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Old 01-30-2009, 06:30 AM   #1
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Default Gadget plays keep Cards' foes guessing

Gadget plays keep Cards' foes guessing

By Bill Beckner Jr.
VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH
Friday, January 30, 2009
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_609430.html

TAMPA, Fla. Whether or not the Cardinals had their momentum three consecutive playoff victories stopped because of a bye week before Super Bowl XLIII remains to be seen.

So does the idea that they used the extra time to slip a few more gadget plays into the playbook.

"Coach Whis (Ken Whisenhunt) loves to use the trick play," Steelers receiver Hines Ward said. "He'll have something in the bag. Maybe we can make a big play off their big play."

Why wouldn't the Steelers expect some trickery come Sunday at Raymond James Stadium?

Whisenhunt's goal is to catch over-pursuing defenses off guard make 'em bite, then burn 'em. It's worked before, in a variety of ways.

In fact, Whisenhunt and Cards' offensive coordinator Todd Haley have let punters, receivers and running backs throw passes with no reservation.

Whisenhunt seems to know when to strike, when to pull the rabbit out of the hat.

Using a play dubbed "Philly Special," the Cardinals caught the Eagles napping in the NFC Championship Game. Kurt Warner threw short to J.J. Arrington, who lateraled back to Warner. The veteran quarterback then hit Philly with the punch line a deep spiral to Larry Fitzgerald for a 62-yard scoring play.

"We really don't practice a lot on those plays," Arrington said. "We happened to work on the play three times that week, and then it worked to perfection in the game."

Arizona also used a flea-flicker in a 30-24 win over Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs. The result was a 42-yard touchdown to Fitzgerald.

"I think the thing that we do the best job of, and that we have in the past, is having the criteria for (the trick plays)," Whisenhunt said, "Down-and-distance situations and waiting patiently for that time to come. I think that's the most important thing."

Warner is glad to see a trick play produce a touchdown, but he would rather keep the offense simple.

"(Trick plays) are nice when they work, and when you can set them up and have playmakers go out and make plays," he said. "(But) I would have never called them myself."

Fitzgerald said he loves trick plays.

"You have no idea. Coming out of the huddle and knowing that your number is called, it's like opening up gifts on Christmas," Fitzgerald said.

Still, Fitzgerald doesn't think the Cardinals will get many opportunities to go razzle-dazzle on Sunday.

"Pittsburgh is not going to allow me to do the things I did in the past," Fitzgerald said. "Pittsburgh is a different monster. It's like the bully in the school yard. You gotta go and face him, or he'll take your lunch."

The Steelers aren't exactly known for getting burned by gadget plays. The occasions when a receiver has gotten past the Steelers secondary for a touchdown - think about the 41-yarder from the Chargers' Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson early in the AFC divisional playoff game have been surprising enough.

That wasn't a trick play, but it hushed the crowd and showed the Chargers weren't afraid to put the ball in the air.

The Cardinals will likely try to do the same thing Sunday establish early on that they aren't gun shy.

And a trick play would be the perfect way to gift-wrap the message.

The Steelers haven't been done in by a gadget play since Week 13 of last season against the Patriots. Tom Brady lateraled to Randy Moss, who pitched back to Brady. The quarterback then launched a 56-yarder to Jabar Gaffney, creating a highlight of the 34-13 Patriots' win in a game better known as the Anthony Smith Guarantee Bowl.

"As coach LeBeau said, just key your read," Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor said. "You know it could happen. When it comes to (trick plays), your eyes can be your best friend or your worst friend."

The most notable gadget play used by the Steelers in recent history came in Super Bowl XL when Antwaan Randle El zipped a 43-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward off a fake reverse.

That play, which capped the Steelers' scoring in a 21-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks, was courtesy of Whisenhunt, the offensive coordinator who designed and called it.

"We're not worried about any trick plays," Steelers linebacker James Harrison said. "If you play defense the way you're supposed to play it, and you see what you're going to see, then the trick plays shouldn't hurt you."

Whisenhunt's fingerprints are all over the one for the thumb.

They may also be smeared across the Cardinals' first title even if he has to fool his old buddies to make that happen.

