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fordfixer
12-15-2010, 12:10 AM
Time to start scoring TDs

By Bob Labriola - Steelers Digest
http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... 9ca97b983d (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Time-to-start-scoring-TDs/e94c9d9f-df62-47b7-b749-ec9ca97b983d)


The New York Jets will be coming to Heinz Field for a Sunday game matching two of the four teams in the AFC that currently have won at least nine games, and as Coach Mike Tomlin said during his Tuesday news conference, “That’s what you wish for this time of year. It’s good to be in significant games. That means that you have done what you needed to do to this point.”

One season after missing the playoffs, the Steelers have done what they needed to do to climb back into the thick of the playoff chase, and the NFL is certain to release some scenarios later in the week that will describe what must happen for them to clinch a spot officially.

But there also are things teams need to do to be able to make deep runs into the playoffs and get themselves into those games that end with trophy presentations.

One of those things unquestionably is scoring offensive touchdowns, and right now that has become an issue for the 10-3 Steelers.

In the past three games, the Steelers offense has scored two touchdowns – one of those came on the opening possession of the game in Buffalo and the other came in the fourth quarter in Baltimore but only after the defense presented the ball at the Ravens’ 9-yard line. Against the Bengals, who arrived here with a defense ranked No. 28 in the NFL in points allowed – they scored none.

“We want to score touchdowns,” said Tomlin. “In the recent past we haven’t done as well as we would like. There are a myriad of reasons, and usually they’re centered around execution.”

That really is the confounding part of this, because it’s not as though the Steelers offense has been inept in those three games. The unit has put up 1,068 net yards of offense, converted 48 percent on third downs, averaged 21 first downs in each of the games and possessed the ball for an average of 38 minutes per game, and they committed a total of only two turnovers.

But still no touchdowns, and Tomlin wasn’t interested in offering any excuses, especially when it came to the possible impact of the injuries to the tight end position.

“I am not going to blame anything,” said Tomlin. “If we want to employ three tight ends, and we only have two of them suited, we can tell No. 79 (Trai Essex) to report as eligible and go about our business. We are not executing in that area to our liking because we are not executing in that area to our liking.”

Tomlin may not be interested in blaming anything, but there would seem to be a couple of obvious culprits: penalties and sacks. Both of those things are damaging to an offensive unit on the field while having minimal impact on the stat sheet.

In the last three games, the Steelers have committed 13 offensive holding penalties and allowed Ben Roethlisberger to be sacked 12 times. As has been well-documented, the pass protection issue is shared by the entire unit, and there are times when Roethlisberger holds onto the ball instead of throwing it away. But there are more times when Roethlisberger’s holding of the ball leads to big plays for the offense, and lately it seems there have been even more of those than normal.

Penalties, though, are another matter entirely.

“We’ve been holding, and we need to stop. We need to cut down on holding,” said Tomlin. “No question holding occurs just about on every snap in the National Football League. I think anybody in this industry will acknowledge that, and so what we need to do is cut down on the actions that are triggering the flags. Those actions are grabbing and restricting the jersey coming away from the body, and so forth. We need to do a better job. We need to do a more detailed job of playing technical.”

TOMLIN’S INJURY UPDATE: “Flozell Adams continues to deal with his ankle sprain. He might be limited in the early portions of the week. He was able to play in the (Bengals) game, probably not to the level he’d like, but he should be better this week. Bryant McFadden continues to deal with a hamstring injury, but of course he was able to play, at less than 100 percent but that can be said about anyone in the NFL at this time of the year. Troy is still dealing with his situation, and we’ll follow the same protocol in terms of not letting him practice in the early part of the week. Aaron Smith has started lifting. We’re still optimistic about him possibly joining us at some point. We like the progress. Anthony Madison has a knee contusion, and he should be fine. Keyaron Fox hyperextended his left elbow. He didn’t miss any action in the (Bengals) game, but that created a lot of discomfort. He should be fine. Heath Miller worked out this morning and passed his post-concussion test. He has absolutely no symptoms, and he’s a full-go for practice on Wednesday, and we anticipate having him back in the fold.”

steelz09
12-15-2010, 12:18 AM
At least we have some good injury news regarding Miller and especially Aaron Smith

fordfixer
12-15-2010, 12:47 AM
At least we have some good injury news regarding Miller and especially Aaron Smith
:tt1 :tt1 :tt1 :tt1

fordfixer
12-15-2010, 01:46 AM
On the Steelers: New stat draws line on offensive line woes
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10349/1110767-66.stm

Mike Tomlin answered plenty of questions Tuesday about the shortcomings of the Steelers' offense, which has produced precisely one touchdown in the past 11 quarters, and that thanks mostly to safety Troy Polamalu.

