Who are the SteezBros?

Welcome to SteezBros! SteezBros is a Steeler Blog run by three brothers who are all huge Steeler fans. If the true definition of fan is fanatic, we fit the bill. We were born into Steeler fandom. Love of the Steelers goes back many generations in our family. It's in our blood. You can read our "Welcome to SteezBros" post in the archive if you are interested in more information about us and the blog. Thanks for reading and check back often!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tomlin Thursday Christmas Eve Edition

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone from the Steezbros! Let's hope the Steez can bring us home a Festivus Miracle. I'm pretty sure I know what Tomlin is requesting from Santa. In lieu of doing the usual 5 pics for Tomlin Thursday, Jenn wrote an epic poem. It is so awesome that I don't want to take anything away from it with pictures. Here it is in all its glory. Enjoy! A safe and happy holiday to you all.

Twas two nights post-Christmas, and all through Heinz Field,
The Steez offense ran plays to which the Ravens' D would yield.

The screens were thrown by Ben with great care,
while the O-Line ensured that Terrell Suggs wouldn't get there.

The fans were jumping way out of their seats,
Still picturing the playoffs, what an ambitious feat.

And Tomlin with his headset, LaBeau in his cap,
called defensive plays that kept close all gaps.

When way down the field there rose such a clatter,
As Woodley grabbed a fumble; now to make it matter!

Down to the Red Zone, Ben threw in a flash,
and Santonio caught it, past the first down hash.

The Offense went no-huddle,so lively and quick.
Since the D got the ball back, thanks to St. Dick.

More rapid than the Ravens, the Steelers, they came.
Tomlin whistled and shouted and called them by name.

"Now Big Ben! Now Wallace, Now Miller, Now Hines!
Now Mendenhall, and Santonio, break through their lines!

To the back of the end zone! Ben, hand off the ball!
Now dash away, dash away, Mendenhall!"

The ball he carried, safe in his hands,
while fans erupted from all the stands.

He broke through the plane, and landed on his belly,
And the linemen jumped up, all shaking like jelly!

And then Jeff Reed came up, and went straight to work
As the ball was snapped, he kicked with a jerk.

The point after he kicked was right on the nose,
and straight through the uprights, that ball, it rose!

The clock then ran out, the refs blew the whistle.
The Steelers did win! And the Ravens did bristle.

And Tomlin spoke to reporters as walking out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all! And to All a good night!"

Monday, December 21, 2009

Playoff Scenario

Need to kill an afternoon? Check out this playoff scenario generator.

I doubt it happens, but the scenario needed for the Steelers to get the 6th seed isn't that outlandish:

1. Pittsburgh wins both games
2. Denver loses to Philly or KC
3. The Jets lose to Indianapolis or Cincinatti
4. Jacksonville loses to New England or Cleveland
5. Tennessee wins out or
Houston loses against Mia or New England

We are now fans of New England, Philly, Indy, and Cincy.

I never thought I would type that sentence.

Biggest hurdle?

Steelers winning out.

Onside kick?

What were your initial thoughts about the Steelers onside kick?

My reaction went something like this: "what just happened?"

Not because I was shocked (I would have been), but because I missed the kickoff trying to catch the end of the Broncos-Raiders game.

Just about everyone who saw the game and works on TV is panning the call. It's similar to Belichick going for it on 4th and 2.

I doubt Mike Tomlin knew these numbers (he's been quoted as saying he makes these decisions by going with his gut) before the attempt, but the onsides kick decision actually improved the Steelers odds of winning. At least according to NFL Stats guru Brian Burke.

Up by 2 points with 3:58 left against the Packers, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin called for an onside kick. Was this a good decision?

When onside kicks are expected, they are successful only about 20% of the time. But unexpected onside kicks are successful a surprising 60% of the time. I think we can say this particular kick was certainly unexpected. And surprise onside kicks can be the most beneficial when a team is ahead late in the game. Possession is critical.
In this case, had the Steelers recovered the kick, they'd have a 1st down at about their own 40, which is good for about a 0.76 win probability (WP). An unsuccessful onside kick gives the ball to the Packers at the Steelers' 40, worth 0.58 WP for the Packers (which is 0.42 WP for the Steelers.) With a 60% success rate, the overall WP for the onside kick would be:

0.60 * 0.76 + (1-0.60) * 0.42 = 0.64
WPA conventional kickoff gives the Packers a 1st and 10 at their own 30 or so (28 is the average, 33 is the median). This gives the Packers a 0.46 WP, which is 0.54 WP for the Steelers.

The onside kick is the better decision by 0.64 to 0.54 WP.

These estimates are only league baselines, but they suggest it was probably a good call.

What's most interesting to me is that a failed onside kick is hardly certain death--a 0.42 WP. There was plenty of time for anything to happen--a stop, a turnover, or a score. And sure enough the Steelers gave up a touchdown but came back with one of their own.

Also, a successful onside recovery doesn't seal the game. The Steelers would still need at least two first downs to clinch the win. Essentially, the Steelers traded 30 yards of field position for the chance to keep the ball out of the Packers' hands.


Just as all hope, both actual and technical, was draining out of the season, the Steelers finally decided to show some passion by displaying the heart of a champion that we saw so often last year. Although they waited till the last possible moment, it was worth every second to see it finally come out. If they didn't muster it up in the waning seconds of yesterday's game, it would not have happened in any meaningful way this season.

After last week's game I had become dejected about this season basically wanting us to get the best draft pick we could and get rookies some reps to prepare for next season. Then I arrived back in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. I had to start dealing with what I perceived as irrational Steeler fans telling me every conceivable way that we could make the playoffs. My normal response was, "if you think we can make a run after losing to KC, Oakland and Cleveland, you are delusional." But guess what happened on Sunday? We won in incredible fashion. Plus, every team we needed to lose lost except Baltimore and we can take care of business at home next week as they come to town. We still need a lot of help and have to win out but I am starting to lean towards the irrational Steeler fans rather than my pessimistic view of things. It's much more fun to be optimistic, let's be honest.

Having said that, let's not get too excited. We can call it cautious optimism. The D still crumbled in the 4th quarter yet again. The coaching staff had so little confidence in the Defense- which is so unbelievable for a Steeler team that I am concerned for the people of hell- that they called an onside kick with under 4 minutes to play leading by 2! If you actually listen to Tomlin's rationale, it makes sense, given you buy into the fact that our D couldn't stop them. He reasoned that if we get the kick, our offense can win the game for us and if we don't, GB would score quick enough to get us the ball back with time and the offense could win it for us. This pretty much happened.

If you didn't think Bruce Arians should get canned before last night, I know there aren't many of you, but you should get on the bandwagon now. Troy Aikman made the comment that Bruce Arians does not talk to Ben about taking sacks and throwing the ball away because when he tried to have a similar conversation with a QB while at Mississippi State, it did not turn out well. Let me get this straight; a college kid 15 years ago did not appreciate being told he sucked. Is that any reason to not have a conversation with a professional QB who has won 2 Superbowl rings? Could the situations be any less similar? The number one way to improve Ben right now would be to get him to stop taking sacks that kill field goals and destroy field position. Coincidentally, you really did see Ben throwing a ball away on the final drive last night. In other firsts, the Steelers also threw a screen pass that worked last night, and it was the first time ever that a game ended with the score 37-36, marking the second consecutive season that the Steelers have been a participant when the ending score had never occurred previously. (San Diego 11-10 last year)

Continuing on the fire Bruce Arians path, the Steelers continue to "spread the field" with 5 wide sets, however I don't think teams are too afraid when 3 of the 5 receivers are Tyler Grisham, Rashard Mendenhall and Heath Miller. Yes, Heath is great but he is not beating anyone with his speed which is the key ingredient to making the spread work. The 5 wide, empty backfield formation killed us vs. Cleveland resulting in sacks like 15 times. Yet, we continued to come out in it again last night. Could we at least pretend like we might run the ball so opposing D's don't just get to rule out 50% of our plays?

