View Full Version : No holding back for Steelers' defense

12-19-2008, 11:17 PM
No holding back on this issue for Steelers' defense
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer

PITTSBURGH - If it's happened once, it's happened a couple of dozen times.

A Steelers defender slips into the opponent's backfield only to have an offensive player wrap an arm around his neck, as if he's trying to apply a professional wrestling sleeper hold.

And in the past six games, it hasn't resulted in a holding penalty on the offense, a span of 24 quarters.

What gives?

"We don't get held," Hampton said with a growing smirk on his face. "That's the bottom line. They don't hold us.

"(Offensive lines) play their best game against us every week. They just block us so well. They never hold us."

Hampton obviously doesn't believe that and neither do his teammates.

But the fact remains that it's been nearly two months since an offensive line has been called for holding against the Steelers - three were called against the Washington Redskins Nov. 3. During that span, the Steelers (11-3) have been called for offensive holding eight times. Hampton even drew a defensive holding penalty in a game against Dallas earlier this month.

"If they're not calling it, I guess they're not holding us," said linebacker James Harrison, who leads the Steelers with 15 sacks.

"There's nothing we can do about it. If they're not going to call it, then they're not going to call it."

Even with the lack of holding penalties in recent games, Pittsburgh's opponents still have been penalized for it more times than the Steelers (21-19).

The lack of holding calls has been a growing trend in the NFL the past few seasons. There were 881 holding penalties called in the NFL in 2005, when the Steelers won their last Super Bowl. That number fell to 576 in 2006, a decrease of 34 percent.

Holding penalties stayed roughly the same in 2007, but the league is on pace for only 543 such calls this season.

And the offenses have responded by putting up big numbers against everyone but the Steelers. Pittsburgh has given up an NFL-low 192 points and has not allowed an opponent to gain 300 yards in 14 consecutive games. That ties the 1973 Los Angeles Rams for the longest such streak since 1970.

While scoring in the league is up, interceptions are down. Fewer holding penalties equals more time for quarterbacks to scan the field and more time for receivers to get open.

"There's really nothing you can do about it," said linebacker James Farrior. "We talk to the refs about it during the game, 'Watch so and so and so forth.' But if they're not calling it, there's nothing you can do."

Odds and end zones

Defensive end Brett Keisel (knee) made it through his second consecutive practice. Keisel has missed the past three games. ... Safety Ryan Clark (foot), Harrison (foot), safety Troy Polamalu (foot), linebacker LaMarr Woodley (knee) all returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. Defensive end Aaron Smith, wide receiver Hines Ward and running back Willie Parker also returned Thursday after sitting out Wednesday because of a coaching decision.

12-19-2008, 11:59 PM
Just a shame that this happens to us, had this not happened Harrison may have already broken the single season sack record...

Hey refs found something for you.

12-20-2008, 12:15 AM
The refs are a bunch of tools. We scream about this every freakin' week and we never get a call. I am surprised that Harrison hasn't folded a ref up like an accordian and shoved him up the league Commisioner's butthole yet.....freakin' jerks.