Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Keep'n the streak alive!

From sports.yahoo.com:
The Washington Redskins only wish they were getting as much offense from their starters as the streaking Pittsburgh Steelers are from their backups.

Antwaan Randle El, making only his second NFL start at receiver, took care of the big plays and Jerome Bettis again handled the short yardage in his fourth consecutive 100-yard game off the bench to lead the Steelers past Washington 16-7 Sunday.

The Steelers' nine-game winning streak is their longest since they won their final nine in 1976. They are 10-1 for the first time since 1975, the second of their four Super Bowl championship seasons.

``We're 10-1, and that would have been hard to picture,'' guard Alan Faneca said. ``We've got a nice little thing going right now.''

Just like those Steel Curtain days of the 1970s, the Steelers are increasingly relying on the NFL's top-ranked defense as opponents come up with ways to contain unbeaten quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

The rookie had his second straight low-production game (9-of-20, 131 yards, four sacks) while constantly sidestepping Washington's pass rush, but it hardly made any difference even as Pittsburgh was held to 207 yards.

Randle El scampered through the Redskins' coverage team on punt returns of 60 and 43 yards to set up two first-half scores -- Bettis' 4-yard touchdown run, his 11th of the season, and the first of Jeff Reed's three field goals on a blustery day.

Randle El, making a spot start for the injured Plaxico Burress (hamstring), also made two catches for 37 yards and drew a 32-yard pass interference penalty.

``You need every guy,'' Randle El said. ``I don't care if you are the big star, if you don't have the rest of the guys doing what they are supposed to be doing it makes it hard. Special teams came up big, and we need to keep it going because sometimes the offense may sputter.''

Bettis started when Duce Staley unexpectedly sat out a fourth straight game with a sore hamstring, and responded with 100 yards on 31 carries. His 47th career 100-yard game matches Franco Harris' team record.

``I'm a mudder, so this was my weather,'' said Bettis, who last had four consecutive 100-yard games in 2001. ``It was a tough day -- they have the No. 2 defense in the league and you can see why -- but I'm a big guy and I always feel I can wear a defense down in the second half.''

The Redskins (3-8), headed for one of the lowest-scoring seasons in NFL history, were held to 156 yards and to single-digit scoring for a second consecutive game, following up a 28-6 loss to Philadelphia. They haven't scored more than 18 points in a game this season.

``One of our goals is to score 21 points,'' quarterback Patrick Ramsey said. ``We've got to do that.''

Washington was held to 50 yards as Pittsburgh opened a 13-0 lead in the first half.

``It's very tough to make yards on them; they're one of best defenses I've been against,'' Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. ``It was a little bit of us and a little bit of them. We hurt ourselves by dropping some balls and not executing.''

With star running back Clinton Portis sitting out most of the second half, the Redskins drove 79 yards in 13 plays early in the third quarter for Ramsey's 2-yard scoring pass to Chris Cooley on fourth-and-goal, cutting it to 13-7.

Portis, among the NFL's rushing leaders with 945 yards and coming off consecutive 1,500-yard seasons for Denver, had only six carries for 17 yards. He has just 54 yards the last two weeks.

``We felt our best way to get it downfield (was to throw),'' Gibbs said. ``I am sure he will be upset about it. I expect him to be. He is very competitive.''

Portis said, ``I'm not in Denver anymore, I'm in Washington, I have to find a way to be a key player in this system, the same way I was there.''

It is lookin good for us this year. Although Roethlisberger wasn't playing to his potential, it shows that we don't have to have Roethlisberger to succed. Even though it was no repeat of the Browns game, Bettis showed his stuff by leading the team in yards this game. And once again we put the plug on the few non-believers remaining after putting one more game in the bag for now atleast. It doesn't look like we are going to stop soon so long as us fans get out there. Lets pump up the players and get the city excited. GO STEELERS!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

8 in a row but will injuries stop that?

From sports.yahoo.com:
The Pittsburgh Steelers keep winning games and losing players.

