View Full Version : Steelers Team Report

09-13-2008, 03:34 PM
Steelers Team Report
Yahoo! Sports
http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=t ... eam_report (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=teamreports-2008-nfl-pit&prov=sportsxchange&type=team_report)

How much do the Steelers enjoy playing the Cleveland Browns? They won’t say, because they must play them Sunday and again at the end of the season.

But let us count the ways: Nine straight Steelers victories, tied for the current longest streak in the NFL against one team. They also have won eight of the nine games they’ve played in the new Cleveland Stadium. Pittsburgh has won 15 of the past 16 games against the Browns, starting with the second game of the 2000 season.

Cleveland’s record against everyone else last season was a nice 10-4 but the Browns’ two losses to Pittsburgh cost them the tiebreaker and a spot in the playoffs to the Steelers last season.

On Sunday, the Steelers get to deliver an early knockout blow to the Browns.

“We are not interested in knockout blows and statements,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We live week-to-week and day-to-day at this point.”

Perhaps, but if Pittsburgh wins, it leads the division at 2-0 with Cleveland 0-2 and having not only lost its first two games at home, but already behind the eight-ball in head-to-head against their rivals.

While they did not lose their quarterback, few teams laid a bigger egg than the Browns in their opener after many were picking them to win the AFC North. And few were as impressive as the Steelers.

Pittsburgh is relatively healthy and the Browns are not. Pittsburgh has momentum and the Browns do not. But Tomlin remembers how the Browns bounced back after the Steelers trounced them 34-7 in the opener in Cleveland last season. The following week, Cleveland posted 51 points in a victory against Cincinnati to win 10 of their next 15.

“Invariably, people get better between Week 1 and Week 2,” Tomlin said. “We have evidence that they are capable of putting what happened in Week 1 behind them and then get better. We were fortunate enough to go there and beat those guys in their place in Week 1 of last year, and they came out and hung 51 points on Cincinnati in Week 2. I think that is all of the evidence that we need.”

Pittsburgh, though, has owned Cleveland. During the nine-game winning streak, the Steelers have outrushed the Browns 174.7 yards to 64.8 per game. They also have held time of possession of more than eight minutes per game over the Browns.

The Steelers will be more than tempted to pass on the Browns Sunday. Cleveland already had severe problems in its secondary and now they’ve lost safety Sean Jones. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a nearly flawless opener, completing 13 of 14 passes against Houston with two touchdowns to Hines Ward. He was sacked twice by Mario Williams and has a sore right shoulder because of it, but he’ll play.

“Any time you get up early, get a big win on a team it’s awesome,” Roethlisberger said. “We know it’s not going to be easy. I am sure they are thinking the same thing we are. It would be nice to get an early win in the division.”

Series History: 111th meeting. The series is tied, 55-55, and the Steelers have won two playoff games. Pittsburgh is 8-1 in Cleveland since the Browns’ return in 1999. The Steelers have won nine straight in this series, 15 of 16, including a comeback 31-28 victory Nov. 11 in Heinz Field in their most recent game.

Notes, Quotes

• Steelers veteran linebacker James Farrior believes the Patriots will slip with the loss of quarterback Tom Brady.

“Probably so,” Farrior said. “I mean, he’s the best quarterback in the league. He made that team go and they were pretty much the best team in the league. Everyone wanted to keep up with those guys.”

• The Steelers and Browns have played five overtime games, Pittsburgh winning four.

• Running back Willie Parker was named AFC Player of the Week after he ran for 138 yards and scored three touchdowns against Houston.

“I won it before, but it means a lot coming back my first game and winning it right off the top,” said Parker, whose last season ended with a broken fibula in the 15th game.

• After keeping everyone guessing all summer, Mike Tomlin used Parker in the goal-line offense in the opener. He responded with three touchdown runs.

“Willie has always, in my opinion, been a short-yardage guy,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “He is a little ball of muscle. He is not the biggest guy, he is not Jerome Bettis. He is very strong, he has very good balance if he needs to bounce it outside, which he did a couple of times in the game. He is a presence down there and I think we need to acknowledge how good he is down there.”

By The Numbers: 0—Number of Cleveland rushers to top 100 yards in the Browns’ nine-game losing streak vs. the Steelers.

Quote To Note: “I was one of the ones that said that they are the team to beat.”—Coach Mike Tomlin, who said in March that Cleveland should be the favorite in the AFC North Division.

Strategy And Personnel

Two big practice days heading into an early AFC North Division showdown in Cleveland, and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger still hasn’t thrown a pass.

Roethlisberger, who did not practice at all on Wednesday, took some snaps on Thursday but mainly just handed off. Byron Leftwich, his backup, did all the throwing.

Roethlisberger has a sore right shoulder, the result of a sack by Houston’s Mario Williams Sunday at Heinz Field. Roethlisberger lost a fumble on the play. He never left the game until the start of the fourth quarter, when coach Mike Tomlin pulled him for competitive reasons after Pittsburgh jumped in front 35-3.

There had been more concern about Roethlisberger’s right knee that was hyperextended near the end of the first half. As long as Roethlisberger can practice on Friday, he will play.

“That is a big man. He about broke my arm when he caused the fumble,” Roethlisberger said of Houston’s Williams. “I have been hit like that a lot, but my arm was still attached to the football and he was holding my arm. He is a big man.”

Roethlisberger is a big man in the Steelers offense. He completed 13 of 14 passes against Houston, with the only incompletion one he threw away to avoid a sack. He threw two touchdown passes to Hines Ward. Leftwich was 0-for-4 in the fourth quarter.


• WR Hines Ward’s two TD catches of 13 and 16 yards last Sunday give him 35 since 2002, second only to the 36 of Randy Moss during that period.

• RB Willie Parker has averaged 121 yards in the past four games against Cleveland.

• QB Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked just seven times in four games against the Browns, and has four passer ratings over 100 in his career against them.

• LB James Harrison should be a candidate for defensive player of the week and not teammate LaMarr Woodley. Harrison led the Steelers with three sacks, 10 tackles and caused the only fumble. He added a sack on special teams.

• PK Jeff Reed tried just one field goal but he made it from 44 yards to start out on the right foot. He made all but two field-goal attempts last season, missing only from 65 yards and 44 in the mud.

Game Plan: On offense, the Steelers believe they can follow the Cowboys script and throw the ball against a poor secondary that now is without S Sean Jones. Since they are the Steelers, though, they will run more than they pass unless they fall behind. On defense, they want to stop Jamal Lewis and figure everything will flow from that. Putting heat on Derek Anderson will be a top priority.

Matchups To Watch: Steelers C Justin Hartwig vs. Browns NT Shaun Rogers. This is why the Steelers signed Hartwig, to go against the bigger and better 3-4 nose tackles.

Steelers OLB James Harrison vs. Browns LT Joe Thomas. Harrison had three sacks in the opener and Thomas is one of the best young left tackles in the league.

Steelers WR Santonio Holmes vs. Browns secondary. Former Buckeye Holmes always has big games in Ohio and the Browns are leaky in their secondary.

Injury Impact: Nothing serious. QB Ben Roethlisberger has a sore shoulder, the result of hitting the turf on a sack last week. He did not practice Wednesday or much on Thursday but should be OK.

• CB Deshea Townsend (bruised heel) did not practice again and coach Mike Tomlin said he was not game ready. That means that Bryant McFadden could start at right corner Sunday.

• OT Marvel Smith, who missed practice on Wednesday with a groin injury, went through a full practice on Thursday and should start.

09-13-2008, 03:38 PM
How did Harrison have a SACK on Special Teams?! :? :lol: :lol: