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Old 09-08-2006, 08:22 AM   #1
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Default Special teams blunders prove costly

Special teams blunders prove costly
By Rob Biertempfel
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, September 8, 2006


The Steelers' special teams got off to a rough start Thursday night in the season-opener against the Miami Dolphins.
They bobbled balls, missed tackles, spun their wheels and were whacked by Welker.

Wes Welker, a third-year receiver and kick return artist, tore off three punt returns for 79 yards in the first half alone. At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, he was too slippery to stop.

The Steelers were not nearly as proficient, and it didn't take long for problems to surface.

Seven minutes into the game, Ricardo Colclough bobbled the ball on a punt return and was lucky not to cough it up on a 3-yard gain.

Both of Miami's first-half scores were set up by excellent, back-to-back returns by Welker -- 47 yards on a punt and 30 yards on a kickoff.

Welker was a punt return demon at Texas Tech, where he set the NCAA record for career punt yardage (1,761). After just two seasons with the Dolphins, Welker already ranked third in team history in punt returns (86) and yardage (854).

Last night, Welker's first big return was in part due to a punt return snafu by rookie Santonio Holmes, which put the Steelers in a deep hole.

Midway through the second quarter, Holmes fielded a punt at the 4-yard line, cut left ... then slipped and fell at the 6.

The poor field position would bite the Steelers two drives later, when they punted again from their 14-yard line.

Welker settled under the ball at the 38. Ryan Clark and Arnold Harrison missed tackles near midfield, and Welker zoomed down the left sideline before punter Chris Gardocki shoved him out of bounds at the 15-yard line.

Two plays later, the Dolphins scored to tie the score at 7-7.

On the ensuing kickoff, Colclough sprinted 62 yards to the Miami 31-yard line. The big play was wiped out, though, by a holding call against James Harrison.

Despite the penalty, the Steelers went 77 yards for a touchdown to go up, 14-7.

The bad news was, the touchdown put Welker back in business. He returned the kickoff from the goal line to the 30. A minute later, he caught a dump pass from Dante Culpepper and scampered 20 yards to the 8.

That led to a field goal, which pulled the Dolphins within 14-10 at the half.
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Old 09-08-2006, 09:25 AM   #2
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Default Re: Special teams blunders prove costly

It was rough watching the special teams last night. It seemed like on the punts to us, nobody knew where the ball was and on the punts to them, we couldn't hold it down. I'm sure that will be fixed really quick.
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Old 09-08-2006, 11:18 AM   #3
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Default Re: Special teams blunders prove costly

If I were a Steelers fan, I would be fuming over this aspect of last night's game. Holmes made more than one rookie mistake, though as I think Michaels pointed out they're the same rules in college so that's little excuse. He wasn't the only one to mess things up, though. Just as I hope the Dolphins secondary will be corrected after their terrible play last night, those special teams issues would be my focus if I were you folks.
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Old 09-08-2006, 11:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: Special teams blunders prove costly

Of course there is room for improvement. Cowher made that perfectly clear. For the most part I'm content with the way we played while taking into consideration that we did not have our starting QB.

1-0 baby.
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Old 09-08-2006, 11:23 AM   #5
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Default Re: Special teams blunders prove costly

Do you think we missed Chidi?
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Old 09-08-2006, 11:25 AM   #6
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Default Re: Special teams blunders prove costly

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichmondVA View Post
Do you think we missed Chidi?
Keisel more so IMO. But, we got the win and I'm sure Chidi will be back when Ben returns. It's not as if teams are in line trying to get their hands on Chidi.
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Old 09-08-2006, 11:32 AM   #7
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Default Re: Special teams blunders prove costly

I'm just glad we surived that mess. Hopefully we can learn and build off of last night's ST performance.
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