Bettis Not Elected To HOF (And Other Super Bowl Thoughts)

 Posted by at 8:30 am  Super Bowl, The Bus  Comments Off on Bettis Not Elected To HOF (And Other Super Bowl Thoughts)
Feb 032014
 

Namath Fur coat

The 2013 NFL season officially came to an end last night with the Seattle Seahawks epic 43-8 ass-whuppin’ of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. In many ways, last night was something of a blast from the past. From Joe Namath big pimpin’ the coin toss in his classic fur coat look to Bruno Mars and his shitty Motown ripoff gimmick to the utter one-sidedness of the final score, yesterday’s Super Bowl was decidedly retro. And that’s not even counting the night’s best commercial which featured Alf, Jason Voorhees, and Hulk Hogan.

When I started watching football in the mid-80s, the Super Bowl pretty much followed the same pattern as we saw last night. The AFC would feature an offensive powerhouse who would go against a tough, defensive-minded NFC team and end up getting crushed. You youngsters out there have been spoiled as the last decade or so worth of Super Bowls have truly lived up to the hype. When I was a kid, it was usually a four hour one-sided beating. Continue reading »

Week 1 Recap: Tebowed Again

 Posted by at 5:37 am  Art Rooney II, Face Me Ike, Heath Miller, Recaps, Secondary, Todd Haley  Comments Off on Week 1 Recap: Tebowed Again
Sep 102012
 

Once upon a time, the prospect of playing the boys from the Mile High City was met with the same level of disdain Steeler Nation now reserves for the Ratbirds or Patriots. After last night’s game, I think it’s safe to say while the Denver Broncos may not be full-fledged members of the Circle of Hate, they’re definitely vying for a spot. For the second straight game dating back to last season’s Wild Card debacle, the Broncos defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in groan-worthy fashion, 31-19.

Where to start with this disaster.

How about new offensive coordinator Todd Haley? Some people view Twitter as a sign of the apocalypse (Follow me @totalsteelers) but I enjoy it because instead of waiting hours or even minutes to gauge reaction, you have it in seconds. It took roughly one quarter before the armchair offensive coordinators started calling for Haley’s head. His crime?

He was running the ball too much!

Yes, the same group who called into Pittsburgh sports talk shows whining about Bruce Arians and his Flying Circus offense for the past three years were moaning because Haley gave them what they asked for. More importantly, he gave Art Rooney II exactly what he wanted, a return to Stiller Football. And how did Stiller Football fare? Isaac Redman gained 20 yards on 11 carries while Jon Dwyer, one of the game’s lone offensive stars, chipped in 43 yards on only 9 carries with one big 17 yard gain wiped out due to a dubious holding call on Mike Wallace.

On the bright side, we totally dominated time of possession!

Seeing this offense try to relive the glory days of Franco and the Bus was PAINFUL to watch. Several times we had first and 15s and Haley elected to run on two successive downs. Only Ben Roethlisberger completing some big third down throws kept the chains moving. This team has one of the deepest and most talented group of wide receivers in the NFL. They shouldn’t be running to set up the pass, they should be passing to set up the run.

FORGET YINZERBALL AND PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS.

Ben is going to catch some flak for his performance last night, as he should. When your rep is being the best clutch player in football, you don’t throw a pick-six down six with 3 minutes left. Ben certainly had a Jekyll/Hyde game, making some great throws where he literally threaded a needle but he also made several incredibly dangerous throws which could’ve easily gotten intercepted. He also missed several big plays such as botching a sure TD to Heath Miller (who was open all day) and never seeing Wallace left wide open on a crucial fourth quarter drive. While I think it’d be totally unfair to pin this loss on him, Ben needs to play a helluva lot better if this team is going to win.

Especially if the defense is going to play like they played last night. Last year, Warren Sapp derided them as old, slow and done. This season, it appears they’re young, eager and over their heads. Despite obnoxious Cris Collinsworth occasionally getting up off his knees to proclaim “Peyton Manning is doing this to the league’s #1 ranked defense!” this is not the league’s top ranked defense. That was last year’s team with James Harrison and Ryan Clark and a healthier Casey Hampton and William Gay opposite Ike Taylor. Last night’s defense had none of those things and the results showed.

Manning was only sacked twice and one of those, by Jason Worilds, was a clean shot thanks to Manning mixing up the protection call. Other than a first quarter sack by Larry Foote, who was one of the few bright spots on defense, they generated almost zero pressure. Surely the altitude played a part but it doesn’t excuse anything. The bottom line is the Steelers offense held the ball for a whopping 10 minutes (35 to 25) longer yet the “exhausted” Broncos D held them to 19 points while the “rested” Steelers D allowed Pey-Pey to march right down the field on them.

