Who doesn’t love a good Tomlinism? I plucked this beauty from his Tuesday press conference in which he stated how the Steelers would be heading into Ravens week without the services of Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Marcus Gilbert, and possibly Antonio Brown. Now Polamalu and Gilbert have been gone for a few weeks now and Brown could possibly be missing his second game Sunday night if he’s not able to practice Friday but the most glaring name on the injury list is that of Ben Roethlisberger. It has already been announced that Dougie Fresh (Byron Leftwich) will be the starter against the Ravens on Sunday night. When Tomlin was asked how his team plans to deal with the barrage of injuries that has afflicted them including the starting quarterback he responded with,
“We just focus on the healthy guys; the injuries are what they are. We’re not looking to make excuses. Excuses are the tools of the incompetent.”
This is much bigger now than the “next man up” policy that has been talked to death by now. This is more of an “every man up” mentality and any other cliché this Steelers team needs to take on in order to make the necessary plays to beat the Ravens and gain control of the division for the first time since the 2010 season. The Steelers defense has had to make up for the loss of Troy Polamalu, who has been sidelined with a calf injury for the majority of the season, to be the statistical #1 ranked defense in the league. It’s taken the efforts of players like Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, Will Allen, and who I think is so far the DPOY for the Steelers; Ryan Clark. Clark will be on the field playing Sunday night in spite of suffering another concussion Monday night against the Chiefs. Clark passed all the league required concussion tests and participated in full practice on Thursday.
You can throw all the clichés you want at this game. The fact of the matter is it’s the Ravens and we want to beat the crap out of them. It’s not going to be easy. This game should come with the same warning signs as a roller coaster or fast moving simulation ride at an amusement park. Dougie Fresh is no Ben Roethlisberger. We don’t need him to be. We need him to be Dougie Fresh and work within the system Todd Haley has put into place. Sure he has quite possibly the strongest arm on the team but his delivery is as slow as you could ever see. He’s not going to run around in the pocket trying to extend a play and turn a sure-fire sack into a first down, but with Haley’s “dink and dunk” offense and the fact that the Ratbirds can surely be run on, the Steelers offense can survive without Roethlisberger. Incidentally the emergency quarterback on the roster is Heath Miller. Not sure how Heath would be able to throw it to himself in the back of the endzone, but let’s just hope we don’t have to worry about that.
The Steelers have been described as a team that, when everything is working, can beat anyone in the league. Sure, you could argue that point about just about any team but this time it only applies to the Steelers ok? Dougie Fresh will have a full week of practice and reps with the first team, which even he admitted he hasn’t had since training camp before entering the game on Monday night. To say he looked a bit rusty is an understatement. I’m expecting good things from him Sunday night. The Steelers defense hasn’t been operating under a “We’ll do the best we can but we’re playing without Troy Polamalu” policy so the offense can’t operate under a “We’ll see what we can do, but it’s just not the same without Big Ben.” Even though the Steelers are still ranked #1 overall in defense without the signature turnovers and sacks they’re most known for Brett Keisel and Lawrence Timmons came together in OT Monday night to take the ball away when it was needed most. With Mendenhall participating fully in practice so far this week it looks as though the Steelers will have a full stable of healthy running backs for the first time this season. The running game will definitely be a key to victory over the Ratbirds. The offensive line, which most will attribute the improvement in the running game to, will have to protect Dougie Fresh like never before. You think those purple bastards aren’t looking to take some shots at Leftwich if and when they get the opportunity? Limiting the mistakes and penalties will be of the utmost importance. No fifteen yards for swearing at the refs, get that Willie? Incidentally anyone besides me still wondering just what he said that caused the ref to throw the flag? Surely he’s not the only player in even that game alone that swore at a ref so it must have been a good one.
Losing a quarterback of Roethlisberger’s talent and presence could cripple your average football team. The Pittsburgh Steelers are no average football team. As Tomlin would say, “the standard is the standard” and this time the standard is maintaining the unbeaten streak at Heinz Field this season and reclaiming the AFC North. There’s no need for a “Let’s win one for the Gipper” speech here. Just go beat the snot out of those purple wearing jagoffs. Let’s Go Steelers!
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