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Old 01-22-2011, 11:51 PM   #1
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Default Steelers-Jets Key Matchups

Steelers-Jets Key Matchups
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Saturday January 22, 2011 11:18 PM

Jets’ corners vs. Steelers wideouts

Darrelle Revis is a swindler. That's the word from Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward. According to Ward, opposing quarterbacks are too fearful of throwing toward "Revis Island." Ward respects Revis. Ward will even concede that Revis is the NFL's top cover corner. But "Yeah, he can be beat," Ward said. "I just think he swindles guys. You really don't want to mess around with him because, if you make a mistake, he's a game-changer. As a wide receiver, you get frustrated, but if the quarterback's not looking at you, there's nothing you can do about it."

When the Steelers lost to the Jets on Dec. 19, Ward was basically shut down by Revis (two catches, 34 yards. After the game, Ward claims he was open at times, but Ben Roethlisberger didn't notice. Roethlisberger only threw in Ward's direction three times. Will Revis guard Ward man-to-man again tonight? The Jets aren't saying. Mike Wallace, the Steelers' other starting wideout, was targeted 10 times by Roethlisberger. Wallace finished with seven catches for 102 yards.

Ferguson vs. Harrison Last year in Freeport, N.Y., village officials renamed one of their streets D'Brickashaw Ferguson Way. That honor was bestowed upon the Jets' left tackle for two reasons. First, his foundation provides scholarship money to students in need and financial aid to local food banks. Secondly, he's excellent on the field and has helped propel the Jets into the national spotlight. For much of tonight, two-time Pro Bowler Ferguson will be matched up against another Pro Bowler, James Harrison.

It's a one-on-one matchup pitting two of the NFL's best players at their positions. After recording 10.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and two interceptions during the regular season, Harrison was phenomenal last week in a playoff win over Baltimore. Down 21-7 at halftime against the Ravens, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau challenged his defense to make plays in the second half. Harrison did his part. On the first play in each of the Ravens' first two series in the third quarter, Harrison sacked Joe Flacco. Harrison, who had another sack in the fourth quarter, set the tone for the Steelers' comeback. Harrison had six solo tackles but no sacks in today’s teams' earlier meeting.

Steelers’ kick coverage vs. Smith

It took the Jets just 12 seconds to set the tone on Dec. 19. That's the time it took for Brad Smith to return the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. The Steelers' kick coverage team insists it won't happen again. Could they employ the same tactic they did against the Browns? Fearful that renowned kick return specialist Josh Cribbs would make a big play, Shaun Suisham squibbed all eight of the Steelers' kickoffs.

The strategy worked as the Browns averaged only 9.1 yards per return, and Cribbs averaged only 7.7 yards on three returns. However, squib kicks don't always work for the Steelers. Last week after the Steelers scored the go-ahead TD against the Ravens with 1:33 left to play, Suisham's squib kick was picked up by one of the blocking backs at the 40-yard line and returned 12 yards to the Steelers' 48-yard line. That could have been disastrous. This year during the regular season, only five kickoff returners scored multiple touchdowns. One of them was Smith, who ranked second in the league with a 28.6-yard average. For the most part this season, the Steelers have done well covering kicks. At least they've done much better than last year when they allowed four TDs on kickoff returns
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Old 01-22-2011, 11:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers-Jets Key Matchups

Ferguson can handle Harrison easily, but if Harrison blitzes the inside, Ferguson will go inside to block him, freeing up an outside blitz from that side. I see LeBeau doing this a lot.

I feel the only way the Jets win this game is if they have a special teams touchdown again, so hopefully the Steelers special teams have been running extra drills this week.

"To win a game, first you have to not lose the game" - John Madden
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers-Jets Key Matchups

As far as WR CB, what would make me most nervous is Revis on Wallace and Cromartie on Sanders. This would take away speed and force Ward and Miller to step up. As long as Sanders doesn't get one of the top CBs, I'm cool.

As far as Harrison, I remember from the TV show that since Faneca left, they were struggling most at LG. Maybe they should run some twists where Keisel goes outside and Harrison goes against the LG. They could have fixed it by now but it was a serious weakness in the line.
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