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    Default Steelers must stop Titans' RB

    9/16/2010
    Steelers must stop Titans' RB
    By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer dlolley@observer-reporter.com

    PITTSBURGH - An apparently unstoppable force meets a seemingly unmovable object Sunday when the Steelers travel to Tennessee to face the Titans.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Tennessee running back Chris Johnson, fresh from a 142-yard effort in a 38-13 opening-game victory against Oakland, has gone over 100 yards rushing in each of his last 12 games, two short of former Detroit star Barry Sanders' NFL record of 14 set in 1997.

    The Steelers, meanwhile, have allowed just one runner to top 100 yards in a game since the 2007 season.

    Something's got to give.[/HIGH-LIGHT]


    "I'm totally happy for the guy. That's a great accomplishment," said Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons. "But we're going to go in the stadium, play our game and go from there."

    Since 2001, the Steelers' game has been better than any other team in the NFL. The Steelers have given up the fewest rushing yards over that span.

    Johnson's game is predicated on speed. He was the fastest player at the NFL combine as a rookie in 2008 and the 5-11, 191-pounder has used that speed to become arguably the most dangerous runner in the league.

    Johnson had touchdown runs of 91, 89 and 85 yards in 2009, when he rushed for 2,006 yards, and had a 76-yard TD last week against the Raiders.

    "I thought Oakland was doing a pretty good job for a quarter and a half until he went 76 (yards)," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "Such is the case with a guy like him."

    Tomlin compares Johnson to Sanders in that respect.

    "Historically speaking, guys who are capable of breaking you down in one or two plays, it makes them special people," said Tomlin, who formerly served as an assistant coach in Tampa Bay.

    "There's a level of respect that goes with playing guys like him. I used to work for (Tampa Bay defensive coordinator) Monte Kiffin. He used to tell stories about Barry Sanders. He'd say they shut him down other than the two plays where he went 80 yards. That's the kind of guy this guy is. It's not a quarter battle, it's not a half battle. It's a 60-minute battle. Every time he puts his hands on the ball he's capable of hurting you bad."

    The Steelers have faced Johnson in each of the previous two seasons and have done a good job bottling up the explosive back.

    In last year's regular season opener, they limited Johnson to 15 carries for 57 yards and one reception for 11 yards in a 13-10 Pittsburgh victory. Only Indianapolis, which held him to 34 yards on nine carries, did better against Johnson in 2009.

    In 2008, Johnson had 16 carries for 69 yards and one touchdown and two receptions for one yard in a 31-14 win over the Steelers in Tennessee.

    "We hit him as a team. We constantly got to him," said Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley. "Running backs taking hits from big guys, they slow down a little bit."

    The question is, can they do it again?

    In his past seven home games, Johnson is averaging 145.6 yards rushing.

    "He's very deceptive," said Timmons. "You know he's got speed, but when you go out there on the field and see the speed, it really throws you off. He can split a field in a second."

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Odds and end zones[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Nose tackle Casey Hampton (hamstring), offensive tackle Max Starks (ankle) and wide receiver Arnaz Battle (knee) were among the players who did not practice Tuesday. Sitting out because of a coach's decision were wide receiver Hines Ward, linebacker James Farrior and defensive end Aaron Smith. ... Quarterback Byron Leftwich (knee), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (hamstring) and linebacker Jason Worilds (shoulder) were limited in practice. ... Sunday's game will be the 73rd meeting between the Steelers and the Titans/Oilers, the most games Tennessee has played against any NFL franchise. The Steelers lead the series, 42-30.

    http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/...s-stopping-run
    Last edited by Palmetto Steel; Sep-16-2010 at 03:54 PM.
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    Default Re: Steelers must stop Titans' RB

    Steelers defense has tough task with Tennessee's Johnson
    Thursday, September 16, 2010
    By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The Steelers have taught the NFL how to contain Tennessee's Chris Johnson, and Sunday they hope to do it a third time.

    Of course, it depends on how you describe the word contain.

    [IMGL]http://i54.tinypic.com/11291yw.jpg[/IMGL]Johnson, the sixth player in league history to top 2,000 yards rushing when he did that in his second season in 2009, has a dozen consecutive 100-yard games rushing. He reached No. 12 Sunday when he had 142 yards in Tennessee's 38-13 rout of Oakland.

    The NFL record is 14, set by Hall of Famer Barry Sanders.

    The Steelers' defense, which has allowed fewer yards than any in the NFL since the start of the 2006 season, has yielded one 100-yard rusher in the past 35 regular-season games dating to the 2007 season. Baltimore's Ray Rice ran for 140 yards against them on 30 carries Dec. 27 in a game the Steelers won at Heinz Field.