Bill Beckner Jr. can be reached at bbeckner@tribweb.com or 724-224-2696.
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Old 01-30-2009, 06:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: Gadget plays keep Cards' foes guessing

The Steeler's coaching staff is well aware of the trick plays that may be coming our way in the Super Bowl..but our guys play intelligent football, and are not going to be fooled so easily. They are a very disciplined bunch, and keenly aware of everything that is going on on the field. Trick plays usually work best against an overly aggressive defense, by getting guys to play out of position. The Steeler's D plays intense and very physical, but also very smart, and I don't see Whis outsmarting Dick LeBeau!

GO STEELERS!!!
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Old 01-30-2009, 08:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: Gadget plays keep Cards' foes guessing

While gadget plays seem like genius when they work they only help to give you a quick boost or change of pace when your offense is not doing as expected. The opposite side of gadget/trick play is when they don't work you are questioned for putting in such a dumb play against a quality team and can also boost the other team.

The game will still come down to who executes better. Philly and Atlanta both had their chances to win against the cards. Arizona will score not doubt but the key is can they stop The Steelers from scoring also. I am trying to keep my mind on other things so that Sunday gets here quick but it is taking too long.

Should be a good game.
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:23 AM   #4
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Default Re: Gadget plays keep Cards' foes guessing

Potsie says it best . . .

Quote:
"We're not worried about any trick plays," Steelers linebacker James Harrison said. "If you play defense the way you're supposed to play it, and you see what you're going to see, then the trick plays shouldn't hurt you."
Coach Lebeau and the Steelers D know all too well that Wis loves his gadget plays but I have every confidence they'll be ready for 'em.
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Old 01-30-2009, 10:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: Gadget plays keep Cards' foes guessing

Patriots fooled us on a gagdet play last year! Brady to Moss to Brady to ?gaffney?

So ya , trick plays do work on us. If the Cards are smart they will run a 3 wr sets all day. Spread out our LBs. Which will make the pass rush easy to block. Their offense pretty much does match up perfectly with our D. We need speed out on the feild for defense if we want to contain their O. Casey Hampton, Farrior, Foote, might have a long day sunday. These guys are great at stuffing the run, but are pretty slow to pursuit a ball cairrier once they get past the first level of defense.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:18 AM   #6
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Default Re: Gadget plays keep Cards' foes guessing

The gadget plays are cute, but I don't think they will matter much to the outcome of this game. UNLESS the Cards succeed with about 4 of them for touchdowns and that just ain't happenin...
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:20 AM   #7
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Default Re: Gadget plays keep Cards' foes guessing

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Originally Posted by Pi Kapp Steeler View Post
Patriots fooled us on a gagdet play last year! Brady to Moss to Brady to ?gaffney?

So ya , trick plays do work on us.
Yeah, especially with both of our starting safeties out.

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If the Cards are smart they will run a 3 wr sets all day. Spread out our LBs. Which will make the pass rush easy to block.
Yep. Just ask Matt Cassel how that worked out. He's probably still got bumps and bruises from that game. Spreading out our defense used to work. It doesn't anymore.

Last edited by fansince'76; 01-30-2009 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:29 AM   #8
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Default Re: Gadget plays keep Cards' foes guessing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pi Kapp Steeler View Post
Patriots fooled us on a gagdet play last year! Brady to Moss to Brady to ?gaffney?

So ya , trick plays do work on us. If the Cards are smart they will run a 3 wr sets all day. Spread out our LBs. Which will make the pass rush easy to block. Their offense pretty much does match up perfectly with our D. We need speed out on the feild for defense if we want to contain their O. Casey Hampton, Farrior, Foote, might have a long day sunday. These guys are great at stuffing the run, but are pretty slow to pursuit a ball cairrier once they get past the first level of defense.
Did you notice who it was against?? Mr. loudmouth himself...Anthony Smith.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:33 AM   #9
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Default Re: Gadget plays keep Cards' foes guessing

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Did you notice who it was against?? Mr. loudmouth himself...Anthony Smith.
Not to mention a play from December of LAST season is really relevant to the game Sunday. How many flea flickers we get beat on this year? I can't recall any.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:34 AM   #10
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Default Re: Gadget plays keep Cards' foes guessing

THIS is what we're worried about? Trick plays?

I'd just love to see them try the same kind of lateral-fleaflicker trick play they used against Philly, and then Warner gets blown up before the ball even makes it back to him and Troy runs it back for a touchdown. Preferably in the first few minutes of the game. They'll be so demoralized they'll either lose 42-0 or forfeit.
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