Friday, December 31, 2010

Steelers Game Day 16 - @ Cleveland Browns

Seems as if the regular season flew by. At the beginning you heard all the jokes say that this team just couldn't do it. The defnese was another year older and how in the world could this bad offensive line get by with Dennis Dixon and/or Byron Leftwhich. Eight wins one joke on The Fan said. other were going with 9-7. I stook pat thikning that a 10 win season was pretty reasonable. I was dead wrong. 11-4 going into week 16 against the Browns. Unreal.

Not only 12 wins but with a chance to be the #2 seed in the playoffs and win the AFC North. Just imagine if you had made that bet with the Bengals fans who were running their mouth at the beginning of the season. You would never have to work again in your life and they would still suck.

The Steelers got lucky with the schedule makers in a year where luck was hard to come by. After losing pretty much every starting lineman not named Pouncey for a portion of the season the Steelers needed to win out their final two games to secure the all important first round bye. The schedule maker Gods gave them Carolina and Cleveland. Back-to-back. Thank you. Maybe the two worst teams in the NFL. Now, I know people are going to say that any team can win on any given day but if the Steelers can't beat the Browns with what is on the line they don't deserve to make the playoffs.

Let's get to it.

Pittsburgh 27, Carolina 3
Passing: Roethlisberger: 22/33, 320 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 18 car, 65 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Wallace: 4 rec, 104 yards, 1 TD


Baltimore 20, Cleveland 10
Passing: McCoy: 15/29, 149 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Hillis: 12 car, 35 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Bell: 2 rec, 48 yards, 0 TD


Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 340.5 yards/game (15th)
Cleveland: 294.0 yards/game (29th)

Passing
Pittsburgh: 218.9 yards/game (16th)
Cleveland: 187.1 yards/game (30th)

Rushing
Pittsburgh: 121.6 yards/game (9th)
Cleveland: 106.9 yards/game (19th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 22.3 points/game (17th)
Cleveland: 17.5 points/game (31st)


Defense

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 280.3 yards/game (2nd)
Cleveland: 345.5 yards/game (21st)

Rush
Pittsburgh: 64.1 yards/game (1st)
Cleveland: 131.3 yards/game (26th)

Pass
Pittsburgh: 216.2 yards/game (14th)
Cleveland: 214.2 yards/game (13th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 14.9 points/game (1st)
Cleveland: 19.4 points/game (7th)

When asked about the Cleveland Browns/Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry at his presser on Thursday Mike Tomlin answer was as follows: “It is what it is”. Well said Mike. If “it is what it is” means totally dominating your “rival” then I guess you can call it that.

Since 2001 the Steelers are a gaudy 18-2 against the Browns, only losing one game in 2009 and one game in 2003. Over that span of 20 games, which includes a huge come from behind Steelers playoff win, the Black and Gold have outscored the Browns 24.8-14.5. Not real awe inspiring numbers from the Browns huh?

Although the Browns played a nice stretch of football through the middle of the season (where they won four of six games) they have really fallen off the proverbial wagon and really stunk the joint up in the past three weeks, most recently turning the ball over four times in a 20-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. A Cleveland win in that game could have given the Steelers a first round bye and sat them alone atop the AFC North, but why would the Browns want to do that?

Since this show started I always think of the Browns when it comes on. Mostly because I laugh at this intro, kinda like I laugh at the Browns. Get it?



Jump it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Penguins Game Day 39 - @ New York Islanders

New York Islanders

7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

7:00 p.m., Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, NY

HUGE mistake on my part. Thought the game was at CONSOL. Obviously not. Whatev.

Big win and another dominating performance from Bing last night. He now has 32 goals in 37 games. I know 50 in 50 is probably not going to happen but there hasn't been anyone remotely close to that in a long time. A couple of hatty's and this can become reality.

The Islanders were thought to be a lot better team this year. Not so much. John Tavares is the real deal but he only has 21 points (10+11) while Bing has 32 goals. Man.

Looks like Brent Johnson is going to be backing up MAF tonight. John Curry was sent down. Interesting to have MAF go on back-to-back nights but who cares. He has been lights out for a long time now and with the Flyers playing as well as they have been we need every point, plus the Penguins don't play again until the Winter Classic on Saturday (or possibly Sunday).

What a goal by Mark Letestu last night. Holy hell.


Previously this season:

October 15: Pittsburgh 3, New York 2 (OT)





The Penguins probables:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Maxime Talbot - Evgeni Malkin
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Arron Asham

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Alex Goligoski - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury


For the Islanders:

Forward
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - P.A. Parenteau
Blake Comeau - Rob Schremp - Jon Sim
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Josh Bailey
Matt Martin - Zenon Konopka - Trevor Gillies

Defense
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - James Wisniewski
Jack Hillen - Milan Jurcina

Goaltender
Rick DiPietro


The Stats:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Penguins Game Day 38 - vs. Atlanta Thrashers

Atlanta Thrashers

7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Previous games this season:

November 13: Pittsburgh 4, Atlanta 2


December 2: Pittsburgh 3, Atlanta 2




The Penguins probables:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Maxime Talbot - Evgeni Malkin
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Eric Godard

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Alex Goligoski - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury


For the Thrashers:

Forwards
Andrew Ladd - Rich Peverley - Anthony Stewart
Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Bryan Little
Ben Eager - Patrice Cormier - Fredrik Modin
Eric Boulton - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Defense
Dustin Byfuglien - Tobias Enstrom
Zach Bogosian - Johhny Oduya
Brent Sopel - Ron Hainsey

Goaltender
Ondrej Pavelec


The Stats:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Takin Care Of Business. Steelers 27, Panthers 3



With the holiday season finally here there has been a lot going on and as I said last week the last three weeks of the season are going to be kind shoddy when it comes to post game coverage. I am out and about watching the games and not getting much time to look at things a second time so I will break down things in a very general matter. I mean, lets be serious there really isn’t much to talk about this Panthers game. The panthers are a really, really bad football team and the Steelers just took it to them. Pretty nice effort by the Black and Gold and a great way to start the Christmas season.

A few thoughts and observations:

-When Rashard Mendenhall took the ball off the left side on the Steelers first offensive play 35 yards. I saw that play and kinda figured the game was going to go in a pretty lopsided direction but it was really just a taste of what the Steelers were going to do to the Panthers all day, which was dominate. Overall on the day Rashard was alright as he touched the ball 18 times on the ground for 65 yards. Overall the Steelers rushed the ball 33 times so it isn’t like they just passed the ball all day, but it was good to get Rashard some work and get him off the field as he has been pretty beat up this season.

