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Old 10-05-2009, 08:10 AM   #1
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Default Harris: Tough Tomlin gets positive results

Harris: Tough Tomlin gets positive results
By John Harris
Monday, October 5, 2009

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin hit the jackpot last week.

With one fell swoop, Tomlin put three of the top draft picks in his tenure on notice that nobody's job is safe. Never before has Tomlin called out so many of his players at the same time.

Whether it was planned or manufactured, Tomlin's emotion came across as raw and real.

It was refreshing, enlightening and eye-opening all at once.

If Tomlin wanted to get the attention of his players young and old alike heading into Sunday night's must-win game against San Diego, his Sigmund Freud-like ploy worked.

It was all about Tomlin putting his stamp on the Steelers' 38-28 win over the Chargers at Heinz Field and not letting up.

Ripping and subsequently benching receiver Limas Sweed, Tomlin's second-round draft pick in 2008.

Calling out linebacker Lawrence Timmons, Tomlin's first-ever first-round pick in 2007, for not taking on blockers strongly enough.

Throwing Rashard Mendenhall, last year's first-round pick, under the bus and then pulling him out just in the nick of time after accusing him of poor practice habits.

As for the result, the Steelers were fully prepared to not only beat the Chargers, but to dominate them.

The Steelers scored touchdowns on their first two possessions. Their offense had the ball for 10:58 of the opening 15 minutes.

Tomlin even went for it on fourth-and-1 on the Steelers' 30 in the first quarter. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gained three yards on a sneak.

At halftime, the Steelers led 21-0. Amazingly, they had possession for nearly 23 out of a possible 30 minutes.

Mendenhall, who's allegedly too soft to be a NFL running back, carried the ball 16 times for 80 yards and a touchdown in the first half.

He easily reached the 100-yard milestone the first of his pro career.

Mendenhall, also known as Mr. Softie, ran over the Chargers all game long.

Mendenhall thudded into linebacker Brandon Siler, sending him backward on a four-yard run on the game's opening drive. Later in the first quarter, Mendenhall sent linebacker Shaun Phillips to the sideline following a head-on collision.

On his two-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, Mendenhall hit the pile but continued to drive his legs, spinning off a pair of defenders and into the end zone.

Mendenhall's 32-yard burst in the fourth quarter was broken-field running at its best.

Running back Mewelde Moore's six-yard scoring toss to tight end Heath Miller to cap that drive featuring Mendenhall's run was sweet payback following a San Diego touchdown when Stefan Logan had the ball taken away at the end of a punt return.

The Steelers special teams made the final score closer than it should have been.

Following Logan's miscue, San Diego recovered an onside kick after scoring a touchdown, making the score 35-21. Linebacker James Harrison's pass-interference penalty gave the Chargers a first down at the Steelers' 13. Philip Rivers' touchdown pass sliced the lead to 35-28, and the Steelers' rout was off.

Fortunately, Roethlisbeger, Mendenhall and the Steelers' offense were still on.

Mendenhall broke off yet another long run 22 yards that allowed the Steelers to finish exactly the way they started.

On top and in control.

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 10-05-2009, 11:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: Harris: Tough Tomlin gets positive results

IMO the way Tomlin handled Mendenhall against the Bungles seemed to pay off big time. Tomline does a really good job of motivating his players. Now he just needs to figure out a way to get his entire defensive team motivated for 60 minutes.
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