Tag Archives: Ben Roethlisberger

Potpourri

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Pirates

Let’s get this out of the way quickly.  The Pirates jumped out to an early 2-0 start.  Then they remembered they were the Pirates and went 1-3 over the next 4 games.  But, look on the bright side.  They’re 3-3 right now.  That’s .500!  If we can just keep this up for the next…..oh…..few months or so…..aw, forget it.  Stat of the day for the Pirates: the Pirates are 2-0 with 7.5 runs per game when Garrett Jones hits a home run and 1-3 with 3.75 runs per game when he doesn’t.  Anyone else want to provide a spark?  Anyone?    Well, on the bright side, maybe Garrett will break Barry Bonds’ home run record so we have a shot at .500 (and hopefully does it without any ‘help’ if you know what I mean).

Penguins

Well, they made it a race with the Devils down the stretch, but after choking against Atlanta, come up short for the Atlantic Division crown and 2nd seed.  I can’t say they honestly deserve it after going winless against Washington and New Jersey during the regular season.  I’m not sure about this year.  The Pens are really struggling against quality opponents (especially against teams that play the trap), but they have some guys that can absolutely take over a game so you can never count them out.  I honestly have no idea how they’re going to do.  I wouldn’t be shocked if they win the cup, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them loose to Ottawa.  I’m going to be really interested to see how they respond to the playoff atmosphere, and after the first couple of games will have a much firmer grasp of the expectations for them.  Is anyone else with me on that?

Steelers

Oh, the Steelers.  Drama drama everywhere, and not a moral in sight.  My goodness.  Anyway, the big news all occurred this morning.  If you haven’t heard yet, the Steelers traded Santonio Holmes to the Jets for a 5th round pick (and possibly a song to be named later), and Ben Roethlisberger will not have charges filed against him in Georgia (though a civil case is still possible).  Well, as for Ben, there’s no choice but to wait and see.  Suspensions, court dates, and the like are all probably coming down the pike, but he’s got way too many more years/monies owed on his contract to do anything to him.  That’s unfortunate.  Santonio, on the other hand, was not so lucky.  He’s the sacrificial lamb in this because he’s convenient.  He screwed up a lot, he was replaceable, and he was a free agent next year.  That’s why he was let go.  But I’m still glad the Steelers traded him.  I, as well as most fans, cheer for my teams because they bring positive attention to my city/university when they win.  The Steelers in particular are so revered in Pittsburgh because they bring some positive connotations about the city to people who haven’t been here since the steel mills were replaced by hospitals and universities.  They are unfortunately also capable of bringing shame both on and off the field.  The Rooneys have been very good about giving Pittsburgh the benefit of both worlds: winning while not compromising on character.  However, if a decision must be made, I’d much rather be embarrassed on the field than off.  That’s why it’s good riddance to Holmes, and if Big Ben and even Jeff Reed (both have made multiple mistakes in the past) go with him, I’ll take the hit in the win/loss column.

Tomorrow will be an extra special post: I’ve been working hard to find out if/why the Big East underperformes so much in March.

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Steelers 23 Ravens 20

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Game Recap

Ho hum.  Another game, another heart pounder, another day staying alive for the playoffs by the skin of our teeth.  I swear this team will give me a heart attack by the time this is done.  But a win is a win, and the playoff hopes are still there if we can beat Miami this week.  It’s much better than the alternative.

On offense, it was another prime example of the new Steelers.  259 yards of passing and 48 yards of rushing.  Wow.  Just wow.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  I’m not opposed to passing.  I’m not a yinzer who thinks we need to go find another Bus.  But the name of the game is balance.  You have to be a threat in both facets of the offense, and right now we’re not.  I’m convinced that it’s a big part of the sub par season we’re having this year (probably the second biggest reason behind the struggles of the secondary).  Ben had a good day getting away from the pressure and he did have 17 completions, but how could you not when throwing the ball 33 times?  He also had a lower passer rating than Joe Flacco (I’m not a big fan of the passer rating stat, but it is at least trustworthy enough to illustrate the point that Ben puts up huge numbers because of the system he plays).  But I guess at this point we’ve got to go with whatever works to put points on the board.

