I’ve been a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers for a very long time. I’m not going to claim I haven’t missed a game in 35 years or anything like that (I was a teenager once and the Steelers did start Bubby Brister). However, since I started following them in the late 80s, I can honestly count on one hand the number of times I’ve turned off a game before the clock hit zero. Well, much like the Steelers, now I have one for the thumb.
Yesterday’s 34-24 loss to the San Diego Chargers was the worst kind of drubbing. It was one of those games where literally nothing went right and your team was never in the game. The Steelers pathetic offense didn’t cross mid-field until there were 30 seconds left in the first half. At the start of the 4th quarter, the Chargers had possessed the ball for roughly 30 of the first 45 minutes. This was as thorough an ass-whupping as the Steelers have had in a long time.
Except instead of coming at the hands of an elite franchise like Baltimore or New England, it was handed to them by a going nowhere 4-8 team about to fire their head coach at season’s end.
Unlike in those other embarrassments, Ben Roethlisberger was the least of the culprits in yesterday’s debacle. Ben actually looked pretty good coming off a three game layoff due to catastrophic injury. He moved around well, scrambled without fear and didn’t look rusty or limited at all. It’s only too bad the rest of the team decided to offer him less support than they offered Charlie Batch in Cleveland.
Young Money should change their name to Cash Droppahs. Once again, they dropped an obnoxious number of passes, several of which would’ve went for big gains in the first half when the game was still within reach. Mike Wallace put up a nice fantasy game with garbage time stats (7 catches 112 yards 2 TDS) but in reality he came up small when the catches counted. He was wide open on at least three occasions in the first half only for the ball to CLANG off his stone hands.
But perhaps the biggest goat was Antonio Brown. Ben made a nifty move to scramble away from danger and launched a perfect throw 30 or so yards down field which hit AB right in the chest before bouncing harmlessly to the turf. As if that drop wasn’t bad enough, AB later gift-wrapped 7 points to the Chargers when a bubble screen hit TE David Paulsen and bounced into the end zone. Brown tried to pick it up which was stupid because he was 5 yards deep and about to be swarmed. Being tackled in the end zone is the same as kicking the ball out of the end zone (a safety) so the result would’ve been the same except by trying to be a hero, he let the ball get away from him and 2 points became 7. What a maroon.
For awhile now Steeler fans (myself included) have sang the praises of the Steelers receiving corps. All receivers drop passes now and then but at what point do we start wondering if maybe we’ve overrated them a bit? Wallace is definitely an one trick ass clown with delusions of grandeur (LarryFitz money my ass…) but what’s going on with AB and Manny Sanders? And why do the Steelers bother signing guys like Plax and the Cotch Rocket if they aren’t going to play them?
Of course, I’ve long said the passing game needs a good running attack to complement it in order to be effective. The Steelers couldn’t run at all yesterday. Jonathan Dwyer finished with 8 carries (EIGHT!) for 32 yards. He narrowly led the team in rushing over Ben who ended up scrambling for 31 yards because he was constantly running for his life. The offensive line allowed only 2 sacks but Ben’s 5 scrambles were due to pressure and there were another half dozen times he got away long enough to throw the ball away. Willie Colon tried to tough it out but had to leave early on with Maurkice Pouncey shifting to LG and Doug Legursky coming in at center.
This will come as shocking news but Colon is injured and reports are he’s LOST FOR THE SEASON. Yes, I know that the guy who is always injured and never plays a full season yet got a big fat contract anyway being injured is totally unexpected but there you go. We’ll talk about where this leaves the O-line and running game going forward later.
All this misery and I haven’t even gotten to the defense yet. I don’t want to hear Steeler fans bitch about Ike Taylor ever EEEEVVVER again. The D loses Troy and still leads the league in pass defense. The D loses James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley and still leads the league in total D. The D loses Ike and goes to complete shit.
The way Curtis Brown played yesterday almost defies description. It literally looked like they took a guy out of the stands an hour before game time and put him in the starting line-up. That’s how clueless Brown looked. This is the guy’s second full year with the Steelers and he didn’t appear to have any idea where he was supposed to be or who he was supposed to be covering. It got so bad that in the second half they actually inserted Josh Victorian, a guy fresh off the practice squad, as the nickel because Brown was such a liability.
When the Chargers scored early in the 4th to go up 34-10, I figured it might be good to take out Ben since the game was lost. Mike Tomlin kept him in, risking both injury and the season in a lost effort. Ben led a TD drive but instead of going for 2 (and possibly cutting the lead to two scores instead of three), he kicked the XP. Why? “I didn’t want to reveal my secret 2 point plays,” Tomlin later said in a lie so hilarious, only the rah rah cheerleader Pittsburgh media could swallow it.
If you’re not trying to win, WHY WAS BEN PLAYING? I can believe you have some 2 point trick plays but, I dunno, you couldn’t just run a regular goal line play? The truth is Tomlin had given up on the game but he didn’t want to justify keeping Ben in and admit he wasn’t playing to win. I was on Twitter and a minor war broke out amongst Steeler fans as a #fireTomlin hash tag started making the rounds. I’m not saying Tomlin should be fired but I’m sick and tired of the Tomlin apologists acting like nothing that happens to this team is his fault. Losing to teams we shouldn’t lose to and putting out performances like this one or the one in Cleveland or a whole bunch back in 2009 are inexcusable. And that falls on the head coach.
