I'm A "Champion"
This is Big Ben Through & Through and every steeler fan should be proud to have him as our QB,,,,,,,
Love this Quote
When people talk about quarterbacks, they always talk about arm strength," Wilcots says. "But people need to look at the intangible things you can't measure at the combine. Does he play with guts, or does he play with fear? Does he approach the game afraid to make a mistake, or does he approach it as a playmaker? Ben's got that kind of guts and toughness. He ain't afraid of gettin' dirty."
That's a great article, thanks Dom! Very interesting to see how typical days go down in a practice week for Ben.
Its going to take a overall flawless performance by every player on the team for us to win. I feel really good about our chances, granted we play poor on the road but this is our statement game. Forget about our road record, this is a must win for us, not only to keep up with the Colts for the #2 seed but especially to let the rest of the league know that we are for real.Why To Watch
The Steelers are the last team with the best opportunity to derail the Patriots' quest to finish the 2007 regular season at 16-0. The Pittsburgh Steelers are an elite AFC team, but where does that put them versus the Patriots, who have shown they are a cut above the elite teams in the NFL. This game will feature the best offense statistically in the NFL in the Patriots versus the best defense statistically in the NFL in the Steelers. Will the Steelers be able to beat the Patriots at their own game by using the spread offense and throwing from the shotgun? Do the Patriots have enough speed in the back seven to deal with Pittsburgh's versatility on offense? Will the Steelers' No. 3 ranked run game be able to control the clock and keep QB Tom Brady and his explosive offense on the sidelines?
When the Steelers have the ball
Rushing: The Steelers are ranked No. 3 in the NFL in run offense. Even though they are ranked so high, Pittsburgh has not been able to consistently run the ball as efficiently as they would like and they have not been able to pound it at will when they have needed to. This new-look Pittsburgh offense is more pass-first and run second, but they are going to need the ground game this week. The Patriots first close call this season came in Indianapolis where the Colts were able to control the tempo of the game on the ground with RB Joseph Addai. Steelers RB Willie Parker has some similar characteristics that give him an opportunity to make some plays this week.
The Patriots are ranked No. 6 in the NFL against the run. However, those numbers are deceiving. They gave up 179 yards at Miami, Dallas ran for a 6.0 yards per carry and the Colts ran it at will on the ground as well. The Patriots ranking versus the run is based more on them blowing out opposing teams and forcing them to use the passing game. New England is getting a little long in the tooth at the LB position. They are a veteran unit, but Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Junior Seau in particular do not run nearly as well as they once did. They still have very good speed with Adalius Thomas, but overall the speed of the LB unit is suspect and it makes the entire defense vulnerable to the speed that "fast" Willie Parker brings to the table.
For Pittsburgh to run the ball they will have to get a good push up front from the interior of their offensive line, in particular guards Alan Faneca and Kendall Simmons. Look for the Steelers to try to run the ball wide this week and force a slow Patriots LB unit to play in pursuit. Parker has the speed to get the edge in this game and can make people miss or run by people at the second and third levels.
Passing: While the Colts showed one way to move the ball versus the Patriots' defense, the Eagles showed another. The Eagles spread the field with multiple-receiver sets and threw quickly from the shotgun formation. One of the staples of Pittsburgh's passing game in definite passing situations is to put three and four receivers into the game and play from either empty or one-back sets. The key to being effective in this formation is the ability to protect the QB. Pittsburgh has allowed 35 sacks this season, which ranks them No. 24 in the NFL. Now some of that is the offensive line, but a good part of it is that QB Ben Roethlisberger has never seen a sack attempt he did not think he could fight his way out of. It is hard to fault him for that though because he does possess excellent size and strength. Plus, he does break tackles and make plays when it appears the defender has a shot to get him wrapped up.
Look for New England to mix up its approach defensively in this game. At times the Pats will sit back and drop seven or eight while trying to get into passing lanes and at other times they will bring multiple defenders to create pressure. The Patriots' packages will be predicated on down and distance, which means it will be imperative for the Steelers to have some success on early downs and stay out of third-and-long situations.
