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Old 12-03-2006, 07:28 AM   #1
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Default Steelers looking at ghost of Super past past

December 03, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can tell the Steelers a thing or two about a real Super Bowl hangover.

The Bucs did not make the playoffs in 2003, the season after they won it all for the first time. The Steelers are on the outs too at 4-7 in their Super Bowl defense.

Coaches Bill Cowher and Jon Gru-den could compare notes today, but their stories of what went wrong the season after they each won a Super Bowl would be diverse.

The Steelers will play without two important starters today, Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward at flanker and All-Pro strong safety Troy Polamalu. For the most part, though, injuries have not contributed to their downfall this season.

That wasn't the case for the '03 Bucs. They lost 11 starters and one key reserve, wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, for a total of 62 games. They banished receiver Keyshawn Johnson for the final six after feuding with Gruden. And they lost their general manager when Rich McKay, whose authority was diminished when Gruden arrived in '02, left during the season to run the Atlanta Falcons.

"You can't comment on everybody's situation because everybody is different," Gruden said. "We had some contract issues. Sometimes, after success, you may lose a coach or two, you might have some contractual issues. It makes it different with the morale of your football team.

"You lose some players, the offseason is a lot shorter. Let's be honest: There are a lot of challenges that go into repeating."

The Steelers avoided much of that and still find themselves hopelessly out of the playoff race. They lost only three starters, none a star. They haven't been hit hard by injuries, and contract issues have not been a noticeable problem. Their morale seemed to be good much of the season.

Gruden says he does not accept the theory that a Super Bowl victory necessarily creates a hangover.

"In this day and age you don't have the same team year-in and year-out. You suffer some catastrophic injuries like we did with [Mike] Alstott and Jurevicius. You have some key defections in free agency. ... You're not the same team.

"Everybody knows how satisfying it is to beat the world champions. You're going to get everybody's best shot. Your schedule's tougher. There are a lot of things that go into it."

Six of the Steelers' seven losses have been close enough that they could have won in the fourth quarter, but only one of those came by fewer than seven points -- their 41-38 overtime loss at Atlanta.

As with the Steelers in their 28-17 victory against Miami to kick off the NFL season on a Thurday night, the 2003 Buccaneers opened with a 17-0 victory in Philadelphia. But then the season turned on the small things -- close losses.

Tampa's first two losses came in overtime and they lost three more by three points or less and two others by a touchdown in a 7-9 season.

Something Cowher and Gruden could commiserate about are turnovers. The Steelers have lost 30, 19 on interceptions. The Bucs of '03 had 22 interceptions and 31 turnovers.

"From my standpoint, we're just not making the plays we're used to making," Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend said. "That's what this game all boils down to -- four or five plays in every game makes the game and we're not making those four or five plays."

Said defensive end Brett Keisel:"Previously when we've been successful, I felt like things have gone our way; when we needed a big play we got a big play. It just seems like that hasn't happened this year."

The Steelers can only hope this season is an aberration. It lasted longer for the Bucs, who dipped even further in 2004 when they went 5-11. They rebounded nicely in 2005 when they won the NFC South at 11-5. However, they lost to Washington in their first playoff game and come to Heinz Field today at 3-8.

Gruden blamed the post-Super Bowl problems on poor management of the salary cap, poor drafting by the McKay regime and on the four draft picks the team gave up (along with $8 million) when they acquired him in a trade with Oakland -- two in the first round and two in the second.

"We lost John Lynch, Warren Sapp, we lost a lot of players," Gruden said.

"We've been minus a lot of draft picks. They traded a lot of daft picks away to get a coach here. They used a lot of draft picks in previous years that aren't here.

"To acquire players and replace the guys that we lose, it's hard to do if you don't have draft picks or salary cap relief to get some guys."
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Old 12-03-2006, 07:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers looking at ghost of Super past past

Well for sure, we're facing a team who once upon a time was in our position. Nice to see a match up of Super Bowl Champions of the past this weekend.
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Old 12-04-2006, 04:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers looking at ghost of Super past past

Someone ever ask ya here is the other teams to do the same thing we have done this season after a SB Win;

SB High's
Denver
Tampa Bay
Kansas City
New England
New York Giants
San Francisco
St Louis
Green Bay
Oakland Raiders
Washington
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Old 12-04-2006, 05:03 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers looking at ghost of Super past past

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChronoCross View Post
Someone ever ask ya here is the other teams to do the same thing we have done this season after a SB Win;

SB High's
Denver
Tampa Bay
Kansas City
New England
New York Giants
San Francisco
St Louis
Green Bay
Oakland Raiders
Washington
Very cool. Thanks. You don't happen to know their final records for those seasons do you?
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Old 12-04-2006, 08:55 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers looking at ghost of Super past past

Quote:
The Steelers avoided much of that and still find themselves hopelessly out of the playoff race. They lost only three starters, none a star. They haven't been hit hard by injuries, and contract issues have not been a noticeable problem. Their morale seemed to be good much of the season.
None a star? What do you call Jerome Bettis? El wasn't an elite receiver, per se, but I would classify him as a star return man and a key component in the trick plays that netted us some decent points in key situations last season. When was the last time that we've seen the razzle-dazzle plays that became almost a Steelers trademark last year? The Steelers haven't been able to replace Bettis' value to the team, both on the field and in the locker room, and as far as El goes - our punt and kick return men have left a lot to be desired this season.

The most notable difference, imho, between the Bucs and Steelers since winning their respective Lombardis is that the Steelers still have a plethora of talent on this team that just isn't playing up to their capabilities for whatever reason. The Bucs pale in comparison to the talent the Steelers presently have.
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Old 12-04-2006, 09:38 AM   #6
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Cool Re: Steelers looking at ghost of Super past past

The article says the Steelers haven't had significant injuries. That's not exactly true. Big Ben played after missing just a game, but clearly wasn't the same until the Chiefs game, then got hurt again and played through. A quarterback not totally on his game makes a huge diference to whether his team wins or loses. Concerning yesterday's game. If you had to focus on stopping Nate Washingon and Santonio Holmes, would you not stuff the run and cover the recievers 1 on 1? I definitely think we need offensive line and power back in the draft, as well as maybe an offensive lineman in free agency.
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Old 12-04-2006, 01:09 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers looking at ghost of Super past past

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Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
Very cool. Thanks. You don't happen to know their final records for those seasons do you?
Denver 6-10
Tampa Bay7-9
Kansas City 7-5-2
New England 9-7
New York Giants 8-8
San Francisco 3-6
St Louis - 7-9
Green Bay - 6-7-1
Oakland Raiders - 7-9
Washington - 7-9
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