The only good news to emerge from Sunday is the Bengals also lost (as did the Ravens but they’ve clinched the division with our loss). Which means the status quo holds over from last week. The Steelers must win out if they want to control their own destiny but one more loss, as long as it isn’t to the Bengals, will still probably get them in the playoffs. PLAYOFFS? (Insert Mora rant here).
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Guess what? Another key member of the Pittsburgh Steelers is hurt! Shocking!
Did they install ladders over the tunnel in Heinz Field? Did the entire team decide to engage in a mass mirror breaking exercise during training camp? I realize every team battles injuries but this season has been downright ridiculous.
The year starts with James Harrison on the bench where Troy Polamalu joins him almost right away. Harrison comes back and out goes LaMarr Woodley. Just to make things more interesting, Antonio Brown also gets hurt. Brown and Troy start feeling better, out goes Ben Roethlisberger. And that’s not even mentioning other notable guys who’ve missed time like Jonathan Dwyer, Jerricho Cotchery, Willie Colon, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams and on and on…
I’ll talk more about the Ben situation when we hear what happened at practice later this afternoon. Word is Ben is actually going to practice this week, not mill around the sidelines casually tossing soft lobs to Mike Tomlin‘s son like he did last week when the morons at ESPN excitedly proclaimed his “return to practice.” If Ben stands behind center and runs the offense at full speed while demonstrating he can heave the ball more than 5 yards down field without clutching his midsection like Richard Harrow just shot him in the gut, he’ll start.
If not, well, in Charlie Batch we trust. Suck it, haters.
One person the team will definitely be without is cornerback Ike Taylor. I think we all knew Ike was seriously hurt when CBS cut to a sideline shot of him being placed in a walking boot. Tomlin revealed he suffered a hairline fracture of his ankle, an injury should shelve him for 2-4 weeks. Steeler Nation has a real love/hate relationship with Face Me Ike (mostly hate) but there’s no doubt the team will miss him. Since starting the season in a Tebow-induced funk, Ike has returned to his status as the lead shut down corner on the league’s best pass defense. AJ Green, Victor Cruz and Torrey Smith all disappeared under his watch so to think his absence won’t be felt is foolish.
Cortez Allen will take his place in the starting line-up with Curtis Brown taking Allen’s slot as the nickel corner. As soon as Ike left, Joe Flacco couldn’t wait to test Allen. And he kept testing him all afternoon, targeting him a whopping 12 times before all was said and done. Of Flacco’s sad 188 yard output, 100 of those yards came at Allen’s expense. Allen did come on in the second half and the presence of Troy will certainly make any secondary better. Still, the Steelers aren’t going to play a mediocre quarterback every week so Allen either needs to step up his game or the team is going to struggle if Ike misses more than a couple weeks.
The Steelers are in a precarious position as it is. They’re holding tight to a Wild Card spot and the general mediocrity of the AFC means that a 9-7 record will probably slip in to at least one playoff slot. It’s looking like the pesky Bengals will be the Steelers biggest obstacle for that spot. The teams meet the final week and it’s very possible the winner will go on to the post-season. Sure the Bungles are the Bungles but I’d feel a lot better about that game with Ike covering AJ Green than Cortez Allen. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.
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It appears the demise of the Steelers defense was greatly exaggerated.
After Sunday’s utter domination of the New York Giants, Dick LeBeau‘s crew finds themselves the top ranked defense in the entire NFL. Not the Bears. Not the Texans. Not the Niners.
The Pittsburgh Steelers.
Does anybody else remember all the way back to one measly month ago? I know many of my readers don’t live in the Pittsburgh area so let me tell you what every other yinzer calling in to sports talk radio was saying. The defense stinks. They couldn’t stop a nose bleed. Dick LeBeau is old and the game has passed him by. Without Troy Polamalu, the defense doesn’t have enough talent to get the job done.
I admit it. I jumped aboard that bandwagon. After the Steelers blew a 23-16 lead against the wretched Titans, surrendering 10 points in the final five minutes, I started thinking maybe the only way this team can win is to run up the score on their opponents and hold on for dear life. In my defense, Ben Roethlisberger must have harbored similar feelings because Cris Collinsworth mentioned about six times that he said he wanted the offense to start closing out games instead of relying on the defense.
Ironically, it was that Sunday Night game against the Bengals where the D finally came to life. Whether Ben’s comments filtered back to them or not, they stepped up. After allowing a field goal on Cincy’s opening drive of the second half, the defense forced five straight punts to close out the game, four of which were three and outs. Granted the Bengals don’t have the greatest offense but Andy Dalton nearly out-dueled Peyton Manning this past weekend. And they do feature AJ Green, the best receiver in football, who much-maligned Ike Taylor held to one catch for 8 yards.
The next week, they did face a supposedly high powered offense. Robert Griffin III was being touted as the most fearsome offensive weapon in the league. The Redskins were coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Giants where they scored 23 points a week after dropping 38 on a solid Vikings unit. The Steelers stuffed RGIII like a three point buck and held Washington to a mere 12 points. Last Sunday, we faced the Giants and another high flying offense. If you subtract the bogus fumble recovery for a TD and the bogus personal foul on Ryan Clark that gave them 7 instead of settling for 3, the D held the G-Men to 9 points.
So dominating were the Steelers that Giants coach Tom Coughlin threw his quarterback under the bus after the game.
Can this last?
