Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Walking into a trap?

"We're going to put our hard hats back on and go back to work."

That's what Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday during his weekly news conference, when Tomlin indicated dissatisfaction with the Steelers' play last Sunday vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars. His team almost lost the game, and it must perform better vs. the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals are only 1-4, but this game has "trap" written all over it. The Cardinals may not be a good team, but they are a dangerous team. Especially for the Steelers this week.

The Cardinals are coming off a bye week, so they've had extra time to prepare. Expectations were high for new quarterback Kevin Kolb, but he has performed erratically at best and has something to prove. The Cardinals are desperate for a win. And head coach Ken Whisenhunt has had to endure withering criticism from Arizona fans and media.

For all those reasons and more, much more,Whisenhunt and the Cardinals really, really want a win against the Mike Tomlin and the Steelers. It's not personal? Yeah, right.

Joey Porter and friends.
We know the story, but it cannot be overlooked: Whisenhunt and assistant head coach Russ Grimm were passed over for the Steelers' head coaching job won by Tomlin. Then, Tomlin's Steelers beat Whisenhunt's Cardinals in the Super Bowl.

Plus, the Cardinals organization is riddled with coaches and players who used to be with the Steelers or have associations with Pittsburgh. In addition to Whisenhunt and Grimm, the Cardinals' coaching staff features offensive coordinator Mike Miller, formerly an assistant with the Steelers and at Robert Morris; defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who spent the last seven years with the Steelers and was their secondary coach only last season; special teams coach Kevin Spencer, who headed special teams for the Steelers under Bill Cowher from 2002-06; and assistant defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend, the former Steelers cornerback whom we always thought would make a terrific coach in the NFL.

The players, we know. On defense, the Cardinals feature former Steelers Joey Porter, Clark Haggans and Nick Eason. The offense has former Pitt stars LaRod Stephens-Howling and, of course, Larry Fitzgerald, arguably the best wide receiver in the game.

On top of all that, the Cardinals may find inspiration from a125-pound Arizona State University wrestler named Anthony Robles -- who has one leg but won a national title in his weight class in an NCAA tournament. The Cardinals plan to honor Robles with a leadership award as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.