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Monday, October 26, 2009

Steelers Defense Scores More Than Offense To Defeat 6-0 Vikings 27-17

The Vikings came into Pittsburgh with a perfect 6-0 record. Their newly acquired quarterback, Brett Favre is having an MVP season. The Vikings all-pro running back, Adrian Peterson is leading the league in rushing yards. How can the Steelers possibly win? DEFENSE!

With Ben coming off a 400 yard passing game against the lowly Cleveland Browns, the Steelers looked to match the magic of Favre with their own air show. Ben is leading the league in passing which would seem to make the Steelers a different team than their history dictates. But, not so fast.

The Steelers have one of the top defenses in the NFL and so do the Minnesota Vikings. This game would have been a lot lower scoring if it weren't for the defenses and the Vikings special teams. No one could have predicted how these two teams offenses would let them down in the fourth quarter.

Each offense had only one touchdown and they both came in the second quarter. Adrian Peterson scored on a one yard TD plunge and Ben connected with Mike Wallace on a 40 yard touchdown strike. The only other offensive scoring would come from two field goals by the Steelers and one by the Vikings.

The Steelers offense scored 13 points and the defense would score 14 on a fourth quarter fumble recovery touchdown return by Woodley and a late game sealing interception by Fox that gave the Steelers a 27-17 victory over the previously unbeaten Vikings. Sandwiched in between those two defensive scores was an 88 yard kick return by Percy Harvin for the Vikings.

Although the Steelers defense allowed Brett Favre and the Vikings to gain 386 yards total offense, they shut down Peterson who only had 69 yards rushing. The Steelers have not allowed a 100 yard rusher this season. Brett Favre was 34-51 for 334 yards and no touchdowns for the first time this year. Ben Roethlisberger was 14-26 and 1 touchdown. See Steelers - Vikings week 7 Video Highlights.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Steelers Back On Top After 27-14 Win Over The Browns

Three games into the season the Steelers found themselves two games behind the Ravens with a 1-2 record. The Ravens were 3-0 and the Bengals were also eyeing the division lead. Now, three games later, things have changed and the Steelers have inserted themselves into the mix. A clear leader has yet to emerge.

After three straight wins over the Chargers, Lions and Browns, the Steelers are tied with the Bengals at the top of the AFC North. The Ravens who had sole possession of first place are now looking up at the Steelers and Bengals after losing three straight, including a loss to the Bengals.

The Steelers also lost a game to the Bengals which gives them the tie breaker, for now. The Steelers will play the Bengals again in November. They have two games remaining with the Ravens, so no one has a lock on the lead yet. As we've seen already, these three teams have either owned or shared the top spot in their division after six games.

The Steelers schedule just got harder than previously thought with the success of the Minnesota Vikings and the Denver Broncos. The Vikings are 6-0 and next on the schedule. After that they play the 6-0 Broncos in Denver followed by the Bengals. The Steelers will have to play like champions to get through those three games.

If they're still on top they must play the other team in their way twice. The Ravens were second to the Steelers in 2008 and have a better offense this year. Because the Steelers defeated them three times last year, they'll be looking for revenge when they meet in November and December. There's a lot of football to be played, but it's nice to finally be back in the driver's seat.

The Steelers air attack devastated the Browns defense in the 27-14 win. Ben threw for 417 yards which is only the second time a Steelers quarterback has thrown for over 400 yards in their history. Ward and Holmes both had over 100 yards receiving. Lawrence Timmons stepped up on defense , especially with the loss of Arron Smith for the season. He sacked Andersen twice forcing fumbles both times. Polamalu was back and seemed to have suffered an injury early in the game, but returned to help the defense. Three in a row, let's keep it going! View Steelers Browns week 6 Video Highlights.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Steelers 28 - Lions 20 - Lets' Look Inside The Numbers

They say "statistics don't lie" and if you only look at the 28-20 score in the Steelers victory over the Lions you wouldn't see how much they really do say. With the win the Steelers go to 3-2 and pull within one game of the division leading Bengals. The Lions, on the other hand , drop to 1-4 and trail the Vikings by four.