Defensively, we had our best game in months.  The reason is that Baltimore rushed at us 38 times.  I have no idea why.  The weakness of this defense is the secondary.  Anyone who’s watched us play a single game without Troy knows that.  So why in the world are you trying to flex your muscles in the run game?  Even if you’re a run first team (the Ravens certainly are), you have to skew a tiny bit towards the pass when you play Pittsburgh.  Or at least be 50/50.  I think it was crazy of the Ravens, and I’m glad we cashed in on the gift.  There were a few missed tackles, but when the number of opportunities rises, so does the number of mistakes.  The up front guys were also able to get some pressure on Flacco when the Ravens did pass, getting 4 sacks.  I think that was the most surprising stat of the day.  The Ravens have a pretty good offensive line, and I wouldn’t have thought 4 sacks would happen in a million years.  Thankfully, I stand corrected.

Overall, this team has a lot of flaws that probably need an offseason (and most likely a draft) to correct.  But, for having one of the worst seasons in a decade, it could be a lot worse.  For the record if you haven’t heard yet here is what has to happen for us to make the playoffs (assuming we beat Miami):

  • New England over Houston and Cincinnati over the Jets
  • New England over Houston and Oakland over Baltimore
  • Oakland over Baltimore, Cincinnati over the Jets and Kansas City over Denver

Obviously, the first one is the most likely.  It’s not bad odds considering where we started out from.  I guess all you can do at this point is cross your fingers.

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Huge Recap

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Well well.  My computer picked an awful bad week to just decide to crap out.  Every team I talk about had at least one game.  So I’m just going to run down my current thoughts on each, and then I can move forward like nothing happened.  Sound good?  Alright.  Let’s go.

Steelers

I’ll lead off with ‘dem Stillers cuz I know that’s what yinz guys like to hear about.  Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that the world is ending for the Steelers.  We’ve lost 3 in a row for the first time in years.  We’ve got our quarterback and star receiver arguing.  We’re on the verge of missing out on the playoffs.  There is no doubt that the world is going to end tomorrow.  So.  Now that you’re caught up, how do we save the world (or just the Steelers)?  Well, first things first.  How do we get everyone to just get along?  I mean its bad enough that the Bengals took our division lead…did they have to give us their drama on the way?  C’mon!  For those that aren’t in Pittsburgh and/or haven’t been paying attention, Hines Ward said in an interview that he’s played hurt and insinuated that Ben should too.  Ben allegedly went through the locker room saying ‘good luck without me guys’ in a sarcastic tone.  That’s a very high level recap, but the actual details don’t matter.  What matters is  what happens on the field.  How do we cut this beef between Ben and Hines up, grill it up and eat it so that we can play better?  Well, the short answer is win.  There is no drama in a winning locker room because there is no blame in a winning locker room.  The long answer is that Ben and Hines need to sit down and talk about this.  It was an obvious misunderstanding.  Both were frustrated at the time of their incidents.  In fact, I’m fairly sure that they’ve already talked (being that they’re grown men and this is an obvious step to take for two people striving towards a common goal).  So, in short, I’m not worried and you shouldn’t be either.  So with that cleared up, what is wrong with this team on the field?  Well, besides the obvious injuries I mean.  The defense seems to be giving up a lot more ground (especially in the fourth quarter) than they ever have before.  I’m just stumped as to why.  It could be because they’re getting old and tired at the end of games.  It could be because we really miss Troy.  My personal guess is that it’s the cornerbacks.  These have been come from behind fourth quarter wins in the past 3 weeks.    That means the other team has been throwing a lot.  If a team is most successful coming back in the 4th because they’re throwing, and we usually step up our blitz when we’re ahead, the only thing left is the corners that need to step up.  Maybe if they just jam their receivers a bit more at the line to buy some time it would help.  But I really don’t know.  That’s just a guess.  The special teams has also been awful.  If it’s not a kickoff being returned for a touchdown, it was awful punt coverage against Baltimore.  We just can’t win.  But, unfortunately, you can’t do much with special teams beside get guys in who really want to be there.  The one thing you can’t say much about is the offense.  They’ve been fine.  The loss of Ben hurt last week, but hey, it happens.  We’re much more balanced lately which I love.  So, in conclusion, the secondary will hopefully improve with Troy coming back soon which I hope will shore up the defense, the offense looks good already, and we just have to cross our fingers and hope the special teams don’t cost us too many games.  Oakland comes into town next week, so that should be a great opportunity to get back on track (though I said the same thing about Kansas City a couple of weeks ago.  Gulp).