What has happened to our tackling?

Also, GB has given up the most sacks in the league. How many did we have last night?

Our O was impressive against the number one D in the National Football League (channeling Ron Jaworski). Ben is one of 3 QB's in history to throw for 500 yards, 3 TD's and no interceptions. The other two: Warren Moon and Y.A. Tittle. My biggest complaint about Ben though is that he throws a terrible deep ball. Watch the first TD pass to Wallace. Ben just can't throw it far enough to hit him in stride, he is too fast. Wallace has to stop and wait for the ball. Luckily he was so far past the defender, he still couldn't catch up.

What a play to end the game. Great throw from Ben and amazing concentration from a rookie to get both feet in and keep control while going to the ground. Truthfully, I think teams would not want to face us in the playoffs.

Since we are back on the winning side of things, hopefully we will get some posts up this week, like what needs to happen to get us into the playoffs. Finally, there will be a special Christmas Eve edition of Tomlin Thursday this week because Christmas Eve is on Thursday! It was meant to be! Enjoy your Monday. Time to start shopping for Christmas.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Black and Gold Uni Watch

It's been a full week since we posted. I still can't figure out what went wrong. Is it the players? The coaches? Lack of desire? Lack of talent?

I'm sure at some point we'll get over the last five weeks, but it might not be until the off season. Posts could be sparse from here on out. Spending time with the family will likely trump writing about our disappointing season.

Nonetheless, I wanted to point you to an interesting article about the Steeler uniforms on ESPN. Good stuff on our beloved black and gold unis.

Troy Polamalu's long hair usually obscures the rear-neckline area of his jersey. So it might surprise you to learn that he has a little cross embroidered right above his nameplate. That's a major violation of NFL uni regulations, but the league's position is that it's OK because it's usually covered by his hair. (Translation: "We reeeaaaallly don't want to get involved in a controversy about religious expression.")

Uniqueness Factor: High. Tim Tebow can cite Bible verses on his eye-black stickers all day long, but Polamalu is the only major-level athlete Uni Watch can think of with a religious symbol actually stitched into his team's uniform.

The full article can be found here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Opportunity Squandered

Great post from Post Game Heroes. These two paragraphs pretty much sum up how I am feeling today. Give the whole thing a read. Lots of great points.

19. Steelers wasted an amazing opportunity this year. Super Bowl champs get handed the easiest schedule in the NFL. Most top players are back with the team. This is a wasted year as our defense got even OLDER and even more guys will leave via free agency. This team was built for a repeat and screwed it up big time. This time next season Farrior is even older, Ward is older/slower, Parker is gone, Clark is gone, Hampton may be gone, Townsend is done, Harrison is a year older, etc…… What a waste of a talented group of guys.

If the Steelers hadn’t won the SB last year I would be crushed right now. I’m surprisingly calm and “OK” with this debacle. These past 5 weeks I found myself smiling and laughing and shaking my head in amazement….but not really getting angry, frustrated, or pissed off. This doesn’t hurt anywhere nearly as badly as a playoff loss or an AFC Championship disappointment. I guess the season was “lost” before I really got to get emotionally involved enough to get devastatingly upset.

-We gave up 175 yards rushing last night to the Browns. They also scored their first rushing TD of THE SEASON.

-Bruce Arians continually going empty set on third and short resulting in sacks was idiotic. At least line up in normal formation and do play action if you want to throw. Arians takes any thought of rushing away and lets the D know exactly what we are doing.

-Ben needs to throw it away sometimes. Good lord. Browns had at least 7 sacks. They are one of the worst defenses in the league.

-Horrendous time management at the end of the game. We could have had two drives to try to tie it but for some reason we attempted one 5 minute drive for all the marbles.

-This was one of the worst coached games I have seen in a while in every aspect. Read the article I linked to but why in the hell was Santonio returning kicks. At least this showed that it is our blocking that is the issue on special teams. I would not be surprised if Arians and our special teams coach get canned.

-Probably one of the darkest days in the burgh in recent memory. I just pray that Troy doesn't play the rest of the year and that rookies get a ton of PT to prepare for next season. Let some positive come from this awfulness.

-Feel free to vent in the comments. I will respond if needed. We all need to be there for each other in these trying times.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Worst Team in the League?

When you lose to the Chiefs. Raiders, and Browns over a four week period, does that make you the worst team in the league?

I think it does.


I know everyone is upset by the fact that the Steeler's season is effectively over causing Tomlin Thursday to be postponed but there is still football to be played and there is still hope. "Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
Imagine how epic a run it would be if the Steelers could somehow get up off the mat from this debacle and get to the Superbowl. I'm not saying I think it is going to happen, just that there is still a chance, albeit a really small one. I just can't wrap my head around the fact that for the second time in 4 years we could miss the playoffs after winning the Lombardi. 5 year grace period. 5 year grace period. Here is how we could avoid that scenario according to John Clayton:

Without making this too complicated, the AFC wild-card race probably will come down to the Week 17 matchup between the Steelers and Dolphins.

The Jaguars face the biggest problem even though they are currently sixth in the AFC with a 7-5 record. Their next three games are against the Dolphins, Colts and Patriots, and they could lose all three. The Ravens (6-6) still can reach nine wins because they'll play Detroit and Chicago at home and finish the season in Oakland, but to reach 10 wins, they also would have to beat the Steelers at Heinz Field in Week 16.

The Steelers should beat the Browns on Thursday night. Then they'll need to win home games against the Packers and Ravens to head into the season finale in Miami at 9-6. The Dolphins would have to beat the Jaguars, Titans and Texans to be 9-6 heading into that last week.

The journey begins tonight, as the Steez play perennial punching bag Cleveland. If there is a way to get this season back on track, it would be a throttling of the Brownies. However, I would have said the same thing about KC and Oakland and we all know how that turned out (slamming my head on my desk). The weather tonight is calling for cold, high winds and snow. Sounds like a battle in the trenches to me which should favor the Steelers. Our D is pretty solid against the run. Cleveland has no running game and our running game has been fairly decent this season. Brady Quinn can't throw in good weather. I am fully expecting the Steelers to win this game but it will be close, similar to last year's 10-6 affair in similar weather conditions.

The game tonight should be an excellent measuring stick to see whether Tomlin has lost the team. I would like to think he can hold the ship together and finish the season strong but there is clear dissension among the ranks. After Hines called out Ben for not playing with a concussion, Ben came back with a "Hines will do what is best for Hines" comment regarding Hines's injured hamstring this week. Although definitely true, Ben should have kept his mouth just like Hines should have done the week before. Tough times bring good teams closer together not tear them apart. I am interested to see which direction this group goes starting with this evening's game.

