FanPost

Steelers at the Midway Point: Deja Vu...But Which One?



STEELERS AT MID-SEASON: DEJA VU? BUT WHICH ONE?

These 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers and their coach, Mike Tomlin, are in familiar territory. In this, his 4th season at the helm of the Black & Gold, Tomlin finds his charges with a record of 6 wins, 2 losses. For the 4th consecutive year, his team has reached the season’s midpoint with a victory on Monday Night football. But which path will this squad follow as it seeks the historic franchise’s 7th Lombardi Trophy? In 2007, after beating the Baltimore Ravens at home in a Monday Night deluge, the Steelers won again the following week, before dropping four of their final seven contests and then being ousted in the first round of the NFL’s post-season tournament. In each of the past two seasons, the Steelers won a Monday night road game to complete the season’s first half, only to lose at home the following Sunday. The ’08 squad, of course, went on to win Super Bowl XLIII. But it was the ’09 edition that showed so much promise, seeming to be a team clearly on the rise, having won their 5th game consecutively, and having beaten a previously undefeated Minnesota Vikings team, and their hot quarterback, Brett Favre, then going west and dropping the hammer on a once-beaten Denver Broncos squad. They returned home to face the Bengals and so began a season-killing five-game losing streak.

Last year’s 28-10 thumping of the Denver Broncos at Mile High and the previous year’s Election Night Eve, 23-6 massacre of the Redskins, on a night noted for the invasion of FedEx Field by Steeler Nation, seemed to be repeating itself last night at Paul Brown Stadium as the Steelers opened a 27-7 margin on the bedraggled Bengals at the opening of the 4th quarter. After Antwaan Randle El’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace, we were reminded of the words of former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter to the Bengals faithful during the 2005 Wild Card Playoff, in a game that also featured a gadget play for a touchdown involving Randle El. “Y’all make me tired,” Peezy called to those tiger stripes remaining in the crowd, “tired of kickin’ y’all asses.” These Bengals, last night though, fought back, and with some assistance from Steelers’ miscues, fell but 12 yards short of an unprecedented comeback victory.

Game notes:
*Apropos for James Harrison to seal the victory by separating man (rookie receiver Jordan Shipley) from ball at the two-yard line to end the game, with his nemesis, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in the stands.
*Was anyone else worried that Goodell himself would enter the field and flag Troy Polamalu for hitting too hard on the pass to Terrell Owens that brought the ball to the Steelers 17 on that final drive?
*Steelers played a fair amount of four-man fronts last night, with both Casey Hampton and Chris Hoke inside simultaneously. Fat Casey was also paired with either Ziggy Hood or Nick Eason as Brett Kiesel’s hammy was seemingly not up to the task.
*Steelers seemed to go with their nickel package for just about the game’s entirety, and the Bengals weren’t able to make them pay on the ground, limited to 54 yards on 18 Cedric Benson carries. It seemed that William Gay was on the field for most defensive snaps. Gay, although beaten for the Bengals’ initial touchdown, singled up on Owens, has acquitted himself well throughout the year, covering and tackling well, making his presence known on blitz packages, and last night also contributing a blocked punt.
*Jeff Reed: I’ve had the kicker’s back throughout, but must now cede that Skippy, formerly aptly described by his coach with the phrase, “You can’t freeze a psychopath,” is no longer money. All was seemingly well when Reed nailed a 53-yarder to close out the half, but he then missed a 46-yarder late that would have iced the game, setting up the theatrics of the game’s final minutes. Some thought the Steelers should have been passing on 3rd & 6 from the Cinci 29 with four minutes remaining. But all too often, the Steelers have ceded solid field goal range via a 3rd down sack, and one can understand the coach’s confidence in his kicker given his previous connection from long-range. The best we can say is that on this night, Reed at least made two more kicks, and missed one less, than his counterpart on the Bengals’ sideline. Before we embark on vigilante justice, tar & feather Reed and send him on the first boxcar out of Pittsburgh, let’s ask ourselves who else would be brought in. Kris Brown might be looking for work again, once Nate Kaeding heals in San Diego Do we want to go there again? Brownie was last seen missing a last-second kick with the game on the line against the Patriots. No, Skippy’s our kicker for this season. We’ll simply need to sweat out every big kick.
*Speaking of the 3rd & 6 call, it seemed like Rashard Mendenhall was looking for a break, but guess what, there were no healthy backs to replace him, as both Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman had gone down with injuries. Instead, a tired Mendy was called upon to tote the rock for the 7th play in a row.
*For our weekly exercise in second-guessing game management, what about the final drive of the first half, ending, fortunately, with Reed’s 53-yarder? Taking over after the Bengals’ missed field goal, on their own 41-yard line, with 45 seconds remaining and two time-outs in their pocket, Roethlisberger hit Wallace with a 24-yarder to the Bengals’ 35, but rather than expend a timeout with about 35 seconds left, the Steelers squandered 11 seconds, and a down, by spiking the ball. After a pair of incompletions, the Steelers faced 4th down, and still were holding the pair of timeouts.
*And, any thoughts on altering the book that NFL coaches consult which emphasizes that they not chase points. Is there not an argument to be made for attempting a two-point conversion after the final Steelers touchdown gave them a lead of 26-7, which if successful, would have extended the margin to 21 points? I understand the arguments against it. If unsuccessful, the 19-point lead could be overcome with a pair of touchdowns, a pair of two-point conversions, and a field goal. If unsuccessful, perhaps an eventual 26-21 lead could not have become a safe two-score game had Reed made his 46-yard attempt. But if successful, we may have avoided some wear & tear on our respective hearts, knowing that a Bengals touchdown in the final minute would have tied the game, not defeated our beloved Steelers. That said, I know that book’s not undergoing a revision any time soon.
*Anyone still wandering why Antwaan Randle El gets a hat? Boy still throws a nice ball; doesn’t he?

