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Oh no! The Steelers pick last!!!!!

February 19, 2009 By: Admin Category: Draft/Free Agency

February 17, 2009
By Donald Starver

I was talking to a friend about the Steelers’ awesome 2008 season, and suddenly he came to a shocking realization.  It occurred to him that winning the Super Bowl means that the Steelers now get the honor and privilege of picking 32nd in the upcoming draft.  That’s dead last.  I could see the look of horror cover his face as comprehension set in.

Firstly, it amazed me that any true sports fan could be unaware of that particular ramification of winning the Super Bowl.  It’s the booby prize that comes with the Lombardi Trophy.   The two are intrinsically linked.  It’s kind of like that pesky burning and itching feeling that you get after a night of sex with Paris Hilton; you can’t have one without the other.

But I digress.

So after he realized that every team in the NFL gets to select before the Steelers FINALLY get to pick, my friend proceeded to whine about how unfair that is, and how the Steelers are totally screwed.  I was quick to remind him that it’s actually a pretty fair trade-off for trophy #6.  Ask any team which they’d rather have, the #1 pick in the draft or a Super Bowl championship.  I’m sure the answer will be unanimous.

But to further put him at ease, I reminded him that the Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals, and Oakland Raiders always seem to have top 5 draft positions.  Yet despite getting their pick of the best young talent available, they continue to suck year after year.  Meanwhile, teams like the Steelers, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, and Philadelphia Eagles seem to pick in the second half of the draft each year, and yet they remain perennial playoff teams.  So there is more to winning than just having a top 10 draft position.

There will be plenty of good talent available at pick #32.  In fact, the Steelers will probably have their pick from among some of the top interior offensive linemen available, should they choose to go that way.

Here are some recent 32nd picks, along with the team that made the pick.  I’m also including in parentheses a few of the players that were drafted immediately after  pick #32.

2008 - Patriots forfeited pick so Giants select Kenny Philips 31st (Philip Merling was selected next).

2007 - Colts select Anthony Gonzalez (Alan Branch, Paul Posluszny).

2006 - Giants chose Mathias Kiwanuka (DeMeco Ryans).

2005 - Patriots chose Logan Mankins (Brodney Poole, Lofa Tatupu).

2004 - Patriots chose Ben Watson (Karlos Dansby, Chris Snee).

2003 - Raiders select Tyler Brayton (Eric Steinbach, Boss Bailey).

2002 - Redskins picked Patrick Ramsey (Jabbar Gafney, DeShaun Foster).

2001 - Ravens select Todd Heap (Drew Brees, Alge Crumpler, Chad Johnson)

So as you can see, some very good players have been chosen at pick #32.  Moreover, there is usually very good talent available even after the 32nd pick.

We all know that the Steelers had several starters on their Super Bowl championship team that weren’t even drafted.  James Harrison, Willie Parker, and Darnell Stapleton were all undrafted free agents.  That’s proof that good talent can be found, even after “Mr. Irrelevant” comes off the draft board.

So fret not, Steeler Nation.  Picking last is a small price to pay for winning the Super Bowl.  Kevin Colbert is very good at what he does.  He’ll get the Steelers what they need, even if he has to trade down to get it (remember the trades he made to get Troy Polamalu and Santonio Holmes?).

So if you find yourself feeling down because of the Steelers’ draft position, just remember that we could be picking first, like the Detroit Lions.  That would REALLY suck.

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AFC Champs haiku contest

January 23, 2009 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

There is still over a week until the Super Bowl, and I am already tired of talking about it, and tired of waiting for it.  So instead of focusing on the Super Bowl, lets take a moment to reminisce about a great season, and to celebrate an outstanding performance by our beloved Steelers. 

Do you remember back when the Steelers’ schedule was announced, and just about every team we had to play had been in the playoffs the previous year?  Remember how nervous everyone was (including me)?  Do you recall how doomed we all felt when it was announced that our schedule was probably the most difficult schedule in the NFL in the past 25 years?  How were we going to overcome such a tough schedule?  At best, the Steelers might finish 8-8.  At least that’s what people thought.

