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fordfixer
09-18-2011, 01:16 AM
For the Steelers, last week's loss was just one game (really, it was)
Sunday, September 18, 2011
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11261/1175570-66-0.stm

In the week leading up to the 2003 season opener in Buffalo, the New England Patriots released defensive captain and Pro Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy, inciting something of a revolt in a city known for historical revolution.

Even in the Patriots locker room, reports surfaced that the players "hated" their head coach, Bill Belichick, for releasing one of their most popular players. As coincidence would have it, Milloy was immediately signed by the Buffalo Bills, their opening-game opponent.

Led by an inspired Milloy and former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe, the Bills hammered the Patriots in the season opener, 31-0 -- Buffalo's largest margin of victory in 11 years and its first regular-season shutout in four.

For New England, the question arose among their faithful: Was the game an aberration or a disturbing portent of things to come for a team that had won the Super Bowl just two years earlier?

Well, the Patriots rebounded in a convincing manner, winning 17 of their remaining 18 games, including Super Bowl XXXVIII. What's more, they finished off an unbeaten home record with a 31-0 victory against the Bills, the same score by which they lost their season opener to the same team.

And they did so despite roster turbulence that forced the Patriots to start 42 different players that season -- a record for a division winner.

"I remember that," said Steelers backup quarterback Byron Leftwich, who was a rookie starter in Jacksonville in 2003 when the Jaguars lost to the Patriots during their amazing turnaround, 27-13, in Week 14.

Leftwich was reminded about those Patriots after watching the Steelers get embarrassed last Sunday in Baltimore, 35-7, their worst season-opening loss since the Dallas Cowboys beat them at home, 37-7, in 1997.

"I think it bugs you a little more when it's the first game," Leftwich said. "Each team has so much time to get prepared for the first game that, when you lose that game, especially the way we lost it, it's tough.

"But, trust me, I believe in this locker room. I believe in us. We'll fight back from this."

The Patriots did. And so have the Steelers.
Remembering Dallas: 1997

Hines Ward began his career with the Steelers as a third-round draft choice in 1998, missing by one season the 37-7 loss to the Cowboys that, until last Sunday, had been the last time the Steelers opened the regular season with a such a miserable loss.

It was a game that, oddly enough, sent both teams in different directions.

The Steelers didn't immediately cleanse the bad taste from their collective mouths, barely beating the Washington Redskins, 14-13, one week later. In Week 3, the malaise continued with a 31-20 loss in Jacksonville.

But, in a reversal that has happened on more than one occasion since their first four Super Bowls, the Steelers turned their season around in dramatic fashion, winning 11 of the next 15 games before losing to the Denver Broncos at home in the AFC championship game.

The Cowboys? They finished 6-10 and in the basement of the NFC East that season.

"The first game is no indicator of how the rest of the season goes," said former center Dermontti Dawson, who played on the 1997 team during his Pro Bowl-spangled career. "You have to keep it in perspective. That's the first game.

"I don't think it really puts doubt in your mind, even though you like to win the first game. Even if you lose, you'd like to lose by fewer points. It's some consolation. You don't want to be blown out. You'd rather have it where it's a few points so it doesn't seem as bad."

Make no mistake. It was bad last Sunday in Baltimore, from the first play from scrimmage when Ravens running back Ray Rice ran between linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu for a 36-yard gain to the last of seven turnovers the Steelers committed -- six of which came in the second half.

The performance has prompted catcalls from TV analysts around the country that the Steelers, last year's AFC champions, are too old and too slow.

"You can't let it play mind games with you or create doubt," Dawson said, referring to how the Steelers responded in 1997 while also dispensing advice to the 2011 Steelers.

One game will not dictate how the Steelers regroup from what happened, even though much focus will be heaped on the 1 p.m. game today against the Seattle Seahawks at Heinz Field to see how they respond.

"That's why I can't wait till Sunday -- to put this behind us and move forward," Ward said. "You never forget. That game, it will stay with you for a while. We're embarrassed the way we played. It was totally uncharacteristic of us. We didn't turn the ball over in the preseason and we come out and turn the ball over seven times. Tell me one team that turned it over seven times and won the game?

"We don't need to watch TV and hear what's wrong with the Steelers. We know we played bad, but it's one game of a 16-game season. We can't sit here and dwell on it. I can't wait till [today] so people stop talking about it."

It might take more than one game to dispense the memory of what happened against the Ravens, though. But history has shown it eventually can be dispelled.
Just one of 16

How the Steelers have started a season does not always indicate how they will finish, either for the good or the bad.

