Misery loves company.
That was Bill Cowher’s famous rallying cry the last time the Pittsburgh Steelers were eliminated from playoff contention with weeks left in their season. The final game of Coach Cowher’s legendary Steelers career came against this week’s same opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals. In that game, the Steelers had nothing to play for but Cincy needed a win in order to qualify for the post season. Thanks to an overtime touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes, the Chin walked off the field one final time as a winner.
The Steelers can’t knock the Bungles out of the playoffs on Sunday night. Cincy has the AFC North well in hand with an eye toward maybe even getting one of those first round byes. And the Steelers aren’t technically eliminated from the playoffs, although it would take a nearly miraculous series of events for them to back-door into the Wild Card game. However, it’s still Cincinnati-Pittsburgh so you know both sides are going to play hard.
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Some people think the Pittsburgh Steelers 0-4 start was the product of a poorly constructed roster, some lousy coaching, and injuries to key personnel. They would be wrong. The Steelers simply decided to postpone winning until after the Pirates season was over. They were polite enough to give them spotlight.
Good manners are the Steeler Way.
With the Bucs done for the year, the Black and Gold wasted no time getting off the schneid by defeating the New York Jets 19-6. The highlight of this game was Bill Cowher, the greatest coach in Steeler history, in the booth calling the game with the normally unlistenable duo of Nantz and Simms. Not only did CBS make sure to work in a plug for Cowher’s mid-life crisis, er, leather-clad rocker babe, the Chin’s near orgasmic joy with every field goal attempt made an otherwise dull game seem exciting.
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I had planned on posting the video of Antonio Cromartie struggling to remember all of his illegitimate children by way of introduction but then the fine folks at Benstonium had to go and make the above video. I have no idea if they read my blog but I already noted Mike Tomlin‘s overuse of “Obviously” in my semi-brilliant analysis of his weekly press conference. In any event, it’s nice t o know I wasn’t the only one who pays attention to those things – even if I did grossly underestimate how many times he repeated himself.
Go back to your Word of the Day Calendar, Mike!
In football news, the Pittsburgh Steelers face the New York Jets on Sunday. As if the Black and Gold’s quest for their first win of 2013 isn’t exciting enough, CBS is working a gimmick where their obnoxious studio commentators will be working games played by their former teams. That means the greatest head coach in Steelers history, Bill Cowher, will be on hand to point out how badly the team has fallen apart since his departure. Since the game will be in New York, no word on whether he plans on bringing his leather-clad punk rocker girlfriend.
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To paraphrase Niemöller’s famous quote:
First the Steelers came for the pool table,
and I didn’t speak out because I didn’t play pool.
Then the Steelers came for the shuffleboard,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t seventy years old.
Then the Steelers came for the ping-pong paddles,
and I didn’t speak out because I didn’t play ping-pong.
Then the Steelers came for me,
and there were no games left to play.
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Remember when we thought the image of Bill Cowher – giant fake choppers gleaming, sweat flying off his toupee – maniacally cranking away at the storm siren during the playoff series between the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins was possibly the most disturbing thing a Steeler fan would ever see?
About a month ago, Cowher was involved in a car accident in New York City. Thankfully nobody was hurt and it was such a non-news story, I never even bothered to mention it. The only notable aspect to the story was the addendum that Cowher had a passenger – a female passenger – with him when the crash occurred.
The Chin has a girlfriend….the Chin has a girlfriend…
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Sorry for being overly negative although it’s hard not to be since for the first time in a very long time, the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing an utterly meaningless football game. The last time the Steelers entered the last week of the season with absolutely nothing to play for was the final game of the Bill Cowher era. Actually, there was something to play for that weekend.
The Steelers had been eliminated from playoff contention the week prior but the Cincinnati Bengals needed a win to get in. When asked what would motivate his team to play with nothing on the line, Cowher famously said “Misery loves company.” And his team responded by sending their long-time coach out a winner (and dumping the Bungles from the playoff race) with a clutch TD by Santonio Holmes in overtime.
While this week’s opponent, the Cleveland Browns, aren’t playing for anything either, I have a hard time imagining Mike Tomlin motivating his players in a similar fashion. After all, Fraud Tomlin couldn’t get these guys to play hard when the playoffs were on the line, how’s he gonna get them fired up for a glorified exhibition game?
