Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Monday, December 01, 2008

Post-New England thoughts

OK, so maybe the Steelers can run the football.

They just need to stick with it as they did Sunday in the rain. Of course it took them a half to figure that out.

After dropping back to pass 19 times in the first half - with 14 runs - the Steelers had Ben Roethlisberger drop back 14 times in the second half, with 20 runs.

As Willie Parker told me after the victory, that's Steelers football.

Those 20 second-half carries netted 121 yards as Parker ripped off a 31-yard run and Mewelde Moore had a 20-yard carry.

The two alternated possessions, wearing the Patriots down.

Parker told me after the game he didn't know that was the plan going into the game, but was OK with it since he's still not 100 percent. He certainly looked good Sunday.

© Some credit has to go to the offensive line, which allowed just one sack in addition to opening holes for 161 yards on the ground.

And that sack came on a corner blitz that, had Roethlisberger picked up a second earlier, would have gone for a nice gain to Nate Washington, who was standing in the flat by himself after the blitz.

© That was a vicious hit Ryan Clark put on Wes Welker and he's probably going to draw a fine. But it was a hit that needed to be made.

Clark left his feet on the play, otherwise it would have been perfectly legal. Brutal, but legal.

© I've said it before and I'll say it again: James Harrison is the best defensive player in the NFL.

That was an All-Pro left tackle he was beating like a red-headed stepchild Sunday in Matt Light.

I think Light is overrated - always have - but his resume says he should be able to handle Harrison. He couldn't.

© The Steelers special teams coverage teams are outstanding and make up for some return problems - though that phase is starting to come around as well.

© Don't be too hard on Lawrence Timmons for running out of gas on his 89-yard interception return.

Remember, he started in the middle of the field, sprinted into the flat to pick off the pass intended for Kevin Faulk and kept on sprinting until he got to about the New England 20, where he slowed down.

He probably ran about 110 yards on the entire return after running around for an entire game.

© Timmons had a blitz earlier in the game where he came from the outside and crushed Matt Cassel just after he released the ball. Cassel gave Timmons a look like, "what the hell was that?" Timmons hit him hard.


Patrick said...

I feel like I'm repeating myself from week's prior, but here goes.

Great win, GREAT WIN and Tomlin and staff deserve much credit. But let's be honest, NE left a lot on that field. Moss dropped a lot of key balls (as did the Steelers) and it is a credit to the Steeler that they took advantage of the opportunities.

The o-line was good and have been steadily improving. If that continues, and the D stays constant, the sky is the limit for this team

I said after last game, Ben needs to watch those short throws with no heat because there will be picks. I realize he was aiming to lob one over Vrabel's head, but still, throwing lobs from less than 7 yards is playing with fire. But overall Ben was great and his stats don't show it due to his improvs, throwing passes away and some drops.

Santonio had a few nice plays, but overall he still isn't finishing plays and going at 100%. It actually reminds me of Burress when he played with the Steelers, which is scary considering the current situation he is in and Holmes incident earlier this year.

kyle said...

That was a great defensive game all around. If they hand DMVP to Haynesworth or Ware I'll be up in arms. The Steelers have two legitimate candidates in Polamalu and Harrison and an almost in Woodley.

Two things, was it just the times I noticed it or was Woodley using the spin move constantly? If he started outside and tried to come back in it seemed like he only tried the spin. oh well. still added another sack.
And in the return game, I like Carey Davis' effort as a player but I'll be damned if he should take a kickoff back. they should have a standing order for him to lob it to russell. the risk is worth the extra 20 yards russell can gain.

Patrick said...

oh also, Dale, is there a record for Forced Fumbles in a season?

Harrison has to be approaching it, his technique is perfect. For those kids (or coaches at home) that is how it should be taught.

adamg said...

Dale, I couldn't agree more about Matt Light. There must be a serious dearth of quality LTs for him to be an All-Pro. He's flat out awful and was beat like a drum againt the NYG in the SB, too. Light could be the single biggest reason Brady gets rid of the ball so fast. Anyway, a great win by the Steelers. Priceless seeing
Belichek's sour face in his postgame comments.

I thought the OL played very well and, honestly, think they may be gelling as a group. IMO, the second half showed the mentality the OL gets when they run the ball
as it improves all aspects of OL play.

I think a big turning point in the game was Hampton's sack on Cassel after the flag for holding. You could see he was going to make someone pay for that and he gobbled up Coppin, then Cassel on the next play. That put NE out of FG range instead of giving up pts and perhaps letting the Pats back in the game.

