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James Harrison Is Selected AFC Defensive Player of the Month

Steelers Need Consistency, One Win To Guarantee Playoffs

With a season of bad play on the road and the Steelers needing only one win to claim the AFC North it is fortunate that the Steelers must win only one more to make the playoffs and it starts with improving in one area, all around; consistency.

The main problems the Steelers have include:
1. They must improve their focus and finish people off on the road, where they are 2-4. They are undefeated at home at 7-0. This weekend is against Jacksonville from Heinz Field. If the Steelers win out they would make their road problems look a whole lot better by ending their season road record at 4-4. The final two games are on the road at St. Louis on Thursday after the Jacksonville game, an imposing duo of factors, and the finale is at Baltimore where the Ravens would like nothing but to send Pittsburgh reeling. Consistency...

2. The Steelers are capable of setting a bad team record, for sacks allowed. The offensive line has given up 35 to this point. Last year the record 38 hung on Steelers QBs equated to a concussion for Ben. The last thing this team needs is to lose its starting Quarterback. Roethlisberger has played about as well as is humanly possible. At times he has been well protected which equates to his better performances. Consistency...

3. The Steelers Special Teams need to show consistency as they have not come together this season. For such emphasis as Tomlin placed upon it this is the greatest surprise of the 2007 Steelers. It is not a glaring weakness such as allowing returns for score too often, or fumbling our returns. The opposition returns have gone for scores but that happens to almost every special teams unit doesn't it? No? Heinz Field conditions contributed to at least one of those scores. Consistency is needed. Consistent kicks are the start, (there have been no bad snaps noted by Greg Warren, Long Snapper) not shanking one off our unexpecting cover men would be helpful the rest of the way. There has not been consistency all season in personnel as the Steelers have rotated different players in all special teams units. Consistency...

4. The Steelers Defense, although ranked top against the pass, needs the return of Polamalu and Clark to elevate it back to that status. A man named Brady shreded us this past weekend. Those two can not return to the lineup soon enough. Smith and Carter (wow, that almost sounds like a Rush Hour duo) have been burned far too often. (which sounds like an understatement) Consistency...

Consistency is the key.

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How To Move On - Roadmap To Steelers Success

There is a tendency to panic and worry about what the Steelers are going to do the rest of the way but there are several positives in the face of the disappointments in this big game loss. There is a lot of time left, we have a team that has character and can still grow. The Steelers have an opportunity to show everyone what they can do the rest of the way. Today the team did not get it done nor did they show what they are capable of. Their chance will come again if they stick to what they know they can do well.

It felt a lot like 2003 all over again against New England. Brady aired it out over and over and New England barely ran the football.

In the Steelers minds they must feel a lot how they did in '05 after losing to the Colts on Monday Night Football. "Next time we are going to show everyone how good we match up with these guys. I personally will do better. Next time I will show everyone how well I can play within myself against those guys."

Undoubtedly there will be fan and media panic. People looking from the outside will say "what about Smith's guarantee" "What if we tailspin and lose the rest?” “Cleveland could pass us!” “Remember losing the last five in '98?" One great way to handle any high pressure moment, in life, work, football, bowling, billiards, darts, you name it is to say to yourself "this is my chance right now to show everyone how good I can do this," instead of thinking over and over “what if I screw this up” and letting it shake you.

Anthony Smith should be looked at favorably for his passion instead of menacingly or with malice for his guarantee. The mouths have been pretty quiet around here since Joey Porter left. It was nice to hear someone speak up frankly. He probably wishes he had not said it now. Some might say before and during the game the Steelers showed immaturity. Instead of staying within themselves and maintaining their personal bearing the Steelers broke down and lost their bearing by acting immature, with late hits and fights; stupid penalties. That is uncharacteristic of the Steelers way of presenting themselves. This should be the easy part for the Steelers to improve themselves.

