View Full Version : Without Polamalu, Steelers aren't elite

09-15-2009, 02:47 AM
Without Polamalu, Steelers aren't elite
by Alex Marvez
http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/1005 ... %27t-elite (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/10054516/Without-Polamalu,-Steelers-aren%27t-elite)

PITTSBURGH - The Steelers began the defense of their Super Bowl title Thursday night with the same madcap offensive surge that helped secure last season's crown.

It's just a shame that Troy Polamalu wasn't around to see Ben Roethlisberger's latest heroics.

The star safety already was in the locker room with a knee injury as Roethlisberger orchestrated the two late scoring drives that gave Pittsburgh a 13-10 overtime victory over visiting Tennessee.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said the initial medical diagnosis calls for Polamalu to miss three to six weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament. More tests are pending, but Tomlin was optimistic that the damage isn't "anything more than that."

For the Steelers' sake, Tomlin had better be right.

With all due respect to a stingy defense and Roethlisberger's gift for crunch-time quarterbacking, Pittsburgh isn't an elite team without Polamalu on the field. A very talented one? No doubt. The same could be said of New England last year even after quarterback Tom Brady crumbled in the season opener with a knee injury. But an 11-5 Patriots squad still missed the playoffs.

Polamalu is the same kind of difference-maker. Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau admits it. There is no other safety who can wreak havoc from so many different spots on the field. That talent and flexibility allows LeBeau to fully unleash his fearsome zone-blitz scheme.

"Troy is one in a million," LeBeau said of the five-time Pro Bowl selection. "We'll play well without him, but you don't replace Troy."

Polamalu, who wasn't available for a postgame interview, set the pace for Pittsburgh's defense against Tennessee from the first series. He zoomed from the secondary covering 14 yards like a missile to upend lightning-quick Titans running back Chris Johnson for a 2-yard loss on third down.

An even more breathtaking Polamalu moment came later in the quarter. He didn't just smother rookie wide receiver Kenny Britt in man coverage on a fly route. Polamalu rotated to make a leaping one-handed interception. And he did it with his left hand, to boot.

Those plays and five other tackles were enough to overshadow three Polamalu penalties. But the long locks that flow from Polamalu's helmet stopped flying with 2:22 left before halftime. Polamalu tried recovering a blocked Rob Bironas field goal attempt when jumbo-sized Titans tight end Alge Crumpler flopped onto his left leg. Polamalu's knee bent inward as his lower body did the type of split normally reserved for gymnasts.

The injury wasn't immediately evident until shown on television replay. Polamalu even sat on a sideline bench unattended by team trainers as Pittsburgh drove for the game's first touchdown. But it wasn't long until Polamalu headed toward the locker room for good as Tennessee countered with its own score.

A Steelers defense that rarely surrendered a deep pass last season with Polamalu on the field was burnt on a 57-yard completion from quarterback Kerry Collins to Britt. Collins then fired a 14-yard touchdown pass to wideout Justin Gage on the next snap.

Two plays, 71 yards in 21 seconds. Polamalu's replacement, Tyrone Carter, didn't even have time to break a sweat.

To its credit, Pittsburgh's defense adjusted well during the second half. Carter a scrappy, undersized 10-year veteran was fine in base and nickel packages. When he was subbed in dime situations, first-year safety Ryan Mundy settled down after a rough start.

The Steelers surrendered just one second-half field goal and forced a Bo Scaife fumble on a drive that had reached Pittsburgh territory. Pittsburgh also enjoyed a significant special-teams advantage besides the blocked field goal and a first-quarter Bironas shank. Tennessee's offense didn't have the firepower to score on five second-half possessions that began from inside their 21-yard line especially against a defense returning most members of the NFL's top-ranked unit in 2008.

"We just didn't finish [drives]," Johnson lamented. "We're not in [the locker room] like they beat us. We gave them the game."

Actually, Roethlisberger took it away.

Just like when he passed Pittsburgh to victory over Arizona in the waning moments of Super Bowl XLII, Roethlisberger was at his best with the game on the line. He completed 11 consecutive fourth-quarter passes, leading Pittsburgh to a game-tying field goal. He also put the Steelers in position to win until wideout Hines Ward fumbled at the Titans 4 with 51 seconds remaining.

That flub didn't cool Roethlisberger. His passing accounted for 60 of Pittsburgh's 63 yards on the first drive of overtime to set up Jeff Reed's 33-yard field goal.

Roethlisberger joked that Pittsburgh let the game go into overtime to create some suspense for team owner Dan Rooney, who won't attend any more games this season because of his new role as U.S. ambassador to Ireland. But some elements of Pittsburgh's offense are no laughing matter. While the Titans still field a staunch defensive line even without free-agent defection Albert Haynesworth (Washington), Pittsburgh's rushing attack remains pathetic with a paltry 36 yards on 23 carries. Roethlisberger also continues to take a beating from holding on to the football too long or mistakes by his offensive line. He was sacked four times and took other hard hits on 43 pass attempts.

