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Tomlin puts stamp on Steelers

October 21, 2007
The Altoona Mirror
The 2007 Pittsburgh Steelers season has started off quite the opposite of 2006.

Ben Roethlisberger’s high level of play is the topic instead of preseason injuries. The turnover margin is heavily in their favor. The offensive line is becoming a reliable unit, contrary to the revolving door that occurred last season. And the only rumors swirling about the head coach are those wondering when he will make his first key mistake.

The black and gold nation has every right to feel pretty good, but don’t relax in that recliner yet. The heat of the 2007 season is about to intensify. The Tomlins were, and expectedly so, favored in each of their first five games. The combined record of these opponents is 12-16.

Will the soft schedule to start the season be the tonic needed for early confidence? Or, will it only create false hope when they hit playoff caliber games soon to come? Put your money on the former.

One thing is for sure: Mike Tomlin has put his stamp on this football team. No more thoughts of Whisenhunt and Grimm. Bill Cowher and all of his snarls and flying saliva are distant memories.

Tomlin successfully made the transition of succeeding a Hall of Fame coach.

The thing most impressive about this man is that he doesn’t show the peaks and valleys of the NFL.

Tomlin rarely shows his emotions. You haven’t seen him throw a tirade at a player. He hasn’t pumped many fists after touchdowns. From this view, it is what he expects from this team. The Steelers have always been a no-nonsense, physical football team, and their coach exemplifies that style.

But the furnace gets turned up, beginning tonight, as the Steelers travel to Invesco Field to meet the Denver Broncos. At first glance, the luster may have been lost on this matchup when Mike Shanahan’s boys were tormented in a 41-3 thrashing at the hands of the San Diego Chargers.

But those kind of beatings accompanied with a bye week could be deceiving.

There is veteran leadership that won’t let their ship go down. Surely, the Broncos have dubbed this game as one for pride. The Steelers were handled by Denver a year ago in a game that was out of hand before the first restroom break. If anyone in road uniforms thinks this one will be easy, they better think again.

The road will only get tougher with two games still to play against the hated Baltimore Ravens. There is a home game against a former AFC Central foe which has the Steelers number, Jacksonville.

Don’t be too quick to rule out Cincinnati just yet. Divisional games are always tough. And, oh yeah: There is that little trip Dec. 9 to play New England.

As for tonight’s NBC game, a healthy “Blitzburgh” defense will look to rattle and confuse Denver quarterback Jay Cutler, much like they did to Jake Plummer two years ago in the AFC Championship game.

The Broncos’ defense is giving up a whopping 188 yards rushing yards a game. Combine that with the fact that the Steelers are the No. 2 rushing team in the league, churning out 167 yards contest, and one would tend to believe Willie Parker will reach another century mark.

Big Ben will get in the act will a long TD pass off a play-action fake. The defense creates three turnovers. Tomlins 26, Broncos 13.

Craig Andros is a frequent contributor to Voice of the Fan, often commenting on the Steelers. He resides in Altoona.

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