    Included in those other 34 shutouts of 100-yard rushers is Chris Johnson. Twice. The Steelers held Johnson to 57 yards on 15 carries in an overtime victory to start the '09 season. And they held him to 69 yards in '08. In that game of his rookie season, 21 yards came on a third-quarter touchdown run that gave the Titans the lead for good in what became a route, 31-14.

    The Steelers make no bones about it, their priority Sunday will be to hold Johnson down again.

    "It's a big priority," said outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley. "You stop the run, you force a team to go to its passing game, which allows us to bring a little heat and get to the quarterback."

    Woodley explained the formula for how they contained Johnson last season, and their plan to do it again.

    "We hit him as a team. We constantly got to him. When running backs are taking hits after hits from big guys, they slow down a little bit."

    The Steelers may not have one of their prime weapons against the run, big nose tackle Casey Hampton. He has a hamstring injury, did not practice Wednesday, and it is unclear if he will be able to play Sunday. If not, Chris Hoke will replace him, something he has done since '04.

    Hoke said the key to holding down Johnson, who stands 5-11 and weighs 191, is to hold your ground, along with the always-important factor of not getting blocked.

    "He's not real heavy but he's so fast and strong," Hoke said. "He jump-cuts on a dime, he's very quick at making his reads. You have to make sure you're gap-sound on every play because he gets a little crack and he's gone.

    "It's easy for a guy like that, to get everybody a little over-excited -- you want to make sure he doesn't make a big play so maybe you get out of your gap a little bit and you run to the ball and he cuts back when you're running to the ball. You have to make sure you stay square to the line of scrimmage so there is no cutback lane."

    End Aaron Smith, around longer than any other defender, explained why the Steelers always have had the philosophy of making the run their priority.

    "It's easy to pick the ball up and throw it, anybody can do that. To run it, you allow them to have another option and you make it difficult on yourself."

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Leftwich's knee much better[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    The Steelers were encouraged after Byron Leftwich threw some passes for the first time in practice Wednesday since he was injured in the final preseason game. Leftwich retired to the sideline after doing so with ice on his injured left knee, but otherwise keeps taking steps toward returning to the playing field.

    Leftwich could be ready to play by the third game, Sept. 26 at Tampa, where he opened as the Buccaneers' starting quarterback last season.

    Offensive tackle Max Starks (ankle) and nose tackle Casey Hampton (hamstring) did not practice because of their injuries. Jonathan Scott will become the third new starting lineman (Maurkice Pouncey, Flozell Adams) if Starks cannot play. Some new injuries popped up as well. Wide receiver Arnaz Battle missed practice with a knee injury. Two rookies were limited, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (thigh) and linebacker Jason Worilds (shoulder), who led the special teams with three tackles in the opener.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Statistically speaking ...[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    A gathering of statistical milestones, possible milestones and the noteworthy:

    Hines Ward's 108 yards receiving were the most of his career in an opener, topping the 103 yards he had vs. Tennessee last season, the only other time he has reached 100 in the first game. ... Heath Miller needs 119 yards receiving to surpass Bennie Cunningham (2,879) as the No. 2 most-productive tight end in team history. No. 1 is Elbie Nickel with 5,133 yards. ... The Steelers may be 1-8 in the state of Tennessee (their first game, 1997, was played in Memphis), but they are 13-3 all time, any place against the Titans/Houston Oilers in September. ... Counting the season opener, the Steelers have allowed the fewest points (825) since the start of the 2007 season and the fewest yards (18,042) since the start of the '06 season.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10259/1087893-66.stm
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    Default Re: Steelers must stop Titans' RB

    Steelers stare down a monster
    By Joe Starkey, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    NFL players aren't easily impressed by their peers. If they've seen one guy run a 4.4 40, they've seen a hundred.

    Every once in a while, though, a truly unique "monster," as Steelers linebacker James Farrior put it Wednesday, comes along. And the prospect of facing him gets a locker room buzzing.

    The Steelers' room lit up eight years ago in anticipation of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick coming to Heinz Field. It was buzzing last year, too, on account of a pending visit from Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson.

    This is one of those extraordinary weeks.

    Chris Johnson awaits.

    Sure, the Steelers have faced the Tennessee Titans' cruise missile of a tailback two times and held him in check. But Johnson was merely very good then. He is the most dangerous man in football now (aside from Shaun Rogers in an airport, of course), coming off a season in which he set a league record with 2,509 yards from scrimmage.

    As Steelers coach Mike Tomlin put it: "This guy can run through the back of your end zone every time he touches the ball."

    You better believe the Steelers' locker room is buzzing. I asked Farrior — who has pretty much seen it all in 13 NFL seasons — if the prospect of facing Johnson excites the Steelers' defense.

