Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Steelers

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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Steelers 12 Bengals 18

 

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Game Recap

Well, crap.  This was a big game.  Cincy now has the driver’s seat on the division, and the playoff home game that goes with it.  But it doesn’t mean that Pittsburghers should go jump off the Smithfield St. Bridge or anything quite yet.  Far from it.  We’re still in a good position for the wild card, and as we know here in da burgh, all you need is that ticket to the playoffs to win it all (remember Super Bowl XL?).  In fact, Cincy won the division that year if my memory serves me.  So, this isn’t the end.  Let’s call it what it was: we made some mistakes, Cincy played great, and they were the better team on Sunday.  But that doesn’t mean they’ll be the better team come January.

Offensively, it was pretty much a wash.  The numbers are almost identical for both teams.  The only thing that sticks out is that the Steelers had a few more rushing yards (which had a lot to do with the lack of Cedric Benson), but neither team was able to break the century mark on the ground.  The only thing that separated these two teams was the one kickoff return.  Just look at the margin of victory.  Those are the six points right there (with the missed extra point).  Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty darn sick of watching Jeff Reed chase kick returner.  It’s the easiest facet of the game.  Just run straight ahead, get off your block and hit the ball-carier if he’s in your lane.  That’s it.  High school teams do it all the time.  But there is a serious lack of desire in some cases, and a lack of team spirit to stay in your lane and not try to make a tremendous play in other cases.  Overall, we’ve got to get some new bodies out there on kickoffs.  This is ridiculous.

Troy getting hurt is a huge blow to the team.  We really struggled without him earlier in the year.  The upcoming schedule isn’t the roughest one around, but it would still be nice to have him.  He gives the defense another dimension that you can’t replace.  It’s also troubling that it’s the same knee that he hurt earlier in the season.  This has long-term implications written all over it.

Overall, these were two evenly matched teams.  One mistake is all it took to win this game.  Cincy’s defense slowed down our pass attack more than any other team this season.  For that, you just have to tip your cap.  They limited the running game, and their D-line played fantastic.  You could say similar things about our offense as well.  I hope we see them again in the playoffs.  It would be a fantastic game, and I like our chances with the extra  motivation.  But, I have to once again say hats off to the Bengals.  I came into the season as a doubter, I was pretty convinced by week 4 or 5, and now I’m positive that this is a contending football team.  Kansas City should be much easier next week.  Lets get back to winning.  I like that a lot better.

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Steelers 28 Broncos 10

 

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Game Recap

This game was fantastic for Steeler fans.  After starting out a little slow out of the gates, we really turned on the jets in the second half.  The reason for it is simple: we got in Kyle Orton’s head.  He threw 3 picks in the game, and had a passer rating of 0 in the fourth quarter.  This game was definitely a pleasant surprise considering all of the injuries the team is currently battling.  I don’t know a single person who would have guessed that the Steeler defense would dominate the way they did.  Seeing people step up and fill roles like they did is very good news for the future of the franchise.  Some notes on the game:

– Speaking of guys who stepped up, how about Tyrone Carter?  Two INT’s while filling in for Ryan Clark.  That makes me feel better knowing that we have some backfield depth.

– Rashard Mendenhall had a great day, but boy did he ever have some monster holes to run through.  I think even I could have picked up 100 yards with what he was given.  Although my scrawny butt would probably be a mangled mess by the end of the day.

– Speaking of Mendenhall, he ducked to the sidelines an awful lot.  Now, that’s not a bad thing.  I don’t need my back to be tough for the sake of being tough.  I’d like him to take it easy and be of service for a lot longer.  My issue is that he was still doing this in the 4th quarter when we were trying to run out the clock.  Just slide if you don’t want to get hit.  Why go out of bounds and stop the clock?

– Big Ben ran a no huddle for a with a lot of success.  He’s been fighting with Bruce Arians to do this more often.  I think it’s a nice change of pace, but if we do no huddle all the time, teams will adjust to that as well.  It’s all about changing things up in football.

– Mike Wallace had himself a game.  It’s nice to see a legit 3rd receiver emerge.  The question now is, how long will they hold on to Limus Sweed?

– I hinted at this in the point about Rashard, but the O-line did a fantastic job all game long.  They got ragged on a lot last year, but they are a phenomenal unit this year.

– The D-Line that has been hurt by a lot of injuries did very well stopping the run from Denver.  That was also a nice surprise.

I like the way we played, but the bottom line is we exposed a marginal quarterback.  That won’t happen every week.  Especially not this upcoming Sunday when Cincinnati comes to town.  That’ll be the biggest game the Steelers have had in some time.  I can’t wait.  But I also have a sinking suspicion that Cincy will give a lot more of a fight than Denver did.  We’ll see.

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Steelers 28 Lions 20

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Game Recap

The Steelers are a broken record without Troy Polamalu out.  They stop the run and build up a lead, then when the other team is forced to pass, the pressure disappears and they fold.  For the second straight week, we’re lucky to hold on.

Offensively, we did well.  Mendenhall had a decent first half, then wasn’t given any more opportunities.  Limus Sweed dropped his weekly pass.  Ben played great (I’m forgiving the interception.  Everyone makes mistakes).  There’s not much to complain about.  We only had 7 second half points, but we really didn’t have the ball much to make anything happen.  Bruce Arians is coming under some heat for his playcalling.  Specifically, going away from the run when we had the lead.  His response was that the Lions were stacking the run and the pass game was open, so he wanted to take advantage of that.  I buy that explanation.  I would do the same thing.  So Ben got sacked twice on a 3 and out?  So what.  It still runs the clock.  As long as Ben holds on to the ball (which I trust that he will), that’s still a good play.  I liked the offense all around.

As for the defense, they didn’t have the greatest game ever.  21 first downs is a lot for the Lions.  When you consider they didn’t have their starting QB or their best receiver, it’s embarrassing.  The reason they got 21 first downs?  11 for 18 on 3rd down.  That’s right.  11 3rd down conversions.  Usually when that happens, you lose.  We were lucky the team across the field was Detroit.  It’s not hard to see the pattern: we were succesful only when we got pressure on Dante Culpepper.  We were stopping the run, and they were forced to pass a lot.  Unfortunately, our secondary is not the best without Polamalu.  When the coverage was helped by the front 4 getting pressure, they were successful.  When they had to cover for a few seconds while Culpepper sat there, they got picked apart.  It wasn’t because we weren’t blitzing, it was because we weren’t getting through the line.  That’s unacceptable.

So, overall, not an impressive game to be sure, but it’s another tick in the win column.  I guess just like Pitt the day before, you have to take some lessons away and be thankful that those lessons didn’t cost you a win.  The Browns visit Pittsburgh next week which should be another win.  SHOULD being the key word there.  We’ll see how much we’ve learned.

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