2-0. That is not what most people around the league thought of after the Steelers were going to play the Falcons and Titans. Instead the Steelers put on an absolute clinic on how to play NFL defense. That is what it is all about my friend. The Steelers will have to do the same thing this week, albeit against a must weaker team even though they are 2-0 themselves. But I digress. Busy weak so brief preview. The stats:
Pittsburgh 19, Tennessee 11
Passing: Batch: 5/11, 25 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 23 car, 69 yards
Receiving: Wallace: 2 rec, 25 yards
Tampa Bay 20, Carolina 7
Passing: Freeman: 12/24, 178 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Williams: 27 car, 51 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Winslow: 4 rec, 83 yards, 0 TD
Offense (rank in NFL)
Pittsburgh: 240.5 yards/game (31st)
Tampa Bay: 280.5 yards/game (24th)
Pittsburgh: 116 yards/game (31st)
Tampa Bay: 173.5 yards/game (25th)
Pittsburgh: 124.5 yards/game (10th)
Tampa Bay: 107 yards/game (15th)
Pittsburgh: 17 points/game (21st)
Tampa Bay: 18.5 points/game (t-17th)
Pittsburgh: 266.5 yards/game (6th)
Tampa Bay: 309 yards/game (15th)
Pittsburgh: 52 yards/game (4th)
Tampa Bay: 111.5 yards/game (15th)
Pittsburgh: 214.5 yards/game (17th)
Tampa Bay: 197.5 yards/game (t-11th)
Pittsburgh: 10 points/game (t-1st)
Tampa Bay: 10.5 points/game (3rd)
There isn't really much story line unless you buy into the whole bullshit notion that "Oh my God THESE two teams are 2-0. Suck it media. We are two games into the season and you think that both of these two teams ended the recession. Give me a break. Even though both of these teams are 2-0 they are a vast difference in 2-0.
The team from Tampa Bay is so good that they don't even need to show their games in their home markets. That is right, blacked out of the Tampa area. What a joke. Oh and add onto that that they beat the Browns and Carolina. Those two teams might have COMBINED for 20 wins in the last five years and 18 of those probably come from Carolina. Reading Sports Pickle a few days ago they brought up a good point when you are looking at how surprising these two teams are being 2-0:
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand that should pretty much tell you about the "surprise" factor that is around this game. Basically this is just some joke that the media is going to use to hype up a game that even the home teams fans can't get behind. Joke City.
You know what the real story might be? The soldier will be in the building:
Could you have a more "foot in mouth" moment? I mean really Kellen? I am not even going to get into it. Just think about it like this KWjr, you have more wins in one season with the Bucs than you ever did with the Browns. I know what you guys are thinking. You are thinking I am going to make a crack about him not being able to ride a cycle, but I will let him go on this one.
ummmmmmmmm, not bad....
Ok, ok, back to football...right...football.
Sure the Bucs might have only played the Browns and Panthers but they are doing it with basically a rookie QB and he has been playing well. He was taken 17th overall two years ago. Sure people are going to talk about how good he has been all year so far and this and that and how he has pretty much led this hap hazard offense to two wins, but truth be told Josh Freeman is basically a rookie QB. Sure he gets to play against some of the best defenses in the NFC South (if there was an extreme sarcasm font I would use it for that phrase) but he has thrown more career picks (19) than touchdown passes (14). That is good, right? RIGHT? Whatever helps you sleep at night Tampa.
The Steelers defense is going to have something special for Mr. Freeman and is going to make his head spin. I know that Freeman might have played against a couple good defenses in the past but in his short time frame he really hasn't faced a defense like Dick LeBeau is able to bring. This Pittsburgh Steelers salavates on young quarterbacks. I mean look at last week. A rookie quarterback in Vince Young, err, a proven vet, err...could not find anything and turned the ball over about every other time he touched it (literally) so this defense can do a lot of things that the ordinary defense can't do. To have Troy Polamaulu lining up 20 yards off the ball before the snap and be in the box when the ball is being snapped. I would be freaked out if I was the Tampa Bay Bucs.
All joking aside this is going to be a pretty good game. Not because Tampa Bay is a great 2-0 team, but because the Steelers are just that inept at playing the offensive side of the game. If you looked earlier on the offensive stats you would notice that the Steelers are in the bottom of total offense and passing offense and that is not going to get any better until Ben gets back. Charlie Batch gives the Steelers a much better passing attack but in all truth he has only started in like five games in the past nine years. The Steelers aren't going to toss the ball all across the field but they are going to do the best to at least give the running attack and the defense a better fighting chance.
The game plan for the game should focus mostly on running the football. Like I said before Chuck isn't going to go down the field a whole ton. The Black and Gold only need enough passing offense to keep the defense honest so that they can do their thing on the ground. While the offensive line has been bashing pretty much the whole year I am the one of the other side of the fence. I think the line has been holding their own and just giving the quarterbacks enough time in the pocket and opening up some good holes for Rashard to run through. Everyone thinks that every play the defensive line should be lying flat on their backs but here is a news flash, the denfense is good sometimes. I think the Steelers that the Steelers are going to mostly run, but they will let Chuck throw a few times and pound the rock.
Along the lines of the offensive line, we are going to be looking at the heat. It is supposed to be hotter in Tampa than it was in Tennessee last week so that is going to open up some questions for your Black and Gold. In Tennessee the offensive lineman had to actually rotate out of the game to avoid the heat and not cramp up. That led to a lot of players flipping line spots, which is never good. Trai Essex is out for the game with a banged up ankle so that is just another to the injury list that the Steelers have. Luckily for Pittsburgh Max Starks will be back to stabilize the offensive line and hopefully continue this win streak. The Steelers are also wearing their black jerseys. Shocker.
On the offensive side of the ball don't be surprised if you see a trick play or two on Sunday. I mean it might be out of necessity that the Steelers have some trick plays to just finish the game. Listen, Chuck Batch is starting, Byron Leftwhich is the backup and that is it. We have a guy who gets hurt every year and a guy who, for all intensive purposes, is still hurt. What if they both go down you say? Antwan Randle El. Yep, you are correct. The same kid who ran QB at Indiana in college is going to be the emergency quarterback for an NFL team. He has been taking snaps in practice in preparation of maybe having to play on Sunday. Unreal.
The special teams battle is going to be one the Steelers should win. Sure taking one back to the house last week against the Titans was big, but it needs to make some headway in all forms. Dan Sepulveda has been pretty busy so far this year with the all ineptness of the offense and he has been pretty money. We know that the Steelers are going to have some stalled drives and it is up to Danny to flip field position and let the defense pound down on the Tampa offense. El is also probably going to be returning punts and he is already getting bashed pretty hard. Listen, would a flash punt return be nice? Sure. But to be honest as long as he catches every punt and keeps the possession with the Steelers then I am more than ok with that. People are going to bitch and moan that he should be averaging 20 yards a punt return, but the first time he muffs a punt it will be life "what the hell was he trying to do". As long as he secures the ball I am ok with whatever he does.
The Steelers have won the last three meetings against the Bucs. They are also pretty good in the state of Florida. I remember what happened the last time the Steelers were in Tampa Bay. Do you?
Well there is a ton of shit I could go over here but like I said in the intro, long week. Lets get this shit done.