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Steelerlyn
12-02-2006, 11:19 PM
Tampa Bay (3-8) at Pittsburgh (4-7)

Game Info: 4:15 pm EST / Sunday December 03, 2006/ TV: FOX

Following their worst performance in recent memory, the defending
Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers are left to wonder what
happened this season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been asking that
same question for weeks.

The Steelers will try to rebound from a dismal game and keep their
hopes for a winning season alive when they host the last-place
Buccaneers on Sunday.

There were certainly no guarantees that the Steelers (4-7) would
repeat as Super Bowl champions, but few could've predicted that they
would be in danger of a losing season. Pittsburgh won its final four
games last season to get to 11-5 and earn the last spot in the AFC
playoffs, but even wins in each of its final five games would make it
only 9-7, a record that wouldn't likely be good enough to get them
into the postseason.

"You have to learn to deal with it," Steelers coach Bill Cowher
said. "The longer you're in this business, the higher the expectation
levels become. Certainly for our team and the expectations that we
had, it becomes trying. It tests you. I think it becomes very
revealing as well. It has a way of separating the conditional friend
from the unconditional."

Consecutive wins over New Orleans and Cleveland gave the Steelers
hope that perhaps they were poised for another late-season run, but
an ugly 27-0 loss at Baltimore on Sunday showed just how far they
have fallen.

Pittsburgh was shut out for the second time this season and dropped
to 1-5 on the road. The nine sacks the Steelers allowed matched the
most they've permitted since the NFL officially recognized the
statistic in 1982, and their 21 rushing yards were their fewest since
1982.

"We didn't show up," receiver Hines Ward said of the Steelers' worst
shutout loss under Cowher since a 27-0 defeat to the then-Los Angeles
Rams in 1993. "We fell behind and guys had their heads down. That's
very uncharacteristic for us. When we fell behind, we started
pressing and we couldn't get anything going."

The biggest reason for Pittsburgh's lack of success can be traced to
an inordinate amount of turnovers.

Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 19 interceptions in 10 games this
season after throwing only nine in 12 games in 2005. Pittsburgh is
last in the NFL in with a minus-12 turnover ratio.

All that's likely left for the Steelers is to avoid the embarrassment
of going from a Super Bowl champion one season to last in the
division the next. They are one game ahead of last-place Cleveland in
the AFC North.

Pittsburgh would have to win at least three of its last five games to
finish 7-9 and avoid matching the team's worst record under Cowher,
the 6-10 marks of 1999 and 2003.

Despite his club's situation, Cowher doesn't expect his players to
give up and look toward next season.

"The bottom line is doing what you think gives you the best chance to
win week to week," he said. "People talk about wanting to prepare for
the future and looking ahead. The best way to do that is win games
and create that mindset and mentality. You can't jeopardize any game
just to develop somebody else. You don't know what your team is going
to be like a year from now."

The Steelers will be without Ward and safety Troy Polamalu -- two of
their top players -- Sunday. Ward will miss one game and likely two
after undergoing left knee surgery Monday to remove bone fragments.
Polamalu is out with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his
left knee.

Tamp Bay (3-8) endured another poor offensive performance in a 38-10
loss at Dallas on Thanksgiving, its fourth defeat in five games.

After opening the game with an 80-yard touchdown drive, the
Buccaneers crossed midfield only once more and finished with 211
total yards.

Tampa Bay has scored 47 points in compiling an 0-5 road record. It's
averaging 12.9 points per game overall, with only Oakland, at 12.0,
averaging fewer.

With games left against Chicago, Atlanta and Seattle, the Bucs could
be headed for their worst season since they finished 3-13 in 1991.

"Just stay positive and keep fighting," running back Cadillac
Williams said. "Coach (Jon) Gruden says, 'These are the trying
times.' Everybody goes through them. What are you going to do in
these bad times? As young players, and (all) the players on this
team, we've just got to keep fighting."

The Steelers are 5-1 against the Buccaneers, including a 17-7 victory
in the most recent meeting Dec. 23, 2002. This is only Tampa Bay's
second visit to Pittsburgh, the first since 1983.


:tt02: :tt02: :tt02: :tt02: :tt02:

BlitzburghRockCity
12-02-2006, 11:30 PM
The Steelers are 5-1 against the Buccaneers, including a 17-7 victory
in the most recent meeting Dec. 23, 2002. This is only Tampa Bay's
second visit to Pittsburgh, the first since 1983.

I remember that game well. Jerome busting through the line and outrunning the entire defense on his way to a TD :tt02: