The Baltimore Ravens must be the luckiest team in NFL history.
They should’ve been one and done in last year’s playoffs only for Rahim Moore’s epic blunder to set them on course for a Super Bowl run. They defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in a pivotal division match-up on Thanksgiving night thanks to five field goals by Justin Tucker. Last night, in an equally crucial Monday Night game, they somehow beat the Detroit Lions without scoring a single touchdown. Six more Tucker field goals was all the offense “elite” Joe Flacco and company could muster.
Nearly a week since Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin executed the Two Step Heard ‘Round The World, Steeler Nation has been bracing for the inevitable consequences. Yesterday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally deigned to step down from Mount Olympus and pass down punishment for The Blunder. As usual when the Ginger Dictator deals with the Black and Gold, his punishments were both harsh and potentially very damaging. At least he’s consistent.
The first – and least – important part of Ginger’s ruling was a cool $100,000 fine for Tomlin. That may sound like big money to you or I but to a head coach making $5 million, it’s not much different than an average worker getting docked $150. As an aside, can anybody else believe that goof Tomlin gets paid five MILLION dollars to lie his ass off at press conferences and embarrass the franchise on national television? Meanwhile, a truly great head coach like Bill Cowher was sent into retirement because the team didn’t feel he was worth a top salary.Continue reading »
The controversy over what Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did or didn’t do in his team’s Thanksgiving night loss to the Baltimore Ravens has reached new levels of absurdity. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. It was a national showcase in front of one of the largest audiences of the year. And with the year winding down and so many sites devoted to NFL coverage, these kind of “stories” are a perfect way to generate hits.
Although at this point, they’ve all but accused Tomlin of hiding on the grassy knoll.Continue reading »
All things considered, Sunday was a pretty good day for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their playoff hopes may have sustained serious damage after losing to the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving but yesterday’s results show there are still signs of life. It’s not going to be easy and the margin for error is certainly razor thin. Although considering how the season started, even being in position to be playing meaningful games in December is quite a feat.Continue reading »
The Pittsburgh Steelers playoff hopes sustained a crushing, possibly fatal blow on Thanksgiving with a 22-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Of course, the big story coming out of the game – at least outside of Pittsburgh – are the actions of head coach Mike Tomlin. The Ratbirds won so their trademark whining has been mostly replaced by jokes and sarcastic comments about Tomlin standing on the field just long enough to interfere with Jacoby Jones 73 yard kickoff return early in the third quarter.
Although it didn’t stop Terrell Suggs for providing me the title of this post when asked his thoughts on the Tomlin Two-Step: “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying to win.”Continue reading »
The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. There really isn’t much to add to that. It has already become one of the NFL’s most heated rivalries. While the departure of guys like Hines Ward and Ray Lewis has taken away some of the on-field animosity, the rivalry will continue to burn as long as these two teams continue to face each other in big games.
And make no mistake, this is a huge game. About a month ago, the joke going around was NBC probably wishes they could flex Ravens-Steelers out of the coveted Thanksgiving night prime time slot. Both were mired at the bottom of the standings and looked like a couple of teams going nowhere. Thanks to modest winning streaks and the mediocrity of the AFC, both Baltimore and Pittsburgh now find themselves in the thick of the Wild Card race.
As if Ravens-Steelers isn’t important enough. As if a showcase on Thanksgiving wasn’t important enough. Now we get to throw in major playoff implications. With seven teams basically tied for the second Wild Card, head-to-head victories and Conference Record are going to be the difference between a trip to the playoffs and an early off-season.
While I fully expect another close game, let’s just hope it doesn’t go to overtime. We all remember what happened last time the Steelers played an OT game on Thanksgiving.Continue reading »
The Pittsburgh Steelers have managed to claw their way back into the AFC playoff discussion. As I mentioned in yesterday’s game recap, a large part of their resurgence is due to recent line-up changes. A few of those changes were coach Mike Tomlin demoting guys due to poor performance but most of them came about because of injuries. In nearly every instance where a starter has gone down, his replacement has come in and been an improvement.
Baseball has what is called a Lou Gehrig situation. Basically, Gehrig was a bench warmer until one fateful day when the starter was ill and couldn’t play. Gehrig took his place and performed so well he’d play every game thereafter for the next fourteen years. It’s a tremendous achievement but also a cautionary tale about how quickly and unexpectedly a player can find themselves replaced.Continue reading »
Sorry for being short but I actually had another of my trademark 1000 word monstrosities analyzing every potentiality playoff team in the queue when my computer decided to eat it. So you’ll have to settle for the Cliff’s Notes version of my opus.
The AFC is a trash heap. The playoff picture is both clear and an absolute mess. Clear in that the division leaders are all pretty well settled. We also know one Wild Card will come from the loser of the Kansas City-Denver battle for AFC South supremacy. One of those teams will finish with 11 or 12 wins, barring some sort of epic collapse.
Nobody else is even above .500. Two teams, the Jets and Dolphins, currently sit at 5-5. Behind them, there are six teams that are 4-6, including our Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes, thanks to Da Bears downing the Ravens and the Browns being the Browns, all three of the also-rans in the AFC North are knotted up at 4 wins each. As I pretty much cautioned all season, the level of mediocrity is such that the Steelers had little trouble bringing themselves back into the pack.Continue reading »
I was going to write “But the Bungles still lose” except when you’re 2-5 and staring up at the entire division, you really shouldn’t throw stones. Such is life for fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If you were busy yesterday taking your kids trick or treating or attending one of those adult Halloween bashes where you get to live out your childhood fantasy of being Batman while every woman is wearing a costume with the word “Sexy” attached (Sexy Nurse, Sexy Plumber, Sexy Maid, Sexy Butcher), you probably missed NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football. By the way, a dirty little secret of this season is the TNF games have actually been pretty damn good. They stumbled into a much better slate than ESPN got stuck with on Monday nights. It’s just hard to get used to watching NFL on days other than Sunday and Monday.Continue reading »
I’m not sure we can say the Pittsburgh Steelers are all the way back. But they’re getting there. Yesterday afternoon, the Steelers took a giant step toward digging out of the 0-4 hole that began their season by pulling off a last second victory over the Baltimore Ravens 19-16.
Last week, the Steelers finally broke out of the turnover slump by picking off Geno Smith twice. This week, they finally found a running game. Rookie Le’Veon Bell just missed his first career 100 yard game (93 yards) as five guys combined to pile up 141 yards of rushing offense. Bell averaged 4.9 yards a rush which was particularly impressive when you consider his longest gainer was only 11 yards.
Speaking of impressive, the running game got on track despite the offensive line suffering yet another setback. Marcus Gilbert was injured early on leading to Guy Whimper taking his place at right tackle. Whimper had been used exclusively at guard since coming here but is a tackle by trade so that’s not a huge shock – that they’d rather insert Whimper into a game than Mike Adams is. Adams did see some action when LT Kelvin Beachum was briefly shaken up but it appears he’s buried deep inside Mike Tomlin‘s non-existent doghouse.Continue reading »