-Ben Roethlisberger was very, very good. Not really sure why he played the entire ball game but you could tell that he came in focused and took care of business. He was 22/32 for 320 yards and a touchdown pass. Another game without a pick and to be honest I think that has made the biggest difference this season. During the losing streak last season Ben was throwing picks and more importantly throwing pick 6’s, especially in games where the Steelers should have won. 10 yards per attempt was nice and he seemed to be much more accurate on Thursday than he was against the Jets so that was encouraging.

-Mike Wallace continues to get better. He only caught four balls during the game but scored a touchdown by displaying his jaw dropping speed and he collected his sixth 100-yard performance of the year. Not too shabby.



He isn’t down if they are playing two hand touch. Great job by Wallace and Ben being on the same page with the hot read, and to be honest that is what Mikey needs to do if he wants to be a complete receiver. He needs to be able to read the hot’s and catch those intermediate routes to truly say he has taken over for Santonio Holmes and as the season has gone on he has done a much better job of that game-to-game.

-Um, the Steelers defense was really nasty. The Panthers only gained 119 yards, for the entire game. That is right 119 yards, FOR THE GAME. The Panthers didn’t go over 100 total yards until the fourth quarter. Carolina gained only seven first downs for the game and only went 3-of-13 on third down conversions. Now, I am not saying that this was all the Steelers defense, because the Panthers are bad, but you still need to show up and do your job and that is what they did.

-The defense made Jimmy Clausen look like a little boy out there playing with men. Clausen never looked comfortable back there and only completed 10-of-23 passes and ended the game with 3.1 yards per attempt. That isn’t a good number for a running back. What a terrible night for Clausen, no idea how Panther fans watch that offense.

-James Farrior was probably the best defender on the field for the Steelers. He did a little bit of everything on Thursday as he had a sack, seven tackles (all solo), two tackle for loss and a QB hit. For everyone that has said he had lost a few steps last season he has really bounced back and played some good football for this Steelers team and Thursday night was no different.

-Ryan Mundy has done a pretty nice job filling in for Troy Polamalu since he has been out. You didn’t really hear his name called a whole ton, which as a backup is good. When you fill in for a guy of Troy’s magnitude you want to come in and do a good job and not make any huge mistakes, that is all that Ryan did. I would doubt Troy suites up against Cleveland, but if he doesn’t Mundy makes me feel ok about that.

-Speaking of in injuries Heath Miller came back into the football game after being out for a couple of week. He looked real good. Miller caught five passes for 73 yards and you could tell Ben was happy to have him back. He caught multiple passes on the first drive and got the tone set for the offense. With Heath back in the lineup that gives another dimension to an already talented receiving core. He is also a very good blocker which will help a lot a lot, too.

-Also pretty impressed that the Steelers didn’t fall into the trap of playing down to the competition. This Panther team was REALLY bad (not sure if I told yinz this yet or not) and in recent memory the Steelers were good at being really bad against team, especially on offense. Not this time. They really came in and took care of business and treated this as if they were playing a much better team which was refreshing to see. Last season this would have been a close game but this season they put no doubt in anyone’s mind that they were the better team.

11 wins isn’t too bad is it? Win against Cleveland on Sunday and it is a first round bye. I like it.

Did I miss anything? What do yinz think? Let me know in the comments.

Penguins Game Day 37 - @ Ottawa Senators


Ottawa Senators


7:30 p.m., Scotiabank Place, Ottawa

The Michalek's are brothers.

Gonchar used to be a Penguin.

Jordan Staal has a few brothers.

Staal will be back in January.

The Pens beat the Caps.

Just trying to cover all the obvious things that we are going to hear about tonight.

It's the holiday's. Mailing this one in.

Previous games this season:

October 18: Pittsburgh 5, Ottawa 2


November 26: Pittsburgh 2, Ottawa 1



The Penguins probables:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Maxime Talbot - Evgeni Malkin
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Eric Godard

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Alex Goligoski - Deryk Engelland

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury


The Senators probables:

Forwards
Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Ryan Shannon
Nick Foligno - Mike Fisher - Daniel Alfredsson
Jarkko Ruutu - Chris Kelly - Chris Neil
Peter Regin - Jesse Winchester - Alex Kovalev

Defense
Chris Phillips - Erik Karlsson
Sergei Gonchar - Filip Kuba
Brian Lee - Chris Campoli

Goaltender
Brian Elliott

The Stats:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas From TRBB


Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. If you aren't into the whole Christmas thing then have a Happy Holiday season.

I would like to thank anyone that comes here and reads my stuff. Yinz readers really make this worth while and make what I do so enjoyable. I have met some of you and know others of you through other mediums but it has been a great experience in the year and a half I have been doing this.

I would also like to give a HUGE Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas shout out to all our troops that are serving for our country. Enough words can not express the gratitude I have for you people for defending our country and giving us the peace of mind that we have. Thank you all. I can never tell yinz enough but you are the true hero's in all of our lives.

Again, Happy Holidays everyone. Make sure you have a great time with your families and just appreciate everything you have. Be safe this holiday season.

Thanks everyone.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Penguins Game Day 36 - @ Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals


7:00 p.m., Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

The Penguins go into the Verizon Center for the first time this season. They are playing some pretty good hockey after beating the Panthers 4-1 last night. Not a great effort in the second and third period, but as Bing said after the game they were thinking about the Capitals. If you don't think they had their sights set on the Caps after hearing this the night before then you are kidding yourself:



Not really sure what is up with the Caps and their fans. After watching 24/7 last night you can see that the bright lights of HBO and the losing streak is really getting to Washington.

This was on the front page of NHL.com today (Thanks to @pensexperience for the find):


For real? I mean come on. Inferiority complex to the definition. Listen ho, it is December, not April so calm down.

The Capitals could win 100-0 or the Penguins could win by 300 but it would still be just a December game. I guess when you are one and done in the playoffs year after year you look for your big games duirng the regular season.

Whatev. This should be a pretty competitive game, the Capitals aren't play good hockey right now, at all, but you know how a rivalry pulls the best out of the teams so I expect this to be a close game.

If there is one thing that just gets me to cringe it is the bells and whistles that the Verizon Center uses when the Capitals score goals. It litereally sounds like the VC is a fire truck going to put out a fire. I mean I know the Penguins are getting into some more of the flashy stuff but it is nothing like what Washington does. It angers me.


The Penguins probable line ups:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Maxime Talbot - Evgeni Malkin
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Chris Conner
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Arron Asham

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Zbynek Michalek - Paul Martin
Alex Goligoski - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury


For the Capitals

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Alexander Semin
Brooks Laich - Mathieu Perreault - Mike Knuble
Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Andrew Gordon
Jay Beagle - David Steckel - Matt Bradley

Defense
Scott Hannan - Mike Green
John Erskine - Tom Poti
Karl Alzner - John Carlson

Goaltender
Michal Neuvirth

The Stats:

Immaculate Reception Anniversary

December 23, 1972. 38 years ago to the day one of the greatest football plays in football history took place in Three Rivers Stadium.



