Steelers Atomize Arizona 32-20

Pittsburgh vs. Pittsburgh West. Three years ago these two teams met in The Big Dance, but few hyped this game as some sort of Super Bowl rematch.

No, the question wasn’t whether the Steelers could replicate their past success against Arizona, but rather whether they could avoid a repeat of a movie that has already been played too many times only seven games into the 2011 season.

Starting Out as Scripted

When the Steelers haven’t been falling flat on their faces, as they did in the Debacle in Baltimore or the Thrashing in Texas their script has been as simple as it has been maddening:

  • Start fast and build up a solid lead vs. an inferior opponent
  • Allow the said inferior opponent into the game penalties, errors, turnovers and inopportune sacks
  • Hold on for dear life as the clock ticks towards zero

Against the Cardinals the Steelers began in familiar form, albeit with the wrinkle that they, gasp, secured a turnover which the offense promptly turned into 7 points.

The Steelers defense held up its end of the bargain forcing three straight punts.

Midway through the second quarter, Steelers Nation was treated to another familiar sight: Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace.

If Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace deep for 6 is a familiar, and pleasant, sight what came next was equally familiar but all too unpleasant.

Arizona got the ball back and almost on cue the Steelers defense started to commit penalties that helped the Cardinals get into scoring range, and ultimately score inside the two minute warning.

Sure Steelers managed to make some lemonade out of lemons with their last minute field goal, but that fact that those points were more due to Arizona’s own penalties than the Steelers own efforts lent to the feeling that the Steelers had only set themselves up for a second half stumble.

Arizona Shines in Act II

Both Pittsburgh’s and Arizona’s first possessions in the second half only lasted 6 plays – and that was a problem. After converting a third down the Steelers were forced to punt.

Arizona looked much sharper, rebounding from a LaMarr Woodley sack by catching the Steelers defense flat footed for a screen pass that they converted into 73 yard touchdown.

Suddenly, what was once a two-touchdown lead was now a meager three points. Once again it seemed, the Steelers were letting an inferior team guided by an inexperienced quarterback threaten to upset them.

Act III

Classic Greek drama has the protagonist finish Act I on a high note, find himself in dire straights in Act II, only to rebound to triumph in Act III.

If there is an appropriate word to describe the Steelers in Act III this season, “survival” is far more fitting than “triumph.”

However, against the Cardinals, the Steelers broke the template by answering Arizona’s score in decisive fashion.

On the ensuring drive, Ben Roethlisberger hit Health Miller, Emmanuel Sanders, and Antonio Brown for gains of 21, 17, 13, and 20 yards to bring the team to the goal line, where Roethlisberger fired a bullet to Emmanuel Sanders to lengthen the lead to 10.

 

  • LaMarr Woodley took over from there, forcing an intentional grounding call on Kevin Klob, tacking on two more points to the lead.

The Steelers still refused to lift their foot from the gas pedal. Up to that point the men in Black and Gold had been unable to run the ball, but Mewelde Moore and Rashard Mendenhall led a drive 55 yard drive the ended in a field goal and more importantly, burned 7:12 off of the clock.

After a three and out by Arizona they did it again, running the score up to 32 to 14.

Arizona did bounce back to mount a respectable 71 yard drive that theoretically gave them a chance to get back into the game. Ken Whisenhunt gambled that his defense would get him the ball back.

  • Ben Roethlisberger made his old mentor pay.

Credit Isaac Redman and Mewelde Moore for some impressive runs on the Steelers final drives, but on three obvious running situations Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball converting each of those for first downs. The Steelers executed perfectly on that drive, allowing them to finish by taking a knee.

The Steelers Varsity Schedule Begins

Steel Curtain Rising took a cautionary tone following the Steelers victory over the Jaguars, but concluded that what troubled the Steelers was a set of loose ends to be tied up rather than a set of fundamental flaws.

The Steelers were far from perfect against Arizona where they:

  • struggled to run the ball consistently,
  • gave up too many sacks,
  • were sloppy in the secondary

But they looked sharper in the passing game, didn’t suffer a special teams snafu and, most importantly, they put their opponent away.

The Pittsburgh Steelers must consolidate those gains quickly, because next week brings Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to Heinz Field. If the Pittsburgh Steelers history against the Patriots suggests anything, it is that the men in Black and Gold will need every edge they can muster.

