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Old 12-04-2012, 11:55 PM   #1
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Default LeBeau protected Polamalu

Steelers film session: Polamalu gets some protection

By Mark Kaboly
Published: Monday, December 3, 2012

Troy Polamalu had played only 21 snaps since the season-opener in Denver because of a torn calf muscle, and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau promised to ease the All-Pro safety back into the lineup against the Ravens.

Well, LeBeau did and he didn’t when it came to limiting Polamalu.

Polamalu played 50 of the 64 Steelers defensive snaps Sunday against the Ravens, including 21 of the first 28, and played as many as 24 snaps in a row in the second half, including 25 of the final 28.

For the majority of the game, LeBeau protected Polamalu by putting him in deep coverage. But only after reminding the Ravens what Polamalu is capable of by blitzing him twice during the first series.

What LeBeau wanted to do is make sure that the Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco were aware that Polamalu was healthy, and that they needed to account for him moving around the field at any time.

In reality, LeBeau wanted Polamalu in coverage.

Three of the first four Baltimore offensive plays, LeBeau had Polamalu at the line of scrimmage — an area where his replacement, Will Allen, never goes.

Polamalu blitzed Flacco twice in those first three plays, then basically played deep coverage after that to protect Polamalu’s calf.

Polamalu was in deep coverage 25 of the final 31 plays, finishing with only two tackles.


• Mike Wallace was labeled as a co-starter by Mike Tomlin earlier in the week. Wallace did start against the Ravens, but his snaps were significantly down compared to other games this season and his career average. Wallace played 41 of the 67 offensive snaps Sunday, or 61 percent. Before he found himself as a co-starter with Emmanuel Sanders, Wallace played in 83 percent of the snaps this year. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2010, Wallace played in 88.4 percent of the Steelers’ offensive snaps. Sanders played in 49 of the 67 snaps against the Ravens.

• The Steelers got a break two plays before the game-winning kick by Shaun Suisham when a false start wasn’t called on tight end Heath Miller, who was lined up at fullback. Miller clearly moved forward a click before the ball was snapped. Now, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference because there really is no difference between a 42 and a 47-yard field goal when your kicker has made 27 straight inside 40.

• The Steelers are going to need Cortez Allen for at least a couple weeks because of Ike Taylor’s injured leg. And what the second-year cornerback did against the Ravens should deter teams from targeting Allen in the future. Allen was targeted 12 times, allowed six catches for 89 yards and a touchdown and was called a pass interference penalty, but also had three pass defenses, three tackles and a quarterback hit despite playing on the outside for the first time all year. All of Allen’s plays this year had come as the nickel back before Sunday.

• Maurkice Pouncey is one of the best pulling centers in the NFL. As it relates to guard, he has some work to do. Pouncey was forced to play guard for the first time since college, and even though he pulled six times, only two of them turned out positive — both against safety Bernard Pollard. One time, Pouncey got caught up in the line, another he slipped and fell leading to a negative run and then flat-out missed Suggs on one pull leading to a minus-3-yard run by Jonathan Dwyer. Other than that, Pouncey played very well considering the circumstances.

• Baltimore was content on not blitzing Batch and packing the box making underneath passes difficult to complete. The Ravens blitzed Batch only seven times as he completed five of them for 72 yards. Batch also was able to be successful with play-action. He was 3-of-3 for 58 yards.

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Old 12-05-2012, 12:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: LeBeau protected Polamalu

lebeau knows how to adjust and troy showed he is not a liability to this defense, despite how well will allen (who many people thought was a waste of a roster spot before week 5) has played in his absence.
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:38 AM   #3
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Default Re: LeBeau protected Polamalu

Troy being on the field alone causes QBs trouble.

On Flacco's first INT, Flacco locates Troy, just before he throws it away... right into Clark's arms. Flacco never even looked at Clark, because he was more worried ("only" worried) about Troy.
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:01 AM   #4
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Default Re: LeBeau protected Polamalu

Originally Posted by teegre View Post
Troy being on the field alone causes QBs trouble.

On Flacco's first INT, Flacco locates Troy, just before he throws it away... right into Clark's arms. Flacco never even looked at Clark, because he was more worried ("only" worried) about Troy.
I've been one of the first to say that I didn't want Troy rushing back because of his injury, and didn't want to mess with what Allen has been bringing to the table. I still stand by that - and was glad to see he wasn't in there just to be in there. It was very purposeful and yes, he still has to be accounted for.

These guys, including Troy need to "sharpen their swords" in these next 4 games. The offensive units they'll be going up against, most likely Baltimore, Houston, New England or Denver will still provide a great challenge. It is one thing to go into Denver and put up a fight without Clark - we still had a chance, but couldn't make a few key stands - but it would be doubly tough without Ike in there too. I expect Timmons to rise to the occasion, and if Woodley can get on the field - we'll have 3 good to great pass rushers. Worilds needs to finish when he gets there.
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:59 PM   #5
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Default Re: LeBeau protected Polamalu

The Return of Troy

Going into Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, the biggest headlines were about Charlie Batch and Jonathon Dwyer getting the start at quarterback and running back. Flying under the radar was the return of safety Troy Polamalu after being sidelined 7 weeks with a calf injury.

Polamalu has been the staple of the Steelers defense his whole career, and on Sunday the Ravens Joe Flacco notice he was back. It was rare to see Flacco throw in the direction Polamalu during this game, probably bringing back nightmares. When he did drop back to pass, it was mainly to the side of cornerback Cortez Allen who came into the game after pro bowl cornerback Ike Taylor fractured his ankle. Polamalu only played 78% of the defensive snaps while Will Allen took over the rest.

Though only recording two tackles, seeing the strong safety back on the field brings a feeling of solidarity to the Steelers defense. From 2009-2010 the Steelers had a record of 6-7 without Polamalu in the lineup. This season they are 4-3 without him, and everybody could tell that something was missing without the pro bowler in the secondary.

The Steelers were missing out on 29 career interceptions, 8 forced fumbles, and 467 total tackles. Obviously the statistics speak for themselves but it is more than just the numbers that make him a future hall of famer.

The first thing that comes to mind is trust. Polamalu has the trust from every one of his teammates on the field. They believe that whatever he does is right and whatever he says goes. With that he is a leader on the defense.

His overall football intelligence is what makes him a marvel to watch. Unlike many other players in the NFL (especially at the safety position) he makes quarterbacks double-take before the snap of the ball. One of his best talents on the field is being able to figure out the opponents snap count which in his career has turned into sacks and turnovers.

Ryan Clark and Polamalu are comparable to how linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley feed off each other on the field. They both have great intelligence on the field, in addition to understanding each other’s talents. Polamalu is known for his blitzing scheme and his speed while Clark is the rock in the secondary pass coverage. When they play together there isn’t a safety duo stronger in the NFL.

Polamalu’s health has been his Achilles heel over the last few years. Though the defense has played well, there is no replacing Polamalu and the Steelers are certainly a better team with him on the field. For the Steelers, they hope his return can help make way to another trip to the Super Bowl.

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