Tag Archives: Receivers

Steelers vs. Cowboys: QB Experience, short passing plus big receivers has equaled trouble for the Steelers defense


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Franchise Tag projections for wide receivers in 2013 could create trade market for Mike Wallace after 2012 season

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Steelers Vs. Titans: Ben Roethlisberger, receivers, key for Thursday Night Football victory

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A challenge for Steelers’ wide receivers

The Steelers began their film study for Oakland on Wednesday, but it’s not going to be easy for the team’s wide receivers to prepare for the Raiders corners as injuries have hit them hard there.The......

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2012 Pittsburgh Steelers training camp roster throwdown: wide receivers

Finally the light that is the NFL season is starting to actually come into view, even if it is a few weeks away still. Considering how far away it seemed before the draft, we’ll take what we can get right? With camp just around the corner it’s time to start really looking at the key battles that will face the Steelers and their roster full of young talent waiting to make a name for themselves. Sure, we could call this series “training camp roster battles” or training camp position battles”, “roster breakdown” or something else generic like that but we like to do things a little bit differently around here.
Training camp roster throwdown seemed appropriate because that’s really what it is, these guys are fighting for their NFL lives right now against pretty steep odds in some cases. It’s a full on battle, everyone giving everything they’ve got in the summer heat in Latrobe to try and land one of the coveted final spots avail...

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Talkin’ Wide Receivers: Mike Wallace Setting the Market, Antonio Brown Setting the Bar

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Pittsburgh Steelers WR Mike Wallace has little leverage left in his contract negotiation. Not only is teammate, WR Antonio Brown, rising fast among other NFL wide receivers, but he's taking some of the spotlight from Wallace.

Two dogs, one bone. Or, two great receivers, one big Steelers pay day.

Does Wallace's alleged threats to hold out matter?

No. The Steelers have the ability to reduce his $ 2.7 million tender offer to 110 percent of his 2011 salary (much less than $ 2.7 million) if Wallace does not sign the deal by June 15, one day after mini-camp ends.

Maybe this is Clintonion, but it depends on what a "hold out" is. Will Wallace miss OTAs? That's certainly possible, and it's not something that would draw a fine. In the end, it doesn't matter as much if he's not there for mini camp as if he missed training camp, and Wallace's situation doesn't improve at all by missing any of it.

Keep in mind, too, the reduction piece of the tender offer is an option the Steelers have the right to exercise; it does not mean they will. Such a move would no doubt back Wallace into a corner that could lead to an inevitable training camp holdout, which would be detrimental to both Wallace and the Steelers.

Eagles WR Desean Jackson, a receiver probably a step below Wallace (and signed a deal this off-season worth $ 15 million guaranteed), admitted his contract battle distracted him, and advised Eagles RB LeSean McCoy against doing the same thing he did.

"I think it would be in his best interest to come" to offseason practices and camp, Jackson said. "Looking back now it really hurt me more than I thought it helped me. Hopefully he saw everything I went through, and hopefully [agent] Drew [Rosenhaus] won't have him go through the same thing."

Regardless of what Wallace's agent, Bus Cook, may be telling Adam Schefter, which naturally makes such high quality reporters like Evan Silva report it as if a precursor to the future, a hold out will not help Wallace in any way. His best bet is to hold off on signing it until Cook has had one last pre-mini camp crack at a long-term deal. Sign it, requesting the Steelers come back to the table in training camp (where OLB LaMarr Woodley, SS Troy Polamalu and ILB Lawrence Timmons all signed extensions last season, Woodley having signed his franchise tag without holding out) and take a look at the matter again.

Can Antonio Brown be even better in 2012?

Yes. Lots of simple questions surrounding this group. For as talented as Brown is, the aspect making him such an outstanding receiver is his work ethic. Former 6th round draft picks don't run routes as well as he did in his second year. They don't command as much attention as he did over the second half of the season. His desire to be great is without question his best attribute, and he's setting the bar very high for any Steelers receiver - including Wallace - in the future.