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The Case of Rashard Mendenhall

Looking at the numbers, the Steelers 2008 first round draft pick did not have a good night in his first action since being injured last year against Baltimore.

Rashard Mendenhall didn’t play much. But on 9 carries he only ran for 24 yards, leaving him a 2.7 yard average, with his longest run coming in at 7 yards.

Yet, Post-Gazette Columnist Ron Cook declared that Mendenhall “Ran hard” and then quoted Mike Tomlin as saying “I thought he made some nice runs.”

The Danger of Judging a Game by Statistics

ESPN.Deportes did not show the game in Buenos Aires, where Steel Curtain Rising is based. Hence the observation that Mendenhall’s performance might be an “Ominous Sign” was born solely out of the numbers.

But numbers can be misleading.

That’s where you come in. A good number of you reading this saw the game, and undoubtedly saw Mendenhall run.

So we turn it over to you.

What can we make of Mendenhall’s performance against Arizona in the preseason? Is there cause for concern, or did he look pretty good in spite of the 2.7 yard per carry average. Or perhaps its simply too early to tell.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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Isaac Redman “Stars” as Steelers Top Cardinals 20-10 in Preseason Rematch

The Steelers and the Cardinals met again tonight for the second time in six months. Last the stake was nothing less than the Super Bowl, this time, it was, nothing….

The Steelers were successful in their first exhibition season. Not because they scored more points, although that is always nice, but because they appear to have avoided major injury.

According to ESPN.com, the star of the show was undrafted rookie free agent Isaac Redman, who scored twice in late 4th quarter goal-line situations. ESPN reports that Redman not shyed away from taking on the Steelers All-Pro linebacking corps, and further informs that he scored in two goal line drills in training camp.

The drive was set up by an interception return by rookie corner Joe Burnett, who picked off a Brian St. Pierre pass and returned it to the three, setting up Redman’s first touchdown.

Third string quarterback Dennis Dixon, who for the record was 10-19 for 112 on the night, later led an 80 yard drive that resulted in another Redman touchdown.

Mendenhall’s Performance and Ominous Sign?

In what could perhaps be an ominous sign, 2008 first round selection Rashard Mendenhall started the game, but was held to 24 yards on 9 carries which amounts to a 2.7 yard average.

Isaac Who?

With Willie Parker, Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, and Cary Davis ahead of him, Isaac Redman would figure to be a long shot to make the team. But the former stand out from Bowie State in Maryland does have precedent on his side.

Steelers Director of Football Operatioin Kevin Colbert has shown a penchant for finding undrafted free agents who bud into NFL stars, Willie Parker and James Harrison being only two of many.

 

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Super Bowl XLIII – From Tampa to Buenos Aires

Super Bowl XLIII was watched by millions around the globe, and today’s post will give you a chance to see the game through two very unique vantages.

Super Bowl XLIII: The View From Buenos Aires

As regular readers of this site know, Steel Curtain Rising is written out of Buenos Aires. Although yours truly has been here since 2001, Super Bowl XLIII was only the fourth Super Bowl I’ve seen down here.

Believe it or not, there are Argentines who play American Football. Not two hand touch, not flag football, but full pads, full contact American Football. And let me tell you, these guys are serious, hard-core football men.


So the FAA’s annual Super Bowl party was held in the Run Bar, nestled on the other side of San Martin across the street from the vacant Harrods building.

My wife and I had reservations, but the place was packed. Our choices were in the back by the door, or up front by the screen. (I secretly wanted to be up front, but knowing my wife hates being so close to big screens, I let her pick – good move as the place got quite hot, and we were glad to be by the door.)

Prior to the game I got to meet Sergio Biagini, the President of the FAA, and we talked a little business, as we’re going to work together to try to see if we can get the NFL (or someone) to show more games down here. (See my rant about Direct TV’s “One Third of the Sunday Ticket” deal.)

Let the record reflect that the rooting at Run Bar was probably 30-40% pro Arizona, 20-25% pro Steelers, and the rest more or less neutral. But my wife and I had the good fortune to land a seat next to Gustavo, and Argentine Dr. who has been an avid Steelers Fan since the 1990’s.

We talked a fair amount of football, and I can tell you that the guy knows his stuff, and is even able to offer some rather nuanced opinions on Kordell Stewart.

  • All the more impressive considering that the man has never even visited US, let alone Pittsburgh!

