"Air Tomlin" Pretty Banged Up As Steelers Head Into Critical Ravens Game

Alan Shimel@@ashimmyCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2009

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 20: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws the game winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter in front of BJ Raji #90 of the Green Bay Packers during the game on December 20, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Well its pretty obvious that the Steelers fortunes this season will live or die on Big Ben Roethlisberger's right arm and the ability of our receiving corps to get open and catch the ball. We have pretty much abandoned the run and not even Coach Tomlin believes in the defense's ability to stop anyone.

So just when we need them most, more than half of our receivers will head into this weeks showdown with the Baltimore Ravens limping. Its one thing for a big offensive lineman to limp a bit. But for a receiver, speed kills. A lack of speed can kill even faster.

Hines Ward re-injured the hamstring he originally hurt at the end of the Oakland game. Hines is a warrior and I am sure he will go out on Sunday and give it everything he has. But it certainly affected his performance against Cleveland. We need a big game from him against the Ravens.

Mike Wallace, no longer the secret weapon of Tomlin's "air force" has a bruised knee. Wallace had stitches applied during the Green Bay game. It didn't stop him from making that fantastic catch. But he relies on his speed. I am sure Wallace will tough it out too. Hines and Santonio Holmes are teaching him well after all. Just not sure how much this will effect his ability to run his routes with the usual swiftness.

Even Rashard Mendenhall, who emerged as a threat to catch and run is hurt. After racking up six passes for over 70 yards Sunday, he has a bruised hip. Its not clear how much it will inhibit his game. At this point, "used to be fast" Willie Parker is jut not the player Rashard has grown up to be.

Of course as I wrote yesterday, Limas Sweed is on IR with a "mystery illness" which I believe is more mental than physical in nature. It may be Sweed grew so frustrated with his performance he just up and quit. But lets be honest, he wasn't bringing much to the party.

The good news is no injury report on Holmes and Miller. That gives Big Ben at least two healthy major targets to throw too.  Also yesterday we signed Joey Galloway. How much of a help he can be is anyone's guess. Tomlin said he is in good shape though. Lets hope he can contribute in a positive way.

Also we may get a surprise in our air defense. The great one, Troy Polamalu is waiting for results of the latest MRI to see if it is possible for him to play on Sunday. If Troy can suit up, it will be a big lift to the defense I am sure.

Just when we need them most, our receivers are pretty banged up. But at this time of year the pros play with pain. Lets see if Air Tomlin can get off the ground and fly over the Ravens!