Another factor that will keep this game close are injuries. Troy is out and may not play again this season according to some sources. Hines is out with Tyler Grisham up from the practice squad to take the 4th WR slot. That means my favorite jersey purchase, Limas Sweed will be on the field tonight to drop some key passes. I really hope he can show something tonight. William Gay is out with a concussion caused by his teammate, Ryan Mundy. Joe Burnett will get most of the reps replacing him but Keenan Lewis will also see some time. It is important to get these rooks some reps to see what we have going forward for next season. Get the bumps out of the way this year and we will be better for it next year. Some links to keep you busy at work until kick:

Tomlin claimed that roster moves would be made in the wake of our 4th consecutive loss. Here are the moves PGH would make.

The Tomlin press conference this week with commentary by PGH. HERE

Since losing has been a theme of late in the 'burgh, here is a list of the 50 most devastating losses in Pittsburgh sports from 1990-today. (Mondesis's House)

A close look at how the Steez salary cap situation has imprinted this season (BTSC)

Awesome Pittsburgh song (B94)



It is being reported in various places that Hines Ward WILL play tonight.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Is This Real Life Right Now?

First off I would like to apologize to the SteezBros, SteezBros Nataion, and the rest of the blogging community for my abrupt and unexplained absence from this community. It appears that I have bitten off more than I can chew with school and two jobs and as a result have neglected my duties as a Steezbro and as a part of Steeler Nation. I haven't been on the internet to read or contribute in many weeks and even more embarrassing I have missed games because of work. Some say this is part of becoming a grown-up but I say that that is a lame-ass excuse for old people, who are trying to convince themselves that they are real fans.

About a month ago everyone was beginning to love this years version of the Steelers and saying they were on the path to repeating and the love fest was on. Well Tomlin and Co. must be color blind because we are not on the yellow brick road any more and apparently were on the fast-track to the highway to hell. --Disclaimer this "hell" I speak of is the opposite of the "hell" Mike Tomlin promised to unleash for the rest of the season, because Tomlin's "hell" is actually a foam padded room with a bunch of sissies running around with Sock 'em Boppers on while wearing helmets and pads and no shots to the head or below the belt are allowed. PS you can't hit as hard as you can either, you may break your Sock 'em Bopper and actually hit someone (Josh did this to me several times in our youth, it's not that pleasant). Mikey T I love you, but please step up your shit, because your team is piss poor which you have now promised several times to not let happen but it has continued.

What happened to our D??? We cannot tackle, when we get to the QB we can't finish, coverage is not a term in our vocab, and we are letting below average QB's rip us a new one at the end of the game. After holding Oakland to 6 points all game we allow 3 TD's in the 4th??? WTF!?!?!?!? What I am about to say is blasphemy, but has Coach Dad Lebeau's age caught up to him? How is our defense slipped up so badly when we need it the most? As always our team still lacks the killer instinct that is needed and refuses to put teams away early in the game and lets them linger and their confidence to build going into the end of the game.

Early in the year I praised Ryan Clark and begged for his extension, but at this point I have no problem seeing him go after the year. He has not been himself all year and along with plenty of others on this team, has blown his assignment and/or let up a big play that should have been defended quite easily. After watching this team I am completely convinced that Troy is the best player in the league. Hands Down. TROY POLAMALU IS THE BEST PLAYER IN THE NFL!!! The difference with and without him is black 'n white. I dare you to take a look at our record with him in the game and us without him. This team lacks the self-need to be the best and show that they are the biggest, baddest, D in the league. Somehow we are still ranked in the top 5 in total defense in the league, which to me is a giant surprise. Willy Gay and Lawrence Timmons are also disappointments this year.

On to a positive (kind of) note. If somehow we make it to the post season, which I don't see happening because a couple of teams will have to shit the bed and us win out, the last time we had at least 3 losses in a row, coupled with a looming Bengals AFC North Championship, and everyone counted us out, we sneaked into the playoffs as the sixth seed by winning out and shocked the world by winning 3 games on the road and won Super Bowl XL. Hopefully this time history will repeat itself and we will be playing into January and crushing fools like normal. I should be making a return next week as a hiatus from school and work looms ahead. Again I'm sorry to all and hopefully some of my hate will satisfy the hungry dogs out there.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Season Over

Instead of unleashing hell , the Steelers laid an egg against a hapless Raider team.

I'm not sure what's more embarassing. Losing to the Raiders or allowing Bruce Gradkowski to throw for 300+ yards to receivers named Louis Murphy and Chaz Schillins. Either way it's not good. The Raiders had 10 total offensive touchdowns this year. They scored three on their last three drives today.


The defense continued to write the story of the 2009 Steelers - defensive collapses. I don't even know what to think after watching the Raiders drive 90 yards in less than 2 minutes. Most of the passes were just thrown straight up into the air and the defensive backs were unable to bat the ball down.


Even though Steeler nation likes to spew hatred toward Bruce Arians, all the vigor this season should be directed at Coach Tomlin, Dick Lebeau, and the defense.

But at least Gary Russell didn't hurt us on kick off returns.

Season over.

I'm not one for hyperbole, but if you think a Steeler team that has lost four straight, with two against the Chiefs and Raiders, can run the table to make the playoffs, you might be nuttier than Al Davis.

End of Tomlin Thursday.

If you really want to get mad, Kansas City has lost by more than 60 in its last two weeks.

Maybe we'll get 2 minutes of hate from Alex tomorrow. Maybe not.

End of post.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tomlin Thursday Must WIn Edition

"We will unleash hell here in December because we have to. We won't go in a shell. We'll go into attack mode, because that's what's required." It's going to be back to training camp tactics at practice this week.

Here is an awesome link to a ton of great Tomlinisms. HERE

Fisher: "I took the blame for our 0-6 start this season. You will get blamed if you miss the playoffs, trust me."

Tomlin: "We will not miss the playoffs. I do not know how to fail."

Monday, November 30, 2009


It was a valiant effort by our boys yesterday. Despite playing a quarterback with one career pass attempt and missing the best safety in the league, the Steelers fought the Ravens into overtime. But, you know what they say, a loss is a loss.

Some thoughts from the game:

- Leave it to the Steelers to turn a game they likely should have lost into a game they should have won into a game they lost in excruciating fashion. Even though I should be used to it by now, I still lose way too much sleep over this team

- In a game that has a thousand moving parts, it seems foolhardy to blame one aspect of the team for a loss. Having said that (Curb Your Enthusiasm, anyone?), this loss gets pinned on the defense. Again. The defense put Dennis Dixon in a hole early by allowing an opening drive touchdown and a 90 yard touchdown to end the half. It played much better in the second half, forcing two turnovers and preventing a late game winning drive by the Ravens. But given a 3 point lead by Dennis Dixon with less than 5 minutes remaining, the defense allowed another game tying drive. It was especially excruciating, because the team had the Ravens at 3rd and 22 from their own 3o. The defense promptly allowed a 17 yard completion and then decided to let James Farrior cover Ray Rice on 4th and 5. Farrior is a great leader, but his old balls should no longer be covering anyone that can be described as quick, shifty, or fast. Tell Farrior to cover Todd Heap's old balls, and let Timmons chase down Ray Rice.

