Consistency is the one thing lacking in the 2012 season for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since Week 1 they’ve failed to win consecutive games. They’ve also failed to lose consecutive games, which should be noted. This week, however, the Steelers are coming off of a win. They’re coming off of their first division and road win against the Bungles and now have the challenge of containing the league’s most exciting player at home to achieve their first back-to-back win of the season. Winning is so much better than losing. When the Steelers win Mendenhall’s not lashing out at fans for not being supportive enough, Ike Taylor’s not lashing out at the local media for criticizing him, and Steeler Nation is a much happier place to be. This lose one, win one, lose one pattern is a roller coaster no one wants this team to be on this season. To use the term of Coach Tomlin; this team needs to start “stacking wins.”
The Steelers will continue to spend this season overcoming injuries. Might as well face the facts, as long as the Steelers seem to be under this curse of the offensive line; there will continue to be a shuffle of the players. Maurkice Pouncey will be returning to the field after practicing successfully this week coming off of a knee injury. Marcus Gilbert, however, will still be on the sidelines nursing and ankle injury. Troy Polamalu continues to miss practice with a calf that may or may not be torn and his presence is definitely still missed on the field. The running back situation just got a little more interesting with Jonathan Dwyer’s performance against the Bengals but the team got Isaac Redman back in practice on a limited basis on Thursday. According to Steelers OC Todd Haley, the team is still in a “wait and see mode” as far as who’s ready to play and who will have to sit. If that’s not enough injuries to deal with, K Shaun Suisham has a reported ankle injury to his non-kicking leg.
There are two ways for a team to deal with injuries; you either let it sink the team a la the Colts of last year, or you keep it going and work with what you have. I think the Steelers need to partially abandon the “next man up” philosophy just in terms of putting the expectations on that next man to perform at the level of the starter they’re replacing. Seems like the team has already realized that Ryan Mundy cannot replace a Troy Polamalu, especially considering Will Allen has made the last 2 starts at safety instead of Mundy. Mike Adams had a shaky start replacing Gilbert last week, but ended the game positively in the eyes of the coaches. And there can’t be enough said about Jonathan Dwyer having the best rushing performance of the season last week, notably with the help of the blocking by the offensive line. As for the defense overcoming the injuries, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley have only just scratched the surface of beginning their reign of terror on quarterbacks together this season. Last week was their first game played together in like a hundred years or so it seemed.
The key for the Steelers to be able to stack wins this season is to finish them. Their performance in the fourth quarter on both sides of the ball needs improvement. Ben Roethlisberger has been heralded so far this season for his 3rd down accuracy but in the 4th quarter with a lead; that seems to be thrown out the window. When Eli beat the Redskins last week with a 77 yard touchdown throw to Victor Cruz late in the 4th quarter, RG3 still got credit for the game for just being close to beating the Giants so even if Ben mounts some kind of amazing 4th quarter performance most likely he won’t get any credit for it, outside of Steeler Nation of course. But the offense has missed just as many 4th quarter chances so far this season as the defense. Dick LeBeau’s defense is 13-1 against rookie quarterbacks. When questioned about that stat his response was,
“I’ve never paid any attention to it. I didn’t even know that. Somebody told me that the other day. The only comment I have is that I hope I am 14-1.”
So do we buddy, so do we. Go Steelers!
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