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

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sorry so late

What a night in Pittsburgh.

Heavy snows that began in the afternoon blanketed the roads and made getting home from the Steelers offices an adventure.

Those of you who have been on the Southside can appreciate the fact it took me nearly two hours to get from the Steelers offices to Greentree hill.

I-79 wasn't much more fun. The roads weren't all that bad and I didn't see a single wreck, but everybody was driving like we were in Washington D.C. and there was an inch of snow on the roads. It was ugly.

© Leaving the Steelers' practice this afternoon, I couldn't help but laugh as a number of the players remarked about the amount of snow falling. Several of them had never really spent much time in the snow.

It's been cold in Pittsburgh this winter, but the snow really hasn't stuck all that well - particularly in the city.

This snow, however, isn't going anywhere and will be there for this weekend's game.

© The Steelers look to have an interesting game plan from what I saw at practice today. Because we agree not to report what we see in terms of plays and such, I can't share it with you, but suffice it to say, it will be interesting if they do some of the stuff they were working on.

Now, maybe they were just taking a look at it live to see what things looked like, but with in a situation with one game for all the marbles, there's no reason to leave any plays in the book unused.

© Troy Polamalu will play Sunday, though he didn't practice Wednesday. Justin Hartwig was the same.

Polamalu, by the way, did not have the flu Sunday against the Chargers as was reported somewhere. Don't know where that one came from.

© As this week wears on, I'm really liking the Steelers more and more in this game. They are very loose and confident.

James Farrior called it a different feeling than, say, 2004, when the team was 15-1 and expected to beat the Patriots.

They expect to win Sunday, but with the majority of this roster having already won a Super Bowl, they know not to look past this game.

They've beaten the Ravens twice and largely shut their offense down doing it. They know if they don't turn the ball over or give up a return or two, they'l beat the Ravens again.

Ravens' coach John Harbaugh, on the other hand, seemed a little uptight when we spoke to him today.


kyle said...

with analysts using every angle they can to fill up time on television and in print i'm surprised i haven't seen more about a rookie coach, two second-year coaches, and andy reid coaching in the championship games. seems interesting enough to mention, at least more interesting than rookie players at skill positions which almost every team has almost every year.

Patrick said...

Dale, this "gameplan" intrigues me, but also worries me. I don't want to see any risks or trick plays that could result in an unncecessary turnover or big losses.

With that said, any chance we see Dixon listed as the #2 QB!? Though I can't see them putting the ball in his hands after he hasn't touched the ball all season and this is the AFC Championship.

I did, however, score an awesome TD with him in Madden against my friend today. Play action roll out from the 15 and ran it into the endzone.

I'm not advocating it for this game or potentially the SB, but I don't know why the Steelers don't use him for some of their bread and butter plays to throw the defense off. I'm confident he can hand the ball off or throw a screen pass. A few of those and then Bam! a trick play one day.

Ok, I'm bored during the championship week, but I'm just saying.....

Dale Lolley said...

No, you won't see Dixon in action on Sunday unless Roethlisberger and Leftwich are injured. Maybe next year.
Dan Rooney really likes Dixon a lot.

Because the Steelers and Ravens are such veteran teams at most positions, it's easy to overlook the coaches. And both coaches have been around the league long enough – and have veteran staffs as well - that it's not like this is their first rodeo.

adamg said...


The Polamalu story came from Colony at 1250.

Anonymous said...

They were expected to beat the Patriots in the 2004 AFCCG? I know I wasn't expecting it back then. I was hoping, but not expecting. Ben struggled late that season, and Pittsburgh was very lucky to beat an ok Jets team in the divisional round. The Patriots were also an injured bunch back when Pittsburgh beat them in the regular season. Their left tackle, Corey Dillon and one of their two wr (Branch?) were out. They were healthy for the AFCCG.

Alex said...

Delete this blog post! The Ravens will see it and know about our Secret Play of Doom!

Chris Hein said...

Thanks as always Dale. You've got my imagination going nuts with possibilities now. Will we finally see Troy flying over the top like he asked Cowher for? (probably not considering he didn't practice)

One discussion I've been having with folks is if Tomlin's getting more involved on the offensive game plans. It seems the last two games have had very different plans then usual. Is Arians just making adjustments late in the game or is Tomlin starting to put his stamp on the offense more like he did on the defense?

Kevin said...

I cant wait to see this interesting gameplan. I hope they dont try to get too cute or fancy. However I would like to see a vertical passing game early to set up the run. Baltimore's secondary isn't great especially with Rolle hurting.

Dale Lolley said...

They were favorites to beat the Patriots. The Steelers were 15-1 and playing at home.
Tomlin has always been involved in the game plans, both offensive and defensive.
Like I said, who knows if they'll do all of the stuff they worked on Wednesday. May have just been looking at it on film from up top.

Anonymous said...

The new wrinkles involve getting Carey Davis more touches. There you go Harbaugh. Work on it because it's coming.

Patrick said...

Dale, I wasn't really 100% serious about the Dixon thing. What I am serious about regarding him is this:

We have to remember that he had a terrible injury in college his last year and one that takes awile to heal. We all love Charlie Batch and we known Byron is good as gone. If Batch doesn't come back, I could seriously see him being our #2.

I do think next year we are going to see him dress as the #2 regardless of Charlie and begin to see the Steelers trickle him into some gadget plays. People can say all they want about his QB ability, but he is a tremendous athlete and if you can make the opposing defense think twice at the line or prepare longer during the week, it only benefits.

I don't think we'll see him like Randle El, lining up in the slot or returning kicks or anything like that. But I do think he will be a talent.

Anonymous said...

How do you think L. Sweed is developing? Are his expecations still high or do you see the light bulb starting to fliker? I don't think Nate will be back and I was just looking in to the near future.
Will we see him returning any kicks? just some questions to pass the time by.

Dale Lolley said...

Sweed isn't a return man. Hasn't ever done it. It's going to be a process with him. I would expect him to make a big jump next season and possibly be ready to contribute a great deal in year 3. I know that's not what people want to hear, but remember the offense he was coming from. He had Vince Young "throwing" the first couple of seasons and then was hurt for most of his last year at Texas.

Batch will be No. 2 next year, but they could do some things with Dixon next year.

Anonymous said...

Last one Dale,
How about the "I" formation in the backfield. Will we see it?

Dale Lolley said...

I would imagine you'll see it. But they don't work on a lot of inside running stuff in practice. Practice is mostly for passing stuff.