Know Thy Enemy: Indianapolis Colts

 Posted by at 5:53 am  Big Ben, Game Preview, NFL Playoffs, Secondary, Super Bowl Champions  Comments Off on Know Thy Enemy: Indianapolis Colts
Dec 042015
 

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There’s nothing the NFL likes more than a good storyline. Oftentimes those stories are forced narratives, exaggerated by the networks to give a game a “hook” for the casual fan. As if Fantasy Football and/or degenerate gambling isn’t hook enough. However, when the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football, the story really does write itself.

Ten years ago, the Steelers met the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. The Black and Gold were led by a second year starter named Ben Roethlisberger. Seattle was quarterbacked by former back-up Matt Hasselbeck. The Steelers of course went on to win that game, then another Lombardi Trophy a few years later as Ben grew from a game manager to one of the best quarterbacks in football. Hasselbeck played nine more years for Seattle, leading them to several playoff appearances before taking on the life of a journeyman back-up the past five seasons. Continue reading »

Jerome Bettis – Hall of Famer (Plus Super Bowl XLIX)

 Posted by at 6:48 am  Steel Dynasty, Super Bowl, Super Bowl Champions, The Bus  Comments Off on Jerome Bettis – Hall of Famer (Plus Super Bowl XLIX)
Feb 022015
 

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So anybody watch that little football game last night?

The Pittsburgh Steelers last second victory in Super Bowl XLIII has officially been unseated for the title of craziest ending ever thanks to the insane final minutes of Super Bowl XLIX. Beginning with Tom Brady‘s touchdown pass to put the New England Patriots ahead 28-24 with a little over two minutes left, the final sequence of events will live in Super Bowl folklore for decades to come. The Seattle Seahawks received a miracle via a crazy juggling catch that set them up at the goal line only to go and flush it all away with the WORST CALL IN NFL HISTORY. I’m not football genius but when you’re at the one foot line and your running back is nicknamed “Beast Mode,” I think it’d be prudent to GIVE HIM THE DAMN BALL. Continue reading »

Oct 102012
 

Short week this week as the Pittsburgh Steelers head down south to face the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football. For once the Steelers’ schedule actually breaks in their favor. Short week games are never fun but at least they’re matched up against a bad team that’s reeling from two straight losses. And then you get a nice ten day break before facing the Cincinnati Bengals in the first real make-or-break game of the season.

The Steelers haven’t had the best luck on the NFL Network. They’ve faced the Browns on Thursday night two years in a row, first suffering a shocking loss then seeing Ben Roethlisberger suffer a season-altering injury. The Steelers aren’t a lock against bad teams, either. The Raiders suck yet we still lost to them a few weeks ago.

Of course, every situation is different. The Browns act like playing the Steelers is their Super Bowl so no matter the records or talent level, they always play tough. And as I recounted in my preview, Oakland has always been a house of horrors for the Black and Gold. Tennessee? Well, there was the Lendale White/Terrible Towel incident back in 2008 but the Steelers have beaten the crap out of them both times they’ve met since then.

STEELERS DEFENSE vs TITANS OFFENSE

One step forward, two steps back. James Harrison stepped forward last weekend, Troy Polamalu  and LaMarr Woodley stepped back. All the way back to the trainers room. With the short week and the prospect of getting extra rest in advance of the Bengals game, neither Woodley nor Polamalu are going to play. In Mike Tomlin‘s weekly lie-fest/press conference, he said Woodley’s injury is less severe than Troy’s, describing his hamstring strain as “mild.”

Which of course in Tomlinspeak probably means he tore it from the bone.

In the meantime, let’s hope Lawrence Timmons can give us a repeat of his dominating performance against the Eagles. I’m not a Jaworski who watches 285 hours of tape but from what I’ve heard, Timmons looked good because instead of assigning him set responsibilities (which he always abandons anyway), Dick LeBeau let him rove all over the field ala Troy. Timmons is a great athlete and it appears he has a good nose for the ball so perhaps they’ll turn him loose from here on out. Clearly asking him to be a disciplined play-the-system LB ala James Farrior was not working.