Nothing more needs said. What a play.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Penguins Game Day 35 - vs. Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers
7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

After a thrashing of the Coyotes on Monday the Penguins will look to win back to back game when they face the Panthers. Florida has been on a roll as they have beat the Sabres (6-2) and the Flyers (5-0) in convincing fashion. The Panthers have also won five of their last seven. Not bad.

If Geno Malkin continues to play like this then I like the Penguins chances, especially with Bing and him on different lines. Just unreal right now.

Bill Thomas coming back to Pittsburgh as a member of the Panthers.

The last time:

November 11: Pittsburgh 3, Florida 2



The Penguins probable line ups (although these were said to be determined at game time)

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Maxime Talbot - Evgeni Malkin
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Arron Asham

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Alex Goligoski - Deryk Engelland

Goaltender
Brent Johnson

For the Panthers

Forwards
Michael Frolik - Stephen Weiss - Chris Higgins
David Booth - Mike Santorelli - Steve Bernier
Shawn Matthias - Marty Reasoner - Evgeny Dadonov
Darcy Hordichuk - Steven Reinprecht - Bill Thomas

Defense
Dmitry Kulikov - Bryan McCabe
Bryan Allen - Dennis Wideman
Jason Harrison - Mike Weaver

Goaltender
Tomas Vokoun

The Stats:

Steelers Game Day 15 - vs. Carolina Panthers

Well after the Steelers couldn't take care of the Jets they will have to wait a few more weeks to possibly be crowned the AFC North Champions. Luckily the loss to the Jets really didn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things as the Ravens also beat the the Saints to keep pace with the Steelers. The Panthers will come to Pittsburgh on a short week and look for their third win on the season with a rookie QB, a banged up offensive line and a banged up front seven on defense. Good luck with that.

I hope the Panthers aren't startled when they learn the game is actually going to be on TV and in front of more than 6,000 people.

New York 22, Pittsburgh 17
Passing: Roethlisberger: 23/44, 264 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 17 car, 100 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Wallace: 7 rec, 102 yards, 0 TD


Carolina 19, Arizona 12
Passing: Clausen: 13/19, 141 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Stewart: 27 car, 137 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: LaFell: 3 rec, 33 yards, 0 TD


Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 335.6 yards/game (19th)
Carolina: 266.1 yards/game (32nd)

Passing
Pittsburgh: 213.5 yards/game (18th)
Carolina: 149.3 yards/game (32nd)

Rushing
Pittsburgh: 122.1 yards/game (8th)
Carolina: 116.8 yards/game (12th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 21.9 points/game (17th)
Carolina: 13.1 points/game (32nd)


Defense

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 291.8 yards/game (3rd)
Carolina: 329.6 yards/game (12th)

Rush
Pittsburgh: 63.4 yards/game (1st)
Carolina: 126.2 yards/game (23rd)

Pass
Pittsburgh: 228.4 yards/game (24th)
Carolina: 203.4 yards/game (8th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 15.7 points/game (t-1st)
Carolina: 25.0 points/game (24th)

I mean I could get here and try to make some lame jokes about the Panthers and how Jim Clausen might literally crap his pants on the field just looking at James Harrison during warm ups but I think the Panthers, and their fans, have been through enough this season. Two wins. I mean when the Steelers win eight games you would think that the team is going to fold and move because they have such a terrible season (and notice that that I said season and not seasons).

The Panthers got off the floor with what I am sure was a thrilling 19-12 win over the Cardinals.



This is Steelers/Dolphins rainstorm bad game.

Attendance was said to be 71,849. I want whatever the people counting those tickets are smoking. You got a better chance of seeing Jesus than seeing almost 72,000 people at that shit show.

Some quick facts for you: The Steelers are 3-1 all time against the Carolina Panthers and all four of those games have been played in December. Interesting.

Jump it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For Washington




Nothing more needs to be said about this. Apparently "Crosby Sucks" chants were also being said.

Be careful Washington. Hope your second win in 10 games to a horrid Devils team was fun.

The Steelers Wish You A Great Holiday Season

I must admit I picked the YouTube up from Cotter over at OFTOT but something that you have probably seen 100 times over already from countless blogs but for those rare people that read this stuff and not much else but just incase you guys didn't see this stuff I thought I would put it up on here.

A few thoughts before you bask in the glow of this perfection:

- Ike Taylor might be the best in this entire scene. I don't think he moves his lips one time. Hilarious.

- Lawrence Timmons looks like he is just lost in the back row on some of these. He is just having a good time and it is hilarious.

-The offensive line really gets into this stuff. They don't get a lot of face time so they are taking full advantage of the time they do get.

-The TE's just look lost and scared to be doing this.

-Nice to see Ben right in the middle when he is on there and actually looked to be getting into it. For me, and what I have see, has come a long way from how he used to be with teammates. I know I don't get to see a whole lot of that, but hopefully I am right. Unreal hat he was wearing too.

Enjoy.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Penguins Game Day 34 - vs. Phoenix Coyotes


Phoenix Coyotes

7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

After playing a ton of games in a row during their lenghty winning streak the Penguins got a much need couple of days off and they finally return back to the ice at the CONSOL Energy Center to take on a struggling Phoenix Coyotes team.

The Penguins are also coming off back to back losses to Philadelphia and New York so they could use a win to get back on the right track.

Bing is still on his point streak and I feel pretty good about that staying afloat. Saying that I wouldn't be shocked to see him not tally any points tonight. Whatev. Need a win.

Bing was on the Price is Right today.



Roenick is a joke.

The previous meeting:

Nov. 6: Penguins 4, Coyotes 3 (OT)




The Penguins probables:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Maxime Talbot - Evgeni Malkin
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Eric Godard/Arron Asham

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Alex Goligoski - Derek Engellend

Goaltender
Marc Andre Fleury


For the Coyotes:

Forwards
Wojtek Wolski - Eric Belanger - Shane Doan
Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Taylor Pyatt - Kyle Turris - Lee Stempniak
Paul Bissonnete - Vernon Fiddler - Lauri Korpikoski

Defense
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Ed Jovanovski - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Nolan Yonkman

Goaltender
Jason LaBarbera


The Stats:

Playoff Bound. Steelers Lose. Jets 22, Steelers 17

A tough loss after a pretty average game from the Steelers. In the grand scheme of things the loss could have been a lot worse. Sure, is it hard to lose to a team that has Mark Sanchez as your quarterback? Yea, it is. Hey, we coulda lost to the Bengals. I am looking at you Cleveland.

On a little more serious note the Steelers did clinch a playoff spot, in week 15 of the season. I tell you that before the season and you take that in a second. The more interesting thing is that the Steelers still control their own destiny. They beat the one win Panthers and the Browns and they hold a 12 win season and a first round bye in the NFL playoffs. Can’t really complain about that. All you can ask is that you control your own destiny and not have to worry about other teams winning and losing to get what you want.

