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Archive for December, 2009

Steelers get ugly win over Ravens

December 28, 2009 By: Admin Category: Post-Game Reports

It wasn’t pretty, but a win is still a win.  That’s the way most of Steeler Nation must have been feeling after watching the Steelers defeat the Baltimore Ravens 23-20.

Following a 5-game losing streak, the Steelers have won two consecutive games to keep their playoff hopes alive.  Both wins have been narrow wins, but we’ll take wins of any type at this point.

Santonio Holmes runs for TD

There were quite a few positive aspect to the game.  Probably the most important is that the Steelers defense did not allow a single point during the fourth quarter.  When was the last time we were able to say that?

Not only did the defense not allow the Ravens to score in the fourth quarter, but they also made key defensive plays in the 4th quarter to stop the Ravens.  That has been one of the primary differences between the 2008 Steelers defense and the 2009 edition.  The 2008 unit made plays when the team needed them, while the 2009 unit doesn’t.  At least they didn’t until this game.

On the Ravens final possession of the game, the Ravens were driving when LaMarr Woodley sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on 2 consecutive plays.  On the second sack, Woodley also forced a fumble which was recovered by rookie Ziggy Hood.  That pretty much sealed the victory for the Steelers.

Other positives for the Steelers included Rashard Mendenhall surpassing 1,000 yards rushing for the season.  That is a first for Mendenhall.  Hopefully, it will be the first of many for the talented young rusher.

RB Rashard Mendenhall

Another milestone was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger becoming the first Steelers quarterback to pass for over 4,000 yards.  As Big Ben is so fond of reminding us, the Steelers are now a pass-first team.  His new Steelers passing record just proves that point.

Despite the win and the many positive performances on the Steelers side of the ball, the game was not a total masterpiece.   The Steelers allowed the Ravens to rush for 175 yards.  Ray Rice accounted for 141 of those yards.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am really starting to hate that guy.

Besides the rushing yards allowed, the Steelers also got some lucky breaks due to penalties by the Ravens.  The Ravens had two touchdowns called back due to penalties.  They had a third touchdown dropped in the endzone by Derrick Mason, who is usually their most dependable receiver.

So just as the Steelers have often left games this season feeling that they beat themselves, the Ravens probably felt the same way.  But who cares how the Ravens feel?  This win keeps our playoff hopes alive, and so we’ll happily accept it.

Playoff picture:

The NFC playoff teams are set.  The only thing that has to be resolved is the playoff seeding.

In the AFC, on the other hand, things are as clear as mud.  Seven teams have a chance to win the two remaining wildcard playoff positions.  Five of the teams have an 8-7 record going into the last week of the season, and two teams have a 7-8 record.  Tie breakers are certain to be needed to determine which teams will ultimately make the playoffs.

The only thing that we know for certain is that the Steelers have to win their final game.  If they don’t do that, all other discussion becomes moot.


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Mike Tomlin’s comments on Ravens Game

December 28, 2009 By: Admin Category: Post-Game Reports

The Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive with their 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens.  Click the video below to hear head coach Mike Tomlin’s comments on the game.


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Steelers sign Retkofsky & Galloway

December 22, 2009 By: Admin Category: Players

The Steelers placed 2 players on the reserve list today.  Long snapper Greg Warren tore his ACL on the last play of Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers.  Warren was placed on injured reserve, and will not return this season.

To replace Warren, the Steelers signed Jared Retkofsky.  Hmmmm, this is starting to sound strangely familiar.  As you may remember, the same thing happened last season.  Warren got injured, and Retkofsky was signed to replace him.

At least the Steelers signed a replacement before James Harrison was forced into long snapper duties again.  We all remember what happened last time Harrison did a long snap.  According to NASA, the ball that he snapped is still in lunar orbit.

In a second move, the Steelers placed Limas Sweed on the reserve/non-football illness list (translation: they got rid of him because he sucks and Mike Wallace has made him obsolete).

Steelers WR Limas Sweed

Steelers WR Limas Sweed

To replace Sweed, the Steelers have signed Joey Galloway.  Galloway started the season with the New England Patriots, but he never became a part of their wide receiver rotation, and the Patriots released him on October 20th.

Steelers beat Packers to stay in playoff race

December 20, 2009 By: Admin Category: Post-Game Reports

Thank you, God.  Thank you, God.  Thank you, God.  Thank you, God.  Thank you, God.

Okay, now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the Steelers’ 37-36 win over the Green Bay Packers.

In a game that unfolded totally differently than most experts predicted, the Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive.  Prior to the game, most experts assumed that a game featuring the Steelers and Packers, two of the best defenses in the NFL, would be a low-scoring defensive struggle.  Instead, it turned out to be a high-scoring offensive shootout.  Who woulda thunk it?

The two teams combined for 973 total yards of offense.  Some “defensive struggle”.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had the best game of his career, passing for 503 yards.  He was 29-46 with no interceptions and 3 touchdowns. 

Hmmmmmm, this looks familiar.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tried his best to keep pace, finishing with 383 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions.  Rodgers also rushed for a touchdown.

While it was exciting to watch such an offensive shootout, it was a sad day for both defenses.  The Packers surrendered 537 net yards, and the Steelers defense surrendered 436 net yards.  That’s not something that either team will be bragging about.

Despite the positive outcome of the game, a few aspects were still a bit troubling.

Firstly, the Steelers’ secondary continues to look like a high school junior varsity team.  William Gay was burned repeatedly.  Ryan Clark was beat badly on a touchdown.  Tyrone Carter took his fellow defenders out of a play, thus allowing a Packers’ touchdown.  And none of the Steelers secondary looked like they remembered how to tackle.