Without question, the Steelers would be doomed minus Roethlisberger. But the same dark clouds that would form if such misfortune ever struck are hanging over the Steelers until Polamalu returns and Big Ben knows it.

"When he's not out there, we're not the same," Roethlisberger said.

Even if the Heinz Field scoreboard read otherwise Thursday night.

09-15-2009, 06:20 AM
Ridiculous statement. We are not elite because of one player? Maybe if we were missing Ben. I think Troy is one of the best players in the league and certainly makes our D the best in the league. But we are still top 5 without him.

09-15-2009, 07:37 AM
absolute garbage. one player does not make or break a defense. so i guess the ratbirds wouldnt be an elite defense without ed reed too? the titans lost haynesworth and they are still an elite defense.

09-15-2009, 07:37 AM
I love this stuff from the talking heads all mouth club, because it just puts a big chip on the shoulders of players like Ben, Woodley, James, Santonio, Farrior, Hines etc.

09-15-2009, 07:50 AM
Take it easy guys. He admitted that we were still very good. Elite-->very good (without Troy). That isn't such a ridiculous argument. He also admits that losing Ben would be worse. That is true.

09-15-2009, 08:06 AM
We have seen this defense collapse at the loss of just one player before. His name was Aaron Smith.

DL is much more important in our defensive scheme than the safety.

Troy is a luxury, not a necessity.

We will be fine.

09-15-2009, 08:34 AM

09-15-2009, 08:35 AM
Labels are meaningless. Who cares if the media considers us "elite." Just keep on winning which we have proven we can do with injuries.

09-15-2009, 09:14 AM
Under Mike Tomlin, I expect Carter to be just as effective as TP.

09-15-2009, 09:19 AM
Really? and the Titans scored how many points in the second half with us not having Troy?

Yeah, I know they scored that quick one when he was out at the end of the half, but the D was still adjusting to his absence. LeBeau is right, you don't replace Troy, but we will just have to pick things up in other areas, *cough*, like the pass rush, right James? :D

09-15-2009, 10:31 AM
Wow, I have learned a lot with Troy's injury.

First, I have learned that he is the best safety in football. Prior to his injury I had always read that Ed Reed is the best safety in football.

Second, I learned that the Steelers are an elite team. Prior to this I have only heard about New England living in a land high above the rest of the league.

09-15-2009, 01:35 PM
Under Mike Tomlin, I expect Carter to be just as effective as TP.

I know that Tomlin's standard of expectation does not change when a player is injured, but I'll be happy if Carter just plays well enough to allow us to win. I'm not expecting him to make one-handed interceptions or get from his secondary spot into the offensive backfield in 1.8 seconds to throw a RB for a loss (because that is the standard that Troy has established...no human alive is capable of being just as effective as Troy on a football field).

09-15-2009, 01:44 PM
I don't disagree.....

Without him, our defense is still very good. But he definitely takes it to the next level.

Not saying we suck without him, but I don't think there is much of an arguement that he is the most valueable player. Some will argue that James is, but I think it's Troy. He may not get the same stats as Harrison, about he allows them to scheme in a way that makes the whole defense better. If we loose Harrosion, we have a drop off (all be it a significant one) at only one positio. Loosing Troy, the whole defense suffers and brings it down a notch.

09-15-2009, 07:58 PM
To its credit, Pittsburgh's defense adjusted well during the second half. Carter a scrappy, undersized 10-year veteran was fine in base and nickel packages. When he was subbed in dime situations, first-year safety Ryan Mundy settled down after a rough start.

See, here's what I read, and saw in the game. It took ONE SERIES for the defense to adjust and play great again. Name another defense that can lose a player like Troy and adjust after one series. No doubt, this defense is still elite.

09-15-2009, 08:53 PM
Then for argument's sake who are the elite D's in front of us??

Baltimore - let a pathetic Chiefs team stay in the game until the 6 minutes of the game..
NE - not after that display against the Bufs...
Jets - impressive outing against the Texans but one game is not even a trend....
Vikings - the lowly Browns were leading that game at the half...
Bears - not after losing half their LB corps last week...
Eagles - they are good, but they play in a poor conference...

It is irritating these writers can make statements but then don't finish the argument with valid info.

09-15-2009, 09:29 PM
This article simply deserves this... :roll:

Who cares? The Steelers are going to roll the Bears this weekend and that will be a top team fomr the AFC and a top team frmo the NFC under their belts and then lookin to kick the snot out of the Bengals (Sorry, Jom).

This team is good and no one wants to admit or they are simply trying to get clicks to their site. These same writers will then turn around and tell what a team game football is right after telling us that the Steelers defense is weak without Troy Polamalu. And, just for fun... :roll: