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Old 12-05-2006, 12:01 AM   #1
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Default Steelers Notebook: 12/5/06

Steelers Notebook: McFadden's stellar play likely to keep Taylor a backup
Tuesday, December 05, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It has been two games since cornerback Ike Taylor was demoted as a starter and there's no sign he's getting his job back from Bryant McFadden or Deshea Townsend.

Taylor was the Steelers' starting left cornerback since the start of the 2005 season. Cowher threatened to demote him for a game against New Orleans Nov. 12, but did not. He waited until Nov. 26 to make the switch in Baltimore. McFadden moved up to start at right cornerback and Townsend moved over to Taylor's spot at left cornerback against the Ravens.

Sunday, Townsend was back at right cornerback and McFadden moved over to the left side. Taylor plays in the nickel and dime defenses.

"I'm sure he probably doesn't like it, but he's accepted it and he understands it," Cowher said.

McFadden did something against Tampa Bay that Steelers cornerbacks have had trouble accomplishing this season. He not only successfully defended a fade pass against a tall receiver, he intercepted the ball in the end zone. He also, unofficially, was credited with a team-high eight solo tackles and two passes defensed.

Townsend dropped an interception he could have returned for a touchdown but recorded career sack No. 13.5 and had five solo tackles.

The downturn in Taylor's play this season was surprising. He often was assigned the opponent's best receiver and the Steelers showed what they thought of him when they signed him to a contract extension the week before the season began -- a total of five years for $22.5 million, including a $6.4 million signing bonus.

"I don't get caught up with contracts," an agitated Cowher replied when he was asked about Taylor in light of his big contract and big-time assignments. "I don't get caught up with what people make. My job is to put the best people out there to give us a chance to win and that's the protocol I use."


Unique field goal


The keepers of NFL history have produced an interesting fact on Matt Bryant's 27-yard-field goal for Tampa Bay on the last play Sunday that left the Steelers with a 20-3 victory.

It's the first time an NFL team escaped being shut out by kicking a field goal on the final play of a game since 1933.

That year, Pittsburgh native Christian "Mose" Kelsch kicked a 21-yard field goal on the last play to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 3-3 tie with the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field.

The Pirates changed their name seven years later to the Steelers. So, on Sunday in Heinz Field, the Tampa Bay Bucs turned the tables on the former Bucs of Pittsburgh to end a game like no other in the NFL in the past 73 years.


No fan of Thursday games


As a coach, Cowher's not a fan of playing games on Thursday.

"If you're a fan, it's great to have football in the middle of the week -- unless you're playing in it. I guess both teams are in the same situation. But I'm not a big fan of it this time of year.

"It's part of the entertainment business we're in. It will be nice over the weekend, but it's a lot of work between now and Thursday."

The Steelers won their season opener against Miami on a Thursday night and it has been mostly downhill since.

It was only the second time in nine Thursday games the Steelers have won. Cowher's record in midseason Thursday games in which his team played the previous Sunday is 0-3, so this time he decided to change his team's routine.

He talked to coaches of other teams that played on Thursday. Previously, Cowher gave his players off on Monday and practiced Tuesday and Wednesday. He was advised to treat Monday as a Wednesday of a normal week, and that's what he did yesterday.

Today, Cowher will treat as a normal Thursday and tomorrow as a normal Friday.

The team will practice each day but none of the practices will be as long or as physical as a normal week.

The Steelers previously played a midseason Thursday game Dec. 2, 1999 in Jacksonville.


Keeping it real


Kicker Jeff Reed mentioned all the dirt between the hash marks at Heinz Field as a hindrance, but Cowher said he preferred dirt over fake grass.

"Both teams have to play on it. I like it. You're talking to the wrong guy. That's what the game should be played on.

"I think a natural surface, when you look at most players, through the course of their careers, would rather play on grass than any kind of artificial surface.

"You know what, grass turns to mud this time of year. We're not down South somewhere. We've got the weather. It is what it is. Grass does not grow year-round in Pittsburgh.

