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Old 10-21-2013, 01:22 PM   #1
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Default Kovacevic: Steelers back? Not yet, but …

Kovacevic: Steelers back? Not yet, but …
By Dejan Kovacevic
Published: Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, 10:00 p.m.


The Steelers aren't back.

Yeah, I was there, too, when Shaun Suisham sliced the uprights in the last second to set down the hated Ravens, 19-16, and set off a celebration unlike any at Heinz Field in far too long.

It was, as Ryan Clark put it, “great for us and the city to get that feeling back.”

Sure was. A joy to absorb.

I can see the standings, too, which, thanks to the parity-driven NFL and the parody-driven AFC North, somehow have the 2-4 Steelers a single game back in the loss column for the wild card and right there with all their division mates save the 5-2 Bengals.

And I see the coming schedule, as well, listing the Raiders, Patriots, Bills, Lions, Browns and these Ravens again followed by the Dolphins.

Anyone scary in there?

Not if you saw Tom Brady misfire on more than half his passes in the OT loss to the New York Jets on Sunday.

It's all there. I can see it, and I can tally up what surely will have than a few folks hopeful that the Steelers have made a hard pivot from 0-4 and London and Ben Roethlisberger's proclamation that “we're probably the worst team in the league” and shuffleboard-gate and all else that brought the franchise's 40-year rock bottom.

But the Steelers being back?

Hey, why take it from me?

Here's what that question collected on a tour of the winning locker room …

Roethlisberger: “We've still got a hole, and we're still trying to get out.”

Le'Veon Bell: “Not yet.”

Antonio Brown: “It's not time to feel good about ourselves.”

Ramon Foster: “Not yet.”

David DeCastro, at the next stall after overhearing me ask Foster: “No.”

The always colorful Clark: “Not yet. But we aren't dead yet, either.”

Exactly. And that's pretty much all, if anything, is there to savor.

Sure, it's a start.

There's no denying that Ben and his receivers have found more of a rhythm, that Brown's at an elite level, that Todd Haley's playbook has expanded from the table of contents to honest-to-gosh wildcat sets, that Bell and his 93 rushing yards add a new dimension and that, above all — way above all — the offensive line looks … well, hey, competent.

Who could have imagined that with a signed-off-the-street center and two emergency tackles in as many weeks?

Here's what Arthur Jones, the Ravens' defensive tackle, had to say: “They outplayed us. Hats off to them.”

Indeed.

That's why you saw Bell hesitate in looking for a hole before powering through and falling forward in the mold of a young Eddie George.

“I'm always patient,” Bell explained. “I've got to trust my line to get me something, and they did.”

The defense had its highlights, too, notably William Gay swatting away two touchdowns and the continuing resurrection of Woodley's career.

But so much more is needed.

The offense is getting yards, has balance and is eating clock, but two touchdowns over two wins, as Roethlisberger duly noted, “isn't what we want.” In this game, the Steelers breached the Baltimore 16, 10 and 20 without a TD.

Red-zone efficiency is incumbent on the QB more than anyone, but the receivers also have to fare far better in creating daylight.

“We feel like we're getting better as an offense, but we've got work to do,” Brown said. “All of us.”

Defensively, the problem is precisely the reverse: The Steelers give up yards and clock even if they've only given up one touchdown in the past two games. The run defense is still solid, but the secondary remains too loose.

“We're getting better,” Clark said.

Then, as he's wont to do, he extrapolated on the team's status in general.

“You know, there were things earlier this season, when I was asked about those, I was honest. I was honest about the importance of having a healthy Heath Miller and Le'Veon Bell. I was honest about our O-line needing to work together when Maurkice Pouncey went out. Larry Foote was a big loss, too. Those aren't excuses. They're just football. You have to overcome adversity.”

The Steelers have come a long way since London. Give them that much.

But there are oceans to cross.


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Old 10-21-2013, 01:28 PM   #2
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Default Re: Kovacevic: Steelers back? Not yet, but …

One game at time should be this teams mentality. No team can looked over, no matter what their record
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Old 10-21-2013, 01:29 PM   #3
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Default Re: Kovacevic: Steelers back? Not yet, but …

Keep improving, beat the Raiders and Pats on the road the next two weeks and get to 4-4

then we'll talk
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Old 10-21-2013, 01:56 PM   #4
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Default Re: Kovacevic: Steelers back? Not yet, but …

I liked the Eddie George comparison for Bell. Hadn't thought of it but it is accurate in regards to running style. Just hope he stays healthy unlike Eddie.
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Old 10-21-2013, 03:12 PM   #5
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Default Re: Kovacevic: Steelers back? Not yet, but …

I'm glad that the players all agree that they still have work to do.

