Hurry back IKE! We don't wanna win #7 without you!
Hurry back IKE! We don't wanna win #7 without you!
BTW, best Sig on the board right now HS.
Steelers CB Ike Taylor out with ankle injury
PITTSBURGH (AP) - There have been very few constants in Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's six years on the job.
The sight of Ike Taylor in his No. 24 uniform has been one of them.
The veteran cornerback will miss at least two weeks with a fractured right ankle, meaning his streak of playing in 135 consecutive games will end on Sunday when the Steelers (7-5) host reeling San Diego (4-8).
"You can say a lot of things about Ike, and a lot of positive things, but probably the thing that sticks out the most is his durability and availability,'' Tomlin said. "This guy hasn't missed practices, let alone football games, since I've been here.''
The 32-year-old Taylor has spent the last seven-plus seasons serving as an anchor on one side of the field. It's not a coincidence Pittsburgh has ranked in the top 10 in total defense each year and is No. 1 overall and in passing yards allowed yet again.
Though Taylor doesn't need surgery, the Steelers will have to rely on second-year reserves Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown against San Diego and Dallas, both of which have two of the more physical receiving corps in the leagues.
It's a task, however, Allen and Brown appeared to be up to while playing extensively last week against Baltimore after Taylor went down. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco completed just 16 of 34 passes for 188 yards with a touchdown and an interception as the Steelers revived their playoff hopes following the franchise's first two-game losing streak in three years.
To keep it going Pittsburgh will now rely a pair of 2011 draft picks to ease the pain from Taylor's absence. Tomlin likened Allen and Brown to third-year wide receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. The duo were taken in the 2010 draft and have quickly evolved into key contributors.
Tomlin figures it's time for the two cornerbacks to do the same.
"They're both talented young guys who are continuing to improve and prove that the stage isn't too big for them,'' Tomlin said. "Obviously, we need them to answer the bell as we continue to push into a territory that we haven't been in.''
While one familiar face will be out of the lineup, another one could return. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will practice this week with a chance to return since going down with a sprained right shoulder and a dislocated rib in a 16-13 overtime win over Kansas City on Nov. 12.
Roethlisberger threw on Monday, though Tomlin stressed that at the moment backup Charlie Batch is "our guy.''
Batch, who turns 38 on Wednesday, passed for 276 yards and led the Steelers to a pair of late scoring drives in Baltimore. Tomlin, however, stressed the decision on Roethlisberger's availability rests solely on the quarterback's health, not Batch's ability to channel the fountain of youth.
"Ben is our quarterback and if he's capable of playing then we're going to play him,'' Tomlin said. "But we appreciate the efforts of Charlie and all the other men that step up when given an opportunity due to injury.''
Roethlisberger said last week arm strength and pain have been major concerns during his rehab. He appears to have made progress on both fronts in the last week.
"Seven days does wonders for injuries,'' Tomlin said.
So does the prospect of playing significant games in December. Tomlin allowed the victory in Baltimore is among the most significant of the last two seasons, so much so he was in a rush to get to the locker room afterward, one of the reasons the postgame handshake between Tomlin and Ravens coach John Harbaugh appeared strained.
"It took special effort to secure that victory and when I noticed that guys were headed to the locker room I was in a hurry to get there,'' Tomlin said.
And Tomlin is in a hurry to get back to work, though he's not trying to read too much into similarities between the team's position now and the one it was in seven years ago, when the Steelers won their final four regular season games then added four playoff wins to capture their fifth Super Bowl.
"I do think our team has some unique characteristics that are kind of born out of unique circumstances or situations,'' he said. "Quite frankly, it's always 20-20 looking back at it. If we're able to put together a run and win necessary games and get some momentum, then you can say it was unique.
"If we don't, then you can say it was irrelevant.''
NOTES: LB LaMarr Woodley will test his injured ankle this week and could play after missing the Ravens game ... WR Jerricho Cotchery's fractured ribs have healed enough that he has a shot to return against San Diego ... Tomlin said he's encouraged by the way S Troy Polamalu played against the Ravens in his first game in nearly two months and could see a heavier workload on Sunday.
Love it. Pretty intense, or even better, a look of who are you and get out of my face!!! ha!
