January 2, 2008

Fight or Flight, What's It Gonna Be...

"There's no substitute for guts."
- Bear Bryant

"To succeed...You need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you."
- Tony Dorsett

"I learned that if you want to make it bad enough, no matter how bad it is, you can make it."
- Gale Sayers
Let's be honest, the Steelers chances for playoff success this year look pretty bleak. Willie Parker is out. Aaron Smith is out. Marvell Smith is out. Max Starks is out. The team hasn't really stopped a Running Back (Pats game does not count) since Week 13, they allowed a ridiculous 47 sacks this season, AND they've only won three out of the last seven games. So what possible reason do we as fans have to believe that they can win in the playoffs, first against a team that gouged them for over 400 yards of Offense and then against a team that is 16-0? How can the team overcome such challenging circumstances?

The answer is Heart.

At the risk of sounding like a little girl here, it is Passion, Emotion, and Fire that can make the difference. This probably isn't the first time you're hearing something like this from me, but as I generally maintain - there are many many great athletes in the NFL. What separates some of the greatest from the more pedestrian is their drive and desire to win. To play as hard as they possibly can, with purpose, despite the fact that things may be going wrong left and right. Fortunately for us, the Steelers roster has plenty of this kind of character. Hines Ward, Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, these guys have a desire to win and a commitment to their team's success that is arguably rare in today's free agency era. If you need a reminder of this, just think back to the 2005 playoffs...

Simply stated - the team has two choices. They can either look at how the deck is stacked against them and cry about it, OR they can see that effectively everyone is 0-0 now, and realize they still have the talent and gusto to win, even given all the current adversity.

I'm not saying that emotion alone can win a playoff game. All I'm saying is - if we have any hopes of winning, we had better find some passion and play like we want it. I haven't seen that side of this Steelers team consistently in a few weeks now. Get it back and we have a fighting chance. Play flat and we are dead in the water.

Remember, it's like the great Yogi Berra says - "It isn't over 'til it's over." Don't give up hope yet Steeler fans. Sometimes, when you least expect it, people can surprise you. Even football players. Cue Journey...I'll get down off my soapbox now.

What say you all?

Steelers' Worrisome Injury List Long, Growing [Associated Press]
Steelers Finish With Top Defense [Post-Gazette]
Steelers Defense Feels New Pressure [Tribune-Review]
Starks Out Saturday, Essex To Start [Die Hard Steel]
Something To Believe In... [One For The Other Thumb]
Filling Some Big Shoes [Yahoo! Sports]

Ballhype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

I sounds to me like you were watching "The Replacements" on TBS last night..... But, seriously I think they CAN win this game. Yes the offensive line is in shambles, and yes FWP is out, and their defense doesn't seem to be able to play well against the run anymore, wait where was I going with this? Oh yeah, they can WIN this game. I think Ben was really pissed they didn't eke it out aganist them last time, and at the very least HE will be there with heart. I think the offense will rally around his emotion. Then all we need is the defense to play like we all know they can. If the game is close at halftime, I believe thay will put them away for good in the 3rd quarter. Otherwise, I will also be shooting vodka.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess on paper we should lose this game....but I'm hoping that the Jags will come out overconfident...I guess we can't expect too much from our defense, just better than last time.

What it will come down to is our offense, and that's what I'm hanging my hopes on. Ben is a winner, he is clutch. We have tone of playoff experience, whereas the Jags don't. Hines and Santonio will hopefully stay healthy throughout this game...I think we can win in a shootout, if it caomes down to that (and I think it will).

MDultrarunner said...

I agree, what the Steelers need right now is a little friggin emotion, something they haven't played with since their thrashing of Baltimore back in November. First and foremost, I think Tomlin needs to show a little emotion and light a fire under the players' asses the way the Chin did. This hands-off approach works to an extent, but now it's time to show some heart yourself, Tomlin.

I didn't want to admit it at the time, but the loss of Aaron Smith was a much bigger deal than I thought. The defense couldn't stop an 80 year-old with a walker right now, let alone Taylor and MJD. And can the LBs generate just a little pressure on opposing QBs?

Saturday does not bode well if they don't come out with some emotion and heart. If the Steelers are down by two touchdowns at half, I'm gonna have to go to an IV line of Jaeger.

Cotter said...

notgomu ~ Funny thing is I did watch part of the Replacements the other day...errr, I mean I only watch quality films...

Yes it's over dramatizing the point, but I just can't help thinking that there is still more than enough talent for the Steelers to take (at least) this one.

Anon ~ You got it. Big Ben is a difference maker. Who knows what Najeh will/will not do, but we do know that Big Ben's gonna do whatever it takes to win. Even if it means taking the ball in himself, ala Super Bowl XL. Clutch is right.

mdultrarunner ~ The loss of Aaron Smith was beyond huge. Nonetheless, it doesn't mean we can't figure out a way to compensate. I vote sub Woodley for Haggans. Haggans hasn't done shit all year anyhow. Then hopefully if Kirschke/Eason can just tie up their guy(s), Woodley can take care of the rest.

If nothing else, at least we all agree that if this game gets out of hand, much liquor will be injected directly into our systems. And there ain't nothing wrong with that...unless you want a healthy liver...but who needs that, really.

domski43 said...

Hopefully labeau and the steelers d have been holding back over the past few weeks. The inability to tackle, get any pressure on the quarterback, and create turnovers has me very worried about jacksonville's hard nosed offense.

Offensively, our offensive line has to overcompensate for the loss of marvel smith and (i cant believe i'm saying this) MAX STARKS! The jags will look for every opportunity to exploit the left side of the steelers line. I look for the steelers to put more jumbo formations which should include heath, spaeth, or both at the same time to alleviate the already pourous o-line. I beg you guys please at least get out of the game with ben in one piece.

On the other side I believe in Big Ben. Ben is the type of player who always bounces back and plays big when we need him most.

The steelers historically respond when their backs are against the wall. As cotter said, there is still a solid base of players who know that anything can happen in playoff time.

This is the first time in a long while that the jags are getting a lot of positive publicity. Which could work in the steelers favor.

The steelers will need some help in this game, and by help i mean luck. I hope i dont jinx this from happening, but i have a feeling in my gut that the steelers are due for a few interceptions, kick/punt returns, big fumbles. Lets hope i'm right.

Go steelers!!!!
(time to bust out the terrible towels...have to dust mine off from its last appearance, February 5, 2006)

Anonymous said...

Yeah I have this strange feeling that we'll either win this or go down fighting and lose in OT- which wouldn't be as bad as getting blown out. And anyway the Jagoffs don't scare me, doubt they scare the Steelers. SO F JVille! Bring em on and let it all hang out.

Tobiathan said...

This is as honestly worried about a playoff game as i remember being since the Kordell Stewart days(although he seemed to do pretty well until AFC Champ. games actually...).

If we have a chance at winning it will be about effort and desire. Not sure we have overwhelming talent right now...