Blitzburgh is a thing of the past. Despite the overall #1 ranking, they’re only 22nd in sacks (14 total). This might be concerning except I’m starting to think the sack is the football equivalent of a save in baseball. A closer can come in with a 3 run lead, give up a two run home run and as long as he gets that third out, he’s credited with “saving” the game. Physically dragging the QB down is like a save, it’s a result that doesn’t speak to the action. Sure it would be nice to get sacks because they usually come with big losses but they’re not the be all and end all. The Steelers have been generating pressure on the QB. Forcing QBs to move around in the pocket, rushing throws, and generally disrupting their timing can all be done without registering a sack. And that’s what they’ve been doing.
Then we have Mike Tomlin‘s beloved “splash plays.” Again, the Steelers haven’t been doing well in that category. Their top ranked pass D is third from the bottom in interceptions. They have forced four fumbles which makes them about average but there is no denying the splash plays are few and far between. However, are splash plays truly an accurate measure of a good defense?
I’m not big on statistics because, as the saying goes, there are liars, damn liars, and statistics. When it comes to turnovers, stats are even more misleading. One of the great unspoken truths of the NFL is that turnovers are about 20% scheme and talent and 80% luck. When the Saints won the Super Bowl, they had the most opportunistic D in the NFL. The next year the same players ranked in the bottom third in turnovers and lost in the first round of the playoffs. The Patriots had the last ranked defense last season yet made it all the way to the Super Bowl because they got a lot of turnovers (playing teams like the Jets and Bills helps). This year they’re in the middle of the pack and as a result have had to do a lot of work to overcome a defense ranked 28th against the pass and 22nd in total yards allowed.
What I’m saying is turnovers are nice but they can’t be counted on over the long haul. You can’t say, “well, we give up 350 yards per game but lead the league in red zone INTs!” and think that can last. Eventually you’re not going to get that pick. Like a card counter in Vegas, you have to play the percentages. It’s far preferably to hold the other team to under 200 yards of offense than give up huge chunks on the hope the other team will turn the ball over before they score.
The personnel may be different but the philosophy is still the same. Disrupt the quarterback, stop the run, force the other team to become one dimensional. The Steelers are executing the Dick LeBeau game plan to a T. And the scary part is they’re doing it without the services of Troy Polamalu.
If they’re this good without him, what are they going to do when he comes back for a playoff run?
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Now, that’s more like it…
The Pittsburgh Steelers had their finest showing of the season last night, humbling the Cincinnati Bengals before a national audience on Sunday Night Football. While the final score of 24-17 doesn’t exactly speak to a one-sided whuppin’, scores can be misleading. This was clearly the Black and Gold’s most complete game on both sides of the ball.
Even more encouraging, instead of the usual pattern of starting strong only to falter at the end, this week the Steelers flipped the script. They came out of the gate flat and proceeded to spot the energetic young Bengals a big lead only to close the gap in the final minutes before halftime then totally dominating the second half.
Let’s start with that first half. If Mike Wallace is trying to convince the Steelers not to Franchise him after the season, he’s doing a great job. Wallace dropped at least four easily catchable balls, several of which would’ve went for big gains. He did wind up leading the team with 8 catches (for only 52 yards) but if you’re going to thump your chest and call yourself one of the league’s elite, you need to start making big plays. Nobody is playing $9 million for a decoy/possession receiver.
As bad as Wallace was, the worst misfire goes to Baron Batch. Early in the 2nd, Todd Haley dialed up a little trickeration with a lateral to Antonio Brown leading to a pass to a wide open Batch. There literally wasn’t a Bengal within 15 yards of Batch. Brown’s pass wasn’t much more than a punt and yet he let it go right through his arms. Somewhere, Limas Sweed is laughing at Baron Batch.
To add insult to injury, two plays later Ben Roethlisberger tried to force a throw between three defenders to Heath Miller in the end zone and ended up getting picked. It was the first of two costly miscues from Ben. On the Steelers next drive, rookie Mike Adams got pushed back into him and he would up fumbling the ball. Gifted field position inside the Steelers 10, the Bengals got out to a commanding 14-3 lead shortly before half.
That’s when the game started to turn. And it turned by the Steelers RUNNING THE BALL. Now Big Ben groupies like Mark Madden aren’t ever going to admit this but once again it’s become crystal clear this offense does 200x better when they run the ball effectively. Jonathan Dwyer, who spent the past couple weeks in Mike Tomlin‘s existential doghouse, had the game of his lie beginning in the second quarter when he ripped off runs of 11, 4, 4, and 21 yards.
Dwyer was aided by some nice run blocking from an offensive line which did a fantastic job all night. I’ve been extremely hard on Willie Colon but he’s proving to be a fairly significant upgrade over Kemo at LG. Although he still struggles occasionally in pass protection, he’s an absolute animal at run blocking. The goofs on NBC kept insisting Adams needed help even when their replays clearly showed the double team on Max Starks‘ side. I thought Adams acquitted himself well as it seemed to me the Steelers schemed to double Geno Smith rather than “help” any specific lineman. Despite all the gnashing of teeth over Pouncey and Gilbert, the line only surrendered three sacks while providing enough protection for Ben to get off 37 passes and the backs to romp for a season high 167 yards.
After Stonecold Shaun Suisham booted a 47 yarder to cut Cincy’s lead to 14-6, it was the defense’s turn to step up. On the Bengals first TD drive, they ran right at the Ziggy Hood and LaMarr Woodley like 5 plays in a row and couldn’t be stopped. Here they tried throwing in that direction and the Woodman batted a ball into his own arms for a key interception. Five plays later, Ben hit Heath Miller for a 9 yard TD.
