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It's always good to set lofty goals for yourself, and Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace certainly did that before the season. He wanted to finish the season with 2,000 receiving yards, something that is not done very often in the NFL. At the time, it was taken as a little bit of a joke at the time, but Wallace has set a pace through three games that have subdued all that laughter.
According to Dejan Kovecevic of the Trib, Wallace is on pace for a 2,011 receiving yards this year, but he knows that he has quite a long way to go to make it happen. He also has a lot of confidence in himself to make it happen.
"If I don't have confidence in myself to be that, who will?" Wallace said. "I always have to feel like I'm one of the best, if not the best. Now, I know when I say that, everybody's going to go crazy. But that's just the way I feel. That's the way I have to feel. I have to set those kinds of goals for myself."
Wallace has been able to stretch the field consistently this year, and he has the type of speed that is difficult to gameplan for. I don't see any reason why he won't be able to keep this going.
The hallmark of the Pittsburgh Steelers is a blue-collar approach to the game on both sides of the ball. They play hard on defense and the pound the ball on offense. While the former has been quasi-effective this season, the latter has been a little bit of an issue. Rashard Mendenhall has not been the battering ram at running back that was expected of him and his lack of performance is starting to become an issue.
Mendenhall's yards per carry have gone down in each game played this year; starting at 3.8 in the loss to Baltimore, then just 3.5 against lowly Seattle, and culminating with an abysmal 2.1 yard average against the lowly Colts defense. Mendenhall has just 148 yards on 49 carries this year and just one touchdown. It seems like the offensive line issues that have led to more pressure on Ben Roethlisberger this year are also harming the run game. Some of that may be injuries to the offensive line, writes Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but the offensive like knows they have to play better in the run game.
"It's going to get scary in the film meeting with Coach Kugs," said (Trai) Essex, who entered the game Sunday night at right tackle for injured Marcus Gilbert in the third quarter. "Even though we won, we didn't play up to our caliber. We have to get Rashard those holes. Rashard and Isaac, they run hard, we just have to give them more opportunities. We're one block off pretty much every time. We just have to get more chemistry up front."
If the Steelers want to start playing better football, it starts with being able to run the ball more effectively.
After Week 3 action across the NFL, the standings atop the AFC North are crowded. All four teams face tough tests in Week 4.
Pittsburgh Steelers fans who hope to see the team bring in a veteran offensive tackle to help shore up the battered and bruised offensive line may not get their wish in the form of Max Starks. The Steelers’ 23-20 defeated the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night, but saw both of their starting offensive tackles go down with injuries. At right tackle, Marcus Gilbert left with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. He would return to action though in the fourth quarter when left tackle Jonathan Scott was carted off the field with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury. Veteran Trai Essex moved over to right tackle in Gilbert’s place.
No word yet on the severity of either injury, but as was mentioned, there’s some who are clamoring for an outside body to be brought in, even if Scott’s injury isn’t serious. That’s because Scott had a tough time containing All Pro pass rusher Dwight Freeney, who had two sacks on the night, including a strip-sack of Ben Roethlisberger in the second quarter that allowed Indianapolis to fight their way back into the game after falling down 10-0 early in the first quarter.
Two names that have been discussed as possibilities are Max Starks and Flozell Adams, both of whom were with the team last year. Of course, this conversation was had when Willie Colon was lost for the year with a triceps injury. Is the current situation so dire that Kevin Colbert will more aggressively pursue one of those two, or perhaps someone else still not on a roster? Perhaps, we’ll see. But if it’s Starks that the team wants, they may be too late, as it’s being reported that Starks worked out for the Minnesota Vikings on Monday.
The Vikings’ starting tackles had issues of their own during Minnesota’s Week 3 loss to the Detroit Lions. LT Charlie Johnson and RT Phil Loadholt played poorly, and their inability to open up running lanes and give Donovan McNabb time in the pocket played a part in Minnesota blowing a double-digit lead for the third consecutive game to begin the new year. We’ll see if Starks ends up signing in Minnesota, or if a phone call from the Steelers’ front office might convince him to bide his time and head back to the Steel City. Starks is the only player in NFL history to start at both right and left tackle for separate Super Bowl championship teams. He was released earlier this summer.
