Wolfey: Prowling the Steelers' sideline

The grass on the Heinz Field surface resembled Terry Bradshaw's hairdo, thicker on the sides, thin to none in the middle. Even the Oak Ridge Boys, who performed the National Anthem, were heard to remark, "Where's the grass?" Here's what I saw.

The running game just hasn't been the dominant force that won so many ball games over the years. The first two series out, I got a look at some good point of attack blocking, but the second level guys played "kick the can." Tampa Bay would hide their LB'ers behind the gapped NT and 3 technique tackle, popping out to kick the can of the combo block guys coming off the double team too early.

Problem is solved by the combo guys if they double team the down man into the peek-a-boo LB'er. With most of the Tampa DT's weighing under three hundred pounds, that should have been a snap.

The second half of the blocking equation is the cut-off on the backside. To get in a position to effectively negate a man's power, the O-lineman has to step with his inside foot and try to keep his shoulders square to the LOS. A proper aiming point to the inside shoulder of the DT, combined with a flat back, then roll the hips. If his shoulders turn, he has lost his ability to mangle anybody.

Brett Keisel continues to amaze me. From a 3 technique on a Clayton end around, he beats the down block of the tackle and hits the after burners to get outside and track down the WR. For an encore he throws in a bullrush-to-a-bodyslam-pin of tackle T Anthony Davis and sacks Bruce Gradkowski. The only thing missing was a thumbs down vote from the emperor. Size, strength, speed ... man, the total package.

The first sign of Tampa Bay accepting defeat came during the timeout while Jeff Reed lined up his 50-yard bomb. Normally the defensive unit takes this opportunity to harass the kicker. Not even a single insult was hurled Jeff's way from the Tampa side. Very polite guys.

The second sign of Tampa wanting to be back in Tampa was displayed in how fast they exited the field at the end of the first half. Not to mention how slow they came back. Come on, it wasn't that cold.

In the third quarter Cadillac Williams caught a pass and then got stripped. What I'm seeing today is a much better tackling team than the one that went to Baltimore. Guys going backwards after making contact last week were going forward this week. And better yet, this weeks Steelers are swarming to the ball like a pack of piranhas attacking a leg of lamb. Good stuff.

How, in the name of healthcare can you employ a blocking scheme like Tampa's? Gap calls were made that put a 300-plus G on a 240-pound LB'er and a 220-pound back on a 305-pound, running-free-with-a-full-head-of-steam, Aaron Smith? The way the NFL is going with protecting the QB rules, I half-expected Smith to get flagged for abusing a corpse. And that's because that is what was left of both the Cadillac and Mike Pittman after that wing dingy of a pickup scheme.

I stood behind the south end zone in the third quarter while the Steelers were backed up on their own one yard line. The players were watching the Jumbotron and arguing whether or not the punt was downed on the one or a touchback. No money exchanged hands, but there were some sore losers in the huddle.

On the first down play from the one, Jeff Hartings goofed and snapped the ball on one, and everybody else went on three. The idea was to hard count the Buccaneers, and go for the big one. Everybody froze for a second, including Ben, and that was all the disruption needed to screw up Ben's timing on the throw to Nate Washington. Nate ran by Bolden, then had to wait.

I can't agree with Gruden that kicking a FG was in anyway helpful to the young Gradkowski. I've talked to Gradkowski and found him to be a very tough, confident and resilient guy that has great bloodlines. "Grip it and rip it, Bruce" is what Grudes should have said.


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