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Steelers could use a pep talk

December 20, 2007
The Altoona Mirror
At halftime of the Steelers-New England Patriots game two weeks ago, CBS analyst Bill Cowher was fired up in the studio.

One could see an emotional Cowher talking about how the Steelers hung in with the Patriots and how they held them to a field goal to trail 17-13. He suggested the first series of the second half was going to be crucial.

One could just imagine how he would have been in the locker room if he was still the head coach.

The first series of the second half and the rest of the game were duds for the Steelers. It’s not known what current coach Mike Tomlin said to the team at halftime, but one has to wonder if the Steelers could have used an emotional speech from a guy like Cowher.

Tomlin has done a fine job as head coach of the Steelers, leading the team to a 9-5 record, but one area the Steelers seem to be lacking is someone to light a fire under the troops. At times during Sunday’s 29-22 loss to Jacksonville, Jaguar players were jumping around in the huddle during TV timeouts while Steeler players were standing flat-footed.

Tomlin approaches the game much like his mentor, Tony Dungy, with a calm demeanor, and it may eventually prove to be successful over the long haul — like Dungy’s finally did — when he has time to put his stamp on the makeup of the team. But it’s not working too well with this year’s squad.

The Steelers don’t have a Joey Porter or Jerome Bettis, like the 2005 team that strung together four victories at the end of the regular season and then showed, unlike this year’s team, how good of a road team it was in the playoffs.

The Steelers have potentially as good of a team as they did in ‘05, but they don’t have that inspiring player or coach. Troy Polamalu is an awesome safety, but he’s quiet. James Farrior, Clark Haggans and Larry Foote are stand-up guys, but none makes bold statements. James Harrison is a mean dude but doesn’t talk much. Hines Ward leads by his play on the field. Ben Roethlisberger is still one of the youngest guys in the offensive huddle.

Several players said Alan Faneca fired up the team in helping the Steelers rally to beat the Browns earlier this year. But with his contract status still up in the air, it’s hard to believe he would be calling out players who weren’t performing up to Steeler standards.

Anthony Smith wasn’t too smart in making a guarantee against the Patriots, but at least he showed some bravado.

Even if Cowher or Porter were still with the team, the Steelers may have lost their last two games. But with spit flying and mouths yapping, they may have given a better second-half showing against the Patriots or stopped the Jaguars from running the ball down their throats with the game on the line.

Tomlin was mad after Sunday’s loss, and he admitted to concealing his anger after previous losses. Maybe the visible ire will have a better effect on the team.

Buck Frank can be reached at 946-7461 or

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