They enjoyed the win, but want more.

The hungrier they are, they better that they will play.
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Old 10-21-2013, 04:33 PM   #6
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Default Re: Kovacevic: Steelers back? Not yet, but …

They still need a Left Tackle
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Old 10-21-2013, 05:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Kovacevic: Steelers back? Not yet, but …

The next 2 games will really show who this team is. We have to get over this playing down style that we play vs the Raiders. As long as everyone brings their A game then we should be able to beat them. As for the Pats, they don't look like they used to, but their still good. To beat NE we need a TO and about 10 more points then we've been scoring. Their defense is gutted up the middle for the year though, so the offense should be able to turn it on. If we win these 2 then we have a "new team", a dangerous team, but if we fall back into the rut of losing to these two teams then I would say we're the same ol' team that played up for a couple of games last year but could not compete on a regular basis. The next two weeks is everything!
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Old 10-21-2013, 11:40 PM   #8
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Default Re: Kovacevic: Steelers back? Not yet, but …

Quote:
Originally Posted by tanda10506 View Post
The next 2 games will really show who this team is. We have to get over this playing down style that we play vs the Raiders. As long as everyone brings their A game then we should be able to beat them. As for the Pats, they don't look like they used to, but their still good. To beat NE we need a TO and about 10 more points then we've been scoring. Their defense is gutted up the middle for the year though, so the offense should be able to turn it on. If we win these 2 then we have a "new team", a dangerous team, but if we fall back into the rut of losing to these two teams then I would say we're the same ol' team that played up for a couple of games last year but could not compete on a regular basis. The next two weeks is everything!
Well-stated, brotha. I think what I hear you saying is that you would like to see some consistency.
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Old 10-22-2013, 07:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: Kovacevic: Steelers back? Not yet, but …

Quote:
Originally Posted by tanda10506 View Post
The next 2 games will really show who this team is. We have to get over this playing down style that we play vs the Raiders. As long as everyone brings their A game then we should be able to beat them. As for the Pats, they don't look like they used to, but their still good. To beat NE we need a TO and about 10 more points then we've been scoring. Their defense is gutted up the middle for the year though, so the offense should be able to turn it on. If we win these 2 then we have a "new team", a dangerous team, but if we fall back into the rut of losing to these two teams then I would say we're the same ol' team that played up for a couple of games last year but could not compete on a regular basis. The next two weeks is everything!
Yep.

And you mentioned a key factor about playing the Taperiots: the can NOT stop the run... especially between the tackles. I'd give Bell the ball fifty times (no hyperbole); he'll likely gain 200 yards.
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Old 10-22-2013, 07:59 AM   #10
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Default Re: Kovacevic: Steelers back? Not yet, but …

After watching the Giants/Vikings last night (actually trying not to fall asleep) I thought about all of the teams that have four or more losses right now. I thought about which team had the best shot at digging out and having a legitimate chance at putting together a good season and possibly even a playoff spot and WE are that team!

The Giants are still far from recovery and if they were playing anyone but the Vikes last night, they'd likely be 0-7 today. The 'Skins put on a great show against Chicago, but I believe that was more of a home-field fluke than a real statement and reminded me more of the old shootouts between Fouts and Bradshaw back in the day when the defenses took the day off.

Of all the struggling teams, I think we're in the best shape because we have the talent, the coaching and the experience and we're 2-4 simply due to a lack of clarity and purpose rather than an inability to play. The fact that Ben seems to have finally overcome his post-partem depression over Arians along with the return of Miller, the emergence of Le'Veon Bell, as well as what is shaping up to be a promising group of receivers along with an O-line that seems to be settling down makes me think that we're not that far from being really good.

Our Defense is still too predictable and needs to tighten up, but I think that right now, the Offense is going to force that to happen by playing better and more consistently. This, in turn, would allow LeBeau and his crew to loosen up and not have to play to protect slim leads and to thus return to the more aggressive style they're accustomed to playing.

And once again, props to the Swish for his consistency (although I hope he's needed more in the future for PAT's than for game-winners from long range).

This season I never thought I'd say this, but I think the future is looking much brighter!

But as always -- there's still lots of work to do!

HERE WE GO, BABY!
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