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Old 04-12-2010, 06:45 PM   #1
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Default Eisenberg: Are the Steelers Crumbling?

Eisenberg: Are the Steelers Crumbling?

Fans would love to see Pittsburgh relinquish its dominance, but sorry, life isn’t that easy. by John Eisenberg
Apr 12, 2010, 12:26PM

PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

When the NFL realigned into four-team divisions in 2002, the Ravens had the good fortune – and misfortune – to land with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.

It was fortunate because nothing in sports is more exciting than having a rival that makes you hyperventilate, and the Steelers have become that in Baltimore, surpassing the Redskins and Colts and ranking right with the Yankees and Duke on the city’s Most Hated Opponent list.

But it also was unfortunate to get grouped with the Steelers because, well, they’re good, one of football’s perennial powers. Since the 2002 realignment, they’ve made five playoff appearances, won four division titles, played in three AFC title games and won two Super Bowls. The Ravens have made four playoff appearances, captured two division titles and played in one AFC title game over the same period.

The Ravens have had some success in the rivalry, but they’ve had to look up to the Steelers more than they cared to, losing 10 of 17 games between the teams, including the 2008 AFC title game. That frustration has added heat to this end of the rivalry. If you asked Ravens fans whether the 2009 season was satisfying because a) their team made the playoffs, or b) the Steelers didn’t, the vote would be close.

Both teams finished 9-7 and were swept by the Bengals, who won the division in a surprise, and while the season was mildly disappointing in Baltimore, it was a huge bummer for the Steelers, who were defending a Super Bowl title.

Now, on the heels of that disappointment, the Steelers are having a troubling offseason. Ben Roethlisberger, their star quarterback, has been the subject of a sexual assault investigation in Georgia, stirring so much controversy that the team told him not to report for the start of its offseason conditioning program. And Santonio Holmes, the MVP of the 2008 Super Bowl, was traded to the Jets last night for a fifth-round draft pick, basically a giveaway, because he has had repeated off-field problems and now faces a lawsuit in which a woman accuses him of throwing a drink at her.

The mood has been so gloomy in Pittsburgh that one local columnist recently wrote that the Steelers, who take pride in being a high-character team, were no better than the Bengals, a team renowned for off-field troubles.

Here is Baltimore, where the Ravens and their fans have one eye permanently fixed on their rivals, the steady drumbeat of bad news out of Pittsburgh has generated one slightly giddy question: Could it be that the Steelers are crumbling?

I say that’s wishful thinking.

When the Steelers sink, they don’t stay down long. They haven’t had back-to-back non-playoff seasons since 1999 and 2000. After going 6-10 in 2003, they went 15-1 in 2004. After going 8-8 in 2006, they made the playoffs in 2007. After last season’s falloff, I fully expect them to be back in the hunt in 2010, as tough, competitive and hard to beat as ever.

They’ll have Roethlisberger back it appears, as ESPN is reporting that the case against him will not be prosecuted. And while his second sexual assault case in less than a year has caused a hullaballoo (Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he was “deeply concerned” and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants to meet with the quarterback) I expect him to be motivated more than chastened, relieved to get to play ball with the case closed.

His return alone makes the Steelers dangerous, as does the return of All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu, who missed most of last season with knee injuries. The Steelers weren’t themselves without him, losing a fourth-quarter lead in six games. His absence was a huge part of the disappointing season.

Are the Steelers in transition? Only on their own terms. They let Willie Parker go, but Rashard Mendenhall rushed for more than 1,100 yards last season. They’ve let Holmes go, but Mike Wallace, a blazing-fast youngster, can step in.

Ravens fans would love to see them falter and give up their dominance of the AFC North, but sorry, life just isn’t that easy. The Steelers know what they’re doing. They’re Public Enemy No. 1 around here, but they’re a well-run, winning franchise with a deep and talented roster. If you’re expecting them to crumble in 2010, you’re going to be disappointed.

John Eisenberg worked in the newspaper business for 28 years as a sports columnist, with much of that time coming at the Baltimore Sun. While working for the Sun, Eisenberg spent time covering the Ravens, among other teams and events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and Olympics. Eisenberg is also the author of seven sports-themed books.

(Sanity from Ratbird land. Who would have thought it possible? - mesa)
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Old 04-12-2010, 06:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: Eisenberg: Are the Steelers Crumbling?

I agree mesa, thanks for the read.
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Old 04-12-2010, 06:57 PM   #3
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Default Re: Eisenberg: Are the Steelers Crumbling?

I have to wash my soap out after this because I despise the ratbirds but:

They are going to be a force to be reckoned with due to their receiving corps being bolstered. Their passing game was always a bit inferior even with our secondary but that has changed. I have to admire Ozzie Newsome a bit as he runs the personnel dept. well. Don't like Harbaugh but I am sure he is a good coach. Very similar teams. It will be an interesting rivalry next year but we need to get our running game going and get a shutdown corner in the first round of the draft.

Go Steelers
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Old 04-12-2010, 07:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: Eisenberg: Are the Steelers Crumbling?

If their array of terrible offseason moves (keeping Arians, trading Holmes for pretty much nothing) then they are due to crumble in 2010
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Old 04-12-2010, 07:17 PM   #5

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Default Re: Eisenberg: Are the Steelers Crumbling?

this is exactly why we should go defensive back round 1.

if we beat baltimore 9 years of 10 we will be in the playoffs.
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Old 04-12-2010, 07:48 PM   #6
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Default Re: Eisenberg: Are the Steelers Crumbling?

The Steelers are crumbling? Since you know, they didn't crumble last year and were clearly a dominant team.

Baltimore's sad obsession with the Steelers continues.
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:40 PM   #7
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Old 04-12-2010, 11:11 PM   #8
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Default Re: Eisenberg: Are the Steelers Crumbling?

Originally Posted by steelerdude15 View Post


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Old 04-13-2010, 12:26 AM   #9
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Default Re: Eisenberg: Are the Steelers Crumbling?

I'm more worried about the Jets.
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Old 04-13-2010, 12:42 AM   #10
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Default Re: Eisenberg: Are the Steelers Crumbling?

Originally Posted by Stu Pidasso View Post
I'm more worried about the Jets.
+1 lol
I am a graphic designer.
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