The Steelers will be back but New England deserved to win. There are about 125 plays in the game where a big play can happen and while Pittsburgh failed to make enough plays New England made a lot of big plays and never stopped passing. New England has mastered the big play and they are the measuring stick for any team to compare themselves to. The Steelers need to start making more big plays, they need to start consistently winning on the road against bad teams and good teams. The next game is home against Jacksonville and then we finish on the road in a short week for a Thursday night at St. Louis and then there are ten days to prepare for the finale, at Baltimore. The Steelers must win those away games. If the Steelers lose those it won’t matter if they get in the playoffs because they won’t advance. The Playoffs are going to be on the road. Certainly the Championship game would be at Foxboro or Indianapolis for the Steelers.

There is no doubt that the Patriots are great. Is it possible the Patriots may have peaked? The Steelers have yet to hit their stride. It would have been nice to see the Steelers have caught up to the Patriots at this point however when the Steelers hit their stride in January, and if and when these teams meet again in the post season, the Steelers will be more equipped to win.

There is some consolation in the fact that we saw the Steelers can run against New England. We also saw that Roethlisberger can pass against New England. The Steelers can maintain a possession and keep Brady off the field. However the fact the Steelers lost the way they did, with Vrabel spending the afternoon in the Steelers backfield, being shut out in the second half are both humbling.

The Steelers Defense are rightly top in many categories. However it is obvious that the Defense has to eliminate the big play against New England and force big plays to happen themselves. The Steelers Defense failed to make any big plays today. If the Defense played today the way they did against familiar Baltimore there would not have been a second half shut out. Next time the Steelers will be more familiar with the 2007 version Patriots. They also know well how they match up against them. The Steelers Offense has the potential to deliver a win next time out against the Patriots. The Steelers Defense can only improve for a second meeting with the Patriots by eliminating the big play and making big plays of their own. The other guys are paid to play well and win too, yet the black and gold pumps through the veins and it makes all rationale go out the window. Big plays equal wins.

The composure and maturity of the Steelers in the face of frustration, the crowd, the Patriots' lipping off is questionable. That part of their game needs to be questioned and simply improved upon right away. Stupid penalties are going to be a killer at the wrong time if people don’t keep their cool. Behaving is the easiest obstacle the Steelers have to overcome. There is certainly pressure to get back on track, now. The Steelers have the toughest part of their schedule as their last four games. The Steelers did not play well at all in the second half today which is the toughest pill to swallow.

Moving on is usually tough. It hurts right now. Moving on from this loss should be very easy when you consider we lost to the best and there is a lot to look forward to. It’s been a great season so far. There is definitely some work to do. The benchmark for success in the AFC is New England. They are the dynasty growing larger the closer they get to undefeated and another potential title. The Steelers will have to beat them if they are going to start growing their own dynasty. That much is clear. New England is the best and the Steelers have the ability to be the best. The quest continues.

 

James Harrison Is Selected AFC Defensive Player For The Month Of November.

December 7, 2007 - Tomorrow the NFL will announce James Harrison has been selected AFC Defensive Player of November.  In four games Harrison posted five and a half sacks, forced six fumbles, one forced fumble, one interception, to go along with nineteen tackles. 

Affectionately known by teammates as "Silverback" James Harrison has wreaked havoc in 2007.  Many feel he has helped the Steelers to improve at the position.  There is a nastiness in Harrison which is finally being noticed.  He has a tendency to separate players from the ball.  Many simply separate the ball from the player while James Harrison does both.  Harrison is noted in articles as a very nice, likeable person.  His mother claims responsibility for his steadfast approach to the game.    Steeler Nation should be very thankful for Mildred Harrison's tactics.  The Steelers' opponents are reaping the fallout for certain.  The whole city hopes it happens this weekend at undefeated New England in Foxboro. 

Pittsburgh is known for letting players go at the optimum time, when their careers are on the downswing.  The majority of players released by the Steelers have not caught on in their new homes they way they did in Pittsburgh.  The Steelers allowed Joey Porter to fly the free agent market, where he landed in Miami for $20 million.  It's an expensive adjustment period that has upset many in Miami.  Porter has been nicked up all year and Zack Thomas just went in Injured Reserve.  Porter sees Jason Taylor play weak side, his old position with Pittsburgh.