The game itself of course was a heart stopper, but enjoyable nonetheless. The Cardinal’s cheering section was louder, but Steelers Nation’s contingent made up for any lack of quantity with quality.

When it was clear that the Steel Curtain Had Risen Again, we even let out the rallying cry of Steelers Nation, “Chew Tobacco, Chew Tobacco, Spit, Spit, Spit, If You Ain’t A Steelers Fan You Ain’t Sh_t, Go Steelers!” Truthfully, the rest of those present didn’t quite know what to make of that, and were somewhat taken aback.

  • Understandable, but history demands such that refined, time-honored traditions be respected.

Aside from victory itself and the glory of the Steelers Sixth Super Bowl, aside from the joy of spending it with my wife (she stayed home for Super Bowl XL and I would have enjoyed it more had she been there), perhaps the biggest plus came after the game, when I gave Gustavo one of my extra Terrible Towels. He’d mentioned something about getting one of them during a break, but he seemed pleasantly surprised after the game when I asked my wife to get the Towel out of her purse and give it to him.

Try as the NFL might to rip off the talisman that Myron Cope bestowed upon Steelers Nation, but the Terrible Towel will always be unique to Pittsburgh. The yellow terry cloth will always be a special bond between members of Steelers Nation, and Gustavo’s reaction to getting his first one proves it.

Super Bowl XLIII: The View from Tampa

Steel Curtain Rising is proud to share a first hand account of a friend who saw the game in Tampa:

I attended the game in Tampa Bay.The NFL Experience was OK but the entertainment was excellent. Prior to the kick off, John Legend sang for an hour followed by Journey. My Son-in-law and I then proceeded to the game after helping the local economy by buying a good amount of souvenirs.

We watched the 1st half and were pleased that the Steelers were on the winning side at halftime. The play by both teams was marginal.We watched the halftime show and hoped the Steelers would not sit back and just run the ball because the Cards score very quickly. We were really excited with only 5 minutes to go with Pit steal on the win side.

I watched with horror when I saw both safeties near the sidelines and no one anywhere near the middle. The ball was snapped and I did not see it happen because my eyes were glued on Fitzgerald. He glided across the middle and then the ball was in his hands.

Still no one around.

After he took off down the field James Farrior and Troy Polamalu went after him. They were 10 yds back and then #11 put the afterburners on. He pulled away so quickly, Troy tapped Farrior on the shoulder to give up. After that score, my heart sank.

Three minutes to go and it looked as if the Cards might just win it. I just kept shaking my head even as the Steelers marched down the field. When the clock had 35 sec. I was in total denial.

Big Ben threw to Holmes to the left and it went threw his hands. Depression began to set in.
I looked up and saw Ben running to his right and fired the ball Brett Favre style and Holmes was covered by 3. The next thing I saw was the refs arms go straight up and the stadium erupted.

The stadium looked as if it were Heinz Field south. The Terrible Towels outnumbered the Card fans by 10 to 1. They had between 7/10 thousand at most. As you can see, I am still not over the excitement yet.

I was there for #6 and history being made. [My wife] and the neighbors back in Phoenix were rooting for the Cards.

When I returned on the last leg of my flight, the plane was full. I was the only one in a black t-shirt. The Southwest staff were providing free drinks to the Card fans. I kidded the stewardess by asking if I was going to have to pay for the water I was drinking. She just smiled. – T. Lakeman

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Super Bowl XLIII: Dick LeBeau vs Ken Whisenhunt – Who Won the Game Within the Game?

The popular story line of Super Bowl XLIII was of course Mike Tomlin against Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm. The man Dan Rooney chose to lead the Steelers vs. the men to whom he said, “thanks, but no thanks.”

Engrossing as that was, it wasn’t the true story. The real story was how would Dick LeBeau, one of the greatest defensive minds in league history, stack up against Whisenhunt, an emerging offensive wizard.

Heading home from the game I told my wife that if the truth were to be told, Whisenhunt out coached his former colleague. I repeated much the same on the phone to my folks at about 2:00 am Buenos Aires time.

James Harrison, James Harrison Super Bowl XLIII, James Harrison Super Bowl Pick Six, James Harrison Super Bowl interception, Steelers vs Cardinals, Dick LeBeau Super Bowl XLIII

James Harrison begins his record breaking pick six in Super Bowl XLIII. Photo Credit: SI.com

LeBeau vs. Whisenhunt: The Obvious Answer Isn’t Always the Right One

Browse though major sports sites, and that is also the story line the national media is pushing. But as is often the case, the first, seemingly obvious, answer is frequently incorrect.