The coach fielded questions about problems in the "red zone," about "17 holding penalties" in the past four games, about Ben Roethlisberger "getting hit" with little response from the refs or the league and about the quarterback's "injuries."

Tomlin offered little in the way of reasons or solutions, but there seems to be an answer so obvious it played the role of the elephant in the press room: The Steelers' offensive line is not very good.

That's not only the opinion of many but now a statistical "fact" from a formula devised by the mathematicians at STATS, one of the top statistical services covering sports and one used widely by the television networks covering the NFL.

The new stat, conveniently, was announced on Tuesday as the "New York Life Protection Index" with its first weekly ranking. The offensive line of Indianapolis ranks first with a rating of 90.6. The Steelers' line ranks 29th with a rating of 44.9.

The "protection index" does not rank lines in terms of overall effectiveness, just in the passing game. According to the website that will be updated weekly, "While the New York Life Protection Index is calculated using a proprietary formula, the fundamentals are comprised of the length of a team's pass attempts combined with penalties by offensive linemen, sacks allowed and quarterback hurries and knockdowns."

It is not surprising that the Steelers' line ranks way down there. Roethlisberger has been the most sacked quarterback in the league since 2006 and now all those holding calls are being added to the fire. Holding penalties often occur because linemen are getting beat to the quarterback by a defender.

"We've been holding and we need to stop," was Tomlin's solution to the problem on Tuesday. "We need to cut down on holding. No question holding occurs on every snap in the National Football League. I think anybody in the industry will acknowledge that. What we need to do is cut down on the actions that are triggering the flags, which is grabbing and restricting the jersey coming away from the body and so forth."

The Steelers' line has been hit with a rash of injuries this season that wiped out their two starting offensive tackles -- Willie Colon to a ruptured Achilles tendon in June and Max Starks to neck surgery in November. The team has had five different starting lines this season. Only rookie center Maurkice Pouncey and right tackle Flozell Adams have started every game.

But, as the STATS protection index shows, it's not a new problem for the Steelers.

Since 2006, only one team that finished outside the top 12 in the index formula has made it to the Super Bowl -- the Steelers in 2008.

The Steelers rank 19th overall on offense with an average of 332.4 yards per game, 10th in rushing with 120.2 yards per game, tied for 17th in average per rush at 4.1 yards, and 18th in passing with 212.2 yards per game.

Steelers quarterbacks have been sacked 35 times, tied for sixth most in the NFL.
Educational purpose

Troy Polamalu not only provided another spark to a Steelers victory on Sunday, he provided the rest of the team with a "teaching tool."

That's what Tomlin called it when Polamalu intercepted Carson Palmer's pass at the goal line with fewer than two minutes to go Sunday and the Steelers holding a 16-point lead, and Polamalu decided to lateral it to teammate Bryant McFadden. The ball bounced around before McFadden recovered it.

"We desire to educate our guys to situational football," said Tomlin, who declined to talk about the play after the game on Sunday. "It wasn't a good situational-football maneuver. ... His reaction kind of sums up the situation, but it's also something to learn from.

"That's what you try to do this time of year when things come up such as that lateral, particularly when it doesn't prevent you from winning. I think it's a great teaching tool, just like the muffed punt by Antonio Brown. We're in the football game, a punt falls short, it's rolling in the ground -- what we want is possession of the football. Too risky of a maneuver under the circumstances."
Injury report

Tomlin's report on his team's injury situation this week: "We're not in too bad of shape."

Tight end Heath Miller worked out Tuesday morning after passing his concussion tests. He missed Sunday's game against the Bengals. Tomlin said Miller will participate fully in practice today.

Polamalu, who aggravated his calf/Achilles injury Sunday, will follow the same procedure he has for a month; he will not practice today or Thursday.

Tackle Flozell Adams played through a sprained ankle injured in the previous game and might be limited in practice this week. Tomlin said Adams did not play to his normal level last Sunday because of the injury. Cornerback Bryant McFadden "continues to deal with a hamstring."