Pittsburgh has one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL in Hines Ward. He can play a major role in this game in terms of picking up first downs and keeping time of possession. The Steelers will try to get him matched up as often as possible on No. 2 CB Ellis Hobbs. TE Heath Miller also needs to be a factor this week in the passing game as they will try to get him matched up versus SS Rodney Harrison, who is much better against the run. There will be plenty of plays to be made versus the Patriots' defense because it is a unit void of speed and athletic ability. The Pats would like to play this game in tight quarters, so it is up to Steelers to try to play in space where they will have the advantage.
When the Patriots have the ball
Rushing: New England is ranked No. 8 rushing the football, despite not staying patient with the run game. This could be an issue this week versus the No. 2 ranked Pittsburgh run defense. It is very difficult to run versus the Steelers because they can make an offense frustrated and one dimensional. If New England struggles to run the ball, look for it to use RBs Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk out of the backfield to off-set the speed of Pittsburgh's front seven. To run the ball versus Pittsburgh there must be a push up front at the center position. There will be a big-time and intense battle inside in this game between C Dan Koppen and NT Casey Hampton. Hampton is almost impossible to block without a double team, but doing that essentially opens up holes in the A and B gaps for ILBs James Farrior and Larry Foote to run through.
New England does not like to run from a standard I-formation. However, Pittsburgh is very tough to run on from a one-back set because not having that lead FB to block Farrior and Foote gives them the opportunity to play downhill and straight through the hole. Pittsburgh is also very tough to run wide on because of the speed it's front seven possesses. The Steelers play fast and they play well laterally. Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu will play his usual role, which means he will align all over the field. However, we think a key for Pittsburgh in this game will be its ability to stop the run with seven and sometimes even six defenders in the box. That will allow Polamalu to be in coverage more in this game, where they are going to need him more versus a New England pass offense that is one of the best to come down the road in a long, long time.
Passing: Brady and the Patriots have the No. 1 ranked pass offense in the NFL and they are number one by a big margin. Brady is having a career season and putting up huge passing numbers on a weekly basis. Weather could play somewhat of a factor this week depending on storm movement, but even bad/cold weather has not really put a dent in what the Patriots can do with their passing game. The Patriots' spread offense gives opposing defenses fits and it is something the Steelers' defense has struggled to deal with in recent years.
The first thing Pittsburgh will have to decide is what it is going to do on early downs if New England spreads the field. If New England comes out in the spread, will Pittsburgh stay with its base defense on early downs? If the Steelers don't, it will limit the snaps they get from Hampton because he is not a consistent figure in Pittsburgh's sub-packages. The Steelers are most comfortable in their base defensive package, so they may opt to stick with that on early downs versus the spread to see how they can deal with it. However another 3-4 defense, the San Diego Chargers, tried to take that approach and it did not work very well.
Pittsburgh has received much better play this season in the backend. The Steelers have the No. 1 ranked pass defense in the NFL and did a great job holding Bengals WR Chad Johnson to under 100 yards in Week 13. The one advantage Pittsburgh has over any offense it plays is that is is always the more physical team. Look for the Steelers to get physical in this game. Do not expect to see many free releases for WR Randy Moss this week because they will use CB Ike Taylor, who possesses very good size, to jam him and re-route him at the line of scrimmage.
Also look for Pittsburgh to play more zone after the jam. One of the strengths of Pittsburgh's defense is its ability to zone blitz. A lot of teams in the NFL blitz and have to play man in the back end, which would allow Brady make them pay. However, Pittsburgh will blitz and back it up with zone hoping that forces Brady to hold the ball a split second longer for them to get some hits and try to rattle him. One guy to watch on Pittsburgh's defense is Harrison. He has a knack for being in the right spot and forcing fumbles versus the run or during his pass rush. LOT Matt Light and ROT Nick Kaczur will have to play their best games of the season if they are going to keep Brady clean this week.