Going Forward:
There are some notable differences between this 6-2 mark at the midway point and those of the past seasons previously noted.
*Steelers have reached this point in the season minus their two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback for half the schedule thus far.
*Steelers are 6-2 while playing only 3 games in the friendly confines of Heinz Field.
*Steelers have successfully completed a difficult, and rare, three-game road trip by taking two of three, the lone loss being of the less critical non-conference variety.

Now the task is to reverse the ominous trend, extending back to 2005, of having followed up their previous five Monday Night road affairs, with losses at home the following Sunday.

The New England Patriots are 6-2, but most recently suffered a pounding at the hands of the Cleveland Browns on the shores of Lake Erie, and hopefully the Steelers offense can lay a similar ass-whipping on the young Patriots defense. Offensively for the Patriots, guess what? It seems that they miss Randy Moss. Now his dear friend Cris Carter had two criticisms of his former protégé, one being his treatment of the Vikings buffet provider, the other being Moss’s lack of effort while being double-teamed. However, even if Moss, he of the “I play when I want to” quip isn’t going full-speed, the opponent is still deploying two players to cover him. Suffering without this downfield threat is Patriots receiver Wes Welker. He didn’t seem to miss Moss in the first game post-Randy, but in the last three games, Welker has caught a total of 11 balls for 85 yards, having been targeted 17 times by quarterback Tom Brady. Contrast this to the season’s first five games, where Welker was targeted 45 times and accrued 33 catches.

Sunday Night: Steelers-Patriots. Should be a doozie to begin the season’s 2nd half.

STEELERS AT MID-SEASON: DEJA VU? BUT WHICH ONE?

These 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers and their coach, Mike Tomlin, are in familiar territory. In this, his 4th season at the helm of the Black & Gold, Tomlin finds his charges with a record of 6 wins, 2 losses. For the 4th consecutive year, his team has reached the season’s midpoint with a victory on Monday Night football. But which path will this squad follow as it seeks the historic franchise’s 7th Lombardi Trophy? In 2007, after beating the Baltimore Ravens at home in a Monday Night deluge, the Steelers won again the following week, before dropping four of their final seven contests and then being ousted in the first round of the NFL’s post-season tournament. In each of the past two seasons, the Steelers won a Monday night road game to complete the season’s first half, only to lose at home the following Sunday. The ’08 squad, of course, went on to win Super Bowl XLIII. But it was the ’09 edition that showed so much promise, seeming to be a team clearly on the rise, having won their 5th game consecutively, and having beaten a previously undefeated Minnesota Vikings team, and their hot quarterback, Brett Favre, then going west and dropping the hammer on a once-beaten Denver Broncos squad. They returned home to face the Bengals and so began a season-killing five-game losing streak.

