While most “experts” say that the Steelers are due to have no better than a season between 7 and 9 wins, the team is for sure not buying into that fact, proclaiming that 2007 is going to be a season of redemption after taking a big step backwards last year after winning Super Bowl XL just two years ago. Last year the Steelers started 2-6, hit hard by stupid mistakes like fumbles, interceptions, penalties and allowing big plays at the worse times. They recovered, as they always seem to do, and wrapped up the season on an up note, going 6-2 in their last eight games, with the only losses to the division champion Ravens.
This year though is a new year, and there are new hopes with a new coach in tow. Mike Tomlin has already in so many ways become that new voice the team needs, and hopefully with no more Super Bowl distractions, motorcycle accidents, or questions about their head coach looking to walk away, the Steelers can focus on what they do best – play football. As far as talent, the team has it. Ben Roethlisberger has looked strong and ready to turn around a bad 2006 this preseason. Willie Parker is as good as a back as their is in the AFC with a few small exceptions. Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes are solid at the wide out, and the defense still has playmakers like Troy Polamalu, James Farrior, Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton and Larry Foote.
Bottom line – this year there are no excuses, and the Steelers very well may now turn back into the hunters instead of the hunted. “There’s no doubt there’s the talent in this room,” defensive end Aaron Smith said. “I don’t see much difference [from ’05]. I see the same team.” It was that 2005 team that ran the table after they lost three straight to fall to 7-5 at one point. It was that 2005 team that came together and played as a team for the last two months of the season. It was that 2005 team that refused to allow anything to stand in their way, which is the mindset they have to take to the field with them each and every week of the 2007 season.
“We didn’t become sorry overnight,” Ward said. “You don’t win a Super Bowl and the next year become sorry. There were a lot of circumstances — Ben had the accident and we just played too inconsistent.” If the Steelers can get back to being consistent, then they will have that ability to show off their talent and show they are still a force in the AFC North and in the league in general. There is no reason for excuses this time around. It’s time once again to reestablish themselves as a team that cannot be overlooked and get that swagger back they had the last two months of the 2005 season.
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