Steelers Today - A Pittsburgh Steelers blog


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.

(If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below. Also, please subscribe to our blog by pressing the orange button below. Thanks.)

Subscribe in a reader

Add to Technorati Favorites

Top NFL Fan Sites

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.)

(If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below. Also, please subscribe to our blog by pressing the orange button below. Thanks.)

Subscribe in a reader

Add to Technorati Favorites

Top NFL Fan Sites

Steelers vs. Ravens; a tale of good vs. evil

December 12, 2008 By: Admin Category: Pre-Game Analyses

On Sunday hence, the valiant Steelers of Pittsburgh journey to the land of Baltimore to take on their long-time nemesis, the hated Ravens.  Supremacy of the kingdom called the AFC North hangs in the balance.

This contest shapes up as a battle of good versus evil. It’s Superman vs. Lex Luthor, Barack Obama vs. George Bush, Miracle Whip vs. Mayonnaise, and the other girls on “The View” vs. that Hasselbeck chick, all rolled into one.

Representing the forces of darkness, we have the Baltimore Ravens.  You know, Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, Ed Reed (the second best safety in the NFL after Troy Polamalu), Willis McGahee, and the rest of the villainous thugs from the rancorous land of Baltimore.  Everybody knows about Baltimore.  That’s the foul village where the tale of “The Wire” was told.  Anyone who has heard the tale of The Wire knows that just about everybody who lives in Baltimore only wants to do one thing; pop a cap in your @$$.  Yes, Baltimore is a land of great wickedness.

Welcome to Baltimore

Welcome to Baltimore

Representing the forces of good, we have the Pittsburgh Steelers (cue harp music).  You know, the gallant knights Troy Polamalu (the guy who is better than Ed Reed), Big Ben, Sir Willie, Friar James, and the rest of the noble men of steel.  The Steelers are the embodiment of goodness and virtue; the opposite of the Baltimore Ravens.

The most famous tale to ever eminate from Pittsburgh was tale of friendly Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  You remember Mr. Rogers, don’t you?  He was the kindly gentleman who taught children helpful lessons like being respectful of their parents and how to play nicely with one another.  See the difference between “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” and “The Wire” ?  Well that’s the difference between Pittsburgh and Baltimore.  The noble Steelers versus the foul Ravens.  Good versus evil.

Mr. Rogers

Mr. Rogers

The Ravens’ most famous warrior is Ray Lewis.  Ray Lewis is from a slimy swamp called “The U”.  ”The U” is a fabled land that is known for spawning foul, hideous, smelly creatures.  Kellen Winslow Jr. is from”The U”.  Need we say more?  Ray Lewis is a vile but powerful warrior.  He is evil incarnate.

The Baltimore Ravens weren’t always evil.  Once upon a time, the Ravens were the harmless Cleveland Browns.  They dwelt in the dirty but peaceful place called the land of Cleve.  The Browns were faithfully worshiped by the simple, uneducated folk of the Land of Cleve.  But then an evil wizard, Art Modell, demanded that the poor farmers of the Land of Cleve build him a giant castle lest he take their Browns away from them.  When the gentle country folk of Cleveland were unable to meet the wizard’s demands, he snatched the Browns away from the powerless peasants, and transported them to the more dastardly land called Baltimore.  Modell knew that the vile denizens of Baltimore would be much more supportive of his wicked shenanigans.  Drawing upon arcane magicks, the wizard Modell tranformed the harmless Browns into the villainous Ravens.  Since then, the Ravens’ evil has grown, unchecked by civilized folk.

To break the Ravens’ reign, the forces of good (the Steelers) must vanquish the Ravens in the midst of their halls of power (M&T Stadium).  The Ravens are at their most powerful at M&T Stadium, where they draw from the macabre energies of their worshipers.

Orcs and Trolls from Baltimore

Orcs and Trolls from Baltimore

With the power of their followers flowing into them, the Ravens are almost unbeatable in their lair.  The Ravens draw further power from The One Ring.   The One Ring was given to the Ravens in 2001 after Super Bowl XXXV.  The One Ring represents the lone noteworthy accomplishment by the Ravens.  Without it, they are nothing.

To defeat the Ravens, the Steelers will have to draw upon the power of The Five Rings.  The Five Rings is a source of far greater power than The One Ring.

The Steelers last defeated the Ravens in their evil lair in 2002.  The Steelers were only able to defeat them there in 2002 because they had the valiant Prince Bettis fighting by their side.  Without Prince Bettis, victory is far more difficult.  However, the Steelers do have Prince Bettis’ young apprentice, Sir Willie, to help lead them to victory.

If the Ravens win, it will usher in a new era of struggle.  The Steelers and Ravens will find themselves locked in a battle to the finish for rulership of the kingdom of AFC North.

If the Steelers are victorious, then goodness and light will continue to shine upon the AFC North.   The Steelers will likely win the AFC North and a 1st round playoff bye.  Songs will be sung, and we will eat, drink, and be merry.

