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Purple dragon: Resurrection

January 21, 2009 By: Admin Category: Post-Game Reports

January 20, 2009
By Donald Starver

Special thanks to “Mutt” for suggesting that the “Purple Dragon” series needed to be a trilogy.   Great idea, Mutt.  And so, as you requested, here is part 3 of the trilogy.

For those of you who haven’t read the first two segments, please do so before reading this final chapter of the trilogy.

Click here to read chapter 1 of the trilogy.

Click here to read chapter 2 of the trilogy.

Chapter 3: Resurrection

The villagers of Pittsburgh didst enjoy a time of great peace and prosperity following the defeat of the purple dragon many months ago by their beloved Men of Steel.  Little did they know that the beast had not been destroyed, but rather, it had simply been diminished.  Whilst the beast appeared to be dead, it didst yet cling to a flicker of life.

The beast had been laid low in his last encounter with the Men of Steel by a killing stroke by the young squire “Santonio of the smoky weed”.  Yet the powerful magicks that did empower the beast proved more difficult to overcome than had been originally believed.

While the great beast appeared to be vanquished, it was secretly resting in a death-like state as its powers were being renewed.  The beast’s powers were fed by the faith and worship of its followers, the orcs and trolls of Baltimore.  Their unwavering devotion to the foul creature didst resurrect him, this time more powerful than before.

The purple beast remembered being humbled at the hands of the Men of Steel, clad in their black and gold armor.   He recalled the might of Lord Ben, Sir Hines, Sir Heath, Sir Willie, and the rest of the heroic band of brothers from Pittsburgh.  The very thought of them made the beast’s blood boil.  He hated them more than any could imagine.  He longed to destroy the Men of Steel once and for all.  And woe be unto any who sought to deny him his revenge.

Having tasted the might of the Men of Steel once before, the dragon had his mightiest sorcerer, the dark lord Rex Ryan, devise even more powerful defenses than the beast enjoyed before.  The Dark Lord conjured forbidden defensive magicks that made the beast virtually unbeatable.

Emboldened by his newfound might, the beast set his eyes upon an even greater prize than he had before.  In times past, the beast had challenged the Men of Steel for dominion of the Northern portion of the Kingdom of AFC.  This time, the hell-spawned behemoth would seek to rule the entire Kingdom of AFC.

Rather than challenge the Men of Steel right away, the beast didst devise a plan most foul.  He would first test his newfound powers against the mighty Titans of Tennessee.  The Titans were a strong but arrogant army.  While the Men of Steel ruled the northern realm of the kingdom of AFC, the Titans ruled the southern realm.  The Titans had proven themselves to be more powerful warriors than even the gallant Men of Steel.  Recently, the Men of Steel dared challenge the Titans in their home territories of Tennessee, only to be rebuffed most brutally.  Not only did the Titans soundly thrash the Men of Steel, but they also desecrated their sacred gold and black coat of arms.

The Beast knew that by first defeating the mighty Titans, it would send a powerful message to the Men of Steel that their age-old foe was back, and that he was even more powerful than before.

And so it went that in a battle that saw the Titans show forth great might and prowess, the beast did yet prevail.  He vanquished the Titans, and sent forth word that he was coming next for the Men of Steel.  Unlike times past, this battle would not be for the Northern realm of the kingdom of AFC.  Nay, this battle would determine who would reign over the entirety of the kingdom.  The winner of this battle would be the Champion of the kingdom of AFC.

The last time they battled, the Men of Steel had vanquished the purple dragon in his own lair.  This time, the dragon would take the battle directly to the Men of Steel.  He would challenge them in their vaunted Field of Heinz.

And so on a Sunday that will be sung about for generations, the purple dragon did enter the Field of Heinz to do battle with the Men of Steel.  The clash was both violent and vicious.  Some used the term “smash-mouth”.  The dragon and the Men of Steel battled as the Field of Heinz ran with blood (or was that ketchup?).

Early in the battle, the Men of Steel were dealt a devastating blow when the dragon injured the mighty Sir Hines, and rendered him unable to fight on.  Sir Hines’ strength was admired by all of the Men of Steel, and having him removed from the battle was a crushing blow to the morale of the black and gold.