Both of these teams are pretty sound in the special teams department. Pittsburgh has veteran return specialist Allen Rossum who has been fairly quiet of late, but is a big-play threat with the ball in his hands and has shown a knack for coming up big in big situations over his career. New England's return units are ranked in the top-10 in kickoff and punt returns. Both teams do a pretty solid job with their cover units and are defensive-oriented teams, which also carries over to their cover units. However, Pittsburgh has had some issues this season versus solid return teams ala the Cleveland Browns. New England has a slight edge in the return and cover units, but Pittsburgh has the edge in the kicking game, which could prove vital in a close game.
Pittsburgh is the clear underdog in this game. And one way to win a game as an underdog is to find and negate the hidden yards that come via special teams. If the Steelers are going to pull the upset, they must win the special teams battle in this football game.
"Give me a 6 pack, half hour of rest and lets go play them again....We can beat them."
"They say that when you're the champs, everybody will try to beat you. Well, I'm glad we're the champs, so bring 'em on, bring 'em all on. If we die, we ain't gonna die running. It's gonna be a fight."
We definately have to play a flawless football game for 4 quarters!! No stupid pentalities or crap from the special teams! This is a great article and I think this game is going to be a great game!!!
Thanks Steelers086 for my awesome signature!!!
Thanks for the new avatar SteelerBee!
TampaSteelGirl your right, if we go out and play steelers football and play a flawless game we will have a much better chance of winning. We need to blitz the hell out of Brady and watch for the deep ball, because we have been able to stop the run all year so i doubt we'll have a problem with that. I have a feeling were going to get a lot of interceptions in this game.
The Patriots had trouble verse the Eagles and the RAVENS. We are much better than the Ravens. It should be a close game
We need to played disciplined football and keep the NE offense off the field. If we manage to do that, we have a great chance to win the game. This is definately a game we can win....we just have to come out with our A game!
sig made by K Train....Thank you!
I tried to link it up but could not. I recommend going and getting it though. Ben is on the cover of this weeks USA Today sports weekly. Great article goes through his whole weekly schedule. Very cool, a look into Big's day to day schedule, and his relation ship with Arians.
Check it out, I dug it.
again, sorry I could not link it. you gotta subscribe online which is a stupid way to bleed more money out of us.
It' a buck seventy-five at stores. enjoy
Ben is the best. Love to see him break TB's record this weekend
------------------------------------------------------------koop, I know this happened this week!
[AutoMerged Post Below]
Last edited by GoBenGo; 12-07-2007 at 12:00 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
"Like a midget at a urinal, I knew I had to be on my toes." - Lt. Frank Drevin
No you don't. I'm not a subscriber and that's how I read it and posted the link, here's the story:
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger broke down his day-by-day game-preparation routines for USA TODAY:
PITTSBURGH — As Ben Roethlisberger shuffled toward a stairwell door at the Pittsburgh Steelers' facilities last Friday afternoon, he spotted team chairman Dan Rooney.
"How do you feel, Ben?" Rooney asked.
"Right now, Mr. Rooney, I feel old," Roethlisberger said.
"Old?" responded Rooney, 75, slightly incredulous.
But it had been a busy week for Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh's starting quarterback. The Steelers were coming off a Monday night game, so he faced a condensed week of preparation. Plus, NBC's Sunday Night Football crew was in town, so Roethlisberger had the added responsibility of meeting with announcers Al Michaels and John Madden on Friday.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: NFL | Pittsburgh | Football | Bill Cowher | Ben Roethlisberger | Ben | Ken Whisenhunt | Rooney | Charlie Batch
Roethlisberger, 25, might not feel his age, but he's playing like a rejuvenated man this season. He's thrown a career-best 25 touchdown passes while leading Pittsburgh to first place in the AFC North with a 9-3 record. CBS analyst Solomon Wilcots compares him to Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, only "with more athleticism."
It's not like Roethlisberger hasn't tasted success before. In 2004, at the age of 22, he became the only rookie quarterback in NFL history to win his first 13 starts. He broke Dan Marino's rookie records for passer rating (98.1) and completion percentage (66.4%). The next year, he became the youngest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
But 2006 was a year to forget. A June motorcycle accident — he wasn't wearing a helmet — nearly cost him his life. An emergency appendectomy caused him to miss the season opener. He finished the season with an NFL-high 23 interceptions and the defending champion Steelers missed the playoffs with an 8-8 mark.