May the power of The Five Rings be with the men of steel.

(If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below. Also, please subscribe to our blog by pressing the orange button below. Thanks.)

Subscribe in a reader

Add to Technorati Favorites

Top NFL Fan Sites

Giants kick Ravens’ ***!

November 16, 2008 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

I don’t usually write about other teams on this website, but this is an exception. The only thing that makes me happier than a Steelers win is a Ravens loss. And when the Ravens get absolutely demolished, well that’s even better than sex.

That is exactly what happened when the Ravens played the Giants. The Giants trounced the Ravens 30-10. The Ravens’ vaunted defense got trampled for 207 rushing yards. That’s right, 207 yards!!! Hahaha, way to go, Ravens. The Giants averaged 6.3 yards per carry against the defense that was #1 in the NFL against the run. In this game that pitted two blue collar teams, the Giants were the hammer, and the Ravens were the nail.

By the way, this is the same Giants offense that met with utter futility when trying to run against the Steelers. Remember how the Steelers repeatedly stuffed the Giants’ run on short yardage situations? Well, that is exactly what the Ravens were unable to do to the Giants. I’ve always felt that the Steelers’ defense was much better than the Ravens, and this game just cemented that belief for me.

The best part of the entire game was watching Ray Lewis get faked out of his shoes by Ahmad Bradshaw, and then watching Bradshaw run the ball 77 yards while Lewis half-heartedly pursued the play. Good effort, Ray. You just cost your team 77 yards.

I hope the NFL Network airs this game again. I think I’ll enjoy watching this one even more the second time around.

Welcome To The NFL, Rookie!

September 28, 2008 By: Admin Category: Players, Pre-Game Analyses

This week on Monday Night Football, two NFL rookies will receive their baptism in fire. They are Steelers rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall, and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

Rashard Mendenhall

Rashard Mendenhall was the Steelers’ 1st round draft pick out of Illinois. In his only season as a starter at Illinois, Mendenhall rushed for 1,681 yards and 17 touchdowns, and was named Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

Since joining the Steelers, Mendenhall has not been able to break into the starting line-up, and he only has 10 regular season rushes under his belt. Those have accounted for 28 total yards. However, the injury to Steelers starting running back Willie Parker has thrust Mendenhall into the spotlight.

Steelers rookie Rashard Mendenhall

Steelers rookie Rashard Mendenhall

Mendenhall makes his first NFL start Monday Night against the Baltimore Ravens. As if starting his first game weren’t enough pressure, Mendenhall has to do it in front of a national audience on MNF. And to add even more pressure to the situation, he must make his debut against Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens’ #1 ranked defense.

Facing Ray Lewis is intimidating enough for veterans. For a rookie making his first start, “terrifying” is probably an appropriate way to describe it. Hint to Mendenhall: Make sure you wear Depends under your pads.

The Ravens haven’t allowed a running back to rush for 100 yard in 21 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the NFL. Opponents are averaging only 70.0 rushing yards per game against them. Moreover, they haven’t allowed a single rushing touchdown this season.

I’m sure Mendenhall is wondering why he couldn’t be playing the Cincinnati Bengals in his debut. Where are the sorry teams when you need them?

Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco started his college career at the University of Pittsburgh. He dreamed of playing at Heinz Field. However, that dream was of leading the Pittsburgh Panthers to victory, not of playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Flacco has started two games already, accumulating a record of 2-0. Unfortunately, those two starts were against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns. Those two Arena League teams were a nice warm-up, but Flacco is going to be facing the real deal this time.

The Steelers’ defense is always among the NFL’s best. Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau’s has succeeded in confounding veteran quarterbacks like Peyton Manning. Joe Flacco doesn’t stand a chance.

Joe, when you see a guy with long hair on the other side of the line of scrimmage moving around like a crazy person, be afraid. Be very afraid. His name is Troy Polamalu. No matter what you anticipate he’s going to do, you’ll be wrong. Just accept it. His strategy is going to be to confuse you. And it’s going to work. Take my word for it.

To make matters worse, James Harrison is going to be trying his best to separate your head from your shoulders. You do know James Harrison, don’t you? He’s the Steelers’ Pro Bowl linebacker who single-handedly destroyed the Baltimore Ravens last year on Monday Night Football.

In preparation for Monday’s game, I’d suggest you practice saying this phrase; “May I get up now, Mr. Harrison?” You’re going to be saying that a lot.

As a former Pitt Panther, I wouldn’t mind seeing you succeed in the NFL. Just not this week. This week, you’re going to get a lot of much needed experience. It’s just not the kind of experience you are hoping for.

Both rookies dreamed of someday making it to this point. They have achieved their dream. They will be starting for an NFL team on Monday Night Football. All eyes will be on them. Frankly, I think they’re both going to learn what the old proverb means that says “Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it”.

Welcome to the NFL, rookie!

Subscribe in a reader

Add to Technorati Favorites

Top NFL Fan Sites