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Old 12-31-2007, 12:19 AM   #1
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Default Don't bet on Steelers lasting long in playoffs

Don't bet on Steelers lasting long in playoffs
Monday, December 31, 2007
By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

BALTIMORE -- As the Steelers proved two years ago, when they turned a No. 6 seed into a Super Bowl championship, all things are possible in the NFL postseason. You just wouldn't want to place a serious wager on this Steelers team going much further than, say, one game in the NFL's impending 12-team tournament.

"Ready or not, here we come," was the spin coach Mike Tomlin put on the Steelers' division playoff game Saturday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field. It was apt phrasing because there are serious questions as whether the Steelers are ready for the kind of competition they'll face in the playoffs, particularly from Jacksonville.

Unlike the 2005 Steelers, who peaked at the end of the season by winning eight in a row, the current version peaked in early November with a decisive four-touchdown win against the Baltimore Ravens. It has been mostly downhill since for the Steelers, who will go into the playoffs having lost four of their final seven games.

The most recent loss was to those same Ravens yesterday at M&T Bank Stadium, 27-21. It might not be fair to place a lot of stock in this defeat since the Steelers were playing without Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu, all of whom were rested because of nagging injuries. But the absence of those three players were more than matched by a plethora of injuries to the Ravens, who had lost nine consecutive games and hadn't won since Oct. 14.

If the game was virtually meaningless for the Steelers, it was equally so for the Ravens.

The Steelers rallied from a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter to make a snoozer a bit exciting, and that prompted Tomlin to say he was "proud of the way our men fought." But it was those same men who fell behind, 27-7, after three quarters to one of the worst teams in the NFL.

What was particularly disheartening about the loss was yet another savaging of the Steelers' one-time superb run defense. Fifth-year pro Musa Smith, in his first career start, gained 83 yards on 22 carries. Second-year pro Cory Ross, who had never carried the ball from scrimmage in an NFL game until yesterday, gained 72 yards on 12 carries. All told, the Ravens rambled for 180 yards on 40 carries.

If the Steelers can't handle the unheralded Smith and Ross, what are they going to do with the Jacksonville tandem of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, who torched them for 216 yards two weeks ago?

"It's disappointing to us," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "This team loves to stop the run, prides itself on stopping the run and we haven't been able to do that. Teams are going to keep attacking us like that, especially Jacksonville. They have those two good backs and we definitely have to come up with some answers or we're going to be watching the playoffs."

Just as big a problem for the Steelers in stopping the run will be mounting a rush offense of their own. When they lost to Jacksonville at Heinz Field, 29-22, Dec. 16, they had a strong running attack of their own. Willie Parker gained 100 yards that afternoon on only 14 carries. But Parker is done for the season after breaking his leg against St. Louis Dec. 20. He led the NFL in rushing at the time of his injury and the Steelers simply do not have anyone remotely ready to replace him.

The notion thrown around on talk shows and the Internet last week that the Steelers would be better with 247-pound Najeh Davenport replacing the 209-pound Parker was blown to smithereens yesterday. Davenport was in the third start of his six-year NFL career for good reason. He might be a big back, but he's not a power back. He's not the reincarnation of Jerome Bettis. He's not going to give the Steelers the power-running game Bettis did.

On 12 carries against the Ravens, Davenport picked up 27 yards. Gary Russell, in only his third NFL game, carried six times for 20 yards.

"We didn't get enough of a look at Najeh or Russell because of the circumstances of the game," Tomlin said.

In fact, Tomlin might have got too much of a look at what now constitutes the Steelers' running game.

Clearly, a game plan has been established for Jacksonville: Roethlisberger, Roethlisberger and more Roethlisberger.

There was a lot of bravado in the Steelers' locker room.

"We've got a lot of prideful men on our defensive side," Ward said. "I don't see Fred Taylor doing that to our defense twice."

Maybe not, but just like the chances of the Steelers advancing, you wouldn't want to bet on it.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07365/845643-194.stm
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Old 12-31-2007, 12:28 AM   #2
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Default Re: Don't bet on Steelers lasting long in playoffs

anything can happen in the playoffs.. but its blatantly obvious we are going into the playoffs playing our worst football of the season. the offense really hasnt changed much, but our defense has taken a complete 180 from the start of the season to now. the smith injury has just absolutely murdered us. even before his injury though, thomas jones ran all over us. something just isnt "there" right now.
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Old 12-31-2007, 05:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: Don't bet on Steelers lasting long in playoffs

I'll bet, I will bet that the Steelers defeat the Jaguars. Would that be defined as lasting long in the playoffs? Man some people are all about doom and gloom.

We all know that the Steelers aren't playing well. We knew that they weren't playing well in their 1st matchup with the Jaguars but still yet they tied up the game and at least put themselves in a position to possibly pull it out.

Everyone is talking this Jaguars team up as if they are right in line with the Patriots. I'm sorry people, I wasn't that impressed with them. That first game was more about the Steelers playing awful as opposed to the Jaguars being a force.

