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Forget the Intangibles, Steelers Faced Strategic Disadvantage With Holmes' Absence

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An early comment in this thread hinted that perhaps I did not make it clear that I was in no way expressing disappointment with the organization for suspending Holmes with this post. Instead, the opposite. Disappointment with Holmes for really putting us behind the 8 ball in the chess game that always ensues when two good and evenly matched teams meet. His absence made Steve Spagnualo's counter-punches much easier after he saw what Arians had in mind early in the game. So, make no mistake about it. This is not about the top brass making a bad decision by suspending him. Nor is it a long winded diatribe about personal responsibility. Not my style. This is about how Holmes's absence hurt is in terms of Xs and Os and matchups. Nothing else. I have no doubt he feels worse than anyone

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I expounded on this in my previous post some, but not having Santonio Holmes really hurt us today. We could only attack the defending SB Champion New York Giants in the passing game with a 30+ year old Hines Ward (I'd take him over Amani Toomer any day of the week and twice on Sunday, but still, neither are upper echelon #1 guys), Heath Miller (which can be neutralized to a certain extent without changing your entire defense, Nate Washington (who's fantastic when he's not the focal point of a defenses' concern, but not even average really as a #2 guys) and Limas Sweed. Does that sound scary to you? It's hard to see what the QB is seeing obviously, but part of Ben's failures today simply came from us not having many open receivers. Part of that's on Ben still, for not going through the reads quicker before deciding to abort, part of it's on Arians for not designing better plays that allow physically inferior players that lack experience to get open easier, and of course the Giants deserve some credit for playing good defense. But there can be a domino effect when you take out a vital option like Holmes. Everything else kind of falls into place beacuse the one guy we have who is both a threat to score on any given play and be tough over the middle (unlike Nate who really only does the former well) is not in the mix. Santonio, brother, You hurt us. Lesson learned. We need you. Bigtime.

The weapons we have of course, can be enough, no doubt. Hell, Drew Brees has managed to make Lance Moore look like a stud in New Orleans, and Tom Brady has done the same with a number of different ho-hum WRs like Jabar Gafney over the years. But it's not that scary, especially when you consider that this team has only recently started to craft a new identity on offense and still had light years to go heading into this last week of practice when 'Tone had not yet been busted for smoking blunts.