Last year’s 28-10 thumping of the Denver Broncos at Mile High and the previous year’s Election Night Eve, 23-6 massacre of the Redskins, on a night noted for the invasion of FedEx Field by Steeler Nation, seemed to be repeating itself last night at Paul Brown Stadium as the Steelers opened a 27-7 margin on the bedraggled Bengals at the opening of the 4th quarter. After Antwaan Randle El’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace, we were reminded of the words of former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter to the Bengals faithful during the 2005 Wild Card Playoff, in a game that also featured a gadget play for a touchdown involving Randle El. “Y’all make me tired,” Peezy called to those tiger stripes remaining in the crowd, “tired of kickin’ y’all asses.” These Bengals, last night though, fought back, and with some assistance from Steelers’ miscues, fell but 12 yards short of an unprecedented comeback victory.

Game notes:
*Apropos for James Harrison to seal the victory by separating man (rookie receiver Jordan Shipley) from ball at the two-yard line to end the game, with his nemesis, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in the stands.
*Was anyone else worried that Goodell himself would enter the field and flag Troy Polamalu for hitting too hard on the pass to Terrell Owens that brought the ball to the Steelers 17 on that final drive?
*Steelers played a fair amount of four-man fronts last night, with both Casey Hampton and Chris Hoke inside simultaneously. Fat Casey was also paired with either Ziggy Hood or Nick Eason as Brett Kiesel’s hammy was seemingly not up to the task.
*Steelers seemed to go with their nickel package for just about the game’s entirety, and the Bengals weren’t able to make them pay on the ground, limited to 54 yards on 18 Cedric Benson carries. It seemed that William Gay was on the field for most defensive snaps. Gay, although beaten for the Bengals’ initial touchdown, singled up on Owens, has acquitted himself well throughout the year, covering and tackling well, making his presence known on blitz packages, and last night also contributing a blocked punt.
*Jeff Reed: I’ve had the kicker’s back throughout, but must now cede that Skippy, formerly aptly described by his coach with the phrase, “You can’t freeze a psychopath,” is no longer money. All was seemingly well when Reed nailed a 53-yarder to close out the half, but he then missed a 46-yarder late that would have iced the game, setting up the theatrics of the game’s final minutes. Some thought the Steelers should have been passing on 3rd & 6 from the Cinci 29 with four minutes remaining. But all too often, the Steelers have ceded solid field goal range via a 3rd down sack, and one can understand the coach’s confidence in his kicker given his previous connection from long-range. The best we can say is that on this night, Reed at least made two more kicks, and missed one less, than his counterpart on the Bengals’ sideline. Before we embark on vigilante justice, tar & feather Reed and send him on the first boxcar out of Pittsburgh, let’s ask ourselves who else would be brought in. Kris Brown might be looking for work again, once Nate Kaeding heals in San Diego Do we want to go there again? Brownie was last seen missing a last-second kick with the game on the line against the Patriots. No, Skippy’s our kicker for this season. We’ll simply need to sweat out every big kick.
*Speaking of the 3rd & 6 call, it seemed like Rashard Mendenhall was looking for a break, but guess what, there were no healthy backs to replace him, as both Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman had gone down with injuries. Instead, a tired Mendy was called upon to tote the rock for the 7th play in a row.
*For our weekly exercise in second-guessing game management, what about the final drive of the first half, ending, fortunately, with Reed’s 53-yarder? Taking over after the Bengals’ missed field goal, on their own 41-yard line, with 45 seconds remaining and two time-outs in their pocket, Roethlisberger hit Wallace with a 24-yarder to the Bengals’ 35, but rather than expend a timeout with about 35 seconds left, the Steelers squandered 11 seconds, and a down, by spiking the ball. After a pair of incompletions, the Steelers faced 4th down, and still were holding the pair of timeouts.
*And, any thoughts on altering the book that NFL coaches consult which emphasizes that they not chase points. Is there not an argument to be made for attempting a two-point conversion after the final Steelers touchdown gave them a lead of 26-7, which if successful, would have extended the margin to 21 points? I understand the arguments against it. If unsuccessful, the 19-point lead could be overcome with a pair of touchdowns, a pair of two-point conversions, and a field goal. If unsuccessful, perhaps an eventual 26-21 lead could not have become a safe two-score game had Reed made his 46-yard attempt. But if successful, we may have avoided some wear & tear on our respective hearts, knowing that a Bengals touchdown in the final minute would have tied the game, not defeated our beloved Steelers. That said, I know that book’s not undergoing a revision any time soon.
*Anyone still wandering why Antwaan Randle El gets a hat? Boy still throws a nice ball; doesn’t he?

