Archive for the ‘Pittsburgh Steelers’ Category

AFC-North

For the last decade the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers have been top dogs, winning the division championship eight of the last ten years between the two.

The Steelers have definitely seen the most success, winning the Super Bowl in the 2005-06 and 2008-09 seasons. Most recently, the Steelers reached the Super Bowl in 2010-11 season, losing to the Green Bay Packers.

Before Week 14 of this season, the Ravens sat in first place in the division with a 9-4 record. Trailing them were the Cincinnati Bengals and the Steelers, both with 7-6 records and both in the wild card race.

The Bengals played the Philadelphia Eagles in the Thursday Night Football game. Cincinnati won handily 34-13, narrowing the gap with the Ravens and putting pressure on both Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

The Ravens hosted the Denver Broncos with a chance to clinch the division title. Denver had other plans, beating the Ravens soundly in front of the home crowd 34-17.

With “Big Ben” Roethlisberger back in the lineup after being out three weeks due to injury, the Steelers went on the road to play the surging Dallas Cowboys at “Jerry World.” No doubt Pittsburgh looked at this as a must-win game. Dallas, being in their own tight division race, had other ideas.

After a back and forth battle, the game went to overtime. The Steelers won the coin toss and looked to be in control, but on only the second play of the OT period, Big Ben threw an interception to Brandon Carr, which he returned to the Steelers one-yard line. A chip shot field goal by Cowboys Kicker Dan Bailey sealed the victory for Dallas and sent the Steelers home one game behind the Bengals in the Wild Card race and two games behind the Ravens in the division race.

The good news for the Steelers is that they have the easier schedule between the three to finish the year, hosting Cincinnati and then Cleveland. Cincinnati, after travelling to Pittsburgh, must then play the Ravens. Assuming the Steelers beat the Bengals next week, they will own the tie breaker over the Bengals should they finish with identical records. With the Indianapolis Colts sitting in the fifth spot with a 9-5 record, the sixth will have to be either the Steelers or Bengals, as all other AFC teams below them have losing records and cannot make the playoffs.

In any case, it looks as though the AFC North race will end dramatically.

Advertisements

The SEC is a very polar topic when it comes to college football. Either you are convinced that the SEC is the cream of the crop of college football, or you are of the opinion that they are overrated.

I, for one, believe that the SEC is, as some NCAA football analysts call it, a “mini NFL“.

When the first round in the NFL draft is dominated by SEC talent and you see Rookies from the SEC making waves in the NFL, you know where the best football is being played.

That being said, there is a large difference between having the most talented individual players athletically, and being capable of winning games. There have been many occasions that have proved this. Utah’s victory over Alabama was due in large part to the Utes game plan and the higher level of coaching and play calling. Same with TCU over Wisconsin, Boise State over Oklahoma, and BYU over Oklahoma.

But when all is said and done, SEC players, more than any other conference’s players, are better prepared for NFL play because so much is expected of them at the college level when compared to the teams playing in the Mountain West and the WAC for example. You see it all the time with players that put up huge numbers in lesser conferences and then those numbers tank in the pros.

Alex Smith and Max Hall are proving examples of this.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have players such as the Pouncey twins. Maurkice and Mike Pouncey both played football for the University of Florida on the offensive line. Maurkice played right guard and forewent his senior season to enter the 2010 NFL draft. He started all 16 regular season games at center for the Pittsburgh Steelers and has made a name for himself. Mike Pouncey played his senior year at Florida as their center and was highly regarded as one of the best offensive linemen in college.

These are the types of players and talent that exist in the SEC all around. They play for these schools to prepare for the NFL. Cam Newton might have a few things to tweak here and there, but he is able to break tackles from linebackers just as fast and heavy as the ones the NFL has to offer. Sure, they might be more experienced but that will come in time for Cam.

Cam’s biggest challenge and criticism is that he has not played in a pro-set offense taking snaps under center. He will deal a lot with this package in the NFL no matter where he goes, and will need to prove that he can handle that style of play. If he can do that, why shouldn’t he be able to make big plays like he is doing now? Tim Tebow showed potential at Denver the back-end of the season. Newton should do just fine, if not, spectacularly.

