Steelers Lose to Ravens Rapid Reaction

Well folks, in our heart of hearts, everyone in Steelers Nation knew the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers magical mystery ride had to end at some point. Most didn’t think that sad event would occur vs. the Baltimore Ravens. But it did.

 

This isn’t the time to point fingers or single out scapegoats, far from it, but the truth is the Steelers failed on the fundamentals on several levels:

  • The Steelers offensive line struggled to win the battle of line of scrimmage
  • The Steelers corners had difficulty covering the Raven’s receivers
  • The Steelers reverted to their early season form, committing all sorts of costly penalties

At the end of the day, on this night at Heinz Field, the Baltimore Ravens simply played a better game, and were a better team.

None of that should detract from what this team has accomplished under Mike Tomlin during 2014. This is a young team that found its identity down the stretch. And if they came up short in the playoffs, there are now 30 some players who never wiffed post-season football, including the likes of David DeCastro, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Stephon Tuitt, and Kelven Beachum, who now know what it is like to buckle the chinstrap in a game that is for all of the marbles.

Yes, this playoff loss to the Ravens was a disappointment. And as it is probably the final game for Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, and also perhaps James Harrison and Brett Keisel, its a sad way to end.

But the 2014 Steelers have no need to hang their heads in shame. They returned the franchise to the post-season after twin 8-8 seasons and, hopefully, in the process learned some valuable lessons which they can build on.

Its now 2:14 here in Buenos Aires. Thanks to Carlos, Carlos, Claudio and Sergio who came out to Sugar to join Gustavo and I for the game at Sugar in Buenos Aires. Steel Curtain Rising will have a full analysis later tomorrow.

Until then we ask everyone in Steelers Nation to join us in saluting the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Watch Steelers vs Ravens in Buenos Aires

The Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Buenos Aires is calling on all of the Black and Gold faithful in the porteño capital to join us to watch the Steelers-Ravens game at the bar Sugar, in Palermo.

Mind you, this is an informal gathering, but Sugar is the top expat bar in the city, and regularly shows NFL games. It will also give you a chance to meet El Dr. de Acero, the master behind this site’s Spanish articles, making Steel Curtain Rising the only bilingual blog in Steelers Nation.

Consider the Steelers track record when El Dr. de Acero and yours truly see games together:

That’s 5-3. Not a perfect record, but we’ll take it. Be part of the trend. Join us at Sugar (Costa Rica 4619) to watch the third Steelers-Ravens match up at Heinz Field during the Mike Tomlin era.

Go Steelers!

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Mira Steelers Contra Ravens en Buenos Aires Con Fanaticos del Negro y Oro

Queridos amigos de la Nación Steeler.

 

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Contra todos los pronósticos de mediados de temporada, los Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) han ingresado por derecho propio y con autoridad a la postemporada y mañana, en la noche de Buenos Aires, recibirán en Heinz Field a los eternos rivales de división, los Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

  • Los Acereros llevan ventaja histórica de 15-7 (3-0 en postemporada).

En los juegos disputados este año hubo una victoria para cada equipo. Sin embargo, el último encuentro disputado en Pittsburgh, el QB Ben Roethlisberger ingresó al libro de records al lanzar por segundo juego consecutivo, 6 pases de TD y alzarse con la victoria por 43 a 23, tomando revancha del primer encuentro en Baltimore en donde estos se impusieron por 26 a 6.

  • La intensidad será invitada de honor a esta noche.
  • Intensidad en las tribunas y en el campo de juego.
  • E intensidad en cualquier lugar del planeta en donde se reúnan al menos 2 fanáticos de los Steelers para acompañar a su equipo.

Allí donde ondeen las Terribles Toallas Amarillas.

Buenos Aires no podría ser la excepción. Aquí también ondearán la Toallas Amarillas. El punto de reunión será el Sugar Bar, en Costa Rica 4619, en el Barrio de Palermo.

Allí los esperamos un rato antes del partido.

Go Steelers!

El Dr. De Acero

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Super Bowl XLVIII: Loss for Chuck Noll Coaching Tree, Victory for “Steelers Football”

Well Super Bowl XLVIII didn’t quite end the way Steelers Nation wanted, not that the faithful had an overriding rooting interest in the outcome. Still John Fox, as a representative of the Chuck Noll Coaching Tree, had a chance to add to the Tree’s Lombardi count and came up very short as Peyton Manning pulled a…. Peyton Manning.

As it stands, the Chuck Noll Coaching Tree’s Lombardi count remains at 6, counting Chuck Noll’s 4, Tony Dungy’s 1 and Mike Tomlin’s 1. 6 Lombardi’s is nothing to sneeze at, but it would have been nice to see Fox pad the total with a 7th, if for no other reason that Fox and Tomlin the only one’s left to continue the Emperor’s legacy.

