Are The Steelers Back In The AFC Playoff Race?

 Posted by at 5:46 am  NFL Playoffs  Comments Off on Are The Steelers Back In The AFC Playoff Race?
Nov 192013
 

jim-mora-playoffs-o

Nope.

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 »

Oct 282013
 

terelle-pryor-touchdown-run-against-the-steelers

Well, that sucked…

The Pittsburgh Steelers promptly took any optimism gleaned from their modest two game winning streak rolled it into a tiny little ball and tossed it in the trash with a 21-18 loss to the Oakland Raiders. Yesterday’s sloppy mistake-filled game set football back twenty years. There were nine penalties, five turnovers, two missed field goals, numerous dropped passes, and a blocked punt. Oh and let’s not forget four different left guards. Continue reading »

Oct 262013
 

Naya-Rivera-FOX

The Oakland Raiders.

Forget the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns? Pffft, please. Once upon a time, there was no more hated rival for the Pittsburgh Steelers than the Oakland Raiders. In the 1970s, it was the marquee match-up.

The only other rivalry remotely in the same stratosphere was the Steelers and Cowboys. Ironically, a key part of the Cowboys success was owed to a Pittsburgh area high school legend, Tony Dorsett. Today, another local high school legend, Terrelle Pryor, is attempting to lead the Raiders back into relevance. Can lightning strike twice?

If it does, it will hardly be the first time the Steelers have been snakebit by the Raiders. With Halloween right around the corner, it’s somewhat appropriate we play this week in the Oakland Coliseum, which has been something of a traditional House of Horror for the Black and Gold. Granted the teams don’t face each other regularly but it’s still hard to believe the Steelers haven’t won there since way back in 1995. Continue reading »

Terrelle Pryor Didn’t Want To Be A Steeler

 Posted by at 5:27 am  Mike Tomlin, Terrelle Pryor  Comments Off on Terrelle Pryor Didn’t Want To Be A Steeler
Oct 252013
 

highschool-Pryor-large

Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor faces the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday. For my readers living outside of Pittsburgh, that might not seem like a big deal. To out-of-towners, Pryor is probably familiar primarily for being the most well-known tattoo enthusiast to ever play quarterback at Ohio State. Here in Pittsburgh, he’s something of a high school legend.

Pryor played high school ball for Jeanette, a small suburb southwest of the city. He was really good. How good? The dorks who rank high school football players had him ranked as the #1 prospect in the country back in 2008. Continue reading »

Oct 232013
 

 

Welcome to our weekly recap of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin‘s press conference. Before we begin, something of a minor controversy occurred this week at this normally jovial affair.

As always, the Steelers official website uploaded video of the presser which you can watch by clicking here. If you choose to watch the whole thing instead of reading my much more easily digestible recap, you may notice the video ends rather abruptly. That’s not poor editing by the Steelers geek squad, evidently instead of the normal routine of issuing a last call for questions and thanking the media for their time, Tomlin decided to pull a mic drop.

As you’ll see in my recap, Coach T was perturbed by reporters this week. Which makes me wonder how he’d fare in a city like New York where the media actually question their head coach and aren’t a bunch of pom-pom waving cheerleaders. Continue reading »

Iron City Six Pack: Steelers-Raiders Edition

 Posted by at 5:52 am  Big Ben, Heath Miller, Redzone Redman, Six Pack, Uncategorized, Young Money  Comments Off on Iron City Six Pack: Steelers-Raiders Edition
Sep 262012
 

By Hennessy

Yinz love regular features. From Know Thy Enemy (accept no cheap substitutes!) to Wallace Watch ’12, our fearless leader, Chris, loves regular features, too. With hockey season on permanent hiatus (Thanks Bettman…BOOOO!), he thought it would be cool to do our own version of the 3 Stars of the Game. Of course, we have to list three goats as well.

Chris then had the brilliant notion, “If I’m going to do a weekly segment named after the Steel City’s favorite swill beer, why not ask the guy named after booze to do it?”

We hope you play along at home. List your three stars and three goats in the comments and maybe we can get some Pittsburgh Steelers talk going up in this bitch.

3 Stars of the Week

Ben Roethlisberger:

Todd Haley seems to be taking the chains off one link at a time, allowing Ben to air the ball out almost 50 times against Oakland. Completing 36 of those passes kept Pittsburgh in the game, and he managed to be the only player on offense not trying to turn the ball over, managing 0 interceptions and 0 fumbles. Ben looked more like himself on Sunday by scrambling and extending broken-down plays, while also taking several un-flagged shots to the legs. He kept trucking and lobbed four TD passes before the nightmare was over. Hats-off to the man in charge of a relatively productive offensive performance.