Without Sir Hines, the Men of Steel were forced to call upon Sir Hines’ young apprentice Limas Wastedpik.  Wastedpik had been taken under the wings of Sir Hines when Sir Hines noticed that Wastedpik had been born with a severe deformity; he had no hands.

In the heat of the battle, young Wastedpik had an opportunity to deliver the killing blow to the dragon.  Unfortunately, his handicap came back to haunt him as Wastedpik dropped his sword.

And so the battle waged on, with each side being battered and bruised yet refusing to budge an inch.  limbs were severed and bodies broken, yet still the struggle continued.

It appeared that the conflict would not end until the final combatant lay dead on the battlefield.  As day turned to night, and the number of wounded mounted, the battle raged.

Lesser warriors, like those who dwell in the valleys of Ohio, could never even dream of participating in a battle of such consequence.

The Men of Steel and the purple dragon were locked in a battle of the ages.  The two forces were locked in stalemate, until finally, one of the mightiest warriors on the field of battle rose to the occasion.  The gallant knight “Sir Troy of the flowing hair” lifted his gilded blade and drove it deep into the heart of his purple nemesis.  The beast lurched as it belted out its final death knell.

And so the Men of Steel didst claim the title of champions of the entire Kingdom of AFC.  None could stand before their might, and all hailed their accomplishments.  Mugs were lifted and songs were sung in celebration of the final victory of the Men of Steel over the purple dragon from Baltimore.

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Limas Sweed decks Corey Ivy

January 19, 2009 By: Admin Category: Players

After blowing an easy touchdown (and then faking an injury to hide his embarassment), Steelers receiver Limas Sweed got partial redemption (but only partial) when he delivered a huge block for Heath Miller.  Corey Ivy of the Baltimore Ravens was inches away from tackling Miller when Sweed came out of nowhere with a devastating block.

Sweed’s block showed that he has been learning something from Hines Ward while sitting on the Steelers’ bench.  Now if only he could learn to catch like Ward.


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Troy Polamalu’s interception clinches game for Steelers

January 19, 2009 By: Admin Category: Players, Post-Game Reports

The play that finally slammed the door on the Baltimore Ravens’ chances of beating the Steelers and moving on to the Super Bowl was Troy Polamalu’s interception that he returned for a touchdown.

Prior to the game, all anyone talked about was Ed Reed and his uncanny ability to generate interceptions and return them for touchdowns.  Everyone seemed to forget that the Steelers have a pretty good safety too.  His name is Troy Polamalu!!

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Super Bowl, here we come!!!

January 19, 2009 By: Admin Category: Post-Game Reports

January 19, 2009
By Donald Starver

For the seventh time, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be playing in the Super Bowl.  Only the Dallas Cowboys, with 8 Super Bowl appearances, have been there more often.  But with a win, the Steelers will stand alone with 6 Super Bowl victories, the most in NFL history.

Like the highways in Pittsburgh, the road to Super Bowl XLIII was full of potholes.  The biggest pothole was the Baltimore Ravens.

After beating the Ravens twice in the regular season, the Steelers had the unenviable task of trying to beat them for a third time.  The Ravens were a team on a roll, and beating them was not going to be easy.

We predicted before the game that the team that avoided turnovers was likely to win the game.  This proved to be true.  Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco was the first rookie quarterback to win 2 playoff games, but the AFC Championship proved to be too large a stage for the promising freshman.  Flacco threw 3 interceptions, and ended up with a quarterback rating of 18.2 (no, that’s not a typo).  Flacco was also sacked three times.

Rookie QB Joe Flacco

Rookie QB Joe Flacco

The Ravens also had 3 fumbles during the game, but they only lost one of those.  Likewise, the Steelers had 2 fumbles and lost one.  Thus, the fumbles basically canceled one another out.  But the interceptions proved to be the deciding factor in the game.

As everyone expected, this was a defensive struggle which pitted the top two defenses in the NFL.  The Ravens proved to be very difficult to run on, as they held Willie Parker to just 47 yards on 24 carries.  That’s an average of only 2 yards per carry.