Roger said...

Re: Timmons intereception return.

Who was the Steeler that gave up on this block inside the 10 yard line? Somebody had a clear shot to take out the last tackler to get to Timmons, but was too ready to celebrate a touchdown rather than do his job. I don't think this action, or lack thereof, was shown on replay.

adamg said...

Timmons had no less then 3 of his own teammates make it down the field to screen/block would be tacklers. Timmons clearly either slowed down on his own or ran out of gas. I'm pretty sure his defensive mates will be busting his chops for a long time that a 22 year old couldn't run 100 yds without being caught from behind.

Anonymous said...

Great game. One concern of mine, we seem to start very slow out the gate. I hope this will turn around very soon. I was also a little worried when I say Ed hauckamuscle was going to be our Ump. But I didn't see any unoffical penelties. So that's a very good sign.
Dale do you think B-Mac will be back for the dallas game? I think we will need him, for this one.

Dale Lolley said...

I do think McFadden will be back next weekend.
I didn't write down a number on the blockers out in front of Timmons.
Casey was very hot after the holding penalty, which is understandable for a guy who has to wade through two players on a regular basis and was getting doubled on that play.
The Steelers have a list for fumble recoveries, but nothing for forced fumbles.
Greg Lloyd was very good at it. I'll have to try to find that out.

Patrick said...

from my understanding, if Steelers win next 2 they win the division, is that correct Dale?

It would sure be nice to wrap that up with 2 game left

Anonymous said...

Dale, the Steelers must have a list for forced fumbles since they keep the statistics in the "Gamebook" that is published after each game on the Steelers' official website.

Anonymous said...

I believe you are right Patrick. If the Steelers win the next two games (vs Dal, at Bal) the worst the Steelers could be is 11-5. If the Ravens won every game but the game against us they would be 11-5. With 2 wins against the Ravens the tie-breaker and the division would be for the Steelers.

P Cos said...


Was Fernando Bryant inactive yesterday? I didn't see him out there.

Dale Lolley said...

Bryant was not active.
They do keep track of fumbles forced in every game and for season stats, but they only list fumbles recovered in their media guide on a yearly basis.
Mind you, they used to have a lot more fumbles in the old days.
The Steelers recovered 24 of 42 fumbles against them in 1976. The Steelers fumbled 47 times in 1979.

rocket9 said...

It was a great win but NE is not a playoff level team. Not trying to douse the enthusiasm or anything but the Pats are well past their prime on D and the O-line is borderline at best, IMO. The Giants figured them out last year even before the SB.

The Cowboys are a much tougher test. They have the talent level to win a SB this year and got their mojo back with Romo's return. That's going to be a much stiffer test than the Patriots. As will be the Ravens and Titans..geez..I'm enjoying the ride but talk about a tough nut schedule!

Anonymous said...

BMac will only play next week if Drew Rosenhaus lets him.

Pistol said...


i know this is OT but i was just wondering about the progress of Mendenhall/Humpal. I know Mendy figures in next year but with the play of Bailey and Fox on ST is Humpal a goner???

Thanks again

Dale Lolley said...

Mendenhall will be fine. He's healing nicely. Humpal's already gone. They never brought him back.

Anonymous said...

I thought they cut Humpal injured. And when he cleared waivers, they picked him back up and put him on IR. Has he not been around the facility rehabbing?

fleabus said...

Rocket9 I think you maybe drank the ESPN kool aid with regard to Dallas being SB contenders.

I refuse to believe the hype on a team that hasn't won a playoff game in 12 years.

Dale Lolley said...

Humpal was never re-signed. They had the option of doing that but did not. He was never healthy enough to show anything.
I agree with fleabus. Dallas has to win a playoff game before they can be considered a Super Bowl contender. I don't even see them making the playoffs this year. They'll be lucky to finish 10-6.

Pistol said...


One last OT question. How do u see the offseason playing out? Ed thinks they will sign a few oline and maybe a dline.

BTW i think the Oline is playng as good as they have all season and are really starting to gel!!

Anonymous said... lists Humpal on IR:

Dale Lolley said...

Gee, Ed's going out on a limb. I prefer to get through this season before thinking about who they'll sign in the offseason.
As for Humpal, he has not been around at all. He was placed on the release/IR list with Mundy. Mundy was re-signed to the practice squad when he was healthy.
Humpal had a hamstring. I would assume he's healthy now, but they never brought him back. They just retain his rights.