Heath Miller:

I don’t think it is worth mentioning again but Heeeeeaaath may be the most underrated player in the NFL. Ben has stated publicly that he fears the thought of playing without #83 on the field, and showed why against Oakland. Miller tied Wallace with eight receptions on the day, and managed to pull two of those down within the goal line. The often overlooked side of Heath was also apparent, as his “addition of another lineman” blocking style cleared the way for Ben to mark up 384 yards in the air. Heath’s block-and-catch presence has helped cement the weak O-Line for years, and proved its worth again on Sunday.

LaMarr Woodley:

Woodley was the only visible presence on the defense after Clark’s 1st play interception of Kimo von Oelhoffen’s old snuggle buddy. He set a benchmark by bringing down Palmer for his 50th career sack, only the 8th player in Black and Gold history to reach that milestone. Coming from a Steelers defense that missed more tackles than a communications major, Woodley added a much-needed wall behind the front-line. It was far from a stellar performance, but with Troy and Harrison sitting on the sideline it was critical that someone step up and lead the defensive effort.

3 Goats of the Week

Wallace, Brown and the Ball Control Circus:

No NFL coach has gone a full season without mouthing their version of “you can’t win games if you turn the ball over.” This is only true if the recovering team capitalizes on the generosity, which Oakland did twice. AB and Wallace tossed the ball around the field like the equipment manager filled them with helium. Oakland was viciously punching at the ball all afternoon, and our stellar receiving core seemed happy to act as their personal speed bags. Brown corralled his own fumble for a TD and Wallace saved his drop in the 3rd but the offense still let two of them go to the bad guys. The resulting scores surely didn’t help the Steelers’ cause.

The Secondary:

I stay away from fretting about injuries changing the outcome of the game. Every team has sidelined players, men hobbling off the field, and a less-than 100% roster on both sides of the ball. That being said, PLEASE COME BACK TROY. The position of safety is meant to be an “if all else fails” position. In the last three games when “all else failed,” so did our safety. Darren McFadden was the potential undoing of this victory, and he owned it. When Ryan Mundy wasn’t busy trying to get fined for sloppy hits or letting a weak receiving core burn him, he was trotting around wondering what to do when McFadden finally broke through. Answer: Fall on the ground and let him score. Pathetic.

Isaac Redman:

I chose to single out Redman only because he was the starter listed at our non-existent RB slot. Between Redman, Dwyer, Batch, and Rainey, the running game did less damage to Oakland than the San Andreas Fault. Redman put up 27 of their pathetic 54 total yards on the ground, so I guess in some parallel universe he is due credit for not running backwards or fumbling 5 times (Dwyer handled the fumbling honors). I hope Haley hasn’t been watching old tapes of Amos Zereoue to prepare for his dawning of the “New-Old Stillerz Football”.

This Week’s cure for your Six-Pack Hangover:

Much like an open bar at your ex’s remarriage, we should have known this would end up bad. What started off as a chance to drink free whiskey and rekindle an old rivalry quickly turned into seething hatred. Oh, and before you left, you made sure to make an ass out of yourself.

Unfortunately, the next scheduled chance to make up for that night on the town is two seasons away. At least we have a chance to lay low, use the upcoming bye week to rest our heads and headaches, and get ready for handling our swill a little better when we face yet another bi-annual pain in the ass, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Sep 242012
 

With less than four minutes left in yesterday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders, Mike Tomlin elected to go for it on 4th down. The ball was on our 30 yard line, failing to convert would’ve almost certainly handed the Raiders the go-ahead field goal while we burned our last two time outs so we could get the ball back with somewhere around two or two and half minutes left. And that’s the best case scenario. So why would Tomlin take such a risky gamble?

Coach T’s answer: “we hadn’t stopped anybody.” Oof.

This is what Stiller Football has become in 2012. The Steel Curtain is made of tissue paper. Blitzburgh has been replaced by Snoozeburgh (as in, quarterbacks can now take a nap in the pocket without fear of being disturbed). The “old, slow and done” guys are all gone so DO NOT blame this on age. High draft picks abound on this defense and not a damn one of them is any good.

Larry Foote and Ryan Clark are the only two guys who earned the right to leave Oakland with their heads held high. As much as I find his personality irritating, I have to admit Clark has established himself as the team’s third best defensive player after Harrison and Polamalu. For the second game in a row he made an early impact, intercepting Carson Palmer’s first pass of the afternoon to set up the Steelers first TD. Foote had 7 tackles and really stepped up in terms of run defense after Darren McFadden ran by half the team for a 64 yard TD.

The rest of the team? Ryan Mundy is an absolute embarrassment. Commentator Dan Fouts claimed the Steelers coaches considered Mundy “a fifth starter” in the secondary which, if true, means those coaches are absolute idiots. He can’t cover anybody and instead of tackling, all he does is run around trying to behead people. Mundy knocked Oakland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey out of the game on a scary helmet-to-helmet collision in the end zone which, while unintentional, should net him a hefty fine. I’m actually hoping the Ginger Dictator suspends him so I don’t see him on the field any more.