His success may simply force Wallace to another team, and while that does only intensify his own impending contract negotiation (he's set to be a restricted free agent in 2013), it doesn't seem like Brown would have it any other way. Taken off special teams duties for this upcoming season, Brown figures to be a big part of the offense, and rightfully he should. The rapport he developed with QB Ben Roethlisberger after the first quarter of the season was evident to all, and odds of him leading the team in receptions this season are very high.

Is Emmanuel Sanders the Forgotten One among Steelers receivers?

It wasn't long ago Sanders, and not Brown, was the rising receiver among the Steelers. Injuries have really set him back after he led the team in targets in the AFC Championship Game his rookie year. A foot injury in the Super Bowl, and what appeared to be a re-aggravation of that injury in training camp, forced Sanders to lose some ground.

Injuries happen to everyone, and the ones affecting Sanders are ill-timed. He's still very talented and, with some luck, could really surprise some people this year. He's also a year away from restricted free agency, so this is an important off-season and training camp for him. Injuries are unpredictable and they take their toll on a player mentally. The real question we should be asking is how good can he be if the Injury Bug passes over him for just one year?

What are rookie WR Toney Clemons' chances of making the roster?

Normally I take a quick glance into the seventh-round picks and see what unique skill they may bring to the table, but more, what weaknesses they show that may have caused them to fall so far. In Clemons' case, it really seems to be his rocky collegiate career that affected him, even more than just needing some work on his hands. Playing for two coaches at Michigan, transferring to Colorado and working for numerous coaches there, it's tough to ask any player to grow and improve under such conditions.

Dropping passes, though, isn't nearly as much coaching as it is focus, concentration and coordination. Tough to be an NFL receiver if you can't catch the ball.

In Clemons' case, and no doubt, his agent is saying the same thing, he's on a great team to move past all of that. While wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery has to be moving closer each passing year to a promotion, the coaching staff is otherwise stable for the foreseeable future, and he has some great younger receivers around him.

Will it be enough to make the 53-man roster? I'd say right now, it won't be. With Sanders' injury concerns, I think they'll want to bring in a low-priced veteran for the sake of stability to that group. Clemons could be a riser and need a year of seasoning, and the Steelers won't want a guy like that to take a spot now. He'll get a camp to prove that prediction false. It sure would help the Steelers in the future for him to earn playing time now, though.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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2013 Draft Class Heavy with Quarterbacks, Receivers and Nose Tackles


Most major college football programs have played their annual spring games by now, and many players finish with school and begin preparing on their own for the 2013 season.

A very select few of them will be next year's Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and David DeCastro.

As of now, next year's draft class looks to be strong at a few positions. The class appears to be loaded with quarterbacks, wide receivers, nose tackles, and safety's and above average at tackle, tight end, and cornerback. The classes weakness appears to be interior offensive line and 4-3 linebackers but obviously, this is all just projections right now and is subject to massive changes.

This isn't a traditional mock draft, but rather, a list of the top 32 players as of now in the draft class for next year. We really have no way of knowing who will pick where for obvious reasons. Use this list as a sort of "players to watch" guide for college football next year.

1. Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia - This will be the first time in a while that the #1 player is not a quarterback. Jarvis Jones had 13.5 sacks last year in the SEC and will look to build on that this year. He has the ability to be one of the best 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL as soon as he gets drafted.

2. Matt Barkley, QB, USC - Barkley would have been a top five pick this year and he is the favorite to be the number one pick next year. He has all the tools (big arm, good accuracy, great vision, toughness, intelligence, etc.) to become a great quarterback and depending on who is drafting number one next year, he could be the number one pick.

3. Robert Woods, WR, USC - Robert Woods is not your biggest wide receiver (only around 6'1") but all he does is produce. He has become Matt Barkley's favorite target and with his speed and great hands, he could become a dominant force in the NFL. He will likely be destroyed during the Draft Process because of his height but whoever gets him next year will be very lucky.

