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An important history lesson for you TRUE Steelers fans!

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Old 12-04-2006, 07:01 AM   #1
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Default Smizik: Ugly win nothing to brag about

Smizik: Ugly win nothing to brag about
Monday, December 04, 2006

By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Out of the stench of as ugly a win as you might ever see in the National Football League, came a tiny sliver of false optimism concerning the Steelers. Only the hopelessly optimistic would make anything of it, but, when it comes to the Steelers, there are large numbers of such believers.

The thinking goes something like this:

Since the Steelers, who are 5-7, have won three of their past four, they're peaking at just the right time. Which, of course, brings to mind last season, when they rallied from the brink of playoff extinction to a Super Bowl championship.

Dare we dream they might do it again? No, no, a zillion times no.

It's true the Steelers have won three of four, including a 20-3 squashing of the hopelessly inept Tampa Bay Buccaneers yesterday at Heinz Field, but these victories really don't offer much hope. That was particularly true of yesterday's fiasco where the Steelers did next to nothing to distinguish themselves. Normally, a 20-3 win in the NFL is a victory to brag about, but not against the Buccaneers.

The Steelers have seen some awful teams this year, but none approaches the level of putridness that is the calling card of the Buccaneers. Poor Bruce Gradkowski, the Dormont kid who came back to his home town as a starter in his rookie NFL season. With no running game behind him and with little protection in front of him, Gradkowski rarely had a chance. His best moment came midway through the third quarter, with his team only down by 10, when he perfectly threw to wide receiver Michael Clayton, who was all by himself on the Steelers' 15. Clayton dropped the ball.

The point is this: A win against the Buccaneers, be it a shutout or by 40 points, is no indication of playoff readiness

What remains particularly alarming about the plight of the Steelers is that for the third consecutive game the team that is supposed to live by the run has shown no ability whatsoever to run. And this time it wasn't the Baltimore Ravens, the stern defense that stifled the Steelers last week, but the Buccaneers, who were 23rd in overall defense in the NFL and 20th against the run.

Against this defense, and with a lead for 45 minutes of the game, the Steelers could gain only 76 yards on 31 carries, a miserable 2.4-yard average. It was a familiar refrain. Against the Ravens' superior defense, the Steelers gained 21 yards on 11 carries. A week earlier against the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers ran 20 times for 77 yards.

Worse than those numbers has been the ineffectiveness of Willie Parker, who went into the game as the fourth-leading rusher in the AFC. Only a late surge gave Parker 61 yards on 22 carries. On his first 14 carries, he managed only 20 yards. A week earlier against the Ravens, Parker gained 22 yards on 10 carries. Facing the Browns, he ran 16 times for 46 yards.

Fast Willie is becoming Two-Yard Willie.

This is disquieting not only because of what has transpired recently but what it means for the future. Without the run, the Steelers aren't the Steelers.

Tampa Bay went so easily that it took almost nothing from the Steelers' offense to accomplish the victory. Not only was Parker shut down, but Ben Roethlisberger continued to be mediocre. He completed 12 of 25 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. His passer rating was 85.1.

His performance was such that coach Bill Cowher damned him with faint praise. He cited Roethlisberger as playing "a very solid game."

Had Roethlisberger performed in a similar solid fashion in the Steelers' first three playoff games last season, the team would not have gotten close to the Super Bowl.

For those who are still in love with the three wins in the past four games, here are some facts they should know: The following nine AFC teams have better records than the Steelers: New England, New York, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, San Diego, Denver and Kansas City. These three AFC teams have records equal to the Steelers: Tennessee, Buffalo Miami.

One more fact: Six teams make the playoffs.

It's sad but true -- the Steelers are bottom-feeders in the AFC. Three wins out of four hasn't changed that. Dreamers might suspect that the Steelers can win out and at least be in consideration for a playoff bid. But after a game Thursday against Cleveland, there are no more Tampa Bays on the schedule. There are real football teams: Carolina, Baltimore and Cincinnati, all with winning records. All, by almost every indicator, better than the Steelers.

