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fordfixer
10-05-2009, 01:04 AM
Starkey: Mendenhall's ball now?

By Joe Starkey, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, October 5, 2009
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 46483.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_646483.html)



Ten quick takes on Steelers-Chargers ...

10. Fast Willie Parker or is it Fast Wally Pipp? had the best take on Rashard Mendenhall's 165-yard performance Sunday night.

"He came back each and every play with a vengeance," Parker said, "like somebody said somethin' about his mama or something."

9. The question now is, what becomes of Fast Willie in the wake of Mendenhall's Walter Payton imitation? Parker missed the Steelers' 38-28 win because of turf toe and likely is on his way out of town after the season as a free agent. His main competition for playing time Mendenhall was a first-round pick who makes a ton of money. That doesn't sound like a recipe for regaining the starting job.

"You gotta ask coach about that," Parker said. "There's nothing I can say there. When my number gets called, I'll run the ball."

Parker predicts he will play next week against the Detroit Lions.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said.

8. Mendenhall's blocking was every bit as impressive as his running. On one play, he ran up to meet blitzing linebacker Kevin Burnett in the hole and positively ruined him.

"The more you can do," Mendenhall said, "the more valuable you are to the team."

7. Reckless or gutsy? That was the question on Mike Tomlin's surprising decision to go for it on 4th-and-inches from the Steelers' 30, leading 14-0 with 6:23 left in the first half. I loved it though I also liked Tomlin's decision to kick a field goal on fourth and goal from the 1 early in the Cincinnati game. At Cincinnati, Tomlin opted for the first points of the game and a quick shot of momentum. He later gave that momentum back with an ill-advised (OK, reckless) move to go for it on fourth and 4 at the Bengals 35. Could he have given away the momentum last night, too? Sure, but as 6-foot-5, 241-pound quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, "I should be able to get a yard." Roethlisberger gained three yards on the play.

6. Apparently, Tomlin was dead serious last week, when he spoke of how New England's offense is a good one to emulate. Two weeks ago, Patriots coach Bill Belichick went for it on fourth and 1 at his 24, leading the Atlanta Falcons, 16-10, with about five minutes left in the third quarter. The results were similar for the Steelers and Patriots in their risky moves: A conversion followed by a lengthy scoring drive that kept a dangerous opposing offense off the field and went a long ways toward a victory. I asked Steelers linebacker James Farrior how many coaches in the league would have gone for it like Tomlin did last night. I didn't have to ask who Farrior meant when he said, "I'll give you one or two."

5. Ike Taylor is playing some spectacular football. On the rare occasions the Chargers actually had the ball for the first three quarters, quarterback Philip Rivers seemed intent on giving his receivers, particularly 6-foot-5 Vincent Jackson, opportunities to win jump balls. Taylor would have none of it, making several high-caliber plays.

4. I can't believe Chargers coach Norv Turner didn't challenge Mike Wallace's 35-yard catch along the sidelines on the game's opening drive. It was highly questionable whether Wallace got both feet down in-bounds as he was being hit by Steve Wallace. Maybe nobody told Norv that the old force-out rule doesn't apply anymore. Gotta have both feet down.

3. I'm guessing Ryan Mundy didn't play shortstop in high school.

2. I'm guessing Mewelde Moore played some quarterback in high school. Actually, Moore confirmed as much, after he zipped a six-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller on a halfback-option play.

"I can throw," Moore said. "I saw the safety where he was. If they had played close, I would have lobbed it. ... I've been putting a smiley face next to that play every time we run it in practice. I was just waiting for it to get called."

1. It took all of one play to realize that LaDainain Tomlinson still isn't himself (and might never be again). L.T. took a pass in the flat and had blockers in front of him. The old L.T. would have gained at least 20 yards. But safety Tyrone Carter submarined lineman Scott Mruczkowski and pulled Tomlinson down by a shoestring. Later, on consecutive snaps in the third quarter, Tomlinson failed to pick up linebacker James Harrison, leading to a sack, and dropped a pass. Tomlinson finished with 15 yards on seven carries.