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Old 11-21-2008, 06:29 AM   #1
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Default More than just the night was chilly

More than just the night was chilly
Friday, November 21, 2008
By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The Steelers came out of their game against the Cincinnati Bengals last night with their eighth win and still in undisputed possession of first place in the AFC North Division. But there were as many questions as there was jubilation surrounding this 27-10 victory. It was not a performance befitting a team with Super Bowl ambitions.

If this is how they're going to play in their remaining five games, four of which are against teams with winning records, it's going to be a short postseason -- if there is one at all.

If the Steelers are having trouble separating from the 1-9-1 Bengals, what are they going to do against the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans -- their next four opponents -- that are a combined 28-12?

"We were by no means perfect," said coach Mike Tomlin. "We stumbled out of the gate both offensively and defensively."

With occasional snow flurries and a wind-chill factor of 23 at kickoff at Heinz Field, this was supposed to be Steelers kind of weather. This is a franchise that traditionally has been built for the days of late November and December, when the cold and the snow make it tough to pass and teams that aspire to championships must run the ball. Except the Steelers couldn't against the Bengals, who came into the game with the 23rd-ranked rushing defense in the NFL.

The Bengals lost to the Steelers by 28 points a month ago and in their next game lost to Houston by 29. They are not the kind of team that should be able to keep the game close on the road against an opponent that considers itself a Super Bowl contender. But that's what the Bengals did, trailing 10-7 at the half and 13-7 in the final minute of the third quarter.

This was a victory achieved on the quality of Ben Roethlisberger's arm and another excellent performance by what is becoming known as the best defense in the NFL. From this defense, excellence is expected. From Roethlisberger, no one was sure what to expect.

He wasn't the Roethlisberger of old last night, the one who had gained entrance into the elite level of NFL quarterbacks. But he is showing signs of that form. That was the good news, perhaps even the great news, to come out of the game.

He completed 17 of 30 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown. Most noteworthy is that he went his second consecutive game without an interception after throwing eight in the three games before that. What's more, he was throwing the ball down the field more than he had in recent games. In the first half alone, he had passes of 37 yards to Hines Ward and 27 and 22 yards to Santonio Holmes.

Tomlin had suggested Roethlisberger's penchant for short passes in games against Indianapolis and San Diego was predicated by the opposing defense. That might have been part of it -- maybe even most of it -- but the suspicion lingered, and understandably so, that Roethlisberger was dinking and dunking because he was hampered by the shoulder injury that had bothered him since the first game of the season.

The injury is not fully healed and might not be so until next season.

But Roethlisberger is clearly making strides. The calls for Tomlin to bench Roethlisberger in favor of backup Byron Leftwich after the loss to Indianapolis seems pretty ridiculous today.

The Steelers had no such success in the running game, after they came in with high expectations. Not only had the Bengals been weak in stopping the run, Willie Parker returned to the lineup last week with a strong performance -- 115 yards on 25 carries. More of the same was expected.

It never materialized.

On the Steelers' first possession, Parker carried twice for 1 yard. The next time they had the ball, he carried once for 1 yard. That was followed by 2 yards on two carries and 1 yard on two carries.

For the half, Parker carried 11 times for 14 yards. He finished the game with 37 yards on 14 carries, going out early with a minor knee injury.

Mewelde Moore replaced Parker and had more success, running 15 times for 56 yards.

Tomlin maintained he was not disappointed with the running game. "I think we ended up with 120 yards. I'm disappointed that we started slowly as a football team. The run game was just a portion of it."

But against a defensive line that was ravaged by injury -- one starter missed the game and two more went down during it -- the Steelers should have been dominant from the start.