The team that has won three out of four is looking hard at losing three out of four.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06338/743409-194.stm
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Old 12-04-2006, 07:49 AM   #2
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Default Re: Smizik: Ugly win nothing to brag about

Damn he threw them under the BUS
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Old 12-04-2006, 07:55 AM   #3
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Default Re: Smizik: Ugly win nothing to brag about

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Damn he threw them under the BUS
While at the same time putting things into perspective. Unfortunately, the truth hurts. Good article for the most part. As for yesterday's game, I'll take the "W" even though it was one ugly and painful football game to sit through.
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Old 12-04-2006, 08:06 AM   #4
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Default Re: Smizik: Ugly win nothing to brag about

While it is true that the Steelers are not mathematically eliminated just yet for a playoff spot, the chances of that happening this season are slim and none and I think most fans realize that. However, it was nice getting that win yesterday, no matter how hapless the team we were playing is. In a season as dismal as this one has been, any W is a bright spot and rather than sulk about not being playoff bound this season, I'll take it and be grateful.
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Old 12-04-2006, 08:46 AM   #5
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Default Re: Smizik: Ugly win nothing to brag about

A win is better than a loss, but Smizik points out that in terms of the future of this team a growing concern is the inability to run the ball.

Davenport has shown some sparks but I do not know if he is the long term answer at power back.

Willie Parker is a talent but in terms of running clock to hold a lead (the Steelers offensive game plan since Cowher arrived for every year except 2003 and 2006) Parker's talents, as many other posters have observed, do not appear to be a good fit for that role. Maybe it would help if he did not need to run on a sandlot for his home games.

Once the coaching situation is resolved it is going to be a very interesting offseason.
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Old 12-04-2006, 08:47 AM   #6
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Default Re: Smizik: Ugly win nothing to brag about

That article was right on the money!!

Surprised Smizik didn't mention how Cowher puts Batch in late in the game but lets Ben take an ass-beating for the entire game the week before against Baltimore.
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Old 12-04-2006, 08:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Smizik: Ugly win nothing to brag about

I agree with you HTG. I personally enjoyed being able to enjoy a win and relax for a change!
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Old 12-04-2006, 09:08 AM   #8
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Default Re: Smizik: Ugly win nothing to brag about

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That article was right on the money!!

Surprised Smizik didn't mention how Cowher puts Batch in late in the game but lets Ben take an ass-beating for the entire game the week before against Baltimore.
You bunch of killjoys! I'm not looking ahead to next season just yet - there's still 4 games to be played this season and it is what it is, though as I said, I'll take the W no matter who we played and how we won. My TV got a break yesterday from the foil balls and it was grateful too.

Seriously, Ambridge - with the way our OL was manhandled by the Ravens' D in that game, do you honestly believe any other QB wouldn't have been pummeled as well? Hell - put Joe Montana back there behind that OL in that game and he would have been battered and deep fried too. While I agree that Cowher should have made a change at QB possibly at the half to try and give the team a spark, I don't think it really would have made any difference in that particular game. Just mho.
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Old 12-04-2006, 09:19 AM   #9
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Default Re: Smizik: Ugly win nothing to brag about

I agree with the Meat & Potato portion of Smizik's article but as usual he has to try and shock his readers with smattering of inflamatory comments. Regardless of the validity, he can get his point across without such statements as:

Quote:
...the stench of as ugly a win as you might ever see
Quote:
... the Steelers are bottom-feeders in the AFC....
Quote:
There are real football teams: Carolina, Baltimore and Cincinnati.....
I just imagine Smizik smuggly chuckling to himself at his little typewriter thinking.."that should piss some people off..."

Again you cant guestion his facts...just his approach. His writing is often the social equavalent of telling someone they have B.O. in front of their co-workers....or the comedic equavelent of Beavis and Butthead.

Thanks for the facts Bob...and dont pull the punches, if we are bad..call us bad....but try and reign in on the shock-value...If we wanted that, we would have Howard Stern cover our sports.
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Old 12-04-2006, 09:20 AM   #10
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Default Re: Smizik: Ugly win nothing to brag about

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlanta Dan View Post
A win is better than a loss, but Smizik points out that in terms of the future of this team a growing concern is the inability to run the ball.

Davenport has shown some sparks but I do not know if he is the long term answer at power back.

Willie Parker is a talent but in terms of running clock to hold a lead (the Steelers offensive game plan since Cowher arrived for every year except 2003 and 2006) Parker's talents, as many other posters have observed, do not appear to be a good fit for that role. Maybe it would help if he did not need to run on a sandlot for his home games.

Once the coaching situation is resolved it is going to be a very interesting offseason.

That's the offensive line's fault, did you watch the game? Defenses have been in our backfield before Willie even gets the ball.
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