Back when the Steelers made it clear Joey Porter would not be staying people questioned the ability of James Harrison to step in.  When the Steelers drafted Linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Lamar Woodley many assumed it was to be a rookie starting on the rush side of the defense to replace Porter.  Others suspected Harrison's time had come.  Those who followed James Harrison's career closely always wished the Steelers had been rotating him into the game over 2004, 2005 and 2006.  There was '04 in Cleveland when Harrison filled in for Porter after he was ejected before the start of the game.  Harrison played admirably and the Steelers did not skip a beat.  He also slammed a Cleveland fan who had run on the field into oblivion.  In '05 he intercepted Brees and hurdled Ladanian Tomlinson in San Diego.  Those were the stages where the nation first took some kind of notice of James Harrison. 

In the words of Bill Cowher, James Harrison has "capitalized on the opportunity and seized it."  In the game against Baltimore on Monday Night, Harrison had the greatest single statistical defensive game of any player since Lawrence Taylor in 1982.  He forced 3 fumbles and had another one overturned by penalty.  He had nine tackles, one assist, three and a half sacks, one interception and a fumble recovery. 

Harrison leads the team in sacks for the season with eight and fumble recoveries with three.  He is second on the team with tackles at sixty five.  James Farrior leads with seventy one.  Look for James Harrison to pad his stats the rest of the way.  I don't remember another season the Steelers had someone so close to the total of tackles that James Farrior has had.  The toughest part of the schedule begins now.  The Steelers need James Harrison to step up as he has all year and then some.  He is a wrecking force to be reckoned with and blows up people even when he is out of position on sheer leverage and strength. 

The remaining schedule of course begins with the New England Patriots this weekend in a game that everyone needs to put on their "A game".  Then comes the only remaining home game, against Jacksonville in a game that figures to be a slug fest.  Following a short week the Steelers fly across the country to St. Louis.  Less time to prepare in the shortened week followed by a long flight to play away is the double whammy.  The Rams game may be the toughest of all.  Then comes the final game, at the Ravens.  Baltimore will be ready and hoping to send the Steelers reeling.  Injuries in this stretch must be avoided if the Steelers are to go far in the playoffs.  A key injury or two could spell disaster.  If James Harrison can repeat as AFC Defensive Player of the Month for December look for the Steelers to be the number two team in the playoffs. 

 

Hello To Steelers Nation From Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

November 25, 2007 - This is coming from Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico. I´ve been here for almost 2 weeks, missed the Steelers - Jets game, (maybe that was better for my blood pressure) I haven´t updated ChrisGossett.com until now from an internet cafe.  I return Wednesday, but I should have the chance to see the Steelers squish the fish tomorrow night.

Just a few thoughts about the Steelers debacle against the Jets. It seems like our team does what many NFL teams do which is elevate or reduce their play to match the opponent. The average NFL game ends with the team that wins doing so by less than a touchdown. On a day when nobody expected last year Cincy and Cleveland both scored over 50 when they played one another. The Steelers can rock and sock ´em as nobody can. As insane as it sounds after losing to the Jets I think the Steelers will beat the Patriots. It will be 2004 all over again when they play the Media´s People.

Well I have to go for now as the wife and son are ready to leave this cafe. God Bless Steelers Nation, the USA and Mexico!

 

Why Did Bryant McFadden Escort Cribbs On His Touchdown Return?

November 12, 2007 - The feeling was reminiscent of a 1993 28-23 loss in Cleveland when Metcalf returned two punts for TDs in a game the Steelers should have won because the special teams were a liability. One big difference though was in 1993 I don't remember thinking someone even could have caught Metcalf nor questioning anyone's focus. Though I didn't like it, I didn't question what I saw.

Bryant McFadden seemed afraid of contact on that ridiculous kickoff return yeseterday when Joshua Cribbs waited for the ball to enter the end zone and at the last moment possible picked up the pig skin to return it from the one. Immediately I thought "good going. Now the Clowns can start inside their own five."

