Wednesday, January 26, 2011

All alone in the dark...

Where will you be watching the game? Party? Sports bar? In Dallas? (lucky bastard)

Me? Well, umm… I’ll be watching the game all alone in the dark. There really is no other choice.

Sadly for me, the Super Bowl is not a celebration, but an exercise in survival. My wife will load the kids up on Super Sunday and go somewhere, anywhere but home. I will watch every play intently and I will yell… a lot. If things get desperate I will break out my 30 year old Steelers helmet and point the logo at the TV, you know because that kind of cosmic power needs to be reserved.

Yes, my insanity for the Steelers, especially during the Super Bowl really does know no bounds. When the game is over I will either be relieved or devastated and I will definitely be exhausted. Hell, I’m exhausted already.

So…. Where you watchin’ the game?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lebeau vs Capers

Ben vs Aaron? Good stuff...
Wallace vs Woodson? Not half bad...

Me? Hell, I'm looking forward to Dick Lebeau vs Dom Capers.

Two of the best defensive minds in the history of football, philosophies rooted in the 3-4 and  and both with ties to Pittsburgh.

They say that imitation is the finest form of flattery and the Packers chose wisely. With Capers, Kevin Greene and a defensive game plan that looks just a little familiar they decided to mimic the most consistently excellent D on the planet and in two seasons it has served them well.

I am hoping that each one throws the other a wrinkle they have not yet seen, because otherwise it may appear they are looking in the mirror.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gut(sy) Calls!

After being up 24 points at the half a lot of people will be writing about the near epic collapse of the Steelers, but I see it differently.

On the halftime show; Boomer, Cowher and Shannon ALL encouraged the Jets to abandon the run and the Steelers came out expecting the pass (as they should have). Sanchez set up that bomb to Holmes with a bunch of solid runs to start the half (gutsy calls), then BAM, SIX! Not sure what happened on that play but Santonio getting behind the secondary was one of the only disappointing plays in my mind.

With that kind of a lead two things are expected, one that the team behind will make some sort of run and that the Steelers would alter their schemes to "take the air out of the ball" and shorten the game. Time was on their side and the needed to use it. The Jets kept the Steelers D off balance by continuing to mix the play calling and put together a great eight minute, eighty yard drive. They had the guts to go for it and convert two fourth downs on that drive, but on fourth and goal from the two, LT was stuffed cold, zero points, that could have been ball game right there, except....

As they went to commercial the first thing that popped into my mind was the safety from the first meeting. "Just get it out of the end zone" went through my head. No such luck, Ben mishandles the snap, two points Jets and they get the ball back. That was a worst case scenario, because the defense needed a rest and they were not going to get it.

I was sure the Jets would score that ensuing TD, their offense was in rhythm and the Steelers were tired. As much as it pained me to see the score at 24-19, I wasn't pissed. Felt like they called the right game and the Jets had the balls to go off script AND to execute at a high level. Props to them.

Three minutes to go, Jets have all their time outs left and the Steelers are going to have to make them use them... right? right?

Here is where Bruce Arians gets a little love back. After a great kickoff return by Brown, the Steelers had a little more flexibility in play calling. In the five plays before kneel downs the Steelers threw it twice. On the 3rd and six play to Antonio Brown the whole world thought they would run it and give it back to the Jets with about 1:20 left. Nope, didn't even try to hide it either, empty backfield, was a pass all the way. The Jets seemed as confused as I was in trying to line up for the play and Ben made the pass that sealed the game.

Damn gutsy call.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shaun Ellis Preview

One of four defenders the Steelers must truly account for and he may be one of the bigger keys to the outcome of the game.

If Ellis can get to Big Ben regularly he can disrupt the offensive flow for the Steelers. With five tackles against the Patriots he is coming off arguably his best game of the season. If he can't reproduce the effort then the Steelers may be able to control the clock and ultimately the game.

I expect him to be good, not great this week. He is facing opponents that are not on par with him, but at 33 it's difficult to turn in performances that good in back to back weeks, especially this late in the season.

Ellis has this to say about facing Ben this week. "He's very dangerous, one of the best in the game," New York defensive end Shaun Ellis said. "It's huge that our cover guys stay back, stay on their guys, and for us to rush him. And, once you get there, you've got to attack him. You've got to go for the ball. He's not scared to take a hit. You see him have three, four guys on him and still get the ball downfield."

Cromartie starts the talk!

Finally some noise.

Antonio Cromartie decided to send a message to Hines Ward. Really? This is the guy you want to piss off? This is the team you want to piss off? 

When Pittsburgh plays Baltimore... it's a war. They like it that way. No whining, no crying, just hit somebody. It would appear that at least one Jet is not too interested in getting hit. I for one hope an abrupt pick, err I mean block is waiting for HIM early in the game. Then we can see just how they "take care of things".

That is my idea of fun. Let's have some fun!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Heinz Field Advantage?

Since 1994 the Steelers are 2-4 in AFC Championship games at home (they are 1-0 on the road). Granted Blitzburgh won the last one, so the monkey is off their back to a degree....

Why is home field not a bigger deal for Steelers? In the old grind it out games, they could ill afford to fall behind by  much and that happened a few times. Against the Chargers and Colts (in '94 & '95) they allowed inferior teams to stay alive by not executing early and this was a regular rap on Cowher's teams in the playoffs. Tomlin on the other hand is 1-0 in home playoff games and his teams do seem more at ease "in the moment".

Ultimately though I think the biggest problem for the Steelers historically is one of match ups. Had the Pats won last week, they would have been in the same boat. The Jets on the other hand offer the type of team Pittsburgh plays best against... those who wish to run to set up the pass. The Jets are not a passing offense ESPECIALLY if their ground game gets stymied.

I like the Steelers to win going away, probably with a pick six in the 4th to close it out.

Monday, January 17, 2011


By beating the Ravens, the Steelers set another NFL record... most appearances in a conference championship game. They were previously tied with Dallas at 14 (who have been stuck on that number since '95), but now they stand alone at 15 and alone in first place. Their eleven home games are 3 more than the Niners.

While the black and gold are only 7-7 (with one of course not yet played) the faithful are regularly treated to an up close viewing of the battle. To win the Super Bowl more times than anyone else you need to be in position a lot and the Steelers certainly have.