Then we had our first comical situation of the game when Tomlin indulged his 2 point conversion fetish we discovered years ago in Jacksonville. Ben asked for time but the refs, who lost track of time outs (yeah, these guys are SO MUCH better than the scabs), refused to grant it. So Ben ran the play anyway, successfully hitting Heath to tie the game. When Ben walked off the field, a very pissed looking Tomlin met him, evidently thinking his QB ignored his orders to call time.
After Woodley’s interception, the game was all Steelers. Cincy got a FG in their first drive after halftime but their final five possessions resulted in five punts. What’s more, four of those five were 3 and outs. In my preview, I lauded AJ Green as the NFL’s best receiver. The much-maligned Ike Taylor held him to one catch for 8 yards. Okay, Ike had help as Dick LeBeau devised a high-lo defense where a safety would bracket Green but give credit where credit is due. Ike played a great game. The entire secondary played a great game.
And they caught a few breaks. As mentioned, Cincy ran right at the Steelers over and over on their first TD drive. Then Cincy’s center got hurt. The new guy was smaller and weaker and couldn’t handle Casey Hampton at all. Once Big Snack got on track, their running game collapsed.
Meanwhile, the Steelers running game was on fire. Dwyer would finish with 122 yards. Chris Rainey, who is proving to be another of Kevin Colbert’s late round steals, added the go-ahead touchdown off a draw play. Rainey also had several really good run backs which were called back on flags. The Steelers were flagged on EVERY SINGLE return yesterday. Or at least it seemed that way. Al Everest must have been a major asshole for Tomlin to fire him three weeks before the season started. I don’t know he did to get canned (offer Mrs. Tomlin a mustache ride?) but they better start looking for a new coordinator the minute the season ends because the current guy sucks.
But last night’s game certainly did not. In fact, it was the kind of performance that makes me feel a whole lot better about the Black and Gold’s prospects going forward. Meanwhile, the Ratbirds got humiliated by the Texans to drop to 5-2. Elsewhere, the Patriots struggled against a Jets team we thoroughly beat back in week 2. I guess what I’m saying is, nobody in the AFC is head and shoulders above the rest (except maybe the Texans). This looks like the kind of year where you get into the post-season and anything can happen. Yesterday’s victory ensured the Steelers remain in the post-season conversation for at least a little while longer.
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Back in 2009, the Pittsburgh Steelers hit a rough patch. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. And how did they respond? In a word, badly.
Mike Tomlin‘s weekly press conference became an absolute sham. Okay, it’s always been a sham but every week he’d make fiery pronouncements and then do absolutely nothing to follow up on them. His infamous promise to “Unleash Hell!” came that year and the team responded by unleashing a loss to a Raiders team that would win only 4 games. They followed that debacle by getting losing to an even more pathetic Cleveland team the following week.
While Tomlin blathered his empty rhetoric, the team played with absolutely no passion whatsoever. The defense blew fourth quarter leads five times, with four of them ending in losses. When the fans and local media began calling them on their poor play, they responded indignantly. Ryan Clark went on a tirade about how fans should support their team unconditionally.
Here we are three years later. And history looks to be repeating itself.
The Steelers haven’t stopped anybody in the fourth quarter all season. Tomlin continues to waste everybody’s time at his press conferences. And the players are turning surly. After losing to a pitiful Tennessee Titans team last Thursday, Rashard Mendenhall scolded fans on twitter for being critical. I wasn’t aware the Koran spoke about the qualities of a true fan.
Maybe he was cranky from all that fasting during Ramadan.
In any case, he should shut his Bin Laden-loving ass up. Fans pay money to go to games. They pay money to buy the team’s merchandise. They invest their time and emotion in the game. They have a right to be critical when the team doesn’t play up to their expectations.
Besides, a fan is somebody who follows a team passionately. Hence the word being derived from the word “fanatic.” Nowhere in the description does it say you’re supposed to root for the team regardless of how they’re doing. They have a name for that, it’s called “cheerleading.”
Speaking of cheerleaders, urban legend has it the Steelers don’t have hot Polish babes in teeny tiny skirts shaking their pom-poms on the sidelines because the fans are passionate enough. That’s only half true. The other half is they don’t need cheerleaders on the sidelines because they already have them up in the press box.
The local media are so far in the Steelers’ pockets, I bet every reporter for the two major papers can tell you whether Art Rooney II dresses to the left or the right. That said, when local reporters shockingly decide to speak the truth, the team and their players don’t know how to react. And it usually ends up with one of the players reverting back to their asshole jock persona.
Ike Taylor, who has played like absolute shit this season, has a weekly radio show. Okay, it’s not really radio, it’s streamed over the internet by the Tribune-Review. Full disclosure: a couple years ago when I wrote for NPC, TribLive invited me on to talk Stillers a couple times. Since then, they’ve cut costs and gone to a line-up of marginable “personalities.” One of which is Face Me Ike.
Ike went on a tirade about reporters “attacking” him which you can listen to by clicking here. Attacks are when the press goes after somebody for no reason at all. They’re CRITICIZING Ike because his play deserves criticism. Or was that game winning TD he gave up against the Titans or the 203 yards he surrendered to Demaryius Thomas in the season opener just bad luck?
People have already started drawing parallels between 2012 and 2009. In 2009, we missed the playoffs because we lost to a bunch of teams we had no business losing to. In 2012, we’ve already lost two games (Tennessee and Oakland) that we should have won. The lies continue spewing forth from the corrupt Tomlin regime. And now the players are turning on the fans and press.