TABLE: Big Ben gets better with age
"He never really had a chance to get himself in shape," says former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, now a CBS analyst. "He had to play himself into it. I think most of his problems last year were due to his health situation."
After the season, Cowher stepped down, and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt took the top job in Arizona.
This year, Roethlisberger faced a crossroads. Would he continue to struggle under new coach Mike Tomlin while learning new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians' system? Or would he build on the success he enjoyed early in his career?
The answer began to emerge in training camp. At one point, Roethlisberger strung together a number of practices without throwing an interception. "It might have been 12 or 16," Arians says. "It was like a baseball pitcher throwing a no-hitter."
These weren't gimme throws, either. The Steelers defense, arguably the NFL's best so far this year, wanted to get its hands on the ball. It was then, Arians knew, Roethlisberger was ready for a big season.
"It showed me that, when the ball was coming out of his hand, he knew where it was going — and why," Arians says. "The 'why' was more important than the 'where.' Because when your eyes are in the right place, they'll tell your hands where the ball should go. It was really gratifying to see him grow that way."
Roethlisberger also matured into more of a team leader. "Before, he was a young guy on a veteran team," says backup quarterback Charlie Batch. "He's probably thinking, 'I'm not gonna say much.' He had (running back) Jerome (Bettis), (receiver) Hines (Ward), (guard) Alan (Faneca). But now, if something needs to be said, he'll pull guys aside and say it. I don't think that was the case before."
Now, according to tight end Heath Miller, "Ben has realized everybody wants him to be the leader. We all look to him to kind of carry us."
It all adds up to an elite package. Roethlisberger's passer rating is up from 75.4 last year to a career-high 102.9. His completion percentage has soared from 59.7% to a career-best 66.9%. And after throwing a career-high 18 touchdowns last season, he already has 25 in 2007 and is closing in on Terry Bradshaw's single-season franchise record of 28.
"When people talk about quarterbacks, they always talk about arm strength," Wilcots says. "But people need to look at the intangible things you can't measure at the combine. Does he play with guts, or does he play with fear? Does he approach the game afraid to make a mistake, or does he approach it as a playmaker? Ben's got that kind of guts and toughness. He ain't afraid of gettin' dirty."
Roethlisberger also feels more comfortable under Arians, which might help explain the turnaround. In August, he told USA TODAY he often felt shackled last year. "We were so careful with doing this and that," Roethlisberger said then.
Says Faneca, "I've heard Ben say he's got more input to what's going on. If that leads you to be more comfortable, then that's a big thing."
From the very start, Arians included Roethlisberger in every aspect of the game plan, even allowing him to provide playbook terminology. "Because this is his offense," Arians says. "It ain't mine. I'm just along for the ride. And when a quarterback dives in and takes that responsibility, it spreads throughout the whole locker room."
Arians, who served as the receivers coach under Cowher, has given Roethlisberger more autonomy, letting him change plays, snaps counts and protection schemes.
Roethlisberger maintains this has made a huge difference in his confidence. "Just being more involved day to day, understanding what's going on and being more comfortable with the plays. Honestly, that's it," Roethlisberger says. "A lot of my time last year was spent in the weight room, trying to get my body back, instead of the classroom, where it should have been."
Roethlisberger sat down with USA TODAY, describing a typical work week under Pittsburgh's new regime.
The Steelers' headquarters is located in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Performance Complex. Wedged along the banks of the Monongahela River, parking is at a premium there. There are enough spots for players and personnel, but none are officially reserved. But like high school, where there are often no assigned seats, people often take the same spots.
"If someone parks in my spot," Roethlisberger says with a grin, "I'll pull in really close to them so they can't get back in (the driver's side door)."