Foote forced an early fumble although it was more luck than skill as he got thrown into the back and happened to knock the ball loose. That was it as far as highlights go. The D-line got pushed around on passing plays and couldn’t stop the run when it counted. The linebackers effort can be summed up by watching Peyton OUTRUN supposedly super-athlete Lawrence Timmons to the sticks for a 7 yard gain. Then we have the secondary. Youngsters Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen did their best B-Mac impressions, allowing generous 5 yard cushions on every pass play. And then we have Demaryius Thomas, who once again abused Ike Taylor to the tune of 5 catches for 110 yards.

Perhaps no play summed up last night’s debacle like the third quarter turning point when Thomas took a little slant and ran away from like half the defense on his way to a 71 yard TD. Of course the scab refs missed a hold on Ryan Mundy on the play but it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

What would have mattered was the facemask on Ben they missed on the Steelers’ previous drive which ended with a Shaun Suisham field goal. The game was an absolute fiasco from an officiating standpoint, with the scab refs saving their worst for prime time and most of their incompetence going against the Steelers. The lone time we got a call, on yet another boneheaded Mike Tomlin challenge which came in after a play had been run, it would’ve been better if they hadn’t. Meanwhile, Wallace’s hold wiping out a big Dwyer run and a crucial pass interference on Lewis late in the 4th were the definition of ticky-tacky especially after not calling worse against the Broncos. Evidently they did read the Illegal Formations portion of the rule book on the can before the game because that was one thing they called on both teams at least a good half dozen times.

Let’s not blame the scab refs on this fiasco. The Steelers played a terrible game last night. If Ben had Superman’d up and pulled out a last-second victory, it only would’ve been a Band-Aid on a gaping chest wound. The Steelers clearly have some fundamental issues they need to address on both sides of the ball. And they need to start by figuring out what kind of offense they want to run. Because what we saw last night isn’t going to get it done, not against Peyton Manning, not against Tim Tebow, not against anybody.

Know Thy Enemy: Denver Broncos

 Posted by at 7:36 am  Dick LeBeau, Game Preview, James Harrison  Comments Off on Know Thy Enemy: Denver Broncos
Sep 082012
 

Video courtesy of Benstonium

Welcome to the this year’s first installment of Know Thy Enemy. You may notice another Know Thy Enemy running on another Pittsburgh Steelers site, a site I started and a feature I began writing five years ago. Obviously those uncreative hacks can’t think up their own material so they’ve decided to coast along with my leftovers. Accept no cheap substitutes!

For the newbies, Know Thy Enemy is my weekly catch-all post where I preview the Steelers’ upcoming game. I analyze the team’s opponent, look at how they match up, and also give a final run down of key injuries for either side. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

The Denver Broncos handed the Steelers what was undoubtedly one of their most embarrassing playoff losses ever last season. Even defensive mastermind Dick LeBeau is still shaking his head over how last season ended. Ordinarily when a team engineers a magical playoff run which culminates in a franchise’s biggest win in nearly a decade, they spend the off-season building upon what got them there. John Elway, VP and de facto GM of Denver, went the other way. He tore it all down and decided to start over.

STEELERS DEFENSE vs BRONCOS OFFENSE

Of course Elway’s biggest move was jettisoning the man responsible for all his team’s magic, Tim Tebow. They were comfortable giving up on the Messiah because they were able to acquire a Football God. Peyton Manning, fresh off a season lost to serious neck surgery, was cut loose by the rebuilding Colts. Elway pounced and thus ended the Tebow Era in Denver.

The history of superstar QBs leaving their original team at the twilight of their career isn’t pretty. Joe Namath stumbled through a forgettable season with the Rams and Johnny U finished up with an unmemorable run with the Chargers. Joe Montana had slightly better results with the Chiefs (including a memorable overtime playoff win against Bill Cowher‘s Steelers, thanks to some inept punting from Mark Royals). Much like riding the Thunderbolt at Kennywood or making love to a woman, the second time is never as good as the first. Preseason reports were Manning looked every bit the Manning of old but experiencing the same level of success as he had with the Colts, where he won 12+ games in eight of his thirteen years, would definitely be a case of defying history.
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No Graceful Exit For Hines Ward

 Posted by at 12:40 pm  Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Penguins, Steel Dynasty  Comments Off on No Graceful Exit For Hines Ward
Mar 092012
 

Two notable things happened on Wednesday. The big sports news of the day was the Indianapolis Colts releasing Peyton Manning. Locally, the Pittsburgh Penguins unveiled a statue of the greatest hockey player to ever lace up the skates, Mario Lemieux. Watching both events unfold, I couldn’t help but think of the recent purge by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Breaking up is always hard to do. The Packers divorce from Bret Favre was full of drama and if some of Favre’s snide comments towards his successor are any indication, there are still hard feelings. Not to mention Favre ended his career playing the Vikings, who are to Packers fans what the Browns are to us. On the flip side, Manning’s press conference is already being hailed as the standard for athletic break-ups. While we should expect nothing less from football’s version of Mr. Perfect, I have to admit to getting a bit choked up listening to his heartfelt words.

