to describe what makes Jackson one of the league's top backs. "His size and how good he can move with his size."

This probably is not the best time for the Steelers' defense to be facing Jackson, who ranks eighth in the NFC in rushing with 862 yards despite missing four games with injury.

They will try to stop him tonight at the Edward Jones Dome just four days after Fred Taylor and the Jacksonville Jaguars scooted through the Steelers' defense like they were in the EZ Pass lane on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

And Jackson is a back very similar to, if not better than, Taylor, who rushed for 147 yards on 25 carries in the Jaguars' 29-22 victory, the most yards by an opposing back since Heinz Field opened in 2001.

He is big (6 feet 2, 231 pounds), fast and explosive, a player who is coming off his best performance of an injury-plagued season against the Green Bay Packers.

"He's one of the top backs we're going to face beside Fred Taylor," said free safety Tyrone Carter, who is expected to start in place of struggling Anthony Smith against the Rams. "He has a good combination of everything, and with speed, too. He's very explosive and he has some moves coming out of the hole."

"He doesn't get up there and just bang into his lineman much," said defensive end Brett Keisel. "He's a smart player. He's going to be tough to bring down."

After allowing one 100-yard rusher in 59 games, dating to the 2005 season, the Steelers have now allowed two in the past five games -- Taylor and Thomas Jones of the New York Jets.

Even more disturbing is that the Jaguars rushed for 224 yards -- 53 on the winning touchdown drive -- the most the Steelers have surrendered since Week 11 of the 2000 season. That game was also against Jacksonville.

"That's our forte -- stopping the run and running the ball," Polamalu said. "And, when we can't run the ball and we can't stop the run, it should have been a blowout, in that sense. It feels like more of a blowout."

Jackson has played the past seven games for the Rams after missing four consecutive games with a groin injury. And he has slowly regained the form that saw him rush for 1,528 yards last season, rushing for 143 yards on 23 carries Sunday against the Packers, the fourth-best total of his career.

What's more, he has four runs of 46 yards or longer in the past four games, a streak in which he tied an NFL record with at least a 50-yard run in three consecutive games.

If the Steelers can't stop Jackson the way they couldn't stop Taylor, that will make Rams quarterback Marc Bulger even more effective with play-action passes to wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.

"They have a running back who is capable of doing what Fred Taylor did to us," coach Mike Tomlin said, referring to Jackson. "We have to be physical, we have to turn him around, we have to tackle him. If we don't, he'll fall forward, he'll bounce off tackles, he'll make it tough on us the way Fred did."

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Old 12-20-2007, 09:25 AM   #2
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Default Re: Head To Head - Steven Jackson v. Steelers #3 Rush Defense

I think its about time to throw away those Defensive rankings. They havent done much for us as of late. I dont know that its necessarily getting into the backfield to slow him up thats most important. Its just simple fundamentals like TACKLING the running back when you DO have a chance in the backfield. I think Peyton Manning could rush for75 yards on us the way we have been giving the opposing back second chances. Either that, or hit him so hard he goes down. haha. Would love to see the defense show its ugly face again. We need it.
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Old 12-20-2007, 10:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: Head To Head - Steven Jackson v. Steelers #3 Rush Defense

If Jackson is truly 100% then we are in trouble. The offense needs to control the ball better and give the D a rest more often than they have.
After reading the idiotic threads over the past couple of weeks, I ask the question - "Who is worse...Steeler fans or Eagles fans?" Keep in mind that Eagle fans do not know what it's like to win a SB much less 6 and 2 this decade.
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