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SteelCrazy
10-24-2011, 07:42 PM
PITTSBURGH — The Steelers’ lengthy preseason is over. Finally.

True, the defending AFC champions improved to 5-2 after a 32-20 win over Arizona on Sunday. Yet even they admit they haven’t exactly been dominant against a largely mediocre schedule.


For an organization that lives by the mantra, “the standard is the standard,” there is a definite sense the Steelers aren’t quite the Steelers yet.

“It’s good to get the wins, especially going on the road like this and to win, but for us on offense specifically, we want to continue improving,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said after throwing for 361 yards and three scores. “We are not satisfied with where we are at. We feel like we can still improve and that’s good. We need to have that mentality.”

They better.

Pittsburgh begins a daunting two-week stretch on Sunday against rested New England (5-1), which is 6-1 against the Steelers when Tom Brady is under center. For an organization that likes to save its best football for December and beyond, there’s a sense of urgency in late-October.

“I’ve been here for most of those losses, (Brady) has had our number,” linebacker Larry Foote said Monday. “We have to try and correct that this Sunday.”

Particularly if the Steelers want to put to rest the “old, slow ... over” mantra that’s dogged them since a season-opening loss to Baltimore, who comes to Heinz Field on Nov. 6.

Pittsburgh has righted itself with solid if not always spectacular play. And while they’re hardly complaining about a three-game winning streak, they also know the next two weeks are a significant step up in quality.

New England and Baltimore have combined for nine wins. The five teams the Steelers have beaten have combined for just six victories entering Monday.

It’s why coach Mike Tomlin didn’t get too high even after watching his team take command late in the third quarter after the Cardinals closed to within 17-14. Pittsburgh scored the game’s next 15 points to put the game away.

Roethlisberger hit Emmanuel Sanders for a 4-yard touchdown pass, the defense forced a safety when LaMarr Woodley pressured Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb into intentional grounding and Shaun Suisham kicked a couple of field goals as the Steelers finished with the kind of flair they’ve lacked at times.

“Hopefully that is a window to what we are capable of as a 53-man unit,” Tomlin said.

It was as close as the Steelers have come to excelling in all three phases all season.

The defense kept Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in check, the offense moved the ball with ease behind the play of Roethlisberger and wide receiver Mike Wallace — who teamed up with Roethlisberger for a team-record 95-yard touchdown pass — and Antonio Brown nearly returned a punt for a late touchdown.

All positive signs, to be sure. All of which will be meaningless if Brady comes in and has his way with the Steelers again.

The 2007 NFL MVP has carved up Pittsburgh’s vaunted defense during his career, completing nearly 68 percent of his passes for 2,008 yards and 14 touchdowns against just three interceptions.

The Steelers are wary but not in awe. Woodley is playing arguably the best football of his five-year career, recording sacks in three straight games and solidifying a Pittsburgh run defense that has been suspect against quality opponents.

The Patriots, however, present a unique challenge, one the Steelers know they must answer. Yes, the season isn’t quite at its halfway point yet, but Pittsburgh knows beating the Patriots now could pay off down the road.

“You’ve got to stack the wins if you want to get invited to the dance,” Foote said.

Then again, Heinz Field hasn’t particularly been an advantage for the Steelers when Brady plays. He’s won a pair of AFC championships on Pittsburgh’s home field and is on pace to set an NFL records for passing yards in a season.

The Steelers lead the league in pass defense, allowing an NFL-low 171.9 yards per game. When Arizona running back LaRod Stephens-Howling took advantage of a missed assignment to go 73 yards for a touchdown — by far the longest pass play Pittsburgh has allowed this season — cornerback Ike Taylor brought the entire unit together for a little pep talk.

