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Old 12-31-2008, 03:58 AM   #1
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Default Steelers Notebook: No surprises for 1st opponent

Steelers Notebook: No surprises for 1st opponent
Tomlin says team familiar with 3 possible foes in second round
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The Steelers earned the luxury of this weekend off, but it does not mean they have a week off -- nor New Year's Day.

They will practice for the second consecutive day today and report for practice a little later tomorrow so they can sleep; many of them will ring in 2009 tonight at a party together.

Many coaches who have had playoff bye weeks use the first week to practice against a different possible foe each day. The Steelers could play one of three teams Jan. 11 -- San Diego, Miami or Indianapolis. But because they played San Diego and Indianapolis this season and Miami at the end of last season, coach Mike Tomlin said he will not work on any particular offense or defense.

"We have a luxury that we've pretty much seen everybody we would play anyway, whether it's this season or late in the year last season," Tomlin said. "We're familiar with them. There will be very few surprises from that standpoint when we find out who we play."

Said safety Troy Polamalu, "I think we're just getting back to the basics, doing our fundamentals and preparing a little for some stuff we may see."

Post-production
As good as Hines Ward has been in the regular season during his career, he has been even more productive in the postseason.

Ward has 896 yards receiving on 67 receptions in 11 postseason games and scored eight touchdowns. He also has that MVP from Super Bowl XL.

His average per catch in the postseason is 13.4 yards, compared to 12.2 in the regular season. He also scores at a better clip in the postseason: His eight touchdowns give him an average of 0.73 for every postseason start compared to 0.48 for every regular-season start.

Ward's 67 receptions are a postseason record, 10 more than John Stallworth's. He needs 12 yards to pass Lynn Swann for second place in postseason yardage and 159 to move past Stallworth into first.

To bye, or not to bye
Polamalu is not sure what effect the bye week can have on the outcome of a playoff game. But he knows what he likes.

"Right now, I'm happy we have it."

The Steelers have not won a Super Bowl when they've had a bye since they won their fourth, XIV after the 1979 season.

"I think people may think there may be an advantage in a bye week, mentally," Polamalu said. "I don't think there is at all. I think physically there is."

The last time the Steelers had a playoff bye came after the 2004 season. They squeaked past the New York Jets, 20-17, in overtime at Heinz Field, before the New England Patriots beat them, 41-27, in the AFC championship game.

"In hindsight we can all say we got our butts kicked when we were 15-1," Polamalu said of that season. "If we didn't have the bye week, who knows what would have happened."

No regrets about Big Ben
Tomlin, asked if in hindsight he wishes he had not played Ben Roethlisberger as long as he did Sunday, said: "Does it really matter? We don't have that luxury. We don't live in that world. I never second-guess the decisions that we make. We're thoughtful in the process of coming to those decisions and when we make them, we live with them. That's what we're doing in this instance."

Fast start, strong finish
Willie Parker has had four 100-yard games in his four season openers as a starter, and his 116 yards Sunday left him with four 100-yard games in his five regular-season finales.

The only time he did not finish with a 100-yard game came last season when his leg was broken on his only carry of the 15th game.

Parker became the fifth back to lead the Steelers in rushing four consecutive seasons. The others were Jerome Bettis, Franco Harris, John Henry Johnson and Fran Rogel.

Quick hits
Anthony Madison led the special teams with 25 tackles, 16 of them solo ... LaMarr Woodley, second on the team with 11.5 sacks, had only two in the final seven games ... James Harrison not only set a Steelers record with 16 sacks, his seven forced fumbles tied for the team high since 1992 ... James Farrior led the Steelers with 146 tackles, 100 solo.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08366/938766-66.stm
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Old 12-31-2008, 04:02 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: No surprises for 1st opponent

I didn't realize that Farrior had that many tackles but hopefully our deffense will be up to the task and make some plays when the playoffs roll around.
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Old 12-31-2008, 04:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: No surprises for 1st opponent

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Originally Posted by galax steeler View Post
I didn't realize that Farrior had that many tackles but hopefully our deffense will be up to the task and make some plays when the playoffs roll around.
Kinda worth that new contract he signed. Good season James.
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Old 12-31-2008, 07:06 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: No surprises for 1st opponent

I would love nothing more than Woodley to start bringing the QB pressure again. Him and Harrison are gonna have to be big for us.
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Old 12-31-2008, 08:57 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: No surprises for 1st opponent

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Originally Posted by GoSlash27 View Post
I like the approach: Work on the fundamentals and we can fill in the blanks next week.
Our losses and a few of our narrow squeaks this season were due to fundamental errors.
Agreed, coupled with working them like a regular week should keep them sharp. I really hope the QBs and WRs (and offense as a whole) take the extra time to work on the quick timing routes and in the classroom to be on the same page.
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