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Old 08-06-2007, 08:54 AM   #1
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Default No Critical Messages in Tomlin's Debut

Gene Collier: No critical messages in Tomlin's Steelers debut
Monday, August 06, 2007

By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For access to the wireless service in the press box at beautiful Farrah Fawcett Stadium (and what better place for last night's wet T-shirt contest of an NFL exhibition opener), you've got to agree that you will traffic in "no obscene, sexually explicit, defamatory, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful, slanderous or embarrassing messages or postings."

I guess someone must have reviewed our coverage of last year's Steelers preseason, in which the fellas went 0-4 and looked as though they were still bumping around at Jerome Bettis' Super Bowl party, and decided to take all necessary precautions.

Turns out there was no need to be even moderately critical of the first uniformed effort of the Mike Tomlin era, although wireless journalists covering the first re-appearance of the NFC title game runner-up New Orleans Saints might have found themselves mildly constricted.

The Steelers had thoroughly water-ballooned the Saints for a 17-point lead by halftime, when most recognizable cast members on either side had long since called it a night, most conspicuously Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

With perfect prudence in his first episode as a head coach, Tomlin shut down Big Ben after only three minutes and three throws, all of them about equally perfect in a first-possession scoring drive that, though it meant next to nothing, had to put the storm-soaked portion of the live Steelers fan base and the vast totality of its TV-watching balance at ease regarding any remaining fears the departure of Bill Cowher might still engender.

Roethlisberger play-faked to Najeh Davenport on the Steelers' second play from scrimmage, wound up and rifled his first pitch 55 yards into the mist toward squawking Cedrick Wilson. Wilson grabbed it between new Saints safety Kevin Kaesviharn (late of the Bengals) and veteran corner Fred Thomas at the New Orleans' 23. One run by Davenport later, Roethlisberger hit Nate Washington on the opposite flank of the defense, but Washington committed his first drop of 2007. So on third-and-9, Roethlisberger found Wilson again for 18 yards to the 4, from where Davenport rumbled home for a 7-0 lead.

"Coach [Bruce] Arians likes to put the ball in the air," said Wilson, who had complained publicly this week that his talents maybe weren't quite conspicuous enough for Roethlisberger and the other passers. "If we execute, he'll do it more often. We have a pretty good young quarterback and we just have to make plays for him."

If any theme emerged from a 20-7 victory last night it might have come from the re-alignment of the held-over portion of the coaching staff.

Arians, a wide receivers coach under Cowher, now controls the attack, and his offense at first blush looked more polished in the air than on the ground, although that might easily have been attributable to the absence of featured back Willie Parker. Parker rested an inflamed knee while Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch and Brian St. Pierre completed 12 of 18 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown before halftime. Wilson caught four of those and Santonio Holmes three, including St. Pierre's pretty loft to the right corner of the end zone.

"Coach Arians has a good group of receivers who can make plays," Holmes said. "And he's going to put it up in the air."

There were, when it still mattered, 18 running plays as well, but 17 of them netted only 44 yards. Carey Davis, a 225-pounder out of Illinois, galloped 56 with the other one, skewering the rushing statistics toward a more palatable profile.

"We'd like to have run the ball more efficiently," Tomlin said in his quasi-official postgame news conference. "The stats didn't reflect our play. We need to improve that and be prepared to better in that area, so we'll make the proper corrections and move forward."

Tomlin didn't necessarily agree that the offense was unexpectedly crisp through the air.

"We've had some chunks [of yardage], some big plays, especially with our first and second units at Latrobe," Tomlin said. "I wasn't surprised."

Of course, there's a lot more to come in that area.

"We haven't showed the no-huddle yet," Roethlisberger said. "When we do that, I'll have a lot more options."

The Saints scuttled what might have been a more lopsided Steelers advantage in the passing game with sacks on back-to-back plays, the first by linebacker Mark Simoneau and the other by defensive end Will Smith. You loved Will Smith in "Hitch" and "Six Degrees of Separation," but he somehow lacks similar appeal in the Steelers' backfield.

Beyond that brief spasm, the Steelers' few areas that were less than crisp last night were on special teams, where Willie Reid mishandled some balls and Ricardo Colclough, though he did contribute a special teams tackle, has to be a little disappointed that the victim was Wilson on a second-quarter punt return.