Pitt Football

Hmmm……well that was a fairly depressing recap I just finished, and it isn’t going to get much better here.  The loss to WVU was ugly.  We didn’t just play poorly.  WVU played poorly and we played even worse.  I hate to say it, but this one goes on Billy Stull.  Now, as Mike Tomlin would say: ‘he’s got some money in my emotional bank account’, so I’m going to dismiss this as one bad game and not get on him too bad.  However, he played awful and he’d admit it.  He was overthrowing and underthrowing everybody.  It makes me wonder if he just gets tired at the end of a season (remember: he was alright leading up to the Rutgers game last year, though not as good as this season).  His inability to pass made us completely one-dimensional.  That will lose you a game every time.  Now, usually, when a quarterback is struggling, he’ll go with a lot of dump-offs.  Just to get back in a rhythm.  I saw a couple of passes to Dickerson (which he dropped.  He also had a terrible game).  But I only saw 2 passes to Dion Lewis.  You’ve got to dump off to him a bit more in that situation just to get some completions.  It seemed like he was chucking it to Baldwin every time.  I understand that Baldwin probably had a mismatch, but you can’t keep trying something that doesn’t work (well, it finally did in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t worth the total effort and wasted downs).  But, lucky for us, this game didn’t matter.  We still win the Big East with a win on Saturday.  And no matter what people will tell you, there was no way the Gator Bowl was taking us even if we won.  Especially with Bowden crying for one last gasp of attention (he wants to play his last bowl game in Florida and furthermore against WVU if he can because he used to coach there).  This loss probably just dropped us from Charlotte to Birmingham/Toronto if we lose on Saturday.  So crappy bowl to crappier bowl.  Hmmm…..  Not that big of a loss.  But this is still a huge game on Saturday.  Who would have thought that the River City Rivalry would ever mean anything?

Penguins

The Pens have been the most busy of any team.  Since I last left you, they’ve gone 3-1 including a home and home sweep of the Rangers.  Now that we’ve got some guys returning from injury we’re really playing at a high level.  Sid really seems to be on a role, but I think that may have more to do with the Rangers opening the ice to the coast to coast game that he really excels at.  The power play is still my biggest concern, by far.  I have no idea why this team struggles so much, except to say that we look for the perfect shot way to much.  The power play is a time for decent shots, not great shots.  But, overall, you have to be pleased with the play of this team.  Overlooking a hickup on Long Island, we’ve really been controlling the puck well and doing an excellent job being physical and checking teams.  It’s a return to that great play we started the season off with, and I’m going to run out of ways to say ‘we’re awesome’ before too long.  But Colorado will be a tough test on Thursday.

Pitt Basketball

Pitt only had one game over the long weekend: a fairly easy one against Youngstown State.  The game story was that it was a close game for the first 30 minutes before Pitt finally out-lasted them in the final 10.  I think the general assumption is that we had superior depth compared to YSU, and that’s what eventually won us the game.  I noticed something, but I haven’t read it in any recaps yet, so here it goes: we finally figured out their zone with about 10 minutes left and that’s what lead to the turnaround.  YSU played a classic 2-3 zone from start to finish.  It was fairly obvious that Coach Dixon thought it was very slow on the rotation.  He was having the team do a lot of perimeter passing trying to pass the ball faster than the defense could react.  Either it will open up an open 3-point shot or it will open up a lane to pass the ball into the post.  Well, the defense was slow to rotate alright, but when we saw the open space we didn’t take the jumper, our eyes light up and we drove the lane…..right into the teeth of the defense.  We had a ton of turnovers that way.  The only reason we stayed in the game was that Youngstown had a horrible offense and absolutely no frontcourt presence.  We also crushed them on the glass which didn’t hurt.  With about 10 minutes left, we finally started to attack the zone the right way and take what the defense gave us.  It was like the light bulb finally went on that ‘Hey!  Coach Dixon might know what he’s talking about.  Maybe we should try his advice’.  And, what do you know?  It worked.  I hope that’s the last of our struggles against the 2-3 zone, because as I said before, that’s something we’ll see a lot this year.  Duquesne is up next in the city game and the last college b-ball game in the Mellon Civic Arena.  I think this will be a really hard test for Pitt.  Much harder than most people think.  I wouldn’t even be surprised to come out with a loss in this one.  But I sure hope I’m wrong.

Pirates

….still suck.  Actually, they signed some guys this week, but no one of consequence.  We’re going to trot out a AAA team again next year.

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Steelers 24 Chiefs 27 (OT)

 

image from espn.com

 

Game Recap

First of all (and I can not stress this enough), do NOT use one of Pittsburgh’s many bridges to jump off of.  It’s not worth it.  Ok?  Seriously.  There.  Now that we have that out of the way, let’s pick our jaws up off the ground and examine how in the world this game just happened.

