Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009 Week #15 - Packers v. Steelers

Everyone talks about the loss of Troy Polamalu but in Week #5 when Pittsburgh beat Detroit 28 to 20 their season took a turn for the worse because they lost standout defensive end Aaron Smith for the season (last year the Packers lost Cullen Jenkins after 4 games and the defense struggled the rest of the season). Through 5 weeks, Pittsburgh was 4-1 (with 10 takeaways). Since losing Smith, Pittsburgh is 2-6 (with 6 takeaways). As a result, this "top ten" list has two players (because of injury to Polamalu and Smith) that would not be there if Pittsburgh was completely healthy. Here is weekly "top ten" list:

#10 - Ryan Clark (S): despite missing a game this season, Clark is second on the team in tackles with 71 and tied for second on the team in interceptions with 2. Clark is a hard hitter but is nothing close to Polamalu.

#9 - Casey Hampton (NT): a former pro bowler that is on the decline. In his prime, Hampton was the ideal nose tackle for the 3-4 defense. His size and strength still allows him to draw double teams and give Pittsbrugh's accomplished linebackers opportunities to make plays.

#8 - Rashard Mendenhall (RB) : after missing almost all of his rookie season because of injury, Mendenhall unseated "Formerly Fast" Willie Parker as Pittsburgh's #1 running back. Mendenhall has a good combination of size and strength which gives Pittsburgh an every down running back they have been searching for years.

#7 - LaMarr Woodley (LOLB): although he doesn't have the most tackles on the team (45), Woodley has wreaked havoc in opposing teams backfields all season with 9 sacks and 5 tackles for a loss.

#6 - Hines Ward (WR): a great all around wide receiver. Ward was recently voted the dirtiest player in the NFL by his peers. Most of that comes from his bone crushing blocks he puts on defenders. Ward is the Kdog of NFL wide receivers...if he is on your team you love him but if he is on the other team you hate him.

#5 - Santonio Holmes (WR): was the Super Bowl MVP last year when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals in one of the more entertaining Super Bowls ever. Holmes is currently 3rd in the league in receiving yards and has become the #1 receiver in Pittsburgh (no longer Hines Ward).

#4 - Heath Miller (TE): blocks well, runs good routes, creates separation with his above average speed, catches everything thrown his way and doesn't fumble often...a great all around tight end.

#3 - James Farrior (SILB): leads the team in tackles and locker room presence. Farrior is having a great statistical season: 83 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 tackles for a loss and 1 forced fumble.

#2 - James Harrison (ROLB): a great story. A former practice squad player that put in his time and turned into one of the best outside linebackers in Steelers' history. Harrison had possibly the most impressive defensive play in Super Bowl history last year and has followed that up with another great season: 70 tackles, 10.0 sacks, 5 tackles for a loss and 4 forced fumbles.

#1 - Ben Roethlisberger (QB): with two Super Bowl rings, he is the most decorated quarterback of the 2004 NFL Draft (Eli Manning has one Super Bowl ring and Phil Rivers has zero). Big Ben is not the fastest or strongest NFL QB in the NFL but somehow he evades defenders and makes great throws on the run.

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