View from the sideline

As he does every week at SCI, sideline reporter Craig Wolfley runs down the Steelers' home win over the New Orleans Saints. From the pre-game tailgate offerings, to the between-series coaching pow-wows, to the victory-clinching plays, here's Wolf's view from the sideline ...

I enjoyed grazing my way through some snack-a-licious tailgate parties on my way to work. Pre-game included two cheeseburgers, sausage stuffed peppers, barbecue chicken and veggies topped off with a burrito. And (burp), this is what I saw.

No intro for the Steelers. Just get down to business. I like it. A color guard from the military was present and Ryan Clark made sure to shake every member's hand; a very classy move, Ryan. And then the head ref, Bill Carollo, forgot his whistle in the locker room just prior to kickoff. That's like Marshall Dillon of "Gunsmoke" fame forgetting his six-shooter.

In the first quarter I watched a nice Willie Parker run that ended with Kendall Simmons body slamming a LB-er and Max Starks still locked up with the man he started out with on the line of scrimmage ten yards downfield. That's blocking to the whistle fellas.

Tackling the ball carrier and stripping the ball are two separate issues. After Billy Miller fumbles courtesy of James Farrior, the Steelers are more strip conscious than they are of securing the tackle. Got to keep it in balance, guys. But after getting just one takeaway in the first half of the season, I don't blame them.

Speaking of consciousness, Troy Polamalu got nogginized and that's a pretty one-sided conversation Doc Maroon is having with Troy on the bench right now.

Nothing beats spending a Sunday afternoon watching a 255-pound wild buffalo like Najeh Davenport up close as he catches a kickoff at full speed and heads north and south. Saints cover guys are attempting to tackle him by curling up into the fetal position and tossing themselves in front while hoping they miss.

That's a pretty good "thousand-mile" stare Troy has on right now.

Jack Lambert once complained about protecting the QB's so much they should wear dresses. I wonder what he thinks of Aaron Smith pulling down Drew Brees' sock and getting penalized.

Troy is sitting on the bench and he almost fell off it. Honest, he slipped and lost his balance for a second. Just sitting there.

It's always a difficult decision to make when you screw up something. Do you avoid the head man, or go directly to him after coming off the field and get it over with? Good move, Sean Morey, after fumbling the kickoff return in the second quarter. Get it over with.

Ah good, Troy just smiled, as did Doc Maroon.

Nate Washington catches a 22-yard pass on a 3rd-and-ten from their own nine in the third quarter. Yeah, I know the kid dropped a couple, including a TD. But you still got to get this guy involved, and let him work his way through it. He's worth it.

It's a virtual smorgasboard of coaching after the defense comes off the field at the end of the 3rd quarter. Bill Cowher is explaining to the DB's how in a certain coverage scheme they should funnel receivers. D line coach John Mitchell is emphasizing running to the ball. Linebackers coach Keith Butler is animatedly huddled-up with his guys. Then Dick LeBeau has his say. Whew, lotta stuff going on.

On Willie Parker's second run I'm watching James Farrior watching Willie on the Jumbotron. Priceless.

That's the way to end all the end-zone celebration penalties. Willie Parker runs through the end-zone and then hand delivers a football to a young fan. If that fan doesn't have the look of a child on Christmas morning, then I don't have four kids and a grandson and I don't know what I'm talking about.

Ken Whisenhut told me after the game that he still has to call Fast Willie "semi-fast" Willie because he keeps getting caught from behind.

The look on Deuce McAllister's face when he got to his feet after he scored on the fumbled center snap was one of disbelief. As were the faces of the entire Steelers sidelines in mudville.

These are agonizing moments on the field when a player isn't moving. Man that is scary. When Tyrone Carter makes the hit that separates Copper from the ball, joyous celebrations quickly get quiet as Tyrone lay motionless.

A wag of the dreads, a smile from Tyrone, more from the doctors and training staff, let the good times roll!


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