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Steelers Quick Hits

* Quick programming note: sorry for the absence the past couple of days. I'm traveling and have relatives with me, so far less posting than usual. Rest assured that had the Steelers not clinched last week, we would have been talking it up nervously all week in preparation for the season finale. As is, this final game is probably going to be rendered meaningless by a SD win at home vs. Oakland. Regardless, thanks to all for the diaries and banter while I've been away.

* If you haven't already done so, enter the 'Name the Brownies Mascot contest I put together earlier this week.

* New commentor 92SteelersFan4Life07 mentioned in a diary that James Harrison was named MVP of this year's Steelers team. Interesting that Silverback won over Big Ben. Not shocking, just interesting. 92SteelersFan hypothesized that the players must have voted themselves, which I agree with. Must be a popular dude, because it's hard to argue against what Big Ben has meant to this team.

* As has been mentioned by cgolden and others, the injuries are piling up at a frigtening pace. Big Ben's out this week with an ankle sprain, Marvel Smith had surgery on his back and is most likely out until 2008. Polamalu and Silverback will most likely sit as well. The one good news, at least in my opinion, is that Charlie Batch will get a chance to play. For those who have read BTSC for awhile, you know that I've admired the job Batch has done playing behind Roethlisberger. Given some of the craptastic QBs who have gotten starts around the league this year, there's no doubt in my mind Batch could start football games in a different city. He's patiently waited behind Roethlisberger instead.

* Here's two dissenting opinions from's talking heads about the loss of Willie Parker:

The Steelers will definitely miss Parker because most of Ben Roethlisberger's success comes from the success of the running game. When Parker is on the field, opposing defenses have to step up and respect the run, which allows Roethlisberger to utilize the play-action to get the ball to his receivers downfield. Also, with the linebackers attacking the line of scrimmage to stop Parker, tight end Heath Miller is able to get open and control the middle of the field. This team will now have to rely on a guy (Najeh Davenport) who hasn't shown over a long period of time that he can carry the ball successfully in the NFL. This is a major concern for the Steelers and they have to spend this final regular-season game figuring out how they are going to succeed with running the ball to ready themselves for the playoffs.
The loss of Parker will hurt the Steelers, but not as much as many think because Davenport gets this team back to its old, physical style of running the ball. The Steelers are trading in the big-play running threat for a return to the physical Steelers' offense that works well come playoff time. Part of the Steelers' inconsistency this year can be attributed to the fact they aren't as physical on offense as they have been in the past. This is a team that normally will pound the football in second- and third-and-short situations. This season we've seen the Steelers have to use gimmicks to get those tough yards because it didn't have a guy who could just lower his head and get those yards. Now it does with the emergence of Davenport.
What do you guys think? This is definitely something we'll be discussing the rest of this year and in the offseason.

* As always, your weekly TV Distribution Maps. It's probably going to be an ugly affair, but from where I'm sitting, it looks like most of us around the country should be getting the Steelers-Ravens game.


That's all for now. I'll be back with a gameday open thread on Sunday, then full Playoff coverage all next week.

Go Steelers!