The Titans offense has been plain awful this year. The biggest culprit being former star RB Chris Johnson. The Steelers famously snapped his streak of 12 straight 100 yard games back in 2010 and in many ways he’s never been the same. He would have a Pro Bowl year that year but he held out the next and after getting his big contract has never approached his previous level. This year he’s rushed for only 200 yards in 5 games and hasn’t scored a single TD.

The Titans placed a lot of faith in first round pick (8th overall) QB Jake Locker expecting he’d make some leaps in his second year. Locker separated his shoulder a couple weeks back so our old buddy Matt Hasselbeck will start in his place. Hasselbeck was a capable game manager for the Seahawks team we beat in Super Bowl XL and did manage to lead the Titans to a 9-7 record last season. Of course, they played in a terrible division with Jacksonville trying exile themselves out to LA and the Colts who were busy Sucking For Luck. Hasselbeck is a wily vet but he’s at the point in his career where he needs help and when your best receiver is another old friend, ex-Steeler Nate Washington, that’s not enough.

STEELERS OFFENSE vs TITANS DEFENSE

Big Ben needs 300 yards to pass Terry Bradshaw as the Steelers all-time career passing leader. Unfortunately, I don’t think TB will be sending Ben any congratulatory notes in the mail when he does. Their relationship is still reportedly icy and I don’t expect it to thaw any time soon. It’s hard to compare eras so I’m not going to get into any “Who’s the better QB” debate except to say I hope some day these two guys are able to make peace with each other.

Big Ben should have a good shot at the record against a piss poor Titans D currently ranked in the bottom 5 in both rush and pass D. The Steelers scored one offensive TD against Philly and if they don’t do much better this week it’ll be a massive disappointment. Christian F’n Ponder dropped 30 on them last Sunday. Two time Super Bowl Champ Ben Roethlisberger and his Young Money receivers had damn well better do the same.

It’ll help if the receivers actually catch the ball this week. So many plays were left on the field against Philly. Mike Wallace in particular needs to step it up after his stellar 2 catch effort. Instead of begging for flags every time he’s jostled aggressively, how about trying to get open? Even Antonio Brown, who was the best offensive player not named Rashard Mendenhall, had a costly drop that would’ve went for 6.

Speaking of Rashard, his return was about as effective a comeback as you could’ve hoped for. The final numbers weren’t spectacular but 5.8 YPC was a nice change from what we’ve seen. Plus he probably would’ve had close to a 100 yards if not for the 15 holding penalties against Willie Colon. I’d like to see them clean that up this week, especially against a fairly lousy run defense.

The Steelers are 2-2 on the season. 2-0 at home, 0-2 on the road. The chances of that trend continuing all year are slim. At some point the Black and Gold will have to venture into enemy territory and come away with a win. Considering some expect Music City to look a lot like the Steel City come kickoff time, this is a good time to pick up a road win. And if they can get their offense in gear while fixing the penalty situation in the process, all the better.

Seahawks Fans Cannot Whine About Super Bowl XL Ever Again

 Posted by at 5:08 am  Steeler Nation, Super Bowl, Super Bowl Champions, Videos  Comments Off on Seahawks Fans Cannot Whine About Super Bowl XL Ever Again
Sep 252012
 

When I wrote for my original Pittsburgh Steelers blog-that-shall-not-be-named, I got comments. Not a ton of comments, mind you, but I had a group of regulars who pretty much replied to everything I wrote. There were only two topics which sent feedback levels through the roof. Obviously the first was Ben Roethlisberger’s little fiasco down in Georgia. The second?

Super Bowl XL.

My blogging career began two years after that game so all my posts came well after the fact. And, to my recollection, I only wrote a few on Super Bowl XL anyway. Still, it didn’t matter. When I would devote an entry to Super Bowl XL, it would invariably set off a firestorm in the comment section.

Seattle Seahawks fans have never gotten over that game. What’s more, they have never gotten over the laughable notion that the were “screwed by the refs.” Because of this pervasive emo attitude from their neon clad latte sipping fanbase, whenever I’d write about Super Bowl XL, they’d swarm to my blog like a plague of flannel wearing locusts.

They’d post their usual conspiracy theories and whine about this that and everything else under the sun. In turn, Steeler Nation would rise up to defend their team’s honor. Arguments would break out, names would be called, Morrissey records would be played (in Seattle) and so it went. Every time, without fail.

