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Old 09-12-2010, 09:25 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Steelers can win without Roethlisberger

Steelers can win without Roethlisberger
By James Walker
http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth/print?id=17411

PITTSBURGH -- If you predicted doom and gloom for the Steelers without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center, please raise your hand.

OK, I admit, I'm one of the many with my hand raised. (Nice to see Walker eating some crow! - mesa)

With no Roethlisberger and a good Atlanta Falcons team coming to Pittsburgh, the Steelers appeared to be very beatable in Week 1.

But thanks to a total team effort, Pittsburgh held everything together for four quarters and overtime to pull off a 15-9 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The game was capped by a 50-yard TD run in overtime by running back Rashard Mendenhall, one of the many Steelers contributors.

This was not a dominating win and it certainly wasn't pretty. But Pittsburgh extended its winning streak in season openers to an NFL-best eight consecutive games.

Although questions remain about Pittsburgh's quarterback situation -- I'll get to that in a bit -- no one can question the Steelers' toughness and character. Not many teams can win without their $100 million quarterback -- especially against an Atlanta team many think is playoff-caliber.

Think of how good the Indianapolis Colts would be without Peyton Manning, the New England Patriots without Tom Brady or the Cincinnati Bengals without Carson Palmer. Pittsburgh's win defied the odds.

"We stayed together and played team football, and did it to the very end,"
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. "We got some things to work on, absolutely, like all 31 other teams do. But we get to do it while we’re 1-0."

In what should be a blueprint for the next three games without Roethlisberger, who is suspended for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, Pittsburgh won by making Atlanta play its tempo. The Falcons had the more explosive offense and the better quarterback in Matt Ryan. But the Steelers' defense, running game and special teams helped turn this game into an ugly battle for field position.

Virtually every player who needed to step up for Pittsburgh in Roethlisberger's absence did.

Troy Polamalu recorded five tackles and had a critical fourth-quarter interception.
In addition to Mendenhall's 120 yards rushing, Hines Ward (six catches, 108 yards) had his franchise-best 26th game with more than 100 yards receiving. Linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley each recorded a sack, and safety Troy Polamalu recorded five tackles and an interception in the fourth quarter.

Atlanta tried beating Pittsburgh at its own game but couldn't. With the score tied 9-9 late in the fourth quarter, things began to unravel for the Falcons when Ryan threw an interception to Polamalu to set up a potential winning field goal. Jeff Reed missed the kick, but Pittsburgh's defense held again in overtime to set up Mendenhall's sprint to victory.

"All day on the run, we were creating seams," Mendenhall said. "In the run game, you just have to be patient. We knew that something was going to open up, and it did in overtime."

The game marked quarterback Dennis Dixon's first career victory in two starts. He was up and down, completing 18 of 26 passes for 236 yards and an interception. Tomlin described Dixon's game as "a winning effort," but there were plenty of instances where Dixon could have lost the game.

Pittsburgh, for the most part, played very conservatively on offense. But when Atlanta brought more defenders closer to the line of scrimmage, the Steelers were forced to open things up a bit. Despite several nice throws by Dixon, there were some head-scratching ones too, typical for an inexperienced quarterback.

Dixon's interception to Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson in the first quarter was a pass terribly underthrown to tight end Heath Miller. Atlanta, by my count, also dropped three more interception opportunities that could have changed the outcome. Most of Dixon's poor throws came when Atlanta fooled him with the coverage and Dixon tried to force the play.

"I would love to get a couple balls back, of course," Dixon said. "But that's why you play football, and that's why it's a total team game."

The Falcons also did a nice job keeping Dixon in pocket. The third-year quarterback only gained four yards on two attempts. Count on the Steelers' next three opponents using Sunday’s game tape to mirror the strategy Atlanta used to keep Dixon bottled up behind the line of scrimmage. Dixon's best throws were a beautiful deep pass to receiver Mike Wallace for 52 yards and a 25-yard strike to Ward.

Next up for the Steelers are the Tennessee Titans, who manhandled the Oakland Raiders in their season opener. But after losses Sunday by the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh will end Week 1 no worse than tied for first in the AFC North.

If anyone predicted that would happen, please raise your hand again.
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Old 09-12-2010, 09:59 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers can win without Roethlisberger

I have been saying all along that the Defense will be the key to us winning not the offense per say. We have to of course move the ball and make plays and not go 3 and out each time but overall we play team ball and good defense and we win.

Hines Ward Get's my Game Ball for his leadership on offense and calming Dixon down and hell making the catches that needed to be made.
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Old 09-12-2010, 10:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers can win without Roethlisberger

Anyone that doubted a win today doesn't watch enough Steelers football.
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Old 09-13-2010, 05:45 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers can win without Roethlisberger

The Steelers D USUALLY is the catalyst for wins.
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Old 09-13-2010, 09:55 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers can win without Roethlisberger

Well ok they won without BB. however is that how i want the season to go? Waiting on one slip up to lose a game late?

No thank you. I'll take and add in BB game 5 against the stains. give me a great def and BB qb'ing the team anyday.

3 more to go!
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Old 09-13-2010, 10:09 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers can win without Roethlisberger

FRANCHISE QB BR7
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Old 09-13-2010, 10:10 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers can win without Roethlisberger

Anyone who thinks that was some glorious, dominating win needs a serious wake-up call.

The defense certainly looked good, there is no doubt. But the offense (aside from Mendy and Redman on a couple of plays) looked pretty pedestrian. Ward and Wallace had a few nice grabs, but I'm seriously worried about having Dixon under center. He wasn't bad... but he wasn't that good either. Granted, it's early in the season and of course he was nervous given the circumstances. But next week at TN worries me because their D is pretty tough and they have one of the best RBs in the game.

I'm just afraid that we're celebrating a bit too early here. Let's see where we are in a month's time.
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Old 09-13-2010, 10:11 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers can win without Roethlisberger

The Steelers CAN win games without Ben, but like Curtain of Steel said, that's not exactly how I want all these games to go. The defenses Dixon is going to be up against aren't going to get any easier either. I don't see him playing all 4 games.
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Old 09-13-2010, 10:12 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers can win without Roethlisberger

Dixon and Randle El were terrible. What the hell is everyone talking about? We might as well run the ball on 3rd and 7 or longer because Dixon can't convert those plays with his arm.
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Old 09-13-2010, 10:19 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers can win without Roethlisberger

LOL... Randel El.

So for all the people who wanted to run Stefan Logan out of town for not taking a KO return to the house, I hope you're happy now. I remember when I watched that Redskins game last year where Antwaan dropped the ball on a return after it hit him in the head, all I could think was, "MAN, I WISH WE STILL HAD THAT GUY ON OUR TEAM!"
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