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Sunday, September 16, 2007

What we learned, Buffalo

Another week, another butt kicking.

How about that offensive line? What was once thought to be a weak point is now turning out to be a strong one. For the second week in a row, the Steelers dominated the line of scrimmage. And Ben Roethlisberger pretty much had as much time as he wanted to throw the ball.

© Willie Parker was down on himself for missing some holes last week in Cleveland. He looked much more patient this week.

© I saw more than one NFL expert who ranked Ben Roethlisberger below the likes of J.P. Losman and Jay Cutler in their rankings of quarterbacks during the offseaosn. I wonder how they feel about that now?

© Are the Steelers throwing enough to the tight ends for you? I don't want to hear that tired complaint any more.

© I took a peek at the stats from the Miami-Dallas game late in the fourth quarter Sunday. Joey Porter had two tackles, no sacks. Once again, James Harrison outplayed Porter - and Harrison only played the first half.

© Harrison, by the way, will be fine. Word has it he tore his neck collar off in the ambulance at halftime and stormed back out to the field.

© You could tell early in the game that the cornerbacks didn't get much open-field tackling practice last week against Cleveland. Both Deshea Townsend and Ike Taylor whiffed on Marshawn Lynch out in space.

© The Steelers are rotating Anthony Smith in at free safety everry third series. Apparently, they were doing it last week at Cleveland as well, but the Steelers weren't in their base enough to notice.

© The biggest news from Sunday? Jeff Reed made all four of his field goal attempts at Heinz Field. Considering he was 10 of 17 there last season, that's a good start.


datruth4life said...

My thoughts on the game from an end-zone view at Heinz Field:

--There are no better people in the world to watch a game with than the Steelers Nation in Heinz Field. Knowledgeable of the game, passionate about their players but willing to call a gem a gem and a dog a dog. Besides, how many places can you go in this world where you’d find a smoking, hot blonde in a Steelers halter top and mini-skirt yelling before the opening kickoff, "C’mon, Rossum, show me something! Show me why the Steelers brought you here! And you better not fumble!" Beautiful, just beautiful.

--Remember, we are a "developing championship team," regardless of whether the team kicks butt like it has the past two weeks or falls short in the near future. Wouldn’t you rather hear that than Cowher’s cliches of "it’s a fine line" and "it’s not about the final destination, it’s about the journey." Now on to the game.

--This is the identity that Tomlin wants for the 2007 Steelers: a diverse offense that uses the pass to get on top of opponents and the run to bury them; a defense that dictates the game instead of playing counter-puncher to an offense and an opportunistic special teams that will make big plays as well as consistently put the offense and defense in good field position to, as Tomlin says, "do what we do."

--For those of you who says this is the same old special teams for the Steelers, you need to have seen Terrence McGee, the Bills all-pro kickoff returner, in person. He was that GOOD! He has out of this world quicks and is as slippery as soap without the rope. Yes, would like to have the type of special teams that can still keep the McGees and Devin Hester’s of the world under lock and key. However, sometimes you get the bear and other times ... you know what I’m saying.

--Would you guys be surprised if I told you the player who had the highest kickoff return average for the game wasn’t McGee. That’s right. It was your new toy and Tomlin’s handpicked returner, Allen Rossum. Even if Rossum didn’t take one to the house this week (he will in the future), he did keep McGee from doing just that on one of his returns in the second half. That’s what speed can do for you, turn short gains into long gains and turn potential touchdowns into just large gains. Be glad that we have plenty of it on all 3 phases.

--I’d take a Big Ben throwing for 5 TDS, 1 Int. in his first two games, both being two wins. The fact that he has done this and hasn’t been particularly sharp during the first two games is a good sign as well. However, there are some things that you can see with his game that could hurt him and the team in the future. Ben, when scrambling, is developing a habit of throwing late over the middle trying to make a play. Ben, with this defense, there is no need to take that chance 95 percent of the time. If it isn’t there, just throw it away and live for the next play. You can’t regularly get away with that with the elite defenses. The only sack of Ben today came after he held the ball for 7 seconds and refused to throw it away. Remember Ben, if it’s not there, it might be on the next play. Just get rid of it.