Unfortunately, Fox’s team look woefully unprepared, as pointed out by Behind the Steel Curtain editor Neal Coolong. Adding insult to injury was the Hall of Fame Selection committee’s decision to black ball Jerome Bettis.

Still, all was not lost.

Seattle Wins Playing Steelers Football

Steelers Nation can take heart in a moral victory of sorts. Defense has always provided the foundation for the Pittsburgh Steelers greatness. Yet, the NFL today is all about offense. The old adage that “Offense wins games, defense wins championships” has been replaced by new conventional wisdom that “Perfect offense defeats perfect defense.”

  • Except in this case Seattle’s defense was far more perfect that Denver’s supposedly unstoppable offensive juggernaut 

And the running game, another staple of Steelers football, also played large in Seattle’s title run.

Of course once Steelers Nation finishes patting itself on the back for this “moral victory” (should they choose to do so – few other Steelers outlets are pedaling this line) there then comes a sobering reality:

  • Seattle’s defense is far more potent than the Steelers defense is now, or is likely to be in the near future. Le’Veon Bell, however is closer to reviving the Steelers running game.

If there is a bright side, it is that Seattle built it defense quickly. Does it seem like it can only be three seasons ago that the Steelers shut out Seattle in their rebound for the Debacle in Baltimore? No it doesn’t. But three seasons it is.

All the more reason for Kevin Colbert and company to make this draft count while Ben Roethlisberger‘s championship viability remains.

Excuse Making to Stop?

Seattle’s victory in Super Bowl XLVIII brings another potential plus to Steelers Nation. It perhaps opens the door to the possibility that the incessant and annoying excuse making for Super Bowl XL might stop.

The Steelers won Super Bowl XL fair and square bringing Jerome Bettis “home” in the process and perhaps now that they have their own Lombardi to shine, Seattle fans will accept that fact and move on.

Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Buenos Aires Predicts Super Bowl, Outcome

As we close the page on the NFL’s 2013 Season it is only fair to recognize who got it right, from the very get go. And he happens to be a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Buenos Aires.

Carlos Montaldo is an Argentine in his 40’s who speaks little English and has never been to Pittsburgh. He’s also a Steelers fan (and an upstairs neighbor.) And he LOVES football (the real kind, not futbol).

Very early in the season, he predicted that the Super Bowl would come down to Denver and Seattle. He stuck to it all year long. And when everyone and his brother was predicting a Denver victory, Carlos called it for the Seahawks – and backed it up with 100 dollars (and that is no small expression of confidence, if you know how precious dollars are in Argentina.)

Kudos to you Carlos!

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Watch Tower: Can Cowher Counter Balance Phil Simms’ Anti-Steelers Bias?

NFL week 6 brings the Pittsburgh Steelers at the New York Jets and a decision by CBS gives the Watch Tower a chance to shift its focus from “print” to broadcast journalism.

The Chin to Commentate on Steelers-Jets Game

The news of course is the announcement that former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher will join Jim Nance and Phil Simms in the booth to call the game, adding intrigue for a number of reasons.

Bill Cowher once mentioned that he did not know how preceded Chuck Noll as coach of the Steelers. That man was none other than Bill Austin, and ironically at 0-4 the Steelers are amidst their worst start since Austin’s final year in 1968.

  • But that’s not CBS’ real motive here.

CBS is taking an unprecedented step in sending out his studio team to cover their respective former teams, meaning that Boomer Esiason will do the Cincinnati-Buffalo game while Shannon Sharpe returns to Denver to commentate on what promises to be the NFL’s version of the Hunger Games – Denver vs. Jacksonville.

Its an interesting broadcast concept, although one my fairly ask why not ask Dan Marino to do Miami’s game.

Steelers Nation’s Golden Lining? Can the Chin Compensate?

For Steelers Nation the prospect of Cowher joining the Nance and Simms in the booth perhaps offers a golden lining. Bill Cowher has pledged to call the game, which speaks well of him.

And Steelers Nation needs no homers. But with that said, Steelers fans undoubtedly have one hope:

  • Can Cowher compensate for Phil Simmsanti-Steelers bias?

For the record, the Watch Tower liked Phil Simms as a player, and respects him as an analyst (his comment “What is this, World Cup soccer?” after an extremely “ticky tacky” roughing the passer  was golden.)

  • But Phil Simms has an anti-Steelers bias, plain and simple.

Steelers Nation has long complained about this, but the Watch Tower can prove it!

As regular readers know, Steel Curtain Rising is written out of Buenos Aires, Argentina. And yours truly is married to a beautiful Argentine woman. My wife accepts and sometimes even enjoys (although its hard to get her to admit it) watching Steelers games with me.

