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Old 10-26-2009, 02:49 AM   #1
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Default Tomlin lauds Steelers' offensive line

Tomlin lauds Steelers' offensive line
Monday, October 26, 2009
By Michael Sanserino, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Lake Fong/Post-Gazette

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger drops back to pass during the first half of yesterday's game.

Minnesota pass rusher Jared Allen has a reputation for talking trash to opposing offensive lineman.

But Steelers left tackle Max Starks said Allen was pretty quiet yesterday afternoon.

The two are friends. They train and hang out together during the offseason.

"There's nothing he can really say," Starks said, "because I've got more dirt on him than he has on me."

Now, Starks has bragging rights, too.

Allen, one of the league's best defensive ends, was a non-factor in the Steelers' 27-17 victory yesterday. The Steelers' offensive line, recently blamed for many of the team's woes, was credited with stifling Minnesota's defense.

Lined up against Starks, Allen had just one tackle, one pass deflection and no sacks.

"Max is an elite left tackle in this league," Steelers right guard Trai Essex said. "People don't understand that."

Allen entered the game ranked third in the league with 7.5 sacks through six games.

"I know Jared ... so it wasn't this big, daunting task that a lot of people like to make of it," Starks said. "He's just a regular guy, playing hard."

For four quarters, Starks and the rest of the Steelers' linemen made Minnesota's defensive line look like regular guys, not an elite group of players who comprise one of the NFL's best defenses.

The Steelers' running game averaged 5.3 yards per carry against a Vikings defense that has long been among the best run-stoppers in the NFL.

Coach Mike Tomlin credited that to his offensive line.

"I thought they were game for the challenge," he said. "They respect the heck out of the Minnesota Vikings run defense."

Minnesota sacked Ben Roethlisberger three times, which might not seem like a great number except Allen alone had 4.5 in one game this season. And several sacks could be credited to Minnesota's pass coverage, which forced Roethlisberger to buy time in the pocket.

A few weeks ago, the group received a heap of criticism for allowing too many sacks and creating too few holes for the running game.

Players point to different reasons for the group's progress. Essex said the players are communicating better, and left guard Chris Kemoeatu attributes the gains to the work the line has done in the film room.

But no lineman was satisfied with the group's performance. Right tackle Willie Colon said the line got off to a slow start in the first half. Roethlisberger was sacked on the Steelers' second offensive play.

"We just really didn't know what we wanted to do," Colon said.

Another Roethlisberger sack resulted in a fumble that killed a crucial drive late in the fourth quarter.

Center Justin Hartwig, who previously said Minnesota's defensive line was "probably" the best in the league, said the Vikings tried to confuse the Steelers' linemen by dropping defensive ends into pass coverage and blitzing linebackers.

"They got us a few times with that look," he said.

And Starks was disappointed the offense did not score more points. The defense accounted for 14 of the Steelers' 27 points.

"You can't let your defense score more points than your offense," Starks said.

But he said the line was "decent," having not made too many mistakes.

With only a handful of offensive miscues and a strong defensive performance not many will take note of the offensive line's play.

A few weeks removed from a lot of finger pointing, the anonymity is welcomed.

"As long as nobody's talking about us," Hartwig said, "that's a good thing."
Michael Sanserino can be reached at msanserino@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1722.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09299...#ixzz0V1g2Q7I5
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:26 AM   #2
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Default Re: Tomlin lauds Steelers' offensive line

I guess what has impressed me most with this OL is that they are now playing consistently. IMO, with Essex replacing what many thought was an undersized Stapleton at RG, there is now continuity in the OL and our run game is beginning to show a semblance of the ole' Steeler power running game. We're still a bit off, but with the emergence of the passing game, the ground game may need to sit in the back seat for a while longer.

But I will say this.... I absolutely LOVE Kemoeatu pulling on run plays!
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: Tomlin lauds Steelers' offensive line

Interesting read. I was wondering why Ben and the receivers seemed to be having trouble connecting... if the LBs were dropping back into coverage more often, then it would make those plays a lot tougher. But yeah, I have to agree that the O-Line looked pretty good. There were a couple of bad moments (the sacks) but it wasn't all their fault. And keeping Jared Allen off your QB is a really important thing.
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:30 AM   #4
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Default Re: Tomlin lauds Steelers' offensive line

I can't complain about the way the OL has played the last few weeks. Ben has time to throw and there are running lanes! It's great.

Mad props to Starks for containing Allen, even if it wasn't just him.
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:32 PM   #5
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Default Re: Tomlin lauds Steelers' offensive line

Not just this game but the whole year apart from the season opener I've been very impressed by these guys. I was really worried about our line but they've done a great job protecting Ben and opening holes for our RBs (having Mendenhall do something with them helps).

The left side in particular looks great.
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:54 PM   #6
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Default Re: Tomlin lauds Steelers' offensive line

wow, there's a scary statistic. 5.3ypc against the vikings D-line. Guys, we're talking about a D-line that has led the NFL in rush defense for 3 years running. (not this year but u know what i mean). Now if only we can hold onto the ball, this team is that much more terrifying to opposing teams. Kudos to Starks for holding Allen down to zero sacks
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Old 10-26-2009, 05:18 PM   #7
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Default Re: Tomlin lauds Steelers' offensive line

Now, all we need is to pick up a tackle in the draft, and we will have depth at both the outside and inside positions, plus a great playing line.

Dang. Is this the same O line we are talking about?

Hats off to the FO and the coaches. THIS is why you trust them. They know what they are doing.
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:16 PM   #8
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Default Re: Tomlin lauds Steelers' offensive line

They stepped up to the challenge.

Honestly, Kemo has shown better awareness in picking up stunts. Essex has been getting more comfortable as the season goes on and he is a definate upgrade from Stapleton. Starks has gotten better in getting to the edge and making guys take a long run around him, where he has been victimized a lot in his previous 5 seasons. I always thought Hartwig and Colon were solid and have showed that consistency.
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Old 10-27-2009, 01:09 AM   #9
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Default Re: Tomlin lauds Steelers' offensive line

Originally Posted by TX Steelerfan View Post

But I will say this.... I absolutely LOVE Kemoeatu pulling on run plays!
completely agreed. it seems that their is always a good camera shot of him getting in the way, and i dig the look on his face and the way he runs into the defenders. case in point: San Diego. even collinsworthless was giving him props....DONG! (my friends and i laughed at that comment pretty hard)
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