Last night, Monday Night Football featured one of the great debacles in NFL history. The whole game was fairly atrocious as the scab refs threw about 75 flags during the course of the game. Towards the end, they backed Seattle up with two ticky-tack holding calls, then bailed them out with an equally ridiculous pass interference call on the Green Bay Packers. But they truly saved their best for last.

In case you went to bed at a reasonable hour and missed it, the above was the game winning play from last night’s game. One of the scab refs some how saw a simultaneous possession (which we all know goes to the offense) on that final Flutie-esque Hail Mary attempt by the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and awarded them the game-winning touchdown. Except it’s not a simultaneous possession. Not even close.

The Seattle Seahawks stole a game from another team. They’ve officially forfeited the right to be indignant about poor officiating ever again.

Jan 132012
 

They say losing reveals a lot more about your character than winning. If that old jockism is true, then the Pittsburgh Steelers have a big problem. As I sit back and reflect on an ignominious end to a wasted season, I can’t help but worry about the future of the team. Sports radio around town has already been bombarded by calls from irate members of Steeler Nation advising the organization to begin the reloading process by ridding themselves of the old broken down players who failed them this year.

I think that’d be a big mistake. Not because I think Hines Ward or James Farrior are going to find the Fountain of Youth during the off-season. I think it’s a mistake because I’m not sure if the next generation of Steelers are ready for primetime. In fact, if the game in Denver and its immediate aftermath tells us anything, it’s that we may need Farrior and Hines more than ever.

For those who haven’t heard, Maurkice Pouncey used his twitter feed to pimp some ear pollution by some goofy rapper friend of his following Sunday’s heartbreaker in Denver. When some of his followers wrote him that it was in poor taste to be promoting junk less than 12 hours after your team lost a playoff game, he responded with the always mature, “I’m rich play for the steelers and have a awesome life! u wish u had my life!!” After deleting the tweet and writing a half-hearted apology, he spent the rest of the day blocking fans who criticized him for being an asshole. Nice to see him block somebody for a change.

Now, I’m not advocating cutting Pouncer as he’s undeniably a very talented player. But when he played poorly at the start of the season, whispers around town were that he’s quickly gaining a reputation among the players for being a high maintenance cry-baby. He and Ben suffered their high ankle sprains at roughly the same time, yet Ben came back a week later while Pouncey spent the rest of the season picking splinters out of his ass. Doug Legursky played the Wild Card game despite badly separating his shoulder which shows you the kind of warrior he is. What has Pouncey shown besides a willingness to sit out pretty much every important game the Steelers have played the past two years?

And before anybody gets on me for being hard on Pouncey or dealing in rumor, I will remind everybody that I wrote about Ben Roethlisberger being disliked by his teammates YEARS before the national media finally caught wind of the story. I was vindicated then and I stand by this. Pouncey is a selfish dick who wants all the acclaim of playing for the Black and Gold without any of the success or sacrifices. And the worrisome part is I don’t think he’s alone.

During the off-season, Manny Sanders, Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace dubbed themselves “Young Money.” It was a fun nickname for a group of receivers who promised to take the Steelers offense to new heights. You also know it was a self-promotional tool to raise their notoriety around the league. AB won Team MVP because he is by all accounts one of the hardest workers out there. Meanwhile, Manny had a great playoff game but was injured most of the year and didn’t do jack during the regular season. Then we have Wallace, who’ll be a restricted free agent, who completely disappeared down the stretch run. If you want to call yourself Young Money and want to be this hot young NFL superstar, first you need to make the plays when they count.

Anybody doubt Hines Ward would’ve caught that 50 yard bomb when his team needed it? Instead of clever nicknames or telling reporters you’re going catch 2,000 yards worth of passes in 2011, how about making one big catch in a big game? Once again, we have a guy who likes to run his mouth and act all cocky without actually backing it up ON THE FIELD. That’s not how it works.

A big story last week involved Jets players describing Santonio Holmes as “a cancer” and a quitter in the aftermath of their season-ending collapse. That is why I shed no tears when the Steelers stole a fifth round draft pick for him. Lost in the memory of his game-winning catch in Super Bowl XLIII is the fact for almost the entiretly of his tenure here, ‘Tone was a total dick. While everybody remembers the toe-tapper that won us our sixth Lombardi Trophy and brought ‘Tone the game MVP, I remember two other plays that tell you all you need to know about Santonio Holmes.

