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hawaiiansteel
10-10-2011, 04:03 AM
Steelers find ground game in home victory

By Ralph N. Paulk, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, October 10, 2011

http://photos.triblive.com/photos/PITT/1338913/38209692E.jpg

Steelers running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman were thrust into the spotlight Sunday out of necessity.

Redman spent much of the season getting only spot duty until Rashard Mendenhall pulled a hamstring last week in Houston. Dwyer began the preseason fighting for a roster spot and played only with the scout team until being placed on the active roster hours before kickoff yesterday.

But in the Steelers' best performance this season, Dwyer and Redman ignited what had been a mostly ineffective running game during a convincing 38-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field.

Together, they rushed for 156 yards of the Steelers' season-high 174 yards on the ground including Dwyer's game- and career-high 107 yards on 11 carries. In contrast, the Steelers' defense held Tennessee running back Chris Johnson to 51 yards on 11 attempts.

"I told Redman the numbers probably weren't indicative of how we played," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "He did such a good job running the ball and picking up the blitzes."

Roethlisberger fired up Redman with a pregame pep talk that inspired him to make the most of his opportunity while Mendenhall sat out.

"We wanted to establish the run and control the ball, which definitely opened up the passing game," said Redman, who was forced out with persistent cramps in the second half after slugging his way for 49 yards on 15 attempts. "I was just hitting in there and getting the tough yards.

"We were pushing the pile and getting those crucial third-down plays. But I have to credit the offensive line, which did a great job."

The Steelers' run game had been marking time all season. But it took a giant step forward against the Titans, as the Steelers rushed for a season-high 174 yards. Mendenhall had rushed for 173 yards through the first four games.

The oft-maligned and retooled offensive line had taken a beating from critics and fans, but guards Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky helped it gain some semblance of redemption by dominating the line of scrimmage.

"It was important we got it going in the run game," Foster said. "I think the two-padded practices paid off because we were lot more physical in this game."

With nine minutes, 21 seconds left before halftime, Legursky outmuscled Tennessee linebacker Will Witherspoon to create a huge hole for Dwyer, who sprinted along the right sideline for a career-high 76-yard run on his first rushing attempt of the season. That set up Roethlisberger's 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end David Johnson that put the Steelers up, 21-3.

"The offensive line made my job easy," Dwyer said. "Every block was a key block on that run, but Legursky opened the hole for me, and D.J. (Johnson) threw a good block. I didn't see (cornerback Cortland) Finnegan until the last minute. All I saw was the end zone, but he had a good angle on me."

http://photos.triblive.com/photos/PITT/1338913/38209642E.jpg

Dwyer shook off a Tennessee defender, then squirted outside with nary a Titan in sight. He sprinted along the right sideline with Finnegan in pursuit.

"It was one of our gap-scheme plays, and I picked up the linebacker, and Jonathan hit the hole strong," Legursky said. "That's what our backs were doing all day long."

The five-play, 90-yard drive seemed to take the fight out of the Titans. But Dwyer and Redman kept pounding away.

"It all started with the big boys up front," Dwyer said. "That (76-yard) play was like the parting of the Red Sea. All I had to do was make a play."

For Dwyer, this was personal. He was seemingly a long-shot to survive the final cut after an unspectacular preseason.

"All of that stuff motivated me to keep pushing," Dwyer said. "It feels great to prove everybody wrong. I'm glad the coaches gave me an opportunity. I didn't want to let them down."

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Ghost
10-10-2011, 08:47 AM
"All of that stuff motivated me to keep pushing," Dwyer said. "It feels great to prove everybody wrong. I'm glad the coaches gave me an opportunity. I didn't want to let them down."

Not to be negative after a great win but what the hell is Dwyer talking about? He was the one who came into camp so fat he couldn't complete the conditioning drills...as a running back! He acted as if a 6th round pick was a lock to make it. How about you motivate yourself once in a while.

ramblinjim
10-10-2011, 09:33 AM
I just want the team to see how a good running game can really set up the passing game. Our YMC is pretty good but imagine how good they could be if the opposing defense had to respect our running game like they did back in the 90's.

Pahn711
10-10-2011, 09:50 AM
"All of that stuff motivated me to keep pushing," Dwyer said. "It feels great to prove everybody wrong. I'm glad the coaches gave me an opportunity. I didn't want to let them down."

Not to be negative after a great win but what the hell is Dwyer talking about? He was the one who came into camp so fat he couldn't complete the conditioning drills...as a running back! He acted as if a 6th round pick was a lock to make it. How about you motivate yourself once in a while.

:? He was using the fact that the media and the coaches considered him a long shot to make the team as a tool to motivate himself, whats wrong with that?

