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Old 11-14-2006, 05:12 AM   #1
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Default Steelers banged-up secondary struggling

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, November 14, 2006


No sight better summed up the kind of game it had been for the defensive backs Sunday than a groggy Tyrone Carter making his way to the Steelers sideline near the end of it.
Like Carter, the secondary wobbled but, ultimately, made plays when the Steelers had to have them in a 38-31 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at Heinz Field.

Carter forced a fumble that free safety Ryan Clark recovered at the Steelers' 25-yard line with less than a minute to play.

His hit on Saints wide receiver Terrance Copper preserved the victory that snapped a three-game losing streak, but it may have raised as many questions as it answered.

Foremost among those is the state of the secondary.

Physically, it was battered and was all but held together by duct tape in the second half Sunday.

Strong safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Deshea Townsend left the game in the first half with concussions. Their status for this Sunday's game at Cleveland figures to be addressed today when Steelers coach Bill Cowher holds his weekly news conference.

If the health of the defensive backs isn't enough of a concern, the Steelers looked as vulnerable against the pass as they have all season.

And that is saying something, considering the Steelers have allowed two different quarterbacks to throw four touchdown passes in a game. And they gave up three touchdowns to Jake Plummer, the lowest-rated passer in the AFC, in a recent loss to the Denver Broncos.

The Saints were without wide receiver Joe Horn, but the loss of the four-time Pro Bowler didn't slow down their passing attack.

Drew Brees, who leads the NFL in passing yards, lit up the Steelers. The secondary, particularly cornerback Ike Taylor, also had no answer for rookie sensation Marques Colston, who finished with 10 catches for 169 yards.

Not that the defensive backs were solely to blame for the 398 passing yards surrendered

The Steelers didn't generate a consistent pass rush, and when they did get to Brees, he usually was able to get away and step up in the pocket.

It also didn't help that Carter and seldom-used rookies Anthony Smith and Anthony Madison played most of the second half because of injuries and the frequency with which the Saints threw the ball.

"Out of everybody, I played the worst," said Clark, who recovered two fumbles and had six tackles. "I think the young guys came in, stepped up and played well."

Carter, filling in for Polamalu, finished with five tackles, none bigger than the one he made on Copper.

Still, there were plenty of troubling signs for the Steelers, namely the 10-of-16 conversions they allowed on third down, not to mention how easily the Saints drove for a touchdown at the end of the first half.

"We were fighting tooth and nail all through the game," inside linebacker James Farrior said. "I think we left some plays out there that we could have made. We just found a way to get a stop in the end."
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Old 11-14-2006, 07:50 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers banged-up secondary struggling

i think a second round corner from OSU will be nice for the draft.
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Old 11-14-2006, 08:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers banged-up secondary struggling

I think getting these boys to believe in their own abilities and the D as a whole would be a good start.
What they don't need now is doubt!
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Old 11-14-2006, 10:49 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers banged-up secondary struggling

The secondary has been a major disappointment for me all season. At the beginning I thought on paper we look strong and deep but that hasnt turned out to be the case. When healthy Troy has been a star as always. But his shoulder injury caused him to miss a lot of tackles early on. Clark has been a disappointment at best. His first impact game was against NO. The rest of the time you didnt even know he was on the field. Kind of makes me miss Chris Hope, and I was sure no Chris Hope fan.
Ike has been horrible. Townshend appears to have lost a step and Coclough gone for the season. Anybody have a lifeline ?? Any ideas ???
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Old 11-14-2006, 11:37 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers banged-up secondary struggling

Every team faces some sort of adversity during the season. Whether it be injury, turnover problems etc.
Really, I think we have the depth, but the real challenge has been trying to find a leader on the field for the younger players.
I also get the feeling that some players have been taking 3rd downs off, therefore, staying on the field longer than they should be. That would explain why on 3rd and long situations, the coverage has been 5 yards off the receiver. It's common knowledge that on 3rd and long, keep the receiver in front of the first down marker, not past it!!!
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