Do you remember how everyone fretted about the weakness of the offensive line?  After the draft, Steelers fans hammered the Steelers’ front office for not selecting an offensive lineman in every single round of the draft.  And of course, there were those who feared that the Steelers would be completely helpless without the great and powerful Alan Faneca.  What were we going to do without him?  Woe was us.

Some said that Bruce Arians was a terrible offensive coordinator, and that the team would never experience success until Coach Tomlin finally came to his senses and fired Bruce Arians.  There was even a website devoted to that mission.  Yeah, doom and gloom reigned in Steelerland.

But here we are in January 2009, and the Steelers are the AFC champs, and are about to play in (and win) the Super Bowl.  Who’da thunk it?

So let’s take a moment to smell the roses.  Forget about the Super Bowl.  We’ll have plenty of time to talk about that.  Let’s write some reflective haiku to commemorate this season.  It can reflect your joy at being AFC champs, or your sorrow for losing Faneca, or your thoughts on a particular players’ performance this year.  Whatever you want to haiku about, except for next week’s Super Bowl.  That one topic is off limits.

To paraphrase a certain sci-fi move, “all these topics are yours except the Super Bowl.  Attempt no haiku there”.  (Yeah, I’m a geek.  I admit it.  Bonus points to the first person who can identify the movie and line that I’m paraphrasing).

So that’s the assignment.  Remember, a haiku is a 3 line poem.  The first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables, and the last line has 5 syllables. 

Here’s my contribution:

Fans had lost their faith
Thought schedule was much too tough
Steelers proved them wrong

Or how about this one:

Harrison was great
Deserved to be MVP
Joey Porter who?

Here’s one more:

Troy with flowing hair
Was just about ev’rywhere
Just ask the Ravens

Okay, your turn.  Start writin’.

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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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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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AFC Championship Preview: Steelers vs. Ravens

January 15, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pre-Game Analyses

January 15, 2009
By Donald Starver

The time is finally here.  It’s the AFC Championship game, and appropriately, the two roughest, toughest, meanest teams in the NFL are going to square off for the right to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.  The NFL’s #1 defense (the Pittsburgh Steelers) will battle the NFL’s #2 ranked defense (the Baltimore Ravens).  Perhaps the old saying really is true; “defense wins championships”.

On Sunday at 6:30PM ET, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will square off at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.  This will be the two teams’ third meeting this season.

There will be no surprises in this game.  The Steelers and Ravens are long-time rivals in the AFC North.  They know one another very well.  And they don’t like each other.

This will not be a game of finesse.  You won’t see any West Coast offense here.  Nope, what you’re going to see is pure, unadulterated smash-mouth football.  You’re going to see football the way it was meant to be played.  The way Dick Butkus played it.  The way Ray Nitschke played it.  The way Jack Lambert played it.  The way Ray Lewis and Ed Reed play it.  The way James Harrison and Troy Polamalu play it. 

This will be a battle of pure testosterone.  Only real men need step onto the field.  Reggie Bush couldn’t play in this game.  Matt Leinart either.  Braylon Edwards would wet his pants.  Nope, the soft need not apply.  No sissies allowed.

Both teams expect to lose players to injury during this game.  That’s just what happens when these two teams play.  Both teams walk onto the field, but they usually limp or even crawl off of it.  So the crew at Heinz Field had better have lots of crutches and bandages available.  Order a few extra stretchers, and have the paramedics standing by.  You’re going to need them.

Here is a little video clip of captures the intensity of the game.  At first we thought these were scenes from a Steelers-Ravens game, but then we noticed that the players were wearing boxing gloves. 


I know they were wearing boxing gloves, but are you SURE that wasn’t a Steelers-Ravens game?  It sure looked like one to me.

On offense, both teams are going to try to run the ball and impose their will on their opponent.  Both will use the run to set up the play action pass.  And most importantly, both teams know that they must keep turnovers to a minimum.  This is not going to be a high scoring game, and the team that turns over the ball most will likely lose.

On defense, both teams will try to stop the run.  At all cost.  Afterall, neither of these teams has allowed a hundred yard rusher since….. well, too long for anybody to remember.  The Steelers’ defense gives up only 237 yards per game.  Total.  Doesn’t Drew Brees pass for that many yards in a quarter?  The Ravens are right behind them, yielding only 261 yards per game.

