Blog Entry

I Believe - Shades of 05

Posted on: December 8, 2008 6:39 am
 
There was something, perhaps a feeling, perhaps just some nuances that I’ve noticed over the past few weeks.  Perhaps it was wishful thinking and at first, I thought it might be that, but now, I’m more sure that I’m not imagining things and Pittsburgh Post Gazette sports columnist Bob Smizik  sees it too. 

It was noticed after the Steelers loss to the Colts.  My husband, a Colts fan didn’t rub the win in, instead he sat quietly.  All I said was, “that’s okay, remember the last time the Steelers lost to the Colts in regular season”.  Actually, I remember it well.  It was 2005 and Steelers would end up doing something that was rarely done.  Run the table to get a wild card slot.  The odds were against them. 

Okay, so this year the Steelers aren’t running for a wild card slot.  Barring a total melt down, the Steelers will be in the playoffs, either with the division title or with a WC slot.  But lets rewind a few years.

It was 2005, the Steelers had come off of one of their best years ever with a 15-1 regular season record, but would fail to get to the Superbowl.  The next season, the Steelers offense made a promise to get Jerome Bettis to the Superbowl.  Their schedule wasn’t going to be the easiest, or so it seemed.  Add to that an injury to Ben Roethlisberger’s hand and it started looking like it wasn’t going to happen.  Ben would miss a few games and come back, only to lose to the Indianapolis Colts.  After that loss, something changed and the Steelers would run the tables.  It would be a Cowboys win that would cinch the Steelers with a sixth seed wild card berth.  It was the heart of an offense and the determination of a defense that led the Steelers to their fifth Superbowl win.

They said they had no chance, no, not in 2005 but in 2008.  Facing the toughest schedule in the NFL in, oh, how many years based on 07 results, the Steelers weren’t supposed to have gone this far.  The year before, they’d be knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by the Jaguars.

Of course, it’s a little different now.  The Steelers are beating the teams they should be beating and staying in the games with the good teams.  Three losses against good teams led critics questioning the Steelers offense.  In 05, it was the Steelers offense getting the headlines, in 08, it’s their defense. 

Since losing to the Colts, the Steelers have won their last four games.  Offensively, most weren’t pretty, but defensively, they were things of beauty.  Bob Smizik would call their last win “magical”.  And perhaps it was, after all, how could an offense who failed to make anything happen for almost three full quarters come back to tie a game against a defense that had sacked Roethlisberger five times and shut down the running game. 

No, the Cowboys game, offensively was not pretty for the Steelers, but the offense did what it needed to do, they played 60 minutes.  What was next, was a thing of beauty, the Steelers defense. 

Perhaps in a sense this is a déjà vu.  Too many things correspond to 05 to be taken lightly. 

  • Being knocked out of the playoffs in 04 to come back for a WC berth and go on to win the Superbowl in 05.  In 07, the Steelers would win the AFC North and be knocked out in the first round
  • Ben Roethlisberger would miss time for a hand injury and his quarterback rating would take a hit in 05.  This season, Roethlisberger’s been nursing a shoulder injury that may have effected his throwing ability.
  • An 05 loss to the Colts led the Steelers to run the table.  After a loss in 08 to the Colts, the Steelers have yet to lose.
  • The Steelers berth in the playoffs depended on the Cowboys beating their opponent in 05.  The Steelers position in the playoffs  could very well come down to a Cowboy win over the Ravens in the last game of the season. 

The major difference is, it’s the Steelers defense playing with heart this season.  Could it be that the Steelers defense wants to win the ring for Dick LeBeau on his 50th season in the NFL?  After all, it’s not a secret that the defense corps believe that LeBeau belongs in the Hall of Fame, after this season, who could argue against it? 

And with the comeback on the Steelers offense against a Cowboys defense that some doubted that they could get past, could prove that the offense is going to help the defense do what needs to be done to get there. 

Playing with heart got the Steelers there in 05 and it’s the same heart that’s driving them towards it this year.  With this defense and the offense getting better with each game, how can I not believe?
Comments

Since: Nov 16, 2008
Posted on: December 11, 2008 4:13 pm
 

I Believe - Shades of 05

Mom,

You gotta believe!  The big difference I see between 05 & 08 is that Moore does not = Bettis, & 05 Willie Parker Legs does not = 08 WPLs.  How long can the Steelers DEF keep up this Momentum?  The 08' Steelers games remind me very much of my Bears in 2006.



Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: December 11, 2008 9:12 am
 

I Believe - Shades of 05

JSB,

I'm not arguing that our running game has it's good day and it's bad days.  The loss of Dan Kreider seems to do more to hurt the running game then the loss of the Bus.  Behind Kreider, Parker was on course to lead the league in rushes last year before getting hurt, quite different from this year.  Though injuries do play a role in that this year also, though not an excuse.

Yes, the fact that the Steelers, known for their running game isn't being effective with it, and a lot of that has to do with the play calling.   Against teams with average defenses, the Steelers offense has been pretty decent.  After all, despite what neighsayers would like to say, the Steelers offense has managed to come from behind to either win or tie games. 

In the games against the Giants and the Colts, Steelers offense had managed to come out ahead and hold the lead in both of those games until the final quarter (where Ben happened to have pulled a Tony Romo in each of those games).  Of course we questioned why Arians would run a majority of passing calls on a Colts defense that was suspect against the run.

That's the beauty of football though, isn't it.  It's a team sport and it takes a team to get them past tough defenses and curtail high powered offenses.




Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: December 11, 2008 8:55 am
 

I Believe - Shades of 05

Well Buckguy...I hope that you'll be able to use your license plate after February without it being a hope but a reality. 

Interestingly, in the Post Gazette, they wrote up a story about Willie Parker wanting to get back to Steeler football.  I'm hoping that "air Arians" realizes that it's not always a good idea to give up on the running game so quickly as we come into the stretch (or pulls a quarterback draw on 3 and 16 when he needs to go to the air).




Since: Mar 1, 2007
Posted on: December 9, 2008 7:47 pm
 

I Believe - Shades of 05

The Steelers defense has looked overwhelmingly dominant the last few weeks.

I am really looking forward to the matchup against the Ravens this Sunday. It isnt going to be much fun for either offense.

As far as playoff opponents I really would rather see the Colts play against anyone else. I can easily how the Colts could beat any of the other contenders but getting past Pittsburgh a second time in Pittsburgh plays out in my mind as a delusional fantasy. Quite frankly the I dont see it happening.

But strange things can happen - I didnt expect the Colts to run the table in 06, not with that awful run defense they had in the regular season. It has been a weird year so far for the Colts. Statistically they have been unimpressive or offense and defense yet they seem to make big plays when it matters most. At least since the first of November.




Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: December 9, 2008 3:57 pm
 

I Believe - Shades of 05

"After all, how could an offense who failed to make anything happen for almost three full
"quarters come back to tie a game against a defense "that had sacked Roethlisberger
"five times and shut down the running game. 

"No, the Cowboys game, offensively was not pretty for the Steelers, but the offense did what
"it needed to do, they played 60 minutes.  What "was next, was a thing of beauty, the Steelers defense.

      
;    God moved to Pittsburgh ?  Blind luck ?  The Cowboys thought the game was 45 mins long ?

      
;    As I said earlier, mum, there are no points for pretty in this game.

      
;    Your reading of the Steelers defense, I agree 110%.  to being able to run the ball against the Dallas
defense does not inspire confidence, mum, much as you want to overlook it.  And you don't have
Bettis. 
           There are only the Titans and Ravens left on that killer schedule -- you got New England without
Brady and a Cowboys team that is fading much too quickly for the Dallas fans -- and so far the
team's health has held up.  That was my principal worry looking at that schedule -- would the team
still be the Steelers ? or a bunch of walking wounded ? 

      
;     If your boys can get through this schedule in one piece, everything swings over to their favor.
They will have seen ALL of the best.  Getting through that and winning out would make them one of
the greatest teams Pittsburgh has ever had -- and they've had some really good teams.



Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: December 9, 2008 2:19 pm
 

I Believe - Shades of 05

Hey Mom, it's good to see that you are still doing your thing and supplying the board with substantial and thoughtful postings. I agree that there seems to be an eerie similarity between the 08 and 05 Steelers. I do believe that the 08 Steelers definitely are better defensively, but maybe a little less potent on offense. However, this Steeler defense is surely a championship caliber unit. I'm looking forward to some really nasty weather come playoff time because for whatever reason, the Steelers seem to play really well in adverse conditions. Anyway, the Steelers really need to win the Super Bowl this year because I've already put in an order for my new personalized plates..."6RINGS"



Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: December 9, 2008 1:26 pm
 

I Believe - Shades of 05

wsmjeep...

They keep doing so well game after game.  And what seems more astonishing is that the team as a whole keeps saying they need to improve, even in the defensive corps, they're not taking their success for granted and push themselves to get better.

Defensively it's hard to believe this team has anything left that they can improve on. 

Offensively, the offense no doubt can play better, but since the San Diego game, they've come from behind and had control when it counted and got the points where it counted.  They play as a team versus individual stars.  That's what got them there in 05...may be the right formula for 08.




Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: December 9, 2008 1:13 pm
 

I Believe - Shades of 05

Blu,

Thanks. No doubt the defense seems to get better and better each week.  They've already done better this year in the terms of interceptions (not to mention sacks).  The addition of Woodley and Timmons to the defense just improved it 100% (and we thought it couldn't get better before that). 

Even defensively on special teams, between blocked punts and jumping on muffed punt returns, they're quick on the ball (vast improvement from last years ST play).




Since: Oct 8, 2007
Posted on: December 8, 2008 9:22 pm
 

I Believe - Shades of 05

     I agree completely. This season has just been different from many of the previous seasons (excluding 05). In the past, you could almost see the loss coming if the Steeler's were being outplayed. If the team was being outplayed at the start or if they were playing flat, they often played that way the entire game and lost. The Steeler's have found the ability to recover from being outplayed or playing flat this year. So many people are stepping up and making plays when they are needed most. The defense is playing with a passion that I haven't seen since the 2000 Ravens. I'm finding myself believing that they are going to find a way to win games this year. It seemed to start with that game between Baltimore. they seemed to be getting beaten down, yet they found that they had the fire to keep pounding away till they won. They're playing with a heart that I have only seen in the 2005 squad, and I hope it leads to the same end result.



Since: Jan 18, 2008
Posted on: December 8, 2008 3:01 pm
 

I Believe - Shades of 05

Mom - use a famous New York quote, "Ya Gotta Believe!"

I don't get to watch this team as often as you, so maybe I can appreciate this a little more than you can, if you know where I'm coming from; The Steelers started off the year as a great defense - yesterdat they looked like one of the best defenses I've seen in a long time. I keep waiting to see them have a bad game and it just doesn't happen, and they seem to get better and better. They are so hungry for the ball that they look like they're mission out there is to take the ball away, as opposed to the conventional theory of simply "stopping" the other team. They're scary mom.

Great blog!  



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