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fordfixer
10-03-2010, 02:30 AM
Head-to-head: Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey vs. Ravens NT Kelly Gregg
Sunday, October 03, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/images/201010/20101003_steelhead_500.jpg
Maurkice Pouncey, left, and Kelly Gregg

Despite two Pro Bowl appearances and a record 75-yard touchdown run in a Super Bowl, Willie Parker never knew what it was like to rush for more than 100 yards against the Baltimore Ravens.

Rashard Mendenhall, his replacement, hasn't been around as long, but he hasn't done it, either, even though he became only the seventh different player in franchise history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in 2009.

Indeed, historians will have to go back to Dec. 26, 2004, to find the last time a Steelers running back had more than 100 yards against the Ravens. That was when Jerome Bettis rushed for 117 yards on 27 carries in a 20-7 victory at Heinz Field, the Steelers' 13th consecutive victory in a 15-1 season.

"They are the best there is," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said of the Ravens' run defense. "No one has very good running days against them. They're as good a running front as we see and the best front seven we see against the run."

There is another reason for that drought, but one of the biggest is this: The Steelers have never really had a center who could handle the Ravens' stout and sturdy defensive tackles.

But they might now.

Rookie Maurkice Pouncey is the best thing to come along since Dermontti Dawson, and he plays with the same Dawson-like qualities -- strength, quickness and athleticism. Just three games into his first NFL season and very few people need convinced of his awesome ability.

"I don't see a lot of centers in this league who have both, that are strong and quick," said nose tackle Casey Hampton, who has lined against Pouncey in practice. "He got both. When God gives you something, he got it."

Pouncey, the team's No. 1 pick, will spend most of today lined against Ravens nose tackle Kelly Gregg, who is in his 11th season. But, at times, he will also be responsible for the other defensive tackle, Haloti Ngata, a Pro Bowl pick in 2009 whom coach Mike Tomlin called "freakishly big ... as dominant a defensive lineman as there is in football right now."

"He's a monster," Pouncey said. "That's crazy how he can move."

Granted, Pouncey will not be handling Gregg or Ngata by himself. But how he performs will go a long way in how the Steelers are able to run against the Ravens, who lead the NFL in total defense.

The Ravens, though, gave up 144 yards rushing last week to Cleveland's Peyton Hillis, who gouged them for runs of 12, 25 and 48 yards among his 22 carries.

Pouncey is already a master at turning a tackle and getting to the second tier to block a linebacker, one of the reasons Mendenhall had six runs of 10 yards or longer last week in Tampa. Mendenhall finished with a season-high 143 yards on 19 carries and the Steelers finished with a season-high 201 yards against the Buccaneers.

"God gave those guys a little something special and not all the rest of them have it," Arians said. "There are guys who are good at it, but to put the speed and the quickness in a package of that size is very unique. He's a very unique player."

Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com.


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10276/10 ... z11H5lo3Fo (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10276/1092262-66.stm#ixzz11H5lo3Fo)

NorthCoast
10-03-2010, 09:03 AM
So the question is: how did 17 other teams not see what we saw in the draft? Did we get lucky or did we see something others couldn't? This will be a very interesting battle today because Pouncey has yet to be lined up against a massive NT like Kelly or Ngata or Cody. I think we will see a better ground game solely from not having Hartwig wiffing and falling backward against his man. I don't think Mendy will make a 100 this week (Ravens will make double sure after last week's embarrassment against Stains). I would like to see more passes to the RB to try to neutralize the rush. We MUST keep Batch upright or we will be looking at the waiver wire for a 3rd QB on Monday.

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
10-03-2010, 11:12 AM
So the question is: how did 17 other teams not see what we saw in the draft? Did we get lucky or did we see something others couldn't?

For some reason there is an unwritten rule that you do not draft a C high up in the first. I'm not sure if that is because the position is viewed as unimportant, centers are considered to be a dime a dozen, or there is too high a failure rate for them, but that is the rule.

No team knows about the value of a strong C more than the Steelers. In the last 40+ years, the position was dominated by 4 players who were amongst the best in the league at the position - and in a couple of cases amongst the greatest in the history of the game. More recently we were stuck with the ineffectiveness of Mahan and Hartwig. So, it should be no surprise that when there is a team that breaks the code of C draft value it is the Steelers.