Ghost
10-10-2011, 10:29 AM
"All of that stuff motivated me to keep pushing," Dwyer said. "It feels great to prove everybody wrong. I'm glad the coaches gave me an opportunity. I didn't want to let them down."

Not to be negative after a great win but what the hell is Dwyer talking about? He was the one who came into camp so fat he couldn't complete the conditioning drills...as a running back! He acted as if a 6th round pick was a lock to make it. How about you motivate yourself once in a while.

:? He was using the fact that the media and the coaches considered him a long shot to make the team as a tool to motivate himself, whats wrong with that?

My point was that he was a long shot of his own doing b/c he was a lazy, fat azz in the off season and didn't seem to try all that hard last year. Coming out of GA Tech there was every expectation of him being on an NFL roster. It was rather surprising how hard he's had to work to make it both years. And if B Batch doesn't get hurt, Dwyer gets cut. He didn't prove anyone wrong - the consensus was he'd play. Acting as if people didn't give him a chance is ludicrous. I personally said I thought he could be the steal of the draft when they got him that late. It's been shocking to see his overall lack of effort unless his head was lying on the chopping block. If he can use this as motivation that's great - but keep working hard and don't get fat!

Shoe
10-10-2011, 10:55 AM
"All of that stuff motivated me to keep pushing," Dwyer said. "It feels great to prove everybody wrong. I'm glad the coaches gave me an opportunity. I didn't want to let them down."

Not to be negative after a great win but what the hell is Dwyer talking about? He was the one who came into camp so fat he couldn't complete the conditioning drills...as a running back! He acted as if a 6th round pick was a lock to make it. How about you motivate yourself once in a while.

Absolutely right Ghost. I made the same point, when everyone in the chat was falling in love with the guy and saying "bye bye Mendy" as if we can rely on Dwyer for anything. He actually was lucky personally, to get this opportunity today. He could've SECURED the opportunity in training camp, by winning the job that Ike Redman holds. The problem was, that he came to camp... a camp BTW, that he had proven nothing the previous year and any hungry guy would've cam in chomping at the bit... and he came in fat and out of shape!

Redman, I give all the credit in the world and would HATE to lose him. Dwyer? Big and talented, but I couldn't care less if we lost him because he's not someone you can rely on.

Djfan
10-10-2011, 11:05 AM
I don't remember anyone annointing him Red or Mendy's replacement. But, with Batch in the wings, Redman and Moore, even Clay in the wings, the need for a high dollar guy who is hit and miss is much, much less.

Let's save the money on him and put it towards better linemen who make Dwyer and whomever else, look better next year.

hawaiiansteel
10-10-2011, 02:50 PM
Steelers Notebook: Seldom-used Dwyer seizes chance with 100-yard day

Monday, October 10, 2011
By Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/images/201110/pd13steelers100911_160.jpg

Jonathan Dwyer rushed for 107 yards, including a 76-yard run that ranks among the longest in Steelers history.

Of all the running backs on the Steelers roster, Jonathan Dwyer figured to be the last one to register a 100-yard game this season. Dwyer dressed for only one game as a rookie last season and did not suit up for any of the first four games this season.

But with starting running back Rashard Mendenhall ailing with a hamstring injury and versatile reserve Mewelde Moore out with an ankle injury, it was Dwyer who came off the bench to provide the first 100-yard rushing game of the season.

Dwyer carried 11 times for 107 yards in the 38-17 victory against the Titans at Heinz Field. His first carry went for 76 yards, tied for the seventh-longest run in franchise history.

"To me, I haven't done anything yet," said Dwyer, who rushed for 28 yards on nine carries in the regular-season finale last year against Cleveland, his only other game as a pro. "I still have stuff to prove. I'm satisfied with today, but I'm not where I want to be. I know I can improve."

Dwyer, the team's seventh-round draft choice in 2010, had to work himself into shape during training camp after showing up overweight. He eventually got back into the good graces of the coaching staff.

The Steelers rushed for 174 yards as a team. Isaac Redman got the start in place of Mendenhall and rushed for 49 yards on 15 carries.

"I told Isaac Redman the numbers probably weren't indicative of how we played," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "He did such a good job of running the ball and picking up blitzes. To me, that's what I expect from him. And Jonathan Dwyer stepped up and did a great job. I don't think anyone was surprised at how great they did."

Dwyer said the offense had a new mindset after the Texans held them to 118 yards last week.

"We were just answering the call," he said. "We made the best of our opportunities. We came out with a different attitude. We came out with fire. We weren't going to stop until the end of the game."