Mundy might be the highest profile stiff but he’s far from the only one. Lawrence Timmons made exactly one play all afternoon. That’s $55 million well spent. He was one of the guys along with Keenan Lewis who got wiped out on McFadden’s long TD run, by the way. Speaking of which, why is Lewis still starting? If the real refs ever come backs, he’ll get flagged on every play because unless he’s jumping on receivers’ back, they’re wide open. Not that fellow rookie Cortez Allen has been any great shakes either.

Of course, the secondary has long been a Steelers weakness. What covered for them was the fact they were good at pressuring the quarterback. Guess what? NOBODY IS PRESSURING THE QUARTERBACK. First rounders Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward barely show up on the stat sheet. Big Snack can’t move any more. How about our other highly paid LB, LaMarr Woodley? He had an early sack then disappeared the rest of the game. He should give half his pay to Deebo because it’s obvious at this point that Harrison made him by drawing all those double teams. Chris Carter and second rounder Jason Worilds are useless. The only way Worilds will ever sniff a quarterback is if Tom Brady sends him a pair of his used Uggs.

Get well soon, James and Troy. Our defense is absolute garbage without you.

The only reason the Steelers managed to hold on to a lead until the very end was the Raiders seemingly tried to prove they could play even less defense than we did. Take nothing away from Ben Roethlisberger, who was once again magnificent. Ben had one of the great passing performances in recent memory, completing 36/49 for 384 yards and 4 TDs. Todd Haley has finally realized he has to put the ball in the hands of his best players because the team came out throwing and kept on chucking all afternoon. They mixed in a running play here and there but, as usual, the running game was a complete waste of time.

Heath Miller caught 8 passes, including two of Ben’s four touchdowns. Mike Wallace also caught 8 balls, piling up 123 yards and a touchdown. That TD, shown above, was a crazy play where Wallace did everything short of send up a signal flare to show he was wide open. Ben scrambled away from danger while the man covering Wallace cramped up and fell down, leading to him being about as wide open as you’ll ever see. Antonio Brown chipped in with 7 catches for 87 yards but had two fumbles, one of which he got back but the other was extremely costly.

Besides the putrid D, the Steelers biggest downfall on Sunday was all the mistakes. They dominated the first half but came away with only a three point lead because of penalties and turnovers. Besides McFadden’s long TD run, the Raiders other TD was set up by a Jon Dwyer fumble. The offense blew through time outs in the 1st quarter so they had none left when they were driving at the end of the half and had to settle for a FG. Brown’s second fumble set up the game-tying FG. Then we have special teams, where AB had two big kick returns (one for a TD) called back because of penalty. Meanwhile, Mike Goodson’s 51 yard punt return directly led to another of Oakland’s touchdowns.

Maybe Tomlin shouldn’t have forced Al Everest out so he could hire his buddy, eh?

Of course, Tomlin has much bigger worries on his plate. The Steelers are 1-2 and haven’t really played anybody decent yet. Scarier yet, the defense is an absolute mess and their only hope for salvation lies in a 32 year old guy with a bum back and knee and an All-Pro safety who plays like a kamikaze and has the career expectancy of one. The good news is we get a bye week where we can hopefully get some players back. The bad news is it’s a long season after that. A long season which will get even longer if some things don’t start to improve.

Know Thy Enemy: Oakland Raiders

 Posted by at 6:10 am  Game Preview, Injury Report, James Harrison, Mike Tomlin  Comments Off on Know Thy Enemy: Oakland Raiders
Sep 222012
 

The Pittsburgh Steelers face the Oakland Raiders this Sunday. The Raiders are 0-2. Some people believe the Raiders are the worst team in football. I say none of that matters.

The Force is strong with Oakland.

And by “strong” I don’t mean the pimp hand with which Richard Seymour is able to cheap shot our superstar quarterback. And by “Force,” I’m not talking about the energy field which surrounds all living things and binds the world together. No, I’m refering to whatever evil Dark Side mojo the Raiders seem to hold over our beloved Steelers.

On paper, this game should be a cakewalk for the Black and Gold. However, diehard members of Steeler Nation know better. Forget about records, forget about who’s playing for who or who’s healthy and who’s injured, none of it matters. The Raiders always seem to give the Steelers all that they can handle.

In 2006, the defending champion Steelers traveled out to Oakland only to come home with loss, thanks primarily to Ben Roethlisberger tossing a pick that was returned 100 yards for a TD. That Raiders team only won two freakin’ games that season. In 2009, the Steelers were once again defending champions and once again suffered a shocking defeat. This time they were beaten by an Oakland team which would finish with five wins. In 2010, we finally whupped them good although Seymour laid his own whuppin’ on Big Ben.

