Steelers Step Up Prep For Raiders With New Life At 2-4
By Christina Rivers
The Pittsburgh Steelers were one scoring opportunity away from doing what many in the NFL thought they wouldn’t be able to achieve; a 19-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Pittsburgh punter Zoltan Mesko took the snap, put the ball on the ground and kicker Shaun Suisham, who has been like money for the Steelers in 2013, smacked the ball through the uprights for the win. Although the Steelers are elated to have beaten their AFC North Division rival, they still have a hole that will need to be filled quickly with wins in order to stay competitive this season. Riding a two-game win streak will have to push the Steelers harder to get the right personnel on the field and the correct emotional balance moving forward.
Suisham may have been the hero on Sunday, but on Monday, the kicker was downplaying the high praise he has received since the 42-yard field goal that propelled the Steelers to a win. “We have a talented team,” said Suisham. “I understood the ramifications if I made the kick, but [my] routine should stay the same. It’s just years worth of experience and a routine I believe in. It’s staying true to that regardless of the situation.”
The Steelers could grab a little of that humility, and if they stay true, get into a routine of winning. “When we started out the season 0-4, a lot of people counted us out,” said outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley. “Right now, we’re marching in the right direction and we have to continue to do it.” Offensive guard David DeCastro shared similar sentiment. “I think it’s just a week-to-week season,” said DeCastro. “We’ve been down…we know what it’s like to be there and we don’t like it. Just keep going.”
In his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin said, “Obviously, it was good for us to get our first division win and win at home. Hopefully we can build upon it.” Tomlin also addressed consistency of play, especially pre-snap penalties. Tomlin called Oakland a “hostile environment” and said, “We can’t be penalized on offense prior to the snap.”
Regardless of the penalties, the offensive line for Pittsburgh played its best game of the season against Baltimore and looks to be gelling. When asked about the line, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, “They did such a good job of opening holes, pass blocking and run blocking. [Le’Veon Bell] did a good job but, I’m sure he’d tell you it was because of that line.”
Le’Veon Bell looks to be going forward at full speed as the Steelers released running back Isaac Redman on Monday. Redman struggled to keep himself healthy and watched as Bell, Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer became the go-to guys in the rushing game. When asked about Bell on Tuesday, Tomlin said, “He’s doing what we’re asking him to do in the manner in which we’re asking him to do it.” As for Jonathan Dwyer and whether or not he has shown a different skill set since returning to Pittsburgh after being cut earlier in the season, Tomlin said, “He’s always kind of been that guy [a fiery leader], particularly on game day. He likes to play football.”
Linebacker Kion Wilson was re-signed from the practice squad after being released on October 9, to make room for Stevenson Sylvester. Sylvester was re-signed after he was cut in the preseason. “Given the number of things that have transpired over the last several weeks with Jarvis [Jones] missing work and others, I thought it was best to get [Wilson] up on the 53 and available to us,” Tomlin said Tuesday. Lawrence Timmons, who made 20 tackles against the Ravens, broke his left hand “late in the third or early in the fourth quarter,” according to coach Tomlin. Tomlin reported that the hand has been casted and Timmons will be able to compete against the Raiders on Sunday. There is still no update on when (Jarvis) Jones will return to play.
In regards to what the team expects to see from the Raiders, Tomlin said, “Specifically talking about [quarterback] Terrelle Pryor, he’s a guy to deal with. He has a nice touch on the ball. He is throwing a good deep ball.” Defensively, the Steelers will try to shut down Pryor with a stout defensive front and strong coverage on the receivers, especially Denarius Moore.
“Darren McFadden is a quality runner,” said Tomlin. “We have to be on our screws. We also have to be sharp in terms of the people we employ to cover these men.” Tomlin didn’t hesitate to add, “We have to get back to business and start the preparation process, and get ourselves ready to play, work on our issues and focus on the very best that we can be as we push forward to Sunday.”
The laundry list
Kelvin Beachum (right ribs), LaMarr Woodley (right knee), Brett Keisel (left ribs), Richard Gordon (toe sprain), Marcus Gilbert (right quad), Jerricho Cotchery (abdominal strain) and Cameron Heyward (illness) could be limited in their practice early in the week. Markus Wheaton will continue to recover from finger surgery.
For more Steelers news and updates, visit Steelers Central.
Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a reporter and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied exercise physiology and sports psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. Her work can be found on