Starks starts and finishes

Max Starks started at left tackle five days after being signed. It was his first game action in 11months after injuring his neck in a game against Cincinnati in November. The Steelers released Starks because he gained too much weight during the lockout, but they needed his services after the rash of injuries that hit the offensive line.

The coaching staff had planned to spell Starks throughout the course of the game because they were concerned about his level of conditioning, but that changed when starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert was injured in the first half. Reserve Jonathan Scott entered the game as Gilbert's replacement, and Starks played all but two plays.

"I think the first thing is that you have to give credit to him for coming back in the ridiculously good shape he's in," coach Mike Tomlin said.

Starks was part of an offensive line that paved the way for 174 yards rushing and allowed only one sack of Roethlisberger.

"It was a great start," Starks said. "It was good to get back into the game. I was kind of anxious. 'Was the game going to be too fast because I've been out for so long?' It ended up being exactly the same as I remember. That was a good feeling."

Special teams up and down

It was a day of highs and lows for the Steelers special teams.

For the second consecutive week, the Steelers had a kick blocked. The Titans' Tim Shaw burst through the line and blocked a punt in the fourth quarter, setting up Tennessee's second touchdown.

Last week, place-kicker Shaun Suisham had a field-goal attempt blocked on the final play of the first half against Houston. Coincidentally, both kicks were returned for touchdowns, but were nullified by penalties.

Cortland Finnegan scooped up the blocked punt and scored, but a block in the back negated the touchdown.

"Just a missed assignment, a missed communication," said Ryan Mundy, who calls the blocking signals for the punt team. "I have to look to see exactly what happened, but I think it was just an A-gap rush."

The Steelers also allowed the Titans to recover an onside kick after Tennessee's first touchdown with 2:02 left in the third quarter. The momentum generated from that play was short-lived, however. LaMarr Woodley intercepted Matt Hasselbeck on the next play.

The first half was much better for the special teams. Punter Daniel Sepulveda completed a pass on a fake to set up the second touchdown for a 14-3 lead. It was a 33-yard pass to Mundy, who ran to the Titans 17. Two plays later, Roethlisberger threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward.

Mundy made the call to execute the fake. It was his first catch since 2002 when he was a standout at Woodland Hills High school.

"It's something we worked on all week," Mundy said. "If they gave us a look we were going to run it. Coach Tomlin gives us the clearance to run the play. It's up to me if I like the look. If I don't we'll check out of it.

"They like to rush eight people in the box. My job was to get free, catch the ball, secure the ball and get a first down. I just had to make sure we had the right look."

Washington defends himself

Former Steelers wide receiver Nate Washington caught five passes for 69 yards, and almost made a nice grab for a touchdown on Tennessee's opening drive. Washington had the ball in his hands, but it got away from him when he hit the ground hard.

"I don't want anyone writing that was a dropped ball," Washington said after the game. "It would have been a tough catch."

It was a tough passing day for Tennessee. Hasselbeck was 29 of 49 for 262 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He had a passer rating of 72. Hasselbeck was asked about some timing issues with receivers.

"I think more than that what the Steelers did was they played us man outside with two safeties and kind of like a zone inside," he said. "[Troy Polamalu] made our reads a little slower because we were trying to figure out what he was doing. He's a great player that makes it hard on you.

"I wish I had more answers. I just have more questions than answers right now."

About the Titans passing game, Washington added: "It's a work in progress right now."

Tomlin's successful challenge

Tomlin challenged an official's call and won, keeping alive the Steelers' first scoring drive. On third-and-9, Roethlisberger threw a low pass to Mike Wallace. It was ruled incomplete on the field, but Wallace told Tomlin to throw the red challenge flag.

Replay review overturned the call on the field, and the Steelers went ahead for good a short while later when Roethlisberger threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Heath Miller

Roethlisberger hits 150

Roethlisberger's 1-yard touchdown pass to David Johnson was the 150th of his career. Only Terry Bradshaw has more touchdown passes (212) in franchise history.

Roethlisberger threw five touchdown passes for the second time in his career. He also threw five against the Ravens in 2007.

Miller climbs up record book

Miller's 8-yard touchdown reception was the 30th of his career. He became the eighth Steeler to record 30 or more touchdown receptions. The others are Ward (74), John Stallworth (63), Lynn Swann (51), Buddy Dial (42), Louis Lipps (39), Elbie Nickel (34) and Ray Mathews (34).

Injury list

Gilbert's shoulder injury was the only one Tomlin was concerned about after the game. Gilbert left in the first half and did not return.

"We'll keep an eye on him and see where he is," Tomlin said.

The other injuries that Tomlin described as "insignificant" were to James Farrior (shoulder), Miller (shoulder), Maurkice Pouncey (knee), Ward (chest) and Redman (cramps).

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