- Kudos to Dennis Dixon, the Steelers offense, and Bruce Arians. Dixon played very well through regulation and avoided making a turnover or taking a sack. He engineered a great 4th quarter drive to take the lead and showed his ability both passing and running the ball. No shame in being fooled by a zone blitz. It's just sad that it happened in overtime to lose the game. I thought Bruce Arians put together a nice, conservative package for Dixon to run. I would have liked to see a few more running opportunities similar to the long touchdown run, but with no reliable back up quarterback, it was wise to limit the number of hits on Dennis Dixon.

- Kudos to Dennis Dixon's dad for wearing the old school Pirates hat. The shots of Dixon's dad and sister celebrating after his touchdown run were awesome.

- The Steelers had their opportunities to win - 4th and 5, near Deshea Townsend interception in overtime, Dixon leading Mike Wallace out of bounds on a deep pass - but it was the Ravens that made the plays when it mattered most.

- I'm not sure it is ever going to happen, but I'm excited to see a healthy Lawrence Timmons play with a healthy Troy Polamalu. Timmons was a game changer against the Ravens with two explosive sacks and a forced fumble.

- It took five games, but the Steelers finally missed Aaron Smith. It's been a long time since a team ran successfully on the Steelers, but the Ravens pushed around the Steelers d-line. Give major credit to their offensive line and to Ray Rice, who looks like a superstar who should not be losing carries to Leron McClain or Willis McGahee.

- Ramon Foster acquitted himself pretty well for an undrafted free agent starting his first game. In fact, the o-line did a great job on blitz pick up protecting their young quarterback.

- Congrats to the special teams for not allowing a touchdown return. The punt coverage was shaky, but no return touchdown is a step in the right direction. Who knew Corey Ivy and Rocky Boiman could have such an impact?

- The Steelers have a longer road to make the playoffs than a team that starts out 6-2 should, but, given three consecutive losses, they still have a strong shot at a wild card spot. Although they would currently lose the tie breakers, they are tied for the 2nd wild card spot with Baltimore and Jax. If the Steelers win out, they would definitely make the playoffs. The more likely scenario is the Steelers lose one game, but beat Baltimore, to finish at 10-6 and grab the last spot. It's not that unlikely, considering the Steelers should take care of business against Oakland and Cleveland in the next two weeks. That would put them at 8-5 with games remaining against Green Bay and Baltimore at Heinz Field and a week 17 match up in Miami. It's more difficult than I would like, but it's eminently doable.
- That's all I have time for. What are your thoughts? Moral victory or another blown opportunity?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Meet the New Breakout Star

You heard it here first.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tomlin Thursday - Thanksgiving Edition

Mike Tomlin doppelganger Omar Epps wishes he were as cool as Tomlin

This is a special Tomlin Thursday. No, not because it's Thanksgiving. It's Raven Week.

Super submission from Jenn Z. this week based on the poem that shares the name of our biggest rival.

And the Ravens, though strong in beginning, won't be winning, won't be winning
By the hand of Flacco as his O-Line the Steez shake to the core.
Though Lewis' eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the bright-lights over them throw their shadows on the stadium floor
But the the Steelers rise from those shadows on the floor.
Ravens beat the Steez? Nevermore! Nevermore!

Coach Tomlin is as stunned as you that the Steez lost to the Chiefs.

So it's no more Mr. Nice Tomlin.

Coach Tomlin remembers the last time we played the Ravens. That one turned out pretty well.

Coach Tomlin wishes YOU a Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Throw to the Running Backs!

Give credit to the guys over at PostGameHeroes who have been on Big Ben and the Steelers for the last two years about the lack of throws to running backs. There is much to be said for hitting vertical throws downfield, but, the best offenses take what's given to them. Especially, when the alternative is a sack or interception. By no means do I want Big Ben to lose his playmaking drive, but fewer sacks and interceptions, along with major match up advantages isolating Rashard and Mewelde vs. a linebacker, means better drives from the Steeler offense. The lack of throws to running backs made more sense when Willie Parker was the starter, because Willie is a terrible pass catcher. But with Mendenhall taking over, the pass to the running back would add another dimension to the offense.

Jason Cole at Yahoo! Sports has picked up on the story as well. Although he focuses more on extending Roethlisberger's career by limiting hits, than the improvement of the offense.
With 8:35 remaining in regulation on Sunday at Kansas City, Roethlisberger hit running back Rashard Mendenhall with an 8-yard touchdown pass to take a seven-point lead. It was a beautiful, tight throw into the teeth of the Chiefs defense. It was Mendenhall’s first career scoring reception and one of a career-high four passes he caught on the day.

Those facts are significant because the overall success of Roethlisberger, and the Pittsburgh offense, is greatly impacted by plays like that one.

While Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has thrown eight touchdown passes to current running backs Joseph Addai and former Colt Dominic Rhodes
during the past two seasons, Roethlisberger only has four to his three tailbacks (Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore and Willie Parker) in the same period. Ultimately, Roethlisberger would be wise to make more use of his running backs, who have combined to catch only 81 passes since the beginning of 2008 (the Colts trio has 115).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Moves Galore

The Steelers are making moves Galore. Most, thankfully, seemed to be aimed at fixing the special teams' issues. Tyler Palko, former Pitt QB, is reportedly being signed to compete for the backup job since Chaz Batch is out 6 weeks. Cleo Lemon and Jeff Garcia have also been rumored. Also, a guard was signed to add depth with Kemo down. According to PFT:

They [Pittsburgh] have added two players to the active roster, dumped two, and swapped out a player on the practice squad for a new one.

Specifically, veteran linebacker Rocky Boiman and veteran cornerback Corey Ivy have joined the team. To create spots for them, linebacker Donovan Woods and cornerback Keiwan Ratliff were cut.

The Steelers also released running back Justin Vincent from the practice squad, replacing him with guard Jonathan Palmer.

I don't have too many thoughts on this except that it is encouraging to see them trying some things to fix the issues. We will just have to wait and see what impact these moves have on the team.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"The coaches have to put us in a better position"

After writing last week that I got over the loss to the Bengals very quickly, the opposite is true this week. I feel like I'm wearing a cement necklace. I haven't felt this bad after a loss since the AFC Championship loss in 2005 to the Patriots.

But, life must go on. The Steelers are still in the AFC playoff race and it's important to see how the team responds to this loss. Let's take a look at what they had to say after the game.

Coach Tomlin
“Really it is quite simple; I take responsibility for that performance. I have to have this football team better prepared to play and, ultimately, we have to play better than what we played today in that stadium. We are capable of much more than that. You have to tip your hat to the Chiefs because they played well enough to win, but that is not what we are capable of and that is not us, it won’t be us. It was us today (emphasis mine) and as a guy that stands out front, I accept responsibility for that. We were highly penalized and we turned the ball over in the red area. We gave up big plays and we gave up a kick return. When you do those things, regardless of time of possession, yards or what have you, you open yourself up to defeat and that is what happened in that football game.”

Did you sense that your team was not prepared?
“Actually, I did not, but the execution would indicate the case. That is where I judge the preparedness, ultimately, on how we perform. The performance was below the line so the preparation must have been.”

Our take: Good to see Caoch Tomlin take responsibility for the loss. The team looked unprepared and made critical mistakes. Tomlin noted that we played poorly today and the standard of expectation is much higher. I would expect nothing less from our coach. But, let's hope we're more prepared next week.

