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|11-29-2009, 07:44 AM||#1|
A Son of Martha
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Redemption Day nears
Redemption Day nears
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By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
Sunday November 29, 2009 12:20 AM
BALTIMORE — According to the gospel of Mike Tomlin, today is “Redemption Sunday.”
This evening when the Steelers take on their fiercest rivals, they can deliver themselves up from the throes of a two-game losing streak that has jeopardized their chances of winning the AFC North for the third year in a row.
Tomlin, now in his third year as coach, takes blame for the recent slide which has skeptics claiming the team is suffering a Super Bowl hangover.
To a man, the Steelers deny those claims. Teams with hangovers, they say, don’t reach the halfway point of the NFL season at 6-2 with impressive wins over San Diego (7-3), Minnesota (9-1) and Denver (7-4).
And as the Steelers (6-4) face the Baltimore Ravens (5-5) tonight at M&T Bank Stadium, they’re determined to pull themselves out of a two-week funk in which they have failed to produce enough game-winning plays.
Even without star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who’s not fully recovered from a concussion suffered last week, the Steelers say they’re ready for the challenge.
“This is it right here,’’ inside linebacker James Farrior said. “This is our playoff time right now. We need to go into the rest of these games and treat them like playoff games because we’ve got to win them all in order to do what we want to do.”
If the Steelers want to overtake first-place Cincinnati (7-3) in the division, they have to start acting like a championship team. Championship teams routinely make plays that result in victories.
In three of their four losses, the Steelers made a host of plays that led to defeat. That was especially true in last week’s 27-24 overtime loss in Kansas City, a loss that started off with the Steelers allowing yet another kickoff to be returned for a touchdown.
Immediately after the game, Tomlin blamed the loss on himself and his coaches.
But according to the Steelers, the blame falls on them.
“That’s a coach’s thing to say. That’s what he’s supposed to say,” free safety Ryan Clark said. “But we didn’t do anything different (at practice) before the last two games than we’ve done the whole season. Guys worked hard. Guys wanted to win. I watched the same amount of films I always watch.
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“We just have to go out there and produce. The coach takes the blame but that’s what a good coach does. But when we win a game, he says players win. So when it goes the other way also, you have to put the blame on us. We have to go out there and execute what Coach Tomlin and the other coaches prepare for us.”
“It’s up to us to go out there and execute,” Farrior added. “It’s up to us to make the right plays.”
In many respects, the Steelers are making plenty of right plays. They rank sixth in the league in total offense and first in total defense.
But other than allowing four TDs on kickoff returns the past five games, the Steelers’ most disappointing statistic is their turnover ratio. With 14 takeaways and 19 giveaways, they’re tied for 25th in the league at minus-5. Last year when they won the Super Bowl, they tied for 11th at plus-4.
“Nineteen giveaways? Too much,” Tomlin said, “And 14 takeaways? Not enough.”
Last year, the Steelers tied for eighth in the league with 29 takeaways.
“We’ve had our hands on balls. We’ve had balls on the ground that we didn’t come up with. We’ve have had tipped passes that just fall harmlessly on the ground,” Tomlin said. “That’s part of football, I understand, but we’ve got to work with those things in mind as we prepare to play this game and others to turn the tide in regards to that. If we do that and stop getting kicks returned on us, we’ve got a chance to be a good football team.
“We’re an accountable group,” Tomlin said.
Tonight against the Ravens, even with Dennis Dixon starting at quarterback, the Steelers get the chance to prove their coach right.
“Redemption Sunday is coming for us in the form of the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football,” Tomlin said. “That medicine is just what the doctor ordered when you look at where we are, having the opportunity to play our rival at their place on prime time television. We have to get back to winning ways.”
The only way the Steelers will redeem themselves is by making more game-winning plays than they have the last two weeks.
|11-29-2009, 11:30 AM||#2|
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Re: Redemption Day nears
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