--Now the good news on Ben. He’s BAAAAAACCCCKKKKKK!!!!!!!! And he has plenty of toys to play with. Those who don’t like the use of three tight ends during the game and the use of Carey Davis as FB and the third down back will when the Steelers start to play the better teams. Willie won’t be as effective against the New England’s and the San Diego’s of the world, and the offense’s ability to go to other options will give it a chance to be successful. Under Cowher, if the other team stopped the running game, it was pretty much game over.

--Boy, our defense is a mutha. Not one time today did they use their Big, eerr "Fat" package, with the DL consisting of Smith, Hoke, Hampton, and Kiesel. Their plan today was to turn the OLBs loose. J. Harrison dominated from his position and against what many have said is a developing "young star" at the LT position, Jason Peters. Well, if Peters is a star, then Harrison wasn’t starstruck. Instead, he gave Peters the business and struck the star in the mouth. Let’s hope that he will be back soon from his injury.

--I like Ike. I really do. Lee Evans doesn’t though. Yeah, Ike had some help on some plays, but he also played Evans straight up on a lot of snaps as well. To hold one of the most explosive WRs in the league to 2 catches and 17 years is the type of stuff that gets you a trip across the water. He just need to keep playing that way and hang on to a few more balls this year. By the way, those 2 personal foul penalties by Evans back to back at the end of the game is something that would have happened on last year’s team, but it won’t happen under Tomlin’s watch this year. You can bank on that.

--One person told me during player introductions at the stadium that no. 77 for the Steelers ran out of the tunnel "like he was going to hurt somebody." And that is just what he did. He put the hurt on pro bowl RDE Aaron Schobel of the Bills the whole game. Yes, Schobel had a sack, but chalk that up to Ben holding on to the ball for 7 seconds and still trying to make a play instead of getting rid of it. This is the one player that, if he goes down, could have the biggest impact on the team.

--You don’t believe me. OK, well, if Ben goes down, you got Batch. If Willie goes down, you got Davenport, C. Davis and Gary Rusell. If Hines goes down, you still got Santonio, Heath Miller, Washington, Wilson and W. Reid to play the slot. If Smith goes down, you got Max Starks and Trai Essex. Enough to make you choke on our Cheerios, isn’t it?

--If Woodley started at LOLB for the rest of the year, you can mark him down for 10 sacks and a second place finish to Patrick Willis of San Franciso for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Haggans is playing well, but it won’t be long before Woodley will make the transformation from man rookie to BEAST.

--Poluszny is one of many good young players on the Bills squad along with Lynch, McGee, Evans, Parrish and Haggans. The young player that the Bills need to be the best of this group to really do anything as a team is Losman. He was the difference between this being a more competitive game. If Losman was more accurate and the Bills had a dependable tight end, they could have picked up some yardage in chunks.

--And if pigs could fly and I was rich, I’d be dating Alicia Keys and Tom Brady’s girlfriend from Brazile.

--Remember I told you guys this past week that Clevelands QB Anderson wasn’t really that bad? Well, now Cincinatti knows it, too. In fact, I called a friend of mine on Saturday night who is a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan to let him know that the Browns would upset the Bengals. How did I know this, you ask? Cleveland isn’t as bad as they looked and the Bengals aren’t as good as they looked against the Ravens. Take one team that is tired of hearing how terrible it is and take the other who was suffering from a case of "Big Head Disease" and you get this edible dish: Upset City with a taste of Crow on the side. Now the Bengals will hear all week about how terrible its defense is.

--The Bills aren’t a terrible team. They either need a better quarterback or for Losman to play better and get some more playmakers at TE, WR, DT, DB. Two starters were hurt and out of the game in their secondary, so that didn’t help their defense one bit. You have to give them credit for bending and bending in the first half but not breaking.

--Would some of you guys still rather have Tony Hunt instead of the combination of Spaeth and Russell?

--Did I tell you before that Dick LeBeau really is a genuis? Buffalo prepared all week for the Steelers "Big/Fat" package and the Steelers didn’t even use it once and instead turned loose the LBs. As the characters say on the Guinness Beer commercial, "Brilliant! Just Brilliant!"

--Alex Smith from San Fran, the next victim on LeBeau’s plate, is Losman with less accuracy and happier feet. The battle between 49ers DB Nate Clements and Hines next week will be worth the price of admission itself.