The first man down was Rossum. He slipped in the turf. Arnold Harrison had a shot at Cribbs. He slipped in the turf. Kriewaldt and Anthony Madison had him. They both slipped in the turf. Cribbs has run only five yards, to the Steelers four slips, so far. Carey Davis had his shot and he slipped in the turf at about the eight yard line when he almost looked like Willie Stargell sliding into second. Woodley and Timmons were clean blocked at around the ten. Andre Frazier clean whiffed on the tackle as he had Cribbs high and what looked like would be a hard enough hit to carry Cribbs' momentum out of bounds. Not so. That lanky receiver almost went out of bounds, so close that Tomlin challenged it. Frazier had him. What happened? Wait. It gets worse. At the 30 Reed, like I said before, showed his moxie. He made a better effort than Bryant McFadden at messing the play up. Reed took a shot from #51 from Cleveland! He tried. This is the reason I have said before the Steelers have more moxie than anyone else. Even their kickers have some knocks to deliver and they aren't shy about taking them. Their kickers and their receivers will take your head clean off. That's not something The Media's People can say. Undefeated or not. At about the Steelers 35, McFadden was obviously the last man who would be able to stop Cribbs. Unbelieveably his angle was deliberately away from making contact with Cribbs or anyone else. At the 35 Steve Heiden, a large tight end, was behind McFadden and Cribbs, both. At about the Steelers 40 Heiden noticed McFadden and started to pick up speed, but there is no way he's faster than Bryant McFadden. McFadden is going to put a stop to this lunacy, right? Just wait. At the 50 Cribbs was cutting back behind Heiden and McFadden. Heiden had a radar lock on McFadden. At no time did McFadden try to get in front and slow down the flow of the play. Bryant had 60 yards to do it, 50 minimum. Instead I kept watching him stay out in front of the pack, and I'm going "what are you doing?!?!?" Heiden finally got his hands on McFadden inside the Steelers ten yard line. Had McFadden simply slowed down in front of Cribbs or Heiden, or (Heaven forbid) went for the tackle, William Gay was right behind the play and would have disrupted the return as well. Maybe together their efforts could have made Cleveland one less touchdown on the day.

Not only are we talking about footing that flat out sucked. We should know our field for crying out loud. Not only are we talking about tackling that was non existent. This is why I think they put on pads during a bye week. Not only are we to wonder if James Harrison was suddenly taken off the field for punts. (Hindsight is perfect because it's the factor that makes anyone qualified to scrutinize.)

Now to counter than with the subject of this rant, Bryant McFadden. Now we have to question what's going on in one of our gunner's minds. I have to wonder, "is he afraid of contact?" I see no other explanation for that pathetic display he put on for the last 60 yards of the return. Pathetic is a strong word, but I guarantee you there are men on the Steelers who would have made the tackle or at least an attempt, even with Steve Heiden escorting Cribbs. McFadden showed his speed. He outran the Browns to the end zone. The first person in the end zone was McFadden which I say with all the sarcasm, "wow, that looked really nice, let me tell you." I was impressed by his speed. His family jewels, though, I think he deposited at the door. Where was the toughness? If you want love from the Steeler Nation you can't show your estrogen. Sorry. That was ridiculous. McFadden looked like he put on the wrong uniform. As the last man, and with the lead he took over what was left of the Brown's wedge, he could have been the one to make the tackle, or the last man to try to make the tackle, at the very least. Instead he looked like something less than a man, afraid to try to tackle the returner. I could not believe my eyes. My words were unprintable.

Now with that said, I just have to wonder if Tomlin shouldn't put more starters on the field for Special Teams like he has done and has always mentioned a possibility. Footing was an issue. We should know our field and be ready for our field better than another team. It shouldn't have come down to the last man on that return, by any means. The Browns weren't slipping but the Steelers saw a half dozen fall down like they were on ice on that play. It the footing were true there would be no need to question someone's willingness to rough it up because someone would have made the tackle near the Brown's goal line. The situation wouldn't have presented itself at that time.

Special Teams are so important. Not only are all the endless commercials wrapped around those plays, haha, they determine field position and make the difference between starting every drive on your own 20 and giving your offense the luxury of a short field to work with; wins are easier when special teams are not a liability and the special teams shorten the field by covering returns well.

 

NFL.com Should Accurately List The Steelers # 2 in the AFC, Not # 3

November 12, 2007 - The Steelers are now number 2 in the AFC standings, past Indianapolis. Despite what the NFL's official web site says they must be. The Steelers have lost only one game in the AFC. The Colts have lost two. Though their records are identical at first glance, 7-2, the Colts have lost to New England and San Diego. The Steelers have one loss to the NFC Whisenhunt Cardinals and one loss to the Broncos. The NFL.com website lists the Steelers third, behind the Colts. Their own column that lists conference record clearly says the Steelers are 5-1 in the AFC, while Indy is 4-2. Why do they list the Colts first?