The first one occurred on Santonio’s 40 yard catch and run that set the Steelers up for a shot at the end zone. At the end of the play, Ben and the O-line were running down the field to kill the clock because they only had one time out remaining. While they were hustling to the line, Holmes was busy doing a Me Me Me dance to celebrate his catch. Ben was forced to burn that final time out. Considering the game-winning catch came with about 35 seconds left on the clock, had Ben been sacked on one of those subsequent plays, Holmes’ stupidity would have cost us the game. After the catch, he did that goofy LeBron-esque saltshaker move with the football which those enablers at the Four Letter replayed ad nauseum ever since. What they don’t tell you is using the ball as a prop is an unsportsmanlike conduct foul which should have cost the Steelers 15 yards on the subsequent kickoff. Once again, our MVP put his camera time and his personal glory ahead of the team.

Hines Ward has said he’d be willing to stay with the Steelers for a Bettis-like reduced contract. The feeling is the Steelers might not take him up on it because even for veteran minimum, they have no use for him. I disagree. Players like Hines and Farrior may not be the players they used to be but they’re locker room leaders. When they speak, players tend to listen. And it seems apparent to me the Steeler locker room needs all the leaders they can get right now.

 

No Losers When Steelers Face Broncos

 Posted by at 10:02 am  NFL Playoffs, Ratbirds, Super Bowl Champions  Comments Off on No Losers When Steelers Face Broncos
Jan 042012
 

I have a confession to make. I’m a Tim Tebow fan. I’ve mentioned it in passing on this blog but never felt compelled to join the Tebowmania sweeping sports media by writing a full-fledged post about him. Since the Pittsburgh Steelers will be facing Tebow and his Denver Broncos in Sunday’s Wild Card playoff game, I suppose now’s the time to do so.

My reasons for liking Tim Tebow are twofold. And, not coincidentally, they are the exact same reasons so many people don’t like him. First and foremost, I like him because he’s a winner. He won a state championship in high school and a national championship in college. He took over a Broncos team that started the season 1-4 and led them to their first playoff appearance since the Steelers knocked them off in the AFC Championship Game back in 2005. Sure Denver has lost three straight and backdoored into the playoffs but if not for Tebow’s thrilling last-second victories in four consecutive games, they wouldn’t have even been in that position.

I’ve only purchased two non-Steeler jerseys in my life. One was a Doug Flutie #7 when he played for the Buffalo Bills back in the late 90s. I like Tim Tebow for the same reason I liked the Magic Flutie; they’re both exciting and unconventional quarterbacks who may not always look pretty but have an uncanny ability to get the job done. Flutie wasted the best years of his athletic life in Canada because the NFL’s cookie cutter mentality didn’t see him as a prototypical NFL quarterback. A lot of people dismiss Tebow because he also isn’t a classic drop back passer.

So? Doug Flutie ran around and made plays. Tim Tebow runs around and makes plays. You know who else runs around and makes plays?  Ben Roethlisberger. Outside of Pittsburgh, a lot of media types downgrade Big Ben because he isn’t a pure passer like Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers. Steeler Nation usually counters with some variation of “Count the rings!” Well, if you’re going to forgive Ben’s sandlot style of play because it works, why not do the same for Tebow? I also find it funny that some people criticize the Broncos for leaning on their running game to cover for their young quarterback as if the Steelers didn’t run the ball 60% of the time during Ben’s first three seasons.

Now we move on to the other reason Tim Tebow is a polarizing figure: his religion. The Baltimore Ravens’ resident loudmouth Terrell Suggs went on ESPN yesterday and made some pretty offensive religious based comments. The Ginger Dictator is quick to hand down fines when players flip off the fans or phone their wife to tell her they’re not seriously injured. What do you think the chances are T-Sizzle will be fined for his comments?

I find it a pretty sad commentary on society that anybody would have a problem with somebody being TOO religious. I’m not going to get into particular faiths but religion in general tends to stress honor, humility and respect for your fellow man (and particularly women). How any of those things could be considered “bad” is beyond me. Yeah, some religions have been tainted by scandal but so has the Penn State football program.

