On The Black Side
A Steelers blog honoring the black left side of the Steelers' helmet - By Neal Coolong
I haven't seen a beating like that since someone stuffed a banana down Cousin Eddie's pants and set a monkey loose.

Or, maybe just the last time the Steelers played the Texans.

As OTBS mentioned in this morning's Steelers Key Player column, outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley had two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. NFL.com is saying one of those sacks was credited to OLB James Harrison, who also dished out a dominant performance - two sacks (NFL.com gave him three), a forced fumble and the memory of watching rookie left tackle Duane Brown nearly in tears on the bench.

He was chum to Harrison, who feasted on QB Matt Shaub on the plays where Woodley or ILB James Farrior wasn't feeding on him. OTBS discussed this with Cotter last week, this could be the best linebacking corps Pittsburgh has seen in two decades.

Sunday's all-around disruptive performance from Harrison, Woodley, Farrior, Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons was evidence these linebackers are a special group, so much so I wanted the offense to punt right away just to see them get back on the field.

Alan Who?

Former Steelers guard Alan Faneca was not missed at all. Steelers LG Chris Kemoeatu gets paid approximately two percent of what Faneca does, and he was instrumental in RB Willie Parker's 138 yard, three touchdown day.

Faneca helped Thomas Jones to 101 yards against a team that has lost 16 of their last 17 games.

Kemoeatu plowed the way for all of Parker's touchdowns, which came inside the red zone.

Faneca helped Parker go from 15 touchdowns in 2006 to two in 2007. Parker did with Kemoeatu in one half of his first start what Faneca did in 15 games.

Chalk yet another personnel victory up for GM Kevin Colbert. Pittsburgh's offensive line paved Heinz Field with the Texans' helmet paint. Faneca's Jets needed four quarters to beat the Dolphins.

Mainstream Media Interns

The NFL has a crack journalism staff when it comes to breaking news. Adam Schefter is among the best in the business in ferreting out information from what seems to be hundreds of sources. But this kind of stuff smacks of "interns following the games through their Fantasy Football teams."

From NFL.com:
It was over when Ben Roethlisberger connected with Hines Ward in the end zone for the second time, putting the Steelers up 34-3 in the third quarter. Pittsburgh has won its season-opener for the fifth straight year, the longest Kickoff Weekend winning streak in the NFL.
This was over well before the Steelers went up 34-3 in the third quarter. I'd say it was when the Steelers went up 14-0, and Woodley made his first career interception on a nifty juggling grab in front of WR Andre Johnson.

Genius title thrown around like Texans offensive linemen

I can't recall a time when an offensive line coach has been given more respect than the Texans' Alex Gibbs. He's been labeled as a genius, a savior, a visionary and a great coach by fans who clearly don't know anything about the play of an offensive line. Maybe he inoculates diseased children in Kampucea, or provides free health care for Americans, too.

Gibbs' line looked embarrasingly unprepared, sloppy, slow and stupid in front of a defense that's at least as good as the ones Houston will see in AFC South foes Tennessee and Jacksonville.

The Texans Bandwagon is letting members off on the left side. Please, mass media, disembark and never speak of this again.

Brady injured

Patriots QB Tom Brady left in the first quarter of an eventual win at Kansas City with a knee injury, and did not return.

I didn't much appreciate the fans I heard cheering when this news broke during the Steelers massacre of Houston. I still don't. Hate the team (I do), don't ever cheer for a player getting hurt. That's classless, and completely unnecessary.
Just hours from kickoff...glancing around the InterVista 2.0s, there's some good info about Pittsburgh's Week 1 opponent, the Houston Texans.

Battle on, Eugene Wilson

I think this is the best one...The Battle Red Blog proclaims former Patriots safety Eugene Wilson is better than advertised. That's probably a good thing for Wilson, considering he was signed after the final cut this season. He'll be in the rotation at cornerback for the Texans, which means they do have some experience to bolster Fred Bennett, a second-year defender who's had some problems getting beat this preseason. If nothing else, Battle Red Blog feels he adds a big value.
With depth issues of their own, the Texans jumped at the opportunity to add an experienced defensive back with the versatility to play several positions.
How much the Steelers see Wilson is likely contingent upon how badly Santonio and Ward run Bennett, Jaques Reeves and DeMarcus Faggins into the loose Heinz Field turf, I suppose.

Texans Gab gabbing about Winston, blogs

Blogging guru, Matt Loede, writes up something quick on Texans Gab about right tackle Eric Winston's five-year, $32 million contract extension he just signed.

Of note, Loede was just featured by Baltimore Sun writer Andrew Ratner in a piece about various Ravens blogs existing on the web.

Houston Die Hards loves them some Green

Chris at Houston Diehards has a good pregame reference guide for Steelers fans looking for last-minute info on the Texans.

Highlighted in that is his take on Texans head coach Gary Kubiak's statement that RB Ahman Green will get 12-15 carries today.

Smokescreen? Maybe, maybe not. It's not like the Texans have multiple runners with huge success in Pittsburgh...

More coming...


Starting his first game in Pittsburgh could be a source of intimidation for a 23-year-old playing arguably the most defining position in the franchise. There's little doubt second-year man LaMarr Woodley is up to the task.

I watched Michigan take back college football's oldest rivalry trophy, the Little Brown Jug, against the overmatched Minnesota Golden Gophers in September of 2006. For some reason, the Gophers had played Michigan tough the past few seasons, and actually beat them the previous season - the first time since 1986.

I'm used to seeing the Wolverines beat Minnesota one way or the other. What I took away from that game was a short but powerful defensive end named LaMarr Woodley who I knew would be in a Steelers uniform.

I proclaimed him the Steelers future first-round draft pick to my buddy Chuck, who calmly questioned if he was a first-rounder.

Going into the draft, it was obvious Woodley wouldn't be a first-rounder, but the Steelers miss so rarely on second-round picks, it almost seemed more fitting he'd be taken then, considering this tweener (too short for end, thought to be too heavy for outside 'backer) didn't fit the prototype of a guy with a $20 million guaranteed deal.

I just smiled when I heard his name read off for the Steelers pick, and anticipated writing what I'm writing now.

Now, we've got a guy who fits this team's mindset perfectly, and he's got a second-round-sized chip on his shoulder. He's gonna bring the noise all season long.

I dug around for hours over the course of last season and this season to find a site that runs a play counter for each player in the league. A tall task, no doubt, but I wanted to prove my theory that Woodley had a higher sacks-per-play ratio than any other player in the league. This was highlighted by the playoff loss to Jacksonville last season, when Woodley was in the game for less time than just about any other non-special-teams-only player, and registered two sacks.

He looked as effortless against the exhaulted Jaguars offensive line as he did in destroying the hapless Gophers that day in September.

As much as I like Clark Haggans, and am happy for the fact another team is going to pay him a nice final contract, Woodley went from The Future to The Now, and that begins today at Heinz Field.

My match-ups column on Steel City Insider highlights Silverback against rookie Duane Brown because it's the most newsworthy battle. But I'm pumped to see Woodley against Houston's new $30 Million Man, Eric Winston. Woodley's got the size to hold his own against the run from that side as long as he stays on his feet (assuming the ethical practice of cut-blocking is utilized by "genius" offensive coordinator Alex Gibbs), and has that explosive strength to blow up the undersized running back tandem of Steve Slaton and Ahman Green.

With Silverback rightly getting tons of pub in preparing to make Texans' message boards go boom with "why did we draft him?" calls about Brown, Woodley's quietly prepared to handle his first start, and getting penetration, owning the line and not getting cut by the pussy Texans' blockers will be paramount in this game.


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