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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Quit whining

The way the Steelers and head coach Bill Cowher were complaining at the end of the game, I thought I had wondered into the Seattle Seahawks locker room rather than Pittsburgh’s after its 41-38 loss to Atlanta.

The Steelers were in quite a state over a false start penalty called on wide receiver Nate Washington at the end of regulation that cost them a shot at a possible game-winning field goal.

“I don’t feel like I moved,” said Washington. “The only thing he could have gotten me on was my upper body. And the last time I checked, that’s not even (the referee’s) call. That’s the side judge’s call. The referee (Ron Winter) called it and he was behind me.”

But Washington definitely appeared to move right before the ball was snapped.

A much more questionable call was the roughing the kicker penalty moments before on Troy Polamalu. Polamalu was lying on the ground when kicker Michael Koenen kind of hopped into him on his follow-through. That not only gave the Falcons another shot at the field goal – one Morten Andersen missed – it cost the Steelers five seconds and five yards they could have used. Had that penalty not been called, Washington’s false start wouldn’t have been a problem.

The bottom line in this one for the Steelers is that they never put the Falcons away when they had the chance.

© On the subject of penalties, why wasn’t one called on Chauncey Davis’ helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger?

Davis will likely draw a fine for a hit that knocked Roethlisberger out of the game and will likely draw him a nice fine from the league.

That’s actually not a bad tradeoff for the Falcons even though Charlie Batch played well in Roethlisberger’s place.

Roethlisberger was on fire in this game, while some of Batch’s good fortune came because of awful coverage and tackling by Atlanta.

© Up 17-7 in the first half with the ball, Roethlisberger’s fumbled snap deep in his own territory changed the momentum.

Not only did the Falcons cash that in for a touchdown, they then pulled off a successful surprise onside kick and scored another touchdown, a 14-point swing.

The Steelers were forced to scramble for another touchdown just to take a 24-21 lead into the half in a game that they were dominating to that point.

The Steelers had given up 28 yards on the ground to the vaunted Atlanta rushing attack and put up nearly 300 yards of offense, yet held just a three-point lead.

Somebody needs to convince these guys it’s OK to hold a team to field goals when they get a turnover inside your territory.

© When they are doing the voting for the Pro Bowl, somebody should show tape of this game to those thinking about voting for Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall. If that’s what passes for a great cover corner these days, then NFL defenses are doomed.

© It seems that Bryant McFadden’s move into the starting lineup in place of Deshea Townsend is now more than just because of injury. McFadden is there to stay.

Townsend played again Sunday as the third corner and was beaten badly by Michael Jenkins for a touchdown.

© One week after Michael Vick was sacked seven times by the Giants, the Steelers got to him just one time.

Some people are down on Joey Porter, but in the two games he’s missed, the Steelers have all of two sacks.

Is it possibly Porter is somebody opposing defenses have to contend with and helps free up other pass rushers?

© Once again that was a tired Pittsburgh defense on the field in the fourth quarter and overtime as Atlanta rushed for 87 yards in the fourth quarter and another 44 in the extra period.

Perhaps it would help if the Steelers could run the ball a little more themselves. Pittsburgh ran the ball 10 times for seven yards in the second half.

And we also saw a backup running back doing some damage late in the game as well. A couple of weeks ago it was San Diego’s Michael Turner dicing up the defense in the fourth quarter after the Steelrs had shut down LaDanian Tomlinson. This week it was Jerrious Norwood gaining 63 yards on seven second-half carries.

That may be the Steelers’ biggest need in this year’s draft – getting a quality running back to pair with Willie Parker.

Yes, it’s not too early to start talking about the draft now that this team is 2-4.

“It just seems like the ball isn’t bouncing our way this season,” said defensive end Brett Keisel. “I still think we have what it takes to do what we did last year. But with this loss, it’s going to be tough.”

That kind of sums things up.

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