Did you feel prepared for today’s game?
“I’m not really sure. I’m still new to all of this and trying to figure it out. I know on offense that we didn’t do enough on our side of the ball to win. You know that to play at this level and be a professional the margin of error, the difference between winning and losing, is so little that you’ve got to be on top of your game. We had a chance at the end of the game to put points on the board and put ourselves in a winning position and we didn’t do it.”

Our take: Nothing eye opening here (other than flat out denying that the team wasn't prepared), but it seems that Rashard is starting to get it. I've become more enamored with him as each game progresses. He's learned the hard way that you can't skip the details and expect to win against anyone in the league. This loss was hardly on Rashard, and it seems like every week we talk about he should have been more involved. 20 carries for 80 yards is not outstanding, but I find it inexcusable to not have him in the game in overtime on 3rd and 2.

Hines Ward
"[Tomlin] is our leader and the veteran guys on this team will do what he says," Ward said. "All of us are responsible for this. All of us need to look in the mirror."

"The coaches have to put us in a better position. All of us have to look in the mirror, but we're all in this together; the coaches have to evaluate themselves as much was we do.

Re: the 3rd down play call in overtime
"I guess we thought we could catch them in something. I cracked down on the end, but it didn't work. If you run something else and it doesn't work, maybe it's fourth-and-1 and you give us a chance. But when you lose 3 yards, you have no choice but to punt. The play call is what it is; we have to execute it."

Our take: Hines Ward is one of the leaders of the club, so he's one of the few guys who could get away with criticizing the special teams and criticizing the coaches. But, he walks a fine line, also mentioning that the players need to perform better. You have to think it would take a lot to make Ward publicly criticize the coaches. Maybe I'm seeing what I want to see, but when you take a shot at a play call, that is a direct shot at Bruce Arians. Maybe some of the players disagree with some of Arians play calls. Arians is a lightning rod for criticism, but rarely from his own players. It will be interesting to see how this is handled.

Charlie Batch
"I guess if they go zero -- and all-out blitz, we might have been able to pop one outside on them. But they didn't."

Our take: Batch trying to rationalize the play call. And not doing a very good job.

James Harrison
Man, special teams haven't helped us very much lately.

Our take: Maybe it's time Harrison gets involved in special teams. Then again, maybe we're not having this discussion if the defense holds the KC offense without a touchdown in the final 6 minutes of the 4th quarter.

Casey Hampton
"We play like we played today, you deserve to lose. You play like that, that's the outcome. We'll get it corrected, whatever it is. We can still win 12 games, so it don't matter. Twelve will get you in [to the playoffs]."

Our take: I love the positive attitude from Big Snack. But, a loss of this magnitude does matter. Let's just hope it spurs a late season winning streak that gets us back to the playoffs

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Could it get any worse?

This recap is going to be short. Because the more I think about losing to the Chiefs, the more I want to run into oncoming traffic.

The only way the Chiefs could win this game is if the Steelers made major mistakes. Like say, special team gaffes and major turnovers. One kick return touchdown, three turnovers, and a ghastly blown coverage in overtime later, the Steelers lost to a 2-7 team.

It's pretty clear when you outgain your opponent 515-282 and hold the ball for 44 minutes and still lose that you made huge mistakes. An eighth straight game allowing a return touchdown, a terrible Heath Miller drop, and an unexcusable Big Ben pick in the red zone, turned this from a dominating win to a demoralizing loss. Perhaps even more concerning, the Steelers held a 7 point lead with 6 minutes in the game and the defense allowed a terrible offense (that was missing its best player) to score the game tying touchdown. And then put together a drive to win in overtime.

That's enough of this discussion. I don't want to even get into the details. At least Big Ben's injury doesn't look serious.

The loss is a huge hit to the playoff hopes, but the situation is not desperate. The Steelers still hold the second wildcard spot. If the Steelers beat Baltimore next week, and then follow that up with wins against Cleveland and Oakland, all is well. But if Baltimore beats Pittsburgh next week, this could be the second time this decade the Steeler follow up a Super Bowl with a non-playoff season.

My attempt at positive spin: could this game help Pittsburgh? The team just won the Super Bowl. It was 6-3 despite turning the ball over every game and allowing 8 return touchdowns. This is a wake up call. You are not that good. You cannot be careless with the ball. You cannot coast. In 2008, Pittsburgh was the most intense and passionate team in the league. I'm not seeing it this year. Maybe this will give the team an urgency that is missing. Or maybe the team falls apart.

Coach Tomlin, it's time for your team to show some mettle.

Friday, November 20, 2009

And the Caption Contest Winner Is....

"You know why you won, right? This laminated play sheet got switched with my wife's grocery list. I was calling 'Eighteen double butter, cross Z tomato, tandem egg slice, turbo OJ,' all game long!!"

The caption was submitted by one of our most faithful readers, David Scerbo. Congrats on having the winning submission! Your prizes will be delivered shortly and I believe you already got your congrats email from Alex. Thanks to all who submitted a caption.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tomlin Thursday Week 11

Caption Contest winner will be announced tomorrow!

Tomlin Thursday is upon us once again. For the first time in a few weeks, it is after a loss. The above photo was taken by a friend of mine who was at the game. Tomlin clearly looks frustrated with the boys.

Culture is returning to Tomlin Thursday once again with another spectacular effort from our Cultural Corresponent, Jenn:

There once was a team from Kansas City,
Whose play is so bad you almost feel pity.
For Haley's an inexperienced head coach,
But Tomlin's beyond reproach, and this week, a Steez win will be pretty!

I love the shirt and I love the smile. Time to inject some enthusiasm to this bunch, especially the special teams.

Someone clearly likes Mike Tomlin as much as we do.

Did you know that he is an All Pro Dad as well as an All Pro coach?

The best owner with the best coach. I'm glad they found each other.

Tidbits from Special Teams

The mainstream media likes to cover certain things about the NFL. Quarterbacks - particularly those that wear Wranglers - diva wide receivers, discussing the death of parity, defenses that force lots of turnovers, and controversial coaching decisions. As I often noted last year, when the mainstream media starts writing stories about the struggles of your offensive line, it's a major problem. This year, the mainstream media is recognizing the new depths of the Steelers special teams. Probably a sign of how bad it has become.

I figured I'd throw out a couple articles and thoughts about our not so special teams:

- According to Football Outsiders, the Steelers kick off team is nearing the record for worst special team unit since they started tracking special teams in 1994. Not only does Jeff Reed have the worst kick-offs of the year, but Pittsburgh has the worst coverage too, and by a healthy margin.

- Mike Tomlin made headlines by smacking down Stefan Logan this week when Logan remarked that lanes open on Steeler kickoffs, but not on Steeler returns. "That's the perspective of a kick-returner who hasn't run one back yet, so that perspective may not be reality," Tomlin said.

I certainly respect Coach Tomlin for how he handles the players (his handling of a disgruntled Willie Parker last year was excellent), but Logan has a point. Logan never has return lanes on kickoffs or punts. He's basically surrounded immediately and has to fight for everything he gets. I doubt Josh Cribbs would be anything special if he had Pittsburgh's blocking.

