December 21, 2007

Well...I've Got Good News and Bad News...

"I took it upon myself to put the offense on my back and carry it...He's our guy, he's our breadwinner. Not having him, everyone has to pick it up a level."
- Najeh Davenport

"Our heart goes out to him because he's a competitor, he's a warrior...As a team, we're not going to throw a pity party. It's part of the game, people get hurt, we'll adapt and improvise and move forward."
- Mike Tomlin
I probably don't need to tell you the bad news, but yes, Willie Parker is DONE for the season with a fractured fibula...[insert crickets]...

Other than that, a pretty solid effort from the Steelers Offense tonight (at the risk of downplaying the injury). They posted the most points of any game this season - 41. Big Ben padded his season TD total, adding 3 more for a grand total of 32 on the year, Santonio Holmes had 4 catches for 133 yards and a score, Najeh Davenport stepped in capably and contributed 123 yards on 24 carries with 1 TD, and good ol' Hines Ward got 59 yards on 6 catches, finally passing John Stallworth as the team's all time leader in receiving yards. So in honor of that, I'd like to take a short moment and recognize Hines' achievement...

There, now then. Big Ben was nearly perfect tonight. If you don't believe me, just check his passer rating (although this stat is highly over rated) - 158.3. 16/20, 261 yards, 3 TDs, ZERO INTs. Willie went down early, but Ben didn't get rattled. He simply continued to execute and made a great game out of it. Yes he holds onto the ball too long more often than we'd all like. But you can't really ask for too much better play by your Offensive leader and signal caller.

Now, the other side of the ball? Mixed results. They did hold Steven Jackson to just 85 yards. However, they also let Marc Bulger throw for 208 yards including 3 TDs. And let's not even mention how they let a team that's one of the lowest scoring in the NFL this season put up 24 points. Oops, too late.

So overall, this was an encouraging win. We once again go one up on the Browns, at least until Sunday. And although we lost our stud RB, the #1 rusher in the league by the way, there were a lot of positive things to take from this game. Checklist goes as follows:

Before I get into any specifics, I just want to say this - There are some times when a man just has to get emotional. Coach Tomlin preaches not getting caught up in the emotional roller coaster that is the NFL regular season, but listen, when your Defense (of all things) is under performing and you think they need a little motivation - get your ass over there and light a fire under them. Sometimes it's ok to show some emotion - positive or negative. Just let it all out Mike...we can handle it.

Anywho - like I said - many positives to take from this game, not the least of which were:
  1. My Man Najeh ~ He's still not our #1 back. But with the spotlight on and no one to back him up except Carey Davis (guess Russell didn't dress?), Najeh came through big time. 123 yards was more than I think any of us might have expected, no matter what we might say. North-South looked real good last night. Almost makes you nostalgic for the days of Jerome Bettis stiff arming the likes of Brian Urlacher. I'm still not sold on Najeh's ability to carry us into the playoffs, but for at least this night, he was king. And he didn't even have to choke a bitch...

  2. The Hotrod Cashes In AGAIN ~ Two weeks in a row, Nate Washington makes a TD grab. I mean, he caught the ball! AND he caught the ball twice. For TWO TDs! 2 total catches, both for scores, 50 yards receiving. Someone test this man for illegal substances, I couldn't believe my eyes...

  3. Old In Body, Young In Play ~ Hats off to Deshea Townsend for some solid play tonight. 4 tackles, and more importantly, 2 passes defended. Deshea was pretty much there everytime the Rams chose to take to the air. And although I like to give him shit for being one of the shorter guys on the team at 5'10", he played the game of a giant (metaphorically speaking) tonight. 10 points my lilliputian friend, you did good.

  4. Triumphant Return Part Deux ~ Troy came up pretty big yet again. Led the team with 6 tackles, and had 1 pass defended and of course the forced fumble. I did see him miss a few tackles tonight, but I'm gonna let that slide on account of the fact that the man is a monster. No matter where the play is on the field, he's in it. Perhaps it was an injustice that he got voted into the pro bowl this year having not played like himself for the better part of the first 3/4 of the season, but he's certainly showing us all now, that he deserves it. Plus, 15 points for the sick beard. Wish I could grow facial hair...

  5. Pressure? Nah, Not Really, But... ~ A sack!!! Finally, after at least two weeks without one, Big Snack came through and put Bulger on the ground. It's pretty hard to stomach that the Steelers Defense has not been able to manage but one sack in three weeks. However, we're just playing the hand that has been dealt to us I suppose. Let's hope there's a lot more where that came from...I like watching sacks...and Casey Hampton. Hook 'em Horns.
But listen guys, not to take anything away from the team, but this was the RAMS! They were 3-11 coming into this game, and while they do have an omnipresent Offensive force, had we not won this game decisively, I don't think any of us would have had much hope for the playoffs left. As it is hope is at a premium.

Finally, I just want to say - for the 1st time all season, I actually 100% wholeheartedly agreed with Tobiathan on the Ref BS. We got screwed not once, not twice, but at least three times in this game, by my count. First off - I'll be awaiting an apology from the league on the Steven Jackson fumble - how you can turn upfield, take three steps but not have possession is beyond me. Second - pass interference on Ike Taylor during the play with Isaac Bruce - Come on, just because Isaac Bruce is ancient, I don't wanna hear it. There was NO interference on that play. Ike just played it well. I hate to have to highlight shit like this, but sometimes you gotta call 'em like you see 'em...errr not, if you're reffing the Pittsburgh-St. Louis would seem.

