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Old 11-27-2006, 05:56 AM   #1
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Default Steelers Notebook: 11/27/06

Steelers Notebook: Knee injury will cause Polamalu to miss first pro football game
Monday, November 27, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

BALTIMORE -- Troy Polamalu will miss his first pro football game when the Steelers return home to play Tampa Bay Sunday.

He probably also will miss the Cleveland game Dec. 7 with a sprained medial collateral ligament. No surgery will be required.

Polamalu, a two-time Pro Bowl strong safety, left the game yesterday in the third quarter after getting tangled up in a pileup, when his left knee was injured.

Polamalu said after the game he is hopeful he will return to play this season.

"I'm definitely optimistic about it," Polamalu said.


A painful loss


Hines Ward also left the game in the third quarter after his knee injury was "aggravated." Ward was questionable during the week with a hyperextended knee that was injured Nov. 19 in Cleveland. He started and caught four passes for 33 yards.

Ward said it was a painful day for a number of reasons.

"It's very frustrating. I put it all out there. I didn't have to play this game -- a lot of people probably wouldn't have played this game. But I wanted to go out there and fight with my teammates.

"Did I play a perfect game? No. I left a lot of plays [out there], but it's amazing for it to be a big game like it was, we didn't come out and match the intensity that they did and that was frustrating."

Asked why his team looked so flat, Ward said, "I can't speak for the other guys, I don't know."

"That's why I took all the extra steps, so I could play. I wanted to play this game. This game is the biggest game of our [year] if we win out, and we laid an egg out there. We didn't show up. They wanted it more than we did."


A smashing success


The nine sacks of Ben Roethlisberger tied for the most against the Steelers since the NFL started keeping track of the stat in 1982, and the Ravens did it in a variety of ways.

"It's tough to beat a guy clean every time when you go four-man rushes," said Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan. "Really it was a combination. We rushed four guys, we rushed three guys, and then we sent a lot of people."

Ryan said the Ravens blitzed about 50 percent of the time.

Linebacker Ray Lewis said, "I think everyone who plays us finds it very difficult because we have so many different packages. We have so many different looks, and you never know who is coming from where. Once again, our crowd played a big part in it. They [the Steelers] couldn't hear a couple of times and the momentum kept rolling and rolling."

Said linebacker Bart Scott of his sack that temporarily put Roethlisberger out of the game in the second quarter, "It was a dream shot. You dream as a child of hitting the quarterback like that. Adalius Thomas did a great job of drawing the tackle out of position."

Of Scott's hit on Roethlisberger, linebacker Terrell Suggs said, "I was 30 yards down the field and I heard it."


Road woes

The Steelers aren't traveling well this season, either when it comes to victories or when they try to run the ball.

Willie Parker, held to 22 yards on 10 carries yesterday, is averaging 45.8 yards in six road games this season. He's averaging 128 yards in five games at Heinz Field.

"We just got in a bind," Parker said. "We didn't run the ball like we wanted to. They have a pretty good defense. It's one of those bad games, terrible games."


Ike takes a seat


Cornerback Ike Taylor, who received a big contract extension a week before the season started, was benched to start the 11th game of the season yesterday.

Bryant McFadden started at right cornerback and Deshea Townsend moved over to start in Taylor's spot on the left side. Taylor took the field when the Steelers deployed their nickel and dime defenses. He said he was disappointed but "you got to keep playing ball."

Taylor has started every game since he was promoted at the beginning of the 2005 season. Coach Bill Cowher told him he might not start against New Orleans in the ninth game of the season after a poor outing the previous game against Denver. Taylor wound up starting against the Saints, though, and against the Browns the following game. In Cleveland, Braylon Edwards beat him on a 63-yard reception.


A tiny bright spot


The Steelers added Chad Brown, 36, to their kick coverage team but did not put Troy Polamalu there, as was planned earlier. They also kicked off only once, to start the second half. Brown played on the kickoff team in New England last season.

The Steelers gave up a 39-yard punt return to B.J. Sams in the first quarter but that was called back because of a penalty. The Ravens returned four of Chris Gardocki's seven punts for only 6 yards, but Cowher wasn't happy with what he said were a couple of "poor punts."

"The punt team I thought did a pretty good job given the punts they had to cover."

Gardocki averaged 39.9 yards, 39 yards net.

Normally, the Steelers put two receivers deep on kickoff returns. Yesterday, they had Najeh Davenport deep and moved Sean Morey up to the 12 as a blocker. Davenport muffed one kickoff but recovered it.


A winning effort


Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch and some of his teammates will collect toys for the Toys for Tots program at the UPS store at the Waterfront in Homestead from noon to 2 p.m. tomorrow.

