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Old 01-08-2009, 11:06 PM   #1
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Default Steelers like to bring the heat

Steelers like to bring the heat
By Sam Farmer
Los Angeles Times

PITTSBURGH -- A clear-thinking quarterback might prefer seeing Pittsburgh's top-ranked defense on videotape than in person.

And where would the Steelers like to see their defense?

On the sideline, naturally.

Because if their defensive players are on the home sideline in Sunday's divisional game against San Diego, milling around with their helmets in hand, it means Pittsburgh's offense is doing its job.

That offensive directive: hoard the clock, keep the Chargers off the field, and give their defense a breather. That's what happened eight weeks ago, when the Steelers moved the ball at will -- between the 20s, at least -- on their way to an 11-10 victory. Even though it repeatedly sputtered in the red zone and failed to score a touchdown, Pittsburgh controlled the ball for 13 minutes longer than the Chargers, the NFL equivalent of a month.

"It helped (the defense) out tremendously," Pittsburgh receiver Hines Ward said Wednesday. "You come out and you've got a fresh James Harrison and Lamar Woodley coming off every time. If we can control the ball and keep their offense off the field, it will definitely increase our chances of winning the ballgame."

Harrison, who had 16 sacks, was the league's defensive player of the year, and fellow outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley had 11 1/2. They were so effective pressuring passers that the Steelers didn't have to blitz as frequently this season, freeing teammates to help in coverage.

The Steelers ranked first in yards and points given up, first against the pass, and second against the run. They didn't allow a 100-yard rusher all season, and have allowed only two in the last three years.

Not surprisingly, those Pittsburgh punishers are supremely confident about what they can do.

"Just give us a place to stand out there on the field and we're going to defend it," Woodley said. "If y'all put us on the one-yard line, we're going to stop them from getting in there. We're going to try to get our offense the ball back. That's our job. No matter where you put us out on the field, our job is to get off the field."

Keeping a defense rested is not revolutionary thinking. Every offense strives to control the clock, but that's particularly important for the Steelers, whose high-intensity style differs greatly from that of the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego's last opponent.

Whereas the Colts rely on their Cover-2 zone scheme, giving up plays underneath in the interest of keeping the action in front of them and banking on the offense making a mistake, the Steelers have a different approach.

With Pittsburgh's man-to-man scheme, safety Troy Polamalu said, "You're always in their face, you're always bumping, there's always somebody in the quarterback's face because you're always blitzing."

Polamalu, who refers to Pittsburgh's philosophy as a "choke-em-out" style, estimates that Steelers defenders run about twice as much over the course of a game as their Colts counterparts.

"They're able to drop into a zone, see the quarterback and play off the quarterback," he said. "However, when you're a man-to-man defense like us, really high-intensity, you always have your back to the play, it takes a lot more energy."

The Steelers' philosophy: Burn hot. Burn bright. Head for the sideline.

That worked beautifully against San Diego last time. The Chargers were limited to 218 yards and quarterback Philip Rivers had one of his worst games of the season, throwing for 164 yards with two interceptions. LaDainian Tomlinson was San Diego's leading rusher with 57 yards in 18 carries, and the Steelers did not give up any play -- run or pass -- longer than 26 yards.

"We're a type of team that likes to bring the heat," Woodley said. "We go in there and hit quarterbacks."

By Woodley's thinking, the Steelers have a chance to hit San Diego even harder this time.

"We have to do a better job," he said. "We can't allow them to put any points on the board. By giving them 10 points, it was a close game. It was our job to keep them out of the end zone. That's what we're going to try to do this week."

(Note to Woodley: The last time the Chargers were kept out of the end zone for an entire game was in last year's AFC Championship Game at Foxborough, Mass., when they kicked four field goals against New England.)

But these are different Chargers, both in terms of energy and personnel. They have won five games in a row, are fresh off one of the most uplifting victories in their history -- a 23-17 overtime thriller against Indianapolis -- and have the Matrix-quick Darren Sproles at tailback in place of the injured Tomlinson.

Woodley, for one, thinks the 5-foot-6 Sproles is faster than Tomlinson and that his diminutive size is an advantage.

"He's kind of hard to see behind those linemen that are 6-5, 6-6," the linebacker said. "We just have to maintain our gaps to control everything."

And, given the choice, the Steelers also will pull a now-you-see-them, now-you-don't act.

Blink, and they're back on the sideline.
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Old 01-08-2009, 11:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers like to bring the heat

(Note to Woodley: The last time the Chargers were kept out of the end zone for an entire game was in last year's AFC Championship Game at Foxborough, Mass., when they kicked four field goals against New England.)
note taken.

other than this dumb blurb this was a well written and insightful article coming from a non pgh fishwrap.
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Old 01-08-2009, 11:43 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers like to bring the heat

arians needs to make sure ben does exactly what he did last time they played. take what the D gives ya !!! don't force it downfield !!! everytime he got sacked that game, he was looking fifty yds downfield, instead of taking the underneath route, or the checkdown. i swear i think he has his mind made up coming out of the huddle, about who he's going to throw too.
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Old 01-09-2009, 12:00 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers like to bring the heat

we're bringing it! FOR 60 minutes! LETS GO!
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Old 01-09-2009, 05:48 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers like to bring the heat

I hope Woodley is right bring the heat and pressure Rivers into making mistakes.
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