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Old 01-12-2011, 07:31 PM   #1
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Default Steelers running out of time to join NFL's elite

Steelers running out of time to join NFL's elite
ALAN ROBINSON, AP Sports Writer
Published: 05:05 p.m., Wednesday, January 12, 2011

PITTSBURGH (AP) Dealing with Ray Lewis, Ray Rice and Ed Reed of the Ravens will be difficult enough for the Pittsburgh Steelers during their all-AFC North divisional playoff game on Saturday.

In terms of historical perspective, the Steelers also will be competing with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith and Tom Brady. And, from their own past, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris and Mean Joe Greene.

If the Steelers (12-4) beat the Ravens (13-4), they'll advance to their fifth AFC championship game in 10 seasons and their eighth since 1994. They'll also be a victory away from their third Super Bowl in six seasons. Only four franchises including Pittsburgh have won at least three Super Bowls with the same quarterback and core group of players.

While these Steelers are among the NFL's most accomplished teams their 116 regular-season and playoff victories since 2001 rank third in the league they are among the oldest. James Farrior and Charlie Batch are 36. Hines Ward and Aaron Smith will be 35 within a few months. Chris Hoke is 34, Casey Hampton is 33, Brett Keisel is 32. Even Troy Polamalu will be 30 in April.

They don't need anyone to tell them what that means, especially since free agency makes it difficult for any championship-type team to keep its key players together for more than a few seasons.

"We have one or two more years left in us,"
Ward said Wednesday. "That's why this one is a little more special to us. We're two games away (from the Super Bowl). And we know how hard it is to get in this position."

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 28 and likely can count on a few more deep playoff runs, but the rest of a group that has repeatedly kept the Steelers in contention probably can't. They've got this season, and maybe next, if they're to join the '70s-era Steelers (4 Super Bowls won with Bradshaw), the 49ers (4 with Montana), the Cowboys (3 with Aikman) and the Patriots (3 with Brady).

They're not printing T-shirts or putting up any motivational signs, but these Steelers want to accomplish it. Especially since no other franchise has done it twice.

"We'd love to be part of the same legacy the previous Steelers had," said Smith, who has been out since mid-October with a triceps injury. "But I think, really, this group is so focused on just winning this one. When we're all said and done and we're 10 years out of this league, we can look back and think about what kind of special group this was. But I think this group is just motivated on winning games and winning Super Bowls right now."

Getting by Baltimore will be a challenge. The division rivals have split their four games during the last two seasons, with each one decided by 3 points. Only one of their last seven games was decided by more than 4 points; Pittsburgh beat Baltimore 23-14 in the AFC championship game two seasons ago.

"We know what it's going to take to beat Baltimore here in our backyard," Ward said. "We're excited for the playoffs. A lot of people (in the league) have had two weeks off. They're already on vacation. So we know how rare it is to make it in this position, and the approach we've got to take. Lose and you go home, so the sense of urgency of going out there and doing the task at hand is there."

Winning divisional round games usually isn't a problem for the Steelers; they've won five of their last six and seven of their last nine. They haven't dropped one at home since 1992 against Buffalo. They also are 8-0 against division rivals in the playoffs since the 1970 NFL merger, and they're 7-1 in the postseason since 2005.

Still, Ward remembers how the Steelers lost AFC championship games at home against New England during the 2001 and 2004 seasons defeats that were difficult to accept and may have cost Pittsburgh another one or two Super Bowls.

Ward doesn't want to get so close to playing for a title, only to lose again.

"We all think about it. The veteran guys, you get a greater appreciation because we know we (soon) won't even be together," Ward said. "For us, we want to take advantage of the opportunities we have now. We have a great nucleus of young guys that surround us Mike Wallace, (Maurkice) Pouncey, (Rashard) Mendenhall, (Lawrence) Timmons so guys like myself, James Farrior, Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, we realize our time is coming soon. Opportunities like this, we appreciate a lot more. Let's seize the moment while we can."

Read more: http://www.greenwichtime.com/sports/...#ixzz1As2qnyaE
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Old 01-12-2011, 07:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers running out of time to join NFL's elite

Me and my bro were just talking the other day that we are close to rebuilding, ESP on defense. Our offense may be set to build around Pouncey inside and out but our D is going to have to go through a major overhaul. We got Ziggy, Timmons, Woodley and Harrison and Poly to build around vets.
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Old 01-12-2011, 07:40 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers running out of time to join NFL's elite

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Originally Posted by StainlessStill View Post
Me and my bro were just talking the other day that we are close to rebuilding, ESP on defense. Our offense may be set to build around Pouncey inside and out but our D is going to have to go through a major overhaul. We got Ziggy, Timmons, Woodley and Harrison and Poly to build around vets.
I've been thinking the same thing myself. We are going to have to make some major changes.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers running out of time to join NFL's elite

While the defense is indeed aging, we still have a lot of young players...Woodley, Timmons, and Hood of course, but I think we can count on Troy, Ryan Clark, and maybe even James Harrison for a bit longer than some of the other guys (I say Harrison because he got a late start and his body may be a bit "younger" in football years than his birth certificate indicates). On top of that I have faith Jason Worilds will pan out and be a more than serviceable replacement for Harrison when he's gone, we will (hopefully) get a good CB or two in the next few drafts, and I think even without a superstar MLB to replace Farrior our LB corps will still be superior to most if not all of the league and I think we could make due with Foote, Fox, or Sylvester at ILB if we had too. We still need another NT, DE, and CB before I would say we're "set" beyond 2 years but as far as I'm concerned this defense could still be "elite" for another decade, maybe not as good as it is currently or in 2008 but good enough to keep making playoff runs.

On the other hand, the offense (sans Oline) is good for like the next decade, even with Hines gone (we will miss his blocking but the new wideouts are showing promise in the blocking game and aside from that and "leadership" Hines doesn't mean much to the offense anymore as far as receiving goes).
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:36 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers running out of time to join NFL's elite

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We still need another NT, DE, and CB before
True that and our backups are up there in age as well so we will need depth.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers running out of time to join NFL's elite

The true test of a class football organization is whether it can withstand the test of time, not just go on 2-5 year streaks of quality football. In my opinion, the Steelers are a complete class organization in every aspect of the manner; the draft, the scouting, the coaching, and the on the field performance. I never have any worries that the Steelers will need a complete overhaul and rebuild because they are CONSTANTLY rebuilding.


I look forward to every Steelers season knowing we have the ability to make a run in the playoffs, and I believe I will be enjoying that luxury for a long long time.
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Old 01-12-2011, 09:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers running out of time to join NFL's elite

Just another sportswriter wishing the Steelers would go away.


Piss on him - our strength is our youth, I see us getting better every year
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Old 01-12-2011, 09:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers running out of time to join NFL's elite

We are set at LB, Dl is a slight concern as is DB. I am sure we will take care of that. OL is our only need on O, but with Colon coming back next season we will be ok. We are good at WR and RB, and set at QB for years to come. I see at least 2 more title with Ben.
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Old 01-12-2011, 10:16 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers running out of time to join NFL's elite

Offense is full of young guys, defense is going to be a problem in the far future. 3 years down the road that defense will look much different.
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Old 01-12-2011, 11:06 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers running out of time to join NFL's elite

The Steelers do it the right way. They always have a good mix of older vets and good young players who get to sit and learn the game a couple years before hitting the trenches. They do not waste money in the free agent market at the expense of undermining a good team down the road. It is one of the main reasons I have rooted for this team and will continue to root for them as long as the Rooneys continue to run the team.
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