For LeBeau partisans, the numbers do not paint a pretty picture. Kurt Warner passed for 377 yards, and three touchdowns. Larry Fitzgerald caught 6 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Arizona scored 2 touchdowns inside of 10 minutes in the fourth quarter.

  • Larry Fiztgerald scored on what was perhaps one of the most explosive offensive plays vs. the Steelers in their history.

These are impressive numbers in any circumstance, and they look all the more impressive when you consider that Arizona did this against the NFL’s number one defense.

The Arizona Cardinals deserve ever pat on the back they get for almost engineering the greatest Super Bowl comeback in NFL history. Praise is justified.

But pats on the back are no substitute for a Lombardi Trophy, just as piling up more yards on offense will never supplant the most important stat: the final score.

So while we tip the hat to Ken Whisenhunt, Russ Grimm, and Todd Haley for making some really great adjustments, at the end of the day Dick LeBeau got the better of them.

Why?

It Is a Four Quarter Game

Because the almost greatest comeback was necessary in the first place.

  • For all of the sound and fury of the Arizona’s fourth quarter rally, the Cardinals littered the first three quarters with squandered opportunities.

The Arizona offense’s failure to get it done during the first 45 minutes is all the more inexcusable for the simple fact that the Steelers offense was leaving too many plays out on the field in the form of two field goals born out of three goal line situations.

Nor do Arizona’s stats indicate that Ken Whisenhunt won the chess match with Dick LeBeau. He and Haley certainly were on to something when they started running Larry Fitzgerald on intermediate routs in the middle of the field in the fourth quarter which unleashed the game’s best receiver. (Dare we ask if it was part of their strategy to wait so long?) Likewise, LeBeau’s decision to blitz more often in the second half backfired on him.

But if Arizona won these battles, LeBeau won a far more critical one.

Did James Harrison Make the Most Critical Defensive Play in Super Bowl History?

Arizona’s interception off a tipped ball as time was expiring in the first half was a gift-wrapped chance to take the lead going into halftime. Not only would they have taken the lead, but they would have taken the momentum going into a second half that would begin with the ball back in Kurt Warner’s hands.

  • Arizona looked like it was going to capitalize on the Steelers mistake. They moved to the one with 18 seconds left (or something like that.)

As if on cue, LeBeau made his master stroke. If Dick LeBeau is master of anything, it is disguising coverage. Steelers piled up close to the line of scrimmage. It looked like LeBeau was going to bring the house. Kurt Warner read blitz, but James Harrison hung back into coverage. Warner did not see him. Warner threw the ball. Harrison saw the ball coming…

  • …and 100 yards later he put up seven points for Pittsburgh.

James Harrison executed, showing once again that he is a player with the will power to alter the outcome of a game.

So kudos to Harrison. You cannot coach that kind of innate ability.

But if you can’t coach that kind of talent in a player, you can position those players to make plays. The play functioned just as the zone blitz is supposed to. LeBeau put James Harrison in position to execute on a play that resulted in what was most likely a 14 point swing in the Pittsburgh’s favor. The Steelers ended up winning by four.

Yes it is true that this argument would be moot had Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes and the Steelers offense not authored one of the most dramatic closing drives in Super Bowl history.

But they did, just as the defense kept Warner and company bottled up for three quarters while the Steelers offense too often settled for field goals instead of touchdowns.

Super Bowl XLIII Does Not Tarnish the Defense’s Place in Steelers History

This Steelers defense came very, very close to becoming only the second NFL defense to finish first in both yards against the run and yards against the pass.

Through 18 games they only allowed one 300 yard passer, and only had six quarterbacks pass more than 220 yards.

Nonetheless, some pundits look at Kurt Warner’s 377 yards passing and say, “Gee, does this knock the Steelers defense down a peg?”

  • The answer is no, it does not.

Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and the Arizona offense gave us an electrifying 4th quarter.

But Roger Staubach and his teammates on the Dallas Cowboys came pretty close to pulling off some of their own heroics against the Steel Curtain defenses in Super Bowl X and  again in Super Bowl XIII.

Does anyone say, “yeah, those Steeler defenses of the 70 were great, but Roger Staubach’s two fourth quarter almost comebacks reveal that the original Steel Curtain really had a rusted underbelly?”