Monday is the day the team comes in and reviews the previous day's game. Tomlin is amenable to giving the team the day off if the timing is right. But the one time he granted it, the Steelers lost to the lowly New York Jets the following week. So nobody expects a free Monday again for a while.
The Steelers' offensive staff begins its new game plan in earnest that evening. Quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson faxes Roethlisberger the early draft for his review, when he provides preliminary input.
"Every week's installation schedule is a little different," Anderson says. "You have to look at base blitzes, nickel blitzes, where are we exposed. You have to know what we're anticipating on third down and how we're going to handle that. How are you going to read a route vs. certain coverages?
"Their (the quarterbacks') homework is they get stuff early the night before everybody does so they have a chance to look at it. Then it's knowing the formations, the reads and progressions you want to have with each route."
For every NFL team, this is the players' regular day off — except for the quarterbacks. "During the season," Anderson says, "they really don't get a day off."
Roethlisberger tries to arrive at the UPMC complex between 10 a.m. and noon ET. "That gives us a chance to get rolling," Arians says.
This is when the staff really begins hammering out the passing plan — "the play-actions, the boots, the nakeds (bootlegs), all that stuff," Roethlisberger says — and working their way up through everything they might want to use that week.
By the time Roethlisberger arrives, Arians and his staff have already put in most of the week's run package. "I don't sit here and go through the whole game plan with them, just the passing part of it," Roethlisberger says.
"These are the checks for this week," Arians might ask. "Does this make sense?" Roethlisberger might say yes, no, or "I kind of like it."
After the quarterback leaves, the staff starts working out the details and putting it to paper.
Roethlisberger will also try to squeeze in a workout. It's a busy day, because Tuesday is also his one day for appointments and public appearances. As the high-profile quarterback of one of the NFL's most successful and popular teams, the schedule can get hectic.
But it's also a day for him to unwind. When the weather is warm, he'll try to play golf. Or he might just run around with his two dogs: Zeus, a Rottweiler, and Hercules, a Bernese Mountain Dog. "Anything to keep my mind off football," Roethlisberger says.
He also enjoys hunting or fishing with defensive end Brett Keisel, one of his closest friends on the team.
"I've taken him fishing to a couple of my secret spots," Keisel says. "I really learned from it because then he goes on the radio and talks trash about how he's a better fisherman than me and giving away my secret locations. So I don't know if I'm going to be taking him with me anymore. I had to give him the cold shoulder for a while."
Between 8-10 p.m., the staff will have the game plan prepared, and Roethlisberger's fax will begin to hum. Pittsburgh's backups, Batch and Brian St. Pierre, also receive the faxes. While the plan is skewed to Roethlisberger's preferences, they have some input, too. "But Ben and I are pretty similar in the plays we like," Batch says.
Between 20-30 pages will come across the fax, featuring every scenario Roethlisberger might face — second-and-short, third-and-long, etc. — plus play-action passes and all of the team's protection schemes. He takes it up to bed with him and studies it until 10:30 or 11 p.m., when he usually dozes off.
This is a major change from last year, when Roethlisberger wouldn't see the game plan until Wednesday. And what Whisenhunt called, the Steelers executed. "But we don't necessarily know if that came down from Bill (Cowher)," Batch says.
Says Cowher, "Responsibility comes as you grow. Those things don't happen in the first or second year. You have to earn that. He's at a point now where he's embraced that responsibility. Some quarterbacks like it, some don't."
This day was more hectic last year for Roethlisberger, who would have to examine the game plan that morning and then compile his questions for Whisenhunt. But because he has already familiarized himself with the plan this year, he arrives at the facility ready with his list of questions for Arians and Anderson.
Roethlisberger checks in at headquarters between 7:30-7:45 a.m. and hits the hot tub before his 8:30 meeting with Arians and Anderson. The team practices from 1-3 p.m.
It's still the toughest day of the week for Roethlisberger, "because everything is new for the offense. Sometimes, it seems like nothing is going right. You're calling stuff wrong in the huddle, everything's bad."
But by the end of the day, he'll have a pretty good handle on what's going to work that week. A recent emphasis lately has been how to deal with the blitz; in his last five games, Roethlisberger has been sacked 19 times.
