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!


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?

Friday, November 6, 2009


I had a lot of good stuff I wanted to post about the Denver game this week. But, paying the bills got in the way.

That made me sad.

Hopefully, watching this makes you happy. Especially around the 1:21 mark.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tomlin Thursday Denver Edition

Tomlin leads the team into Denver this week for a Monday night clash with the 6-1 Broncos. Denver just happens to be where two of the three Steezbros reside. You better believe we will be out searching for Tomlin, once the team arrives to the Mile High City. We will also be attending the game on Monday in full Steeler's regalia, so be prepared for alot of pics next week from Invesco Field.

I posted this in my links column on Friday, but since it is a rap about Tomlin (He's the boss), I thought it should be posted again in this space. So, once again, the Tomlin rap:


Our weekly literary showcase continues with another stellar effort from Jenn Z.:

Mile High Stadium will be filled with crowds,

Watching football from the clouds.

They’re gathered to watch the phenom coach;

But a win tonight, the Broncos won’t approach.

Tomlin’s too smart, and his supporting crew

Will hand McDaniels the worst loss he knew.

The victory will be sweet, but with a touch of injustice,

For in the stands, the Steezbros. But at home, the rest of us.

I recently found a ton of pictures from the Superbowl. It made me think about last season and how we were pretty much in the exact same place at this point last year. I am fully confident in Tomlin's and the teams ability to get us back to the promised land. Here is what we are shooting for:

In case you forgot, we are still the defending champs. 5 year grace period. We are actually in a double grace period this year and next. Let's make next season a triple! I liked this pic because it is a picture of Tomlin holding a picture of himself!

Tomlin might be closer to his players than any other coach in history, yet he maintains their respect.

I call this respectful Tomlin, but maybe they were planning for Hines to have one of his best seasons ever after winning the Superbowl. It's pretty incredible the year he is having, especially considering the physical condition he was in after the season.

Another player having an awesome season, Bungy (Ben). I would like to be in on this hug.

Bring on the Broncos!!!! GO STEEZ!!!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Steelers need special teams help; Madison released by Browns

The question isn't should we sign him, it's who should we release when we sign him.

The most likely players include Keiwan Ratliff, who has been bad on defense and special teams, Carey Davis, who is a good special team player but has been inactive b/c of David Johnson, Patrick Bailey, another special teamer, or Limas Sweed.

I don't think Sweed should be or will be cut.

My vote is Ratliff. Keenan Lewis or Joe Burnett can replace him in dime packages.

A Conversation with Coach Tomlin

For many Steeler fans, it would be a dream come true to meet Mike Tomlin. I'm sure some of us have imagined the conversation we might have with him if we ever did get to meet him. Here is one fans dream conversation. It isn't what I would go with, I would throw in some questions here or there but hey, it is his dream not mine. What would you ask if you had the chance to meet Mike Tomlin?

Me (Dave Scerbo): Coach I just want to personally thank you for choosing to come to coach in Pittsburgh.

Coach: Thank-you it's my pleasure to be associated with such a great organization.

Me: As a life-long Steeler fan, I feel you truly embody the fundamentals and ideals that this franchise stands for.

Coach: You seem like a pretty smart guy, maybe you'd like to come watch a practice some time.

Me: That'd be great, I consider you one of my heros and you truly are an inspration; not just as a coach, but as a man.

Coach: Maybe after this we could go grab a burger.

Me: I just want to say that I really admire your focus, and your desire to be at your best, always improving and learning from the past.

Coach: You really sound like you know what you're talking about. How would you like to an assistant coach. You can follow me around on the sideline and make sure I don't trip over the cord that goes to my headset.


Me: By the way; You had one sweet-ass flat-top back in the day.

Coach: Thanks, that thing was known to hold bricks straight up in the air without any deformation what-so-ever.

Me: That's one gnarly weave!

1st Half Developments: Offensive Line

With the bye week complete, we have at least nine straight weeks of enjoying Steeler football. Let's hope it's much more.

The Steelers have a big matchup with the 6-1 Denver Broncos this week. After being manhandled by the Ravens, expect the McDaniels' crew to bring some extra intensity against the defending champs. Of course, the Steelers are coming off of a bye week, so they've had extra time to prepare. Hopefully, that will counteract the very real homefield advantage of playing in Denver and the several players that may not play due to injury (Travis Kirschke, Lawrence Timmons) or chance of death (Ryan Clark).

Monday night games are awesome. Especially, when yours truly will be in attendance.

But before we get to game previews, let's review some of the interesting developments of the first half of the season. With the Steelers approaching the midway point of the season, there have been some major surprises in the first 7 games. We think it will be instructive to look back at those games to see if we can get a handle on what will happen over the next 9 games and, fingers crossed, deep into the playoffs.

The first major development worth discussing is the improvement of the offensive line.

It's rare for the national media to focus on non-skill position players. But even the national writers were lamenting the state of the offensive line prior to the season. After the opening game against the Titans, the criticism increased. Here at Steezbros, we have been critical of the O-line and the front office for not addressing the position through the draft or free agency.
It may be time to eat some crow.

