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fordfixer
09-10-2009, 12:59 AM
Steelers prepared for Wildcat formation against Young, Titans

By Scott Brown, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, September 10, 2009
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 42331.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_642331.html)


It could have been a smokescreen, or Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher may actually have been truthful when he all but nixed the idea of using Vince Young in the Wildcat offense tonight against the Steelers.

The sub package gained traction in the NFL last season after a number of teams, most notably the Dolphins, used it to varying degrees of success.

Coach Mike Tomlin said last week that the Steelers are preparing as if they may see the Wildcat from Tennessee.

Young, however, is the backup to starting quarterback Kerry Collins. And, as Fisher pointed out, the Wildcat is usually successful when it catches opposing defenses off-guard by using a player who's normally on the field and lining him up at quarterback as the Dolphins have done with starting running back Ronnie Brown.

"When you sub from the sideline and put your Wildcat personnel in the game, it gives the defense the opportunity to adjust," Fisher said during a conference call earlier this week. "It's the element of surprise that makes the Wildcat significant."

Tennessee won't have to resort to any gimmicks in the 8:30 p.m. game at Heinz Field if it runs the ball as effectively as it did a year ago.

The Titans were one of only three teams that rushed for more than 100 yards last season against the Steelers. Behind Chris Johnson and LenDale White, one of the top running back tandems in the NFL, the Titans churned out 117 yards on the ground in a 31-14 win over the Steelers at LP Field.

In that win that secured the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs for Tennessee, the Titans also had their way with the Steelers defensively.

Tennessee forced four turnovers all were committed by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and it thrived in the physical, hard-hitting game.

In describing the rematch between the team that had the best record in the NFL last season and the team that won the Super Bowl, Roethlisberger said, "It's going to be Baltimore-esque, if you will, I have a feeling."

The atmosphere at Heinz Field will be charged, with the Steelers playing their first game since they won an NFL-record sixth Lombardi Trophy.

One storyline the Steelers largely have dismissed: a handful of the Titans players stomping the Terrible Towel in the waning moments of the Dec. 21 game last year.

"If you've got to use that as motivation for this game, there's something wrong with you," Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton said. "If you're not fired up for this game, two physical teams getting out there playing, if that's not motivation, I don't know what is."

Matchup of the game

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger vs. Titans secondary

Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger's numbers in season openers are mind-boggling. The quarterback is 3-0 he didn't play in the opener during his rookie season and in 2006 and has completed 34 of 48 passes for 516 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions.

One of those games was against the Titans in 2005, when he went 9-of-11 for 218 yards and two touchdowns.

But the last time Roethlisberger saw the Titans, it wasn't pretty.

Roethlisberger threw for 329 yards, but he was intercepted twice (one was returned for a touchdown) and fumbled twice (once inside the 10-yard line).

Titans secondary

The Titans' Michael Griffin intercepted a Roethlisberger pass and returned it 83 yards for a touchdowns with less than a minute left in last year's meeting to secure a win and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Griffin is back, as is Cortland Finnegan, who was among the league leaders a year ago with five interceptions. Chris Hope and Nick Harper also have returned.

The Titans picked off 20 passes last year three of which were returned for touchdowns.

Three of the four members of the secondary went to the Pro Bowl a year ago, and despite the loss of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to Detroit, the Titans defense promises to be much of same with the addition of new coordinator Chuck Cecil.

Advantage: Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger usually plays well at home, in season openers and in nationally televised games.

He knows he was the primary reason the Steelers lost, 31-14, against the Titans last season at LP Field, and he will be focused on not repeating that performance tonight.

To do so, he's going to have to get some help from receivers Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, along with tight end Heath Miller. They should have an advantage over Tennessee's secondary.

If the Steelers get down early, are unable to run and Roethlisberger is forced to throw 30 times, then the advantage flips to Tennessee.

Mark Kaboly

RuthlessBurgher
09-10-2009, 09:59 AM
Roethlisberger's numbers in season openers are mind-boggling. The quarterback is 3-0 he didn't play in the opener during his rookie season and in 2006 and has completed 34 of 48 passes for 516 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions.

One of those games was against the Titans in 2005, when he went 9-of-11 for 218 yards and two touchdowns.

Interesting stats from Ben in season openers. Never really made that connection before.