So now that you've read all I've got to write (not all, but look, it's late and I'm tired) - What did you guys think? How do you feel about losing Willie? What are your thoughts on the playoffs now? Will the Steelers invest in a solid Offensive lineman in the first three rounds this April? [INSERT WITTY QUESTION HERE...sorry, too tired right now].

PS - Man, if I'm not the biggest Bengals fan this weekend, you have no idea...
PPS - If this post made little to no sense and was not humorous in the slightest, please accept my sincerest apologies. I wrote it quite late, after I spent approximately an hour and half trying to photoshop this nice collage you see above. Yep, I suck at photoshop.

Steelers-Rams Initial Thoughts [Behind The Steel Curtain]
Parker Lost But Offense Finds Its Way [DC Steeler Nation]
Steelers Dominate Without Parker [Die Hard Steel]
Tonight, Pitt Was America's #1 Town [Doubt About It]
Monday Morning Chrylser New Yorker [Pittsburgh Sports and Mini Ponies]

Steelers RB Parker Fractures Leg [Associated Press]
Steelers Prevail, Stay Atop AFC North [Associated Press]
Steelers Beat Rams, Lose Parker [Tribune-Review]
Steelers Urgency Produces Clutch Win [Tribune-Review]
Steelers Win 41-24 [Post-Gazette]
Steelers Notebook [Post-Gazette]
The Big Plays Make a Big Difference [Post-Gazette]

Ballhype: hype it up!


quiet strength said...

"We're going to ride Willie until the wheels come off," Tomlin declared.

I love Tomlin, but man...that sure turned out to be prophetic. Plenty of time for FWP to heal and at least it's not an ACL or anything lingering like that - but then again, I've never broken my leg...

domski43 said...

willie's injury scares me for the playoff run. i know davenport/davis looked good last night, but they are backups for a reason. and i'm trying not to convince myself that davenport/davis looked good because the rams d was prepared for willie's style of running, plus the fact that they suck in general.

the biggest fear i have is beyond this season. willie is unique in that he doesnt have the mileage/wear and tear of other backs in the league that have taken a beating in college and the pros. we must remember that willie didnt play much at north carolina, so his body has been fresh. i hope his leg recovers completely and he doesnt lose a step.

i have to tip my hat to arians for adjusting his playcalling last night in the absence of parker. the wr screens to ward and reverse to santonio kept the d on their toes. we are going to have to do this as well as throw the ball more to cover up the huge gap left by the injury to parker.

MDultrarunner said...

Gotta agree, Arians did a nice job adjusting the play calling once FWP went down. I'm still in mourning--and maybe denial. I woke up this morning and actually convinced myself that I had dreamed the whole injury. Damn.

Najeh's serviceable. Davis showed some nice speed to the outside, but I really don't think he's got the power to grind it out between the tackles. He's toast against Balto's run-d, and I see the Steelers defense allowing three straight touchdowns in the first round of the playoffs, forcing the offense to abandon the run and play catch up, so Davis (and Najeh) won't really matter anyway.

Damn, can the DBs please play more physical than a cabbage patch doll? Maybe, just maybe, disrupting the receivers at the line of scrimmage will throw off their timing with the QB. I mean, a 20 yard TD completion to Drew Bennett?

Anonymous said...

I was just glad that the Steelers proved that they CAN in fact beat a shitty team! WOOHOO!

Cotter said...

QS - Yeah, I mean I guess it's not all that unheard of for a guy with about 1000 carries on the season going down at some point. Just look at how it wore down Larry Johnson.

MDUltra - Glad I wasn't the only one thinking that. I mean come on, bump somebody off their route, get them frustrated. But I guess I can't really complain too much about coverage, Ike and Deshea have been pretty solid all season. Better than I would have expected based on last year. Though that could just be the eggnog talking...

Anonymous - Seriously man. If we lost that game I might have had to shoot myself. Losing to the 1-8 Jets and the 3-11 Rams in the same season might have been too much.

Tobiathan said...

I hate to admit how satisfying it was to see some written support of my criticism of the officiating in this game.

I woulda commented sooner but have had some serious plumbing issues at my house and been up to my ankles in water. All good now tho...

Yup- the officials tanked it again as usual. I can handle the occasional bad call by a referee, but i swear that every single wekk, year after year, the officials make calls against our Steelers that are both totally unrealistic, not obvious, and even often lend to a change in momentum or score by the other team.

How many times have you seen it, dear reader?

Anyway, the league needs to officiate every team and every game exactly the same, and that ain't happening, especially this year with the New Gods of Pro Football Patricheatingbastards.

Tobiathan said...

Mdultrarunner said:

"""Damn, can the DBs please play more physical than a cabbage patch doll? Maybe, just maybe, disrupting the receivers at the line of scrimmage will throw off their timing with the QB."""

Hell yeah man!

I've felt the same way all year. If our CBs would jam the dog shit outta opposing WRs at the line we'd do a heluva lot better on D. Especially with Troy back.

Anthony Smith better tighten his game up though. He's starting to worry me..