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Old 12-07-2010, 06:15 AM   #1
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Default Harris: LeBeau made right call: listening to players

Harris: LeBeau made right call: listening to players
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...nt_712537.html
By John Harris
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Players play and coaches coach, but Steelers defensive captain James Farrior and his teammates had seen enough Sunday night.

No more sitting back and taking it.

Enough with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco picking the secondary clean like a leftover Thanksgiving turkey. If the Steelers were going to win the AFC North, someone was going to have to take a bullet for the rest of the team.

Someone was going to have to tell defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to call more blitzes.

Who better than Farrior? He's one of four co-captains and old enough (35) not to care what people think.

It wasn't easy for a popular veteran like Farrior to make suggestions to his coach, especially during a game. To Farrior, though, the alternative of losing was too unflattering to consider.

"We definitely felt we could get some good pressure. We just had to get the right calls in,'' Farrior said in the afterglow of the Steelers' gritty 13-10 win.

"That's what our guys were preaching on the sideline to the coaches. If we were gonna go down, we were gonna go down blitzing. We definitely didn't want to sit back. Coach LeBeau listened to us.''

In the first half, Flacco had his way with the Steelers. He navigated the longest scoring drive of his NFL career -- 92 yards. He completed passes of 61 and 67 yards and was 9 of 14 for 179 yards and a touchdown with a 131.5 passer rating.

Other than a first-quarter sack by defensive end Ziggy Hood, Flacco was rarely under duress. He was on his way to another score and a career game when momentum shifted.

On third-and-15 from the Steelers 32 in the second quarter, cornerback Ike Taylor caught Baltimore with a surprise blitz and sacked Flacco for an 11-yard loss. The play knocked Baltimore out of scoring position. Instead of trailing 14-0 or even 10-0 at halftime, the Steelers faced only a 7-0 deficit.

In the second half, the tables turned. The Steelers had their way with Flacco, who was 8 of 19 for 87 yards with a 65.8 passer rating, mainly due to a better pass rush making it difficult for him to step into his throws.

With LeBeau dealing out blitzes like a blackjack dealer shuffles cards, the Steelers overwhelmed Flacco with pressure.

"When you dial up the blitz, it's usually hit or miss,'' Taylor said. "We hit (Sunday) night.''

That's a gamble outside linebacker James Harrison wants to take more often.

"I'm of the feeling if you're gonna kill me, kill me at what I like to do and that's blitz,'' said Harrison, the Steelers' sack leader this season with 10.

"In earlier weeks, we were dropping in coverage (instead of blitzing). At the end of the Buffalo game last week, we dropped a whole lot more. This game we brought a lot more pressure than we did in the first (Baltimore) game.''

Flacco threw the decisive 18-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 34 seconds left in the Ravens' 17-14 win over the Steelers on Oct. 3. The Steelers didn't blitz on the play, and Flacco was free to throw without pressure.

Two months later, the Steelers defense didn't repeat that mistake when Flacco faced second-and-5 at the Baltimore 43 late in the fourth quarter.

Trailing 10-6, the Steelers' defense needed to make a big play or lose any realistic chance of winning the division.

Strong safety Troy Polamalu delivered, sacking Flacco from the blind side and forcing a fumble that led to the Steelers' winning touchdown.

"We felt like we could disrupt, get in Flacco's face, if they gave us an opportunity,'' said Farrior, who recorded a team-high seven tackles and sacked Flacco in the fourth quarter.

"We don't question Coach LeBeau and the decisions he makes. Sometimes we just try to throw something out there and maybe he'll listen. Everybody has their own idea what we should be doing, but he's the guy.''

A smart guy, to be sure. Great coaches aren't too big to listen to their players. To his credit, LeBeau listened.

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 12-07-2010, 06:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: Harris: LeBeau made right call: listening to players

I would rather give up 1 or 2 big plays because we got caught in a blitz. Getting beat on long drives is demoralizing. Hopefully we keep it up the rest of the way, run the table and have that 13-3 record and march right on into Dallas.
Some games and some things players say to coaches tend to be a catalyst of greatness. I beleive that is what happened in Baltimore on Sunday. We will be propelled to the Stairway to Seven.
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Old 12-07-2010, 12:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: Harris: LeBeau made right call: listening to players

Great call for our D leader Farrior to approach LeBeau, and kudos for him listening to his leaders. NOW, if we get to play the Cheatriots in the post season....hopefully they will have some suggestions for playcalls to be made....as much as I love LeBeau...he never seems to be able to stop gay Brady...maybe the players will have a better idea as to how to stop them.
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Old 12-07-2010, 12:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: Harris: LeBeau made right call: listening to players

I hope we live by this for the rest of the season. Baltimore beat Brady with pressure
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Old 12-07-2010, 12:44 PM   #5
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Default Re: Harris: LeBeau made right call: listening to players

Now can someone start talking to Bruce? He needs to stop picking his plays out of a hat and come up with a real game plan. Look at the team you are facing and put together and plan to attack weaknesses. Not force the same stale set of plays you use week in and week out.
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Old 12-07-2010, 02:08 PM   #6
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Default Re: Harris: LeBeau made right call: listening to players

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick5895 View Post
I would rather give up 1 or 2 big plays because we got caught in a blitz. Getting beat on long drives is demoralizing.
Getting beat on long drives also tires out the defense, right?
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Old 12-07-2010, 02:35 PM   #7
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Default Re: Harris: LeBeau made right call: listening to players

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Originally Posted by California-Steel View Post
Now can someone start talking to Bruce? He needs to stop picking his plays out of a hat and come up with a real game plan. Look at the team you are facing and put together and plan to attack weaknesses. Not force the same stale set of plays you use week in and week out.
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Old 12-07-2010, 02:37 PM   #8
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Default Re: Harris: LeBeau made right call: listening to players

Nice to hear.
I'd rather get beat on a couple plays than let someone stand back there all day and pick us apart on short slants and sideline passes. That KILLS us. Wish we would've "heavy blitzed" Brady on every play....thats the only way you beat him.
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Old 12-07-2010, 02:37 PM   #9
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Default Re: Harris: LeBeau made right call: listening to players

Sunday nights win against the Ravens was a great adjustment defensively in the second half. This team is built to blitz. Every time this year they have dropped off and rushed a 3 man they get clobbered. Keep bringing the heat. Its not called Blitzburgh for nothing!
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Old 12-07-2010, 03:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: Harris: LeBeau made right call: listening to players

It's disheartening to think we have to blitz to get pressure. The 3-4 can apply pressure with 4 rushers... the 4th being disguised before the snap. Put it this way, if we can't get pressure with 4 guys against a possible rematch with the Patriots we lose. Simple as that.

Not at all saying not to blitz. Just pick your spots.
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