ESPN Page 2 Columnist, David Fleming, who has written a book titled 'Breaker Boys: The NFL's Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship' about the 1925 Pottsville, PA professional football squad, joins Anthony Smith and other Steelers faithful who believe the Steelers will end the Patriots incredible run in 2007. Fleming is clearly a Steelers fan and knowledgable about the Steelers organization, past and present, and his most recent column lays out 33 reasons why the Steelers will win this Sunday. Some are superflous and wholly unrelated to this week's game, some are relevant and potentially prescient. I'll include a few of each, beginning with:
No. 1: Pittsburgh is a city with its priorities in order. The first thing you see at the airport are two life-sized mannequins: one is of patriot George Washington, clad in red, white and blue and looking like he stepped off the side of New England's helmet; and the other is Franco Harris making his Immaculate Reception. Franco's mannequin looks like he could take George.Good point, pencil in the first score for the Steelers? Ha, nice anecdote, but we'll need more than that.
No. 4: With 12:31 left in the game, during a TV timeout, Cincinnati wideout Chad Johnson waltzed over to the Steelers' huddle to try to use the team's cleat cleaner. Linebacker Larry Foote blocked his way, then stepped in front of him and threatened to drop-kick him into the Monongahela. There's a nasty, street fighting mentality in all great football teams and that includes the Steelers.This is actually a very relevant point. The Steelers have a 'never-back-down' attitude on defense that most certainly will not be intimidated by the Patriots high-octane offensive attack. Very important that we throw the first punch on Sunday at the Patriots O-Line and Randy Moss as well.
No. 6: Center Dermontti Dawson. The most dominant center of his era (1988 to 2000) and about the nicest guy you'll ever meet.Not sure what this has to do with Sunday's game at all, but what they hey, it's always a good time to recognize Dermontti Dawson and his dominance in the trenches for more than a decade in the Steel City.
No. 27: The Patriots stink in the red zone. They are superb at just about everything else but they're dead last in the red zone, where a shortened field takes away a lot of their versatility.Good to know. If we can limit the big play TD connection from Brady to Moss, perhaps we'll be able to force several FGs on several Patriots' drives.
No. 29: History. The 1984 49ers finished 18-1 and as Super Bowl champs. Their only loss that season? A 20-17 loss at home to the Steelers. And who was the team to break the Pats' 21-game winning streak in 2004? Right again. The Steelers.Hooray irrelevant historical data! In all seriousness though, there are plenty of holdovers from the 2004 Steelers, and the important thing about Fleming's point is that this group knows they've done it before, so why not again?
No. 31: No more Bill Cowher. Even with Super Bowl XL Cowher was one of the worst big-game coaches in the NFL. He froze under pressure and was incapable of adjusting in big games when his basic schemes didn't overpower opponents. That made him easy pickings for a guy like Belichick.We'll finish with this, which I plan to address in more detail later. But leaving aside Cowher, this game provides Arians and Tomlin the perfect opportunity to show they're able to dial up the unexpected. Of course, this isn't the playoffs, so don't expect us to empty the bag of tricks entirely, but it has been mentioned before that perhaps Tomlin should leave the offense on the field on 4th and short situations any time the Steelers are across mid-field. We're the 2nd best 3rd down team in the league, so data suggests we might just be ok picking up 4th downs as well, no? Point is, we can't be conservative and just hope the Patriots don't make the plays necessary to win it. We've got to take advatange of every opportunity available to control our own destiny this Sunday, because if there is one absolute certainty heading into the game, it's that Tom Brady will snatch victory from the jaws of defeat just about every time he's given a chance.