It’s deja vu all over again.
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Now it’s time to panic.
The Tennessee Titans defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-23 on Thursday Night Football. I repeat, the 1-3 Titans starting a 37 year old backup QB defeated the Steelers. Where do I begin?
I suppose I’ll start by saying this is a total team loss. Anybody pointing to one specific area as “the reason they lost” has no idea what they’re talking about. The defense, for all their struggles, only gave up one legit TD with the other being a gimme from the 1 yard line after a blocked punt. The offense, despite a 363 yard passing day from Ben Roethlisberger to move ahead of Terry Bradshaw as the team’s all-time yardage leader, made some plays but they also missed a lot of chances. And the special teams, well, the blocked punt was just the latest miscue in a season full of them. Maybe Mike Tomlin shouldn’t have ousted Al Everest so he could give his buddy the job.
Regarding the special teams, Stonecold Shaun Suisham is one guy who can leave Tennessee with his head held high. Nobody has been more critical of him than I so trust me when I say making every field goal up through a 52 yarder early in the 4th quarter is all anybody can ask of him. It would’ve been nice for him to hit the 54 yarder at the end but that’s hardly a kick you automatically expect ANY kicker to make.
Right here is one of the problems with the Steelers. I’m talking about field goals instead of touchdowns. Once again, the offense moved in fits and starts, sputtering around for large stretches and failing to put the game away by scoring TOUCHDOWNS instead of settling for field goals. Twice the Steelers got inside the 15 and twice they came away with 3 instead of 6. You let teams hang around, even bad teams like the Titans, and bad things happen.
The receiving star was Isaac Redman. Wait, WHAT? Yes, for all we talk about Young Money and the best receiving corps in the NFL, it was our running back that caught 4 passes for 105 yards. Our TE, Heath Miller, chipped in with 6 catches for 67 yards. Antonio Brown? A measly 20 yards. Manny Sanders? A whopping 43.
Then we have Mike Wallace. Wallace had 94 yards and a TD on two, count’em two, catches. He scored doing pretty much the only thing he knows how to do: run fast straight down the field. I don’t want to hear any more bullshit about how Wallace is “a complete receiver.” Complete receivers catch many balls on a variety of patterns. Wallace is the ultimate all or nothing guy.
Unlike last week when the receivers dropped a ton of passes, this week much of the blame rests with Ben. He makes some great throws, like the bomb to Wallace, but then he’ll turn around and miss plays he needs to make. Suisham’s 52 yarder only happened because Ben made a terrible throw when he had Sanders wide open down the seam. Earlier in the game, he had Heath in the end zone and threw it behind him. Then there was a costly pick as time was running out in the half which probably cost the Steelers at least a field goal.
Like it or not, Ben needs a running game. When they run, they win. When they don’t, they lose. And last night, they couldn’t run at all. Much was due to having no running backs. Rashard Mendenhall played a couple series before leaving the game with what habitual liar Tomlin described as “some sort of Achilles problem.” Then iRed, who wasn’t carrying the ball well but has emerged as a great screen guy, left the game after taking a helmet to the knee. With Jon Dwyer in the doghouse, Baron Batch did his best in relief, even scoring his first career TD, but he’s not a starting caliber running back.
The other problem with the running game was the offensive line. As if losing our top two RBs wasn’t enough, we also lost 2/5 of our line. I think Maurkice Pouncey is way overrated but there is one huge difference between him and Doug Legursky. They’re about the same in pass protection but Pouncey is a much better run blocker. Ditto with Marcus Gilbert, who was replaced by rookie Mike Adams. Adams is fine at pass pro, perhaps even better than Gilbert, but he doesn’t run block very well.
Now let’s talk about the defense. Specifically, Ike Taylor. The Steelers only had 4 flags thrown on them yesterday, two of them went against Ike for pass interference (he had a third which was declined). When he wasn’t getting flagged, he was letting receivers run past, through, and around him. The Titans’ first FG was set up by a penalty on Ike. Their game tying drive was prolonged by a third down penalty on Ike. Their game tying TD was scored on Ike. Hasselbeck threw for 290 yards (and would’ve thrown for about 50 more if his receivers could catch the ball), about 50% of which was on Ike alone.
In summation, Ike sucks. Instead of making pornographic rap songs, he needs to start figuring out why he sucked against Denver and why he’s sucked ever since.
Keenan Lewis…KEENAN LEWIS is now our best corner. And yes, people are going to point out he dropped a crucial interception late in the 4th that could’ve altered the game. How many of those has Ike dropped? At least Lewis is actually covering people and making plays. Cortez Allen, pressed into duty as a safety when Will Allen got hurt, did his best although messed up several times. Ryan Clark led the team in tackles as he continues to be our defensive MVP. Lawrence Timmons continued his strong play, coming up with a big interception on a play that was positively Polamalu-esque.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the D held strong for three quarters, holding Tennessee to only 9 points (as I said, the blocked punt TD shouldn’t be held against them) while the offense dicked around. Then they totally collapsed in the 4th. Why Tomlin made the insane decision to try a 54 FG instead of punting and playing for overtime, I don’t know. Dick LeBeau making the asinine call of asking James “Missed the first month of the season because of a bum knee” Harrison to drop back in pass coverage instead of, oh say, SUPER SPEEDY LAWRENCE TIMMONS was equally perplexing.