Consider:

In 1989, they were outscored, 92-10, in the first two games by the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals and still made it to the second round of the AFC playoffs, coming within a dropped pass in Denver of making it to the conference championship.

In 2001, the Steelers opened the season with a distasteful, 21-3 loss in Jacksonville but finished with an AFC-best 13-3 record and went to the AFC title game.

The following year, the Steelers opened with lopsided losses to the Patriots (30-14) and Oakland Raiders (30-17) but finished 10-5-1 and came within a roughing-the-kicker penalty on a missed field goal in Tennessee of advancing to the conference championship again.

"Just as when we won the first game a lot, it didn't determine how we were doing in November and December football," Leftwich said. "It really has no bearing on the outcome. We have a loss for the first time in a long time [in the season opener], and we'll handle it in an appropriate way."

But note that the reverse has happened, too.

In 1998, the Steelers opened with a 43-0 win in Cleveland in what was the first game back in the NFL for the expansion Browns. But, even though it was a dominating start to a season that followed their appearance in the conference championship, the Steelers finished 6-10.

In 2003, after back-to-back playoff appearances, the Steelers opened with a convincing, 34-13 victory against the Ravens. But, just like the Steelers and Cowboys in 1997, both teams went in opposite directions from there. The Ravens finished 10-6 and won the AFC North, and the Steelers finished 6-10.

"It's one game; it's not the Super Bowl," Ward said. "We have to move on. They outplayed us."

Dawson thinks they will.

"They've got an experienced team, and that's a benefit to those guys," he said. "I just remember Coach [Bill] Cowher said, 'Keep it in perspective. We played bad, on both sides, but there is tomorrow. Learn from it and get ready to go next week.'

"You have to have a short memory in football. If you dwell on the past, you can't move forward."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11261/11 ... z1YHJAvLDK (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11261/1175570-66-0.stm#ixzz1YHJAvLDK)

fordfixer
09-18-2011, 01:17 AM
On the Steelers: James Farrior should expect to sit out more plays this season
Sunday, September 18, 2011
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11261/1175306-66-0.stm

James Farrior has learned to fend off blocks from 330-pound guards, make tackles on 250-pound running backs and cover wide receivers during his 15 seasons in the NFL.

Now he must learn to handle something entirely different, watching from the sidelines with his Steelers defense on the field.

Farrior, 36, spent several series on Sunday in Baltimore watching Larry Foote play his position at inside linebacker. It is not something he is accustomed to. Farrior, as the "mack" linebacker, hardly ever came off the field. He played on running downs, passing downs, everything but punting downs. He led the team in tackles six times and was second twice over the past eight seasons.

Last Sunday in Baltimore, however, he was forced to watch several series, which will continue to be the plan, coach Mike Tomlin said.

"I'm cool with it," said Farrior, long a leader and defensive captain with the Steelers. "I think it will help out in the long run, in November and December."

One of his co-captains on offense, Hines Ward, applauded Farrior for how he has taken what is not a demotion but is a concession to age.

"Our time is coming," said Ward, 35. "He's a captain, he's a leader, he's not going to gripe about things. They were rotating him and Foote. It's part of the business.

"My day is coming. I see how he's dealing with stuff like that. Has he lost a step? I don't think so. He's still a great player. He's the leader of that defense; that's why he was voted captain. That's just what the coaching staff wanted to do.

"Maybe it's to save him in the long haul, to keep him fresh toward the end of the season when we need him the most."

Farrior said he does not feel different physically now, but it might catch up with him later. The one concession he has made to age, he said, is to spend more time in the weight room in order to keep up his strength.

The plan, he said, is not set in stone.

"I think it just depends on how it plays out, what everyone looks like. I don't think it's anything set."

Chop blocks: NFL again looks other way

There has been some dispute whether the chop blocks thrown by the Baltimore Ravens Sunday were legal or not. No Ravens were penalized, and none were fined. ESPN analyst Merril Hoge, who has access to the tapes each team shoots at games, wrote on Twitter, "After watching the end zone copy of the coaching tape the ravens O line had several illegal chop blocks on steeler D that were never called."

Let's forget whether the chop blocks were legal or not, or whether they had anything to do with the Ravens' ability to rush for 170 yards against what was the third-best rush defense in the modern history of the NFL last season. The crux of the matter is the Ravens came out chop-blocking with impunity and the NFL will do nothing about it.

