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November 25, 2012

STAIRWAY TO 7: Dwyer deserves to be Steelers' starter

OPINION — HERE ARE SOME more thoughts from Steelers-Ravens game last Sunday night:

ä When I sat down to write my column for Wednesday, I thought about starting it out something like this ‘Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is a liar,’ but I chose not to, because I figured I’d use it in this column.

I guess I figured right.

A few weeks ago, Tomlin said he’d go with the ‘hot hand’ when determining which running back would get most of the touches each week.

Just based on his performances over the past month or so, Jonathan Dwyer should not only be starting each Sunday, but should be getting virtually every carry for the Black and Gold.

Yet Sunday night, he and Rashard Mendenhall pretty much split carries with Dwyer getting 12 totes (for 55 yards, while Mendenhall had 11 carries (for 33 yards).

For those of you without a handy dandy calculator in front of you, Dwyer averaged an extra yard and a half more than Mendenhall.

More than that, Dwyer just fits the Steelers’ offense better. He runs between the tackles better than anyone the team has had since Jerome Bettis — better than Mendenhall and Isaac Redman, who the coaching staff apparently favors over Dwyer.

I just don’t see why.

ä Back during training camp, cornerback Keenan Lewis told the assembled media after a practice at Saint Vincent College that he’d make the Pro Bowl.

I think we all had quite the chuckle at his expense when we read or heard about Lewis’ bravado.

After 10 games, not too many of us are laughing now.

While he won’t make the Pro Bowl, Lewis has been arguably the team’s best cornerback.

Sadly, he may be playing himself out of Pittsburgh real soon with his play this season.

Remember, the Steelers will probably be really close to the salary cap ceiling this offseason and will have to make a decision about who to keep, ‘Manny’ Sanders or Lewis, down the road since both will be restricted free agents.

ä How good has the defense been this year?

While they haven’t been forcing turnovers, the Steelers’ defense has been better than some of their predecessors -- even those Black and Gold defenses that have been ranked near or at the top of the total defense rankings.

They’ve done it with LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu missing some time at this year and former first rounder Ziggy Hood underperforming.

It’d be scary to think what this defense could do if Clark, Harrison, Polamalu and Woodley were healthy at the same time.

But they haven’t been and the defense is performing at insane levels and doing what they did against Baltimore may have been one of their top efforts of the year.

Holding Ray Rice to under 47 yards was one heck of an effort. Plus in my opinion, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin are one of the top receiving tandems in the NFL.

If Ben comes back close to form and the defense plays up to this standard, I think the Steelers have as good of a shot at winning the AFC as anyone. It’s going to be a fun final six weeks of the NFL season.

Agree, disagree or just want to comment? Contact Corey J. Corbin at

gcsportsguy@yahoo.com.

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