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Monday, November 13, 2006

Nawlins notes

Ben Roethlisberger is really starting to look like a quarterback on a roll. Even when faced with a blitzer in his face, he threw the ball to a spot where only his receiver would have a chanced to catch it.

I guess he's learned a little something.

© I thought the Steelers had figured out how to solve their punt return problems – never make the opposing team punt. But then Cowher sent Santonio Holmes out to field a couple of punts in the second half.

Was there any doubt that Holmes was calling for a fair catch on both occasions?

© Speaking of returns, Sean Morey was back to return kickoffs with Najeh Davenport.

But, as Cowher related after the game, Morey was only supposed to be blocking for Davenport, who was supposed to handle all of the kick returns. Nothing like having a 190-pound wide receiver blocking for a 250-pound fullback.

Morey ended up handling a couple of kickoffs, though, when the Saints foiled Cowher’s plan by kicking off to him instead of Davenport. After Morey fumbled at the end of his first return - though I thought he was down by contact - I correctly assessed when he took off with his next return that he would simply run out of bounds. He did.

© If not for a blocked field goal by the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers would have found themselves just three games out of first play headed to Cleveland next week.

Oh well.

© Ryan Clark said he was directing traffic in the second half like a crossing guard.

As bad as the Steelers’ pass defense was, especially in the second half when both Deshea Townsend and Troy Polamalu were out, it could have been worse. Had Joe Horn played for the Saints, it surely would have been worse.

The Steelers finally started doubling Marques Colston in the second half and forcing Drew Brees to beat them throwing to the likes of Aaron Stecker, Terrence Copper and Reggie Bush. He nearly did it.

© It’s hard to believe the Steelers had never had a 200-yard rusher under Cowher. In fact, given how much they’ve run the ball over the years, it’s hard to believe they’ve only had three 200-yard rushers – period.

Parker may not scare defenses physically, but teams will certainly look at film of Sunday’s game and make sure their safeties don’t get caught inside like New Orleans’ did.

© In previous years Cowher may have gone to Jerome Bettis in the fourth quarter with a seven-point lead. This year, he was forced to run Parker. There’s some dumb luck for you.

© The Steelers’ kickoff coverage teams included the likes of John Kuhn, Anthony Madison, Ronald Stanley, Marquise Cooper and Anthony Smith.

That should be a hungry group of players.

But it also shows the difference between this year’s coverage units and last year’s since none of those players were on the active roster last season.

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