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11-17-2010, 09:54 PM
Steelers on verge of another slide?
Michael Silver
http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=A ... ions111710 (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=AkNB2wj9_c_Pd61imM6jVb9DubYF?slug=ms-32questions111710)

By Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports

Troy Polamalu(notes) is as purposeful and direct in his interviews as he is on the football field. When I caught up with the Steelers’ superb strong safety as he walked toward the Heinz Field parking lot early Monday morning, he made no attempt to soften the significance of the 39-26 thumping his team had just taken from Tom Brady(notes) and the Patriots.

“It’s obviously an incredibly humbling loss,” Polamalu said softly – like Mike Tyson, the man’s voice is the exact opposite of what you’d expect when you see him perform in his chosen profession. “We found out [Sunday] we’re not deserving of being grouped with the elite teams right now.”

Two quick reactions: First, I’d like to thank Polamalu for making this week’s first-to-worst list of uniquely captivating queries a bit easier; and secondly, I wonder if he’s worried that he and his teammates are about to experience another Steeltown Slide.

Last year, remember, the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers were 6-2 before a five-game losing streak doomed their postseason hopes and made head coach Mike Tomlin’s vow to “unleash hell” a hollow promise.

Given that the 2010 Steelers were 6-2 coming into Sunday night’s game, and in light of the degree to which they were dismantled by the Pats, fears that they’ll be experiencing an equally horrific encore are understandable. The fact that the Raiders – one of the teams which came to Pittsburgh and won during last year’s losing streak – return to Heinz on Sunday stokes the post-traumatic stress as well.

I suspect this year’s Steelers will avoid a collapse and grind their way back toward the top shelf they crave, partly because Polamalu, unlike at this time in ’09, is healthy enough to lead their defense. Yet I also believe him when he claims that the defeat to the Pats dampened the internal optimism developed during Pittsburgh’s impressive first half of the season.

“We’re only halfway through – and that’s a good thing,” he said before leaving the stadium. “We’re not on [the Patriots’] level, and we’re not world champs yet. We’re trying to develop into that.”

Will they get there? We’ll all have to wait and see. In the meantime, here are three-dozen-minus-four questions to ponder:

1. New York Jets: After his gutsy and incredible catch in Sunday’s overtime victory over the Browns, should a certain Jets wideout be nicknamed “Hopalong Cotchery”?

2. New England Patriots: Will the winners of Matt Light’s(notes) “Light It Up” raffle also receive a pack of Trident sugar-free gum?

3. Philadelphia Eagles: If DeSean Jackson(notes) were on the Steelers, would he have compared his teammates to “girls gone wild” after an emotional victory?

4. Atlanta Falcons: Is keeping Matt Ryan(notes) in the no-huddle a no-brainer for Mike Smith?

5. Baltimore Ravens: Why does Terrell Suggs’(notes) comparison of the Patriots to a certain cheerleader-subterfuge flick make me scream “Bring It On!” when pondering a potential Ravens-Patriots playoff rematch?

6. Pittsburgh Steelers: After getting released on Tuesday, did Jeff Reed(notes) find a nearby Sheetz convenience store and take out his frustrations on a paper-towel machine, just for old times’ sake?

7. Green Bay Packers: If Michael Vick(notes) is voted the league’s MVP, will he thank Clay Matthews(notes) for having made it all possible?

8. New York Giants: Was Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys simply a misstep, or is Tom Coughlin’s team running a familiar fade pattern?

9.New Orleans Saints: Will Sean Payton’s offense (and return units) get a Bush Push?

10. Indianapolis Colts: If Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz’s cruise-ship analogy about the injured Colts was brought to life, and I was one of the passengers who had to subsist on mayonnaise sandwiches, how quickly would I jump overboard?

11. Miami Dolphins: What is it with Florida and defective Chads, anyway?

12. Tennessee Titans: Is Cortland Finnegan(notes) psychic – or is Dan Henning’s Dolphins offense just really, really predictable?

Williams en route to a 45-yard TD run vs. the Panthers.
(Chris O’Meara/AP Photo)

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Is Cadillac Williams psychic, or was he just really, really due for a long scoring run?

14. Oakland Raiders: Which “overwhelming victory” made Al Davis happier – the team’s 59-14 thrashing of the Broncos last month or an NFL arbitrator’s denial of former coach Lane Kiffin’s grievance?

15. San Diego Chargers: Has a 4-5 team ever been sitting so pretty?

16. Chicago Bears: Why would the Bears ever not use Devin Hester(notes) to return kickoffs?

17. Kansas City Chiefs: After last Sunday’s postgame beef, how awesome would it be if someone could arrange a charity tag-team wrestling match featuring Todd Haley and mentor Bill Parcells vs. Josh McDaniels and mentor Bill Belichick?

18. Cleveland Browns: If the season were restarted today, don’t you get the feeling these guys would push their way into the playoffs?

19. Seattle Seahawks: Given his desire to “kick my own butt” for calling the fourth-and-1 sneak that got Matt Hasselbeck(notes) injured, is Pete Carroll officially the Artie Fufkin of the NFL?

20. Washington Redskins: So will Daniel Snyder announce a lucrative extension for Albert Haynesworth(notes) before next week’s game?

21. Jacksonville Jaguars: Is David Garrard(notes) getting his 2007 on – and, if so, could the Jags somehow muster a postseason run?

22. Minnesota Vikings: When it comes to Brett Favre’s(notes) health, should we start calling the Vikings’ coach Brad Clueless?

23. Houston Texans: Given that they’re on pace to be the second-worst defense in NFL history, should we be applauding the Texans for being 4-5?

24. Cincinnati Bengals: When a team has five more turnovers than a quality opponent and only loses by six, isn’t that kind of amazing?

25. Dallas Cowboys: If Jason Garrett stepped down as the Cowboys’ interim coach right now, would he go down as a legend in his profession?

26. St. Louis Rams: Yo, Oshiomogho Atogwe(notes) – could The Flash have caught Michael Vick on Monday night?

27. San Francisco 49ers: Alex who?

28. Arizona Cardinals: Is the Bipolar Express about to go off the rails?

29. Denver Broncos: Now that he’s no longer a team captain, will linebacker D.J. Williams(notes) team up with this Captain?

30. Detroit Lions: Does Jahvid Best(notes) need a little pep talk from Sgt. Hulka?

31. Buffalo Bills: Is there any way they could select Andrew Luck before Saturday – and are some of their fans really upset that they finally won a game because it might mess up their draft position?

32. Carolina Panthers: If scoring his first NFL touchdown against the Bucs was a “blessing” for running back Josh Vaughan(notes), will playing against Ray Lewis(notes) on Sunday be a curse?