Fortunately, the Steelers’ defense proved to be just as stingy.  The Steelers held the Ravens to only 198 net yards from scrimmage.

The Steelers probably should have had several more scores.  A touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes was called back when the Ravens issued a challenge.  Later in the game, Ben Roethlisberger threw a sure touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Limas Sweed.  Sweed, as has become his pattern, got great separation from his defender, but then dropped a pass that was right in his hands.  To make matters worse, Sweed was so embarassed because he dropped the pass that he faked an injury after the play.  The faux injury cost the Steelers a timeout.  The lack of that timeout prevented the Steelers from stopping the clock to bring in the field goal unit at the end of the quarter.  Hopefully, Sweed has learned that personal pride can cost his team dearly.

After allowing the Ravens to stick around far too long, the Steelers finally pulled away and won the game 23-14.

The final nail in the Ravens’ coffin was an interception by Troy Polamalu that he returned for a touchdown.  That was one of many great plays in the game by Polamalu. 

There were several scares in the game.  The Steelers lost wide receiver Hines Ward early in the game with a knee injury.  Ward is scheduled to have an MRI tomorrow.  The Ravens saw running back Willis McGahee carted off on a stretcher after a vicious hit by Steelers’ safety Ryan Clark.  Clark knocked himself silly on the play as well, but he was able to leave the field under his own power (although he was extremely wobbly while doing so).

It should be noted that the Steelers have given up fewer than 100 total yards rushing in their two playoff games COMBINED.  That’s some pretty stingy defense.

So now the Steelers move on to Tampa to take on the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.  That’s right, the Arizona Cardinals.  It must be snowing in Hell.

The Cardinals (also known as the Steelers West) defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 32-25 in the NFC Championship game to move on to their first Super Bowl.  The obvious Pittsburgh connections on that Cardinals team adds several storylines that are going to be beat to death by the media over the next two weeks.  You know, Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm were candidates for the position that ultimately went to Mike Tomlin.  Larry Fitzgerald went to Pitt.  Several (most?) Cardinal players used to play for the Steelers.  Blah blah blah.  Yeah, I’m sick of hearing it already.

On to the Super Bowl.

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Ravens hypocritical about Hines Ward

January 17, 2009 By: Admin Category: Players, Pre-Game Analyses

December 17, 2009
By Donald Starver

I respect the Baltimore Ravens.  I may not like them, but I respect them.  I think most Steelers fans feel the same way.  Afterall, how can you not respect a team that plays “Steelers football” better than anyone else other than the Steelers?

The Ravens are rough, and tough, and they come ready to beat their opponent into submission (Or a coma.  Whichever comes first).  They play smash-mouth football, the way it was meant to be played.

Let’s face it Steelers fans.  If Ed Reed played for the Steelers, we’d love him.  It’s hard for us to admit it, but we would.  Can’t you just imagine Ed Reed paired up with Troy Polamalu?  Wow!  I could root for that tandem any day of the week.  Ed Reed, you have my admiration and my respect.

Or what if Ray Lewis replaced Larry Foote as a Steelers linebacker?  Would you root for him?  Yeah, I thought so.  In fact, I think there would be a massive number of black and gold #52 jerseys filling the stands of Heinz Field each week.  It may be hard for you to verbalize as much, but in your heart, you know it’s true.

Same with Terrell Suggs.  Or Samari Rolle.  Or Le’Ron McClain.  We’re genetically programmed to root against them, but if they played for the Steelers, we’d all embrace them.  They got game.  We hate them anyway, but we acknowledge their talent.

But one thing that I don’t respect about the Baltimore Ravens and their fans is the way the react towards Hines Ward.  Hines Ward is persona non grata in Baltimore.  He’s public enemy #1 to both the Ravens and their fans.  They hate him.  Moreover, they think he’s a dirty player.  Personally, I think they’re just whining, and I just can’t respect that.

Hines Ward is quite possibly the toughest player, pound-for-pound, in the NFL.  How many other offensive players make safeties and linebackers quake in fear when they’re on the field.  Though they may not admit it publicly, defensive players try to ALWAYS stay aware of where Hines Ward is.  They fail to do so at their own peril.

