The Pittsburgh Steelers are a very inconsistent team, and nothing showed this more than the team rebounding from losses to the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders with a huge home win vs. the New England Patriots in Week 15. It doesn’t get any easier for the Steelers though, as the New Orleans Saints await in Week 16.
Today in the Black-and-gold links article, we take a look at how the Steelers aren’t taking the venue in their Week 16 lightly. The Mercedes-Benz Super Dome will be rocking, but Mike Tomlin is doing the best he can to get his team, not just the offense, prepared for the noise coming on Sunday afternoon.
Let’s get to the news:
By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Folks in Kansas City and Seattle like to debate over which fan base creates the loudest environment for a football game.
Arrowhead Stadium and CenturyLink Field each has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for that designation.
Those are open-air venues. Move the game indoors and the fans in New Orleans think they are the loudest in the NFL.
“I co-sign that,” Pittsburgh Steelers guard Ramon Foster said. “They absolutely are. I don’t think there’s any competition with that.”
Foster was a second-year player in 2010, the last time the Steelers played the Saints at the Superdome.
Although he was inactive and never left the sidelines, Foster was treated to an experience he will never forget in that Halloween night game played eight years ago.
“Insane,” Foster said. “It was a freaking party in there. They don’t go to the game. They go to have a party. They play the music that everybody knows, and it goes all the way from the bottom row to the top.
“It’s by far one of the craziest, coolest environments I’ve ever been around.”
It’s one Foster and the rest of his teammates will experience again Sunday when the Steelers (8-5-1) return to the Superdome, host of the team with the NFL’s best record. And with the Saints (12-2) trying to lock up the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the NFC, the Superdome figures to be rocking before, during and after the 4:25 p.m. kickoff.
“I think we’ll have our hands full,” Foster said.
Along with Foster, center Maurkice Pouncey and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are the only holdovers from that 2010 game, which the Saints won 20-10. At the time, Roethlisberger said it was “probably the loudest place I’ve played in.”
He didn’t back down from that assessment this week.
“It’s incredibly loud,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m not saying they pump the noise in like they did at the old RCA Dome (in Indianapolis), but it’s pretty loud down there.”
The Superdome atmosphere has created a true home-field advantage for the Saints. They were 8-1 last season, counting playoffs, and they are 5-1 and averaging 38 points a game at the Superdome this season.
For AFC teams such as the Steelers that visit New Orleans once every eight years, the atmosphere can create an initial shock to the system.
Running back Trey Edmunds, who spent last season with the Saints before joining the Steelers, got a first-hand glimpse of how the Superdome crowd noise can affect opponents.
“What their fans bring to the game is something that words can’t really describe,” Edmunds said. “The fans are into the game all the way through. But when teams come to Pittsburgh, our fans are into it all the way through as well. You like to be a part of something like that.”
By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports
Trench wars are some of the most fun battles to witness in the NFL, and the Steelers showed their ability to dominate that aspect of the game. Running the ball balances the offense, and a balanced attack would be a serious advantage against the better teams.
The Steelers rank 30th in rush offense with 93.9 yards per game 17th in yards per carry with 4.3. Their run game had to adjust to James Conner being the primary running back early, but his high ankle sprain forced Jaylen Samuels to become the starter the past two weeks.
After gaining only 28 yards on 11 carries against the Raiders, Samuels broke through the Patriots for 142 yards on 19 carries. But the difference was the offensive line and maximizing their efforts with Samuels’ running style. Conner has his own power running style that works better behind lead blockers, but Samuels’ performance leans more towards stretch runs and zone schemes.
But the Steelers found a way to incorporate Samuels’ speed along with the strengths of their offensive line. We discussed the Steelers’ reluctance to use those strengths against the Raiders in last week’s War Room feature. Watch how both Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro pull to become lead blockers and take on Pat Chung and Kyle Van Noy on the edge:
(To see more, click the link in the headline.)
By: Jeremy Fowler and Mike Triplett, ESPN
A complicated game can be simplified by this truism: Top quarterback-head coach tandems last.
Sunday’s 4:25 p.m. ET matchup in the Superdome features two of the game’s best over the past decade -- the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin matching wits with the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees and Sean Payton.
Brees and Payton have 117 wins together over 200 games, second to the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady-Bill Belichick combo during the Super Bowl era (since 1966). Tomlin and Roethlisberger are fourth on that list with 114 wins in 187 games.
The pairs have combined for 15 double-digit-win seasons.
In Tomlin’s eyes, the formula is clear-cut.
”Win games. You’re not together for over a decade if you don’t,” Tomlin said. “That’s how it goes or the coach and the quarterback get run out of town.”
Here’s a look at both pairings from several angles.
Why they’ve lasted so long together
Tomlin and Roethlisberger: They play their roles well. Tomlin has input in every area of team business but also provides freedom for Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner to operate. From the locker room to the practice field, Tomlin and Roethlisberger are frequently huddling. “Communication [is key], just like any good relationship,” Tomlin said. “You have to be able to communicate with each other. I think that is also what makes a successful marriage.” Tomlin and Roethlisberger are instrumental in the team’s ability to respond to bad losses or underachieving stress. Sunday’s 17-10 win against the Patriots was a prime example. The Steelers looked sloppy in Oakland in Week 14, but Tomlin’s defense was refocused and Roethlisberger spread the ball to eight different receivers. Roethlisberger’s 41 career comebacks in the fourth quarter or overtime help matters, too.
Payton and Brees: Payton and Brees are on a short list with the likes of Bill Walsh and Joe Montana of perfect marriages between playcaller and quarterback. They arrived in New Orleans together in 2006 -- when Payton got his first head-coaching job and handpicked Brees as a free agent coming off of a major shoulder injury with the San Diego Chargers. From the beginning, the Saints’ offense has been a collaborative effort that includes Brees’ input. And as Brees said recently, it has evolved over the years from “first grade elementary school stuff to freakin’ Calculus 303.” Heading into this season, the Saints had gained more yards over a 12-year span than any team in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, averaging 404.1 yards per game. And they won the only Super Bowl in franchise history after the 2009 season.