Of course not.

This is what happens when offenses and defenses with All Pro, if not Hall of Fame, caliber players go up against each other in the Super Bowl.

Steel Curtain Rising will leave to others to debate the question as to whether or not Kurt Warner belongs in the Hall of Fame. But he is clearly one of the best big play quarterbacks the game has seen. Larry Fitzgerald is probably the best receiver in the football today. They both made great plays.

The Steelers defense also forced a couple of key three and outs, held Arizona’s rushers to 2.8 yards per carry, and made a great play of its own at a critical juncture. And Super Bowl XLIII ended with LaMarr Woodley’s strip sack of Kurt Warner.

How to judge which unit is best?

  • The final score, 27-23, Pittsburgh.

It was close, but in Super Bowl XLIII Dick LeBeau’s defense was better than Ken Whisenhunt’s offense.

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Steelers Win Super Bowl XLIII – The Steel Curtain Rises Again!

The Steel Curtain Has Risen Again!

The 2008 Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers might not enjoy living on the edge, but they are certainly are a team that thrives on it. They lived on the edge throughout the 2008 regular season, and they finished the season true to form.

All season long, the Steelers treaded Bill Cowher’s oft cited “fine line between winning and losing,” and most often they came out on the right side.

  • And so it was again in Super Bowl XLIII, and for good reason.

Credit the Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon for being clairvoyant. He openly vacillated in his annual Super Bowl prediction column, ultimately concluding that the Steelers would “win 21-20, on the strength of a sack-strip-fumble recover in the final 90 seconds.” You can’t get much closer than that. Super Bowl XLIII will be remembered for a long, long time.

Santonio Holmes, Super Bowl XLIII, Steelers vs Cardinals, Santonio Holmes Super Bowl catch

Santonio Holmes game winning Super Bowl XLIII catch. Photo Credit: The SteelersWire

Super Bowl XLIII One for the Ages

Super Bowl XLIII was one for the ages. It had everything one could ask for:

  • A Cinderella story vs. a dynasty in the making
  • Well prepared and well executed coaching schemes vs. even better adjustments
  • PrimeTime plays made by PrimeTime players at critical moments

In the end, only one team was going to come out on top, and the Pittsburgh Steelers prevailed, but only after pushing the faithful in Steelers Nation to the edge of a collective heart attack.

In a game that was so evenly matched, what made the difference?

Its “We” Not “I” in Sixsburgh

Calm and closeness.

The scoreboard doesn’t really indicate how close the Steelers came to thoroughly dominating the first three quarters. The score was 20-7 entering the fourth, but easily could have been 28 to 7 had the Steelers been able to punch it in during their three goal line situations.

  • Had the Cardinals won, their defensive would have been the unsung heroes of the victory.

The Steelers not only had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns, but the Cardinal’s defense made the adjustments they needed to make to prevent the Steelers from running the ball, and thereby controling the clock, during the second half. In the same vein, the offensive line, which had protected Ben so well in the first half, saw its pass coverage become leaky.

But you never would have known it watching the Steelers on the sidelines or in between snaps.

  • There was no finger pointing, no sighs of exasperation, no shouting matches.

Mike Tomlin has a different style than Bill Cowher but this year he has certainly succeeded in establishing a “there’s no ‘I’ in the team” mentality.

And that was the difference in this game.

Both teams have All Stars, and perhaps legitimate Hall of Famers. And as these caliber players are wont to do in big games, they delivered. James Harrison, Ben Roethlisberger, and Santonio Holmes (and perhaps LaMarr Woodley) all have a legitimate claim on the MVP trophy.

  • But had things gone the other way, the exploits of Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald would have become the stuff of legend and lore.

Mike Tomlin, Dick LeBeau and yes, Bruce Arians, had an excellent game plan that their players executed almost flawlessly in the first half, but Ken Whisenhunt, Russ Grimm, Todd Haley and their defensive staff adjusted well enough in the second half to take the lead with less than three minutes to go in Super Bowl XLIII.

But the Steelers came out on top because they held their poise and hung together.

Consider:

Santoino Holmes could have actually caught Ben’s first pass in the endzone on the last drive. It slipped through his fingers.

  • Ben went right back to Holmes on the next snap and together they made one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history

On the drive that preceded Arizona’s first fourth quarter touchdown, the Steelers forced a 3 and out. As Kurt Warner walked off the field the cameras flashed to the world an image of an upset quarterback who was yelling in anger.