Tomlin listed others he called minor bumps and bruises: Cornerback Anthony Madison (knee bruise) and linebacker Keyaron Fox (hyperextended left elbow).


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10349/11 ... z189lAwiyQ (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10349/1110767-66.stm#ixzz189lAwiyQ)

fordfixer
12-15-2010, 01:55 AM
December 14, 2010
Steelers wonder:?Where’s the ‘O’?
http://tribune-democrat.com/prosports/x ... re-s-the-O (http://tribune-democrat.com/prosports/x1613327316/Steelers-wonder-Where-s-the-O)

ALAN ROBINSON Associated Press Tue Dec 14, 2010, 12:06 AM EST

PITTSBURGH — The NFL is on pace for its biggest season offensively in league history. The Pittsburgh Steelers must be wondering when they’re going to start getting caught up in all of it.

The Steelers (10-3) are in position to claim a first-round playoff bye if they win out and go 13-3. With Troy Polamalu again making the game-altering defensive plays the Steelers were missing when he was hurt a year ago, they’ve allowed no more than 16 points while winning their Past four games.

That defense not only is playing as well as any in the league, it’s outperforming the Steelers’ offense – on offense.

Since the first quarter of a 19-16 overtime victory at Buffalo on Nov. 28, the Steelers’ offense has scored one touchdown in 11 quarters and an overtime period. That score, a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Issac Redman in Baltimore, was directly created by a Polamalu forced fumble that gave the Steelers the ball at the Ravens’ 9 in the closing minutes of a 13-10 win on Dec. 5.

The only two touchdowns the Steelers scored in beating Cincinnati 23-7 on Sunday came on interception returns by Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley. The offense was limited to three Shaun Suisham field goals despite holding a nine-minute advantage in time of possession and a 354-190 edge in yardage.

The Steelers won the Super Bowl two seasons ago with a superior defense and an average offense. But in this Year of the Yard, the Steelers realize they can’t keep operating this inefficiently on offense, especially if they eventually must go on the road during the playoffs.

Two of their past three games have been against teams, the Bills (3-10) and Bengals (2-11), that are among the league’s worst, yet the offense accounted for only one touchdown in those two games. Sunday’s opponent – the Jets

(9-4) – figures to be considerably tougher even though New York hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown in its past two games, either.

“We just weren’t scoring touchdowns,” wide receiver Mike Wallace said. “We were getting down there. We just have to finish drives. That’s our biggest problem. We don’t really ever have a problem moving the ball. It’s just finishing drives.”

Maybe it’s not a worry now, but perhaps it could become one in January.

Running back Rashard Mendenhall has three 100-yard games, but only one in 10 games. And the Steelers are sixth in the league with 803 penalty yards, 440 in the past four games alone.

Through Sunday’s games, the NFL is on pace for the highest averages in league history for total yards per game (676.5), net passing yards per game (448.1) and touchdown passes (a projected 750). The Steelers, so far, are nowhere close to establishing any such high marks, with the offense ranking as the franchise’s 13th best since 1970 and the passing game ranking as the seventh best.

While the Steelers played their first four games without the suspended Ben Roethlisberger, their offense is laboring at the same time they are finishing up one of their easiest closing stretches. Five of their final seven games are against losing-record teams, and four of their final six are against opponents that have won five or fewer games.

“I don’t think they did a bad job (against Cincinnati),” linebacker James Farrior said of the offense. “They did a good job of controlling the ball. We just made a couple of big plays to help them out. That’s the sign of a good team. When the other guy is down, you have to help him out.”

One of the Steelers’ concerns is that Roethlisberger, who has a history of concussions, keeps taking shots to the head without their opponents getting penalized.

A week after Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata was fined $15,000 for a not-penalized hit that broke Roethlisberger’s nose, the quarterback took shots to the head from the Bengals’ Michael Johnson and Roy L. Williams. Johnson appeared to grab the quarterback’s face mask.

“I got the same response that I got last week (in Baltimore),” Roethlisberger said, “that he was just trying to tackle you,”

The Steelers worry that if defensive players believe they can rough up the tough-to-bring down Roethlisberger without penalty, he could absorb a hit that puts him out of an important game.

