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Why the Steelers are good year in, year out

11.14.10 at 6:49 pm ET
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There’s an adage in sports for truly great teams: They don’t rebuild, they just reload.

It’s a principle that requires consistency in ownership and management. The Patriots certainly have that in owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

The Steelers have had it for roughly 30 years longer. The Rooney family has built a football dynasty in Western Pennsylvania and it all started when the patriarch, Art Rooney Sr., hired Chuck Noll and they drafted Joe Greene with their first-round pick in 1969.

Some 41 years and six Super Bowl titles later, the Steelers are still the model that most in the NFL try to imitate.

The Super Bowl dynasty of the ’70s had no fewer than 10 players, one coach and one owner make it to Canton as Hall of Famers.

Four decades later, the late Art Rooney has been replaced by sons Dan and Art, Jr. but the belief in a strong, deep scouting department combined with an organizational philosophy on how to play the game remains in place to people like personnel chief Kevin Colbert has kept them on top.

“Well I think consistency is a big part of it,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “I think if I were looking at the Steelers and I was their personnel coordinator, I think I have a pretty good idea of the type of players they would want at each position for their system. And they’€™ve maintained that system over a significant period of time so you can look at players – whether they’€™re pro players or college players ‘€“ and say, ‘€˜Okay, this is where this guy would play in their defense or I don’€™t really see what his role would be on defense.’€™ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Art Rooney, Bill Belichick, Dan Rooney, Mike Tomlin

Setting the scene from Heinz Field

11.14.10 at 6:14 pm ET
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PITTSBURGH ‘€” Welcome to Heinz Field for the Sunday night game between the Patriots and the Steelers. New England will be looking to rebound from last week’s ugly loss against the Browns in Cleveland, while Pittsburgh, which has won three of its last four, will look to seize command of the AFC North and put some distance between themselves and Baltimore.

There’s a steady mist coming down, one that’s expected to continue for much of the evening. It’ll be interesting to see if it affects play on the field ‘€” some Patriots’ players are on the field right now testing their footing, a group that includes new kicker Shayne Graham.

A few things to remember ‘€” the Patriots have ruled running back Fred Taylor, offensive lineman Stephen Neal and defensive lineman Myron Pryor out for the game. With no Neal, expect the Patriots to go with Dan Connolly at right guard, and Ryan Wendell as the primary backup for the interior linemen. In his first game back last week, Logan Mankins saw extensive time, and that should be the case again this week.

In addition, several players are question marks for the Patriots, including defensive lineman Mike Wright and safety Pat Chung, both of whom are questionable to play this evening. Quarterback Tom Brady, who was limited this week in practice with a foot injury, is listed as probable.

The Steelers will also be affected by injury, as defensive end Aaron Smith is out with a triceps injury and defensive end Brett Keisel is doubtful. The Steelers announced Saturday morning that linebacker James Harrison is now questionable with back spasms.

We will have updates here throughout the evening, including halftime analysis, postgame quotes, notes and opinion. Check back for updates all night.

Read More: Heinz Field, Patriots, Steelers,

Pats rule out Fred Taylor, Stephen Neal and Myron Pryor

11.13.10 at 8:52 pm ET
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The road test in Pittsburgh just got tougher. Just hours after arriving in the Steel City, the Patriots ruled out three players who figured to get significant playing time if they were able to take the field.

Running back Fred Taylor, who returned this week to practice but was limited, will miss his sixth straight game with turf toe. Starting right guard Stephen Neal has been downgraded to out, as has defensive lineman Myron Pryor. The Patriots made the announcement 24 hours before the two 6-2 teams square off in a key AFC battle in Western Pennsylvania.

Neal was limited all week in practice with a shoulder injury and will miss his first game of the year. Dan Connolly, who started at left guard with the holdout of Logan Mankins, figures to move over to right guard and start for Neal. Pryor, a back-up to Vince Wilfork at nose tackle, missed the entire week and did not practice due to a back injury. As a result, Kyle Love could be active for the first time this season.

The Patriots are already without safety Jarrad Page (calf) – ruled out Friday – and kicker Stephen Gostkowski, placed on season-ending injured reserve on Wednesday with a thigh injury. Shayne Graham will take his place.

The Steelers will also be affected by injury, as defensive end Aaron Smith is out with a triceps injury and defensive end Brett Keisel is doubtful. The Steelers announced Saturday morning that linebacker James Harrison is now questionable with back spasms.

Patriots Injury Report for Saturday:
K Stephen Gostkowski (thigh) OUT-IR
S Jarrad Page (calf) OUT
DL Myron Pryor (back) OUT
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder/foot) Probable
DL Mike Wright (groin) Questionable
S Patrick Chung (knee) Questionable
RB Fred Taylor (toe) OUT
RG Stephen Neal (shoulder) OUT

Read More: Fred Taylor, Myron Pryor, New England Patriots, nfl

Steelers injury report Saturday: James Harrison ‘questionable’

11.13.10 at 3:34 pm ET
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The Steelers have added linebacker James Harrison to their injury report and is now being listed as questionable for Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh. According to the Steelers twitter page, Harrison – who has played in all eight games this season – complained of back spasms Saturday morning. 

Harrison leads the Steelers with seven sacks this season, four of which came in his last four games.

Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith will miss his third straight game Sunday night with a triceps injury while another defensive end – Brett Keisel – and left guard Chris Kemoeatu are doubtful with hamstring and knee injuries, respectively.