And I ordinarily can’t stand the guy.

Manning’s situation is no different than that of Hines Ward. Both were synonymous with teams who achieved great success. Both are classy individuals who did a lot of good for the community. And while they may have seen their best days, both intend to continue playing football in 2012.

Where was Hines’ press conference? Why was the release of the greatest wide receiver in Steelers history made by a PR statement?  And where was Hines? His only response to being released was a short paragraph issued through his agent. Why didn’t he request a chance to personally express his feelings about moving on after fourteen glorious years in the Black and Gold?

When Chris Hoke retired a couple months back, the Steelers had a press conference where Hoke spoke touchingly about his time in Pittsburgh. With all due respect to Hokey, he’s hardly been a major part of the team’s success. Aaron Smith was amongst Hoke’s teammates who showed up to wish him well. Why didn’t Smith rate a similar send-off when he was recently released?

Now maybe the players were offered a chance to speak but declined. Smith has always been a blue collar player who shuns the spotlight. But Hines, well, Hines has never met a microphone he didn’t like. If he declined a proper farewell, it’s because that famous chip on shoulder has grown a bit larger to include the Steelers thinking he’s washed up.

There’s certainly some evidence that this divorce is more of the Favre variety as Hines recently posted a whiny little message on his Facebook page asking fans to express their anger over his release. Okay, it was supposedly posted by a member of “Hines’ team” and it was quickly taken down when people on FB and Twitter began mocking it unmercifully but I find it hard to believe anybody posts things in Hines’ name without at least checking with him first.

Then again, it’s equally plausible the Steelers never reached out to him or Smith. Steeler Nation considers their franchise the classiest in the NFL if not all of sports and that opinion is largely warranted. However, one area where they’ve consistently fallen short is how they deal with their ex-players. The Steelers have always put the Steelers first while the actual players who made them the greatest franchise in NFL history have been secondary. That’s why Mario Lemeiux gets a statue outside Consol Energy Center and the Pirates have more statues than World Championships yet the Steelers only choose to honor their founder, Art Rooney.

I have no problem with honoring our beloved Chief but the Steelers have the greatest dynasty in football history, they can’t come up with some way to acknowledge those players?  And they can’t put aside any tension or hard-feelings for twenty minutes to allow Hines one last farewell? I expect better from the Pittsburgh Steelers. We all should.

Know Thy Enemy: Indianapolis Colts

 Posted by at 6:01 am  Game Preview, Mike Wallace, Rashard Mendenhall, Secondary  Comments Off on Know Thy Enemy: Indianapolis Colts
Sep 232011
 

Sorry NBC, no take backs.  At least not until week twelve.

The [intlink id=”20″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] face off the Indianapolis Colts in this week’s edition of Sunday Night Football. Steeler Nation will be tuned in from coast to coast. Cris Collinsworth will be in the booth gleefully pointing out every mistake the Steelers make. Faith Hill will be there in her pleasingly tight dress, although sadly she’s chosen not to bring back the sexy hooker boots she wore three years ago.

The only person who won’t be there is Peyton Manning.

Obviously this match-up looked attractive back in June. It’s not like the Colts gave any indication their franchise player would miss the entire season. They signed him to a $69 million dollar contract in late July for crying out loud. Then again, unlike the Steelers and the $29 million they flushed down the crapper on [intlink id=”85″ type=”category”]Willie Colon[/intlink], the Colts were smart enough to insert a buy out clause that gets them off the hook if Manning never steps behind center again.

The point being this game was never the Steelers versus the Colts.  It was going to be Peyton Manning against Blitzburgh. Remove Pey-Pey from the equation and you have an Indianapolis team who are fast becoming the NFL version of the Cleveland Cavaliers sans LeBron.
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Colts Fans Dropping The F-Bomb

 Posted by at 3:47 am  Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon, Tomlinisms  Comments Off on Colts Fans Dropping The F-Bomb
Sep 212011
 

Some people never miss an episode of Ice Road Truckers. Others can’t get enough reruns of 2½ Men.  By the way, sorry Ashton Kutcher, you’re good but you’re still no Charlie Sheen.  Me?  I never miss a [intlink id=”86″ type=”category”]Mike Tomlin[/intlink] press conference. Oh, I don’t watch because I’m interested in his injury reports (he constantly lies about those) or his strategy for the Pittsburgh Steelers upcoming opponents (ditto).

I simply watch for the hilarity. From his grand pronouncements (“Unleash Hell!) to his ridiculous Tomlinisms (“The standard is the standard.”) to his bizarre non-sequitors (“We were grape squashers.”), no coach is as thoroughly entertaining as Mike Tomlin. I wish the Steelers sold tickets to his pressers because at least you can be assured of a solid 15-20 minutes of set-ups and punchlines. That’s certainly more than you can say about a Dane Cook concert.
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