This game confused me.  We seemed to be handling them pretty well, but the scoreboard doesn’t agree.  So what happened?  Well, in times like that I always check the box score first to see if my perception of the game is correct.  We out-gained them 515-282, had way more first downs (27-13), had more rushing yards, more passing yards.  I’d say we thoroughly outplayed them.  So why did we lose?  Well, when the scoreboard doesn’t match the boxscore, you know it was the consequence of big plays.  That’s absolutely the case here.  The kick return for a touchdown.  The interception in the endzone that was almost returned for 6, the long pass to Chambers that set up KC’s last touchdown, the 61 yard pass to Chambers to set up the winning field goal.  These were all massively big plays that went KC’s way.  That’s how you lose games that you should win.  A majority of those plays were just a lack of focus for by one player for one play, and that’s all it takes.  You hate to see that, but sometimes you just can’t come up with more winning plays.  All you can do is work hard, and generally the plays will start going your way.  Hopefully this is the kick in the pants we needed to get back on track and focus again.  We’ve got the talent to do some great things this year.  I’m not sure how much of the desire we’ve got.

The other major news besides the loss was the injury to Ben.  He went down with a blow to the head towards the end of regulation, and didn’t return.  This would be a huge blow to the team.  We’ve already got an up hill climb to make the playoffs, and losing Roethelisberger would make it even more difficult.  Especially since we’re already dealing with some other injuries (you think we couldn’t have used Troy today?).  As of now, the Steelers are saying that Ben’s injury is ‘concussion oriented’ to which my response in ‘no crap oriented’.  But I’ll be keeping an eye on it as I’m sure you will too.  Yet another way in which bad luck has smiled upon us.

Overall, I don’t think this is something to get too upset over.  We outplayed Kansas City by a mile.  We deserved that game.  But, with a few big plays, the Chiefs pulled it out.  It happens.  That’s why they say anyone can win on any given Sunday.  Now, I’m very upset with another kickoff return.  I have a feeling that more than just players heads will roll at the end of the season because of it.  But that’s different.  It’s a sustained problem that isn’t being fixed.  The rest of it, however, is dumb luck over one week.  If we come out and play like we did today (with Big Ben hopefully in the lineup), we’ll be fine.  As I said before, we’ve got an uphill climb to the playoffs, but we can take a giant step towards that goal by beating Baltimore next weekend.

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My Two Cents

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image from reverseshot.com

I’ve made a conscious effort not to discuss off the field issues here.  I’m not concerned with what a player does in his free time.  I’m only about the sports.  However, this Bucco season is like the Saharah Desert for sports blogging in Pittsburgh.  Plus, I’m rationalizing that as a sports blog, I should attack some of the major issues in sports, on or off the field.  So I’m going to pitch in my opinion of some of the top stories this week.  If it’s popular, I might make it into a weekly segment that I regularly forget to do (see: weekly beer recommendation).

Should Mike Vick Play Football?

The skinny: If you’ve been living under a rock, Mike Vick was convicted of dogfighting.  He went to jail for two years.  The NFL commissioner is now debating when to let him play football again.

See this for more detail

My two cents: Let him play.  He didn’t weasel his way out with a plea bargain or a cheap acquittal due to a high priced lawyer.  He was convicted.  A judge sentenced him.  That means there is a contract between him and the American people that he must do X, Y and Z to make up for his transgressions.  He did X, Y and Z.  If you don’t think that it was a harsh enough punishment you don’t need to go see the NFL, you need to go see your local lawmaker to get the minimum sentence raised for dogfighting.  I don’t think that the sentence is what people are objecting to, however.  I think they’re objecting to the million dollar payday he’s in line for when he gets back in the NFL.  Dogfighting is a horrible crime.  It shows that you have no compassion and it shows a lot of bad tendencies in your human nature.  Bad men who kill dogs aren’t worthy of million dollar pay checks.  That’s my understanding of the argument at least.  But that’s a slippery slope of logic that you’re heading down.  If a dog killer doesn’t deserve a million dollars what is he allowed to make?  You have to allow him to earn a living.  Denying him a job and forcing him to die a slow death from starvation is meeting inhumanity with inhumanity.  So where do you set the line?  I’m educated with a college degree.  I have a professional job.  I’m not bringing home a million dollars, but I’m not hurting.  If I’m convicted of dogfighting am I still worthy of a comfortable living?  I guess the main point here is that if you deny Michael Vick the opportunity to play football, you’re punishing him because of his profession, which has nothing to do with his crime.