“We don’t play like that,” Farrior said. “That’s kind of dirty. But we see the hits that Ben takes every week. It’s kind of ridiculous that they always miss those calls but, any time we breathe on a quarterback, they always seem to find that one.”

fordfixer
12-15-2010, 01:56 AM
Steelers need offense to get going if they want to contend
December 14, 2010 01:37 AM
http://www.heraldstandard.com/news_deta ... ntend.html (http://www.heraldstandard.com/news_detail/article/1636/2010/december/14/steelers-need-offense-to-get-going-if-they-want-to-contend.html)

By: HERALD STANDARD STAFF


PITTSBURGH (AP) - The NFL is on pace for its biggest season offensively in league history. The Pittsburgh Steelers must be wondering when they're going to start getting caught up in all of it.

The Steelers (10-3) are in position to claim a first-round playoff bye if they win out and go 13-3. With Troy Polamalu again making the game-altering defensive plays the Steelers were missing when he was hurt a year ago, they've allowed no more than 16 points while winning their last four games.

That defense not only is playing as well as any in the league, it's outperforming the Steelers' offense - on offense.

Since the first quarter of a 19-16 overtime victory at Buffalo on Nov. 28, the Steelers' offense has scored one touchdown in 11 quarters and an overtime period. That score, a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Issac Redman in Baltimore, was directly created by a Polamalu forced fumble that gave the Steelers the ball at the Ravens' 9 in the closing minutes of a 13-10 win on Dec. 5.

The only two touchdowns the Steelers scored in beating Cincinnati 23-7 on Sunday came on interception returns by Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley. The offense was limited to three Shaun Suisham field goals despite holding a nine-minute advantage in time of possession and a 354-190 edge in yardage.

The Steelers won the Super Bowl two seasons ago with a superior defense and an average offense. But in this Year of the Yard, the Steelers realize they can't keep operating this inefficiently on offense, especially if they eventually must go on the road during the playoffs.

Two of their last three games have been against teams, the Bills (3-10) and Bengals (2-11), that are among the league's worst, yet the offense accounted for only one touchdown in those two games. Sunday's opponent - the Jets (9-4) - figures to be considerably tougher despite losing its last two games.

"We just weren't scoring touchdowns," wide receiver Mike Wallace said. "We were getting down there. We just have to finish drives. That's our biggest problem. We don't really ever have a problem moving the ball. It's just finishing drives."

Maybe it's not a worry now, but perhaps it could become one in January. Running back Rashard Mendenhall has three 100-yard games, but only one in 10 games. And the Steelers are sixth in the league with 803 penalty yards, 440 in the last four games alone.
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Through Sunday's games, the NFL is on pace for the highest averages in league history for total yards per game (676.5), net passing yards per game (448.1) and touchdown passes (a projected 750). The Steelers, so far, are nowhere close to establishing any such high marks, with the offense ranking as the franchise's 13th best since 1970 and the passing game ranking as the seventh best.

While the Steelers played their first four games without the suspended Ben Roethlisberger, their offense is laboring at the same time they are finishing up one of their easiest closing stretches. Five of their final seven games are against losing-record teams, and four of their final six are against opponents that have won five or fewer games.

"I don't think they did a bad job (against Cincinnati)," linebacker James Farrior said of the offense. "They did a good job of controlling the ball. We just made a couple of big plays to help them out. That's the sign of a good team. When the other guy is down, you have to help him out."

One of the Steelers' concerns is that Roethlisberger, who has a history of concussions, keeps taking shots to the head without their opponents getting penalized.

A week after Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata was fined $15,000 for a not-penalized hit that broke Roethlisberger's nose, the quarterback took shots to the head from the Bengals' Michael Johnson and Roy L. Williams. Johnson appeared to grab the quarterback's face mask.

"I got the same response that I got last week (in Baltimore)," Roethlisberger said, "that he was just trying to tackle you,"

The Steelers worry that if defensive players believe they can rough up the tough-to-bring down Roethlisberger without penalty, he could absorb a hit that puts him out of an important game.