Going Forward:
There are some notable differences between this 6-2 mark at the midway point and those of the past seasons previously noted.
*Steelers have reached this point in the season minus their two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback for half the schedule thus far.
*Steelers are 6-2 while playing only 3 games in the friendly confines of Heinz Field.
*Steelers have successfully completed a difficult, and rare, three-game road trip by taking two of three, the lone loss being of the less critical non-conference variety.

Now the task is to reverse the ominous trend, extending back to 2005, of having followed up their previous five Monday Night road affairs, with losses at home the following Sunday.

The New England Patriots are 6-2, but most recently suffered a pounding at the hands of the Cleveland Browns on the shores of Lake Erie, and hopefully the Steelers offense can lay a similar ass-whipping on the young Patriots defense. Offensively for the Patriots, guess what? It seems that they miss Randy Moss. Now his dear friend Cris Carter had two criticisms of his former protégé, one being his treatment of the Vikings buffet provider, the other being Moss’s lack of effort while being double-teamed. However, even if Moss, he of the “I play when I want to” quip isn’t going full-speed, the opponent is still deploying two players to cover him. Suffering without this downfield threat is Patriots receiver Wes Welker. He didn’t seem to miss Moss in the first game post-Randy, but in the last three games, Welker has caught a total of 11 balls for 85 yards, having been targeted 17 times by quarterback Tom Brady. Contrast this to the season’s first five games, where Welker was targeted 45 times and accrued 33 catches.

Sunday Night: Steelers-Patriots. Should be a doozie to begin the season’s 2nd half.


STEELERS AT MID-SEASON:  DEJA VU?  BUT WHICH ONE?

 

These 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers and their coach, Mike Tomlin, are in familiar territory.  In this, his 4th season at the helm of the Black & Gold, Tomlin finds his charges with a record of 6 wins, 2 losses.  For the 4th consecutive year, his team has reached the season’s midpoint with a victory on Monday Night football.  But which path will this squad follow as it seeks the historic franchise’s 7th Lombardi Trophy?  In 2007, after beating the Baltimore Ravens at home in a Monday Night deluge, the Steelers won again the following week, before dropping four of their final seven contests and then being ousted in the first round of the NFL’s post-season tournament.  In each of the past two seasons, the Steelers won a Monday night road game to complete the season’s first half, only to lose at home the following Sunday.  The ’08 squad, of course, went on to win Super Bowl XLIII.  But it was the ’09 edition that showed so much promise, seeming to be a team clearly on the rise, having won their 5th game consecutively, and having beaten a previously undefeated Minnesota Vikings team, and their hot quarterback, Brett Favre, then going west and dropping the hammer on a once-beaten Denver Broncos squad.  They returned home to face the Bengals and so began a season-killing five-game losing streak.

 

Last year’s 28-10 thumping of the Denver Broncos at Mile High and the previous year’s Election Night Eve, 23-6 massacre of the Redskins, on a night noted for the invasion of FedEx Field by Steeler Nation, seemed to be repeating itself last night at Paul Brown Stadium as the Steelers opened a 27-7 margin on the bedraggled Bengals at the opening of the 4th quarter.  After Antwaan Randle El’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace, we were reminded of the words of former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter to the Bengals faithful during the 2005 Wild Card Playoff, in a game that also featured a gadget play for a touchdown involving Randle El.  “Y’all make me tired,” Peezy called to those tiger stripes remaining in the crowd, “tired of kickin’ y’all asses.”  These Bengals, last night though, fought back, and with some assistance from Steelers’ miscues, fell but 12 yards short of an unprecedented comeback victory.  

 

Game notes:

*Apropos for James Harrison to seal the victory by separating man (rookie receiver Jordan Shipley) from ball at the two-yard line to end the game, with his nemesis, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in the stands.

*Was anyone else worried that Goodell himself would enter the field and flag Troy Polamalu for hitting too hard on the pass to Terrell Owens that brought the ball to the Steelers 17 on that final drive?

*Steelers played a fair amount of four-man fronts last night, with both Casey Hampton and Chris Hoke inside simultaneously.  Fat Casey was also paired with either Ziggy Hood or Nick Eason as Brett Kiesel’s hammy was seemingly not up to the task.

*Steelers seemed to go with their nickel package for just about the game’s entirety, and the Bengals weren’t able to make them pay on the ground, limited to 54 yards on 18 Cedric Benson carries.  It seemed that William Gay was on the field for most defensive snaps.  Gay, although beaten for the Bengals’ initial touchdown, singled up on Owens, has acquitted himself well throughout the year, covering and tackling well, making his presence known on blitz packages, and  last night also contributing a blocked punt.