--How do you like this for balance: 34 passes, 33 runs? Well, I don’t. I’d rather see 20 passes and 45 runs. You know what those second set of numbers would represent? About 130 yards, 2 TDS for Fast Willie and 200 yards, 3 TDS a game for Ben. Oh, and a Big FAT W. Win Baby, Just Wins. That’s all I want.

--This OL is truly a work in progress. Mahan still misses too many blocks, Faneca isn’t the player he once was and this line won’t blow many teams off the ball this year. However, Smith and Colon can protect the edges fairly well and give Ben a chance in the pocket. Starks was a sieve unto himself on the right side this past year.

--If I was Larry Foote, I don’t know if I’d be making extensive plans for that ILB position next year. The more the game slows down for Timmons, then the faster he will be in the lineup taking Foote’s spot. Why? Because the Steelers would have two ILBs with Farrior and Timmons who would never have to come off the field. Both can blitz, cover, and rush and play well in space. Just think of the magic that LeBeau can cook up with that 4-2-5 package that he could throw against Carson Palmer and Tom Brady and the like.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that would have made that game better would have been for Mike Tomlin to wear a zoot suit for the retro theme.

adamg said...

Personally, I'd rather have Tony Hunt than Spaeth. We'd have gotten Russell anyway as UFA.

Woodley looked very good. He made a really nice tackle on Buff's RB that stopped a TD.

The biggest disappointment was coming away with FGs instead of TDs four times. That won't win games against top flight opponents.

Stillexile said...

The four redzone FG's were slightly worrisome, although points are always welcome. I'm sure Tomlin will make redzone offense a priority this week in practice.

1) The receivers holding onto the ball. Fewer drops than last week is a trend that needs to continue. Nate, however, worries me sometimes. One play, he drops the gimme pass. Next play, he makes a leaping grab reminiscent of vintage Randy Moss... will the real Nate please stand up? Not insulting Nate here, as he's our best option at #3.

2) Deshea- keep showing us how you're keeping B Mac on the bench. He may not be the fastest or biggest CB, but he's certainly our smartest. That INT was a thing of beauty. Here's hoping B Mac is learning all he can from the vet.

3)O-line- I was mainly watching Mahan after the few problems he had with Mount Washington last week. I came away impressed with the unit as a whole, as he was continually getting to the second level to Poz's dismay on a few plays. It was nice to see the LOS 3-4 yards on the Buffalo side for most of the game, and they should only get better as they get more reps together.

4)Special teams- Rossum, I thank you for keeping me mostly sober during games. It's nice to know the ball will be fielded cleanly.... and TD saving tackles help a lot. Reed- Whatever you did in the offseason, keep it up.

5) I'm begining to see why the Rooney's like a grass field. Get it wet enough and those dangerous returners lose traction. Of course, it hurts FWP's cutting ability, but it helps special teams immensely.

1) Big Snack's rump claiming it's first victim. Now that Harrison's ok, we can laugh about it though.... especially with Woodley as an adequate replacement.

2) Ben- He had an overall good game, but a few of those throws made me wonder.... The lob to Krieder in the flat being the worst, as Ben should know a man that big isn't diving for anything. A little more focus, and that's a TD as no one was near Krieder.

Overall, nice game. 5-0 at the bye is definitely possible and will do wonders for our playoff chances. Especially if the Bungles and Ravens keep up their current mediocrity.

rocket9 said...

Hey, some great comments..anyone care to break down Polamulu over 2 games? I have the games recorded and haven't had a chance to watch yet.. stupid job! wink

Dale Lolley said...

I would disagree that Washington dropped a gimmee. That pass was deflected, which changed its trajectory. A catchable pass? Yes. A gimmee? Not so fast.

Had they drafted Tony Hunt, I doubt Russell signs here. He had other options.

I think Polamalu has played pretty well. He's flying around the field like a madman, though Buffalo did a good job of blocking him.

Stillexile said...

Dale- guess I'm just spoiled that way.... it was certainly an easier catch than the one he hauled in right after...

As for Polamalu, you have to look beyond the stats. He may not be picking balls off or tackling everything that moves, but he is doing his part very well. When we come up against better offenses, I expect him to get his name called a bit more often.