December 18, 2007

Mike Tomlin's Wild Ride...

"That is the mental toughness element of this game...Every team faces trials and tribulations, ups and downs...The reality is that we are what we are. We’re 9-5. We’ve stumbled of late. So be it. We’ve got to go to St. Louis and seek our 10th win."
- Mike Tomlin
Well Steeler fans, here we are at 9-5 with two games to go and just a slight leg up on the Browns in the division. Facing the reality that we have to win both of our final games to insure a playoff berth. The season has essentially been reduced to this - Two games, on the road, against two teams that will be vastly under rated by most, including NFL odds makers.

It's been an interesting season thus far. We've seen the Offense look good. We've seen the Offense look bad. We've seen the Defense look good. We've seen the Defense look bad. We've seen Special Teams look...well, bad. The point is - over the last month or so we haven't really seen the Steelers play 60 minutes of solid football on both sides of the ball. And it's been well documented on these here interwebs.

So looking ahead to Thursday, the Steelers have a date with a team we don't see very often. The St. Louis Rams. And I have to admit - since it's been a while, I couldn't really remember the last time we saw the likes of the team formerly known as The Greatest Show on Turf. After having my memory jogged, I'm kind of sorry I did.

The year was 2003. 'Twas the 2nd year of the failed Tommy Gun experiment, in which the Steelers finished with an overall 6-10 record, and consequently were able to secure a fine young man out of Miami University of Ohio in the 1st round of the 2004 draft. In this game, Pittsburgh native and field general Marc Bulger ripped apart the Steelers secondary for a Brett Favre-esque 375 yards passing. Plus, the Rams 3rd string running back Arlen Harris (who I'm pretty sure isn't even in the league anymore) added 81 yards and 3 TDs, en route to a 33-21 Rams victory. On the receiving end of the majority of Bulger's 22 completions was the always lethal Torry Holt - who hauled in 7 catches for 174(!!!) yards and the only passing TD.

For the Steelers, Tommy Maddox threw 2 touchdowns...and 3 interceptions. Jerome Bettis ran for 42 yards...and graciously contributed a lost fumble. And Hines Ward was the only one with any kind of Offensive success, catching 5 Tommy Maddox "bullets" (get it, Tommy Gun...bad one) for 90 yards and 2 scores. Plaxico sucked as usual.

Needless to say, with the passing of almost half a decade, a lot has changed for both the Rams and Steelers. The Rams now have the inhuman monster Steven Jackson responsible for the ground game, Marc Bulger is a few years more seasoned (albeit also worn), and the Rams have traded Mike Martz for Scott Linehan, who is 3-10 in his 2nd season at the helm.

The Steelers, on the other hand, have gone on to play in the AFC Championship game in '04, win Super Bowl XL in '05, and traded legendary Coach Bill Cowher early in '07 for the young Mike Tomlin, bringing us full circle to that 9-5 we talked about earlier. Willie Parker is now the main man on the ground, leading the NFL in rushing yards. And while Hines Ward is still a big deal in the Pittsburgh passing game, he's been joined by 2nd year stud Santonio Holmes and 3rd year TE Heath Miller, who've both contributed solid play in their relatively short time as Steelers.

We'll get to the side by side comparisons...tomorrow I guess (F these Thursday games). But for now, envision these guys walking into that St. Louis dome, beating the absolute shit out of the Rams, and reaffirming our faith in their ability to dominate, offensively and defensively, for 60 god damn minutes.

That all said, who scares you more - Fred Taylor, Thomas Jones or Steven Jackson? Yep. Me too...

Ballhype: hype it up!


Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

When healthy, Steven Jackson is arguably one of the top five running backs in the NFL. When healthy, Marc Bulger is arguably one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL, based on his career statistics. When healthy, Torry Holt is definitely one of the top five receivers in the NFL.

All are healthy. Too bad for them that the Rams' offensive line sucks, the defense is porous and their head coach is clueless. The Steelers should win this game. SHOULD win this game.

Black&Gold Girl said...

I'm really interested in seeing Fast Willie play indoors. Can you imagine what he would do with decent footing? He had a pretty decent outing againist the Jags, although we didn't run as much as I would have like for the 2nd week in a row. This could be a real chance to get everyone's head back in the game.

Anonymous said...

Let us bow our heads and not only pray for a Black and Gold victory, but also a Browns loss.

The Browns are just a little too close for comfort....I liken it to a dingleberry on my ass....very annoying, yet somehow very difficult to get rid of easily.

troubledjew said...

(disclaimer: not sure if my orig comment got posted)big matchup will be against top return man dante hall. this guy is avg. more yards per return than devin hester, so hes a serious threat. hes only taken it to the house once this year but the steelers special teams will probably give him a few more shots. we cant let the opposing team start at their 40 every drive bec were scared of the return. hopefully it being indoors will allow jeff reed to kick a little deeper like the beginning of the year. a few tochbacks wouldnt hurt our chances

troubledjew said...

just looked at the numbers: 1st half of the season for Jeff Reed-8 touchbacks and averaged about 64 yards a kick. 2nd half so far (6 games)1 touchback and about 56 yards a kick. granted the net hasnt really changed much since the first half of the season-about 1 yard less now but at least it gave us a chance to pin them down

troubledjew said...

oops realized dante hall is out for the rest of the season. thats good for the steelers. however the 2nd comment is still true

Tobiathan said...

