Posted on: September 7, 2008 9:36 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2008 9:46 pm

It's Steelers Football Babeee - Week One

A bright day, the sun shining down and in the stands the Terrible Towels were waving high and fast in the city of steel.  The Steelers were facing the Houston Texans for the third time in the history of the young Texas franchise.  The electricity of the day, the season opener at home for the Steelers could be felt by this Steeler’s fan through the very screen of the television as I watched the opening of the game.   By the end of the game, the lyrics from Sweet’s song, "Little Willy" kept playing over and over in my head:

North side, east side
Little Willy, Willy wears the crown, he's the king around town
Dancing, glancing
Willy drives them silly with his star shoe shimmy shuffle down
Way past one, and feeling alright
'Cause with little Willy round they can last all night
Hey down, stay down, stay down down

We had questions going into this game.  Would the Steelers extend their winning streak to six straight games at home for the season opener?  How well will the Steelers o-line line hold up to the likes of Mario Williams?  What factor would Willie Parker’s injury from last year play?  Would there be improvement in the special teams play?  In the end, for this day, the questions were answered.

For those who wondered how well the oline would do without Alan Faneca, that was answered by 138 rushing yards allowed by the Texan’s defense and three touchdown runs by Willie Parker.   There would be no doubt that Chris Kemoetu was more then an adequate replacement for Faneca.  The o-line, for the most part, continued to hit hard, giving protection to Ben Roethlisberger and opening up the rushing lanes for Willie to run.  If one were to ask if there was a weak link on the Steelers oline, it would have to be with Willie Colon.  Hopefully Colon will continue to improve and not miss crucial blocks to help protect Roethlisberger.

Ben Roethlisberger seems to have finally come to full maturity, showing quick release of the ball at times to hit his TE Heath Miller and there was no controversy with taller wide receivers when Ben connected with Hines Ward six times, twice resulting in a touchdown.  If there were any questions about the chemistry between the young quarterback and the veteran wide receiver, it was answered in this game.  At the end, Roethlisberger would have an almost perfect night completing 13 of 14 passes, and has shown that this offense could possibly be a complete, pick your poison offense.

The Steeler defense showed why they were the number one defense from last season and promises to be a hard hitting, topped rank defense again this year.  Troy Polamalu proved that he was still an integral part of this defense, not only with his hard hitting stops in his three unassisted tackles, but showed that he can read the play perfectly when Matt Schaub hit him in the numbers, causing an interception.  One exciting player, LB  Lamar Woodley, made Steelers fans proud with his sack on Schaub, as well as a one handed interception.   However, if you were to ask who was the defensive player for this game, no one could deny it would be pro-bowl linebacker James Harrison with six unassisted tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble.  No doubt that the showing of this defense was a great way for Dick LeBeau to start his 50th year in the NFL. 

Also exciting was to watch the speed and the hard hitting defense on the Steelers special teams.  Also considered one of the weaker links in the Steeler’s team, the defensive play of the special teams, yesterday, though they allowed some yardage on punt and kick off returns, the stifled any explosive plays that is possible with the Texans wide receivers.  Jeff Reed was his typical consistent self kicking one field goal and making 5 of 5 of the extra points. 

It wasn’t all Pittsburgh positives though.  Matt Schaub passed for 202 yards, his key receiver, Andre Johnson catching 10 passes for 110 yards, making this duo a viable passing threat in the AFC.  Mario Williams proved why the Texans made him their first one draft choice in 2006.  Williams and the front four played fast and hard against the Pittsburgh’s oline and it payed off twice with two sacks on Roethlisberger, one leading to a forced fumble.  In the end though, Texans just entered hostile terrority where many teams met the same fate on opening day at Heinz Field.

Mike Tomlin, Dick LeBeau, Bruce Arians and the whole Steelers team played the style of football that we've become use to with this hard hitting team and continues to keep them a dominant force in the AFC and the NFL today.  Welcome to Steelers football. 
Posted on: September 4, 2008 4:33 am

Shades of Campbell and Lambert? - Ummm...No

It was once a heated and hated rivalry.  Two divisional foes that would meet up and do battle. Thorns in each other sides on the way to claim divisional superiority, on the road to the Superbowl.  Both teams represented the blue collared workers.  From those teams came the names of Earl Campbell and Warren Moon.  On the otherside, Franco Harris and Rod Woodson.  Like the AFL, this rivalry will forever be just a memory.   A fragments of play footage in the archives of NFL Films, those of us old enough, proclaiming that we remember when those faded clips are brought out and viewed for one reason or another.