4. Johnathan Hankins, NT, Ohio State - Hankins is a monster (6'4" 320 pounds) with great athleticism, great strength, and a great motor. He looks like he will be the highest drafted nose tackle in a long time (possibly ever) and has the tools to be a top five pick if he can have another strong season. He will likely impress at the combine like Dontari Poe did, but unlike Poe, he will have great game tape to go along with it.

5. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas - Tyler Wilson had a great year last year and would likely have been the third QB taken but he decided to return to school and try and lead Arkansas to a BCS bowl game. He has incredible arm strength and he is a hard worker and if he can have another solid year he can be a top five pick next year.

6. Sam Montgomery, DE/OLB, LSU - Montgomery was a big part of LSU's dominant defense last year because of his ability to bring pressure off the edge. He had 9 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss last year as only a sophomore and if he can build that up to the double digits, he could be a top five pick next year.

7. D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama - Fluker - To this point in his career, the mammoth tackle from Alabama has only started at right tackle. If he does not make the shift to the left side this year, he will drop down this list because he will be considered a right tackle only. However, with his size and athleticism, one would figure he could shift to the left side.

8. Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee - Bray has a huge arm but still makes some dumb mistakes. If he can fix those stupid mistakes, he could end up being higher on this board. On terms of raw talent, he might have the most of all the quarterbacks in this class.

9. Keenan Allen, WR, California - Allen has the size to make him potentially be the #1 WR taken next year. At 6'3" and 206 pounds, he will not have any concerns over his size. He matches that up with great production (as a sophomore, he had 89 receptions for 1261 yards and 6TDs). If he can improve his route running a little and work on his hands, he could be the #1 wide receiver drafted in next year's class.

10. David Amerson, CB, N.C. State - Amerson comes into the process as the #1 cornerback in the class. The main reason why is his size. He is 6'3" and 200 pounds and seems to play very fast on the field. As a sophomore last year, he intercepted 13 passes which shows just what type of ballhawk he is. If he has another great season, he could actually end up being a top 3 pick.

11. Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame - Manti Te'o was a projected top 20 pick in this year's draft but he decided to go back to Notre Dame. Last year, as a junior, Te'o recorded 4.5 sacks and 120 tackles. The production, matched with his athleticism, will make him a possible top 10 pick and will draw comparisons to Patrick Willis throughout the draft process.

12. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M - Matthews will only be a junior next year, but already he is being talked about as possibly the best tackle in the class next year. He has a lot of experience playing at 3 spots on the offensive line (LT, RT, LG) and could definitely leap frog Fluker for the top tackle in the class.

13. Barret Jones, OT/OG/C, Alabama - Jones in his career at Alabama has played left tackle, both guard spots, and center. That kind of versatility combined with his talent will make him a high pick next year. The reports are that he will be the center next year for Alabama and if that is true, he could become the highest drafted center in the past five years.

14. Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU - Mingo is an athletic monster with massive upside. As a sophomore, he had 8.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss. Like Montgomery, if he can get that number up to double digits and continue to get stronger, he could be a top five to ten pick.

15. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State - Rhodes has great size at 6'2" and 210 pounds and has shown the ability to lock down his side of the field without any safety help. However, he is kind of like Ike Taylor in the fact that he has stone hands. Last year, he had just one interception and dropped several more. That might keep him from being a top 10 pick but as seen with Dre Kirkpatrick, he could still be a top 20 pick in the draft next year.

16. T.J. McDonald, S, USC - McDonald is the best of a loaded safety class next year. His athleticism and size (6'3" 205 pounds) make him a possible candidate to play corner but he could be best at safety. He is a big hitter and also had 3 interceptions last year.

17. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina - Marcus Lattimore is a monster and was on his way to dominating the SEC again last year before a devastating leg injury. If he can recover and have another great season next year, he could be a top five pick. However, I am going to be conservative on him until he proves he can play at the same level he was at before the leg injury.

18. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU - a.k.a. The Honey Badger, Mathieu is a ball hawking corner that can also be explosive in kick returns. Any time the ball is in his hands, he is a threat to take it to the house. As a sophomore, he forced 6 fumbles, lead LSU with 70 tackles, averaged 16.2 yards per punt return, and was named 2011 National Defensive Player of the Year by rivals.com. The thing holding him back from being a top 10 pick is his size. He is only 5'9" but because of his explosiveness and ability, he should still be a first round pick.

19. Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech - Logan Thomas has the athletic ability and arm strength of Cam Newton. The question is whether or not he will make the same strides that Newton made in his final year at Auburn to improve his passing accuracy and decision making. If he can do that, like Newton did, he could be the first pick in the draft next year. If not, he will still likely be a mid first round pick because of his potential.

20. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State - Marquess Wilson has the height (6'4") and production (82 receptions for 1388 yards and 12TDs) to be the first WR taken next year. If he has another year at that production level, I do believe he will be picked in the top 10. As a sophomore, he had 2 games where he went over 225 yards receiving and 4 more where he was over 100 yards. He is capable of taking over a game and will be a highly sought after commodity in next year's draft.

21. Tyler Eiffert, TE, Notre Dame - Eiffert is massive (6'6" 250 pounds) and is a great receiver (63 receptions for 803 yards and 5TDs as a sophomore). He is also a great blocker and a hard worker. If he has another good season at Notre Dame, he could be a top 15 pick in the draft next year.

22. Star Lotulelei, NT, Utah - Lotulelei is a massive guy (6'4 and 325 pounds) with an incredible ability to eat up double teams. He had 1.5 sacks last year and 46 tackles so he has the production to match his size. If he can have another strong year, he could be a top 20 pick in the draft next year.

23. Kawann Short, DE/DT, Purdue - Short's size and weight (6'3 and 310 pounds) makes him a versatile player. He can either play 3-4 DE or even 4-3 DT. He is incredibly strong and is also a good pass rusher. As a junior, he had 6.5 sacks (3 vs. Ohio State and there great offensive line) and 54 tackles so he has the production to match his physical attributes. If he has another strong season he should be a top 15 to 20 pick.

24. Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida - Jenkins is built very similarly to new Pittsburgh Steeler, Sean Spence. At 6'0" and 230 pounds, he does not have great size but he does have great athleticism, instincts, and production. He is not an elite pass rusher (only 2 sacks as a sophomore) but is great in pass coverage and is a sure tackler. Because of his lack of pass rushing skills, he likely won't be a top 20 pick, but late in the first round he could present great value. He is the #1 4-3 OLB in the class as of now.

25. Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma - Tony Jefferson is a big hitter with great production. As a sophomore, he had 74 tackles and 4 interceptions. He is a great athlete and is always around the ball. He also has shown the ability to cover slot WRs. His versatility and instincts should make him a candidate to be a first round pick next year.

26. Robert Lester, S, Alabama - Lester is big (6'2" 210 pounds), fast, and has great instincts. As a junior, he had only one interception, but that was probably an anamoly because as a sophomore he had an SEC best, 8 interceptions. This drop off in interceptions is likely why he returned to Alabama for his senior year, because if he can get that INT total back up to 5 or more, he could be the first safety taken. A lot of scouts compare him to Ed Reed because he has a great ability to play center field.

27. Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State - At 6'2", Banks has great size and he is also a great athlete. Banks has shown ballhawking abilities, with 5 interceptions as a junior. He also has shown the ability to run a corner blitz successfully, finishing his junior year with 3 sacks. He is a sure tackler and has the ability to rise up boards with a strong senior season.

28. Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB, Florida State - Jenkins had a monster sophomore season in 2010 but regressed slightly in 2011 (going from 13.5 sacks to just 8). However, if he can get that number back up to double digits, he could be a top 15 pick. He looks more like a 4-3 DE than a 3-4 OLB at this time.

29. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State - Werner is 6'4 and 272 pounds so he is likely a 4-3 DE prospect and not a 3-4 OLB prospect. That lack of versatility might hurt him a little bit but his production (7 sacks) and his great game film will help him out. At FSU last year, even when he was not getting sacks, he was contributing because he was great in run support and also got double teamed often.