Pittsburgh Steelers forge forward through injury-riddled season
By Aditi Kinkhabwala
Reporter, NFL.com and NFL Network
Published: Dec. 5, 2012
Sitting at 7-5 now, Mike Tomlin's Pittsburgh Steelers have hit double-digit wins in four of the past five seasons.
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake knew the word on cornerback Ike Taylor's ankle wasn't going to be great. He'd already been without super-safety Troy Polamalu for most of the season; now he was losing his shutdown corner for what he'd eventually find out was a few weeks, and so a reporter was trying to offer a measure of consolation.
"Well, two years ago the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl after having to put 16 players on injured reserve," the reporter said. "And last year, the Giants --"
A booming voice came down the stairs at the Steelers facility: "Is that supposed to make me sleep better?"
Eventually, Mike Tomlin's legs followed his laugh; the Steelers coach was clearly getting a kick out of the happy-face attempt. Tomlin chuckled some more, referencing his sleep again. OK, no, maybe the previous two Super Bowl winners overcoming massive injuries en route to raising the Lombardi Trophy doesn't salve the pain of Ben Roethlisberger's achy shoulder.
But the Packers' and Giants' method (getting hot late) should. And Roethlisberger's prognosis -- he's throwing better and might play this weekend against the San Diego Chargers -- should, too. Besides the Taylor setback, the Steelers are getting healthy, their final stretch is wholly manageable and the NFL -- thank goodness for it -- is not the BCS.
The NFL introduced playoff seeds in the 1975 season. Since then, 20 No. 1 seeds have won it all. Of those 20, 18 came before the 2000 season. Translation: In the past 12 seasons, just two No. 1 seeds have won the Super Bowl: the 2003 New England Patriots and the 2009 New Orleans Saints.
Maybe teams that lock up berths early get too much rest. Maybe teams that are still fighting for their playoff lives have to play with urgency every week. Maybe they don't have to flip a switch they've turned off for a bit, maybe they're accustomed to playing on the edge, maybe there really is a lot more parity between seeds 1 and 6. The moral is: In all the excitement about the Houston Texans and New England Patriots, don't overlook the guys who are not yet officially in the dance. Like the Steelers.
During a season that started with two former Defensive Player of the Year honorees sidelined, one that's seen Roethlisberger's MVP candidacy interrupted, Tomlin has not allowed an instance of woe-is-me. ("Excuses," he says, "are the tools of the incompetent.") He demands (almost) the same excellence of fill-ins, he spouts lines like, "the standard is the standard," and, in the midst of it all, his team has a deep-seated confidence in itself as a whole unit.
How else to explain going into Baltimore with a third-string quarterback three days shy of his 38th birthday and handing the nine-win Ravens their first home loss in two years? In the muddied AFC, this is still the Steelers. The Steelers of a recharged James Harrison and of the fastest group of wide receivers in the land.
These Steelers have the NFL's top-ranked defense, they have an offensive line that can push people around, they have three different starting running backs and they're one Roethlisberger away from being a legitimately scary team.
The aforementioned 38-year-old Charlie Batch winning in Baltimore on Sunday certainly gave the Steelers some breathing room. It raised the question of whether he bought Roethlisberger some time, perhaps an extra week to rest, with the woeful Chargers coming into Pittsburgh. Not a chance, according to the coach.
"Obviously Ben is our quarterback," Tomlin said. "If he is capable, he's playing."
Tomlin knows the Steelers have to get hot again, as they were on their four-game win streak before Roethlisberger got hurt, and they have to do it now. He knows confidence and momentum matter, even as he frankly said Tuesday, "They're almost mystical because you can't measure them."
After this weekend, the Steelers have a trip to Dallas and then two more home games, against the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. That Week 16 matchup could well be akin to a playoff game, with either Cincy or Pittsburgh getting to move on. Polamalu is back. Harrison, after offseason knee surgery, is again playing like the man who puts together a game-turning sack-fumble, and Roethlisberger is throwing.
This hasn't been one of the painless 12-win seasons the Steelers have so frequently put together of late, but that might not be bad, come these next two months. A few weeks back, Maurkice Pouncey refused to call the Steelers' run of injuries a hardship, saying, "There's much tougher adversity in the world," and then wondering if the whole roster being called upon now wouldn't help the Steelers down the line. Or, as Tomlin put it: "I do think our team has some unique characteristics that are kind of borne out of unique circumstances or situations."