View Full Version : Steelers are regaining their Super Bowl swagger

11-14-2009, 02:54 AM
Steelers are regaining their Super Bowl swagger
by Alex Marvez
http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/1034 ... wl-swagger (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/10347898/Steelers-are-regaining-their-Super-Bowl-swagger)

Updated: November 10, 2009, 2:47 AM EST

DENVER - They don't lead their division outright. Three other NFL teams have better records.

But nobody should want to face the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Denver became the latest squad given that painful lesson. The surging Steelers knocked off another would-be contender to their NFL throne with a 28-10 Monday night road victory.
If defeating previously unbeaten Minnesota before last weekend's bye wasn't proof enough, crushing a Broncos squad that entered 6-1 is ample evidence these aren't the same Steelers that entered the season with a Super Bowl-sized hangover.

"We're a developing team," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after his team's fifth consecutive victory. "We've got to continue to be a team on the rise. That's what November is about as we push into the latter part of the season."

In September, Pittsburgh still seemed drunk off the champagne that flowed following a Super Bowl XLIII win against Arizona. A 23-20 road loss to AFC North co-leader Cincinnati dropped the Steelers to 1-2.

Pittsburgh faded from talk about the NFL's elite teams. The manner in which the Steelers dispatched Denver puts Pittsburgh back in the conversation with high-flying clubs like Indianapolis (8-0), New Orleans (8-0) and Minnesota (7-1).

Pittsburgh's storied defense responded to Tomlin's jabs about Denver entering the game with the NFL's top-ranked unit. The Steelers intercepted Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton three times and held Denver without a rushing first down. Free safety Tyrone Carter, thrust into action when starter Ryan Clark was held out because of health concerns, snared two Orton passes and returned one for a second-quarter touchdown.

"When you play those guys, the margin of error is small," said Orton, who entered Monday's game having thrown only one interception the entire season.

Pittsburgh's offense came to life after one of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's own turnovers. A missed block by left guard Chris Kemoeatu led to a Roethlisberger fumble that was returned 54 yards for a touchdown by rookie linebacker Robert Ayers early in the third quarter.

At that point, the Broncos had a 10-7 advantage and were coming off a first half in which they dominated time of possession (19:16 to 10:44) and net yardage (183 to 54). Roethlisberger, though, remained unfazed as he gathered his offense along the sideline.

"I told the guys, 'They're not stopping us. We're stopping ourselves,'" Roethlisberger said. "Chris was beating himself up because he let the guy through. I said, 'Listen, there's nothing we can do about it. Let's move on. Block the next time and we'll score.' We did."

And quickly. It took only four plays for the Steelers to march 80 yards and take a 14-10 lead they never relinquished once Roethlisberger hit wide receiver Hines Ward. That was the first of Big Ben's three touchdown passes.

"It wasn't a fluid start for us," Tomlin said. "(Roethlisberger) didn't blink."

Tyrone Carter returned the first of his two interceptions 48 yards for a touchdown. (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images)

Just like during last year's championship run, the Steelers are rarely stopped once getting on a second-half roll. But some of the faces are different, which helps explain Pittsburgh's sluggish start to the season. Second-year running back Rashard Mendenhall (155 rushing yards) and rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace (four catches for 69 yards and one touchdown) weren't on the field at this time last season. Combined with veteran standouts like Ward and Santonio Holmes, Roethlisberger is now surrounded by more offensive talent than at any point in his six-year NFL career.

"We've got so many weapons," said Roethlisberger, who finished 21 of 29 passing for 233 yards. "If a guy makes a mistake, we have another guy who can step up. It's hard to key on one guy."

Steelers left tackle Max Starks said Pittsburgh's offense began to jell with a 38-28 victory over San Diego in Week 4. Defensively, linebacker LaMarr Woodley has no doubt when the Steel Curtain began to rise again: The moment Troy Polamalu recovered from a knee injury suffered in the season-opening win against Tennessee. Pittsburgh has forced nine turnovers, scored three defensive touchdowns and not allowed more than 17 points in the three games since Polamalu's return. Polamalu's fourth-quarter interception Monday set up a touchdown that gave Pittsburgh a commanding 21-10 lead.

"This team started coming together when No. 43 came back," Woodley said. "When he was in there, we were getting turnovers. When he left, we weren't getting as many. There's something special about that guy."

There may be something special about the Steelers once again in the playoffs, but complacency won't be seeping into Pittsburgh's locker room any time soon. The offense has adopted the mantra of trying to "reach the ceiling" when it comes to bettering its erratic performance. The defense still wants to regain some of the respect lost earlier this season because of shaky fourth-quarter play. That includes Cincinnati's last-second victory that has helped put the Bengals (6-2) atop the NFC North entering Sunday's rematch in Pittsburgh.

"It's about getting better," Tomlin said. "It is better (now) than it was in September."

Judging by Monday night's outcome, Cincinnati may be the next team to learn that the hard way.

Discipline of Steel
11-14-2009, 10:19 AM
"A team on the rise".

I think its Tomlin's perspective that makes him so successful. He instills a mentality of going to work to do your job. Theres no room for anything else.

11-14-2009, 10:43 AM
Team is really reminding me of the '75 Steelers... a championship team that still has room to grow, led to it's first title by a dominant defense and a good enough to get the job done offense. The second time around, the offense begins to come into it's own to complement the defense. Win #3 in 5 years, and I'll guarantee that when all is said and done these Steelers overcome the anti - Steeler bias created in the Hall by the last group's success and get several guys in... if they put it together this year, I think comparisons to the '70's era become very legit.

11-14-2009, 10:51 AM
I love this team! This fires me up big!!

stlrz d
11-14-2009, 11:38 AM
Pittsburgh has forced nine turnovers, scored three defensive touchdowns and not allowed more than 17 points in the three games since Polamalu's return. Polamalu's fourth-quarter interception Monday set up a touchdown that gave Pittsburgh a commanding 21-10 lead.


Yes sir!