All things considered the Steelers came out of the game pretty healthy. A lot healthier than they have been in some time, which is good because they play the Panthers in like five minutes. The post game is going to be short this week because lets face it, there isn’t much to say about last night’s game.

It is always tough to lose a game like you feel like you should win, but it is what it is and the Steelers have to block it out and get ready for another game, and the rest of the season.

Post Game Thoughts:

-Special teams was the difference in this ballgame. In my round table talk with the boys I talked about being afraid of Brad Smith and that just given the chance he can break the big one and swing the momentum of the game, which could be the difference. Although the opening kickoff is literally the first play of the game it gave the get the confidence it needed, and a jump start for the game, just as many were sitting down. Smith took the opening kick back 97 yards and it just gave you that uneasy feeling that it was going to be a long game.

-The defense wasn’t too bad in the game. Missing Troy really hurt at times and although the Jets didn’t run for a ton of yards (27 carries, 106 yards) having Troy in there would have been really nice in order play in the box. The Jets were able to pick up some key first downs late in the game by running the football and killing some clock. Granted the defense stepped up and made plays to get the offense back the ball so it wasn’t a total loss. The Jets came in with a pretty nice game plan for Mark Sanchez to succeed, three step drops and get the ball out of his hands. A primary reason that there was no pressure was because the ball was out of his hands before the pressure could even get there. Nothing much you could do about it.

-Another personal foul, helmet to helmet call, on the Steelers which was terrible. I was sitting up top in the 500 levels and distinctly remember watching this play and saying there is no way that is a penalty. Then the flag came. Why even wear pads if you can’t hit them in the shoulder? This is starting to get really embarrassing for the league. Whatever, I hope Clark does it again next week and forces a fumble. Jokes.

-The Jets pass rush was pretty underwhelming all day and the Steelers offensive line was thankful for that. Ben got sacked three times but he largely had ample amount of time to throw the football and find receivers. Unfortunately for the Steelers Ben was just a little off all game. I thought the offensive line run blocked well, as the Steelers ran for 147 yards on 25 carries and as I mentioned Ben had time to throw. Can’t complain about that and no holding penalties. Huge. Hopefully they are finally starting to build a little chemistry and getting themselves comfortable because we are now in playoff mode.

-Ben was alright. His numbers were nothing overwhelming (23-of-44, 263 yards, 1 TD) but he made a ton of play in the game to give this team a chance to win. On the Steelers last drive, in which they had to go 92 yards in around two minutes, Ben was 6-of-9 for 60 yards. Although they didn’t get to the end zone he did get them to the ten yard line and set up for a very manageable chance to win it. Ben was a little off early in the game as he missed some targets and the balls were sailing on him, but for the most part I thought Ben was pretty good. There were drive where he was just masterful and other drives where he looked average. Ben led them on scoring drives of 96 and 74 yards for touchdowns. Not bad for an offense that was said to be “terrible” by a number of people.

-The safety in the end zone was a really tough play to watch. When you are only down by a field goal with about three minutes left you don’t want to give up any points from your offense. With the ball resting on like the two yard line the Steelers try the inside handoff to MeMo and Jon Scott totally missed on his block and MeMo was tackled for a safety. I, unlike most, don’t really have a problem with the play call after I was able to actually sit down and clear my head. Still doesn’t mean it sucks less. Rashard Mendenhall was having a great game and he only got 17 touches so obviously I would like to see him get maybe around 25 touches on days like this but people are going to complain either way. I was ok with how the offense went yesterday, but there are always going to be plays that people are unhappy about.

-Manny Sanders had a really nice game for the Steelers on Sunday. He was much more consistent with catching the football as he had seven grabs for 78 yards. A lot of those seven catches resulted in first downs and many key first down pick ups. I like what I see in his development and hopefully he can continue to be that third receiver with his great speed and ability to make plays.

-Big ups to Mike Wallace. Mikey caught seven passes for 102 yards and eclipsed the 1,000 yard receiving mark for the first time in only his second season of football. Wallace was also making some big plays in the passing game and is quickly making people forget about Santonio Holmes and his departure. Congrats Mikey.

-Holmes wanted this game bad. One of the things I remember see was after the clock hit zero and the Jets won the football game Tone sprinted to midfield, on the Steelers logo, and took a bow to both sides of the field to the fans. It almost seemed as if he was telling everyone in Pittsburgh “I told you so”. Whatever. I still got much love for you Tone. He caught six balls for 40 yards, but his highlight play was when he caught a second down pass and was tackled, jumped up and did his little first down point and dropped the ball. Tough thing was he was a yard short of the first down marker. I mean so short that there wasn’t a measurement. That made me laugh.


Time to get our focus for Carolina. This is exactly what the Steelers team needs to get back into the flow. There surely isn’t going to be any Troy and after Heath was deactivated for the game last night I wouldn’t be totally shocked if he didn’t suit up on Thursday. To be honest, I kind of hope he doesn’t. Short week and let him sit until Cleveland. I know the Steelers shouldn’t look at teams and say that they should have this one in the bag, but I think I can say that. If the Steelers can’t beat the Panthers then they shouldn’t have the bye in the first round. Simple as that.

Take a quick three minute nap and wake up for kickoff. Lets this one out of your mind.

Get your mind right.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Steelers Round Table: Jets Edition

Well after a somewhat wildly successful round table discussions before the Raven and Bengals games Cotter thought it would be a good idea to continue this discussion so we are back for round two with general thoughts from a bunch of good great Steelers bloggers about the game on Sunday. This is goign to start to become a weekly thing (I think) so I hope you enjoy. This week it is going to just be three of us but as this thing goes we will add more people. If anyone has questions they want answered shoot an e-mail to [threeriversburghblog@gmail.com] and we will include them as the weeks go on.

Without further wait lets see what we have to say about the Steelers/Jets game tomorrow.
Here is the lineup:

Ian from The Steelers n'at (@thesteelersnat)
Cotter from One For The Other Thumb (@OFTOT)
and your truly. (@ThreeRiversBlog)

If you aren't following all of these people on Twitter then you have no idea what is going on.

After you read our little run down check out my Jets preview.

Let's get after it.

1) What do the Steelers have to do to win?

SN: In short, keep the Jets out of the end zone. The Jets might have the best corner tandem in the league, but their safeties suck. The Steelers can exploit their defense if Ben gets the time to go long. The Jets have been playing to the level of their competition all year, barely beating bad teams like the Lions, Broncos and Browns. Mark Sanchez sucks in the cold and the Jets will lean heavily on their running game. If the Steelers can keep the Jets out of the end zone and hold them to field goals, there should be no reason why we can't win this game.