I also know this, during the 2005 regular season, I saw an Indianapolis Colts team WHIP THE STEELERS TAILS worse than the Jaguars whipped us in 2007. Did that regular season whipping help the Colts in their playoff rematch versus the Steeelers. UHMMM, NO, in fact it had absolutely no bearing on the playoff game.

On the other hand I saw the 2004 Steelers kick the Patriots A$$ES in the regular season but what happened in the playoff rematch?

I saw the 1997 Steelers beat the Broncos in the regular season but what happened in the playoff rematch. Once again, the regular season winner lost in the playoff rematch.

F, I said F, the mother-humping Jaguars. Get on board people, we can handle the Jaguars.
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Old 12-31-2007, 06:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: Don't bet on Steelers lasting long in playoffs

I will bet, and in fact I did.


Whole new season now. The past is a freak.
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Old 12-31-2007, 06:51 AM   #5
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Default Re: Don't bet on Steelers lasting long in playoffs

I hate Smizik...anything short of playing in the AFC championship will have the spin of being a dissapointment in his columns.
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Old 12-31-2007, 07:02 AM   #6
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Default Re: Don't bet on Steelers lasting long in playoffs

I would just like for us to come out and just play some good old fashion steeler football for a change stopping the run and playing like we used to play.
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Old 12-31-2007, 08:23 AM   #7
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Default Re: Don't bet on Steelers lasting long in playoffs

Unlike a couple years ago.... I have little hope in getting past the first round. A couple years ago the whole team was playing inspired football. They played at or above their capabilities. This year.... I'm not feeling it.

17 rushing yards in the first half of yesterday's game.... damn. We're screwed.
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Old 12-31-2007, 08:55 AM   #8
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Default Re: Don't bet on Steelers lasting long in playoffs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steel Pit View Post
I'll bet, I will bet that the Steelers defeat the Jaguars. Would that be defined as lasting long in the playoffs? Man some people are all about doom and gloom.

We all know that the Steelers aren't playing well. We knew that they weren't playing well in their 1st matchup with the Jaguars but still yet they tied up the game and at least put themselves in a position to possibly pull it out.

Everyone is talking this Jaguars team up as if they are right in line with the Patriots. I'm sorry people, I wasn't that impressed with them. That first game was more about the Steelers playing awful as opposed to the Jaguars being a force.

I also know this, during the 2005 regular season, I saw an Indianapolis Colts team WHIP THE STEELERS TAILS worse than the Jaguars whipped us in 2007. Did that regular season whipping help the Colts in their playoff rematch versus the Steeelers. UHMMM, NO, in fact it had absolutely no bearing on the playoff game.

On the other hand I saw the 2004 Steelers kick the Patriots A$$ES in the regular season but what happened in the playoff rematch?

I saw the 1997 Steelers beat the Broncos in the regular season but what happened in the playoff rematch. Once again, the regular season winner lost in the playoff rematch.

F, I said F, the mother-humping Jaguars. Get on board people, we can handle the Jaguars.
Gosh - it is so nice to feel some positive energy around here!

The 2007 Steelers are clearly NOT the 2005 Steelers, but I don't believe these guys have played up to their capabilities in the last several games. The biggest glaring difference between the 2005 and 2007 teams is that I don't feel that fire and intensity from the D that I felt in 2005. That team had the killer instinct - this team simply does not. The Steelers O, with Ben at the helm, seem to have found their groove, but the D doesn't appear to be in sync most of the time. Not only do Tomlin and Lebeau have a lot of game planning and film watching to do - they need to kick these guys in the rumps, fire them up and inject them all with the "B" factor (Belief). If they believe in each other and themselves, anything is possible.
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Old 12-31-2007, 09:10 AM   #9
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Default Re: Don't bet on Steelers lasting long in playoffs

I have the Steelers beating the Jags this week, but that's probably as far as they get this year. OL woes and poor special teams play is not the recipe for deep playoff runs.
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Old 12-31-2007, 09:13 AM   #10
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Default Re: Don't bet on Steelers lasting long in playoffs

One thing that is improved over 2005 is Ben. He is playing as well as any QB except for shady Brady. I actually gained confidence hearing Bettis say LeBeau will have the Defense ready for playoffs and come up with a plan agains Jags. Whether or not the players execute is a different story. Back to Ben, he is not turning the ball over like in years past even though lineman are breathing down his neck. Like someone earlier posted we were tied with Jax in 4th quarter and played a terrible game. We have to contain Taylor and Jones-drew and make Garrard beat us. Earlier in season our defense was a bend don't break defense giving up zero big plays. We need to get back to that with Jags and we will be fine. I think people get so negative around here because they don't want their hopes shattered. If you believe you are going to win and lose it is demoralizing. To each his own, but right now every one is 0-0, and we do have an experience factor over Jags as well. I think we will see a different Steelers team.
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