"We don't play like that," Farrior said. "That's kind of dirty. But we see the hits that Ben takes every week. It's kind of ridiculous that they always miss those calls but, any time we breathe on a quarterback, they always seem to find that one."

fordfixer
12-15-2010, 01:57 AM
Flags hindered Pittsburgh's offense
December 13, 2010 01:21 AM
http://www.heraldstandard.com/news_deta ... fense.html (http://www.heraldstandard.com/news_detail/article/1636/2010/december/13/flags-hindered-pittsburghs-offense.html)
By: MIKE CIAROCHI


PITTSBURGH - To say the Steelers beat the Bengals convincingly because of their defense would be accurate. To say they won convincingly despite their offense is overstating the case just a bit.

While the Steelers didn't score an offensive touchdown in a 23-7 win, they dominated the statistics sheet basically from top to bottom. Of course, that includes penalties, which cost the Steelers on several possessions.

Pittsburgh was flagged nine times for 89 yards. Included in that number were four holding penalties, all coming in the third quarter.

"When you're looking at a first-and-30, it's tough," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "Somehow, we overcame that. For the most part, we have all year when you get behind the chains with penalties. We find ways to overcome them. There's no doubt you like to stay on schedule because that will make the job a lot easier."

Tomloin said one of the reasons the Steelers have been able to overcome penalties is through the leadership provided by, among others, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

"It's funny, but I had that same talk with Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch," Roethlisberger said. "We possessed the ball and that was a good thing. But we need to clean up the penalties because field goals are not enough. We need to score touchdowns."

"We moved the ball, we just didn't finish drives," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "There was a lot of hidden yards we left out there on the field."

PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS: No, the Steelers did not clinch a playoff berth with Sunday's 23-7 win over Cincinnati. Beating the Jets next Sunday would do the trick, though.

Besides beating the Bengals, the Steelers needed a variety of combinations to come true to qualify. Basically stated, wins by Indianapolis and Jacksonville put off any Steelers clinchings for at least a week.

J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS: Next Sunday's 4:15 p.m. kickoff against the New York Jets has more playoff implications than perhaps any other game on the schedule, but the Steelers didn't even want to think about next week until at least Monday.

"Man, I haven't thought about the Jets until you just mentioned it," Tomlin said. "We'll see them on Sunday, I guess."

Ward feels strongly that Sunday's match-up will be the first of two meetings between the Steelers and Jets.

"We're going to enjoy this one tonight, then get ready for the Jets," Ward said. "We'll probably face each other in the playoffs, too, so that would make it even more exciting. They've got a great team and we've got a great team."

"I think TO (Bengals receiver Terrell Owens) called it a five-star matchup," said Steelers safety Ryan Clark. "I think he's right because we're in it. We're excited about it, but we have to hold up our end of the bargain."

Linebacker James Farrior, however, wanted to keep the perspective a bit narrower.

"We're in control of the AFC North Division and that's the key," Farrior said. "Win your division and you punch your ticket."

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Troy Polamalu stepped in front of a Carson Palmer pass intended for Terrell Owens and returned the interception 45 yards for the Steelers first score of the game. The play sparked the lethargic Steelers defense and tied the score, 7-7. It also inspired the Steelers offense, which marched 75 yards to a Shaun Suisham 23-yard field goal and a 10-7 lead at the half. + On a second-and-30 play, Roethlisberger passed to Hines Ward for 29 yards. + The third quarter ended with an 18-yard Roethlisberger-to-Mike Wallace pass after another holding penalty.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Cincinnati's first-possession touchdown was aided by two penalties against the Steelers. LaMarr Woodley was offside on a third-and-2 incompletion and Ike Taylor was called for a 19-yard pass interference penalty. + Pittsburgh's offense generated only 74 yards of offense until getting 75 on its last possession of the first half. + The Steelers first possession of the second half seemed headed for the end zone until David Johnson was called for holding on first-and-goal from the 9-yard line. The drive ended on a 35-yard Suisham field goal. + Back-to-back holding penalties (Jonathan Scott and Matt Spaeth took the Steelers from a first-and-10 at the 45 to a first-and-30 at the 25-yard line. + Back-to-back sacks turned a first-and-10 at the 22-yard line into a punt.

STAT OF THE WEEK: The Steelers held the ball for 13:15 of the third quarter, ran 25 plays and gained 104 yards. Problem was, Pittsburgh managed only three points in that stretch. Included in that quarter was a 15-play, 50-yard drive that consumed 9:21, but resulted in a punt.