The latest additions to an injury list that took coach Bill Cowher more than five minutes to recite Tuesday: wide receiver Plaxico Burress, inside linebacker Kendrell Bell and defensive lineman Brett Keisel. All will miss Sunday's home game against Washington.

Bell, one of the AFC's most disruptive pass rushers, will be out a minimum of three to four games with his second major groin injury this season. He could miss the rest of the season if he needs another operation, potentially a major setback to the NFL's top-ranked defense.

``We're still exploring all of the options,'' Cowher said.

Bell needed surgery last month to repair a hernia in his groin, but returned three weeks ago and was just beginning to resemble the player chosen as the 2001 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year when he tore a groin tendon Sunday.

Larry Foote has been a more than adequate replacement at inside linebacker for Bell and is third on the team in tackles. But rarely commands the extra attention from offensive lines that Bell attracts.

James Farrior, the other inside linebacker in the Steelers' 3-4 defense, has helped make up for Bell's missing production with a Pro Bowl-quality season. He has three sacks, three interceptions, has forced three fumbles and recovered three.

``He's just playing so much faster and playing more instinctively and, consequently, he's making a lot of plays,'' Cowher said. ``Since (outside linebacker) Joey Porter got hurt last year, he's become a three-down player and he's been making a lot of plays on third down.''

The Steelers (9-1) won't have their best third-down receiving threat Sunday when they go for their ninth consecutive victory, taking on Washington (3-7). Burress (sore hamstring) will sit out after missing most of the final three quarters of Sunday's 19-14 victory in Cincinnati.

Burress' absence means Antwaan Randle El will start at receiver with Hines Ward, whose production has slowed considerably as he has seen more double coverage.

Ward was held to one catch after Burress left early in the second quarter Sunday and has made eight catches in three games after making at least six receptions in each of his first seven games.

Even before this latest run of injuries, the Steelers already were without four injured regulars: right guard Kendall Simmons, nose tackle Casey Hampton, running back Duce Staley and cornerback Chad Scott. Only Staley and Scott will return this season.

Staley (bruised hamstring) will practice Wednesday for the first time since Nov. 4 and could start Sunday in place of Jerome Bettis, who is coming off three consecutive 100-yard games. Scott (quadriceps) will miss his fifth straight game but could play Dec. 5 at Jacksonville.

Keisel, who backs up Aaron Smith at defensive end, will be out three to four weeks with a strained hamstring.

Cowher isn't blaming the numerous injuries, but his team played its shakiest game of the winning streak Sunday. Rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked seven times, and the Steelers squandered numerous scoring chances inside the Bengals' 20.

Cowher is wary of the Redskins despite their record, pointing to their second-ranked defense and improving ground game. Clinton Portis has rushed for 506 yards in five games.

``It's an important time of the year, certainly we realize that,'' Cowher said. ``We have to keep trudging along and clean up some things from last week's game and, hopefully, we're going to get a better effort.''

No doubt Cowher hopes Roethlisberger's appearance on David Letterman's show Tuesday night doesn't prove distracting. Cowher didn't discourage Roethlisberger from appearing but, asked if he would watch, Cowher said, ``No, uh-uh.''


We are hot this season, really hot, but if our streak is going to end this season, this would be the game that would do it. We are missing some key parts of our defense against a fairly strong Jacksonville team. If our defense can't handle the set back, there is no doubt in my mind we will see another game like the Ravens game. Lets stay strong and make 9 Steelers! GO STEELERS!

Monday, November 15, 2004

We got the win, but the attention was on the fight.

From sports.yahoo.com:
Talking trash wasn't enough. The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers decided to trade punches.

Less than an hour before Sunday's game, Browns running back William Green and Steelers linebacker Joey Porter squared off and wildly swung at each other near midfield.

The altercation resulted in both being ejected before the opening kickoff and added another chapter to the NFL's nastiest rivalry, which had lost some of its snarl the past few years.

``We're getting it back,'' remarked Steelers chairman Dan Rooney.