The bottom line is nothing good ever comes from playing the Raiders. Nothing.

STEELERS DEFENSE vs RAIDERS OFFENSE

Ah, sweet irony. Our old friend Carson Palmer refused to report to the Bengals and eventually forced his way out of Cincinnati because he was sick of losing. Naturally, the Bengals made the playoffs last year while the Raiders finished third in the AFC West at 8-8. Now he has to contend with a solid Chargers squad and Peyton Manning out in Denver.

Palmer still has the big arm, unfortunately he doesn’t have very good targets to throw at. One of late owner Al Davis’s last controversial moves was drafting WR Darrius Heyward-Bey with the 7th overall pick in 2009, passing over Michael Crabtree, Percy Harvin and, eventually, Mike Wallace. Heyward-Bey came within 25 yards of posting his first 1,000 yard season last year but has generally been regarded as a disappointment. If you keep a lid on Heyward-Bey, there is steep drop-off when you go to Denarius Moore and journeyman Derek Hagan.

The Raiders best offensive weapon is of course running back Darren McFadden. Run DMC is actually more of an all-purpose back in the Ray Rice mold (and we know how Rice tortures the Steelers). Injuries limited McFadden to only seven games last season but in 2010 he had his break out, rushing for 1,100 yards and catching another 500 yards worth of passes. If the Steelers have any trouble with the Raiders offense, it’ll be because they can’t handle McFadden.

The Steelers D will once again be without James Harrison and Troy Polamalu. I already discussed the Harrison situation in great detail, I have no idea the severity of Troy’s injury although Tomlin is assuring everybody it’s a minor calf sprain. Yeah, right.

The good news is the defense played quite well without them last week. LaMarr Woodley stepped up in the pass rushing department while Ryan Clark did a great Polamalu imitation in the secondary. The key this week will be the inside backers, Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote, who’ll be charged with keeping tabs on McFadden. If they have a good game, the Steelers should be able to keep Palmer in check. If not, well…

STEELERS OFFENSE vs RAIDERS DEFENSE

#FreeToddHaley

Mike Tomlin said in his weekly lie-fest, er, press conference that he’s been disappointed with the Steelers running game. If they don’t get it going this week, they’re never going to. Last week, the Reggie Bush of the wretched Dolphins dropped 172 yards on them. Rashard Mendenhall is once again sitting out so this may be the last best chance for iRed and Jonathan Dwyer to prove they can be counted on to tote the rock.

Of course, while the Raiders run D is horrid, their pass D is merely awful. Nobody has put up a big number against them but they haven’t exactly been shutting anybody down either. They have one sack in each of their first two games and have yet to intercept a pass. They’ll probably do a  little better at rushing Big Ben this week because, well, everybody does but a secondary filled with has-beens and never-weres would seem to be easy pickins for a Steelers team disgustingly deep at wide receiver.

The Raiders have some players who, in theory, should provide some problems for opposing offenses. Their defensive tackle tandem of Tommy Kelly and old friend Richard Seymour are a solid if aging duo. MLB Rolando McClain is a game time decision coming off a concussion last week. He hasn’t done much this year but he has a definite pedigree as a pass rusher. And safety Tyvon Branch has been an active if unspectacular player throughout his NFL career.

The Raiders have been in both their games well into the second half so don’t expect an early blowout. However, if Todd Haley turns Big Ben loose early and often, he could succeed in dragging Oakland into a track meet their ill-equipped to handle. Last week the Steelers D was able to stifle an offense lacking in playmakers and led by a below-average quarterback. This week, they face a stiffer test on both fronts. With that in mind, the best course of action may be to simply try to get out to a lead and challenge them to catch-up.

One Less QB For Steelers To Worry About

 Posted by at 11:45 am  Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon, Roster Moves, Terrelle Pryor  Comments Off on One Less QB For Steelers To Worry About
Aug 222011
 

*Exhale*

The Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly sent representatives to watch Jeanette High School and Ohio State tattoo aficionado [intlink id=”106″ type=”category”]Terrelle Pryor[/intlink]’s pro day last week.  One would think the Steelers would have no use for another QB but Pryor said in pre-draft interviews he would entertain the idea of moving to wide receiver.  Not that the Steelers have any dire need at that position either.  At 6’5 and running a 4.4/40, they’d probably make an exception for the right price.

It became moot a few minutes ago when the Oakland Raiders secured the rights to Pryor for a third round draft pick.  Leave it to the Raiders to overpay by two rounds in the Supplemental Draft.  Then again, he was the fastest quarterback to come out of college in the past three years.  Oh, Grandpa Al, never change.
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