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hawaiiansteel
10-30-2011, 11:04 PM
Steelers prove AFC is wide open after dominating Patriots

By Clark Judge
CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist
Oct. 30, 2011


PITTSBURGH - They're old. They're slow. And it's over.

That's what NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp said last month about the Pittsburgh Steelers, and maybe it's time to admit he goofed. In fact, after watching Pittsburgh win its fourth straight to move to the top of the AFC, I suggest the former All-Pro defensive tackle find another team to pick on.

Like New England.

Yeah, I thought the Steelers were old and slow on defense, too. But I never thought they were out of anything -- not when I looked at their schedule. And now I know it because they didn't beat New England on Sunday as much as they annihilated them.

You name it, the Steelers were better. Offense. Defense. Special teams. Coaching.

Things were so bad that New England couldn't even get its kickoffs straight. When it tried an onside, it failed to go the necessary 10 yards. When it tried a trick free kick, the ball wound up out of bounds.

"We had to do a better job in every area," said losing coach Bill Belichick.

That's one way of putting it. Another is: They stunk.

Quarterback Tom Brady wasn't Tom Terrific, and their defense ran a clinic as to why it ranks dead last overall and against the pass. Again and again Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger found wide-open receivers, and again and again he pushed the Steelers to long, productive drives.

On the first series, he converted four third downs as Pittsburgh went 68 yards on 11 plays. On the second, it was 16 plays and 72 yards. There was a 14-play drive that covered 80 ... and a 10-play series that covered 76 ... and an 11-play possession that went 56.

I don't think I need to paint a picture. Pittsburgh had its way with the Patriots, and that's not how old, slow teams that are finished are supposed to be handled.

Which means Warren Sapp was wrong.

All I know is that Pittsburgh was determined to make a statement with Sunday's performance, and it did -- the hard way. I'm not talking about all those passes Roethlisberger threw. That was the easy part -- especially against New England's porous secondary. Nope, I'm talking about playing without three of its veteran stars -- linebackers James Harrison and James Farrior and wide receiver Hines Ward -- then subtracting start linebacker LaMarr Woodley in the second half.

Yet, still they drilled an opponent that had beaten them in six of their last seven tries with Brady. Roethlisberger later said it was too soon to talk about delivering messages, but I disagree. This one was aimed not only at New England but the rest of the AFC.

"Everybody across the league, everybody on TV, was counting us out," said Woodley, who had two sacks, "and pretty much saying these last couple of wins were against teams we were supposed to beat; [that] we weren't going up against elite quarterbacks.

"It was everything negative toward the Pittsburgh Steelers. There was nothing positive coming out all week. There was Brady owns the Steelers, and Brady owns [defensive coordinator] D!ck LeBeau. There was all this talk about their offense against our defense, but nobody said anything about our offense and the things we were capable of doing."

Guaranteed, there will be now. The Steelers controlled their opponent by controlling the clock -- nearly 40 minutes for the game and a whopping 13:36 in the first quarter -- and that's a sure sign they're not old, slow or finished. New England, on the other hand, has enormous problems on defense, so big and so significant that not even Brady may be able to overcome them.

Granted, it has been through games like this before. I think back to last year's demolition in Cleveland, for example. But if this team isn't better than last year's -- and, frankly, it looks worse -- how does it go deep in the playoffs? It didn't a year ago when Brady was the league MVP. Now, it just got flattened by a club Brady once owned, and tell me that doesn't tell us something about the state of the AFC.

It does, and what it says is that there is no team to beat anymore.

Once, I thought that team was New England because I believe Brady cures virtually any shortcoming. Only after watching Roethlisberger dissect a soft and ineffective zone ... after watching a makeshift Pittsburgh defense thwart Brady ... after watching the Steelers hammer New England ... I only believe that Warren Sapp was wrong.

"We can be as good as we want to be," Roethlisberger said. "When we don't beat ourselves or stop ourselves we can be dangerous."

I'll second that, and Sapp should, too. Because Pittsburgh just proved its critics wrong, and I'll gladly admit to being in that club. I didn't think these guys would win the division, and I didn't think they would make a dent in the playoffs. Now I'm not so sure because now the AFC is wide open, and the team that is supposed to be the Steelers' nemesis is a nemesis no more.

"You always take it personal when no one's giving you credit," Woodley said. "When they say somebody owns you, everybody's looking at the past. The past is the past. You have to look at the future and what's going on today, and that's what we went out there and displayed."

They displayed more than that. They demonstrated they are better -- way better -- than New England, which better find a defense before January. Otherwise, I know whom I like the next time these two meet, and it's not the team that's old and slow.

"When I was in college," said Woodley, "they said, 'The Steelers were getting old, and that this team is out of it.' That's every year. When you're the dominating team in the league, everyone's always trying to find a way to talk negative about you. But every year we seem to prove everybody wrong by going out there and getting wins and playing in the big game at the end of the year."

Consider that a warning. New England should.

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/1591 ... g-patriots (http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/15918551/steelers-prove-afc-is-wide-open-after-dominating-patriots)

papillon
10-30-2011, 11:18 PM
Well, the defense is vastly different from week one in terms of age.