Judging by the blogging world, there seems to be a decent portion of Steeler nation that are so disappointed in Logan this season that they think he should be cut. That it's a waste of a roster spot when he hasn't returned a kick for a touchdown. I disagree that Logan has been that bad. And he is still better than any returner we've had in Pittsburgh since Randle El. But I do agree that it's a waste of a roster spot if he has no blocking up front.

- Any thoughts out there on Bob Ligashesky, the Steelers special teams coordinator? Normally, if a unit is playing this badly, fans are clamoring for a firing. But Ligashesky's coverage unit was the best in the league last year (ignoring all the special team returns in the playoffs) and now it's the worst in the league. Is it coaching, lack of talent, or lack of desire?

- Steeler Nation should take it easy on Jeff Reed for his tackling ability (or lack thereof). Kickers across the NFL look foolish weekly when trying to make tackles. The coverage unit has failed if the kicker is making a tackle. So let's stick with criticizing Reed for his terrible kickoffs and poor judgment off the field. After all, not every kicker can tackle like Mitch Berger (2:45 into the video - let's be honest, I just wanted to post the AFC Championship highlight)

- Arnold Harrison was cut this week to make room for Donovan Woods, who is supposedly a better special teams player. Don't expect much improvement solely because of Woods.

- On the subject of roster changes, is anyone else interested in Steve Hauschka, the now unemployed former Ravens kicker? Sure, he sucks at field goals, but he was a kickoff specialist last year. That sounds like a better use of a roster spot than Keiwan Ratliff.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When Should Troy Return - Part 2

After Troy got injured in the first game of the season, the debate began as to when he should return. I argued here, that he should delay his return until he was fully healthy because of the relative ease of our schedule at that point and the upcoming bye week. This time around, the injury does not seem as serious as the first time Troy injured his knee. Mike Tomlin said the news on the knee was encouraging, according to PFT. The TRIB is reporting that Polamalu was seen walking around the Steelers facility without crutches or even a limp which is most definitely an encouraging sign, however both Tomlin and Ed Bouchette of the PG suggested that Troy is questionable at best for Sunday's game against KC.

Since this is the second time Troy has injured this particular knee this season, I doubt he will be brought back till fully healthy. The Steelers need Troy for the playoffs and do not want to risk any permanent damage to Troy's knees. If it really isn't that serious he will probably miss 1-3 weeks. My opinion would be toward the longer end of the range for precautionary reasons. If you look at our remaining schedule, it really is not that difficult. Here are the remaining games:

@ KC
@ Balt
@ Mia

The only game in the next four I would want to have Troy for would be @ Balt in two weeks but I think we can afford to hold him out until GB if the injury requires that much time. We should easily beat KC, Oak and Cleveland without Troy in the lineup. I am not as concerned as I normally would be with Baltimore after watching their pathetic first half performance last night against the Browns. I am all for bringing Troy back as soon as he is 100% healthy or as close to it as possible, but I think the schedule gives us the luxury of holding him out until that occurs. We may not need him to win regular season games, but we will need him come playoff time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The division goes through Cincinnati

Over the last two years (ok for the entirety of my life) I'm normally tormented after a loss. I retrace my steps, relive the problems, and gradually accept the proceedings. Basically I move through the stages of loss and move on sometime midweek.

However, Sunday's loss was different. Even though it was an important game, I was over the loss rather quickly. I'm not sure why, but I think it was this:

The Bengals were the better team on Sunday.

After the Bears loss and first Bengals loss, I thought the Steelers were the better team. They just made bad mistakes. Missed field goals, dropped touchdown passes, and late game missed tackles. Every game in the NFL is important. So you can't afford to lose games when you outplay the opponent.

But, the Steelers were outplayed on Sunday.

They didn't bring their best. The offense was 0-4 in the red zone. Despite making it inside the 10 yard line four times, the team didn't sniff the end zone. Give credit to an impressive defensive performance.

The Steelers defense played an extraordinary game, but when opportunities arose to make a game changing play, the ball slipped through their hands. Ryan Clark dropped an interception on a Bengals drive in the fourth quarter. Willie Gay dropped two earlier in the game.

The Bengals made the plays.

The special teams did what the special teams does and let up another game changing touchdown return. For the 7th straight game, the Steelers allowed a return touchdown. Those eventually catch up to you. And the 6 points from that touchdown was the difference in an 18-12 game.

The Bengals defense earned major respect from this blogger. The front four dominated in the run game, holding Rashard Mendenhall to 30+ yards on 13 carries. The blitz schemes of Mike Zimmer had Ben Roethlisberger running for his life and the O-line looking like the 2008 version, not the new and improved 2009 version. Even when Big Ben had time to throw, the Bengals secondary smothered Steeler receivers. This defense made Roethlisberger look like Alex Smith. And this was all done without Keith Rivers. A Bengals turnover generated 3 important points for the team. It held a talented Steelers offense to 0-4 in the red zone and 3-16 on third down. That won't get it done for Big Ben and Company.
Bruce Arians has long been the whipping boy of Steeler Nation and he looked overmatched again on Sunday. But, what I have learned is that if you lose the matchup on the line, every offensive coordinator will look like an idiot. Of course I would have loved to see more screens, draws, throws to running backs, and other tactics to slow down a defense that blitzed nearly every third down, but the Steelers aren't all that good at those plays. And God forbid we ever try a run on third and short. But, we stuck with our bread and butter and just got beat by a hungrier team. No more fingers should be pointed at Arians than should be pointed at the players.

The Bengals offense did just enough to win, but didn't look overly impressive doing so. The Steelers defense, minus Troy Polamalu who was injured early, held the Bengals without a touchdown and played exceedingly well, for all but the Bengals final drive. The defense only allowed 9 points. 6 came from a kickoff return and 3 came from a Roethlisberger interception. James Harrison cannot take a stupid penalty.

In the end, Big Ben and company had 2 minutes to drive down the field for the win. But, he didn't get a yard.

What does it all mean?

It means that the Steelers will probably be a wild card team. But, other than that, not much. It was an off day. I don't think it has any long term consequences. The Steelers weren't exposed. They didn't lose because of stupid mistakes. On this day, the Bengals made more plays.

And I'm not losing any sleep over it.

Bengals Game Day Links

Needless to say, today's game is huge. Here are some links to get you prepared for the battle for the AFC North crown. Rememeber, you can still submit a caption for our caption contest.

The pre-game zone blitz from BTSC contains some interesting statistics. HERE

Steeler mid-season awards. HERE

Steeler stats at the mid-point of the season. HERE

Preview from Post Game Heroes. HERE

A look at Ziggy Hood's playing time increase. HERE

Comparing Ced Benson to Delicioius. HERE

Gameplans from the Post-Gazette. HERE

Enjoy the game. GO STEEZ!!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Who wants it more?

It's certainly a surprise to hear the words "Cincinnati Bengals" and "important AFC North match up" in the same sentence. But, with the Baltimore Ravens struggling and the Bengals at 6-2, it's not a stretch to say that Sunday's game is probably the most important regular season game on the schedule.

The Bengals are the surprise team of 2009. Carson Palmer is returning to pre-Kimo Von Oelhoffen form. Cedric Benson is running like he was at Texas. The offensive line improvement, without #1 pick Andre Smith, is even more surprising than the Steelers improvement at O-line. And the Bengals defense has turned into a smash mouth unit.