“There was a lot of things I can’t say on TV,” Taylor said. “We need to buckle down. We don’t want to start this again. Games don’t need to be close, that’s how we feel. We feel like the offense is clicking now, special teams. It’s a play away on defense. (We’re) close, but not where we want to be.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/re ... story.html (http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/patriots-ravens-lying-in-wait-for-the-quickly-improving-pittsburgh-steelers/2011/10/24/gIQAsrlODM_story.html)

SteelCrazy
10-24-2011, 07:49 PM
The Patriots are 9-2 after their bye week under coach Bill Belichick, winning their last eight in a row. A look at the games:
2010 Week 6 vs. Ravens W, 23-20
2009 Week 9 vs. Dolphins W, 27-17
2008 Week 5 vs. 49ers W, 30-21
2007 Week 11 vs. Bills W, 56-10
2006 Week 7 vs. Bills W, 28-6
2005 Week 8 vs. Bills W, 21-16
2004 Week 4 vs. Bills W, 31-17
2003 Week 11 vs. Cowboys W, 12-0
2002 Week 8 vs. Broncos L, 24-16
2001 Week 17 vs. Panthers W, 38-6
2000 Week 10 vs. Bills L, 16-13

SteelCrazy
10-24-2011, 07:54 PM
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It might not have been as emphatic as the one quarterback Tom Brady delivered after producing the winning touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6, but you get the feeling that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick may have given a tiny fist pump when the 2011 schedule came out and he saw his team's bye week situated before a late-October visit to Pittsburgh.

Sure, New England has dominated the series against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Belichick era, winning six of eight meetings since 2001, including AFC championship games during the Super Bowl seasons of 2001 and 2004. But with three Super Bowl appearances and two titles of their own over the past five seasons, the Steelers have essentially jockeyed with -- and maybe even overtaken -- the Patriots in the recent battle for AFC supremacy.That rivalry resumes Sunday when the 5-2 Steelers host the 5-1 Patriots at Heinz Field. With the Steelers the defending AFC champs, Belichick knows the road to the Super Bowl passes through Pittsburgh and, to him, every extra second of preparation could be the difference in the game.

"They look good as usual -- the AFC champion last year -- a lot of the same players, same schemes," Belichick said. "Big challenge, a lot to get ready for. They do a lot of things to make it tough on you. They're well coached, [they have] a lot of talent in all three phases of the game.

"Both teams know each other well, so I don't think there will be a ton of surprises here. It will come down to preparation, execution and decision making on game day. Hopefully we can do a good job of that." ***This is where we lose the majority of our close games to good teams because Arians is an idiot.***

The Patriots figure to have a small advantage -- or at least a head start -- in the preparation department. While players enjoyed five days off during the bye week, the Patriots did hold two practice sessions last week before breaking and Belichick noted the team dove right into work on the Steelers.

New England is 9-2 coming off its bye week in Belichick's tenure, having won eight years in a row.

Given the number of recent meetings, Belichick and his staff have a good idea of what to expect from Pittsburgh. Belichick noted Monday that its defense hasn't really changed since Bill Cowher took over in 1992, yet the Steelers are second in yards allowed (279 yards per game), third in points allowed (17.4 points per game) and tops in the league against the pass (171.9 yards per game).

"We've got our hands full," Patriots receiver Deion Branch said Monday during a weekly call to Boston sports radio WEEI. "We've got to hit the ground running this week."

Offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien agreed. "You just look at, they're No. 3 in the league in defense and they're No. 1 against the pass," he said. "They haven't given up 100 yards to a receiver -- reception-wise -- and they haven't given up a 300-yard game to a quarterback. They're, again, stout against the run, just like they always have been. They're a typical Steeler defense.

"We're going to have to have a great week of preparation and then put together a good plan and go up there, and we're going to have to play a really good game to have a chance."Maybe most impressive is how the Steelers have rebounded after being throttled by the Baltimore Ravens, 35-7, in Week 1. During Showtime's "Inside the NFL" program that week, analyst Warren Sapp opined that the Steelers were three things: "Old, slow and over."

The Steelers pitched a shutout against Seattle a few days later and have allowed just 14.5 points per game over their last six contests. Asked about those who prematurely buried Pittsburgh, O'Brien scoffed.

"I have no idea where anyone would get that impression," he said. "I really believe this is a tough defense, a smart defense, a really well-coached defense. You look at Troy Polamalu -- he's in his ninth year and this guy is playing as well as any safety in the league. That's an example of a bunch of veterans on their defense that are playing well, as well as their younger players. So I don't see that at all."

That being said, the Patriots have usually found a way to put points up against Pittsburgh, with a 33-10 loss in November 2008 being the only time New England didn't score at least 20 during the eight meetings in the Belichick era.

