View Full Version : Bires: Steelers get the 'L' out of the way

10-04-2010, 02:52 AM
Bires: Steelers get the 'L' out of the way

By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... e-way.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1373/2010/october/03/bires-steelers-get-the-l-out-of-the-way.html)
Sunday October 3, 2010 11:41 PM

PITTSBURGH — Today when the Steelers meet to rehash the only blemish on their record, they will first greet the face of the franchise. Ben Roethlisberger’s exile is over.

His return will be greeted with great fanfare. Even those teammates who may have privately and quietly abhorred the behavior that got him suspended will welcome him back with open arms

He is an elite athlete and one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.

After four weeks of Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch, it’s quite obvious how much better the Steelers will be with No. 7 under center.

“We’re getting our franchise guy back,” wide receiver Hines Ward said. “Offensively, we’ll be a better ball club with Ben.”

Actually, the Steelers weren’t a bad club without Roethlisberger.

At the one-quarter mark of their season, the Steelers are 3-1 and tied with Baltimore for first place in the AFC North. When the season started last month, no one could have imagined the Steelers being in this position, not without Roethlisberger.

“It could be better. It could be worse,” defensive end Brett Keisel said of the Steelers’ standing heading into their bye week. “But we’re happy to have three wins. It’s a lot better than 1-3.”

Sure, Sunday’s 17-14 loss to the Ravens hurt. Batch didn’t play well. Jeff Reed missed two makeable field goals. There were 11 penalties. And the defense which has played so well allowed a game-winning touchdown with just 32 seconds left to play.

But at this stage of the season, the Steelers are every bit the contender as any other team in the NFL.

While Roethlisberger was banished for four games because of a sexual assault accusation, the Steelers actually used his absence as motivation. They wanted to prove they could win without him, and they did three times. They almost won a fourth time before allowing the hated Ravens to rally.

“I love this team,” free safety Ryan Clark said. “I love the way this team fights. We didn’t play well today. But we didn’t play a terrible game. I’m excited about where this team is going.”

How can the Steelers not feel good about what lies ahead?

They’re playing outstanding defense.

Offensively, the running game is vastly improved. And with Roethlisberger back starting Oct. 17 when the Steelers host Cleveland, the passing attack will pick up, too. Before Batch threw for just 141 yards against the Ravens, the Steelers were tied for last in the NFL in passing. Last year with Roethlisberger, the Steelers ranked ninth.

After the gut-wrenching loss to the Ravens, coach Mike Tomlin said, “I’m hacked off right now. I hate (losing).”

When asked about Roethlisberger coming back, all Tomlin would say was that “He’ll be back tomorrow.”

Truth be told, Tomlin can’t wait to see Roethlisberger’s return. He’ll be first in line today when the Steelers welcome back their franchise quarterback.

10-04-2010, 03:20 PM
Loss to division rival bruises Steelers' start

Monday, October 04, 2010
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Peter Diana/Post-Gazette
Quarterback Charlie Batch scrambles against the Ravens Sunday at Heinz Field.

For the fourth time in these six most recent ultra-violent collisions, the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens delivered another tight-as-the-wallpaper three-point game Sunday, this one falling to the purple and black, the primary colors of a deep bruise.

That's precisely what it felt like in the Steelers' locker room, too. More important, as deep bruises go, this one's going to be there for a while, at least until everyone in the AFC North proves they can beat somebody else in the AFC North.

A quarter of the way through this NFL season, we know the Browns can beat the Bengals (really?), the Bengals can beat the Ravens, the Ravens can beat the Steelers, and the Steelers can beat ...

Yeah, see that's a problem.

Is it worth pointing out at this juncture that Mike Tomlin's team has lost five of its past seven games within the division?

"No, every year is different," said a bitterly disappointed Hines Ward after the Ravens flipped a four-point Pittsburgh lead for a 17-14 victory in the game's final minute. "But this is still going to hurt, because it's Baltimore."

Hines had his own five-of-the-last-seven factoid at the ready.

"Before today, we'd won five of the last seven in this series," Ward said, "and the two times we didn't, we didn't have our starting quarterback."

So yes, it's true, Baltimore's past three wins against the Steelers have come against backup quarterbacks, but as much you might be relieved, if not delighted, that the Steelers came through No. 7's enforced absence with a 3-1 record, a 3-1 record compiled any other way would taste a lot sweeter.

This is like finding out you've won that new Lamborghini, but that this one has a bold new design inspired by the El Camino. And, of course, there are the taxes.

"It's important for a lot of reasons, but it's mostly special because of who we're playing," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. "That football team is a tremendous football team and this is a tough place to play. That's our archrival and we found a way to beat them at their place."

That they didn't find a way until 32 seconds remained, until former Bengals agitator T.J. Houshmandzadeh broke clear of Steelers corner Bryant McFadden for an 18-yard touchdown toward the river, neither of those things dampened Baltimore's afternoon in the least.

The Ravens are in first place, and if they are still there the morning of Jan. 2, the Steelers might spend that day staring at the same bruise they earned in this pratfall Oct. 3. Had they managed even one first down after Rashard Mendenhall's touchdown gave them a 14-10 lead with 7:14 to play, they'd be 4-0 for the first time in 31 years.

"We go 90-some yards to score against a great defense in the fourth quarter, and it shows a lot of character," Ward said, "and then we can't convert the next time we get the ball. I mean I like the character of this offense and now we're getting our franchise quarterback back, but it still hurts."

All together now ...

"Because it's Baltimore."

It's not as though the Ravens were exactly at full strength. They were without All-Galaxy safety Ed Reed, without starting corner Domonique Foxworth, and had Ray Rice operating at diminished capacity. But you don't need to be terribly accomplished when the opponent is brain-cramping with startling regularity. In the final minutes, it really was like the Steelers were almost rhythmically non-thoughtful, to butcher a phrase.

D!ck LeBeau's defense had just turned the Ravens away at the 2 to prop that 14-10 lead up when Chris Kemoeatu committed the first of three Steelers penalties in the span of 87 seconds. Kemoeatu's false start at the Steelers' 3 was followed a play later by Matt Spaeth's false start at the 6. On Daniel Sepulveda's fifth consecutive excellent punt, a 47-yarder out of the hole from the 3, Keyaron Fox was called for holding, giving Baltimore 10 critical forward yards from where Tom Zbikowski made a fair catch on the 50.

The larger offensive sin was probably the inability to convert two second-half turnovers into anything but a pair of missed Jeff Reed field goals, the second coming after an interception by Ike Taylor. You hate to waste a pick by Ike, who rarely meets a football he doesn't drop. The Ike pick might not happen again for a while.

"We let one slip through our hands," Ward said in exasperation.

When you lose a division game at home after leading in the fourth quarter because the offense drops the ball on a day that Ike doesn't, yeah, you got the bruise.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10277/10 ... z11Q3ngzhC (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10277/1092511-150.stm#ixzz11Q3ngzhC)

10-04-2010, 03:39 PM
we've lost 5 of the last 7 division games? Ouch!!!

Have we built a team that is metter suited to win playoff football than AFCN football?

or did we just stink it up last year? To be fair 2 of those losses were to the Ravens without Ben.