"But that's what football was when you were growing up. You loved football like that. As long as it was firm -- it starts firm anyway -- maybe Jeff would take exception with that with his plant foot. But you get used to it. You get acclimated to it, you adjust to it. That's what the game of football is about. Both teams are playing on it, so come on."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06339/743565-66.stm
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Old 12-05-2006, 12:06 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: 12/5/06

Quote:
Unique field goal


The keepers of NFL history have produced an interesting fact on Matt Bryant's 27-yard-field goal for Tampa Bay on the last play Sunday that left the Steelers with a 20-3 victory.

It's the first time an NFL team escaped being shut out by kicking a field goal on the final play of a game since 1933.

That year, Pittsburgh native Christian "Mose" Kelsch kicked a 21-yard field goal on the last play to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 3-3 tie with the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field.

The Pirates changed their name seven years later to the Steelers. So, on Sunday in Heinz Field, the Tampa Bay Bucs turned the tables on the former Bucs of Pittsburgh to end a game like no other in the NFL in the past 73 years.
very interesting and kind of suprising stat.

i guess cowhers not giving reed a pass for his botched fg?
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Old 12-05-2006, 12:06 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: 12/5/06

Steelers notebook

By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, December 5, 2006


? The Steelers have improved their special teams play since earlier in the season, when opponents routinely were breaking off long kickoff returns and giving their offenses great starting field position. Tampa Bay averaged 18.0 yards on five kickoff returns. The Buccaneers began drives at their 23, 28, 21, 29 and 34 following kickoffs. "Obviously, getting (linebacker) James Harrison back (from injury) is big," coach Bill Cowher said Monday. "He's done a good job. We've tried to switch something with the kickoffs, with some of the people we have aligned. We've done a lot of different things." Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs averaged 37.5 yards on four kickoffs, including a 92-yard touchdown return, the last time the teams played. "We have to have our 'A' game, without a doubt," Cowher said.

? Cowher remains a big supporter of the grass surface at Heinz Field. Although grass was sparse in the middle and extending the length of the field for Sunday's Steelers-Buccaneers game, Cowher prefers those field conditions to the alternative. Players have struggled with their footing at Heinz Field, although Sunday's game wasn't one of those occasions. "Both teams are playing on it. I like that stuff. That's what the game should be played on," Cowher said. "I think a natural surface is much better. Most players would much rather play on grass than any kind of artificial surface."

? Ben Roethlisberger's improvisational abilities were on display during three passes against Tampa Bay that were key parts of scoring drives. Each time, Roethlisberger moved around in the pocket to create more time before locating an open receiver. "I thought Ben made three really good plays," Cowher said. "The one to Willie (Parker) in the second quarter (for 25 yards), the one to Nate (Washington) at the end of the third quarter (for 36 yards) and, obviously, the (16-yard fourth quarter) touchdown pass (to tight end Heath Miller). The line did a good job protecting for him to give him time to look down the field, and Ben did a very good job of being able to see down the whole field. Those were three big pass plays."

? With Hines Ward missing the Tampa Bay game because of a knee injury, and Cedrick Wilson going out early with a high ankle sprain, tight ends Miller and Jermane Tuman each caught a touchdown pass against the Buccaneers. Because the Steelers are short-handed at wide receiver, Miller and Tuman could be utilized in multiple wide receiver sets against Cleveland. "You have to always have contingency plans," Cowher said. "We will take the players we have and utilize packages with what we have."

? Several players attended yesterday's funeral in Detroit for Johnnie Bettis, the father of former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis. The players flew on private planes and returned in time for their afternoon practice.

Digits

1933 -- The last time a team spoiled a shutout with a field goal on the final play of the game before Tampa Bay's Matt Bryant kicked a 27-yarder as time expired in Sunday's 20-3 loss to the Steelers.

3 -- Consecutive games the Steelers have gone without rushing for 100 yards.

7 -- Steelers who caught passes against Tampa Bay.

6 -- Consecutive Steelers wins against Cleveland.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_482676.html
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