I’ve avoided dire predictions and grand statements thus far this season. Well, that time is done. The Steelers, with about 12 starters on the disabled list, get 10 days off before facing the Bengals. That has now become a MUST WIN game. I don’t care if it’s still early in the season, I don’t care that neither Cincy nor the Ratbirds are setting the world on fire, you can’t start 2-4 and expect to go anywhere. It’s time to sink or swim.
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There are certain things you can count on every season. The Bengals will find some way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Cowboys will get talked about incessantly on the Four Letter only to accomplish a whole lot of nothin’ by year’s end. And the Raiders will lead the league in penalties.
Well, the Raiders have some work to do in they want to catch the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers are used to a sea of yellow when they look up into the stands, now they’re seeing a sea of yellow on ground level as well. A quarter of the way through the 2012 season and the Steelers are leading the NFL with 9.2 penalties per game. And they aren’t cheapies, either. Those penalties have cost Pittsburgh a whopping 346 yards.
That’s 15 yards more than they’ve rushed for the entire season.
Head coach Mike Tomlin held his weekly press conference yesterday. In between the usual half truths and baldfaced lies, the local reporters actually sacked up and questioned him about all the flags. Of course, instead of asking why his team is so reckless and undisciplined, in typical Pittsburgh fashion they asked “Why are the refs making so many bad calls against us?” I wonder if their pom poms ever get caught in their laptops.
To his credit, Tomlin refused to lay the blame on others. “I’m less concerned about judgments and interpretations and so forth. I’m more concerned about playing in the manner that the flags stay in the pocket.” said the always eloquent coach. “It’s my job to get them fixed. We will work on that this week,” he added. Of course we’ve long since learned when Tomlin says he’s going to work on something, it means he’s not going to work on it at all.
Some of the penalties were absolutely bogus. Mike Wallace got called for illegal formation on a play where it didn’t look like he was lined up illegally at all. And the Ryan Mundy personal foul for helmet-to-helmet looked awfully like a nice clean shoulder hit. And going back a few weeks, I don’t think we’ll ever learn what the hell the Lingerie Football refs were calling on that Ike Taylor pass interference penalty.
So, yeah, some of the calls were absolutely ridiculous. A lot of them weren’t. Willie Colon evidently decided to dress as Chris Kemoeatu for Halloween and he’s getting a three week head start by impersonating his play on the field. Colon has been the most frequent offender, getting nabbed for eight times this season (three times on Sunday, plus another one which was declined). The starting corners, Ike and Keenan Lewis, have three pass interferences each.
What’s Tomlin going to do? Tell Colon not to hold? Teach Lewis and Ike how not to get beat like drums down the field? They are what they are. You can’t teach somebody not to suck.
What you can teach is proper tackling technique. One of the Eagles two TDs came on a drive aided by two personal fouls. As I said, the Mundy play looked iffy but when you spend your first four years in the league spearing people, you’re not getting the benefit of the doubt. Ryan Clark‘s hit was a clear PI and was rightly penalized. Clark is a habitual offender who not only refuses to apologize for his reckless play but actually told the media he doesn’t care if he gets fined or flagged, he’s going to play like he wants to play. Way to be a team player, Ryan.
That sort of stuff is what Tomlin should step in and curtail. When James Harrison was getting flagged every time looked menacingly at a QB, Tomlin sat him and told him to clean up his technique. Coach T needs to do that with everybody on defense so they stop giving teams these costly penalties. What’s more, he just needs to rein in the team overall. Penalties are going to happen but you can eliminate the stupid mental errors (like running out of bounds on kickoffs or false starts) by instilling discipline.
Players coach Mike Tomlin has been anything but a strict disciplinarian in his time here. As long as he prefers being liked over being respected, we’ll continue to see more laundry on the ground than after a tornado hits Chinatown. We can hope that it won’t eventually come back to bite the Steelers. Although I think we all know that it will.
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Last night’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns saw the return of the NFL’s regular referees and the official end of Zebra-Gate. Late Wednesday night, the NFL and the referees’ faux-union reached a reported 8-year agreement. This tentative agreement should keep the Zebras on the field for the foreseeable future, but based on the outrage caused by “THREE WEEKS AH’ CRAPPY OFISHEY-ATIN,” god only knows what else the media will turn from an interesting side story to the end of the NFL as we know it. Hot dog vendor strike? Unsafe working conditions for down-marker-holders? The creation of a kicker-punter-waterboy anti-defamation league (Chris is in trouble)?
Zebra-Gate was a horrible experience. Not the bad calls or the extra timeouts or SportsCenter actually receiving its highest rating ever due to the Packers-Seahawks debacle (more on that play later). The worst part was the fans, the media, and the overly exaggerated commentary on what was truly significant to the games. Sure, I hate the media and all, but allow me to offer my opinion on a few of the more outrageous lines of bullshit that were crafted to sell this as a potential NFL Armageddon.
The replacement referees HAVE OTHER JOBS!!!!
One of the most hilarious reasons for the scab’s unwarranted presence on the field is because they actually have jobs and weren’t in a secluded cult lair where they practice the art of flag throwing until the Ginger Dictator calls them into action. Nothing was more irritating than hearing “The guy is a BANKER in real life man, C’MON!.”
Let’s introduce you to the gun show himself, Ed Hoculi, or should we call him Edward G. Hoculi, J.D.