  • While Arizona did come back to score the next time they got the ball, you didn’t see Ben anything like that from Ben after the safety was scored, nor at any other moment in the game

After Larry Fitzgerald burned Ike Taylor and the rest of the Steelers secondary to put the Cardinals on top, Ben simply turned around and strapped on his helmet – he was ready to play.

  • Contrast that with the image of Kurt Warner after Holmes’s winning touchdown; he cast aside his towel in anger and shook his head with a aggravated sigh

All of this is superficial, of course, and it would be far too much of a stretch to say that Ben was more well prepared mentally to play than Warner, who had a fabulous game.

LaMarr Woodley, LaMarr Woodley Kurt Warner strip sack, Super Bowl XLIII, Steelers vs Cardinals

LaMarr Woodley ends Super Bowl XLIII by strip-sacking Kurt Warner. Photo Credit: SI.com

But considering the context, in the waning moments of the Super Bowl the contrast cannot be sharper.

  • Ben Roethlisberger relished having the ball in his hands with the game on the line…
  • …Kurt Warner seemed exasperated

Neither team’s execution on either side of the ball was consistent for four quarters. Both teams’ offensive units made history-making plays and their defenses made heroic goaline stands, but both teams’ units had some pretty large lapses mixed in between.

But the Steelers poise and camaraderie were consistent for four quarters. The men in Black and Gold never lost their belief in themselves nor their faith in one another. When faced with adversity, they persevered, they remained determined. And they did it together. That’s been the case all season.

And that’s why the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers are Super Bowl Champions.

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Mike Tomlin’s Post Super Bowl XLIII Mantra “No Defend, No Repeat”

Less than 12 hours after becoming the youngest NFL head coach to ever win a Super Bowl, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is already focusing in his next one.

Literally.

Perhaps its fitting that Bruce Springsteen played during half time at Super Bowl XLIII as he’s the man who laid down 80´s track “No Surrender, No Retreat,” because Mike Tomlin’s new mantra is “No Defending, No Repeat.”

At his post-Super Bowl press conference, Mike Tomlin announced that he did not want to hear the word defend or repeat.

You won’t hear me say ‘repeat’ or ‘defending,’ because it’s brand new [from here]… The thing I’m going to sell to our football team, we’re not attempting to repeat…. There will be 53 new men in there. A lot of the faces will be the same, but nothing stays the same in this game. Those that remain, the roles will change….

I think repeating and defending Super Bowl championships in today’s NFL is something of a misnomer. When I walk down the hallway [at Steelers headquarters] and look at the championships of the Steelers from the’70s, it’s the same faces in the same positions on those photos, in terms of the Steel Curtain and so forth. That’s not the reality of today’s NFL, to be quite honest with you. We’ll start with a new group of men — hopefully a lot of them will be the same.

In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette book Cowher Power, Gene Collier wrote that he attended the post Super Bowl XL conference for one reason: he wanted to see how victory affected Cowher. Collier claimed he observed a change in Cowher, and less than a year later Bill Cowher began a hiatus from coaching and continues to this day.

Not so with Tomlin. He’s a head coach who is hungry for more and is already doing his part to make sure his players share the feeling.

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Steelers Win Super Bowl XLIII, Defeat Cardinals 27-23

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona in a nail bitter to beat all nail bitters 27 to 24 to win Super Bowl XLIII, and become the first NFL franchise to win six Super Bowls.

It was an incredible game.

Its hard to really know what to say, here at 2:10 am in Buenos Aires, with work looming tomorrow.

This game as a titanic struggle. Both teams saw their prime time players step up to make big plays. Both teams saw opportunities slip away.

  • You can’t even say the game came down to who wanted it more, because neither team was ready to yield.

At the end of the game, it came down to which team was able to deliver when it counted.

And on this night, it was the Steelers.

Its now 2:25 here in Buenos Aires, and works looms tomorrow. Check back later in the week, and we will have lots more to say about the game.

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Super Bowl XLIII Mike Tomlin’s Hour Arrives

“The standard of expectation does not change.”
– Mike Tomlin on injuries, and on his philosophy of football in general

Insist as he might that the story of the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers is not about him, Mike Tomlin’s hour is at hand.

The Steelers will face off against the Arizona Cardinals today in Super Bowl XLIII in a match up that is anything, if unscripted.

