Steelers' Relaxed Approach Fuels Strong Start

Article excerpt

There was a casual, almost cavalier attitude among Steelers players in the locker room following their final practice for Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

With everything that their new coach touches turning to gold -- not to mention outscoring their first two opponents, 60-10 -- the Steelers weren't behaving like a team preparing for a big game in two days against another 2-0 team.

"Friday is sort of our winding-down day," inside linebacker James Farrior said. "Coach is not going to try to run us to death. He's going to have us fresh and ready to play. That's why everybody's a little bit more relaxed."

Confidence mixed with overconfidence can make for a dangerous combination.

Instead of taking San Francisco for granted yesterday, the Steelers took the 49ers to the woodshed, 37-16, at Heinz Field.

"That is the battle. We talk a lot about how it's not the destination, it's the journey," coach Mike Tomlin said of the Steelers' first 3-0 start in 15 years. "We have to appreciate the now and be who we are. This team is doing a nice job of living in the present. When you do that, you prepare, you have good men, you're capable of doing what they did today."

What the Steelers did against San Francisco is exactly what they did last Sunday against Buffalo, and two Sundays ago in Cleveland.

They methodically dismantled another opponent -- intimidating the 49ers with a swarming, suffocating defense, killing them softly with a balanced offensive attack paced by running back Willie Parker, and going for the jugular with big plays on special teams.

"As bad as we played last year, we don't want to go out and have that type of season again," said Farrior, who leads the Steelers with 20 tackles. …