OFTOT: If there’s a team against which “stop the run, make the QB beat you” is a better strategy, I’m not aware of it. The Jets have lived and died by the run this season, and Mark Sanchez has thrown at least one pick in each of the last EIGHT games (he has thrown multiple picks in three of them). Put it this way, I mentioned this in my preview, but he has a completion percentage of 53. Almost HALF of his passes are not connecting, which is shameful enough in and of itself, but couple that with the fact that he checks down every other play and that makes it even more sickening. Stop the run, decapitate Mark Sanchez.

TRBB: For me it is simple for the Steelers, make Mark Sanchez beat you. You first take the run away and say “beat us”. He won’t be able to do it. As I said in my preview Mark Sanchez is very poor when playing in cold weathers (under 40 degrees) and it is going to be cold and blustery at Heinz Field on Sunday. Once we make them one dimentional (hopefully by the second quarter) you have James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley pin their ears back and tell them to go eat. Making Sanchez sling the ball around is going to bode very well for the Steelers and I think Dick LeBeau is going to have something for Mark when we take away the run for good.

2) What player on the Jets scares you the most?

SN: Darrelle Revis. He's the second best cornerback in the league and can easily take Mike Wallace out of the game. While Wallace as great at locating the ball and going up and getting it, Revis might be even better on the other side of the ball. As Tomlin said in his press conference this week, "We don't have a lot of game film on him because no one throws the ball his way."

OFTOT: I almost wanna say Brad Smith, but I guess I should give their defense more credit. I guess I’ll have to say Revis, since anyone who isn’t afraid of Revis probably has their head permanently affixed up their ass. Or they’re Darrelle Revis himself.

TRBB: It might seem strange to say this but I am not very happy seeing Brad Smith across the field. He lines up in the wildcat and returns kicks for the Jets and he is dynamic. The special teams unit has shown some weakness in the past couple of games and all it takes is one missed tackle for Smith to be gone to the races. I am not really as scared with him running the wildcat because I think the Steelers have done a much better this job stopping the wildcat when it has been presented but returners have killed us over the years. In a tight game one special teams gaffe could be the difference. This game will be tight so the coverage units need to be good this week.


3) What Steelers player are you looking to have a big game?

SN: LaMarr Woodley. Starting RT Damien Woody went on IR this week, and whoever his backup is will have his hands full with Woodley this week after LaMarr's monster week last week. Luckily for his replacement, the refs probably won't call holding on anyone wearing green on Sunday. That said, Dirty Sanchez is susceptible to pressure in the pocket and turning the ball over.

OFTOT: Ryan Mundy. No, just kidding, although if he does have a big game filling in for Troy (assuming Troy doesn’t play), they should take him out to Chuck E. Cheese or something. I’ll go LaMarr Woodley this week. Without their starting RT, the right side of the Jets line is vulnerable. If Woodley can nab two sacks on Carson Palmer behind a healthy O-line, imagine what he can do to Mark Sanchez. Put it this way, the Jets might wanna get a eulogy ready, and wake up Mark Brunell.

TRBB: Hines Ward. Ward had a huge game last week without much fan fare. Eight catches was a season high for him and since Mr. Revis is going to be worried about Mike Wallace I really think Hines can pick his match up and get behind the linebackers and make it a long day for the Jets secondary. It would be easy to say that they could just give help on Ward, but with the emergence of Manny Sanders and A. Brown I think they will have to be a little more honest since Manny and Brown both have great speed. Look for Hines Ward to have a big day, especially in the red zone. The Steelers need to get back to what they do in the red zone, which is Hines Ward and Heath Miller. Watch for it.

4) What match up can we exploit?

SN: Emmanuel Sanders on whoever the Jets put on him. As I said earlier, Revis and Cromartie are solid corners. Revis will probably be all over Mike Wallace. Cromartie is a physical corner that likes to play press coverage, something Hines Ward struggles against. However, the Jets aren't very deep in the secondary meaning our tertiary options in the passing game (Sanders, Brown, and Randle El) will have opportunities to get open and make plays.

OFTOT: The Jets safeties on anyone. Neither of the Jets’ typical starting safeties will be in uniform this week, and one of their backups might not even play. Anytime you get a team down to its last healthy body at two positions, you have to be able to take advantage of that. Also, Mike Wallace’s legs vs. Revis. I’m not altogether sure we can EXPLOIT that matchup, but I’m really interested to see if Wallace can handle Revis.

TRBB: I think I pretty much just touched on it in the question before, but to expand it a little more, I think the Steelers must be able to bring formation out that get Brown, Sanders and/or Ward matched up with the Jets linebackers. That is a recipe for success if you ask me. Even if you can get safeties on those players I think that can be a huge win for the Steelers.

5) Biggest underlying story in the game?

SN: While the media will be all about the "Holmescoming" (yes, I just made that pun, and yes I know it was terrible). But in reality, this game is about the Steelers clinching a playoff spot and if the Saints can keep doing what they've been doing and beat the Ravens, have a shot at clinching the division. In fact, the Steelers could wrap up a first round bye this weekend if all the pieces fall into place, which would be great because it would enable us to give some of our banged up players some rest if we can bury a bad Carolina team early on Thursday.

OFTOT: The obvious story is - will either team escape their offensive ineptitude this week (although for the Steelers, it’s really scoring ineptitude)? I don’t envy either offense, given that both the Steelers and Jets defenses are top 5 in the NFL. But, the Steelers problem hasn’t been offensive production; just points production. So, I think they break the cycle this weekend. If not, I change my biggest underlying story to – how many points will the Steelers defense score?

TRBB: Um, nobody is talking about the Steelers being able to clinch a FIRST ROUND BYE with a win. With players banged up this is a massive story that we can follow. The fallout from a win is huge. Troy can rest more, Ben can get some rest if needed, Aaron Smith can focus on the playoffs instead of trying to come back for the Browns game in order to get the bye on the last week. Sure people are going to be talking about Santonio Holmes coming back but in my opinion this isn’t as big as some media pundits are making. It is what it is. I will be at the game on Sunday and I will be cheering for Tone before the game and I will not boo him during the game. No reason to. The bigger issue is taking care of business. Before the game most people will have a good idea of what the deal is since most of the games the Steelers need results in are playing at one so it should be pretty electric in Heinz Field as those scores come in.

6) Final Score?

SN: The Jets have a good defense and I honestly don't see our offense coming out of their funk. That said, I think Suisham continues to stay on a roll and he'll carry the Steelers to another victory. Steelers 16, Jets 10

OFTOT: Steelers – 20, Jets – 10? Honestly, who cares as long as the Steelers score more points than the Jets?