It is no wonder defensive players feel they have no protection from an NFL that wants nothing but offense. The chop block can take out a defensive lineman's knees in a heartbeat and either end or put a severe crimp into his career.

While the league moves to protect "defenseless" players on offense, such as receivers, it does little to protect those on defense who are defenseless as nose tackle Casey Hampton was Sunday.

If it is legal, the Steelers might as well get with the program and develop a strategy for using the chop block.

A BOGO special?

Think again

Why don't the Steelers just go out and get some good cornerbacks? Because you cannot just run down to the Piggly Wiggly and pick a couple off the shelves. That was a favorite saying of Chuck Noll, and it holds true today.

Some people seem to think teams can just wave a magic wand over their problems and fix them with new players, especially those cut by other teams. Perhaps the addition of tackle Flozell Adams last season helped make Steelers fans think that way. Willie Colon hurt? No problem, go find another veteran offensive tackle to help you get to the Super Bowl.

But that is a rare occasion. Every team has weaknesses in this age of the salary cap and free agency. Left cornerback is one for the Steelers. They drafted corners in the third and fourth round. Why not the first or second? Because they also needed to replenish their defensive and offensive lines, and you cannot use your first-round pick on two players, the NFL just won't allow it.

And they did sign a good cornerback this year. His name is Ike Taylor, and, if they had not signed him, he would be somewhere else right now. He was the Steelers' best defensive player Sunday.

Expect two gameday QBs to be the norm

It should be no surprise that the Steelers scratched Dennis Dixon last Sunday and will go with only two quarterbacks again today. The new rule that makes no exception for quarterbacks on the roster for games this year likely will have most teams going with just two and making another position player active.

It's not really much of a gamble. It's rare when a team has to go to its third quarterback.

"I have not seen it," said backup Charlie Batch, in his 14th NFL season. "I've seen it come close but I haven't seen it."

Perhaps the only time that has happened for the Steelers since the NFL merger came in 1977 in a game in Houston when defensive back Tony Dungy was forced to play quarterback because of injuries during the game.

You want a gamble? The Baltimore Ravens have just two quarterbacks on their roster, Joe Flacco and rookie Tyrod Taylor from Virginia Tech.

Batch, on the NFL Players Association executive board, said the new rule was a compromise during negotiations.

Previously, teams were permitted to have 45 of their 53-man roster active for games with a 46th deemed the third quarterback, which carried some weird rules as to when he could play and repercussions that went with it.

Now, a team can designate 46 players as active for games -- whether they chose a third quarterback or not.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11261/11 ... z1YHJawyiz (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11261/1175306-66-0.stm#ixzz1YHJawyiz)

fordfixer
09-18-2011, 01:20 AM
Let's hope the Steelers defense learned its lessons
LaMarr Woodley's tweet in June apparently sparked 'a little something' in Joe Flacco
Sunday, September 18, 2011
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11261/1175324-150-0.stm

Terrible towels were at half-mast all week in recognition of Willie Colon's terrible torn tricep, and consequentially the looming NFL debut of Steelers rookie tackle Marcus Gilbert has been the focus of the ramp up to a flock of Seahawks.

Watching Mike Tomlin and offensive line coach Sean Kugler constantly reassemble that unit like two guys poring over the build-your-own-burrito page at a Mexican restaurant has been fretful enough, but who lines up in front of Ben Roethlisberger might not even have the immediate significance of what's ailing Dick LeBeau's defense.

"We've got to stop the run and give the ball back to the offense in good field position," said linebacker LaMarr Woodley as the Seattle rehearsals wound down. "Everybody knows what to do."

No doubt on that, but having watched the Baltimore Ravens score on six of 13 possessions last Sunday in Maryland, there would seem to be an acute understanding of what not to do as well. For example, tweeting that the opposing quarterback will not win a Super Bowl "in this lifetime" is now officially frowned upon after Baltimore's Joe Flacco went 17 for 29 with three touchdowns.

Of course, Woodley hasn't done something like that since June. Too bad Flacco couldn't put it behind him as efficiently.

"Believe me," Flacco said in the summer, "that kind of stuff sparks a little something in me."

The more relevant blowback this week would appear to be Pittsburgh's reaction to the Sapp Rap, former Tampa defender Warren Sapp's yappy analysis that the Steelers defense is "old, slow, and it's over."

In the locker room, that spew was quickly dismissed as the ravings of a guy who can't even win on "Dancing With The Stars," but there is no denying that the Steelers defense generated almost no pressure on Flacco in Weak One, and the explanations for that weren't terribly soothing.

