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fordfixer
01-17-2009, 03:15 PM
Steelers Team Report

http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/pitts ... teamreport (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/pittsburgh-steelers/teamreport)

Updated: January 17, 2009, 2:00 PM EST
Inside Slant
No one runs against the Ravens.

The exceptions to that rule are the New York Giants, who rang up 207 yards rushing against them, and Tennessee rookie Chris Johnson, who had 72 yards at the half last week before he was injured.
The Steelers believe they can run against the Ravens, and they will try to do that on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field.

Willie Parker, finally healthy after a sprained MCL and a shoulder injury held him back much of the season, ran for 146 yards against San Diego, two weeks after he got 116 vs. the Browns.

That 146 was third most by a Steeler in a playoff game and the most in 33 years. His teammates think he has more of it in him, and that he can do the unspeakable against the Ravens defense.

As a team, the Steelers have not rushed for 100 yards against Baltimore since 2005, and Parker has had little success trying.

"Who's to say he can't have success this time?" receiver Hines Ward said. "They've done a great job of containing Willie, a lot of teams have, but it just takes one game. We're going to try to establish our running game, and hopefully we can bust a couple open."

Parker had 47 yards on 14 carries against Baltimore on Dec. 14. He did not play in the earlier game because of his knee injury. Last season he had 42 yards in the only game he played against the Ravens, and in 2006 he had games of 22 and 29 yards against them. He had 63 and 59 in two games vs. Baltimore in 2005, his first as a starter.

Parker was the NFL's leading rusher until his fibula was broken on the first carry of his 15th game of the 2007 season. He started off this season strong with 243 yards in his first two games. Then he hurt his knee in the third game of the season. He missed four games with that injury. He returned to play one game but suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out of another game. He later "tweaked" his knee but missed no more time.

He said he feels as good as he has since the beginning of the season.

"With physical health is also mental health, and not only in an individual," coach Mike Tomlin said. "Willie has that personality that when he feels good, he has a bounce in his step and it permeates throughout a football team. So him feeling good physically and mentally may be rubbing off on a lot of people. Hopefully, it is. He has that kind of personality. It's tough to measure. It's really not something that's very tangible, but if you're part of it, you appreciate it."

Pittsburgh beat Baltimore at home Sept. 29 in overtime, 23-20, the first game Parker missed after his knee injury. Rookie Rashard Mendenhall started and was knocked out for the season with a broken shoulder when Ray Lewis hit him. The Steelers managed only 69 yards rushing that day.

They think it might be different for their running game Sunday.

"I can say, from a running back struggling in the earlier part of the year, he's found his niche and he's feeling 100 percent and now he's out there making plays," Parker said. "I'm doing a lot of stuff that I never used to do."

SERIES HISTORY: 2nd meeting in playoffs. Steelers are 1-0, having beaten the Ravens 27-10 in a playoff game at Heinz Field after the 2001 season. In the regular season, the Steelers are 16-10, 9-4 in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have won seven of the past eight games played against the Ravens since they moved to Heinz Field in 2001, counting that playoff game. They defeated the Ravens twice during the regular season, 23-20 in overtime at Heinz Field and 13-9 in Baltimore when Pittsburgh scored a disputed touchdown with 43 seconds left to end a 92-yard drive.



Notes and Quotes
--The Steelers practiced indoors Wednesday and will practice indoors again Thursday, but they plan to practice outdoors Friday in what will be frigid temperatures in Pittsburgh.

--The Steelers believe officials have overlooked too many blatant holding calls against LB James Harrison, who nevertheless set a Steelers record with 16 sacks this season.
"We haven't had a lot of those calls, but it's getting down here to crunch time, maybe we'll be fortunate enough to get a call when it really matters," DE Brett Keisel said. "We're not going to worry about it, we're still going to do what we do and we've been getting good pressure even without the holding calls."

--Coach Mike Tomlin brought many of his philosophies with him from his coaching days in Tampa Bay and Minnesota, and one sign.

"When I was a coordinator, I had a sign up in our room; it said, 'Defend every blade of grass.' I brought it to this group, and I say it to this group often because it's football."

His defenders defended that grass better than anyone in the NFL, ranking as the No. 1 overall unit. However, when Tomlin was Minnesota's defensive coordinator, the Vikings played their home games on artificial turf, not grass.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1-4 -- The Steelers' record in AFC Championship Games at home since 1994, all under coach Bill Cowher. Before that, they were 3-1 in AFC title games at home under Chuck Noll.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm not interested in my players' evaluation of my performance. I'm paid to evaluate them." -- Mike Tomlin, when a writer said some veterans thought he was a better coach in his second season.



Strategy and Personnel
PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--WR Santonio Holmes fields punts that are expected to be outside the 25-yard line. RB Mewelde Moore handles the deeper ones. Holmes returned a punt 67 yards for a TD against San Diego, the only punt or kickoff return for a Steelers score this season.
--LB James Farrior, who led the Steelers in tackles this season, led them with nine against San Diego.