Brett Favre: Stay, Go or JUST DECIDE ALREADY!?

The skinny: Brett Favre has spent the past few off-seasons debating whether or not to retire from football.  Just today, he finally made the decision to retire.

See this for more detail

My two cents: I understand the dilemma, but he needs to make a decision.  I respect his obvious love of the game.  He was a successful quarterback.  He has enough money to last the rest of his life and then some.  This was about his love for the game of football and not money.  I can understand that.  But there are other people who are affected by this decision.  The team he’s dragging along (in this case, the Vikings), have to make plans for the upcoming season.  He can always un-retire a la Michael Jordan.  But he has a responsibility to others around him to make a decision and live with it for at least a year.  Now, Jordan took some heat for being confused and retiring and un-retiring.  But it was just fun and jokes because it affected no one but him.  Brett Favre, on the other hand, is being a bit selfish by waiting, and was starting to draw some genuine anger.  There’s a difference.  Will this anger taint his legacy, as I’ve been hearing?  Probably not.  People will forget about it eventually, and he’ll be remembered as a great quarterback.  This is just a footnote.

Big Ben Is In Hot Water

The skinny: Our own Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assult of a woman in Nevada.

See this for more detail

My two cents: This is an awful situation.  You can stereotype it both ways.  Either the famous athlete is trying to get away with another crime or the gold digging woman is lying for money.  Both situations have happened before.  No one knows which of those two scenarios is correct, and it will be a while before we do.  This case could drag on for another year.  But I do know one thing: someone is very very wrong in this situation, and I hope whoever it is suffers some serious consequences.  The sexual assault she describes is basically rape.  So either Big Ben is guilty of rape (which is probably one of the worst crimes you can commit), or this woman is guilty of lying (or at the very least grossly stretching the truth) about being raped and destroying his reputation for a chance at a pay day.  Either one of those is a serious challenge to society in general, and I hope that whatever happens, the truth is found and this case is not just shrugged off.  Now, I’m aware that things don’t look good for this woman at first blush.  She waited a year to tell anybody, and she’s going after him in civil court instead of criminal court (where she can get more money).  However, I’m at least willing to admit that the scenario is plausible.  If you’re going to accuse the Super Bowl champion quarterback of rape, you’re going to get a lot of attention, and you’re going to have to talk about this very painful experience a lot.  I can understand if it takes a year to get up the mental strength to do that.  I can also understand that after a year, most of the evidence is probably gone, so you have to go to civil court where the evidence requirement for a conviction is a lot looser.  So it’s at least possible that she waited a year and is still telling the truth.  The story she gave is also possible.  Therefore, we’re just going to have to wait for a decision in about a year, and hopefully a stiff punishment thereafter.

Pete Rose Finally In The Hall?

The skinny: After some lobbying statements by Hank Aaron, Bud Selig is considering putting Pete Rose up for the vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

See this for more detail

My two cents: I don’t care.  Pete Rose gambled on a baseball game that he was a part of.  That’s an obvious assault on the integrity of baseball.  Any game that Pete Rose was a part of after that was going to be looked at with a skeptical eye.  So, he was given a lifetime ban from the game.  That’s a fair and logical punishment (it’s also fair and logical to ban those who threaten the game’s integrity with continued steroid use, but that’s for another rant).  With that ban came a ban from the Hall of Fame.  Now, I can understand making an exception of his ban for that.  Being a member of the Hall of Fame who bet on the game doesn’t cause anyone to think a game is fixed.  It does question the integrity of the Hall of Fame, however.  If a man who made that kind of egregious act towards the game is let in it doesn’t speak very highly of the requirements, but that’s for the sportswriters to decide.  Which brings me to my next point.  Admittance to the Hall of Fame is an arbitrary decision by a bunch of sportswriters.  It says nothing about your career beyond what your numbers said.  Pete Rose put up some of the greatest hitting stats in history, and for that he will be remembered as a great baseball player.  Hall of Fame or not.  In the long run, that kind of honor doesn’t really matter.  Besides, most of these players spend their careers telling the baseball writers that they don’t care about their opinions.  Why should they start after they retire?

So there you have it.  The first edition of my two cents.  Let me know if this is something I should continue or not.  Or, let me know if I’ve lowered my standards of faux journalism and I should be ashamed of myself.

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