These teams seem to be on opposite tracks. One advancing in their division and the other going in the wrong direction. The Lions lost every game a year ago and only have one win this season. But, if we look inside the stats for this game, were they really that far apart?

Let's take a look at the statistics for the offenses and see what they tell us. Total net yards goes to Pittsburgh with 344 to the Lions 335. With only nine yards difference, the final score was bound to be close. The rushing yardage for both teams wasn't very impressive. The Lions out gained the Steelers 110 to 82. But, the Steelers scored a rushing touchdown and the Lions didn't.

If you just looked at the gross passing yards, you would have to give a slight edge to the Lions because they had 282 to the Pittsburgh Steelers 277. The fact is that after subtracting lost yards for sacks, the Steelers came out ahead 262 - 225. The real difference in the passing game was that Roethlisberger passed for 3 touchdowns and Culpepper had only 1.

The Detroit Lions led in time of possession 32:35 to 27:25, first downs 21 to 18 and third down efficiency 61% to 38%. But, The Steelers led where it counted. In the "Red Zone". Where they were 3 for 3 with 21 points and the Lions came away empty the only time they were in the "Red Zone".

Defensively, the Steelers had not allowed any team to gain 3oo yards this season until Detroit posted 335. There were two defensive categories that made a difference in the outcome of this game. First, the Steelers sacked Culpepper seven times resulting in 57 yards lost as opposed to the Lions sacking Ben 3 times for -15 yards. Second, both quarterbacks threw an interception, but Roethlisberger's resulted in a touchdown for Detroit.

As we examine this game farther, the inability of the Lions to penetrate the "Red Zone" ultimately caused them to lose the game. They had to settle for field goals three times, only had one offensive touchdown and their other touchdown came from a fumble return by the special teams.

In conclusion, the Steelers played good for three quarters, but this is a team they should have put away early. They have not played well in the fourth quarter and a late drive by Detroit made the game closer than it should have been. They have been outscored in the last quarter in every game this year. With Cleveland up next, let's hope this trend doesn't continue. View Steelers Lions week 5 Video Highlights.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Steelers Can Run And Win!

The running game came alive in the Steelers 38-28 victory over the Chargers. Steelers running back, Rashard Mendenhall had been benched a week ago for not having his head in the playbook. Apparently, this week he must have put his whole body into it because his performance was key to the Steelers second win of the season.

When the Steelers lost to the Bengals last week, Willie Parker approached 100 yards rushing with a 93 yard effort. He also suffered an injury to his toe that sidelined him for the Chargers game. So, Mendenhall was given a chance to redeem himself and stay out of coach Tomlin's doghouse if he could show some improvement when San Diego came to town.

Well, he not only got the message, he sent one to the coaches, the Steelers fans and the league when he ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers. He was like a man on a mission. He showed moves that we hadn't seen since he was in college. He ran with power and confidence, slashing his way through the Chargers defense. Let's hope his performance was not a flash in the pan.

A lot of the credit for his success should go to the Steelers offensive line. They created holes with the kind of blocking Steelers fans had been used to seeing in the past. Along with Mendenhall's determination, they were almost unstoppable. With the help of the offensive line, Rashard was able to get 5.7 yards a carry.

Besides the offense supplied by Mendenhall, Roethlisberger passed for 333 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Running back, Mewelde Moore added to the total with a 6 yard TD pass to Heath Miller. The Steelers racked up 497 yards of offense to the Chargers 251.
For the first time this year they were able to score in the fourth quarter with 10 points.

The score was closer than it should've been because of poor special teams play by the Steelers and two late drives by Phillip Rivers and the Chargers offense. Aided by a stolen ball from Steelers punt returner, Stephan Logan that resulted in a touchdown and a muffed on-side kick, the Chargers scored 21 points in the fourth quarter.

Despite the absence of Troy Polamalu, the Steelers defense was able to limit the Chargers to just 251 yards total offense and recorded 3 sacks. They still missed him on blitzes and pass coverage, but managed to shut out the Chargers in the first half. The Steelers play Detroit and Cleveland before they play the red-hot Vikings and Broncos. We can only hope Polamalu returns before then.