The Pittsburgh Steelers didn't make it very easy on themselves, but in the end, they were able to come back against the Indianapolis Colts to earn a 23-20 victory. The Steelers lost the turnover battle 3-1 but still managed to win the game because they basically dominated in all other areas. But Hines Ward knows that's not something that the Steelers can afford to do game in and game out, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"We had three turnovers," Hines Ward pointed out. "You can't do that, especially on the road ... [but] I like the resiliency of the guys coming back at the end."
Here’s a look at the NFL standings heading into Week 4. In the AFC North, the Steelers, Ravens and Browns all won this week and are currently 2-1. The Bengals lost to the 49ers and are currently 2-1.
The Steelers play the Texans this week in Houston. The Ravens play the Jets on Sunday night. The Browns host the Titans. And the Bengals host the undefeated Bills.
Speaking of which, the remaining undefeated teams are the Redskins (who are 2-0 and play Monday night), Lions, Packers, and the aforementioned Bills (who surprisingly knocked off the Patriots this week).
The following teams haven’t won yet: the Vikings, Rams, Dolphins, Colts and Chiefs.
The Texans are tied with the Titans atop the AFC South, and began their season with convincing wins over Indianapolis and Miami before falling in a shootout with New Orleans.
SB Nation has a blog for every team.
The fourth quarter opened with Shaun Suisham hitting a game tying 44 yard field goal, which had the Steelers breathing new life.
Colts starting quarterback Kerry Collins left the game after a big James Farrior hit with a concussion. Curtis Painter replaced him. Painter showed why the Colts signed Collins when he badly overthrew a wide open Pierre Garcon on a play that almost certainly would have resulted in a touchdown.
On the ensuing Steelers possession, which saw them drive deep into Indianapolis territory before miscues again sank the Steelers as a penalty and a costly sack pushed them from field goal range.
The Steeler defense turned in the play of the game with five minutes remaining, when James Harrison sacked Painter from behind causing a fumble which was easily scooped up by Troy Polamalu and returned 16 yards for the score. It was a textbook Steelers defensive effort as Polamalu leaped over his blocker to recover the fumble.
It wouldn’t be enough however, as gassed defense then let the Colts drive 80 yards, much of it on the ground, to even the game at 20-20 on a 6 yard Joseph Addai touchdown. Polamalu was in the backfield and almost broke up the third down play before it started, but couldn’t finish the deal.
Big Ben got the ball back with 2:00 left in the game, a situation he’s been quite successful at in his career and he was again tonight. In 9 plays, he drove the offense down to the 20 yard behind the legs of Mewelde Moore to set up a 38 yard game winning field goal from Shaun Suisham with :05 seconds remaining.
It wasn’t the prettiest Steelers victory, but it sure was exciting.
Things still aren’t going the way a Steelers fan would want them, with a frustrating open to the third quarter. After a 13 play, 68 yard drive which featured a heavy dose of the Steelers run game, Shaun Suisham bounced a 36 yard field goal attempt off of the left upright.
The Steelers stymied the Colts on the next possession, forcing a three and out.
Roethlisberger has avoided turning the ball over, and has had remarkable success tonight on third down. That said, it’s disconcerting that the Steelers have only been able to tally 10 points so far in this one. Outside of a fantastic first quarter, the black and gold haven’t been able to accomplish much.
It would seem right now the biggest task facing the Steelers as they enter fourth quarter is getting out of their own way. The defense continues to clamp down on Kerry Collins and company, but the offensive has been mired with miscues. For the Steelers to pull this one out, that has to change.
The second quarter started badly for the Steelers when Colts defensive end Robert Mathis stripped Roethlisberger for sack and a fumble. Indianapolis capitalized on the turnover with an Adam Vinatieri field goal. Joseph Addai did good work on the scoring drive, running the ball with a good deal of success. Polamalu broke up Kerry Collins’ third down pass attempt to Dallas Clark in the end zone to force the field goal.
On the ensuing drive the turnover bug bit the Steelers again, this time with disastrous results when Dwight Freeney hit Ben forcing another fumble. To complicate matters, Colts defensive end Jamaal Anderson scooped up the ball and rumbled 47 yards for a touchdown, tying the game at 10 apiece.
Two plays later, to keep with the turnover theme, Ben threw a brutal pick to rookie defensive back Joe Lefeged, which was returned back to the Pittsburgh 12 yard line. The Steeler defense would stiffen and hold the Colts to another Vinatieri field goal, this time giving Indianapolis a 13-10 lead.