But while Hines Ward is tough, he’s NOT dirty.  Hines Ward has knocked a few defenders unconscious, and he’s broken some jaws, but he has seldom been called for a penalty while doing it.  In fact, the times that the league has chosen to fine Ward were on plays that were rather innocuous.  But the plays that keep him in the minds of defenders seldom draw penalty flags or fines.

The problem with Hines Ward is that he works too hard, and his opponents don’t like that.  Hines Ward plays until the referee blows the whistle.  That’s what every high school and college coach tells their players to do, but few actually do it.  Even when the ball is not coming to Hines Ward, he stays involved in the play.  Unlike supposed superstars like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens who jog their routes and act uninterested when the ball is not coming to them, Ward gives 100% on every play.  With no exceptions.

When the ball is going to another receiver, or when the Steelers call a running play, Hines Ward stays engaged in the game.  He is more than happy to be a surrogate fullback for Willie Parker.  Santonio Holmes knows that Hines Ward is going to be in front of him clearing a path to the endzone.  That’s what Hines Ward does.  How can anyone not respect that?  Particularly the Ravens.

Do you think that Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain would appreciate it if their wide receivers blocked for them the way Hines Ward does for his running backs?  Yeah, so do I.  Think Derrick Mason would like having Hines Ward as his wingman?  Me too.

Given that, how can the Ravens dislike Hines Ward?  The Ravens are supposed to be tough.  And they should respect toughness.  So who is tougher than Hines Ward?

Unlike Calvin Johnson, Hines Ward is not 6’5″.  Unlike Steve Smith, Hines Ward doesn’t run the 40 in 2.7 seconds.  Unlike Larry Fitzgerald, Hines Ward doesn’t have a 79 inch vertical leap.  Unlike Terrell Owens, Hines Ward doesn’t have the physique of a greek god.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Hines Ward is relatively slow.  He doesn’t jump particularly well.  He’s listed as being 6’0″, but that’s only true if he’s wearing 2 inch heels.  Yet Hines Ward is a multi-time Pro Bowl wide receiver.  How can anyone not respect that?

But perhaps the most impressive thing about Hines Ward is that he has managed to become one of the most feared blockers in the NFL.  He’s short, slow, and weighs 205 pounds soaking wet.  Yet 250 pound linebackers fear becoming a part of Hines Ward’s highlight reel.  Just ask Bart Scott.

On the play shown below, Bart Scott had a clean shot at Ben Roethlisberger, and he was about to knock Ben’s block off until Hines Ward came in and made Scott duck for his life.  Roethlisberger slid safely, and took no damage.  Thanks Hines.

Bart Scott was very upset after that play.  Why?  Was what Hines Ward almost did to him any worse than what he planned to do to Ben Roethlisberger?

The Ravens also hate Hines Ward because he once rung Ed Reed’s bell.  Here’s the play below:

As you can see, the play was coming to that side of the field.  After taking out Reed, Ward looks to make another block to free up his teammate.  That’s solid football, not dirty play.

The controversial play this year was when Ward broke Cincinnati Bengals’ linebacker Keith Rivers’ jaw.  As you’ll see below, Ward put a clean block on Rivers.  Moreover, if not for Ward, Rivers would have tackled the steelers’ player.  Ward probably allowed the Steelers to get an extra 5 yards on this play.

Hines Ward is a hard-nosed player who doesn’t stop until the ref blows the whistle.  How can the Ravens not respect that?  Did the Steelers, or their fans, complain when Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs used Ben Roethlisberger like a crash test dummy?  Did the Steelers, or their fans, complain when Ray Lewis broke our star rookie’s shoulder and ended his season?  No.  On both occasions, the Steelers and their fans acknowledged that they were clean plays.  We respected the fact that Roethlisberger and Mendenhall were on the receiving end of good, physical football plays.  We never whined.

But that is exactly what the Ravens do each time Hines Ward’s name comes up.  They whine.  And I’m sick of it.  The Ravens should like Hines Ward’s game (even if they don’t like him personally), and they should definitely respect him.  To do anything else is hypocritical.

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