I don't have a lot to say, for once. Most of my rambling nonsense was poted in the last article's Comments section.

But, I'm getting a little pissed about the fact that our fine, beloved, talented and experienced Pittsburgh Steelers footbal team has looked weak, silly, and confused in so many games this year. Especially late in close games...

It's good that we've only been thouroughly whipped by one team (NE), but we've still lost the rest in close contests. A team of champions finds a way to do it.

It's time to start playing with some heart, Pittsburgh.

And it's time to start making some dramatic changes, coaching staff. Either in personnell or in your methods.

Something is wrong. Fix it. Now.

PS- Mike Tomlin: you'd better pull this team together buddy. You DO NOT want your fans to turn against you!

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Wow, Fast Willie on a Fast Turf ... Could be awesome.

Cleve Brown dingleberries ... 'tis the season.

Special Teams ... Thank GOD Dante Hall is out.

Skippy ... let's hope he's reasonably sober.

Coaching ... let's get it together again. The time is NOW.

domski43 said...

finally the steelers dont have to deal with shitty field conditions!! i'm not using it as an excuse for their play, but it should help.

has anyone else noticed that when big ben is in shotgun or calling an audible he lets the playclock run all the way down. Now, i understand the importance of time possession, but it also gives the defense a countdown to take off. i love the idea of ball control, but keeping the d on their heels by snapping at 6, 4, 2 hell..any number but 1! Mix it up gentlemen...there is no need to allow our less than impressive o-line to be put in even more of a disadvantage.

I would like to congratulate james harrison for being voted into the pro bowl. All steelers fans know he deserved it, and i'm happy to say i never once thought twice about losing joey porter after watching harrison on special teams and fill-in roles over the past few seasons. But, i am frustrated today because leading up to this year's draft i, along with a lot of others, was very high on patrick willis (who made the pro bowl)and felt he would be perfect at the steelers' middle lb slot. i know it would have taken a trade of some sorts to jump up a few notches to get him, instead we landed lawrence timmons. I am hoping timmons works out and i have to eat crow. You might point to woodley, but he has only shown flashes and cant stay healthy. A lot to prove young bucks...i'd love to see you show up big in the playoffs!

this one is for you tobiathan...f the belicunts!

Cotter said...

Dudes, apologies for the shadiness today...had my last final of the first semester of law school. Consequently, beers on me...

Moving on:

JPPB/B&G Girl - Fast Willie on Fast Turf = REAL Greatest Show on Turf

Anon - Amen to that brother. I'll be bowing my head shortly...

TJ - Dante Hall may be out, but that doesn't mean whatever scrub they've got to replace him can't rip us a new one...with our special teams, expect the unexpected. I won't hold my breath waiting for them to prove me wrong...

Tobiathan - Haven't gotten a chance to read your other comment on the other post yet, but I will. Steelers most def need to turn shit around. As they say on the streets - Tomlin better be on they ass. I'm so hood...

Domski - think about how we won in the '05 playoffs - catching people off guard. Hard to catch anyone off guard when you're letting them know you're snapping the ball at 01 on the play clock.

And I think I speak for all when I say - F the Cheatriots...Go Steelers!

MDultrarunner said...

"...Fred Taylor, Thomas Jones, or Steven Jackson?"

Ummm...Marshall Faulk? Oh, wait, I'm still dreaming about that match-up that was supposed to happen in Super Bowl XXXVI between the then #1 defense vs. the #1 offense known as the Greatest Show on Turf.

Jackson worries me. Now Kirschke's out, Eason's starting, and the Steelers are one chop block away from rookie Steely McBean taking over on the D-line. Yikes.

Please, give FWP 30 touches tomorrow. Win time of possession. Blitz, blitz, blitz and force the Rams' O-line to protect a weak Bulger. Take Bulger to the turf a few times to get him jittery.

Tobiathan said...

Speaking of chop blocks-

Isn't it time the NFL totaly outlawed ALL blocks below the waist?

I mean, how can the league justify letting anybody go for an opponents knees, ever? These guys are professinals- they ought to be able to block above the waist, or get out of the game. Period.

I'm sooooooo sick of seeing high-quality players getting LEGALLY blasted in the knees.


Will the officials EVAR call roughing the passer on Steeler's opponents?

How many times did the Patricunts slam Ben to the ground after spinning him completely around, then land on top of him driving him further into the turf? The Jags and every other team we've played has done the same.

However- if OUR guys so much as look at an opposing QB wrong we get slapped with a fifteen-yarder.

I'm all for protecting QBs as long as our QB gets equal consideration.

Tobiathan said...

Very, very good point about the play-clock Domski:

You might have nailed the cause of the sack issue. Now that i think about it Ben has done that all year. A wonder our "coaching" staff hasn't coached him up on it.

I'm starting to feel like there are some problems with that coaching group. We've seen a lot of rookie-type mistakes out of our guys lately....

Something needs to drastically improve on both sides of the ball, and soon.

Cotter said...

MDulta - Yep, agreed. Depleted Rams line + Banged Up Bulger = recipe for success (for Steelers D). But honestly man, more than that, I want to see them play an all around good game. Both sides of the ball. That's it. Win and play 60 minutes of solid Defense and Offense. We shall see...

T - The refs will call roughing the passer when our QB is a pussy. Ben shakes it off so well that I'm willing to bet it's a good part of the reason why the penalty is never called. But alas, he's a balls out, hardcore guy. And I applaud him for that.