How bad has it gotten? Local talk shows are taking call after call from members of Steeler Nation who actually WANT the Steelers to lose so they improve their draft position. I can’t say that’s a bad idea. Never forget the 2007 draft where Darrelle Revis went with the 14th pick and while we took Lawrence Timmons one pick later. Timmons has finally realized his potential this season although I don’t think anybody would be crazy enough to argue they’d rather have him over Revis Island. So who knows, perhaps a loss on Sunday is the difference between drafting a shutdown corner or a chronically underachieving linebacker.
Good grief, we’re talking about draft position and hoping for losses. Yes, it has come to this.
STEELERS DEFENSE vs BROWNS OFFENSE
The Browns offense will finish the year near the bottom of the league in points per game and total yards. Rookie QB Brandon Weedon has shown flashes of being a competent signal caller but enters the game having thrown more INTs (17) than TDs (14). Of course, it’s not all Weedon’s fault. Other than fellow rookie RB Trent Richardson, who was on track for 1,000+ rushing and 400+ receiving yards before he got banged up, the Browns don’t have much in the way of offensive weapons. Whoever takes over in the front office will definitely be looking to upgrade the skill positions this off-season.
EDIT: And of course late news out of Cleveland is both Weedon and Richardson are nursing injuries and won’t be active on Sunday. Evidently the Browns want to ensure they’re in position to take the next Revis so they’re endeavoring to field the WORST TEAM EVER. Even back-up Colt McCoy is sitting out because his testicles haven’t descended or some such nonsense. Which means all you loyal season ticket holders will get to see the NFL debut of rookie QB Thad Lewis. THAD LEWIS! SMELL THE EXCITEMENT!
Which brings us to the Browns’ sole motivation this weekend, rescuing coach Pat Shurmur’s job. Shurmur’s only been in Cleveland two years (although Cleveland years are like dog years, one feels like seven) but with a new owner used to winning – he was a minority owner of the Steelers – Shurmur’s wretched 9-22 mark may do him in. Knowing the Browns, they’ll probably fire Shurmur only to hire another retread like Norv Turner although we’ll
worry laugh about that when the time comes. For now Shurmur is their coach and he may very well need a win this Sunday to have any hope of keeping his job.
For the Steelers, this may be the last hurrah for some familiar faces. Casey Hampton took a pay cut to come back one more year and although the team doesn’t really have a heir apparent waiting in the wings – unless you count that drunken imbecile Alameda Ta’amu – he may not be back next season. Then there’s James Harrison. Although our old pal Hennessy will be heartbroken to hear this, there is real talk that Harrison and his $9 million salary will not be back in 2013. I think that would be a mistake since Deebo has shown he can still play at a very high level when he’s reasonably healthy but remember this is the same team that cut Greg Lloyd and Joey Porter when they still had a little gas left in the tank.
It’s the Steeler Way.
Despite a season filled with injuries to key players and lacking in game-changing plays, the Steelers D will almost certainly finish the year ranked first overall for the third time in the past six years. Dick LeBeau has been telling his guys that he intends to come back next season so barring another Bruce Arians fiasco from Art II, our D should still be pretty good next season no matter who he has to coach.
STEELERS OFFENSE vs BROWNS DEFENSE
The only upside to having one more game left in the season is you only have one more game to watch the Steelers’ excruciatingly pitiful excuse for an offense. The defense certainly struggled the first month or so of the season but when the story of 2012 is written our inept offense is going to bear the brunt of the criticism for things going so horrible wrong. And deservedly so.
Todd Haley was brought in to take them to the next level. Instead, everything has gone backwards. Ben Roethlisberger regressed. The Young Money crew regressed. The running game regressed. I don’t know if Boss Todd will be back next year – my money, or rather the money inherited by the Deuce, says yes – but let’s hope things improve next year.
Contrasted with the last appearance in the Black and Gold of some veterans on D, this may be the last time we see some young players on offense in our colors.
Mike Wallace (EDIT: Wallace has a sore hammy and is sitting out. Wow, this really is a glorified exhibition game. Do you guys really expect me to watch this?) and Rashard Mendenhall are undoubtedly playing their last home games in Pittsburgh. Wallace simply wants too much money and while I think he’s a very skilled receiver, he’s not the kind of difference maker worth throwing a huge contract at to keep around. Mendy, well, I don’t think Tomlin likes him and as time has gone on the feeling has become mutual. I think he’s a perfect example of a guy who needs a change in scenery to get their career back on track.