TRBB: I, for one, think that the Steelers should get this game. The Jets have only beat one team that is above .500 this year and Mark Sanchez is pretty average. If the Steelers defense comes out and stuffs the run and they can get the first score or two I think the Jets will start to rely on the pass and that is huge for the Steelers. The Jets defense is good and the Steelers offense hasn’t been great, or even good, lately but Ben Roethlisberger is a winner. No matter what he can put this team on his back and get a win and I like my chances with that. Steelers 20, Jets 10




I would like to thank Cotter and Ian for participating.

What do yinz think? Leave it in the comments.

Also, pick the winner here:



Friday, December 17, 2010

Steelers Game Day 14 - vs. New York Jets

The Steelers trend continues of playing big games. Although Cincinnati wasn't a huge game it was still a division one that the Steelers had to win after an emotional win over Baltimore. The Steelers defense has been studly over the past four games giving up only nine points per game and making big plays.

The Jets are reeling. They have a lot of holes but still a very good defense. Whatev.

Lets get after it.

Pittsburgh 23, Cinncinati 7
Passing: Roethlisberger: 21/33, 258 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 18 car, 66 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Ward: 8 rec, 115 yards, 0 TD


Miami 10, New York 6
Passing: Sanchez: 17/44, 216 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Tomlinson: 19 car, 49 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Cotchery: 5 rec, 69 yards, 0 TD


Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 332.4 yards/game (19th)
New York: 350.7 yards/game (12th)

Passing
Pittsburgh: 212.2 yards/game (18th)
New York: 207.0 yards/game (21st)

Rushing
Pittsburgh: 120.2 yards/game (10th)
New York: 143.7 yards/game (6th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 22.3 points/game (16th)
New York: 21.0 points/game (18th)


Defense

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 293.0 yards/game (4th)
New York: 292.5 yards/game (3rd)

Rush
Pittsburgh: 60.1 yards/game (1st)
New York: 88.5 yards/game (3rd)

Pass
Pittsburgh: 232.9 yards/game (23rd)
New York: 203.9 yards/game (9th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 15.2 points/game (2nd)
New York: 18.6 points/game (6th)

It feels like we just got done talking about a team who came into the season with puffed out chests and were locks to make it to the AFC Championship game. If you talk to both teams, and the fan bases, every single person would probably tell you that the Jets and Bengals would be a nice lock to get to the championship and have one of them play against the NFC winner for the Super Bowl.

How is that working out now?

Lets first take a look at the Jets schedule and how they have faired:



The schedule doesn’t look too bad. A lot of wins with a few losses to some tough teams. You look at any teams schedule and you would probably find something similar. With the ups and downs in the NFL it is hard to win every game and beat every single good team you play. Losses happen, which is why teams don’t go undefeated every single year.

But look a little closer.

The Jets have only been able to beat one team, one, that is over .500 this season, the New England Patriots, in week two of the NFL season. The same Patriots who took the Jets to the woodshed in week 13, 45-3.

Other than that the Jets have lost to Baltimore (10-9), Green Bay (9-0) and New England (45-3). The Jets scored a combined 12 points in three losses and in turn only nine points in the only three games they have played against over .500 teams. Yea, they are ready for the Super Bowl. Jokes.

Jump it for the rest of the preview.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Penguins Game Day 33 - vs. New York Rangers

New York Rangers

 

7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Well that sucked, didn't it? The Flyers have now taken the first game at the CONSOL and now broke a 12 game losing streak. What ever is this team going to do? Oh, it was only December 14th? Really? Oh, well then what are some people freaking out for?

Great question. Don't act like they were never going to lose again.

Last night we saw how big Chris Kunitz is and what he means to that first line. A lot of people take him for granted but he might be the biggest reason for how well Sidney Crosby has been playing (except for, you know, Bing being amazing and all). He is still day-to-day and looks as if he will be a game time decision.

If Kunitz can't go then Geno Malkin will be on the first line again. He looked really good last night, even in teh first period when the Penguins were far from impressive. He scored two power play goals and looked to have that jump back in his step. I know it was the first time he was back on the ice in some time but if he can continue playing at that level the Penguins are going to be looking real good.

Thank God we are back on FSN. Versus was so bad last night. I know ESPN doesn't give the NHL a ton of love but the NHL needs ESPN in the worst way.

Brandon Dubinsky is a tool.

Sean Avery is a douche.


The Penguins and Rangers so far this season:

November 15: Rangers 3, Penguins 2 (OT)



November 29: Penguins 3, Rangers 1



The Penguins probables:

Forwards
Evgeni Malkin - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Maxime Talbot - Arron Asham
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp - Dustin Jeffrey - Craig Adams

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Alex Goligoski - Deryk Engelland

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

For the Rangers:
 
Forwards
Ruslan Fedotenko - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Artem Anisimov - Ryan Callahan
Alex Frolov - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
Sean Avery - Erik Christensen - Chris Drury/Todd White

Defense
Marc Staal - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Michal Rozsival
Steve Eminger - Mike Sauer

Goaltending
Henrik Lundqvist
 
 
The Stats:
 

Troy Polamalu: AFC Defensive Player of the Week


In what seems to be a weekly occurrence a Pittsburgh Steeler was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week. Troy Polamalu took home the honor for the second straight week.

Troy was his studly self as he led the Steelers to a 23-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals with two interceptions, one a pick six, to go along with two tackles and two passes defended. The pick six tied the ball game at seven in the first half to spark the Steelers and the second interception ended a late drive for the Bengals.




Troy could easily win this award the next three weeks the way he has been playing. A key interception against the Bills when they were driving for a winning score, the strip sack of Joe Flacco and then this pick six is really showing people how dominant Troy can be and why he should be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year.

Mike Tomlin on Troy:

“Troy had a tremendous break on the play,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “Whether or not he was baiting Carson is debatable. It was a route that he was familiar with. I think TO (Terrell Owens) was the intended receiver, and may have tripped or stumbled coming out of his break. I think that provided the necessary grass that Troy needed to come down hill on the ball and make the play. But no question, Troy was in great position and he had a great break on the ball.”

As the Steelers website link will tell you in his eight seasons Troy has won the DPOW honor five times. Not too shabby for a player most labeled as a bust after his first year.

Troy joins, himself, James Harrison who won the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after week two, Lawrence Timmons who won the award after week six and Emmanuel Sanders won the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after week seven.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Penguins Game Day 32 - @ Philadelphia Flyers

 Philadelphia Flyers

7:00 p.m., Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, PA

During the Penguins 12 game streak they have been playing some good teams and some really bad teams. Althought they have earned 29 of a possible 30 points in the last 15 games but yet are only one point up on Philadelphia.

As bad as I hate to admit this the Flyers have been really good all season and this will, by far, be the toughest test for the Penguins during this streak of both points and wins.

Luckily we have Sidney Crosby on our team. He is really good at hockey.