The Steelers moved the ball well on the game’s opening drive, but ultimately only came up with a field goal to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Ben Roethlisberger found Mike Wallace twice for 48 of the drive’s 50 yards, but the drive stalled when Emmanual Sanders dropped a perfectly placed pass while streaking towards the end-zone. The Steelers settled for a 48 yard Shaun Suisham field goal.
On the second drive of the game, the Steelers were forced to punt when Roethlisberger badly under-threw Wallace. So far the run game has been non-existent with Rashard Mendenhall’s 4 carries netting negative yardage.
After another defensive stop, the offense broke it open when Roethlisberger found Wallace on an 81 yard bomb to put the Steelers out to a 10-0 lead. Ben’s looked good so far going 7 for 11 for 171 yards and a touchdown, with the Steelers still driving at quarter’s end.
The defense is having little trouble with the Kerry Collins led Colts offense, spending considerable time in the backfield. Both Troy Polamalu and James Harrison turning in big, drive stopping plays.
Outside of the unfortunate season-ending injury suffered by Willie Colon in the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 1 loss at Baltimore, Pittsburgh has remained relatively unscathed injury-wise so far in the young 2011 season. The Steelers got out of Week 2 with an easy shutout win over the Seattle Seahawks. Brett Keisel injured a knee (PCL related), but outside of that, nobody was seriously injured for the Steelers.
On Wednesday, Aaron Smith, James Farrior and Hines Ward all sat out practice for non-injury related reasons. In other words, Mike Tomlin gave his three most senior players the day off. Jonathan Dwyer (shoulder) and Maurkice Pouncey (hamstring) were limited in their participation on Wednesday, but were not expected to be forced out of Sunday's Week 3 road test against the Colts.
Let's take a quick look at the Colts' much more dire injury situation heading into Week 3.
Questionable or Doubtful: LB Gary Brackett (shoulder), S Melvin Bullitt (shoulder), TE Dallas Clark (foot), G Ryan Diem (ankle), DT Eric Foster (hamstring), DE Dwight Freeney (abdomen), DE Robert Mathis (chest), DT Fili Moala (ankle), TE Jacob Tamme (concussion).
Never count out an NFL team playing at home, especially not a desperate team looking to keep its season from spiraling out of control just as it's getting started. But considering all the injuries the Colts are dealing with, and not just at the quarterback position with the loss of Peyton Manning, it's hard to see how the Colts are going to be able to take down a healthy, veteran team like the Steelers. Let's sure hope so.
The Steelers have a favorable matchup against Kerry Collins (not Peyton Manning) and the Indianapolis Colts this week, and you should start all the usual Steelers on your fantasy team, if you have them.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a minor injury in last week’s game against the Seahawks, but he returned during the game and continued to play well. He should continue to be a good bet against Indianapolis’ secondary.
For the same reason, Mike Wallace, who has become an elite fantasy option, is a great start as well. Wallace is coming off two straight 100-yard games to begin the year, and the Colts shouldn’t be able to do much to stop him.
The Steelers’ other three top receivers, Hines Ward, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, are all borderline starts at the No. 3 spot in most leagues. They’ve all played reasonably so far, but they can only be targeted so many times between them.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall hasn’t really played like an elite fantasy back so far this year, and the Steelers have also relied heavily on backup Isaac Redman, at times limiting Mendenhall’s carries a bit. But the Colts have had one of the worst running defenses in football so far, so Mendenhall is a great play. (And Redman actually isn’t a bad one, either, if you’re desperate for a second back.)
For more on fantasy football, check out Fake Teams.
The Steelers are 11-point favorites over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3, SB Nation's NFL Odds page indicates. That's no surprise, given Peyton Manning's absence from Indianapolis' offense. Kerry Collins and company should have a tough time with Pittsburgh's defense.
All four teams in the AFC North are 1-1, so with a win over the Colts, the Steelers would continue to have a share of first place. All four AFC North teams are favorites, however. The Cincinnati Bengals are about two-point favorites at home over the San Francisco 49ers. The Cleveland Browns host the Miami Dolphins, and are also about two-point favorites. Both those games are at 1:00 PM Eastern.
The Steelers should be able to capture their first road win of the year this Sunday night when they travel to Indianapolis to take on an 0-2 team that's reeling from the absence of Peyton Manning.
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