Where that leaves the Steelers, however, is anybody’s guess. If Haley truly wants the Steelers to run the ball more often and effectively than his predecessor, the team probably needs to invest in a top flight back. Neither Jonathan Dwyer nor Isaac Redman have looked like they should be considered featured backs. Meanwhile, we once thought the Steelers receiving corps was an embarrassment of riches but subtracting Wallace and with Manny Sanders spectacular flame-out, we’re left with Antonio Brown and… Jerricho Cotchery?
The Steelers aren’t going to make any off-season decisions based on one game. Mendy can gallop for 250 yards or Wallace can catch 200 yards worth of passes and I’m sure it won’t affect what the team does with them this off-season. What we do know is tough decisions have to be made so we don’t find ourselves in this exact same situation next year. And what is certain is the team that takes the field next September will look quite a bit different than the one we see on Sunday.
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The official record shows the Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 season ended with a Wild Card playoff loss to the Denver Broncos. In reality, their season ended almost a month earlier, on December 8th. The Steelers defeated the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football but the big story was quarterback Ben Roethlisberger having his ankle rolled up in cringe-worthy fashion. Big Ben was never really the same after that game and the Steelers’ offense goes as their star quarterback goes.
NFL head coaches are notoriously secretive when it comes to the health of their players. Bill Cowher once ripped a popular local sportscaster a new asshole for doing a story about a player’s injury, arguing that revealing such information makes that body part an inviting target for his opponents. Big Ben has never subscribed to this theory, however. If anything, Ben always seems more than eager to discuss what might be ailing him.
The subject of Ben Roethlisberger’s health is something of a running joke around Pittsburgh. At least two or three times a season, Ben will reveal to the media that he’s suffering some new horrific malady which he’ll heroically play through nonetheless. It’s gotten to the point the networks have a ready made graphic detailing how he’s experienced medical issues from the top of his head clear down to his toes. That’s not a figure of speech, Ben once claimed he played with broken toes, something Coach Cowher later scoffed at.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Ben lies about being injured, just that he has some odd fixation with exaggerating the severity of his bumps and bruises so as to enhance his reputation as the toughest QB in football. Between his penchant for holding on to the ball and the Black and Gold’s horrible offensive line play, Ben has definitely absorbed more than his share of punishment in recent years. That along with last year’s utter disaster in Cleveland was a strong incentive for the Steelers to finally address the long festering issues with the O-line. Address it they did by investing their first two draft picks on stud offensive lineman
The offensive line should afford Ben more protection this year. New offensive coordinator Todd Haley has also said his offense will feature Ben making more quick decisive throws. With these things in place, the hope is Ben will finally spend an entire year relatively unmolested. Oops, too late.
Apparently, Big Ben is already hurt.
The news making the rounds yesterday was Roethlisberger’s admission to Uncle Eddy Bouchette at the P-G that he’s playing with a “little torn rotator cuff.” Wait, what? Shouldn’t that of healed up over, oh say, the off-season? “That doesn’t heal.” said Ben. Okay, so it’s one of those injuries which needs surgical intervention. Why not get it fixed up over, oh say, the off-season? ”It actually feels great. I don’t have any pains anymore.”
SO THEN WHY BRING IT UP, YOU DRAMA QUEEN?????
“We just have to hope it doesn’t tear the rest of the way,” added Ben. Ah, now I understand. Ben revealed this info to add more drama to Steelers games. Every time he’s hit, Steeler fans will hold their breath and cross their fingers that the rotator cuff doesn’t give way. Never mind that a partially torn rotator cuff is a fairly common ailment for professional athletes (one doctor said about 80% of athletes have some level of damage), Big Ben will heroically play on despite the constant threat that his shoulder might crumble and explode at any given second.
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This season, I’ve repeatedly written things I never imagined I’d write. “The Pittsburgh Steelers secondary is the strength of the defense.” “Stop running the ball and release the Flying Circus.” “Great game by Will.i.am Gay.” “The Chief’s great-granddaughter shows off her pierced nipples.”
Add one more to the pile: I feel sorry for the Cleveland Browns.
I started watching football in the mid-80s. Believe it or not, at that time the Steelers were decidedly mediocre while the Browns were one of the AFC’s elite. No lie, the first playoff game I ever watched was the 1986 AFC Championship game that Cleveland lost when John Elway led his Denver Broncos on what is now known in NFL legend as “The Drive.” The next season, the two teams met again and this time the Browns were driving for a last minute go-ahead score when their running back committed “The Fumble” on the Denver 5 yard line. That was the closest the Browns would ever come to a Super Bowl appearance.