--RB Mewelde Moore was "discovered" in the fourth game of the season, against Baltimore. He had no receptions and just one carry through three games. Against Baltimore, he had eight carries and three key receptions. He finished the season with 140 rushes and 40 receptions.

--OL Trai Essex replaced starter Justin Hartwig (knee) in practice most of the week. Hartwig likely will play, but if he cannot, Darnell Stapleton would replace him and Essex would play right guard.

--QB Ben Roethlisberger has a 28-8 record as a starter at Heinz Field in the regular season. In the postseason, he's 2-2.

GAME PLAN: The Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard individual rusher since December 2006, but the Steelers believe they can run on them. Tennessee's Chris Johnson had 72 yards on 11 carries in the first half but did not return for the second half. Willie Parker's style is a lot like Johnson's.

On defense, the Steelers want to stop the run and put some heat on the rookie QB Joe Flacco, who has done a decent job against them but was unable to get his offense in the end zone in the last meeting.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Ravens ROLB Terrell Suggs vs. Steelers LT Max Starks. Suggs, when healthy, is Baltimore's best pass rusher. Starks has done a good job since replacing injured Marvel Smith in the sixth game of the season.

RB Willie Parker vs. LB Ray Lewis and Ravens run defense. The Steelers want to run, but Lewis and Co. will have something to say about it.

Steelers S Ed Reed vs. Steelers S Troy Polamalu. Two All-Pros won't play against each other, but the one who plays better could determine the outcome.

INJURY IMPACT:

--C Justin Hartwig (knee) returned to full practice Friday, is listed as probable and will play.

--SS Troy Polamalu (calf) practiced fully Friday, is listed as probable and will play. The injury limited his mobility somewhat against San Diego.

buckeyehoppy
01-17-2009, 06:54 PM
Not terribly concerned with our injury situation. To be this deep into the season and not have many glaring injuries (outside of the ones that are already on IR) is a blessing.

And Mike Tomlin has drawn a very clear line with his quote here:


"I'm not interested in my players' evaluation of my performance. I'm paid to evaluate them." -- Mike Tomlin, when a writer said some veterans thought he was a better coach in his second season.


Considering his age compared to the older guys on the team, there are few gray areas in that remark. This guy will be hailed as a god if he holds Lombardi #6 in 15 days.

RuthlessBurgher
01-17-2009, 07:05 PM
Not terribly concerned with our injury situation. To be this deep into the season and not have many glaring injuries (outside of the ones that are already on IR) is a blessing.

And Mike Tomlin has drawn a very clear line with his quote here:


"I'm not interested in my players' evaluation of my performance. I'm paid to evaluate them." -- Mike Tomlin, when a writer said some veterans thought he was a better coach in his second season.


Considering his age compared to the older guys on the team, there are few gray areas in that remark. This guy will be hailed as a god if he holds Lombardi #6 in 15 days.

I'm sure some folks will still consider him to be an overpaid janitor even if he win 5 straight Lombardis. :roll:

TallyStiller
01-17-2009, 09:48 PM
Was reminded of this by the quote from Keisel about the blatant Harrison holds - we used to complain about all the no calls with Michael Irvin, who played wide receiver like the thug he was... made a career out of offensive PI, NEVER got called... until they called back a TD catch that would have put Dallas up by 3 scores early in the 2nd quarter of SB XXX. We turned the tide of that game after that TD was called back, and were the better team for the rest of the afternoon - until the infamous Neil O'Donnell pick. Had we scored to win that game, that call would have gone down in history.

We need the holds to get called now, in the postseason. They finally flagged The Cokehead...er... Playmaker in the big game, maybe they throw the flag on this, too. These games matter. Just get it right here, and all will be forgiven the zebras.

buckeyehoppy
01-18-2009, 12:10 AM
Not terribly concerned with our injury situation. To be this deep into the season and not have many glaring injuries (outside of the ones that are already on IR) is a blessing.

And Mike Tomlin has drawn a very clear line with his quote here:


"I'm not interested in my players' evaluation of my performance. I'm paid to evaluate them." -- Mike Tomlin, when a writer said some veterans thought he was a better coach in his second season.


Considering his age compared to the older guys on the team, there are few gray areas in that remark. This guy will be hailed as a god if he holds Lombardi #6 in 15 days.

I'm sure some folks will still consider him to be an overpaid janitor even if he win 5 straight Lombardis. :roll:

I don't care if he's giving the doubters a swirly while he's the overpaid janitor...if he wins this SB, he'll be a member of the fraternity. He'll be Mister Overpaid Janitor to all of us.

BTW, from me and the rest of us here...bring home the BIG WIN tomorrow so you can bring home the BIGGEST WIN in two weeks!!!

:tt2 :tt2 :tt2