30. Kwame Geathers, NT, Georgia - At 6'6" and 355 pounds, Geathers is the biggest of the nose tackle prospects in this class. He is not a pass rusher and will not record stats (only 14 tackles last year) but if you watch film, you don't see a single play where he is not double teamed. He is always collapsing the pocket and that will make him a coveted prospect next year.

31. Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia - Aboushi started all 12 games last year at UVA at left tackle and having two years of starting experience will help him during the draft. He has good size (6'6 and 310 pounds) and has the ability to move up draft boards with a strong season.

32. Chris Faulk, OT, LSU - Faulk is big (6'6" and 325 pounds) and strong (as seen by his 73.5 knockdowns as a sophomore). He was the reason that Joseph Barksdale (a 2011 NFL Draft pick) played right tackle and not left tackle. It would not surprise me at all to see Faulk be the first tackle taken next year.

Honorable Mentions: Aaron Murray, Knile Davis, Cobi Hamilton, Ricky Wagner, Khaled Holmes, Nico Johnson, Baccari Rambo, Alex Okafor, Devin Taylor

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Steelers looking to lock up ‘Young Money Crew’ of receivers

There may not be a better trio of young wideouts in the NFL, though the Steelers hope they can keep them together for a long time.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Wide Receivers Steal Headlines in Day One of Free Agency

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It was an active, if not a generally uninteresting, first day of free agency. The wide receivers group stole the headlines, both proving their high value in the eyes of the league (Pierre Garcon, Vincent Jackson and Robert Meachem all quickly signed lucrative contracts), and Brandon Marshall and Miami looked to pull the wool over Chicago's eyes.

As reported early Wednesday morning, Marshall, for whom the Bears just traded two 3rd round draft picks, is being accused of punching a woman in the face at a New York City night club.

Chicago felt pretty good about picking him up for so relatively low of a price. If the allegations are true, Marshall, who's had several reported incidents of similar nature, would almost assuredly be sat down for a game or two.

Former Chargers WR Vincent Jackson signed a five-year, $ 55,555.55 million deal with Tampa Bay. The gratuitous amount of 5s apparently is out of homage to QB Josh Freeman, who wears the No. 5.

No word yet on whether Steelers WR Mike Wallace is planning to honor Ben Roethlisberger in his future contract negotiations.

Pierre Garcon must have held a gun to Redskins owner Dan Snyder's head, demanding $ 17.5 million guaranteed over a five-year deal. Snyder made it $ 20.5 million, probably just because he could.

Snyder's Skins signed WR Josh Morgan and are closing in on a deal with Eddie Royal as well, likely due to Snyder's desire to pack as many fourth-option receivers on his roster as possible.

Former Saints receiver Robert Mechem will replace Jackson in San Diego after signing a four-year, $ 25 million deal with the Chargers. He'll join Malcolm Floyd in San Diego as part of the only team in the league with great vertical threats, but zero short-route ability and a long history of injuries.

If former Steelers WR Hines Ward is still looking for work, the Chargers could really use a receiver who catches passes inside the numbers. Ward probably isn't fast enough to go anywhere else on the field.

Indianapolis managed to hold onto free agent WR Reggie Wayne, inking him to a 3-year, $ 17.5 million deal. He'll pretty much be the only Colts player left from the Manning Era after owner Jim Irsay slashed every other player who contributed to one of the most dominant teams in the league over the last 12 years (before last year).

So it'll kind of like be playing for a new team. Just seems strange, free agency wasn't even 12 hours old yet, if the Colts were his only option, why didn't he just sign back with them earlier?

Atlanta managed to retain WR Harry Douglas, but no one seems to care enough to report his contract numbers. Or maybe that's just me.

There are plenty of signings coming, and although Steelers fans are like the people who meet up with friends at a buffet when they're trying to lose 20 pounds, thinking they'll enjoy themselves anyway, we'll talk about who's doing what and why (if we can figure it out) throughout the day.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Championship Game Analysis Looks at Physical Giants Receivers and a Plan of Success for New England

Working off-schedule is kind of nice.