Why did ESPN countdown incorrectly to "Super Bowl 41.5" last week? They counted down to the game as if it had a 1 PM EST kickoff, yet it wasn't until 4:15 that the Media's People kicked off to the Colts.

 

A Night For The Ages - The Greatest Half Of Steelers Football Ever

November 6, 2007 - The game Monday night against the Ravens was easily the most exciting Steelers display I can remember, ever, including the days of those honored last night. James Harrison was obviously the greatest 2007 performer on the field; a fitting attribute to him considering the incredible company he was in with the highly motivating 33 members of the All Time Steelers team looking on. There will never be a gathering of more talented football players ever. Seeing all those men who were my childhood heroes and looking at the current team we field made looking at those uniforms a pleasure. Harrison and Roethlisberger were the obvious current stars of the evening.

James Harrison is the Beast of the East, the West, the North and the South. The man has been on my radar since they picked him up as an undrafted free agent in 2004. Seeing him slam a Cleveland fan in 2004, after filling in for an ejected Porter, was just a preview of hits to come. Hurdling the Chargers while returning an interception in 2005 was just a preview of his ability to leap over, and clear, the highest of expectations. It is no joke that the man from Kent State could be the greatest linebacker in Steelers history, when it's all said and done. Oh, you thought I meant Jack Lambert, the reigning greatest? Fittingly, Harrison is a Kent State product also. The only question I was left with last night was "did Harrison get to chat with Lambert after calling him out for never visiting Kent State?" I'm sure that ice breaker has already taken place and I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that exchange.

His stats were the greatest single game stats since Lawrence Taylor in 1982. When you can cause three fumbles, knock the QB down ten times, get multiple sacks, return INTs, send people flying in every direction on every play, beat double and triple teams with consistency and scare even the viewing audience you just may have the ability to eclipse the best. Even returning the interception he made the man who tackled him hurt badly after landing on him out of bounds. Prediction for the rest of the season? (lick the lips) "Pain." I pity the fool who tries to take on Harrison. Papa don't take no mess! Woodley and Timmons are learning from the best with Haggans and Harrison putting on a clinic of Linebacker play. The future is so bright for the Steelers LBs that you have got to wear shades.

Roethlisberger was simply incredible. I pointed out last week that WR Holmes might just decapitate the Ravens. He was not alone in that every person involved with the passing game stepped up and delivered in a huge way. Having a short field, a full field, neither mattered.

Bradshaw being in the booth for Monday Night Football was so appropriate. Seeing the pristine quality footage of him scorching Denver on MNF in 1979 was priceless. It really took me back, looking live, as it did. Hearing him talk about Howard Cosell was hilarious. I read about that in Man Of Steel, back in the early 80s and each of his books since. His bringing that up was a great moment, and mentioning that it really seems like 30 years almost, now, since his playing days ended reveals his battle within himself is won. Good for you Terry; you deserve all the peace and solace any man could get through recalling his past. Bradshaw always needed to come full circle, first by making up with the fans of Pittsburgh, and finally acknowledging Cosell on MNF just seemed like further, appropriate closure because he was hurt by that moment in 1972. God Bless Terry and the memory of Howard Cosell.

ESPN only dropped the ball once and that was by taking their normal forum to halftime. I didn't want to hear a word about the Patriots, Brady, Notre Dame.... Guys, the greatest team ever assembled was introduced behind you and you had the audacity to stick to your routine? Other than that the coverage was perfect. Cornheiser (sp?) that was the only time I minded "pardon the interruption" because I could have jumped through that TV and pardoned your interuption with your own necktie! But seriously it was nice to see what was over your shoulder and hear the announcer pre-empting your voice so the TV audience would hear. Bill Parcells seemed to have no confidence in Pittsburgh's long term chances this year before the game. What's he saying now? If Ike Taylor loses the stone hands and actually learns to catch the football he is going to be part of history. I've never seen anyone, on any D, get their hands on the ball more. I've also never seen anybody drop the ball more. His play is great, save his stone hands. He's the only Steeler who joined Kornheiser in dropping the ball last night.