That’s right folks, the Mighty Hocules spends his time in a court room when he’s not being a “regular referee.” When he’s not bench pressing the legal system, he’s busy being a PARTNER at his law firm. The idiots that think the unionized referees operate on a teacher schedule and take the summer off are exactly that – idiots. Big Ed specializes in Product and Premises Liability, as well as Transportation Defense. This is legalese for helping that guy who fell off the curb at Wal-Mart get paid. I bet I never hear an announcer scream, “What a horrible call by the guy who sued a Sheetz for making their coffee too hot!”
Ike Taylor was NO WHERE NEAR SANTONIO ON THAT PASS INTERFERENCE!!!
Well, I can’t really argue with that one… It’s true. It’s damn true. Next…
That guy can’t REFEREE in the NFL, he WATCHES the NFL!!!!!!!!!!
Scab Brian Stropolo was pulled from a game because he is an avid fan of the New Orleans Saints. Apparently Roger Goodell and his crack staff overlooked Facebook pictures of Brian in SAINTS GEAR AT A TAILGATE!!!!!! The NFL, in their ever widening quest to “protect the shield,” decided this was a no-no because apparently they think no referee, scab or regular, watches the sport and has a favorite team. The NFL is the most popular sport in America but because one scab is a fan like the other 300 million people he is banned from officiating??
Being this Total Steelers, let’s keep things Pittsburgh oriented ‘round here. The “regular referee” who worked last night’s game, the guy who got a STANDING OVATION from those mutants in Baltimore, was none other than Washington, PA native Gene Steratore. He still lives there despite its lack of anything except a snobby college and a few good food joints. Gene co-owns and runs Steratore Sanitary Supply and anyone born and raised in Western PA who sells urinal cakes is obviously a Steelers Fan, myself included.
Except for the urinal cakes.
Despite this local bias, Gene has still reffed many a Steeler game and nobody cried wolf then.
The refs are back because the SEAHAWKS SHOULD HAVE LOST THAT GAME!!!!
Let’s be clear about one thing nobody has the balls to say; the ending to the Packers-Seahawks game on Monday Night was NOT the most egregious F*!# up of the Scab Era. The play is a lot closer than the empty suits on ESPN have so far been willing to admit. Any line judge who goes by the letter of the law would correctly rule that catch a simultaneous possession and TD for Seattle. He would also overlook the pass interference because he should know that offensive and defensive pass interference occur on every Hail Mary so it is NEVER called.
The officials definitely had a bad game. Seattle only got to attempt a Hail Mary in the first place because of several botched calls. But where the Packers got screwed wasn’t on the field, it was in the replay booth. And the man in the booth Monday Night wasn’t a scab at all. It was Phil Luckett, who Steeler Nation will forever remember as the ref who couldn’t hear Jerome Bettis say “Heads” in the Thanksgiving Coin Toss Fiasco against the Detroit Lions.
At any rate, I’m glad this is over. I’m going to worry about something more important. Something you’ll never hear covered 24-7 on the World Wide Leader. I’m going to worry about the NHL lock out.
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Mother Nature intervened last night to delay the latest installment in the Pittsburgh Pirates descent into abyss. Okay, so they actually won for once, stick with me here. With the Bucs in rain delay, I was able to watch Monday Night Football instead. And I’m glad I did because seeing Peyton Manning toss three picks is definitely not to be missed. Although it does make me worry about the state of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense all over again.
This post isn’t about the Steelers D, it’s about Mike Tirico. What, what? After the first half of the Broncos-Falcons game lasted nearly two hours because simple calls were taking longer than a Microsoft product launch, Tirico went off on the NFL’s replacement officials. Finally a talking head, all of whom are careful to toe the company line, broke ranks and said what everybody has been thinking.
I haven’t watched a ton of football apart from the Steelers but if our first two games are indicative of what’s been going on, I’m surprised nobody else has spoken out.
The Denver game was a complete mess. The refs called a half dozen “illegal formations” which I suspect weren’t illegal since I can count on one hand the number of times I saw it called all of last season. They gave Mike Tomlin a challenge even though the flag came in well after a play had been run. They missed an obvious facemask on Big Ben which would’ve wiped out a fourth down field goal try and set the Steelers up deep in Denver territory.
All that said, I didn’t make a huge deal out of it because I think it’s stupid to romanticize the regular referees. They miss facemasks. They make ticky-tack holding calls. On average, they do a far better job than we’ve seen from the scabs although this revisionist history making them out to be paragons of virtue is kinda ridiculous. So with that in mind, I mostly stayed out of the growing internet backlash against the replacements.
Then Sunday happened.
The officiating in the Jets-Steelers game was an absolute debacle. It was so bad that NFL.com has posted a video of the phantom pass interference call on Ike Taylor under the heading of “What were the refs calling?” Considering the Ginger Dictator has decreed nobody is to critique the scabs under penalty of death, it’s fascinating that the league’s own website is mocking their shitty officiating. Here we are two days later and I’m still trying to figure out what in the blue hell was flagged on that play.
When the action unfolded and the flag was thrown, everybody thought it was on Ryan Clark for playing football, er, hitting somebody too hard. The announcers thought it, I thought it, everybody on Twitter thought it. I had already started thinking what more I could say about Goodell and his phony crusade against concussions absolutely ruining football in my game recap when the scabs announced pass interference on Ike. Oh, okay, rage subsiding…
Until I saw the play in question. Unless Ike ate at a “sauna” before the game and the stank emanating from him was so powerful it disrupted the receiver’s concentration, I cannot fathom how he interfered with anybody. Other than a moments worth of jostling out of the break, he was a good three feet away from Santonio Holmes the entire time. It is undoubtedly the worst pass interference call ever made.
