By Scott Brown and John Harris
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Steelers columnist John Harris and beat writer Scott Brown go back and forth over whether the Steelers will get tested Sunday when they play the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field.
Brown: I haven't seen a beating like the one the Steelers put on the Browns since you told James Harrison he ought to wear a dress when he is on the field. I suppose there is a chance the Steelers will be a tad overconfident but they have too many veterans to fall into the trap of overlooking the Bills. I think Buffalo keeps it close for a half but the Steelers still win the game rather handily.
Harris: This is definitely a "trap" game for the Steelers. It's a game they should win before they even take the field. But the Bills are better than Cleveland. Actually, there are 31 other NFL teams better than the Browns, so the Steelers had better watch their step. I don't think the Steelers will look past Buffalo, but it's human nature to have a letdown after beating Cleveland 34-7. It's coach Mike Tomlin's job to see that they don't.
Brown: The Steelers will play against a considerably better quarterback, but I hardly think J.P. Losman will cause defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau any sleepless nights this week. The one thing that should be a concern for the Steelers is how emotionally charged the Bills will be Sunday. They'll play their hearts out for fallen teammate Kevin Everett, and they should be inspired by the very encouraging news regarding his long-term prognosis. The Steelers better not come out flat Sunday but I don't think they will since it is their home opener.
Harris: Emotion can be a fleeting thing. It only lasts for so long. Then you're staring down the barrel of one of LeBeau's zone blitzes. I'm sure the Bills may play a little harder for their fallen teammate, but unless Buffalo discovers a cure for Losman's happy feet in the pocket, it could be another long day for the Bills' offense in general and their passing game in particular.
Brown: Well, it's pretty safe to assume that it's going to be a long day for running back Marshawn Lynch. The rookie looked good in his NFL debut last week but the Steelers haven't allowed a running back to rush for 100 yards in a game since November of 2005. If Lynch does it Sunday then maybe the Bills will have finally found a worthy successor to Thurman Thomas in their backfield. But I think you have a better chance of getting asked to sing the "National Anthem" before the game as Lynch does of getting 100 against James Farrior, Larry Foote and Co. during it.
Harris: Instead of wondering if Lynch can do the impossible and rush for 100 yards against the Steelers, why not focus on the Steelers' running game? As in, can Willie Parker rush for 100 yards for the second straight week? I'm a lot more concerned about the Steelers offense than I am about the Steelers' defense. The Steelers rushed for 206 yards against Cleveland. That's a lot of yards, even against a Pop Warner team. And it says a lot for an offensive line that's allegedly the Steelers' weak link.
Brown: Still could be a weak link or, to be fair, a question mark. The bulk of the those rushing yards came in the second half when the Browns' defense was tired and demoralized. And it was, well the Browns. A buddy of mine might have put it best when he emailed some colleagues in Cleveland and posed the question of which is worse: not having an NFL team to root for or having to root for what the Browns have been since Cleveland got another football team. Ouch.
Harris: The Steelers did what a good team is supposed to do: they beat a bad team badly. If the Steelers had lost to the Browns, or had struggled to win, their players and coaches would never have heard the end of it. The Steelers' second challenge is to beat another team that isn't a juggernaut. So I guess we're right back where we started: will the Steelers look overlook Buffalo?
Brown: What was the Steelers' first challenge?
Harris: Not looking a gift horse in the mouth.