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Old 11-21-2010, 12:20 AM   #1
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Default Season's unpredictability lightens impact of Steelers' loss

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Season's unpredictability lightens impact of Steelers' loss

By Scott Brown
Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Giants travel across the country and clobber the Seahawks, 41-7, handing Seattle its first home loss of the season. A week later, they are soundly beaten by the Cowboys, the same team that had been humiliated by the Packers the previous Sunday night on national TV.

The Broncos have lost by 41 points to the Raiders at home, no less and beaten the Chiefs, one of the first-half surprises in the AFC, by 20 points.

If parity has prevailed in the NFL this season no team has fewer than two losses so has utter unpredictability.

The Jekyll and Hyde quality that many teams have exhibited this season is one reason why the Steelers shouldn't overreact to a 39-26 loss to the Patriots, who a week earlier lost by 20 points to the Browns.

That's not to say there shouldn't be cause for concern.

Through the first month of the season, the Steelers evoked memories of the '08 team that rode a dominating defense to a Super Bowl title.

Lately, they have resembled the '07 bunch that limped into the postseason and lost to the Jaguars in the wild-card round of the playoffs.

Coach Mike Tomlin's refusal to use the rash of injuries that has decimated both lines as a crutch is admirable.

What the Steelers really need is for Tomlin and his assistants to adjust to their injuries or just adjust period.

Dick LeBeau is one of the most innovative defensive minds of all time but opposing offenses have been picking up his blitzes with regularity these days.

Just ask the person who washed the uniform of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after his evisceration of the Steelers last Sunday.

Bruce Arians, meanwhile, continues to give his critics ammunition.

The Steelers have scored just 11 touchdowns the 27 times they have been inside the red zone. They have also struggled to counter pressure from opposing teams in part because of questionable play-calling.

The Steelers players showed a refreshing sense of urgency leading up to today's game against the Raiders. And their execution will ultimately determine whether they win a game that will trigger an avalanche of questions if they lose it.

But a little more help from their coaches wouldn't hurt either.

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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