Now conspiracy theorists have come out with their take. The idea floating around is they wanted to flag Clark for unnecessary roughness but somebody on the crew realized there was nothing wrong with his hit. So rather than pick up the flag (which YOU CAN DO, scab refs), someone decided to simply pin the blame on Ike and hope nobody noticed. That might work in the Lingerie Football League where everybody is busy checking for a wardrobe malfunction but not so much in the NFL. Especially in a national game with approximately 65 hi-def cameras present. Normally I don’t buy these crackpot theories but what other explanation is there?
While that was the most egregious error, there were plenty more. The pic above was Rex Ryan’s face after he lost a challenge on whether Isaac Redman fumbled in the midst of that epic 10 minute game-sealing drive. Certainly an argument could be made although I don’t think you could automatically assume the regular refs would’ve called fumble because it was very close. Where the replacements did screw up was the entire play was supposed to be reviewed, not just the challenged part, and by doing that they would’ve seen the play was dead when Redman’s knee hit down behind the line of scrimmage. Guess they were too busy going over illegal formations to learn the proper applications of replay.
The Steelers and Jets weren’t the only victims of lousy officiating. It spread like bird flu last weekend. Cowboys linebacker and St. Clair native Sean Lee was nearly decapitated on an actual unnecessary roughness hit but no flag was thrown. Joe Flacco whined about his receivers getting mugged on every play after his piss-poor performance against Philly. Ordinarily I’d have no sympathy for him but there was no rhyme nor reason to the calls in our game either. I saw Keenan Lewis literally trip guys at the line of scrimmage and nothing get called on one play and then Ike get flagged for routine hand fighting on another. It’s a complete and utter mess and it’s going to cost some team a win, if it hasn’t already.
The NFL is America’s premiere league. They have TV contracts worth billions of dollars. I find it impossible to believe they can’t find a few million dollars to settle with the regular refs. The fact they haven’t is just example number 127 that Roger Goodell is the worst freakin’ commissioner in all of sports.
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Ike Taylor has embarrassed the Pittsburgh Steelers yet again. When we last saw Face Me Ike, he was trying to find his jock after Denver’s Demaryius Thomas ran him all over the field. This coming on the heels on January’s Wild Card playoff game in Denver where Thomas burnt him like a redhead in Acapulco. Ike’s performance led ESPN loudmouth Stephen A. Smith to say, “I didn’t know he was allowed back in the NFL after how he performed against the Broncos.” Ike took offense to these comments and a semi-illiterate twitter war broke out between the two.
Loathe as I am to agree with Screamin’ A, Ike’s showing was easily the worst game I’ve ever seen from a cornerback. And I’ve seen Tim McKyer play.
Fresh off polluting the field with his wretched play, Ike has moved on to polluting our ears with his wretched music. Yesterday a rap song surfaced featuring the musical stylings of some wanna-be gangsta chick (she’s from CANADA, for cryin’ out loud) named Jenna Garcia and the Black and Gold’s own Shoeless Ike Taylor. A 90 second preview of the song was uploaded to youtube although you can buy the full torturous three and a half minute version from iTunes if you feel like flushing .99 down the toilet. Personally, I’d rather spend the money on something more worthwhile, like one of those crusty bear claws you get out of a vending machine.
I led off with Ike and Ambassador Dan Rooney kickin’ it old-skool instead of the clip of the song because I know some of you click on videos before reading my wonderful text. The song begins with Jenna singing, backed by a generic club music auto-beat although admittedly her voice is kinda sexy. About 40 seconds in, Ike arrives to rap some lyrics which sound as if they were lifted from a porno movie. Seriously, his first line concerns Jenna’s vajayjay and how he hopes it feels like a sauna.
Swampy lady parts aren’t high on my dating criteria but, hey, I’m not a graduate of Swaggin’ U.
He proceeds to ask for oral sex, drop a couple F-bombs and brag about the size of his dick. Maybe that’s what he tripped over when Thomas beat him for that 71 yard touchdown. I wonder what Santonio Holmes thinks of his boast.
Anyway, suffice to say this song is very NSFW:
Look, don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to be a Steeler fan but things like this make me wonder if my Black and Gold colored glasses are blinding me to the fact my team really isn’t that different from the circuses we see in Dallas or New York.
Hours after the Denver playoff loss, Maurkice Pouncey pimped some idiotic rap song on his twitter account. When fans rightly questioned whether he should be shilling things so soon after a big loss, he went with the always mature “I’m rich. I’m better than you.” response. Ryan Clark is always shooting his mouth off over twitter or on ESPN. He even challenged a beat writer to a fight last season over some perceived slight. I’m not even going to get into Mike Wallace.
Don’t misunderstand, there are a lot of really good guys on the Steelers. Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu, hell even James Harrison recently donated $100,000 to his alma mater. Okay that might not cancel out smacking around your baby mama but work with me. I realize they’re football players, not choir boys, but the Rooney family used to have a very low tolerance for idiots. Today’s team seems to feature more idiots than any in memory. Part of the blame goes to the Rooneys, who’ve seemingly relaxed their standards. Part goes to Mike Tomlin, who is by far the least discipline oriented coach we’ve ever had.
I will always love the Steelers. Being proud of the guys who represent my team? Not so much.