The Patriots piled up 453 yards of total offense, including 350 through the air, during a 39-26 thrashing last year in Pittsburgh that was highlighted by three touchdown catches by tight end Rob Gronkowski. There's a good chance the Steelers are watching that film early this week trying to ensure those errors don't happen again.

The Patriots probably watched that film numerous times last week, hoping they do.

http://espn.go.com/boston/nfl/story/_/i ... lers-bring (http://espn.go.com/boston/nfl/story/_/id/7145411/new-england-patriots-ready-pittsburgh-steelers-bring)

hawaiiansteel
10-25-2011, 02:57 AM
The stakes have risen

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2011
posted by Dale Lolley


The Steelers likely went to bed - or at least couldn't watch the train wreck any longer – behind the Ravens and woke up in first place, a half-game ahead of Baltimore.

The Ravens' showed some of the same problems on offense they've had in previous years in Monday night's 12-7 loss at Jacksonville.

They don't play well on the road - at least not offensively. Joe Flacco still isn't very accurate. And if you take Ray Rice away from him, he's toast.

The Steelers host the Ravens in two weeks at Heinz Field.

Yes, there's an important game this weekend against New England. But the one the following week against Baltimore will be far more important in the grand scheme of things.

http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/sidelines/

RKSteel
10-25-2011, 08:25 AM
"Both teams know each other well, so I don't think there will be a ton of surprises here. It will come down to preparation, execution and decision making on game day. Hopefully we can do a good job of that." ***This is where we lose the majority of our close games to good teams because Arians is an idiot.***
Did the offense let Brady throw for almost 400yds and 3 tds last year
Pretty sure Brady does what he pleases against the Steelers defense, don't see how that is Arian's fault.
Just sayin.

RuthlessBurgher
10-25-2011, 10:17 AM
The Patriots are 9-2 after their bye week under coach Bill Belichick, winning their last eight in a row. A look at the games:
2010 Week 6 vs. Ravens W, 23-20
2009 Week 9 vs. Dolphins W, 27-17
2008 Week 5 vs. 49ers W, 30-21
2007 Week 11 vs. Bills W, 56-10
2006 Week 7 vs. Bills W, 28-6
2005 Week 8 vs. Bills W, 21-16
2004 Week 4 vs. Bills W, 31-17
2003 Week 11 vs. Cowboys W, 12-0
2002 Week 8 vs. Broncos L, 24-16
2001 Week 17 vs. Panthers W, 38-6
2000 Week 10 vs. Bills L, 16-13

I heard on the radio yesterday that, so far this year, teams are 3-9 coming off the bye (we contributed to that by beating Arizona following their bye week).

NW Steeler
10-25-2011, 12:22 PM
A win against the Patsies is due, isn't it? Baltimore handed us a gift last night. I know Brady has shredded our D every year we play, but Ben has not exactly had good games either. It sounds cliche, but we need to outscore NE - meaning we put up 30+ on these guys to beat them.

:ratsuck

Pahn711
10-25-2011, 02:14 PM
Shouldn't the title be that the STEELERS are lying in wait for the Pats and Ratbirds? :tt2

hawaiiansteel
10-25-2011, 02:29 PM
Shouldn't the title be that the STEELERS are lying in wait for the Pats and Ratbirds? :tt2


you forgot the * for the Pats*...

http://img519.imageshack.us/img519/6061/bradyasteriskth6.jpg

SteelCrazy
10-25-2011, 02:38 PM
"Both teams know each other well, so I don't think there will be a ton of surprises here. It will come down to preparation, execution and decision making on game day. Hopefully we can do a good job of that." ***This is where we lose the majority of our close games to good teams because Arians is an idiot.***
Did the offense let Brady throw for almost 400yds and 3 tds last year
Pretty sure Brady does what he pleases against the Steelers defense, don't see how that is Arian's fault.
Just sayin.

I didnt single out the Pats* when I made that comment, but you are right.

hawaiiansteel
10-25-2011, 03:14 PM
Archrival Patriots up next for Steelers

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The Steelers this week round the corner off easy street and turn smack into the big boys.

