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Old 01-01-2009, 08:27 AM   #1
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Default Steelers believe they're ready for playoff run

Steelers believe they're ready for playoff run
http://www.goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/...LL04/312309919
BY JOHN DUDLEY
john.dudley@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: December 30. 2008 12:01AM

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Gary Russell (33) dives into the end zone for a fourth-quarter touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. The Steelers won 31-0. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) AP


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PITTSBURGH -- Now that it appears Ben Roethlisberger's head is OK, the Pittsburgh Steelers can go about making plans for the next week or so.


"I'm thinking of chartering a flight to Acapulco," safety Troy Polamalu said with a smile, a swipe at Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's playoff bye-week getaway last season.

Actually, the Steelers will enjoy a light week, practicing today through Thursday, before beginning full preparation for their still-unknown divisional playoff opponent Jan. 11 at Heinz Field.

"Anybody that is nursing some sort of injury, we are going to give them time to heal," Tomlin said.

That would include several players, including Roethlisberger, who provided fans with a scary moment Sunday when he was immobilized and carted away from Heinz Field after being hit by two Browns defenders.

Tests showed Roethlisberger suffered a concussion -- at least his third in the past three years -- and Tomlin said early signs were encouraging that Roethlisberger would be able to play.

Linebacker James Harrison (hip) and safety Ryan Clark (shoulder) missed the 31-0 win over the Browns, which finished off a 12-4 regular season for the Steelers, who had already locked up the AFC's No. 2 seed.

As they have for most of the season, the Steelers got steady play from their backups.


Lawrence Timmons started for Harrison and led the defense with eight tackles.

Tyrone Carter, starting in Clark's place, picked off a pass and returned it for his first career touchdown.

"All year I've been waiting around for an opportunity," said Carter, who made his second start of the season. "Guys work hard so that when their number is called they are going to let the coaches know that they're not going to lose a step, no matter what happens."

That depth and their record against a rugged schedule is why so many Steelers, beginning with Tomlin, say the team is seasoned for a playoff run.

Unlike last year, when the Steelers lost two of their final three games, this year's team has been consistent.

They finished 6-2 in each half of the season and avoided back-to-back losses despite injuries to key starters like offensive linemen Marvel Smith and Kendall Simmons -- both lost for the season --
nose tackle Casey Hampton, defensive end Brett Keisel and running backs Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall.

"I think the guys have really embraced the concept of the standard of excellence not changing," Tomlin said, repeating what has been his mantra since he was hired. "We have had our share of ups and downs."

Sunday's win seemed to answer several questions, foremost whether the Steelers, who went into the game with the league's 24th-ranked rushing offense, would be able to run the ball in the playoffs.

Parker, slowed for much of the season with injuries, appeared to benefit from a tactical switch. The Steelers, who usually run out of variations of the pro set, ran several plays Sunday out of the I formation, providing Parker with a lead blocker.

Parker carried 23 times for 116 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown on which he showcased his speed.

"I love the I formation," Parker said. "I love the plays we were calling. I knew we were going to pound the ball, so you know I definitely love that."

With Roethlisberger expected back, Parker returning to form and the defense coming off a shutout, the Steelers believe they are as likely as any team to make a run in what is generally viewed as a wide-open AFC field.

"We're as ready as we're going to be," linebacker James Farrior said, pointing out that the Steelers posted 12 wins against what was statistically one of the toughest regular season schedules in NFL history.

The Steelers faced seven playoff teams and went 3-4 against them. They swept Baltimore and beat San Diego, and lost to Tennessee, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and the New York Giants.

"I think we're where we need to be," Polamalu said. "But you never know how good your team really is until you get to the playoffs."

JOHN DUDLEY can be reached at 870-1677 or by e-mail. Check out his blog at GoErie.com/blogs/nfl.
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:49 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers believe they're ready for playoff run

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"I think we're where we need to be," Polamalu said. "But you never know how good your team really is until you get to the playoffs."
I don't think I could have said it any better.

I have complete faith in this team and the coaches in this playoff run. No matter which team we will be facing . . .

BRING IT!
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:53 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers believe they're ready for playoff run

It's going to be a long 11 days............. I'm ready now!
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 01-01-2009, 10:19 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers believe they're ready for playoff run

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Originally Posted by HometownGal View Post
I don't think I could have said it any better.

I have complete faith in this team and the coaches in this playoff run. No matter which team we will be facing . . .

BRING IT!
AMEN!

.......can't think of a better way to start the New Year than a clean sweep of playoffs!

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Old 01-01-2009, 10:58 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers believe they're ready for playoff run

i like the fact that troy was making fun of tony romo and saying he was gonna fly somewhere
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Old 01-02-2009, 06:26 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers believe they're ready for playoff run

Well at least tomorrow we can finally watch a couple playoff games. Next weekend can't get here fast enough. The Steelers have had a very good season and just need to continue that in the playoffs. Let's get this playoff run started.
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Old 01-02-2009, 10:30 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers believe they're ready for playoff run

I think that the length of our playoff run rest solely on one thing and that is, the play of Ben. Just look at our team, our D is consistently phenomenal, our run game is consistently average which is because our o-line consistently below average. It's seems all the year the only inconsistency has been the play of Ben. Look at the games he has played bad in, at Titans, home vs. Giants, home vs. Colts. All of these losses are all because Ben's poor play. The Eagles game I blame on the O-Line. I think we have a great shot but if we don't win the superbowl it will be because of Ben i guarantee it. I would like to see us run more and when we do pass to use mainly quick short drop passes like slants. If we move the ball efficiently with an offense like that accompanied with our D, the superbowl will be ours for sure.
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Old 01-02-2009, 10:40 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers believe they're ready for playoff run

I think that the length of our playoff run rest solely on one thing and that is, the play of Ben. Just look at our team, our D is consistently phenomenal, our run game is consistently average which is because our o-line consistently below average. It's seems all the year the only inconsistency has been the play of Ben. Look at the games he has played bad in, at Titans, home vs. Giants, home vs. Colts. All of these losses are all because Ben's poor play. The Eagles game I blame on the O-Line. I think we have a great shot but if we don't win the superbowl it will be because of Ben i guarantee it. I would like to see us run more and when we do pass to use mainly quick short drop passes like slants. If we move the ball efficiently with an offense like that accompanied with our D, the superbowl will be ours for sure.
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Old 01-02-2009, 10:45 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers believe they're ready for playoff run

If Ben's brain damage has cleared up and his eyes aren't crossed too bad we should be OK.
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Old 01-02-2009, 10:47 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers believe they're ready for playoff run

i think we can make a playoff run with our def alone... all we need our off to do is put up points and NOT make mental errors..
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