"They did a good job in the running game, on first and second down, so we didn't really have a lot of third-and-longs," said linebacker Larry Foote after practice Friday. "When we had them, they seemed to go to a lot of check-downs.

"We didn't have that many opportunities to get the blitz going, mostly because of the damage they did on first and second down."

Woodley eventually managed a sack, but it was of less consequence than his tweet.

Far worse, the run defense that allowed an historically stingy 63 yards per game a year ago got ripped for 170, and the general direction of these 2011 Steelers will be determined by how differently they perform in that aspect today.

It would appear there is nothing earthshaking about the offense of the Seattle Seahawks, unless you mean literally, as in the case of Marshawn Lynch. Perhaps you'll remember that it was Lynch who pin-balled 67 yards through the New Orleans defense to spark Seattle's NFC playoff victory last year, a jaw-dropping run on which Lynch broke the tackles of eight Saints defenders, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, one of the Neville brothers, and finally Harry Connick Jr. So thunderous was the response inside the stadium that the vibration set off a seismic activity alert at one of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network's area monitoring stations.

But Lynch was something less than seismic in last Sunday's 33-17 loss to the nearly-as-awful San Francisco 49ers, and in a week when the NFL showcased a record-setting 7,842 passing yards and no less than 14 300-yard quarterbacks, Seattle's Tarvaris Jackson wasn't one of them.

The former Vikings non-entity completed 21 passes for just 197 yards, 55 of them on a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to rookie wideout Doug Baldwin, a big play Seattle celebrated by allowing San Francisco's Ted Ginn to return both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the next 70 seconds.

Both Jackson and Lynch would be more viable threats today if Seattle were not operating with such inexperienced tackles against Woodley and James Harrison. Left tackle Russell Okung, in his second year, will be the guy holding Harrison this week, and right tackle James Carpenter has exactly one game of NFL experience, or one more than the Steelers' right tackle.

In any case, the Steelers need a wildly more robust performance from Harrison and Woodley, both of whom are now on film being manhandled in Baltimore.

"If they use that, it ain't gonna work," Woodley said flatly. "We made the corrections we needed to make. If Seattle does that, it ain't gonna work."

You'd expect he's right, just as you'd expect he won't be tweeting anything about Tarvaris Jackson or Marshawn Lynch prior to 1 p.m.

That's pretty much the theme for Pittsburgh's defense today:

No re-tweet, no surrender.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11261/11 ... z1YHKN1tqI (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11261/1175324-150-0.stm#ixzz1YHKN1tqI)

Keyplay1
09-18-2011, 10:08 AM
Remembering Dallas: 1997

Hines Ward began his career with the Steelers as a third-round draft choice in 1998, missing by one season the 37-7 loss to the Cowboys that, until last Sunday, had been the last time the Steelers opened the regular season with a such a miserable loss.

It was a game that, oddly enough, sent both teams in different directions.

The Steelers didn't immediately cleanse the bad taste from their collective mouths, barely beating the Washington Redskins, 14-13, one week later. In Week 3, the malaise continued with a 31-20 loss in Jacksonville.

But, in a reversal that has happened on more than one occasion since their first four Super Bowls, the Steelers turned their season around in dramatic fashion, winning 11 of the next 15 games before losing to the Denver Broncos at home in the AFC championship game.

The Cowboys? They finished 6-10 and in the basement of the NFC East that season.

"The first game is no indicator of how the rest of the season goes," said former center Dermontti Dawson, who played on the 1997 team during his Pro Bowl-spangled career. "You have to keep it in perspective. That's the first game.

"I don't think it really puts doubt in your mind, even though you like to win the first game. Even if you lose, you'd like to lose by fewer points. It's some consolation. You don't want to be blown out. You'd rather have it where it's a few points so it doesn't seem as bad."

I was surprised more stuff like this was not brought up this week. It's inspiring. That Dallas game was much more of a beatdown than the Baltimore game. And it was in Pittsburgh to boot.

fezziwig
09-18-2011, 10:29 PM
If you want to enjoy some good reading, go to the Baltimore Sun Ravens Discussion Board.

They hate Flacco, they hate their coach and so on.

Not that the power poll means much and I doubt our win over the Seahawks will place us up higher but, the loss by thr Ravens today should knock them back down and I love it.

SanAntonioSteelerFan
09-18-2011, 11:06 PM
"Last week's loss waas just one game".

And thia week'a win was just one game.

It's gonna be a long nail-biter of a season. As long as Ben stays healthy.