I can't wait to hear the Flyer fans chant "Crosby Sucks" and then hear the subsequent boos when he scores four goals.

MAF has been pretty good lately. He has givin up two or less goals in his last nine contests. MAF has played against the Flyers twice this season, losing both games 3-2. Lets change that.

Lets make sure we get things straight, a win or a loss here doesn't mean much more than a win against any other team. Would it be great because it is against Philadelphia? Sure. Any time we get a win against a scum team from Philadelphia it would be nice. Would it be nice to pick up two more points on the Flyers? Yea, it would. Would it be great to extend the streak? Hell yea.

The matter of fact is that it is December. One win isn't winning you a playoff round and one loss doesn't mean the sky is falling. Take it at face value.
Geno and Kunitz are game time decisions. Geno actually said he was going to play and I can't see Kunitz missing since he did skate with a line at practice.

Should be a great atmosphere and a great game. Thank God VS. won't give us a pregame show. I can't wait to watch Big Game Hunters or the 1956 Indy 500 before the game.

Previously this season:

October 7: Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 2


October 16: Pittsburgh 5, Philadelphia 1


October 29: Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 2





The Penguins probables

Forward
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Maxime Talbot - Arron Asham
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp - Dustin Jeffrey -Craig Adams/Eric Godard

[Geno will play and will be in the lineup somewhere]

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Alex Goligoski - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury


The Flyers probables:

Forwards
Darroll Powe - Jeff Carter - Claude Giroux
Scott Hartnell - Daniel Briere - Ville Leino
James van Riemsdyk - Mike Richards - Andreas Nodl
Nikolay Zherdev - Blair Betts - Daniel Carcillo

Defense
Chris Pronger - Matt Carle
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Sean O'Donnelly - Andrej Meszaros

Goaltender
Brian Boucher


The Stats:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Keep Bunglin Along. Steelers 23, Bengals 7





Hmmmm, seems like that didn’t work out.



Suck it Cincinnati.

You can win your off season paper championships and have all the fun with your TV shows, we’ll just worry about making the playoffs, something you aren’t very good at doing.

Remember when people honestly thought Carson Palmer was better than Ben Roethlisberger? I mean cmon man.


"Yea, I am that much better than you"

The game was not really as close as the score would indicate. Really the Bengals looked good for all of like six minutes. That six minutes was there first drive. After that they were mud.

I am just curious where all these fans are that were so cocky last year and all off season? Pretty shocking what happens when you get your five minutes of fame. Sit back down fan boys, the real toast of the AFC North are here and they don’t want to see you.

Jump it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Penguins Game Day 31 - @ Buffalo Sabres


Buffalo Sabres

7:00 p.m., HSBC Arena, Buffalo, NY


Not much really to say.

Penguins are on fire.

Buffalo is a game under .500.

Malkin is out.

Dustin Jeffrey is going to play after getting called up yesterday.

The last game these two guys played:




The Penguins probables:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Maxime Talbot - Arron Asham
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp - Dustin Jeffrey - Craig Adams
Defense
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Alex Goligoski - Deryk Engelland

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury


For the host Sabres:
Forwards
Nathan Gerbe - Derek Roy - Thomas Vanek
Tyler Ennis - Jochen Hecht - Patrick Kaleta
Marc Mancari - Luke Adam - Jason Pominville
Cody McCormick - Paul Gaustad - Mike Grier
Defense
Andrej Sekera - Tyler Myers
Jordan Leopold - Steve Montador
Chris Butler - Mike Weber

Goaltending
Ryan Miller

The Stats:

Steelers Round Table: Bengals Edition

Well after a somewhat wildly successful round table discussion before the Ravens game Cotter thought it would be a good idea to continue this discussion so we are back for round two with general thoughts from a bunch of good great Steelers bloggers about the game on Sunday. This is goign to start to become a weekly thing (I think) so I hope you enjoy. This week it is going to just be three of us but as this thing goes we will add more people. If anyone has questions they want answered shoot an e-mail to [threeriversburghblog@gmail.com] and we will include them as the weeks go on.

Without further wait lets see what we have to say about the Steelers/Bengals game tomorrow.
Here is the lineup:

Ian from The Steelers n'at (@thesteelersnat)
Cotter from One For The Other Thumb (@OFTOT)
and your truly. (@ThreeRiversBlog)

If you aren't following all of these people on Twitter then you have no idea what is going on.

After you read our little run down check out my Bengals preview.

Let's get after it.

1) What do the Steelers have to do to win?

SN: Put the game away when they get the chance. In the first game against Cincinnati, they had the opportunity to bury the Bengals in the first half, but a fumble killed the momentum and led to the Bengals first touchdown. The Steelers did bounce back to take a 20-7 lead into the half. In the 3rd quarter, they had plenty of opportunities to put more points on the board and essentially put the nail in the coffin, but had two 3-and-outs. We need to take control of the game early then bury them when we get the chance. Don't let them hang around to the point where one big play through the air can change the game.

OFTOT: The cynical response would be “show up.” But the realistic response is probably just play the game as if the Bengals were the Ravens or anyone else standing on the tracks that lead to January. The Steelers have been chugging along, making the plays that need to be made and winning as a result. The team needs to keep this momentum going. But the Bengals 2-10 record is deceiving. They’ve been in a lot of those games, including the one last week against New Orleans; they just can’t close ‘em out. So, the Steelers just need to be the tougher football team, once again. 60 minutes. Play balls to the wall for all 60.

TRBB:I think it is really simple, just do what you do and take care of business. I know many people are going to deem this a “trap game” but I really think Mike Tomlin is going to have the boys ready. I know many of the players wouldn’t say this to the media, but to a man they were embarrassed to lose to the Bengals twice last year and have them win the division. I really think they would have rather have the Ravens won the division because at least they can respect that the Ravens are a good team. None of us, or the players in the locker room, were born the last time that the Bengals had back-to-back winning season. So just sticking to the game plan and executing the game plan should be good enough for the Steelers to win.


2) What player on the Bengals scares you the most?

SN: Jordan Shipley. This might seem odd, but I think it's a well-established fact that Willie Gay is probably our worst cover-corner. Tom Brady chased him up and down the field. In spread-formation packages, Gay as the nickel back will draw Jordan Shipley out of the slot. Last year the Bengals terrorized us with short passes to their slot receivers. The Bengals #3 guy has traditionally had success against the Steelers, dating back to Chris Henry.

OFTOT:Brian Leonard? Is that fair? I mean, I guess T.O., since he’s having a renaissance type season, despite the fact that the Bengals are a punch line. Still, I wouldn’t exactly characterize my feelings towards T.O. as “scared” so much as loathsome. Also, Leon Hall can suck it. No real reason to say that, I’m just trying to be a dick.

