Whisenhunt learning

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> New offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt admitted after Sunday's 24-21 victory over Oakland that he learned an important lesson in the game - when not to throw the ball.

"There were a couple of situations, like when we leading by 14, we got the ball back at the 40-yard line," said Whisenhunt. "We took a shot. We didn't get anything out of that. We went three and out. That's a situation where you have to do a little better play calling because we have to drive down and score and put us up by 21. Those kind of things, I'll learn by that."

Obviously, Whisenhunt has plenty to learn as an offensive coordinator if he hopes to be a head coach. First and foremost, never, ever be that honest with the media.

That drive aside, Whisenhunt's game plan wasn't a bad one against the Raiders. He wanted to pound the ball at the Raiders and wear out big Ted Washington - who's got to be 400 pounds if he's an ounce - in the middle of the line.

At the same time, the passing game suffered a bit because of the heavy emphasis on the running game as QB Tommy Maddox really didn't look in sync other than the first and last drives of the game. Then again, those turned out to be the only two drives that mattered.

You can bet, however, Maddox will put the ball in the air more than 22 times next week against Baltimore.

  • Speaking of the running game, if I'm Duce Staley, I'm a bit ticked off at head coach Bill Cowher for feeling like he has to throw Jerome Bettis a bone and give him the goal line carries.

    Staley pounded away at the Oakland defense all day long, getting 91 yards on 24 carries only to have Bettis come in and score on three 1-yard touchdown runs.

    Staley ran too hard to not get an opportunity to score. And I'm not just saying that because I happen to have Staley on all three of my fantasy teams - OK maybe I am.

  • Plaxico Burress was largely missing from the Steelers' game plan, catching just one pass for 13 yards and having just three passes thrown his way.

    The Raiders had Charles Woodson match up one-on-one with Burress in an attempt to take away Pittsburgh's deep game, something that worked, even if Hines Ward killed the Raiders on the underneath stuff.

    In his defense, Burress was open on a couple of different occasions and Maddox went to a different receiver. But if Burress wants a big payday at the end of the year, he's going to have to win more battles with the other team's top corner.

    Next up - Burress' personal whipping boy, Chris McAlister.

  • Troy Polamalu and Chris Hope are going to continue to see double moves and pump fakes from opposing teams until they learn to deal with them.

    Rich Gannon fooled Polamalu with a pump fake on Oakland's first touchdown pass. It was Mike Logan and Deshea Townsend, meanwhile, not Hope, who bit on Alvis Whitted's out and up move on the second score.

    Still, the Steelers' young safeties are going to see these moves until they stop them.

    Then again, if the front seven puts the QB on the ground, it won't happen.

  • Clark Haggans, Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith were monsters on defense. It didn't appear the Raiders could block any of them and on several occasions it appeared Haggans was held, with nothing called.

    If Haggans continues to play like he did Sunday, he'll start getting those calls.

  • Joey Porter, calling Joey Porter. You out there Joey Porter.

    Porter is quickly becoming the most overrated player in the NFL. Note to Porter: Even the Oakland players were looking on in aghast when you came out and did your Ray Lewis-like dance coming out of the tunnel. I think they were embarrassed for you.

    Leave the dances and gyrations for the stars.

  • Wouldn't it be funny to see Hampton do a gyrating dance? OK, maybe not. I just had visions of William Perry doing the Icky Shuffle or whatever touchdown dance it was that he did after scoring.

  • Chad Scott was the Steelers' best defensive back Sunday. There, I said it.

  • The only way the Steelers missed Kendrell Bell was as a pass rusher. Oakland had 61 yards rushing on 22 carries, an average of 2.8 yards per carry.

    But Larry Foote can't match Bell's explosiveness coming up the middle as a pass rusher.

  • That was a lot of faith Bill Cowher showed in Jeff Reed to not try to get any closer for the game-winning kick. A 42-yard field goal at Heinz Field has never been a gimmee, but Reed had that final kick by at least 10 yards.

  • Speaking of Reed, I'm sure there are those out there who will be complaining about his kickoffs, but Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski didn't put the ball anywhere near the end zone either.

  • Three sacks and three turnovers isn't a bad start for Dick LeBeau's defense.

    The Steelers are still going to give up their share of yards, but at least they're going to do it while being aggressive.

    If they can make six big plays like that per game, the Steelers should be pretty good this season.

    Remember, the Steelers had just 60 combined turnovers and sacks last year - 25 turnovers and 35 sacks. Increasing that to 96 big plays would be huge.

    The Steelers also had six passes defensed Sunday. They had 68 of those last season.

  • To their credit, the Steelers' veterans came off the field Sunday happy but not satisfied. They knew they had escaped with a win in a game they would have lost last season.

    The younger players were yukking it up coming into the locker room, but they were just happy to get a win under their belts.

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