I can't provide a detailed breakdown as good as the one at SteelerFury, so I'll link you there and be done with it. (Beware of a little homerism)

Instead of dissecting individual match ups to see who has the upper hand, I want to analyze the remaining schedules for the Steelers and Bengals to determine just how important this game is.

Both the Bengals and Steelers sit at 6-2, but the Bengals currently hold the tie breaker due to a better AFC North record. Even if the Steelers beat the Bengals this weekend, the team will still have to beat the Ravens twice to equal what Cincy has done in the division. If Cincinnati wins on Sunday, the Bengals will have a one and a half game lead in the division. Insurmountable? Let's find out.

After the Pittsburgh game, the Bengals play:
@ Oakland
@ Minnesota
@ San Diego
Kansas City
@ NY Jets

Football outsiders ranks it as the second easiest schedule in the league. It's really tough to find a scenario where Cincy doesn't win at least 11 games. Cincy should go on a three game winning streak after Sunday (Oak, Clev, Det) and will have no trouble beating Kansas City. I'll give the Bengals a 1-2 record against Min, SD, and NYJ. That places their record at 11-4 without the Steelers game. If they beat the Steelers, Cincy would be 12-4 on the season, meaning Pittsburgh could only win the division by winning all of their remaining games.

Pittsburgh's remaining schedule looks like this:
@ Kansas City
@ Baltimore
@ Cleveland
Green Bay
@ Miami

Let's give the Steelers wins against KC, Oakland, and Cleveland. I'll be generous and give the Steelers wins over GB and Mia. Then, let's assume we split with Baltimore. This gives Cincy the tie breaker. Those assumptions put Pittsburgh at 12-3.

Meaning a win against the Bengals wins the division and a loss against the Bengals loses the division.
So there you have it, this game will decide the AFC North winner.

The scenarios above are generous to the Steelers. Meaning, even if the Steelers win on Sunday, if they would drop an extra game (say to Mia or GB or Balt) or Cincy went 2-1 against SD, Min, and NYJ, the Bengals would still win the divison.

This game means more to Pittsburgh in the AFC North division race than it does to Cincinnati. If the Bengals win, the AFC north division is theirs, unless (maybe even if) Pittsburgh wins out. If Pittsburgh wins, it will be a competitive race to the end.

Barring major injuries, both of these teams should be locks to get to at least ten wins and make the postseason. And that's all that matters.

Because remember, Cincinnati won the AFC North in 2005. The Steelers won the Super Bowl.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tomlin Thursday Caption Contest Edition

Since this picture is exceedingly awesome, we decided to let you, our readers (all 17 of you, but we greatly appreciate each and everyone of you) decide what the caption should say. Please submit your caption suggestion via the comments to this post. We will determine which one we think is most fitting. The winner will have a post devoted specifically to their caption, will receive a congratulatory email from the most enigmatic Steezbro, Alex, and maybe a signed picture of the Steezbros, depending on the greatness of the caption. Get your submissions in by Sunday so we can pick a winner by early next week. Make sure to leave your name with your submission.

Tomlin takes it all in. I don't think I have seen a more intense set of eyes on anybody.

Tomlin, always happy to give an interview, answered a bunch of questions for Steelers.com yesterday. Here is an excerpt. Click the link to read the entire interview.

On big hits, reputations, fatigue

Throughout the 2009 NFL season, Coach Mike Tomlin will provide his insight and observations to Steelers.com on a variety of topics pertaining to the team and the National Football League.
Q. The Adrian Peterson hit on William Gay has been getting a lot of air time. Is that something you have to address with a young player so that it doesn’t linger?
A. That’s one of the beautiful things about the National Football League. It’s a humbling league. Every now and then you are going to lose physical confrontations, and I don’t care who you are. That one is getting some air time because it was in open grass the moment that it occurred. Who it was – Adrian Peterson – makes it a big story, but over time it’ll pass when somebody else gets caught in a compromising position either this weekend or next weekend, and then it’ll be old news. William Gay is a competitor, and he understands that. We live by the motto: every now and again gun fighters get shot. He got shot in that instance.

"Rashard, I am giving you the ball for the rest of the season. Don't let me down, Delicious, and for my and all of Steeler Nation's sake, hold onto the ball!"

Tomlin knew it was a touchdown as soon as Tyrone Carter touched the ball. Our team is great because we are solid from 1-53. The Denver game proved it. Great job Keyron Fox, Ty Carter, Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Steelers Broncos Pictures

Check out our pictures from the game on Monday. It was quite a sight to behold seeing how much support the Steelers have this far away from the friendly confines of Heinz Field. Even on TV, you could tell how many fans there were at the game by the strength of the Heath chant when he caught a ball. Make sure you check out the awesome Bubby Brister jersey that is in the pictures somewhere.

Steelers Broncos MNF

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We Hold These Truths To Be Self Evident...

Some things change and some things remain the same. Let's take a look at last night's stellar victory over the media darling Broncos and see what has changed and what has stayed the same.

The "All Men are Created Equal" Things that have stayed the same:

1) The Steelers continue to dominate in prime time games, especially Monday Night Games.
-Overall the Steelers are 35-22 on Monday Night Football, but starting with Bill Cowher and continuing with Mike Tomlin, the Steelers are 21-8 on MNF and under Tomlin they are 5-0.

2) Troy Polamalu, when healthy is the best safety in football and the most exciting player to watch.
-In consecutive plays last night, Troy showed everyone what he is all about. The first play, Troy perfectly times the snap count, shoots into the backfield and stuffs the Denver runner for a loss untouched. The next play is an interception that sets up the Steelers for a TD that puts the game away. I am glad he is back and healthy. The D is totally different with Troy in the game.

3) Santonio shows up in a big way in a primetime game.
-Once again, 'Tone saves his best games for the biggest stage. He made a ton of tough catches last night in traffic. He continues to excel at gaining yards after the catch.

4) Hines makes big plays in big games.
-His first TD catch was huge but so were a couple of his drive sustaining first down grabs. His hurdling of Champ Bailey to ice the game at the end was nothing short of awesome.

5) Ben has another high efficiency game. The media acts like this is the first time they saw him play, still holding onto the ball too long.
-20 for 28 for 230 yards and 3 touches, 1 pick. Ben seems to be in complete control of the offense. He had us moving easily downfield in the no huddle before he threw a pretty awful pick in the redzone. The 2 sacks were both his fault. The line gave him plenty of time to throw. Extending plays also resulted in the TD to Mike Wallace.

6) The Steelers coaches and Ben trust Mike Wallace.
-Wallace should be in contention for Rookie of the Year. He had another solid game with 4 catches,1 for a TD. He also had a great catch on a low thrown ball for a first down.

7) The defense made all the big plays when they mattered.
-Carter with two picks, one for a touch. Troy with a huge pick. Keisel with two sacks.

8) The Steelers get knocked down, but continually get off the mat.
-The Steez were driving down the field easily on their first possession in the second half before Ben got strip sacked and the Broncos returned the fumble for a touchdown. How do the Steelers respond? With a 2 minute, 80 yard touchdown drive with a 25+ yard run by Rashard, and a 35 yard pass to Santonio. Great response. Tomlin has created a great attitude with this team.

-This is emphasized by the fact that the Steelers have given up a return TD (int, fumble or kick) in, according to Josh, six straight games. Return TD's are momentum shifting events that normally turn the tides of games. In 5 of the 6 games that a return TD has occurred, the Steelers have shaken it off and bounced back to win. Call it a silver lining.