    "No doubt about it," Farrior said. "He proclaims himself the best offensive player in the NFL, definitely the best running back, and we take that as a challenge. Our defense is going to be extra fired up this week."

    The Steelers, remember, could have drafted Johnson, who visited their South Side practice facility before the '08 draft. But when it came to pick 23rd — one spot before the Titans — they took Rashard Mendenhall out of Illinois.

    Here's how the running backs went in the first round:

    4. Darren McFadden, Oakland

    13. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina

    22. Felix Jones, Dallas

    23. Mendenhall

    24. Johnson

    Titans coach Jeff Fisher said yesterday that he wasn't praying for Johnson to drop to the 24th pick, that he would have been pleased with Jones or Mendenhall. Ray Rice and Matt Forte wound up going in the second round, so it was an outstanding year for running backs.

    But Johnson has become the prized catch. Three years into his career, he has 3,376 yards rushing, at 5.3 yards per carry, and 25 touchdowns.

    Mendenhall got a late start, missing nearly all of his rookie season, but seems intent on making up for lost time. I asked him yesterday if he keeps a close eye on Johnson, seeing as he was drafted right before him.

    "I think as a back you're looking at all your peers in the league, your draft class, all the starting running backs," said Mendenhall, fresh off that gorgeous, 50-yard game-winner against the Falcons. "You pay attention to those things."

    Is this a chance for Mendenhall to announce himself as a star in his own right?

    "I don't look at it like that," he said.

    I do. I think there's something special in the air this week, on both sides of the ball. The Steelers have held Johnson to 69 and 57 yards in their two meetings, though he did burn them for a 21-yard TD run on a fourth-down play two years ago, reaching the end zone in the time it takes to light a match.

    It's a classic matchup, really. Johnson has 12 consecutive 100-yard games, two short of tying Barry Sanders' NFL record. The Steelers have allowed only nine 100-yard rushers in the past eight years, easily the best mark in the league.

    Sounds like appointment viewing to me.

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_699724.html
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    Default Re: Steelers must stop Titans' RB

    simms and collinsworth picked steelers -say they will stop the run force young into mistakes-for whatever thats worth

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    Default Re: Steelers must stop Titans' RB

    Looks this is the Chris Johnson thread

    While we held Jonhson to under 100 yards the last time we face the Titans, they also didn'ty run him as often as usual either. He still managed an impressive 4.3 YPC against our run defense. The Titans were having a lot of success through the air that day with Kerry Collins throwing for over 200 yards 20 of 29 100+ passer rating.

    I'm not worried about any RB alone but what can make an RB have success in a game is if the team has success with a balanced attack so the Steelers goal is really going to be to stifle the balanced attack. If we lineup to stop the run which I think we will, we'll have to make sure the Titans passing game stays shut down. if that opens up it just backs us off the line and opens up a fast agile back like Chris Johnson to do some damage
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    Default Re: Steelers must stop Titans' RB

    Quote Originally Posted by rockcr View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    simms and collinsworth picked steelers -say they will stop the run force young into mistakes-for whatever thats worth
    not much since you mentioned it came from phil simms and will arnett
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    Default Re: Steelers must stop Titans' RB

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    Looks this is the Chris Johnson thread

    While we held Jonhson to under 100 yards the last time we face the Titans, they also didn'ty run him as often as usual either. He still managed an impressive 4.3 YPC against our run defense. The Titans were having a lot of success through the air that day with Kerry Collins throwing for over 200 yards 20 of 29 100+ passer rating.

    I'm not worried about any RB alone but what can make an RB have success in a game is if the team has success with a balanced attack so the Steelers goal is really going to be to stifle the balanced attack. If we lineup to stop the run which I think we will, we'll have to make sure the Titans passing game stays shut down. if that opens up it just backs us off the line and opens up a fast agile back like Chris Johnson to do some damage
    johnson will get some nice runs no doubt.we just have to score points or we have no chance D cant win this one!

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    Default Re: Steelers must stop Titans' RB

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    I'm not worried about any RB alone but what can make an RB have success in a game is if the team has success with a balanced attack so the Steelers goal is really going to be to stifle the balanced attack. If we lineup to stop the run which I think we will, we'll have to make sure the Titans passing game stays shut down. if that opens up it just backs us off the line and opens up a fast agile back like Chris Johnson to do some damage
    I agree completely... And I don't expect Young to burn us either...

    But...

    If Young can successfully complete a fair amount of short passes such as Ryan did last week, that could produce the "balanced attack" you are talking about... And that worries me a little bit... And I'm not sure I have enough rolaids in the house to view a game with weak/soft pass coverage again.
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    Default Re: Steelers must stop Titans' RB

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Looks this is the Chris Johnson thread
    You know my drill... Just going thru the "daily progressions" of links before going to work...
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