Secondly, the offense still lacks balance.  The team only ran the ball 19 times.  Meanwhile, they passed the ball 46 times.  Mike Tomlin says that he wants the offense to be balanced.  Well, 19 runs and 46 passes is NOT balanced.

Thirdly, the Steelers had another 4th quarter letdown.  Sure, they walked away with a win, but they allowed the Packers to score 22 points in the 4th quarter.  They had only yielded 14 total point in the first 3 quarters.  So why can’t the defense play a consistent 60 minutes?

Finally, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made one of the most baffling calls that I’ve ever seen.  After taking a 2 point lead with 4:03 remaining in the game, the Steelers chose to go for an on-sides kick.  Unfortunately, the play failed and the Packers got the ball at the Steelers’ 39 yard line.  In less than 2 minutes, the Packers scored a touchdown and took the lead.

Fortunately for the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger led a textbook 2-minute drill that was culminated by a touchdown pass to Mike Wallace that looked eerily reminiscent of Roethlisberger’s game-winning pass to Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII.

Mike Wallace imitates Santonio Holmes

Mike Wallace imitates Santonio Holmes

So the Steelers ended their losing streak and kept their playoff hopes alive.

They also got help from several of their AFC rivals who are also fighting for their playoff lives.  Denver, Jacksonville, Miami, and the New York Jets all lost.  Those losses mean that the Steelers are still mathematically in the playoff race.

I think Steeler Nation needs to say one more collective “Thank you, God”.


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What’s wrong with the Steelers? - Part 4

December 19, 2009 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

This is Part 4 of a multi-part series that is intended to identify what went wrong with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2009 season.

If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, please click here

To read Part 2, please click here.

To read Part 3, please click here.

We’ve already discussed three of the reasons for the Steelers’ poor showing this season.  Now it’s time to discuss the fourth reason.

Factor #4 - Lack of a killer instinct.

I had to think long and hard before writing this one.  I know that many fans are not going to agree with it.  More importantly, some will be offended when they read it.

We all want to envision the Steelers as a dominant team of gladiators clad in black and gold marching off to vanquish their opponents.  But the truth is that the Steelers play more like peaceful diplomats than gladiators.

Many fans have pointed out that the Steelers have just been the victims of bad luck this season.  Most of their games have been very close, and had a few plays gone differently, most of the Steelers’ losses could have been wins.  Just think about Joe Burnett’s dropped interception against the Browns, or Jeff Reed’s missed kicks against the Bears.  Had those plays gone differently, the Steelers would have probably won those games. Their were similar missed plays in all of their losses.

The most  that any opponent has beaten the Steelers by has been 7 points.  That was in the loss to the Cleveland Browns.  The remaining losses have been by less than a touchdown.  Five of the Steelers’ seven losses have been by a mere 3 points.  So the Steelers have been close in every one of their losses.  If they could take back a play here or there, the Steelers could easily be 13-0.

The problem with that line of thinking is that the inverse is also true.  If a few plays had gone differently, the Steelers could easily be 0-13.

If we look at all of the Steelers’ games this season, the average point differential has been +2.62 points in favor of the Steelers.  That’s less than a field goal. 

Do you see the problem with that?  The Steelers don’t seem to be able to gain a meaningful point advantage over their opponents.  And that’s true, regardless of the caliber of the opponent.  The Steelers seem to play down to the quality of the opponent.  They play the good teams close, and they play the bad teams close.  They don’t seem to be able to put opponents away.

Simply put, the Steelers lack a killer instinct.

The Steelers have only won one game this season by more than 2 touchdowns.  The Steelers’ offense just doesn’t seem to be capable of generating enough points to put opponents away. 

In my opinion, one of the signs of a truly dominant team is that they crush lesser opponents.  When they get an opponent down, they go for the knockout.  The Steelers don’t do that. 

Make no mistake, these are not your father’s Steelers.  These are the kinder, gentler Steelers.  The offense can’t blow anybody out, and the defense can’t shut anybody out.

If we look back at the 2007 New England Patriots, they were a truly dominant team.  They went for the jugular.  Their average margin of victory was 19.7 points.  That’s almost 3 touchdowns.  Their offense exceeded 30 points in 12 of their 16 regular season games.

Similarly, this season’s New Orleans Saints have been completely dominant.  They don’t play teams close.  They blow them out.  Their average margin of victory has been 14 points, and they’ve scored 30+ points in 9 of their 13 games.

Wouldn’t you like to see the Steelers do that?  But they can’t.  As I mentioned before, their average point differential is 2.62 points.  That’s just not good enough.

When  I think about the Steelers teams of the 70, two thinks jump out at me.  Firstly, their offense could score points in bunches.  Secondly, their defense could shut teams out.  This year’s team can’t do either.

This year’s offense generates lots of statistics.  They may end the season with a quarterback who passes for 4,000 yards, a running back who rushes for over 1,000 yards, and two 1,000 yard receivers.  Yet, they can’t score points.  So what good are all of the yards?  They don’t really dominate anyone, despite the impressive yardage.

The same is true for the defense.  Statistically, they are one of the best defenses in the NFL.  Yet realistically, they can’t stop anyone.  They haven’t shut out a single team this season.  Moreover, terrible offenses like the Lions, Chiefs, and Raiders have all scored 20+ points on the Steelers defense.

Do you remember when teams used to be afraid to face the Steelers?  They used to know that they were in for a long night.  They knew that the Steelers were going to beat them up physically.  You could see the fear in opponents’ eyes.  But that’s changed.  Did the Browns look afraid of the Steelers?  Did the Raiders?  Did the Chiefs?  If anything, it was the Steelers who looked intimidated.

We're not intimidated

We're not intimidated

The Steelers need to get back to good old-fashioned Steelers football, on both offense and defense.  Right now they don’t remind me of the Steelers of old.  Unlike those Steelers teams, this version lacks a killer instinct.


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