Anyone who donates a new, unwrapped toy for a child's Christmas present will have a chance to meet Batch and the teammates. Batch's foundation, Best of the Batch based in Homestead, sponsors projects, after-school programs and scholarships for low-income youth and their families.


Quick hits


Nate Washington tied for the team lead with Cedrick Wilson; each had four receptions for 49 yards. But Washington also dropped another pass in the end zone, the third time this season he has dropped a potential touchdown pass. He had two drops yesterday. ... The 70,946 in attendance yesterday at M&T Bank Stadium was the largest crowd in Baltimore football history . . . The Steelers used the no-huddle offense extensively in the second half. ... The Steelers had 21 yards rushing. That is their lowest total in a game since 1982. ... The shutout was the second of the season for the Ravens and the second in their history against the Steelers. They shut out the Steelers in 2000, 16-0. Ray Lewis was the leading tackler in both games. ... The Ravens are 9-2, the best start in their history and they have won nine of their past 10 home games. ... By returning a fumble 57 yards for a score, linebacker Adalius Thomas scored the fifth touchdown of his career. ... The Ravens are 40-14 at home since 2000, the second-best such figure in the league. Denver is 40-13. ... The Ravens drew 10 penalties for 87 yards, including one for having 12 players on defense.


Inactives


Steelers -- QB Brian St. Pierre, WR Willie Reid, WR Walter Young, RB Duce Staley, C Marvin Philip, G Chris Kemoeatu, T Willie Colon, DE Rodney Bailey.

Ravens -- CB David Pittman, CB Derrick Martin, RB P.J. Daniels, RB Cory Ross, G Keydrick Vincent, WR Devard Darling, TE Daniel Wilcox, DT Dwan Edwards.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06331/741544-66.stm
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Old 11-27-2006, 05:58 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: 11/27/06

Steelers notebook

By The Tribune-Review
Monday, November 27, 2006


Special teams woes continue to hurt the Steelers. Chris Gardocki's punts of 37 and 32 yards in the first half set up the Ravens with good field position, and they parlayed it into touchdowns. Gardocki's 37-yard punt after the Steelers went three-and-out on the first possession of Sunday's game was a low line drive that Baltimore's B.J. Sams returned 39 yards and put the Ravens' inside the Steelers' 20-yard line. An illegal block above the waist penalty moved the ball back to the Ravens' 44, but quarterback Steve McNair engineered a six-play drive that took just over three minutes.

"We had a couple of poor punts and that's led to some of the issues we've had with coverages," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said after his team's 27-0 loss to the Ravens. "The punt team I thought did a pretty good job, given the punts they were having to cover."

There were two minor changes on the kickoff coverage team, at least for the one time it was on the field. Defensive backs Bryant McFadden and Anthony Smith were replaced by linebackers Chad Brown and Rian Wallace.

? After missing the previous two games because of a bad back, Ray Lewis started at inside linebacker for the Ravens and recorded six solo tackles and a sack. When asked afterward if he felt sorry for the Steelers, Lewis said, "I will always respect the Pittsburgh Steelers because of Bill Cowher, first and foremost, and their organization. But for me to think about another locker room, I would be cheating my teammates."

? McFadden made his first NFL start at cornerback against the Ravens and finished with nine solo tackles. McFadden started in place of Deshea Townsend, who in turn started for Ike Taylor. Taylor has struggled recently and nearly got benched after he gave up a pair of touchdown passes to Javon Walker in a Nov. 5 loss to the Denver Broncos. When asked why he made the change, Cowher said, "basis of play, coach's decision."

? Wide receiver Willie Reid (foot) missed his seventh consecutive game with a sprained foot. Other Steelers inactives were guard Chris Kemoeatu, running back Duce Staley, quarterback Brian St. Pierre, center Marvin Philip, offensive tackle Willie Colon, defensive end Rodney Bailey and wide receiver Walter Young.

? Starting right guard Keydrick Vincent did not dress for the Ravens. Joining him on the inactive list were cornerbacks David Pittman and Derrick Martin, running backs P.J. Daniels and Cory Ross, wide receiver Devard Darling, defensive tackle Dwan Edwards and tight end Daniel Wilcox.

Digits

1 - Play from scrimmage for the Steelers that exceeded 20 yards.

4 - Consecutive games the Steelers have lost in Baltimore.

8 - Percentage that the Steelers converted on third down (1 for 12).

36 - Times Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked this season.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_481496.html
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Old 11-27-2006, 03:11 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: 11/27/06

These stats and this season prove why SB rings are so coveted.
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