Last week against the San Diego Chargers, the Steelers defense gave up 15 yards rushing.  No, not 15 yards in the first 3 minutes of the game.  That would be pretty normal for most teams.  Nope, the Steelers gave up 15 rushing yards in the ENTIRE GAME.  That’s what I call defense.  The most impressive part is that it was Darren Sproles that they contained.  You know, the same guy who had torched the Indianapolis Colts’ defense for 328 all-purpose yards just one week earlier.

Suffice it to say that nobody on the Ravens or Steelers is going to be running for 328 yards, all-purpose or otherwise.  28 maybe, but not 328.

The Steelers come into the game with a slight advantage, but only slight.  The steelers advantage comes in the form of what I call the “3 H’s”. 

The first “H” is “history”.  These teams have already faced one another twice this season, and the Steelers have won each time.  That is a decided advantage.  The Steelers know that they can beat this team.  The Ravens on the other hand……….  There are some who have used twisted logic to imply that having lost twice is actually an advantage for the Ravens.  They say that it is very difficult for a team to beat another team three times during the same season.  Therefore, the odds are in the Ravens’ favor.  Huh??!!  That’s some pretty convoluted reasoning.  Under closer scrutiny, it just doesn’t hold water.  I debunk that myth here.

The second “H” that is working in the Steelers’ favor is “health”.  The Ravens are banged up.  Really banged up.  They are coming off a brutal battle against the Tennessee Titans last week.  The Ravens won on the scoreboard, but they took a beating physically.  Terrell Suggs hurt his shoulder, and is questionable for Sunday’s game.  Samari Rolle is also hurt, but he is likely to play.  Other Ravens nursing injuries include Ed Reed, Fabian Washington, Todd Heap, Le’Ron McClain, Willie Anderson, and Derrick Mason.  They’ll all take the field on Sunday, but they won’t be at 100%.

To make matters even worse, the football gods played a cruel joke on the Ravens when the 2008 NFL schedule was formulated.  The Ravens got their bye in week 2.  That’s right, week 2.  They really needed it then, after that brutal pre-season (in which the starters barely play) and one regular season game (yes, that’s sarcasm you hear).  Since then, the Ravens have played for 17 straight weeks with no rest.  That’s not good for any team’s health.

The third “H” is “home field advantage”.  The Steelers are playing at Heinz Field.  One of the best home field advantages in the NFL.  Not only will the Steelers have Steeler Nation behind them waving their Terrible Towels and rooting the home team to victory, but they’ll also have the added advantage of the Heinz Field turf.  Heinz Field’s turf is notoriously bad.  The NFL players voted it the worst playing surface in the NFL.  Sure, the Steelers have recently had the turf replaced, and they say that the field is in great shape.  But does anyone really believe them?  “Great shape” is a relative term.  It may be in great shape relative to the normal sloppy, cratered disaster area that the Steelers call a playing surface, but relative to any other field in the NFL, it would probably be found wanting.

Because of those 3 H’s, it’s hard for me to bet against the Steelers.  Well, I’d never bet against the Steelers anyway, but if I weren’t so biased, then I still wouldn’t bet against the Steelers.  The odds are in their favor, and it doesn’t take a biased homer like me to see that.

Because these two teams have faced one another twice, I’ve already done some pretty extensive analysis of the two teams and the key matchups in the game.  Rather than recreate that, I’m going to ask that readers refer to those articles for additional information.  We try to provide some of the most comprehensive pre- and post-game analysis available anywhere.  Please take a look at them.  I’ve provide links below:

Steelers vs. Ravens Preview (Round 1)

Steelers vs. Ravens Key Match-ups (Round 1)

Steelers vs. Ravens Recap (Round 1)

Steelers vs. Ravens Preview (Round 2)

We also wrote the following articles pertaining to the two Steelers-Ravens games earlier this season.  There is very good information here as well for those who are less familiar with the Steelers-Ravens rivalry.  It is good background information before watching Sunday’s game:

Welcome to the NFL, Rookie!!

Steelers vs. Ravens: A tale of good versus evil  (I highly recommend this one)

Purple dragon slain (Part 2 of the story above.  Highly recommended.)

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