Or as Big Ben put it after the Super Bowl, "who's laughing now O-line"?

That's not to say the line is one of the best in the league, but they have certainly made major strides from last year. Even though the team is once again in line to allow 40+ sacks, Big Ben isn't under nearly the amount of pressure of past years. And because of that, he is on pace for a career year in completion percentage (don't even get me started on how ridiculous it is to complete more than 70% of your passes with a yards per attempt around 9) and yardage. Despite running the ball less frequently than any Steeler team in history, the average rushing yards per game is up from last year and the line is providing enough holes to allow Rashard Mendenhall to average more than 5 yards per carry.

It's gotten to the point that offensive line is not one of my top three concerns going into most games*. If this development continues, Pittsburgh will be a very tough opponent to play in December and January.

Kudos to the offensive line and the coaching staff that believed in them. Keep up the good work.

*Bonus: I don't claim to know the intricacies of offensive line play. So I'll just link to a columnist that follows the O-line very closely.

This is an article from JJ Cooper at AOL Fanhouse:

For three years I rewatched every Steelers game with an eye on the offensive line. And a good bit of the time, it wasn't pretty. Whether it was a debacle against the Raiders in 2006 or the mass of confusion against the Eagles in 2008, there have been plenty of lowlights. After watching the Steelers win the Super Bowl last year despite a struggling offensive line, I kind of figured that if everything went well, Pittsburgh could figure out a way to do it again. They had enough defense and enough skill position players on offense to make up for the offensive line's problems.

That appeared to be what the Steelers thought as well--they brought back the starting five from the Super Bowl team, although Darnell Stapleton (sitting on injured reserve) has been replaced at right guard by Trai Essex. It was a somewhat scary formula--stick with what you got and hope for the best. But after rewatching the Steelers-Vikings game with a focus on the line play, it's clear that I was wrong. The defense may be good enough and the skill positions (thanks to Mike Wallace) are even better than expected. But if the Steelers managed to defend their Super Bowl title this year, the biggest reason will be because the offensive line is significantly improved.I haven't watched the Steelers offensive line in detail every week this year like I have in past years, but with them facing off against the Vikings--the NFL's leader in sacks and the team with arguably the best front four in football, it seems like a good time to check back in on the Steelers O-line.

What I found was pretty impressive. In watching the Steelers against the Vikings, the offensive line actually got the better of the Vikings for much of the game. Defensive end Jared Allen, one of the top pass rushers in the game, finished the game with two tackles and no sacks. Kevin Williams, one of the top defensive tackles in the game, had only one tackle. Not only did he end up with one tackle, but right tackle Willie Colon put him on the ground several times on running plays. Colon's play stood out more than anyone. Colon showed dominating run blocking while also showing dramatic improvement in pass blocking from previous years. The Steelers ran nine called running plays to the right for 78 yards. They ran nine other called runnnig plays up the middle or to the left for a grand total of 25 yards. Colon was a big reason for that. When he teamed up with Essex to block Kevin Williams, he put Willams on the ground on three different occasions. On other running plays, he did an outstanding job of sealing the corner.

Over at the other tackle spot, Max Starks had the toughest assignment of anyone. He was asked to block Allen, who came into the game second in the NFL in sacks, one-on-one throughout the game. Pittsburgh didn't give Starks an inordinate amount of help, but his combination of long arms and good footwork allowed him to neutralize one of the game's best pass rusher. I counted only four plays in the game where Allen clearly beat Starks--one pass deflection where Allen got his hands up at the line, a run play where he missed his block but it didn't play a part in the play and two pass plays where Allen got free eventually, but not in time to really bother Roethlisberger. When Allen tried to bull rush, Starks swallowed him up and showed that he could throw out an anchor that kept Allen from driving him back. And when Allen tried to beat Starks with a speed rush, Starks was able to get his hands on Allen quickly enough to win the race to the corner.

Essex wasn't as dominating as Colon or Starks, but he was quite impressive. He doesn't have Colon or Chris Kemoeatu's strength that allows them to plow people at times. But what he did show was an impressive awareness of angles and of his responsibilities. Essex's best play may have been as a pass blocker early in the first quarter. He got in his initial punch on Brian Robison, only to watch Robison loop away on a stunt. Essex quickly handed Robison off, picked up defensive end Ray Edwards looping around and then handed him off to block Jared Allen, who had come all the way around from the other defensive end spot.It may not sound like much, but those handoffs from one offensive lineman to another are the kind of switch-offs that cause sacks every week, usually because a lineman drops his head and fixates on the man he is currently blocking. Essex instead keeps his head up and looking around, which makes it much easier to stay alert to line stunts and loops. Last year, the Steelers were an easy mark for a team that blitzed and stunted to create confusion. This year, they seem to handle it like veterans who have played together and who know what everyone else along the line is doing.

Pittsburgh line still isn't one who will blow teams off the ball. But there pass blocking has improve to the point where it gives Roethlisberger the time to carve up defenses. Because of Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh will continue to have high sack totals--eight of his sacks this year have come on plays where he's held the ball for 3.5 seconds or more--but the improved pass blocking also explains why Roethlisberger is second in the league in passing yardage.