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News » Pittsburgh Steelers Strategy and Personnel 2008-12-30

Pittsburgh Steelers Strategy and Personnel 2008-12-30

Pittsburgh Steelers Strategy and Personnel 2008-12-30

--RB Willie Parker's 100-yard rushing game meant as much to the team as it did for him. Pittsburgh is 22-3 when he hits 100.

--WR Santonio Holmes finished with 55 receptions, three more than his career high set last season. His average of 14.9 per catch, though, was down from his NFL high of 18.2 last season.

--S Tyrone Carter, a backup at both safety spots, intercepted two passes Sunday to give him three for the year, second on the team behind Troy Polamalu's seven.

--RB Mewelde Moore, virtually ignored during the first three games of the season, finished second behind Willie Parker with 588 rushing yards and was tied for fourth with 40 receptions. His six TDs trailed team leader Hines Ward by one.

--FB Sean McHugh, listed as a tight end, has become the starting fullback ahead of Carey Davis.


PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus -- The emphasis was on the running game, but Steelers quarterbacks did make some plays when they had to against a poor defense. Ben Roethlisberger, though, threw an interception at the 6-yard line before he left late in the first half with a concussion. Byron Leftwich managed the game well the rest of the way and ran for an 8-yard touchdown with 32 seconds left to make it 14-0 at halftime. Neither was sacked, and no TD passes were thrown.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus -- The Browns defense and a commitment to the running game worked for the Steelers. Willie Parker had his second-best rushing day with 116 yards, including a 34-yard TD, the longest run of the season for the Steelers. They often ran out of the I formation, by far the most they've done this season. Gary Russell also ran for a touchdown, and Leftwich scrambled for one. The Steelers rushed for 176 yards and a 5.0 average.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- Cleveland quarterbacks (including Joshua Cribbs, 1-for-2) completed six of 18 passes for 26 yards, 20 net with three sacks and two interceptions, both by FS Tyrone Carter, who started for injured Ryan Clark. The Steelers did not blitz much, although CB Bryant McFadden had one sack and also disrupted a pass that wound up in Carter's hands. Only one Browns receiver caught more than one pass, third-string back Jerome Harrison, who had minus-1 yard receiving. Bruce Gradkowski had a 1.0 passer rating.

RUSH DEFENSE: C-plus -- The Browns actually were able to run for 106 yards, and Jamal Lewis ran for 94 yards, the most by a back against the Steelers this season. But they did not score and were never really a threat. Lewis had the Browns' longest run at 13 yards, and they averaged 3.7 yards a carry.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Mitch Berger had one of his better days punting with a 46.0 gross on four punts. Neither team had any returns to speak of. Cleveland's Phil Dawson missed his only field-goal try from 53 yards. Jeff Reed made his only try from 22 yards.

COACHING: B -- The debate before the game of Mike Tomlin's decision to play his starters deep into the game intensified when Roethlisberger left late in the first half with a concussion. But the idea seemed to work because the Steelers used the Browns to get back in a rosy frame of mind after their loss the previous week in Tennessee. Plus, Tomlin's decision to concentrate on the ground, where the Steelers have had trouble, also might produce some results in the playoffs.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 30, 2008

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Sean Mahan Name: Sean Mahan
Position: C
Age: 28
Experience: 6 years
College: Notre Dame
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