Defensive Line
Kiesel, Hampton and Smith in week one, now it's Kiesel, Hampton and Hood with McClendon and Heyward rotating into the lineup.

Linebackers
Harrison, Farrior, Timmons, Woodley week one and now, Woodley, Sylvester, Foote, Timmons are playing, not so old there either right now. Although, I can't wait for Harrison to rejoin the group.

Secondary
Mcfadden, Taylor, Polamalu and Clark with Gay in the nickle, week one, and now, Taylor, Gay, Polamalu and Clark with Lewis and now Allen getting time. Mcfadden is last on the depth chart.

The Steelers are getting younger slowly but surely and the young guys aren't struggling, because, they've watched and learned and when they're getting a chance they are proving their worth.

Offense

I hate to include this one, but Ward's time might be done as well, the receiving corps looked unstoppable today, because, they could all get open at will. I hope Ward can get his 1,000th catch this year, because, he may not get the opportunity next year.

It's time for the Steelers to turnover their personnel and continue winning, nobody does it better than the Steelers, some may be close, Ravens and Patriots come to mind, but they take a back seat to the Steelers.

The only person that I think thew Steelers can't replace right now and continue winning is Ben.

Pappy

pittpete
10-30-2011, 11:38 PM
I hate to include this one, but Ward's time might be done as well, the receiving corps looked unstoppable today, because, they could all get open at will

hawaiiansteel
11-03-2011, 02:57 PM
Starkey: Young, fast Steelers

By Joe Starkey, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, November 3, 2011


Warren Sapp was partially right when he called the Steelers old, slow and done after their season-opening debacle in Baltimore.

Lots of them are old.

Some of them have slowed.

Sadly, at least one of them (Aaron Smith) appears to be done.

But what Sapp failed to comprehend is what a lot of people didn't realize until they watched the Steelers whip the New England Patriots last Sunday: An infusion of quality youth has made this team better than it was last season.

Young, fast contributors at the receiver position enabled offensive coordinator Bruce Arians to unleash a 50-pass assault on the Patriots.

Young, fast contributors in the secondary enabled defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to use man coverage all over the field.

Last year's lineup did not lend itself to those kinds of game plans.

Keenan Lewis was in no-man's land this time last season. Now, he is an important contributor at cornerback. Antonio Brown was a nonfactor halfway through last season. Now, he is coming off a game in which he was targeted a team-high 15 times.

Here's a stat for Sapp to chew on, between his other nine meals a day: The Steelers last weekend fielded the second-youngest starting offense in the AFC, one of only two (Denver) without a starter 30 or older.

The average age of Steelers' offense was 25.5. That was significantly younger than the Ravens' offense (28.1), younger even than the Browns and Bengals.

"That's pretty cool," said tackle Max Starks, the unit's elder statesman at 29 two months older than Ben Roethlisberger. "I knew we had some young faces, new faces, but I didn't realize that and I guess I didn't realize I was the oldest one. ... Thanks."

Hines Ward one of the guys Sapp ripped remains a capable contributor at 35. One who could come in handy Sunday in the Ravens rematch. But the Patriots game provided graphic evidence that transition to life without Ward, whenever it happens, should be smooth.

The emergence of Brown, the improvement of Emmanuel Sanders and the evolution of Mike Wallace make this an infinitely more dangerous offense than last year's.

"We know Wallace can pop the top off a defense, and the quickness of 84 (Brown) and 88 (Sanders) presents problems," said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, who already had great respect for the Steelers offense.

"This is the only team," Suggs said, "that I've ever considered us having our hands full with, with the run and pass alike."

Wallace, 25, is establishing himself as a top-five receiver. Everybody knows about his speed. He is proving himself in the possession game.

Sanders, 24, has 10 catches in the past two weeks, though his availability is in doubt for Sunday. Rookie tight end Weslye Saunders, 22, has been quietly effective in multiple tight-end formations.

This is finally starting to look like an offense that can take on multiple personalities, tailored specifically to the opponent.

"We have an offense that can take advantage of what the defense gives us, as opposed to my earlier years here, when we were a ground-and-pound, run play-action team," Starks said. "This group is just balanced."

On the other side of the ball, some of the stars are still in their primes. Those include Troy Polamalu and AFC sack leader LaMarr Woodley. Changes in the secondary, besides Lewis, include improved versions of William Gay and Ryan Mundy and rookie Cortez Allen, 23, who did not look out of place against the Patriots.

Speaking of the rookie class, if somebody told you before the season that Allen, Marcus Gilbert, Chris Carter, Saunders and Cameron Heyward all would play significant minutes in Week 8 against the Patriots, you might have surmised that the Steelers were either 0-7 or in the midst of a blowout loss.

Forgive Sapp if he couldn't see this coming. He was partially right. Some of the Steelers are aging and slowing. But this is a better team than last year's.

And far from done.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1cf6jeLLz (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_765307.html#ixzz1cf6jeLLz)

feltdizz
11-03-2011, 03:38 PM
I think Warren Sapp was spot on.. we looked old and slow until the old heads were injured or replaced.