First they take on their old nemesis, the New England Patriots Sunday, and follow a week later with the team that dropped a 35-7 embarrassment on them on Kickoff Weekend, the Baltimore Ravens.

At least they play both of them at home.

"We have three wins in a row now so it feels good," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "We have a good team coming to Heinz Field next week, so we have to prepare for that."

Nothing they have done in the past to prepare for Tom Brady's Patriots seemed to help. Brady is 6-1 against them and the Patriots 7-2 overall since 1998. Those victories include two AFC championships at Heinz Field in the 2001 and '04 seasons and a 39-26 victory by New England almost a year ago that was not as close as the score might indicate.

Brady threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns last season and the Patriots held a 29-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Ben Roethlisberger threw for three touchdowns, too, and had 387 yards, but he also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

"They've beaten us quite a few times since I've been here," said linebacker James Farrior, who joined the Steelers in 2002 as a free agent. "But every challenge is a new challenge and every year is a new year."

Brady instructs "heel" and the Steelers usually comply. He picked apart the Steelers at will in November, again using a spread offense to do so. The Steelers did not have an answer. They did not sack Brady and hardly touched him all game.

"He's one of the best quarterbacks in the league," Farrior said. "He'll be a tough guy to stop. We know he's going to study up on us pretty good so we have to study up on him pretty good."

As an added Brady bonus, he had an extra week to study up on the Steelers, too because the Patriots had off this past weekend.

The Steelers' only victories against New England in the nine games they've played in the past 13 seasons came in the middle of the '04 season when they knocked off two unbeaten teams on consecutive games at home, the Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. They also won in New England in '08 when Matt Cassel played quarterback for an injured Brady.

When revelations surfaced that Patriots coach Bill Belichick pulled off an illegal spying operation on opponents for years, some Steelers claimed New England stole those two AFC championships in Heinz Field because of it. Farrior, though, said they rarely talk about that anymore.

"Nah, I've moved on from that. Most of the guys here now weren't even here. A few guys are here but a lot of the guys are gone now. We don't even talk about that game."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11298/11 ... z1boaADys2 (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11298/1184661-66-0.stm#ixzz1boaADys2)

Pahn711
10-25-2011, 03:15 PM
Shouldn't the title be that the STEELERS are lying in wait for the Pats and Ratbirds? :tt2


you forgot the * for the Pats*...

http://img519.imageshack.us/img519/6061/bradyasteriskth6.jpg

Touche, I was thinking about going with the "Cheatriots" but that seemed lame.

hawaiiansteel
10-25-2011, 03:45 PM
Shouldn't the title be that the STEELERS are lying in wait for the Pats and Ratbirds? :tt2


you forgot the * for the Pats*...

http://img519.imageshack.us/img519/6061/bradyasteriskth6.jpg

Touche, I was thinking about going with the "Cheatriots" but that seemed lame.


"Cheatriots" works too... :D

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Sk_Pgb7EDjE/Ss2lT0cEMqI/AAAAAAAAANo/abAyDPvnd44/s400/Cheatriots.jpg

fezziwig
10-25-2011, 04:35 PM
During the bye week it gives bellicheat more time to game plan, study his opposing teams and not to mention the film work that he does on the side.

Pahn711
10-25-2011, 05:23 PM
During the bye week it gives bellicheat more time to game plan, study his opposing teams and not to mention the film work that he does on the side.

Seriously, two weeks in a row we get a team just off their bye. At least we are at home...

fezziwig
10-25-2011, 07:38 PM
Yeah, only after traveling across the country.

hawaiiansteel
10-26-2011, 12:56 AM
On the Steelers: Patriots game not as big as next one

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The Steelers and New England Patriots will find themselves in a familiar spot Sunday at Heinz Field, playing each other with the AFC's No. 1 seed on the line, but does it really matter in the long run who wins?

Nearly inexplicably, the Steelers have risen from the shambles of a 35-7 opening loss at Baltimore and a .500 record after four games to the second-best record in the conference at 5-2. Typically, the Patriots are tops at 5-1.

And, while the Steelers may be 1-6 against quarterback Tom Brady, they have managed to get around the Patriots without having to go through them in the playoffs to win two Super Bowl titles since New England most recently won a Lombardi Trophy seven seasons ago. They finished second in the AFC to the Patriots last season after losing at home to them 39-26, yet they again reached the Super Bowl and New England did not.

