View Full Version : CLEVELAND - It is becoming a welcome sight for the Steelers

09-15-2008, 01:59 AM
John Harris
Monday, September 15, 2008
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 88282.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/college/s_588282.html)

CLEVELAND -- It is becoming a welcome sight for the Steelers' offense, almost as common and comforting as a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass:

Left guard Chris Kemoeatu pulling swiftly and violently to his right, clearing a path the size of a Deluxe Double Egg and Cheese Primanti Brothers sandwich and escorting Willie Parker to daylight.

Kemoeatu made his mark in the season opener against the Houston Texans, turning his massive frame upfield and bowling over a helpless defensive back as he delivered a knockout block.

He did it again in the second quarter Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns on what might have been the biggest play of the game.

Faced with fourth-and-1 from the Cleveland 40-yard line, the Steelers' offensive didn't flinch.

A 57-yard Jeff Reed field-goal attempt in swirling winds was too long and risky. A Mitch Berger punt so deep in Browns' territory was out of the question.

Better to call Parker's number and hide him behind Kemoeatu.

Make no mistake, all of the Steelers' offensive linemen did their part on Parker's big run. Kemoeatu, however, stole the show.

Following a convoy of one - Kemoeatu -- Parker ran right and ran hard for 13 yards - 12 more than needed.

It was a symbolic play for the Steelers and a firm show of confidence in the offensive line, one that could bode favorably as the season deepens.

For his part, Kemoeatu executed another one of his trademark look-out blocks. Technically, however, he didn't actually block anyone. Then again, he didn't have to.

As he pulled, Kemoeatu sealed off an area on the right side of the line, effectively clearing a running lane for Parker. Parker ran all the way to the Cleveland 27 before he was stopped.

A few plays later, Roethlisberger drilled an 11-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward for a 7-0 lead. If not for Kemoeatu's block and Parker's run, the score would not have been possible.

It is easy to overlook Kemoeatu's contributions, much easier than it is to overlook the man, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 344 pounds.

His job was made more difficult because of the player he replaced. Alan Faneca manned left guard for the Steelers with distinction. So far, Kemoeatu has been nothing short of proficient.

He has been everything the Steelers could have hoped for from a former sixth-round draft pick who started two games prior to this season.

Playing guard - especially left guard - for the Steelers is no joke. Thanks to the high standard set by Faneca, every bad play is magnified while every good play is taken for granted.

Kemoeatu is far from a finished product. His pass-blocking needs polishing, which is common among nearly all offensive linemen.

Kemoeatu's run-blocking is what sets him apart from the ordinary. He's already shown himself more than adequate at clearing holes for Steelers running backs. But it's his ability as a pulling guard that should excite Steelers fans for years to come.

During a key moment in last night's second quarter, Kemoeatu again showed why the Steelers didn't leap to re-sign Faneca. As a result, their faith in Kemoeatu continues to grow.

John Harris is a sports writer for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.