Warren Sapp said what we all thought.... the frustrating thing is our young players were probably ready in week 1 and due to our FO's charity we let our vets get abused out of "respect"

Thank goodness for injuries because I'm not sure if we would have played these guys otherwise.

Of course I don't really want anyone injured but it was a blessing in disguise IMO.

Eddie Spaghetti
11-03-2011, 03:40 PM
I'm pretty sure that I trust lebeau to know when a guy is ready to contribute.

some of you will never learn, I guess.

RuthlessBurgher
11-03-2011, 06:24 PM
Here's a stat for Sapp to chew on, between his other nine meals a day

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

fezziwig
11-03-2011, 06:34 PM
i don't know why many are ready to have Hines sit the bench. He was never a fast guy but he does find a way to get open and especially in the endzone. I want to see our young guys get their chance but I would still put Hines in there during redzone.

I hate Sapps but he was correct. I think we would have more losses if injury hadn't happened to some and less playing time was given to the younger guys.

Flasteel
11-03-2011, 07:05 PM
Here's a stat for Sapp to chew on, between his other nine meals a day

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

My favorite line from the entire article. :D

I mostly can't stand that dude and am glad to see him getting ripped now.

He might have been a little right when it came to a couple of guys being older, but it just shows that he has no idea what was in the cupboard.

We are young, fast, and not even close to being done. Since Max Starks is the only significant addition to this team since Sapp flapped his gums, this is essentially the same team. Not a lot of room for being right when you are pretty much wrong on all points.

winwithd
11-03-2011, 07:07 PM
Is it possible that this could be one of the finest draft classes in Steeler history? Everyone but Williams at 6 becoming a quality starter. Remember Baron Batch was lighting it up in camp. Imagine him coming back next year to replace Moore and replacing Kemo and or Starks with high draft picks and Hines retiring. Our offense could get even younger next year.

fezziwig
11-03-2011, 07:46 PM
I'm glad you mentioned the fact that we have drafted well. I've been meaning to bounce that around.

We have some players that could have been considered number one picks.


Mike Wallace
Antonio Brown
Sanders if he shows he can make the next step.
Issac Redman isn't too shabby
I'm real happy with McClendon
Our starting right tackle Gilbert is doing a very good job.
Dwyer in my opinion could be a starter also.
Then we have the high picks that have proved their worth in,
Hood, Heyward, Pouncey and even though Woodley has been on the team for a while he, has proved to me more of a force than Timmons and other number one picks.
I have to hand to Colbert/Tomlin and whomever else makes these picks.

Leper Friend
11-04-2011, 10:59 AM
Sapp said on Inside the NFL that the Steelers D was old week one but without Smith , Farrior and Harrison they are now younger and therefore better. Of course nobody questioned him on how removing one of the best OLB's in the game makes a defense better but who really cares ? He's a fat loudmouth who just tries to say outrageous stuff to get a reaction. Which is probably 90 % of NFL coverage anymore.

feltdizz
11-04-2011, 11:06 AM
Sapp said on Inside the NFL that the Steelers D was old week one but without Smith , Farrior and Harrison they are now younger and therefore better. Of course nobody questioned him on how removing one of the best OLB's in the game makes a defense better but who really cares ? He's a fat loudmouth who just tries to say outrageous stuff to get a reaction. Which is probably 90 % of NFL coverage anymore.



If we replaced older players with younger players how is the week one statement outrageous?

NFL coverage changes week to week, not sure why a statement in week 1 is now crazy talk since it's week 9 and our D is revamped with young players.

Slapstick
11-04-2011, 11:33 AM
So, when "Old Man Harrison" comes back, is the D better or worse?

Leper Friend
11-04-2011, 11:49 AM
Sapp said on Inside the NFL that the Steelers D was old week one but without Smith , Farrior and Harrison they are now younger and therefore better. Of course nobody questioned him on how removing one of the best OLB's in the game makes a defense better but who really cares ? He's a fat loudmouth who just tries to say outrageous stuff to get a reaction. Which is probably 90 % of NFL coverage anymore.



If we replaced older players with younger players how is the week one statement outrageous?

NFL coverage changes week to week, not sure why a statement in week 1 is now crazy talk since it's week 9 and our D is revamped with young players.
Really ??

papillon
11-04-2011, 11:51 AM
So, when "Old Man Harrison" comes back, is the D better or worse?

I'm looking forward to his return, because he's the :evil: SOB in the NFL.

Pappy

Leper Friend
11-04-2011, 11:53 AM
So, when "Old Man Harrison" comes back, is the D better or worse?
Exactly. The improved defense has nothing to do with Harrison not playing.

feltdizz
11-04-2011, 04:23 PM
So, when "Old Man Harrison" comes back, is the D better or worse?

Better!

Harrison is pretty young in football years... :wink:

feltdizz
11-04-2011, 04:27 PM
So, when "Old Man Harrison" comes back, is the D better or worse?
Exactly. The improved defense has nothing to do with Harrison not playing.

I don't think Harrison is the player or players people talk about when they said old and tired.

BMac, Smitty, Farrior, Hampton....

Hampton hasn't been bad but McClendon and Hoke look much better this year.