With week one of the regular season upon us, the cities of Houston Texas and Pittsburgh Pennsylvania will once again meet up.  However, there will be no hissing, no passion of the rivalry of old.  That rivalry seemed to have died when the once dreaded Oilers left Houston.  Add  divisional changes, as well as name changes, relegated this rivalry to the pages of football history, unlikely ever to be revived.

When the Houston Texans arrive at Heinz Field for the season opener, they'll be facing the Pittsburgh Steelers only for the third time in their young history. Each have split the wins, Texans winning in 2002 at Heinz Field and Steelers taking the game in 2005 at Reliant Stadium.  The Texans will be facing a team who is 14-8 when they've opened their season at home, and who has yet to lose an opening game since the arrival of Ben Roethlisberger into the Pittsburgh Steelers.  In fact, the Steelers will be looking to extend their home opener record to six straight wins.  Extending the longest winning streak for home opener wins in the NFL.

Questions with this game lies with the offenses ability to response to the defenses.  Steelers defense, ranked number 1 in total defense in 2007, promises to be the same brutal defense as last year, with the return of Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith.  Will Matt Schaub be able to read the Dick LeBeau blitz's and adjust accordingly?  Although the Steeler secondary has always been questionable, they did manage to rank 3d in passing defense.  With little changes to the defensive lines and healthy pro-bowl players back on the field, the Steelers defense promises to be on their game to disrupt the Texans offense, shutting down the run and forcing the Texans to the air.

This isn't a one-sided defensive jaugernaut though.  The front three of the Texans defense has the capabilities of keeping Ben Roethlisberger running for his life, should they exploit the weak right side of the Steelers oline.  However, this could prove to be a plus for the rushing game of the black and gold since the strength of the Texans defense lies in their ability to disrupt the pass more then the run.  Texans allowed an average of 114.1 yds average per game in 2007.  The last time the Texans met up with the Steelers in 2005, Willie Parker ran for 111 yds and logged one touchdown. 

There is no doubt that the Texans offense have gotten better with the introduction of Matt Schaub under center, and should continue to improve.  However, they'll be facing a team known for it's ability to confuse offenses and a quarterback that seems to have all his weapons in place to give him even a better year then the one before. 

In the end, Steelers should be able to extend their season opener wins to 6 straight wins, with the combination of Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall being the key factor in this game, to exploit the Texans mediocre rush defense. 

Posted on: September 3, 2008 5:48 pm

2008-09 NFL Projections - AFC South - No Surprise

Okay, so this can be addictive.  I can understand why Judge Clark and Pete Prisco do this, despite all the garbage they get from the readers.  But, in truth, it's fun.  Of course, I think I can get away with it because I don't get paid. 

So I've projected the New England Patriots to be the division leader of the AFC East.  I know, a no-brainer there right?  So as I go through the AFC South, I know, I'll have another no-brainer in chosing the Indianapolis Colts as the AFC South's division leader.

Well onto my projection for the AFC South.

#4 - Houston Texans - Although I see them progressing to having a winning season (though they're first lost will come in their season opener), I still see the Texans sitting at last place in the AFC South.  Only because this is one tough division and the Tennessee Titans will have just a tad better season. 

#3 - Tennessee Titans - Vince Young has yet to convince me with his accuracy.  Having been playing for a few years, teams are going to be able to stop a running quarterback and his aerial attack is questionable.  Sorry, before I see the Titans advancing up in the division, Young is going to have to convince me he can throw the ball better.

#2 - Jacksonville Jaguars - Jags are going to be neck and neck with the Colts, and seriously, I see the division going based on a tie breaker, which the Colts will hold.  Garrard shows he will be as consistent as he was last year and has some young weapons to throw to and the beefing up of their defense makes this call a difficult one.  I do see the Jaguars once again holding a wild card slot.

#1 - Indianapolis Colts - No, I didn't say this because my husband is a Colts fan.  Trust me, in this household during football season, gloves are off and the fun begins.  I see the Colts taking the division with a tie breaker against the Jaguars.  Despite Peyton Mannings injury and lack of practice time, it's not going to take anytime for him to get back into the swing.  Even with Jeff Saturday being down for the first few weeks of the season, Manning has the capability of the quick release to make up for the missing center.  Given a healthy Wide Receiver corp and the duo of Joseph Addai and Dominick Rhodes, the offense will be fine.  Colts have also  a beefed up defense and a healthy Bob Sanders, Dwight Freeney and Marlin Jackson

AFC South Division Champions - Indianapolis Colts
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