  • The Steelers weren’t supposed to weather the NFL’s toughest schedule
  • Everyone knows that for the Steelers to thrive, their running game has to be dominant With four new starters, the Steeler offensive line wasn’t supposed to be up to snuff
  • Ben wasn’t supposed to survive the onslaught of opposing defenders
  • The Steelers weren’t supposed to win AFC Championship games at Heinz field

The Steelers played the NFL’s toughest schedule and came out 12-4. Their running game and offensive line might not be what they used to be, but they’ve been good enough. And although the excessive punishment Ben is taking has long term implications that are worrisome, Ben seemed to play better as the hits got harder. And with their AFC Championship victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers appear to have exorcized their Heinz field playoff demons.

When the playoff started, the script went like this: Indy would beat San Diego, giving the Steelers a chance to avenge their loss, Joe Flacco would start playing like a rookie and thus give the Steelers a shot at revenge against the Titans. The Giants would show they could live with out Plaxico, and the Steelers revenge tour would be complete.

  • Except none of it happened according to plan, just like Mike Tomlin’s becoming Steelers head coach.

By now we’re all tired of rehearing the story of how Dan Rooney passed over not one, but two of Bill Cowher’s lieutenants to select the a little known defensive coordinator from Minnesota to lead the Steelers.

Tomlin impressed with his 10-6 AFC North Championship season in his debut, but he entered 2008 facing a lot of questions that arose with the Steelers weak finish in 2007.

  • Mike Tomlin has answered everyone one of them, and more.
  • If Bill Cowher was loved by anyone in Pittsburgh, it was his players.

Yet, in two years Mike Tomlin has come in and made this team his own. He may not be as vocal as Cowher, but he is every bit as demanding. The quote that we led this article says it all, if someone is injured,

  • “the standard of expectation does not change.”

And that standard is excellence.

Tomlin has preached perfection from day one. And if the Steelers haven’t always been perfect, they have been good enough to win.

Super Bowl XLIII – Steelers vs. the Cardinals – the Final Analysis

So now it comes down to this. If the Steelers were denied second shots at Indy, Tennessee, and New York, the fates gave Tomlin a chance face off against the men he beat to earn his job, the same men who handed him his first defeat as a head coach.

Tomlin has often said that schemes are overrated, that it comes down to execution.

And so will Super Bowl XLIII.

  • Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald form the NFL’s most lethal quarterback receiver tandem.
  • Arizona has a tough defense and special teams that can hurt you.

Tomlin and company certainly have a good game plan prepared, but at the end of the day, it comes down to weather or not he’s got his players ready to play.

Santonio Holmes, Nate Washington, Limas Sweed, Hines Ward, and Heath Miller need to catch balls on offense. The offensive line must avoid those stupid pre-snap penalties. Ben Roethlisberger’s simply got to do his thing, and not worry about redeeming his poor performance in Super Bowl XL.

  • And the Steelers must play tough defense.

If Tomlin can get his men to do those things, then the Steelers playmakers will do what they have done all year long – Make big plays at critical moments.

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Super Bowl Week from Tandil, in the Province of Buenos Aires…

Pittsburgh Pinturas, Pittsburgh Paints, Tandil, Super Bowl week

A Pittsburgh Pinturas Sign aka “Pittsburgh Paints” in Tandil, a City in the Province of Buenos Aires

Thanks to all of our loyal readers who visited during Super Bowl week. While we did manage to get Steel Curtain Rising update a few times, it was mainly a week of much needed rest and relaxation.

As you might expect, there wasn’t much of a Super Bowl buzz in Tandil, given that it is a small city tucked deep into the province of Buenos Aires.

Nonetheless, Steelers Nation was represented, in a manner of sorts.

  • On la Avienda España, we spied a Pittsburgh Paints store. Or Pittsburgh Pinturas, to be more accurate….

That’s right. My wife has lived her whole life (well, most of it) in Greater Buenos Aires and had never seen a Pittsburgh Paints outlet (there is actually one here in Buenos Aires, not too far from where we live, but she’s never see it), and low and behold, she comes to Tandil and finds one on the week of Super Bowl XLIII.

You can see the photo here in the blog, we took a few more, which we’ll use in future articles.

But the hype is about to end. If you’re a Steelers fan in Buenos Aires, you can watch the game with fellow members of Steelers Nation. Click here for more information.

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