 

(Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)

The game went the Green Bay Packers way from the kickoff. They held the Pittsburgh Steelers to a punt on the opening drive. Although the Packers also had to punt the ensuing drive, they proved to the Steelers they were there to play.

No one played harder than Aaron Rodgers and the Packers Defense. Rodgers threw for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. The defense forced 2 first half interceptions and a second half fumble. More impressive than that, they continued to play at that high level after losing star CB Charles Woodson to a fractured collarbone he suffered on a tackle made late in the second quarter.

All 3 turnovers can be attributed to the play of the linebackers and linemen because of the pressure they put on Roethlisberger all night long. Both interceptions were due to obstructed throws from defensive pressure.

The Packers, led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, capitalized on all 3 turnovers by converting one immediately on the pick 6, the second interception and fumble were also converted into 7 points on touchdown drives. At one point, the Packers led 21-3.

The Steelers dominated the end of the first half and the entire 3rd quarter and were able to pull the game to within 3 points at 28-25.

The Packers weathered the storm and with just over 2 minutes left in the game, kicked a chip shot field goal to increase their lead to 6 at 31-26, eliminating the chance of tying with a field goal for Pittsburgh.

The Steelers are famous for last-minute drives to win games. They did it to the Arizona Cardinals in the ’09 Super Bowl with the amazing catch made by Santonio Holmes to win the game. Not to be this time around.

Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense couldn’t get their feet under them. They gained a first down on the first play of the drive but then crashed. Ben threw 4 straight incomplete passes.

Green Bay took the victory formation and that was that.

Of course the poll starts this early. Why not?

ESPN radio host Mike Greenberg in Jets helmet on air

 

 

I love sports radio. Unfortunately, sports radio loves the New York Jets.

Most every talk show host on ESPN700 Radio is a Jets fan, it seems. Starting with Mike Greenberg of “Mike and Mike in the Morning” 4am-8am, to Spencer Checketts of the “Bill and Spence Show” 2pm-6pm, to Jason Smith of “All Night with Jason Smith” 11pm-2am.

With the Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan predicting a Super Bowl victory this season, the New York Jets have been the subject of almost every NFL conversation all season long.

Now that the Jets are actually winning playoff games as the underdog, these hosts are having the time of their life. Jets this, Jets that. Mark Sanchez this, Darrelle Revis that. I am beyond over the Jets.

Sports radio hosts had a heyday with all the trash talk before the Patriots game last week. They could focus on nothing else. True, the things that were said would have been front page news no matter what team had said it, but the fact that it was the Jets made the news that much more popular.

 

Rex Ryan speaks out at a press conference

When the Jets beat the Patriots…”2nd best day of my life after the birth of my daughter.” – Jason Smith. And that was one of the milder comments.

Now, with the upcoming AFC title game against the Steelers, forget about listening to a half hour of radio without mention of the Jets.

Don’t get me wrong. The Jets are an outstanding team. Hands down, Rex Ryan is one of the best coaches in the league right now. The Jets defense is air-tight, and really is the reason for their success thus far. Because I’m more than ready for the biased views and giddy reactions to Jets’ victories to end, I find myself cheering against the Jets in spite of the radio hosts. I shudder to think what the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl will be like should the Jets represent the AFC in the big game.

I quietly keep asking myself, “Are the Jets out yet?” And sports radio repeatedly confirms “No…no they are not.”

 

Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes raise Lombardi Trophy

 

11 Super Bowl victories.

Since 1966, the year of the inaugural Super Bowl game, the 4 remaining teams in the 2011 NFL playoffs, the New York Jets, the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Bears, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have combined for those 11 titles. The Bears and the Jets have won 1 Super Bowl each, the Packers have won 3 (including the first 2 in ’66 and ’67. The Steelers have won an NFL record 6 Super Bowls.

(more…)