In 2004, it did not matter that the once-beaten Steelers upset the unbeaten Patriots at home at mid-season because they then lost to them in the AFC title game at Heinz Field for the second time in four seasons.

So, while the game Sunday ultimately might determine the conference's top seed, there is no historical reason to believe it will determine much else.

"It's October!" coach Mike Tomlin said, fairly wincing Tuesday when asked about the importance of securing the inside track on a playoff seed at the halfway point of the season. "We are just trying to win week to week and keep pace with the elite and put ourselves in position to be considered in that conversation. Those things will sort themselves out. I truly believe that.

"We like to stay focused on things that are in our control, and that's our preparation and, ultimately, our play this week. When you start talking about playoff seedings and things of that nature, particularly at this point in the season, you are scoreboard watching. That's not going to be our bag.

"We are going to see enough quality teams over the rest of this season to deal with a lot of those things firsthand, and that is really how we prefer to look at it."

In truth, the following game at Heinz Field may be more important to the Steelers playoff fortunes than this one. That will be another showdown with Baltimore, which dropped to 4-2 after a stunning loss Monday night in Jacksonville, Fla.

Even Tomlin acknowledged that it is not the same when the Steelers face the Patriots as it is when they play their rivalry games against the Ravens, despite the fact New England denied them Super Bowl trips in the '01 and '04 seasons.

"Many of our guys were not a part of this history when it started, because you are talking about 2001 and 2004. So, it's not similar in that way. We play Baltimore twice a year, sometimes three times a year over the last three to five years. So it's different from that standpoint. I am not going to assume anything. I am going to educate our guys about this matchup and this football team because it is different in that way."

Taylor-Welker match unlikely

Wes Welker not only is New England's best receiver, he leads the NFL with an average of 130.8 yards per game. But do not expect Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor to follow the usual plan that has him cover the other team's best.

Welker often lines up in the slot, and Taylor covers receivers who line up wide.

"As I sit here right now, I am not comfortable with saying that Ike is going to follow him down-in and down-out," Tomlin said. "That might be a little bit out of Ike's comfort zone.

"This guy spends a lot of time in interior formations at the No. 2 position, No. 3 position and slot formations. Ike is an outside corner, so I am not ready at this juncture to even say that this is going to be an element of this thing."

Ward's status unclear

Since he caught two passes in the ninth game of his rookie season in 1998, Hines Ward never has failed to catch at least one in 186 consecutive games, the third-longest streak in NFL history.

That ended Nov. 14, 2010, when he left the game against New England early with a concussion without catching a pass. Sunday, Ward may not play against the Patriots at all because he has a sprained ankle.

"We are going to look hard this week at Hines Ward in terms of his participation," Tomlin said. "We will let that be our guide in terms of his readiness."

The Steelers are better prepared to deal with Ward's possible absence this season than they were the previous time they played New England. Antwaan Randle El filled in and missed a pass wide open over the middle that might have made a difference in the game. Randle El obviously was at the end of the road and was surpassed by rookies Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown on the depth chart.

The more experienced Sanders and Brown have helped to boost the Steelers passing game this season with their production, and the team also added veteran possession receiver Jerricho Cotchery.

Some injury updates

Casey Hampton, who missed the past three games with a shoulder injury, is on schedule to practice today and might play Sunday.

"We will see where that participation takes us," Tomlin said. "We would get him back into the fold. That would be a nice shot in the arm for us up front on defense."

He said four players who have not been playing are "status quo." That group includes linebackers James Harrison and Jason Worilds, defensive lineman Chris Hoke and offensive guard Doug Legursky. Also rookie cornerback Curtis Brown has had back spasms, and the Steelers are unsure how those will affect him this week.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11299/11 ... z1bqx8Ypz7 (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11299/1184982-66.stm#ixzz1bqx8Ypz7)

Shoe
10-26-2011, 01:09 AM
I am sick and tired of getting my hopes up for Cheats* week, only to watch our team get dismantled in front of my eyes. I refuse to be the Charlie Brown to the Steelers' Lucy.