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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Post-San Diego thoughts

I'm hoping all those people who wanted to trade Willie Parker this offseason will now officially shut up.

Parker punished the Chargers Sunday for 146 yards on 27 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns.

It was the third-highest rushing total in Steelers' playoff history. And that's a long and storied history.

Parker's finally feeling healthy and confident. He's running decisively and with speed.

All that may change next weekend against Baltimore, but as we've seen over the years, it's tough for any running back to have a lot of success against the Ravens.

© If LaMarr Woodley did hit a wall at some point this season, he crashed through it – and Philip Rivers – Sunday.

Woodley was a force, picking up two sacks, the second of which left Rivers dazed and confused. That was also Woodley covering speedy Darren Sproles out in the flat early in the first quarter, forcing Rivers to throw the ball high.

In two career playoff games, Woodley has four sacks, just in case you were wondering.

© The worry all week long was that the Chargers would handily defeat the Steelers on special teams.

Didn't happen.

In fact, the Steelers handily won the special teams battle, with the much-maligned Mitch Berger more than holding his own against Mike Scifres.

In fact, the Steelers used Scifres propensity to hit booming punts against him on Santonio Holmes' return for a touchdown. Holmes had a nice running start by the time any of the Chargers had gotten downfield.

© The third quarter was the strangest I've seen in 16 years of covering the NFL.

Pittsburgh ran 25 offensive plays compared to one for San Diego.

That just doesn't happen at this level.

© Can't wait for the third Steelers-Ravens matchup. If you like football, this is the game for you.

There doesn't promise to be a lot of offense, but the hitting should be outstanding.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, but the Chargers D isn't that good. If Willie can chew up the Ravens D like Chris Johnson did, then I'll be impressed.

adamg said...

I agree Parker was really finding and hitting the holes and bouncing outside when there was nothing inside. Did we hear Jamal Williams named called this game? Kudos to Justin Hartwig for doing a good job turning him away from the plays.

On a different note, I hope the NFL rules committee decides to take the offensive line holding penalty off the books since the refs aren't inclined to call it anymore. No sense having a rule that's not going to be enforced. And I hope they also reinstitute defensive linemen's ability to deliver a forearm shiver to the OL. Might as well make everything even.

kyle said...

although he did throw a couple bombs yesterday, do you think baltimore is actually going to let the "rookie wonder" do anything in the game? their first series was three runs.

Patrick said...

lets give credit to the Oline. Ben had all day and Parker has lanes. And the coaching was outstanding.

Next week the team that rushes for more yards and has the fewest turnovers wins. You can probbaly say that about a lot of games but it is especially true with these two offenses and defenses.

I think the Steelers will pull it out.

I am shocked that these are the two championship games. Odd way for the playoffs to go this year.

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

This game will be huge in the Steelers Raven rivalry for YEARS to come. We have to win this game. If Ray Ray and that bunch win we will never get revenge for being denied a Super Bowl Birth. There is no coming back from that, at least not for a long time.

Ben said...

I think we can beat the Ravens. I'm fairly confident we'll stop the run and make Flacco throw on us. I don't think that will end well for him.

I am, however, very worried about a Philly-Pittsburgh Super Bowl. Not because I don't think we can win -- though it will be tough, considering how they manhandled us last time -- but because I couldn't bear the backlash of a loss to Philly in the Super Bowl. I'm friends with a lot of Eagles fans, and I would NEVER hear the end of it from them. And I would have no rebuttal. The old "5 rings" comeback would become meaningless.

Anonymous said...

Wow...Steelers/Ravens with the winner going to the Super Bowl? This IS the Super Bowl!

Losing to the Ravens next Sunday would hurt far more than losing the Super Bowl to either Arizona or Philly.

Dale Lolley said...

With McClain banged up, I really like the Steelers. I know he came back into the game, but he was severely limited. That won't cut it against the Steelers.
The Rolle injury is big too, especially since McAllister is already out.
No, Parker's not going to run on the Ravens like Johnson did. The Steelers don't have Tennessee's offensive line. But if he can get 50 to 60 yards on 15 to 20 carries, it will be effective.

Anonymous said...

Dale I have two questions:

Why is there never a holding call for James Harrison? He is held so often I don't get it. Do I not know what holding is?

Why is Colon repeatedly called for illegal formation? Is it so hard to line up correctly?

Anonymous said...

Great seeing all areas of the team play well. The offense was amazing. All it took was for Ben to have some protection for once and for him to get rid of the ball.

You are right Dale. I was one who started questioning Willie late in season-he shut me up.

Keisel was outstanding also. He doesn't get much credit ever, but he is a monster!

Anonymous said...

Ravens haven't had a week off in over 16 weeks. The rook Q.B. is tired along with everyone else on that team. I don't see us loosing this game. It took everything out of the Ravens to last this long. It's time they go home.

Dale Lolley said...

That's the first illegal formation penalty I remember this season for Colon. I could be wrong, but I don't recall another. It's a ticky-tack call. The tackles have to line up with the heads even with the belly of the center. It's called two or three times per season - at least in the games I've seen.

The Flacco bubble bursts this week. For all of the love he's gotten, he's completed 47 percent of his passes in the two playoff games. Yes, he hasn't turned it over, but there's no way a 47 percent completion percentage beats the Steelers.

Anonymous said...

Colon has two that I remember: the one against Baltimore in Baltimore and the one yesterday.

Dale Lolley said...

The question was why is it a repeated problem. Two would hardly be repeatedly. In fact, that used to be a common Marvel Smith penalty.

adamg said...


Don't forget Flacco's 47% completion rate comes from mostly high percentage pass plays, too. It sure looks like he's only asked to make one check down and if not open, to throw the ball away. I've seen more complex offenses in WPIAL high school games.

Jim said...

i hope this is the week harbaugh decides to drop the complex offense on flacco in a desperate move to out coach against the steelers defense. shooting themselves in the foot before the game started would make for a very exciting afccg, just like the san diego game.

Anonymous said...

Hartwig deserves the game ball for manhandling J.Williams all game.

Anonymous said...

Colon has been called for it four times that I can remember. In this article, he himself says he's been called for it eight times

Anonymous said...

What was very interesting was Ben's post game comments saying how they put up 35 points and shut up the critics. Well, where in the heck were the points before? Yes, there were injuries on the Offense and stuff like that. I GET that. However, if Ben bothered to watch the film of the last several games, the criticism was warranted. Sorry , it was.

deljzc said...

I know I'm late on this subject, but the talk to trade Willie Parker is much more complex than Dave's making it out to be.

Parker's in the last year of his contract and is scheduled to make $3.5 million next year. The debate about trading Parker stems from the many scenarios that come out of this situation.

Do the Steelers offer Parker an extension at age 29? What type of money is Parker looking for? Is he looking for top-10 running back money? Top-20? Does he feel the Steelers owe him because he's been underpaid the last three seasons? If the Steelers don't agree to his contract demands, does he hold out? Be a malcontent? Will he play out his deal quietly?

If contract talks do break down, it would be silly for the Steelers not to investigate trade offers. Just like they should have done with Faneca.

Remember, the big extension money this off-season is when we start talking to James Harrison (who's also 30). The assumption Parker is just going to turn into Jerome Bettis 2.0 and start taking mid-level money with little risk to the Steelers might not be a realistic expectation of where talks are headed.

Of course, first we have to win a super bowl.