Besides, if any team’s fans should have no problem with ultra-religious players, it’s fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers. If Tebow is the most up-front about his faith in football, Troy Polamalu has to be a close second. The man makes the sign of the cross before every play for crying out loud. And not so coincidentally, he also has the second best selling jersey, behind only Tim Tebow. Sure, some of that has to do with chicks digging Troy’s long luxurious hair but much of it is because he’s not only a great player, he’s a soft-spoken gentleman. You can wear a Polamalu jersey with pride and, if you’re an out-of-town member of Steeler Nation, without being barraged with rape jokes.

Another not-so-hidden message I put in many of my posts is the fact I find many athletes to be obnoxious. When I was a kid, I was lucky to grow up woefully ignorant of what our star athletes were up to. Carnegie Mellon hadn’t invented the internet and the media was better about keeping things secret. I had no idea Lawrence Taylor was banging 14 year old hookers or the Pirate Parrot was selling blow to half the team. Kids growing up today can click two buttons and see Antonio Cromartie forgetting the names of his nine children from eight different mothers or the semen stains Big Ben left in the bathroom of a dive bar down in Georgia. I saw Santonio Holmes’ horse-dick for criminey’s sake. And women whine about Victoria’s Secret babes causing an unhealthy body image. Regardless of personal beliefs, it’s nice to know there are still good guys out there like Troy and Tim.

Oh, about that other non-Steeler jersey I bought? As you may have guessed, it’s a Tebow. So no matter who wins on Sunday, I’ll still have a rooting interest going forward. Although for the record, I’ll be rocking my classic #86 during the game. While I may respect, even admire, this weekend’s opponent, my loyalties will never be divided.

Sidney Crosby Is Back (And So Am I)

 Posted by at 10:28 am  Pittsburgh Penguins, Steel Dynasty, Super Bowl Champions  Comments Off on Sidney Crosby Is Back (And So Am I)
Nov 222011
 

Last night, Sidney Crosby returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins after suffering a concussion nearly a year ago. Today, I return to the blogosphere. What a great day for Pittsburgh sports fans!

Seriously, though, while football is my first love, hockey is a close second. I was born the same year the Pittsburgh Steelers won their first Super Bowl so I’m not really old enough to remember the Steel Dynasty. The first championship I actually experienced as a fan was the Penguins’ 1991 Stanley Cup. And to Tina DiCapula’s ever-lasting chagrin, you never forget your first time.

For those ex-‘Burghers out there, the atmosphere around town was absolutely electric once word got out that Sid was returning. We take our sports very seriously here and there has been no subject of greater importance or which inspired more angst than the condition of Sid’s noggin’. Once the game got underway, Sid rose to the occasion by scoring on his first shot roughly two minutes in. The crowd went absolutely insane and all was right with the world.
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Roger Goodell Doesn’t Care About Family

 Posted by at 1:31 am  Ginger Dictator, Super Bowl Champions, Troy Polamalu  Comments Off on Roger Goodell Doesn’t Care About Family
Oct 252011
 

Congratulations go out to Commissioner Roger Goodell. His goal has finally been achieved. He has successfully pussified the National Football League.

I tuned in to the Four Letter hoping to hear Trent Dilfer announce he was coming out of retirement to play for the Baltimore Ravens. He certainly couldn’t do any worse than last night’s performance by Joe Flacco. But rather than glorious analysis highlighting every one of the Ratbirds many flaws, I instead had to listen to the talking heads go on and on about the catfight between the Detroit Lions’ Ndamukong Suh and several members of the Atlanta Falcons. For those lucky smart enough to avoid the mind-numbing prattle, the story goes after quarterback Matt Ryan was hurt on a play late in Sunday’s game, Suh and teammate Cliff Avril stood there taunting him about the injury.

OH NOES! THE HORROR!
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Is The Fix In Against The Steelers On Sunday?

 Posted by at 3:41 am  Bill Cowher, Ginger Dictator, Super Bowl Champions  Comments Off on Is The Fix In Against The Steelers On Sunday?
Sep 152011
 

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.

Quoth the zebra:

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.
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