I became an Elway fan back then even though they would go on to get hammered in the Super Bowl. This fandom lasted until the Broncos won yet another AFC Championship game in exciting fashion, defeating my Steelers in 1997. Ironically, much like the Browns were snakebitten by the Broncos, they also made a big contribution to Bill Cowher‘s history of falling short in AFC Championship games.
I wrote a number of pieces on the Site That Shall Not Be Named lamenting the state of the storied Browns-Steelers rivalry. On Thursday, we get our first look at the 2011 Cleveland Browns and, much like the females who populate the Dawg Pound, it ain’t pretty. Their brief resurgence under one-season wonder Derek Anderson is a distant memory as the Browns have reclaimed their spot among the dregs of the league. Great rivalries are borne of competitive games on the biggest stage, something which cannot really be said of the Browns and Steelers for going on a decade now.
The sad state of the Browns is not lost on their fans. A few weeks ago, Cleveland lost 20-10 to the resurgent San Francisco 49ers. A fan called in to a local talk show to opine the team, lacking big name playmakers, should give somebody named Carlton Mitchell more playing time. Mitchell, by the way, has a whopping total of one catch for 9 yards during his entire two year career. And I thought I got some crazy comments on my old blog…
This suggestion sent the show’s host, Tony Rizzo, into a mouth frothing rage. You can listen to or download (right click save-as) his rant by clicking here. There’s no real objectionable language but if you’re at work or school, you might want to jack in your headphones or lower the volume on your computer because he gets pretty loud. In fact, the second best part of this audio is how he starts out mildly offended then his rage slowly builds and builds until it sounds like he’s about to burst like Violet Beauregarde after chewing the blueberry gum.
The best part? “I’m the Cleveland sports fan. I’m the kid with no toys at Christmas, and I’m sick of it! Every Christmas!”
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And you thought [intlink id="52" type="category"]James Harrison[/intlink] didn’t like [intlink id="8" type="category"]Roger Goodell[/intlink]…
Welcome to F-bomb week here at Total Steelers. The video above comes from the aftermath of the AFC Championship game where the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Indianapolis Colts (and future 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh) to punch a ticket to their first Super Bowl in fifteen years. Yes, that’s [intlink id="49" type="category"]Bill Cowher[/intlink] you see at the beginning of the clip. It saddens me when shortsighted Steeler fans try to argue how Mike Tomlin is such a better coach than the Chin “because he’s won two AFC Championship games” as if the two Cowher won (in addition to appearing in four others) somehow don’t count. When Tomlin wins one with a quarterback comparable to Neil Freakin’ O’Donnell, then we’ll talk.
Greg Lloyd was a bad bad man. As the Steel Dynasty of the 70s slowly faded away, the Black and Gold maintained their tradition of superior linebacking into the 80s, most notably Mike Merriwether and David Little. But it wasn’t until Lloyd became a permanent member of the starting line-up in 1989 (not coincidentally, Chuck Noll’s final playoff team) that the Steelers D regained the ferocious reputation the Steel Curtain had originated a decade prior. Harbaugh famously told an interviewer he wasn’t afraid of anything until he played against Greg Lloyd.
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Does [intlink id="8" type="category"]Roger Goodell[/intlink] have any clue? Or does his never-ending quest to screw over the [intlink id="149" type="category"]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] trump even the commonest of sense?
This Sunday the Black and Gold face the Seattle Seahawks at Heinz Field. The official assigned to referree the game is one Bill Leavy. Yes, the same Bill Leavy who did a perfectly fine job officiating Super Bowl XL betwixt these same two teams. And the same Bill Leavy who last year decided to unburden his tortured soul by apologizing to the Seahawks for doing his job to the best of his abilities in that game.
It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game, and as an official you never want to do that,” said the veteran of 15 NFL seasons and two Super Bowls.
Bill Leavy is clearly a tortured soul. He “punted” two calls in the Super Bowl! How could he live with himself if he didn’t confess his sins to a bunch of players who weren’t even on that team? And why is the Ginger Dictator so cruel as to make this man relive the worst day of his life? Does he want a tragedy on his hands?
I hope the NFL has at least been kind enough to book rooms for Leavy and crew on the ground floor of the Pittsburgh Marriott. Better safe than sorry.