Steelers Injury Report for Saturday:
LB James Harrison (back spasms) Questionable
DE Brett Keisel (hamstring) Doubtful
G Chris Kemoeatu (knee/ankle) Doubtful
DE Aaron Smith (triceps) OUT
TE Heath Miller (knee) Probable
RB Mewelde Moore (concussion) Probable
S Will Allen (concussion/illness) Probable
RB Isaac Redman (concussion) Probable

Read More: James Harrison, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers,

Wes Welker knows where he ‘makes his dough’

11.12.10 at 6:54 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Wes Welker isn’t about to let a little contact from a game back in late November of 2008 keep him from going over the middle again against Pittsburgh free safety Ryan Clark.

Everyone who was there not only had the chance to see it. They couldn’t help but HEAR it, too.

On Friday, Welker said if he needs to go over the middle again, he will – whether or not Clark is patrolling the turf.

“No, not at all,” Welker said when asked if that one hit will cause him to adjust his approach over the middle. “That’s where I make my dough so I’m not going to shy away from it at all.”

“They’re definitely up there. They’re a physical, tough team. We have to be physical and tough team right back and make sure we’re not backing down and being a physical team right back.”

Ryan Clark, of course, isn’t the most acclaimed of Pittsburgh’s two starting safeties. Troy Polamalu gets moved all over the place by Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. Sunday should be no different.

“You never know what he’s going to do. He’s in one coverage and it seems like he uses his instincts to fly right into the ball and go where you think the ball might be. He does a great job of being in the right place and nine times out of 10, he’s right.”

Everyone is talking about the fact that the Steelers are allowing only 58.9 yards a game on the ground. But the Steelers are only average on pass defense, with opponents throwing for 248 yards per contest. But a good passing game against the Steelers begins up front protecting Tom Brady from the likes of Casey Hampton, James Farrior, Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison.

‘€œI think it has a lot to do with pass rush and being able to get to the quarterback,” Welker said. “They do a great job of that. And they have a lot of instinctive guys back there that fly around to the football, that make plays and are always around the action. So you have to make sure you’€™re running good routes and getting to open spots and getting open quick and able to move the ball down the field.’€

So, in short, Welker believer there are chances to take advantage of the always aggressive Steelers – that is if you can protect the quarterback long enough to get open.

‘€œIf you’€™re running good routes and you block well and hold them up up front and run good routes, at the end of the day, yeah, there are always openings in every defense,” Welker said. “We’€™ve just got to make sure we’€™re staying on top of that and make sure we’€™re getting open and making plays.’€

Read More: James Farrior, James Harrison, Lamarr Woodley, New England Patriots

Vic Carucci on The Big Show: Pats don’t get enough pressure

11.12.10 at 6:36 pm ET
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NFL.com and NFL Network analyst Vic Carucci joined The Big Show to talk about an upcoming slate of NFL games and whether the Patriots can make an impact on the Steelers’ banged up offensive line. “The bigger thing to me is does [Rashard] Mendenhall or does this running game get rolling? If that happens, good night nurse. Because I really think it will be a huge problem for the Patriots.”

To hear the interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page here. Here are some more highlights:

On this weekend’€™s games:

I was in Philly last week and got a good look at [Michael] Vick and DeSean Jackson and just that duo alone, it’€™s a jaw dropping experience to watch these two play. To watch the speed and what they force defenses to do. Like misdirection plays, it’€™s almost impossible to defend that because of the worry that you have the second that the ball is in Vick’€™s hand or the second it might end up in DeSean Jackson’€™s.

And against Washington, whose defense has just been horrendous, I’€™m not liking that matchup for them. The [Donovan] McNabb story has been interesting, I think it has been so poorly handled by Mike Shanahan. His M.O. usually doesn’€™t take you down that road. For whatever reason, this thing looks like it’€™s been botched.

[On the Dolphins switching quarterbacks], I saw this move coming. I thought it was eventually going to happen. I just saw a downward spiral with Chad Henne and it looked like he made huge strides in that Sunday night loss to the Jets in Miami and it went downhill from there. And now to go to [Chad] Pennington at this point in the season, I think you have crushed it with Henne. I don’€™t think there’€™s any coming back from that.

Are they really built for Pennington? Because I think they were supposed to be built for a big-armed, young, strong quarterback to throw deep. And yeah, they are getting yards. They are not getting into the end zone. But Pennington is not going to be necessarily as good of a fit. He’€™s a manager, right? The turnover thing will decline. But they are supposed to be built for big plays. I think that is going to be an issue. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: donovan mcnabb, Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones,

Steelers injury report Friday: Aaron Smith ruled out

11.12.10 at 4:27 pm ET
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Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith will miss his third straight game Sunday night with a triceps injury while another defensive end – Brett Keisel – and left guard Chris Kemoeatu are doubtful with hamstring and knee injuries, respectively.

Steelers Injury Report for Friday:
Did Not Participate

DE Brett Keisel (hamstring) Doubtful
G Chris Kemoeatu (knee/ankle) Doubtful
DE Aaron Smith (triceps) OUT

Full Participation
TE Heath Miller (knee) Probable
RB Mewelde Moore (concussion) Probable
S Will Allen (concussion/illness) Probable
RB Isaac Redman (concussion) Probable

Read More: Brett Keisel, New England Patriots, nfl, Pittsburgh Steelers
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