Without much of a news budget scheduled until march (draft madness, baby), we're pretty much going to freehand most of the writing. I see that as a good thing. Being serious get old after a while.

I'm gonna stay off-schedule, and just give you some of my uncensored, random thoughts on the match-ups this weekend. I shared my feelings on the Brady v. Flacco match-up coming up, I'll try to dig into the NFC game a bit too.

I have two older brothers, and I've often thought about what it would be like if both of us were (chuckle) head coaches in the NFL.

Everyone talked about the Harbaughs exchanging information in regards to upcoming opponents. I dismissed this as having anything of value because coaches do that all the time. Raheem Morris, the former Buccaneers coach, worked under Mike Tomlin on Jon Gruden's staff in Tampa Bay in 2005. You think they don't share information as well? Does the fact they aren't blood relatives make that scenario any more or less likely?

If anything, when I think of either of my brothers being at that level with me, I think more of the times I had to be the center while one completed the Super Bowl-winning touchdown pass to the other, or the times they'd play goal line stand, where I had to get in the end zone from a yard out against both of them.

I may give them some of my honest opinion, but I'm going to throw a red herring or two in there as well.

"Nah, don't worry about Ninkovich, run away from him, what happened against Denver was an aberration. And that bit with Hernandez in the backfield? Don't worry about it, there's no chance all they were doing was putting it on film so you think they'll run out of that formation next week. Sell out for the run, Ray Lewis can cover him in the open field, no problem."

It may not necessarily be with Hernandez, but look for the Patriots to stretch the Ravens defense out much like what Houston did. Granted, they don't have Arian Foster, and they aren't the greatest run-blocking team, but their linemen are quick and athletic, and setting up play-action off getting Baltimore's linebackers moving horizontally will open up a lot of room down the seam.

Clearly, the story in this game is Baltimore's defense vs. New England's offense, so the other side on both teams needs to come up with a few plays. With the Ravens offensive line falling apart, and the Patriots defense playing above the sum of its parts (which still isn't much), this will come down to Baltimore's ability to keep Flacco upright long enough to eventually hit one of the deep passes they insist on throwing. Conventional wisdom would suggest the Ravens would simply pepper the Patriots with even doses of Ray Rice and TEs Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, but I'm done trying to apply common sense to Baltimore's offensive game plan.

Rest assured, though Tom Brady will not throw straight into tight high-low coverage multiple times the way T.J. Yates did. Remember that when you hear Ravens fans crying about the lack of coverage in their secondary. However, it may not matter, because if the Ravens defense is as good as everyone says it is, there's no reason they cannot dial up the kind of pressure needed to stop Brady.

As for what Brother John is saying to Brother Jim about the Giants:

"Make Nicks beat you. It's ok to cut him loose to eliminate Cruz. He's really not that strong, and can't really make big plays in traffic. He'll fumble, too, if you hit him square in the chest, so emphasize stripping the ball over putting him on the ground. Whitner can play on his own in the deep secondary, so tell your corners to go for the pick."

Donte Whitner nearly single-handedly cost San Francisco a win when they had no business losing. Yes, turnovers have been San Francisco's bread-and-butter all season, but there comes a point you need to recognize when an offense simply has a physical advantage over you. Whitner's lame attempt to go for the ball on the 7-foot-5 Jimmy Graham missed horribly, and Graham went for a 66-yard touchdown.

The Giants are going to try to run deep posts and digs on Whitner and take advantage of the good size and excellent strength of their receivers. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Giants are added to the "best receiving corps in the game" conversation before this season is over. Nicks and Cruz are easily the strongest pair of receivers in the league, and they're emerging as the best playmakers as well.

Look for this to be a brutally physical match-up. San Francisco has the most aggressive defense of the remaining playoff teams, but as the Saints proved, over-aggression can be a problem in big games. Also, like the Saints proved, five turnovers means little, because, in the end, the team that goes the hardest for the longest is going to win. A true battle of attrition. And you know Mike Tomlin likes that.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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