But being Argentine, she knows nothing of Phil Simms alleged “Anti-Steelers bias.” Moreover, she most certainly doesn’t even know the name “Phil Simms” nor does she recognize his voice or face.

  • Yet every time Phil Simms does a Steelers game – without fail – at some point she’ll ask “Is it me, or is this guy favoring the other team?”

This isn’t scientific proof, but its as close as you’re going to get. An unknowing, neutral observer has repeatedly picked up on Simms bias against the Steelers. (Although to be certain, Simm’s anti-Steelers bias is nothing compared to the anti-Steelers bias that Cris Collinsworth barely attempted to hide while at NBC.)

Hearing Bill Cowher commentate a Steelers game should be interesting. It says here that if the Steelers:

  • Force Ben Roethlisberger to run for his life
  • Miss tackles
  • Get burned on long completions
  • Cough up the ball
  • Let Geno Smith write his diary in the pocket
  • Fail to produce turnovers

Then Bill Cowher should call them out for each and every one of those failings.

But when Simms decides bend over backwards in his praise of how the Jets have managed to fill the position for the back up place kicker holder position while criticizing the Steelers practice squad decision choices, hopefully the Chin will perk up and defend the Black and Gold’s honor.

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Steelers-Browns Game Not Shown in Buenos Aires…

As expected, neither Direct TV, nor ESPN, nor FOX are showing the Steelers-Browns game in Buenos Aires.

Domestically the game is being shown by the NFL Network. The NFL’s quest to forced cable providers to carry the NFL Network makes their strategy of making a number of games exclusively avaiable on the NFL Network quite logical.

But what sense does it make outside the United States?

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Super Bowl XLV from Porto de Galinhas

It seems like I began a tradition two years ago by spending the week leading up to Super Bowl XLIII in Tandil, which is in the Province of Buenos Aires.

This time I am going a step further, spending Super Bowl week in Brazil’s Porto de Galinhas.

Except this time I will be in Brazil for the game.

I hope to be able to find a place to watch it, or at the very least be able to see the game on TV in the hotel.

So folks, if you’re Porto de Galinhas or near that part of Brazil and know of place that is showing the game, please leave a comment, perhaps we can join up.

I’ll have limited ability to post this week, but I do hope to get something up before the game.

In the mean time, check out my Primer on Steelers-Packers History if you have not already.

Go Steelers!

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Steelers Fans in Buenos Aires Unite!

It is time for Steelers fans in Buenos Aires to unite! Tomorrow the Alamo will be showing the game. If you’re in Capital Federal, try to be there.

Last week there was no cover, but they did charge 40 pesos which could be used towards drinks or food.

So bring your Terrible Towels and let’s make our presence known. Last week the place was dominated by Ravens fans, so now let’s turn the tables.

The Alamo is on the fringes for Recoleta, on Uruguay street between Arenales and Santa Fe.

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Just Say NO to the 18 Game Season!, Part I

They say that from age arises wisdom. If that is true then there is probably no wiser of a veteran than the Steelers James Farrior.

Which makes Farrior’s comments about the owners impending 18 game season nothing short of jaw-dropping. In an article with the Tribune Review’s Scott Brown, Farrior recently conceded that the 18 game season is inevitable (click here to read the full article.)

He may be right. Nonetheless, that fails to make an 18 game season a good idea, and it does not mean that the NFL Players Association should not fight this tooth and nail.

Immediate Impact on the Steelers

I do not make the above statement lightly. A decision by the NFLPA to put its foot down on the 18 game season would likely elevate the probability of a lock out from highly probably to something near metaphysical certitude.

Judged solely from a “how does it affect the Steelers” view point, a protracted lockout leading to a canceled 2011 season would be a disaster.

No football in 2011 could easily mean the end to the careers of Aaron Smith, Hines Ward, and perhaps Farrior himself. It would mean that the next time Casey Hampton set foot on a football field he’d be 35. Brett Keisel would be 34 and so would James Harrison. Troy Polamlau would be 32.

Much has been made of the age of this group of Steelers. Nonetheless it is perfectly plausible that this core of men could make another run at a Lombardi in 2011, regardless of how the current season concludes.

But what about 2012? Add another year to a couple of key players, and you’re much, much more dependant on rookie contributions.

But the game is bigger than the Steelers, which is why the 18 game season must be fought.

The “Problem” of Preseason Football

To listen to Roger Goodell, fans are really demanding the 18 game season, because they’re fed up with preseason football.