TRBB:As much as I hate to say it, T.O. is going to be the one I worry the most. He had a huge game against us and most likely he is going to be matched up with Will Gay/K. Lewis/BMac in the slot. Ike Taylor is easily our best corner but the Steelers rarely have him shadow players across the field. The Bengals are going to exploit some recent (I guess) weaknesses in the secondary and matching T.O. up on whoever is playing the nickel back is going to be a huge success.


3) What Steelers player are you looking for to have a big game?

SN: Rashard Mendenhall. The Bengals are 24th in the league in run defense. The weather for Sunday looks atrocious (Rain/Snow mix, high of 36) and the Steelers will do well to keep it on the ground, wind the clock, and let Ben work some play-action passes.

OFTOT:Rashard Mendenhall. The Bungles are in the bottom 10 in terms of rush defense. Controlling the game begins with Mendenhall. I’ve loved the way he’s been running this season, even if he isn’t breaking big runs every week. It’s being able to pick up 4-5 yards and being a threat to break one on every play that keeps defenses rocking back on their heels. I’d love to see Mendenhall bust one or two on Sunday. I mean, who doesn’t love watching him run the football?

TRBB:LaMarr Woodley. The Bengals are much better on the right side of the line than the left side and it has been a revolving door for the Bengals. Woods has been in a little bit of a funk and only has 6.5 sacks on the season. This is very similar to a few years ago during the Super Bowl run (I think) when Woodley just went off and exploded at the end of the season and playoffs and had two sacks every game. I can see him getting that streak started on Sunday.


4) What match up do you think we can exploit?

SN: Is it fair to say "All of them"? Really, on paper the Steelers should dominate the Bengals. That said, with the weather conditions, Steelers offensive inconsistencies, and NFL officiating, the game will probably be closer than is comfortable. Nevertheless, the Bengals run defense is awful so we should be able to run all over them, which could open up the play-action game for Ben to stretch the field with Mike Wallace.

OFTOT:The Bengals Defense on the Steelers Offense. The Bengals are giving up almost 27 points a game on average. Do you need me to spell it out for you?

TRBB:Um, can I just say the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Cincinnati Bengals? That is pretty much it. The Bengals are not a good club and despite the Steelers injury struggles they are a good football team. If I had to pick one thing I guess it would probably be the front line on both sides. The Bengals do not have good o-line or d-line talent and the Steelers can exploit that through the running game and giving Carson Palmer a hell of a time when he tries to drop back and throw.


5) Biggest underlying story in the game?

SN: The Bengals swept us last year. This game is all about revenge. As a side note, Orange might be the worst possible jersey color. I can't think of one team that wears orange that I like. Bengals? Browns? Broncos? Flyers? Yeah, no. Orange blows.

OFTOT:Probably that this will be one of only several Bengals games that aren’t blacked out this season (coincidentally, you’re welcome, Bengals “fans”). No, I’m not sure it’s “the biggest underlying story,” or even a story at all, but I’m slightly concerned that the Bengals really have nothing to lose. They’re obviously going nowhere. They’re this year’s Browns. Remember a year ago when the Browns beat the Steelers...that may have been the only win the Browns needed last season. They didn’t have the best season, but they beat the Steelers and made an impact on the Steelers’ season, which in this division can be a major morale lift. The Bengals have lost NINE STRAIGHT GAMES. The God damn plane has crashed into the mountain. What better way to wind down the season on a high note than beating the Steelers at Heinz Field during the stretch run? So, for me, I guess it’s like Joe Jackson says in Field of Dreams - “look for low and away, but watch out for in your ear.” It makes sense, trust me.

TRBB:Honestly is there really one? I think this is just a pretty cut and dry game. Listening to the podcast over at Steelers Lounge this week the one thing that caught my attention was when they talked about the Bengals just coming in and giving up. Marvin Lewis is basically a lame duck coach and some of their big name players are not going to be back next year. Sure there are going to be guys who are playing for jobs next year and auditioning for other teams but is this team going to roll over if the Steelers score the first 10 or 14 points? Please spare me the “oh well they didn’t do that last game a month ago” garbage because they still had a small (very slim) outside chance of turing the season around and maybe making something of their season. Now they are just playing to not be the worst team in the league.


6) Final Score?

SN: Steelers 27, Bengals 13. As I said in the prior section, on paper, we should kill them. But the Steelers don't often "just kill" someone, so I think the game will be a little closer than we would like.


OFTOT:Steelers – 35, Bengals 20. I don’t even think the Bengals will score 20, but I’m going with that number anyhow. Ideally I wouldn’t mind it to be 35-0, Steelers, but I’m not trying to get greedy.

TRBB:Steelers 24, Bengals 10. Like Ian said the Steelers rarely blow teams out but I think they get the late points that they need to get away with a HUGE win and set up a really big game against the Jets the week after.



Thanks to everyone for coming in here to participate and as you can see we have some differing views but the one overriding factor is that this is going to be a great game.





What do yinz think? Leave it in the comments and let us know!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Steelers Game Day 13 - vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Fresh off a thrilling 13-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens in one of the biggest regular season games in recent memory the Steelers will play the reeling Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. While some label this as a "trap game" I don't really think that the Steelers are really going to treat it as such. This is a division game that is against a team that celebrated sweeping the Steelers on the Heinz Field turf last year. If you don't think that the Steelers remember all that trash talk then you have something wrong with you.

Even though the Bengals are bad they will not be a push over. They always play the Steelers tough and I wouldn't be surprised if this was a decently close game in the fourth quarter. I surely hope it isn't, but it would shock me.

Enough jib jab, let's look at the stats:

Pittsburgh 13, Baltimore 10
Passing: Roethlisberger: 22/38, 253 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 19 car, 45 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Wallace: 5 rec, 76 yards, 0 TD


New Orleans 34, Cincinnati 30
Passing: Palmer: 23/33, 249 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Benson: 19 car, 49 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Ochojoko: 5 rec, 96 yards, 0 TD


Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 330.6 yards/game (21st)
Cincinnati: 328.0 yards/game (22nd)

Passing
Pittsburgh: 210.6 yards/game (18th)
Cincinnati: 235.7 yards/game (13th)

Rushing
Pittsburgh: 120.0 yards/game (10th)
Cincinnati: 92.3 yards/game (26th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 22.3 points/game (t14th)
Cincinnati: 21.3 points/game (20th)


Defense

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 301.6 yards/game (5th)
Cincinnati: 347.3 yards/game (20th)

Rush
Pittsburgh: 62.3 yards/game (1st)
Cincinnati: 124.9 yards/game (24th)

Pass
Pittsburgh: 239.3 yards/game (24th)
Cincinnati: 222.4 yards/game (15th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 15.9 points/game (2nd)
Cincinnati: 26.8 points/game (28th)

And now the Cincinnati Bengals:





Jump it.