That they were not is enough to make the next four games look like a steep challenge.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08326/929694-194.stm
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:10 AM   #2
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Default Re: More than just the night was chilly

Quote:
The Steelers came out of their game against the Cincinnati Bengals last night with their eighth win and still in undisputed possession of first place in the AFC North Division. But there were as many questions as there was jubilation surrounding this 27-10 victory. It was not a performance befitting a team with Super Bowl ambitions.
But the 9-1 defending champion Giants eeking by the same team 26-23 in OT in NJ was? OK.
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:18 AM   #3
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Default Re: More than just the night was chilly

Division games are always tough, no matter what the records are. Everyone we play is geared to stop the run, and blitz Ben, so there's pretty much 8 guys in the box always. FWP hasn't been himself, it's obvious, and the field doesn't help his running style. I would like to see more situational substitutions at RB, especially with FWPs health this year.

I actually think we will start to peak at the right time this year. The injury front hopefully will start to clear up and that adversity has brought out some very good play from younger players. I like our chances moving forward, no apologies for how we win.
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:18 AM   #4
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Default Re: More than just the night was chilly

Not even sure where to start really. I'm still not totally convinced Smizik actually watched the game.

Parker was stuffed by a defense that has been surprising everyone the last few weeks. So we put in MeMo and he gets 50+ yards and ~45 receiving. The focus should be that we have two backs capable of spelling each other without changing the game plan too much, and that the coaches realized it. Instead it's that the offense sucks.

I guess people don't realize anymore a team can be 0-15 or get crushed a previous game and still be dangerous, especially considering it was a divisional rival. The phrase "any given Sunday" comes to mind. The next four games being a steep challenge is also annoying. Using Smizik's logic, we beat the Redskins 23-6, who beat the Cowboys, so we'll crush them! Right?

I've seen some of what Smizik has written and the guy seems largely negative, about every facet of both the Pirates and the Steelers.
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:30 AM   #5
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Default Re: More than just the night was chilly

Bo Smizik is a joke...when is this douchebag going to take his negativity to a team that deserves it....like the bungles.
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: More than just the night was chilly

The Bungles overall were 1-8-1 but in their past 2 games they beat Jacksonville and tied the bEagles.

So, they were playing well in recent games.

It was a good victory! Last year, they lost this type of game.

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Old 11-21-2008, 08:48 AM   #7
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Default Re: More than just the night was chilly

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Originally Posted by RunWillieRun View Post
Bo Smizik is a joke...when is this douchebag going to take his negativity to a team that deserves it....like the bungles.
Maybe we can trade him to Cinsuck for an order of Skyline Chili.

Smizik is the biggest douche this side of Mark Madden. He never, EVER has anything good to say about any of the teams, not even the Pens, who are only in the midst of one of their best starts in franchise history. And yet, a lot of the locals (mainly the ones 60 and older) take this guy seriously. I can't wait for the day he retires, so that I don't have to read his garbage or see that ugly pussface ever again.
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:50 AM   #8
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Default Re: More than just the night was chilly

what a tool bag article

8-3 is a very good place for us to be in right now. Bengals are a bad team yes, and we need to win the games we are supposed to win, just as we have done this season. No bad losses to Jets or Cardinals this year.
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:52 AM   #9
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Default Re: More than just the night was chilly

Here's the thing - the Bengals aren't good, but they're not as bad as their record. Smizik complains that the Steelers weren't dominant from the start - few teams have been against the Bengals this year. The only team to have a greater than 8-point lead against them at halftime this year was the Cowboys. They were actually leading the Giants at halftime.

Smizik was probably preaching the same gloom and doom after the Steelers' three game losing streak put them at 7-5 in 2005. I'm not saying that history will necessarily repeat itself (though I am hoping it), but Smizik's negativity sometime's makes it difficult for him to see the forest for the trees.
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:55 AM   #10
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Default Re: More than just the night was chilly

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Originally Posted by fansince'76 View Post
But the 9-1 defending champion Giants eeking by the same team 26-23 in OT in NJ was? OK.
of course it was b/c it was the giants and eli manning... anytime that has a manning playing for them gets the benefit of the doubt....
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