Personally, I like preseason and missing not being able to see the games down here in Buenos Aires. Preseason offers fans two things they otherwise do not get:

  • An extended look at new players
  • A chance to see a bunch of guys give everything they’ve got in purist of a dream

Nonetheless, I understand and respect the argument of season ticket holders who object to being forced to buy preseason tickets, and of other fans who are forced to pay full price for something that is less than the NFL’s top product.

On top of that, preseason has changed. Those over 30 or so might remember the Sports Illustrated commercials that began shortly after the 4th of July, hyping “the time that helmets are strapped and hands are tapped and protected.” As SI told the story, the dawning of NFL training camps was a time to them to spring into action.

Those spots ran in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Back then, preseason was a beacon of hope for a populace that had been starved of football in 5 or 6 months. There was no internet then, and even if there was, free agency did not exist and OTA’s were just blurb to fill out unused space in Sports sections.

How to Scale the Preseason Mole Hill

Goodell and other 18 game apologists are not even fooling themselves by insisting that extending the season is the only way to go. Several solutions exist, many of which have been suggested first by others, some are my own. Here they go:

  • Simply drop one game from the preseason –

Coaches play starters sparingly in the 1st and 4th games anyway. A three game preseason might give their reps in and rookies could still get a decent look.

  • Convert one preseason game into an all rookie or all youth scrimmage

Similar to the first proposal, but this one would give rookies, undrafted free agents, and guys who simply hang on practice squads year-in and year-out a bigger shot a prime time.

  • Make preseason an optional part of season ticket packages

Owners could roll the costs into the regular season and/or provide incentives (such as greater chances to buy additional playoff tickets, points that you can accmulate to get better seats) to purchase preseason tickets. This would also allow non-season ticket holders a better shot at games.

  • Move games to neutral sites

Having teams play 1-2 preseason games at a site outside of either team’s home field would help expand the NFL’s fan bases by giving other communities a chance to see NFL football.

The fallacy of the “need” for an 18 game season because of problems with the NFL Preseason is self-evident.

But that says nothing of the why going to an 18 game season would be fundamentally bad for the game. Stay tuned for Part II where we’ll bring that out in detail.

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Roethlisberger, Pouncey, and Polamalu Honored as Steelers Nation Hopes for 7 in ’11

Happy New Year to all! Shortly after the New Year arrived here in Buenos Aires, I sent my friend Gustavo a text message: “Feliz Ano Nuevo. Esperamos para seven en eleven.” (For those who do not speak Spanish, that’s “Happy New Year. Wishing for Seven in ’11.”

This is of course what Steelers Nation is hoping for, that 2011 with begin with a climb on the Stairway to Seven.

Whether that happens of course, will be decided in the weeks to come. Mean, while, some thoughts on the one that just ended.

Roethlisberger Comes Full Circle (with the Media at Least)

It was what, October or September 2009 that Ben (not so politely) shucked off questions from Scott Brown about his impending appearance on the WWE’s Monday Night Raw and was overheard, “I ain’t gonna win no Rooney award” or something to that effect?

Earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association gave Ben Roethlisberger the Chief Award, for his cooperativeness with the media.

Steel Curtain Rising has already discussed the media’s role in the Roethlisberger rehabilitation (click here to read the full article) so we need not repeat our argument here. Suffice to say, Ben Roethlisberger is showing a very, very different side to the Pittsburgh media.

Pouncey Wins Rookie of the Year Honors

To the surprise of no one, rookie center and first round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey was named Steelers rookie of the year (when did the award stop being the “Joe Greene Great Performance Award” anyway?)

On the day that the Steelers selected Pouncey with their first pick in the NFL’s 2010 draft, Steel Curtain Rising ran a poll, asking if Pouncey would be another Center in the image of Ray Mansfield, Mike Webster, Dermontti Dawson, and Jeff Hartings. At the time, mentioning the name of a rookie along side those Hall of Famers was more of a joke than anything else.

If his rookie season is any indication, Pouncey will not simply show that he live up to the Steeler’s legacy a center, he’ll will add his own contributions to that legacy.

Other Rookie Contributions Abound

The good news is that Maurkice Pouncey was the consensus rookie of the year in a season when several rookies stepped forward to make discernable contributions.

This is a far cry from 2008 when the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association turned to undrafted rookie free agent Patrick Bailey for the award, basically because it had to go to someone.

Finally, a Word on Troy Polamalu

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was named by his teammates as 2010’s Most Valuable Player. The amazing thing is that this is the first time he has won the award.

Polamalu, characteristically, sought to deflect credit for the award, but he should have won it in a walk. Polamalu has thus far provided a game-changing or perhaps the game changing play in the Steelers victories against Atlanta, Buffalo, Baltimore, and Cincinnati.

Hats off to Troy Polamalu. Have a happy and a healthy New Year.

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