*Jeff Reed:  I’ve had the kicker’s back throughout, but must now cede that Skippy, formerly aptly described by his coach with the phrase, “You can’t freeze a psychopath,” is no longer money.  All was seemingly well when Reed nailed a 53-yarder to close out the half, but he then missed a 46-yarder late that would have iced the game, setting up the theatrics of the game’s final minutes.  Some thought the Steelers should have been passing on 3rd & 6 from the Cinci 29 with four minutes remaining.  But all too often, the Steelers have ceded solid field goal range via a 3rd down sack, and one can understand the coach’s confidence in his kicker given his previous connection from long-range.  The best we can say is that on this night, Reed at least made two more kicks, and missed one less, than his counterpart on the Bengals’ sideline.  Before we embark on vigilante justice, tar & feather Reed and send him on the first boxcar out of Pittsburgh, let’s ask ourselves who else would be brought in.  Kris Brown might be looking for work again, once Nate Kaeding heals in San Diego  Do we want to go there again?  Brownie was last seen missing a last-second kick with the game on the line against the Patriots.  No, Skippy’s our kicker for this season.  We’ll simply need to sweat out every big kick.

*Speaking of the 3rd & 6 call, it seemed like Rashard Mendenhall was looking for a break, but guess what, there were no healthy backs to replace him, as both Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman had gone down with injuries.  Instead, a tired Mendy was called upon to tote the rock for the 7th play in a row.

*For our weekly exercise in second-guessing game management, what about the final drive of the first half, ending, fortunately, with Reed’s 53-yarder? Taking over after the Bengals’ missed field goal, on their own 41-yard line, with 45 seconds remaining and two time-outs in their pocket, Roethlisberger hit Wallace with a 24-yarder to the Bengals’ 35, but rather than expend a timeout with about 35 seconds left, the Steelers squandered 11 seconds, and a down, by spiking the ball.  After a pair of incompletions, the Steelers faced 4th down, and still were holding the pair of timeouts.

*And, any thoughts on altering the book that NFL coaches consult which emphasizes that they not chase points.  Is there not an argument to be made for attempting a two-point conversion after the final Steelers touchdown gave them a lead of 26-7, which if successful, would have extended the margin to 21 points? I understand the arguments against it.  If unsuccessful, the 19-point lead could be overcome with a pair of touchdowns, a pair of two-point conversions, and a field goal.  If unsuccessful, perhaps an eventual 26-21 lead could not have become a safe two-score game had Reed made his 46-yard attempt.  But if successful, we may have avoided some wear & tear on our respective hearts, knowing that a Bengals touchdown in the final minute would have tied the game, not defeated our beloved Steelers.  That said, I know that book’s not undergoing a revision any time soon.

*Anyone still wandering why Antwaan Randle El gets a hat?  Boy still throws a nice ball; doesn’t he?

 

Going Forward:

There are some notable differences between this 6-2 mark at the midway point and those of the past seasons previously noted.

*Steelers have reached this point in the season minus their two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback for half the schedule thus far.

*Steelers are 6-2 while playing only 3 games in the friendly confines of Heinz Field.

*Steelers have successfully completed a difficult, and rare, three-game road trip by taking two of three, the lone loss being of the less critical non-conference variety.

 

Now the task is to reverse the ominous trend, extending back to 2005, of having followed up their previous five Monday Night road affairs, with losses at home the following Sunday.

 

The New England Patriots are 6-2, but most recently suffered a pounding at the hands of the Cleveland Browns on the shores of Lake Erie, and hopefully the Steelers offense can lay a similar ass-whipping on the young Patriots defense.  Offensively for the Patriots, guess what?  It seems that they miss Randy Moss.  Now his dear friend Cris Carter had two criticisms of his former protégé, one being his treatment of the Vikings buffet provider, the other being Moss’s lack of effort while being double-teamed.  However, even if Moss, he of the “I play when I want to” quip isn’t going full-speed, the opponent is still deploying two players to cover him.  Suffering without this downfield threat is Patriots receiver Wes Welker.  He didn’t seem to miss Moss in the first game post-Randy, but in the last three games, Welker has caught a total of 11 balls for 85 yards, having been targeted 17 times by quarterback Tom Brady.  Contrast this to the season’s first five games, where Welker was targeted 45 times and accrued 33 catches.

 

Sunday Night:  Steelers-Patriots.  Should be a doozie to begin the season’s 2nd half.

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