As the teams were going through pregame drills, Porter and Green got into a heated verbal exchange in front of the Browns' bench. Seconds later, they were throwing overhand rights, uppercuts and roundhouse lefts before being separated.

``I've never been a boxing referee,'' Steelers running back Jerome Bettis said. ``It was weird. It was just one of those unfortunate things. Emotions boiled over.''

Porter landed one of his blows to Green's face, bloodying his lower lip.

Tensions between the teams were riding high following comments Browns defensive tackle Gerard Warren made in the days leading up to the game. Warren threatened to go after Pittsburgh rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's head.

The NFL warned Warren on Friday that any unnecessary roughness could result in a suspension.

Warren's remarks had players edgy as they took the field.

``You could see something coming,'' said Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward. ``Joey came over there and they got into it. Their faces were real close and spit was flying. The next thing you know he (Green) tried to head-butt Joey. Then punches were thrown.''

Ward was disappointed Porter, one of the league's most verbose players, got himself kicked out.

``Joey has got to be smarter than that,'' Ward said. ``We've got more to lose than they got. I know Joey regrets what happened.''

Browns fullback Terrelle Smith, whom Ward accused of inciting the fight, also threw a punch during the skirmish, but was not thrown out. Smith said he was trying to protect his teammate.

``Anything that happens to him, happens to me,'' Smith said. ``You got to protect your own. There are always words exchanged, but maybe he (Porter) talked to the wrong people.''

Roethlisberger wasn't sure what was happening when the fight broke out.

``I was 20 yards away. I picked up my helmet and went over,'' he said. ``As a leader I want to help, but I didn't want to do anything stupid.''

Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia maybe summed up the foolishness of the fight better than anyone.

``We can't afford to lose players before the game even starts,'' he said.

Way to step up in the Game you guys, but we need to keep the beatings strictly in the game or else it could hurt our team in a whole. Keep Winning and keep the emotions down! GO STEELERS!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

ENDED A STREAK

From sports.yahoo.com
The New England Patriots are no longer perfect, all because of a rookie quarterback who still is.

Ben Roethlisberger, who doesn't know what it's like to lose an NFL game, drove the Steelers to four scores following uncharacteristic New England turnovers and Pittsburgh ended the Patriots' two long winning streaks with a remarkably easy 34-20 victory Sunday.

The Patriots (6-1) had won 21 straight counting the playoffs and a league-record 18 in a row in the regular season, but were all but out of this one after Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes to Plaxico Burress during a 21-point Steelers first quarter.

Maybe all this winning was too much to ask of Boston-area teams. With running back Corey Dillon (thigh) sitting out and Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law (foot) sidelined for all but a few plays, the Patriots' record run ended only four days after the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years.

``It was never about the streak, that was never part of our preparation,'' linebacker Mike Vrabel said. ``It wasn't this week against the Steelers, either -- we just didn't play well enough to win, that's it.''

This was supposed to be the game that exposed Roethlisberger as a rookie -- taking on New England's defensive mastermind, coach Bill Belichick, and the Patriots' unpredictable defenses. Instead, Roethlisberger ran his own winning streak to 18 -- his last 13 games at Miami of Ohio and his first five in the NFL.


Only former Steelers quarterback Mike Kruczek's 6-0 start while subbing for the injured Terry Bradshaw in 1976 is longer than Roethlisberger's since the 1970 NFL merger. But Kruczek never threw a TD pass in 10 games this season.


Coming into this game against the boastful Patriots this weekend was hard. We were lucky to have the home crowd cheering us on and Roethlisberger continued to show us why he isn't just any rookie. With a average QB rating of 104.7, he is nearing Manning and Culpepper. Everybody came into this game thinking the Patriots would keep their winning streak alive but our Steelers gave them a run for their money and took the money and made it look easy at that. Staley rushed for 125 yards with a average of 5 yards per play. With the offense and the defense against the powerhouse of the NFl, we have really showed the rest of the Country that the Patriots are not indestructible by any means. Lets keep up the good work and forget about the Ravens early this season. GO STEELERS!