So many times last night I got the chills taking it in. Last night was the perfect moment in time to have been at Heinz Field. The ketchup bottle may never see another display so timely, convincing, and utterly impressive as it did last night.

Beware the hair. Polamalu is, along with Harrison, potentially the greatest player on Defense. The hair was almost missed, being pulled up as it was. I almost wonder if that was to somehow respect the older Steelers. Will he wear it normal next week?

Sepulveda is a tackling punter, Ray Guy winner, and he will be a perrenial Pro Bowler the balance of his career. Reed showed some family jewels when he wouldn't take no mess last night. That moxie is indicative of the whole team. Moxie is something the Steelers definitely have the most of, regardless of who is undefeated. Even our kickers are lacking none.

Willie Parker needs only eight more weeks to have had the greatest season by a Steelers RB. Tomlin is not going to run him into the ground until the wheels come off, because he has the best QB - WR connections in the NFL.

Holmes and Ward are not Swann and Stallworth. They're better. Ward is an animal. He's rubbing off on Holmes. Holmes is the speedy acrobat while Ward is the consistency. Put all that together, consistency lay out the members of the defense and see what you're left with; the most impressive tandem ever. How many other tandems could do what they can and flatten you? None.

King Kong has nothing on our O Line and D Lines. Faneca needs to remain a Steeler. Hopefully seeing all the talent last night was incentive for him to stay here the rest of his career. Faneca fits here like a glove. I am so thankful he is here in 2007.

All there is left to say is: thank GOD for technology and the DVR!

 

38-7 Steelers With 35 First Half Points Proves Harrison's Mettle and Roethlisberger's Star Status

November 6, 2007 - Roethlisberger & Harrison. Harrison & Roethlisberger. The Night That The Lights Went Out In Baltimore. Thirty five points in the first half, all through the air. A 38-7 final as retribution for all that was unholy between the Steelers and Ravens in '06. It's easy to speak non-sentences when you see what James Harrison does. He just blows stuff up. Papa takes no mess. He has the mettle of steel.

Big Ben is on pace for 40 touchdowns. That's enough said about it. Steeler Nation has never seen it happen. That's exciting enough. That's star power.

Harrison however had his coming out party and proved what the rest of Steel Nation only knew would be a matter of time and it would be proved on a national stage; James Harrison is a beast. It's about to become as cliche as "it all depends on the spot." It's almost easier to say Harrison had the greatest night of a defensive player, ever, and to forget the five touchdown passes thrown by Roethlisberger. We will digress however. Harrison had nine tackles, three and a half sacks, one interception, he forced three fumbles (four if you count one overturned by penalty) and he had one fumble recovery. That eclipsed Lawrence Taylor's monster game against Detroit in 1982, barely. The one, extra, half sack clinches it. If Hoover Dam were in Pennsylvania it would have to be renamed Harrison Dam.

Two things are for sure. We saw one of the greatest offensive performances of 2007 and one of the greatest defensive performances of 2007, period, including those put forth by the media's people. The media just might have a giant kink in their wish list that comes in the form of Harrison Dam and the chance of the media's people going undefeated.

 

WR Holmes Could Have A Huge Night Vs. Injured McAlister and Ivy

November 2, 2007 - Santonio Holmes, who can fly, is already leading the Steelers in receiving. This week he is facing Chris McAlister who is nursing a right knee that was strained. Corey Ivy is his back up. Santonio Holmes can have potentially have the biggest night of his career. Seeing the Steelers surprise the Ravens like they did all teams in the '05 playoffs with the pass early on could be the way to go. They have to test McAlister early to wage his ability so why not do it the first play of the game?

Holmes could have a big day but the census is the Steelers will run and run it heavy. Bruce Arians has pulicly said he is going to emphasize the run against the Ravens. Last year we know the Ravens dominated the Steelers by a combined score of 58-7 and the Steelers were unable to block, unable to run the ball, pass, tackle, catch interceptions; and everyone assumed it was mental. If it is still we will know by the end of Monday night. There isn't a single area the Steelers won't be looking for improvement over their last games against these same Ravens.