STILL PERFECT: Kicker Shaun Suisham made all three of his field goal attempts (23, 35 and 41 yards) and made both of his extra point kicks. Since replacing Jeff Reed four games ago, Suisham remains perfect. He has converted 9-of-9 extra points and 9-of-9 field goal attempts.

INJURIES: Cincinnati safety Chinedum Ndukwe suffered a left knee injury in the second quarter and did not return. + Steelers safety Anthony Madison suffered a kneecap injury, but is expected to be able to play Sunday against the Jets. + Roethlisberger aggravated his ankle injury, but didn't miss a play.

FIFTH QUARTER: For more on Sunday's Steelers game against Cincinnati, please go to heraldstandard.com and view The Fifth Quarter. George Von Benko and yours truly take an in-depth look at some of the key components to Sunday's game. The video will be taped Monday afternoon and will be available online later Monday.

WORTH REPEATING: Tomlin was asked about Troy Polamalu's ill-advised lateral after Polamalu's second interception of the game. "Ask Troy. He'll be available after he washes his hair."

Oviedo
12-15-2010, 10:01 AM
It's all tied to the same thing

Poor offensive production/inability to score = Bad OL

Roor protection of the QB = Bad OL

Drive killing penalties = Bad OL

The injuries on the OL this year have been devastating for this offense because there never were second-string players who were legitimate and had the potential to be future starters. This is confounded by Arians' unwillingness to change the offense, e.g. quick passing, quick tempo, to protect the OL by not requiring them to hold their blocks as long and prevent other teams by subbing players. Just seeing Essex on the field as a 3rd OT would be a step in the right direction.

hawaiiansteel
12-16-2010, 06:43 PM
Steelers winning despite inefficient offense

By Mark Kaboly, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, December 16, 2010
http://files.pittsburghlive.com/photos/2010-12-15/steelers-a.jpg

Ben Roethlisberger
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review


Struggling Steelers offense

Here's a breakdown of how the Steelers offense has faired against their past six opponents.

Cincinnati: 8 drives; 0 TDs; 3 FGs; 46 percent on third down; 0 of 3 in red zone

Baltimore: 11; 1; 2; 28 percent; 1 of 2

Buffalo: 12; 1; 4; 63 percent; 1 of 1

Oakland: 13; 5; 0; 50 percent; 3 of 3

New England: 13; 3; 1; 41 percent; 2 of 5

Cincinnati: 14; 3; 2; 42 percent; 2 of 3

Source: Tribune-Review research

Leave it to Hines Ward, the man who never seems to stop smiling, to find a silver lining out of the Steelers' offensive woes.

"We're winning," he said, "and that's all that matters."

Still, the Steelers know they're going to need more from their offense, particularly when the N.Y. Jets visit Heinz field at 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

During the past 13 quarters and 31 drives, the Steelers offense has managed two touchdowns. Safety Troy Polamalu set up one of those when he forced a fumble against Baltimore and gave the offense the ball nine yards from the end zone.

"We know we are struggling a little bit on offense," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "We are moving the ball and doing some good things, but when we get down to the red zone we just haven't taken the next step."

Moving the ball hasn't been a problem. The Steelers have averaged 355 yards per game during the past three games, but offensively they have scored less than 14 points per game since putting up 35 against Oakland last month.

"We are having a lot of big plays but not getting into the end zone," receiver Mike Wallace said. "I don't know what it is, but we are going to figure it out."

The biggest problem for the Steelers has come after they've gotten into scoring position, making mistakes that proved to be drive killers.

"A lot of it has to do with communication," guard Chris Kemoeatu said. "We need to have everybody be on the same page.

"Everybody has to do their job. It has to be a perfect play. In the red zone, there is always that one guy who lets a d-lineman go."

A mistake on the opponent's side of the field cost the Steelers five times during the past two games.

Three times Roethlisberger was sacked, taking the team out of scoring range; an offside penalty led to a field goal instead of a touchdown; and a missed block on the goal line forced the Steelers to settle for yet another field goal.

"We have to execute better when we get down at the red zone," Ward said. "Attention to detail. When your number is called somebody has to make a play. We (have) the problem of the Steelers beating the Steelers. We are not going to hit the panic button."

Especially with how well their defense has played.

"We know we need to put up touchdowns rather than field goals, but at the end of the day we are still winning ballgames," Ward said. "To still win ballgames and not be efficient in the red zone is a good thing."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_713963.html