The first and only Saints score came early in the third quarter, when fullback Kevin Dudley took a 1-yard pass from former practice squad quarterback Jason Fife, who's competing for a roster spot with former Pitt standout Tyler Palko. Palko's qualifications are well-known, but Fife's are not a lot beyond that, as a child actor, he appeared in "Addams Family Values."

Fife went 5 for 8 for 47 yards and that touchdown, while Palko was 4 for 8 and threw an interception to Steelers rookie William Gay. They were both better than Drew Brees, who went 1 for 6 with an exit nearly as quick as Roethlisberger's.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07218/807347-150.stm
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:57 AM   #2
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Default Re: No Critical Messages in Tomlin's Debut

Quote:
With perfect prudence in his first episode as a head coach, Tomlin shut down Big Ben after only three minutes and three throws, all of them about equally perfect in a first-possession scoring drive that, though it meant next to nothing, had to put the storm-soaked portion of the live Steelers fan base and the vast totality of its TV-watching balance at ease regarding any remaining fears the departure of Bill Cowher might still engender.
And I have money that says had the team not played well last night, it then would have meant something. This entire article reads like a left-handed compliment - "well, he hasn't screwed the pooch yet."
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:07 AM   #3
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Default Re: No Critical Messages in Tomlin's Debut

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And I have money that says had the team not played well last night, it then would have meant something. This entire article reads like a left-handed compliment - "well, he hasn't screwed the pooch yet."
I completley agree.

To me,the game meant something.It meant the first game-action of the Tomlin era.It meant Coach Tomlin had to make game desicions as a head coach for the first time.

I just can't wait for a player to screw up,I wanna see how Tomlin reacts.Will it be with the scowl and yelling of Bill Cowher...the calm questions of Chuck Noll...or a combonation of both.
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Old 08-06-2007, 10:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: No Critical Messages in Tomlin's Debut

A wait and see attitude is best for Coach Tomlin, one game doesnt make a career. Coach Tomlin should do fine in his first season as head coach. Remember we reside in arguably the toughest division in football, what he is able to accomplish in his first season as head coach remember to always take our level of division competition into consideration. Our guys played well last night and I for one cant wait to kick off our regular season. We should have a solid year just with the addition of Woodley alone should give our defense that extra punch we lacked last season.
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Old 08-06-2007, 10:29 AM   #5
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Default Re: No Critical Messages in Tomlin's Debut

I just dont know how to take this article. But I loved the fact that the Steelers came out got Ben some action and let him sit and cheerlead the rest of the game. He looked good and I am proud to say that I think that this season is gonna be a great season and could be a Steelers record breaking year for him. I love the way we came out and ran our RB's as well in the 2nd half. Boy.. Davis looks tough and I think that Barlow should be shown the door. Cedric Wilson also looked nice and I think that Nate Washington maybe should follow Barlow's lead.
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Old 08-06-2007, 11:52 AM   #6
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Default Re: No Critical Messages in Tomlin's Debut

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Originally Posted by wedosesteelers2006 View Post
I just dont know how to take this article. But I loved the fact that the Steelers came out got Ben some action and let him sit and cheerlead the rest of the game. He looked good and I am proud to say that I think that this season is gonna be a great season and could be a Steelers record breaking year for him. I love the way we came out and ran our RB's as well in the 2nd half. Boy.. Davis looks tough and I think that Barlow should be shown the door. Cedric Wilson also looked nice and I think that Nate Washington maybe should follow Barlow's lead.
Ben is a tough guy but whenever he gets hit, it seems as if a ton of bricks falls on him. I see other quarterbacks (like Brady and P. Manning) who never seem to get injured. Maybe Ben's misfortune is in the fact that he is more mobile and tries to make plays with his feet. From what I've seen so far this year (training camp and one meaningless game), the message from the coaching staff seems to be that Ben should stop trying to make something out of nothing. Time will tell whether he can make that transition. Take the sack if you have to, but live to fight another down. That's what Ben needs to do if he is to have that record breaking year.
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Old 08-06-2007, 12:00 PM   #7
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Default Re: No Critical Messages in Tomlin's Debut

This was not in the article. Did anybody hear the pregame interview Tomlin gave? The interviewer asked him if he felt any pressure, and Tomlin responded (maybe not exactly) "Pressure is trying to feed your family, this is competition." I beleive that statement says alot about the character of Tomlin.
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