Keeping Roethlisberger safe is paramount to get any kind of passing game to Holmes or anyone going. The line looked like a strainer last year against Baltimore, even in the midst of the 6-2 late season surge. That is concerning. This is not necessarilly the gimme game that everyone seems to think it is. Roethlisberger and his receivers made no positive statement in those game because Ben couldn't plant to pass, much less even set up in the pocket. The line plagued us in the running and passing game last year. Willie Parker had no answers against the Ravens in '06. One true difference between this season and last is the freedom to audible protections to the lineman. The onus is on Ben to recognize the need to change those protections and call them himself. Possibly such a move last year would have kept him off his back so much in those Baltimore games.

Offensive line changes are going to be a factor. Now we have Sean Mahan. Hartings was great but any change in personnel equates to a change of performance, positive or negative. Maybe his involvement will become apparent if the Steelers run for 150 yards, or even win, and the accolades will roll his way. I have to give notice to that distinct possibility since I mention his nodding at the snap in this forum. It's different when it's not the QB controlling the silent snap count. You're going to always have the person snapping it give an obvious, easily discernable sign, "here we go, here it comes, get a head start" just before the snap? That's too obvious. Baltimore will exploit it. I hope it truly is only for silent count purposes but it's still too obvious and easy for the defense to get a nice head start on a play. I kept noting during the Denver game that the Broncos seemed to get a fast start on every play. It was happening because of reading the actions of Mahan. Hopefully this is addressed so it is not so obvious. The addition of Willie Colon in place of Max Starks will have some impact, positive or negative. The line changes can be judged by the final score of this game.

If the running game can do Monday what it couldn't last year we still may see a healthy dose of Roethlisberger to Holmes. Ward is going to be matched up with Samari Rolle who has no lingering ill effects. A big game by Hines Ward is always possible. Some of his most physical play seems to be against Baltimore. Ward is a game breaker. This is Santonio Holmes coming out year though and Monday night he could easily have a majority of Roethlisberger's yards. Holmes dropped a ball or two last year against Baltimore. He probably has a personal agenda of playing better in this game. He will probably get his chance several times Monday.

 

"Experts" who predict Cincinnati over Pittsburgh every year

September 1, 2007 - Every year most "experts" pick the Cincinnati Cell Block to be so good but three of the last four years they have finished with 8 wins, they have played one playoff game and the Steelers killed them in it. Yet, every year, this winless playoff team can't seem to even get to the playoffs. Consistently this Steelers team wins in the playoffs, has won a Super Bowl, and the Bengals, the Cell Block, these criminals, who call themselves "contenders" can only contend for mediocrity, yet every year the prognosticators call them "great". "Ocho Cinco"? Oh, so your number is "eight-five", not "eighty five"? You mean "Ochente Cinco"? The real pronunciation of "eighty five" is "ochente cinco" and not "ocho cinco". Ocho STINKO is more like it.

It seems rather obvious that teams need to first start by winning a post season game before they ever advance further in the playoffs than the divisional round. Take the Chicago Bears for instance. First year in the playoffs, bounced out immediately, second year in the playoffs, they make it to the big game. The Steelers didn't win a Super Bowl their first time in the playoffs. It takes the insight of having been there, failed, having been there, had some success, to finally get there, and taste the ultimate success.

Cincinnati's likely road in the playoffs, were they as good as the experts say should have gone something like this: loss to the Steelers in the divisional round of 2005 playoffs (true), a win in the playoffs in at least a wild card or divisional round of the 2006 playoffs and an eventual loss in the AFC title, then you could start legitimately saying "well this year could be their year, this team has been to the playoffs and knows what it's all about." It seems teams get to the Super Bowl after having had some success and failure in the playoffs. First year teams in the playoffs usually can't get to the Super Bowl.

Last year's Super Bowl winner, the Colts won a wild card game and lost the AFC divisional round in 2004, lost the divisional round in 2005, then won it all in 2006. They had insight - success after repeated failure. They knew how the playoffs went and what it would take to win them because they weren't new to it. Cincinnati has no idea how to win a playoff game. Zero. The Steelers, obviously, do. Go Steelers!

 

 

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