9) The team is very tight.
-did you see how supportive Ryan Clark was of Ty Carter? Clark was the first one out there to congratulate Carter on both of his picks.

10) Steeler fans travel like no other teams in the league.
-From being at the game last night, I can attest to the fact that their is no other fan base like Steeler's Nation. The black and gold was everywhere. Seemingly every tailgate had a mix of Broncos and Steeler fans. Even an accident we passed on the freeway heading to the game was between Steeler and Broncos supporters. It was just as loud when the Broncos had the ball as it was when the Steelers had the ball. After the game was out of reach and all the Bronco fans had exited early, you could really see just how many Steez fans there were as the towel waiving maniacs stayed till the very end to cheer on their squad. The people sitting next to us had driven to Denver from Alberta, Canada to see the Steelers. That's dedication.

-The tickets we got were from friends of a friend in Dallas, TX, who happened to be Steeler fans who could not make it to the game. They were so excited that the tickets were going to other Steeler fans, they sent us a note along with the tickets and a Terrible Towel. The note said, "So glad you are a Steelers fan. Please use this Terrible Towel (it has been to Heinz Field) for me! Here We Go Steelers Here We Go." Amazing. You will be seeing the towel soon when I post pics from the game.

The "Prohibition is a Great Idea" Things that Have Changed:

1) The O-Line is playing well.
-For the past few seasons, everyone's favorite target has been the O-line. Well, we won the Superbowl with them last season. People still complained at the start of this year. Well, who's laughing now O-line? Ben routinely had tons of time to throw last night. Both sacks were pretty much Ben's fault for not throwing it away. The line also paved the way for Rashard to gain 155 yards on 22 carries with a 7 yard per carry average. Don't forget that the Broncos were one of the top D's coming into this game, especially against the run. Dumervil leads the league in sacks. Last night, he had a big fat goose egg. It was nice to see the Steelers imposing their will with the run to ice a game. If we can run like we did last night for the rest of the season, opposing defenses will really have their hands full trying to stop us.

2) Heath Miller dropped a ball.
-The normally sure handed Heath dropped a very catchable ball down the seam which would have been for a crucial first down. You don't see that happen too often from him.

3) Rashard Mendenhall living up to being a 1st round draft choice.
-After missing most of his rookie season with a broken shoulder suffered at the hands of Ray Lewis, there were many questions about whether Rashard was going to be a bust. He pretty much steered clear of the team for most of last year. He had a not so great pre-season and a lousy start to the year. He then got benched by Coach Tomlin for not being prepared during practice. Was this a masterstroke by a master motivator? It seems like just the wake up call Mendy needed because since then he has been a beast. After the benching, he put up 165 yards against SD averaging 5.7 yards per carry. The next week 5.1 yards, then a sub-par 3.6, but the next two games going against the leagues' two best run defenses he averaged 6.9 and 7 yards per carry. If he gets fumbling under control, he could be a beast for a while in this offense.

4) Good coaching decisions.
-What happened to the ultra-conservative approach of days past? With the Steelers up 11, and around 2 minutes remaining, Denver had 1 timeout left. The only way the Steelers could screw up the game was a turnover. They were easily in field goal range which would put them up two touchdowns. On third down, the Steelers should have run the ball, forced Denver to use its last timeout and kicked the field goal to ice the game. Instead they throw the ball. Granted it was a high percentage throw and it is nice to see the Steelers trying to put a game away by trying to win it instead of playing not to lose, but pretty much the only way we could lose is by a turnover. The Steelers got a first down. They got down to the three, ran twice and were faced with third and goal. What do they do? Another pass. It resulted in a TD but the call was a little edgy for my taste.

5) We played better in the second half
-This game was a tale of two halves. The Steelers somehow were leading at the half via a Ty Carter pick 6, but were badly outplayed. The Broncos had the ball for the vast majority of the half and the Steelers offense could only muster 53 yards to the Broncos 183. Credit the D for bending but not breaking. Check out the second half stats. The Steelers had the ball for 24 of 30 minutes. They put up over 300 yards of offense with great balance. The D made great adjustments and held Denver to about 60 yards for the half and no points. The D only gave up 3 points the whole game. And this was while missing 4 defensive starters from the beginning of the year. Fox and Carter played great. Ziggy Hood was in the backfield alot and Denver could not run at all against us. This D is getting better each week which is a scary thought for the rest of the league.

6) Who would have thought that the biggest game of the year for the Steelers and maybe the league would be Cincy at Pittsburgh on November 15th?
-The Steelers and Bengals are both 6-2 coming into the matchup, but the Bengals have already beaten us once. If they win next week in Heinz Field, they effectively have a two game lead over us for the division. In Sunday's game, the Bengals did pretty much whatever the wanted to the Ravens who after a hot start to the season, are 4-4 and two games behind us and Cincy for the division lead. It should be an awesome matchup. If we can continue our level of play from last night and cut down on turnovers, we should win this game. I know the team wants revenge for the loss earlier this year.

I will get pics from yesterday posted soon.

Monday, November 9, 2009

1st Monday Nighter of the Year

After the bye week , the NFL made us wait an extra day before getting back to Steeler Football. I have a feeling it will be worth the wait. Normally, the bye week is useful this late in the season because it helps injured players get back on the field. Unfortunately, that isn't the case for the Steelers. Our D will be missing 4 starters tonight. Aaron Smith we know won't be playing for the rest of the season. However, we weren't certain about his replacement, Travis Kirschke. It now looks like he won't be playing along with Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Clark. The bye helped one defensive player get back to near full strength, Troy Polamalu. Luckily for the Steelers, the Broncos offensive is not their strength. Hood, Eason and Sonny Harris will fill in the spot emptied by Smith and Kirschke and Keyron Fox takes over for Timmons. He has played well this season, especially his key pick six against Minnesota. Tyrone Carter will take Clark's spot.

Clark is an interesting story. The Steelers have been playing games all week, saying he might play but anyone who is familiar with what happened the last time the Steelers were in Denver, realizes there is no way he suits up tonight. On our last visit to Mile High, Clark, who suffers from sickle cell anemia, which was aggravated by the high altitude, had to have his spleen removed, lost 30 pounds and missed the remainder of the season (and nearly died). Clark has been practicing all week with the team. Officially there has not been any word from the Steelers regarding his status for the game tonight. It seems like, Clark really wants to play in this game, but ultimately the decision will be made by Coach Tomlin. I doubt that he would risk the life of one of his players for one regular season game. Ty Carter is a decent back up and I think his style of play is much more suited for filling in for Ryan Clark than it was for filling in for Troy.

Two Steezbros will be at the game tonight so check back for pictures and stories tomorrow. Sorry you can't join us Alex, we will miss you.

Here are some links to peruse until kickoff tonight:

The PG has a bunch of stories analyzing matchups for tonight and reliving games past. HERE

Pre-Game Zone Blitz from BTSC. Always a good read. HERE

A comparison of how Mike Tomlin and Josh McDaniels career paths are similar. HERE

A video preview of tonight's game from AFC Bloger, James Walker. HERE

5 keys for the Steelers. HERE 5 Keys for the Broncos. HERE

Enjoy the game tonight. It should be a good one. GO STEEZ!!!!

Any predictions?