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Old 10-08-2007, 01:39 AM   #1
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Default Notebook: 10/8/07

Steelers Notebook -- Win before off week encouraging
Monday, October 08, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Steelers head into their off week with a 4-1 record, only the third time in 25 seasons they won four of their first five.

They also did it in 2004 (finished 15-1) and 1996 (10-6).

"We ain't done nothing yet, really," tackle Marvel Smith emphasized. "All we did is create an opportunity for ourselves, and we have to take advantage of it. When we look back at the end of the season, we'll see how much 4-1 played out."

After the Cardinals upset them in Arizona, 21-14, in their previous game, the last thing the Steelers wanted to do was to carry a two-game losing streak into their off week.

"It's definitely big going into the bye week," Smith said. "You never want to go into the bye week after a loss."

Smith and other Steelers claimed they did not know what their work schedule would look like this week. Former coach Bill Cowher would often work them two or three days before the off weekend.

At the moment, Mike Tomlin has them scheduled to work today through Thursday with only Friday off, as well as next Sunday.

Possession obsession

The Steelers do not keep time of possession as a record in their media guide, but holding the ball for 24 minutes and 53 seconds of a 30-minute second half would have to crack it somewhere.

The Seahawks did not touch the ball until there was 4:43 left in the third quarter after the Steelers drove 80 yards in the first 10:17 of the second half for a touchdown that put them ahead, 14-0.

Seattle went three-and-out on that drive and on its next two. The Seahawks' only first-down conversion came early on their fourth series when quarterback Seneca Wallace scrambled for 11 yards on the first play.

"Even when the clock stopped, it seemed like our offense had the ball for about an hour or something," linebacker Clark Haggans said. "They just moved it."

Attrition football, Tomlin calls it.

Noll honored

Chuck Noll, the only four-time Super Bowl winning coach, was honored before the game and made a rare public appearance.

Noll, who has back problems that have kept him out of the limelight the past few years, used a cane to walk onto the field with his wife, Marianne. He was greeted by a loud standing ovation in Heinz Field, where the Steelers are celebrating their 75th Season.

One of those who introduced himself to Noll was Tomlin.

"I took a moment to go over and shake his hand and introduce myself," Tomlin said. "I was in awe of the man. We are all walking on the ground that he paved."

Bettis moment

After the game, Willie Parker was asked if his performance, a grinding 28 carries for 102 yards, was reminiscent of another famous grinder, Jerome Bettis.

"No, not really," Parker said. Then smiling, added, "It was more like Najeh [Davenport] coming in and scoring touchdowns, that was more of a Jerome thing."

Parker was referring to Bettis' role late in his Steelers career when he would be brought in for short-yardage carries, usually around the goal line. Yesterday, Davenport had two short touchdown runs among his seven carries and 58 yards.

Role playing

By scoring two touchdowns yesterday, Davenport has three for the season, which is triple the number Parker has. Since Parker has more than twice as many rushing yards, Davenport was asked if Parker was a bit annoyed with the arrangement.

"We laugh and joke about it," Davenport answered. "He has some slick comments and I say mine. But we have a real good relationship."

Wilson on call

Part of being a backup player is always being ready to play at a moment's notice. Cedrick Wilson epitomized that yesterday at Heinz Field.

Wilson, who usually is the fourth wide receiver when the Steelers use four wide receiver formations, found himself in the starting lineup for the 21-0 victory against Seattle. He had all of 45 minutes to prepare, but that didn't stop him from leading the Steelers receivers with five catches for 69 yards.

"I'm always ready to go," Wilson said. "It doesn't take but one play for you to be out there, so you always have to be ready to go."

Wilson, in his seventh season, was a much ballyhooed free-agent signing before the 2005 season from San Francisco. While he has been solid, he has not always lived up to being the starter opposite Pro Bowler Hines Ward. And last season, he eventually was replaced by rookie Santonio Holmes.

Coming into the game, Wilson had just one catch for 12 yards.

"It's a tough pill to swallow being a back-up especially when you feel you're in your prime," he said. "But the coaches keep saying 'keep playing, keep working,' so I do. I've got an up-and-coming young receiver in front of me and I've got to keep pushing him."

Precision routes

Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant, who was beaten on Heath Miller's 13-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter, marveled at the precision with which Steelers' wideouts ran routes.

"If you're out of position even by one step, good players are going to make plays," Trufant said. "Pittsburgh made a lot of good plays today."

What would have starters Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes done against that secondary?

Branching out

Seattle was hindered significantly on offense by a first-half injury to Deion Branch, a noted Steelers killer in his second year with the Seahawks after four with New England.

"He's a big part of our four-wide package," Hasselbeck said.

On six touches against the Steelers in the 2004 AFC championship game, Branch had 153 yards and two touchdown catches, beating Deshea Townsend for 60 yards on one and running a reverse 23 yards for another. In three prior games against the Steelers, Branch had accounted for 314 yards.

Thus a matchup of former Super Bowl MVPs never really materialized as Ward (MVP of Super Bowl XL) and Branch (Super Bowl XXXIX) spent most or all of the day on the sideline.

Ben on Najeh

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the contributions of Davenport, who ran seven times for 58 yards and caught four passes for 38 yards:

"You have another back in Najeh who has speed, [is] big and lowers his head and makes things happen. He made a critical third-down catch. Hit him in the flat, he broke a tackle and made it up the field. It's great to have a running back like Najeh, who can do so much for the team."

Ben on Heath

Roethlisberger on Miller, who caught four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown: "He's a guy, who, when I'm scrambling, if I'm looking deep first for those speed guys, and if that's not open, it's usually Hines [Ward] or Heath over the middle. I found him quite a few times today. If he's single covered [in the end zone], I'm going to go to him."

Untimely hit

Seahawks' quarterback Matt Hasselbeck took a wicked, illegal hit from Steelers safety Anthony Smith in the second half and thought it might have been fateful.

"You just almost ended my season," Hasselbeck told Smith on the field.

"I didn't say it in an angry way at the time," Hasselbeck said later. "I just dodged a bullet right there."

Smith drew a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty that set Seattle up at the Steelers' 14 late in the half.

Ike Taylor's interception two plays later prevented a score.

Quick hits

The Steelers stretched their streak to 30 games in which a runner has not rushed for 100 yards against them, including playoffs. Shaun Alexander managed only 25 yards on 11 carries and the Seahawks had just 38 yards rushing as a team.

No team has scored a touchdown in the first half against the Steelers this season. San Francisco scored the only first-half points on two field goals, and the Steelers have dominated in the first half by a 57-6 score.

The 47 points the Steelers have allowed this season are the fourth fewest in team history through the first five games and the fewest in 70 years, or since they allowed only 38 through the first five of the 1937 season.

The victory was the 14th in the Steelers' past 16 games against NFC teams, nine consecutive at home.

James Farrior led the Steelers with 2 sacks to give him a team-high 4.

Miller's four receptions yesterday gives him the team lead with 17.

The Seahawks, who came into the game averaging 249.5 passing yards per game, netted a mere 106 against a Steelers secondary stung by injuries to Troy Polamalu and Bryant McFadden. Hasselbeck went 13 for 27 with no touchdowns and one interception.

The Seahawks had outscored opponents, 70-37, after the first quarter in their first four games. In the final three quarters yesterday, they were outscored, 21-0.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07281/823771-66.stm
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Old 10-08-2007, 04:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: Notebook: 12/8/07

The steelers played one hell of a game they came together and fought threw injuries and came out with a win.
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