"Teams have come up with more (stuff) with these blitzes," Arians says. "The original zone blitz is passé now. Now it's a three-man line with eight DBs running all over the field blitzing. So it's hard as hell to play quarterback right now in the NFL."
This is the day the Steelers start ironing things out.
Roethlisberger likes Thursdays because he can review Wednesday's hits and misses. He'll tell Arians the plays that make him feel comfortable — and the ones that don't. If it doesn't click initially, they'll run it two or three more times before jettisoning it.
Every night, Roethlisberger studies a DVD of that week's opponent, an end-zone view that allows him to see the defense the way it will appear to him in a game. He plays it on the 120-inch projection screen at his home. The home theater is part of a game room that includes pool and poker tables.
While he studies a team's tendencies, he'll spread out his paperwork before him. He isn't a coffee drinker, so he might pop open a Gatorade and stand before the screen, like he's in the shotgun formation, holding his clicker.
"Of course, sometimes I'll sit," he says, "depending on how my body feels."
A white dry-erase board dominates an entire wall of Arians' office. The board is lined off into sections, each featuring a different game situation. The board also features four sliding panels, and Arians fills every one with potential plays for Roethlisberger.
"When I look at my game plan board," Arians says, "that's how I know what day it is."
After Friday's practice, which usually runs from 10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Roethlisberger visits Arians' office. He stands before the board armed with two markers: one green, one red.
The plays he likes gets a green mark: "go with it!" Those are the ones he wants among the first 15 plays of the game.
The plays he wants out of the game plan, he slashes with the red marker.
"A lot of times, the play might have worked in a game," Roethlisberger says. "But if I don't get a good look in practice and I don't feel good about it, I don't want to take it into a game."
Early in the season, there was a lot of red marks on that board. Now, not so much. Arians says that's a sign that Roethlisberger's growing with the offense.
Not counting game day, this is Roethlisberger's favorite day of the work week. The heavy lifting is done, and it's time for the finishing touches.
Today the team will review Friday's practice and have its pregame walk-through. Whether it's a home or road game, the Steelers always stay together at a hotel Saturday night. That evening, about 20 or 30 minutes before the offense meets at 8 p.m., Roethlisberger, Batch, St. Pierre, Arians and Anderson huddle to review the entire game plan.
"What are your top two second-and-short calls?" Arians might ask Roethlisberger. Or, "Give me your two favorite red-zone plays."
Other plays could be a late scratch. "We'll take a play out all the way up to Saturday night," Roethlisberger says.
Sometimes Arians is convinced a certain play will work, but his quarterback might remain hesitant. "Oh, I'll try to talk him into it," Arians says. "He might say, 'Yeah, yeah. I know what you're thinkin.' "
Or he'll hold his ground. "If Ben says, 'You know what, I just don't like this play,' then Bruce says, 'OK, it's dead,' " Batch says. "That might not necessarily have been the case in the past."
Whisenhunt would do that a little bit with him last year, "but not a whole lot," Roethlisberger says. "He'd ask, 'What are your two favorite plays?' But it wasn't as intense or in as much detail."
This Saturday night meeting is important, because Arians wants to be on the same page as Roethlisberger on Sunday. "As the game progresses, I'm not one to repeat a lot of plays," Arians says. "So I'll say, 'They're giving us this. What's your next choice? What do you want to hear?' We just try to keep flowing like that as long as we can."
While he feels more entwined in the Steelers' offense, Roethlisberger doesn't know how many more hours of preparation per week he's putting in compared to 2006. "I know it's dramatically more than it was (last year)," he says. "But it would be hard for me to sit down and say, 'I'm spending X amount more hours per week.' I mean, a couple of times a week, Bruce will call me on the cell around 10 p.m. and say, 'Ben, hey, I'm thinking about changing this. … Let me know what you think tomorrow — or call me back.' "
But this is one employee not complaining about the workload, because he and the Steelers are reaping huge benefits on Sundays.
I'm A "Champion"
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