4 Random Reflections on 2016 Steelers 4-1 Start + a Shout Out for a Steelers Nation Scribe

he boss is back with 4 random reflections on the 2016 Steelers 4-1 start, plus a shut out for a special Steelers Nation scribe.

Yes, after close to a month on the road my travels have finally brought me back to “home,” namely Buenos Aires, Argentina. One of the great ironies of the global economy is that a month long trip TO the United States kept me from writing about the Steelers, save for a rebuttal of Colin Cowherd’s Mike Tomlin bashing and reflections on Le’Veon Bell’s longevity.

Still, this excurision didn’t result in a full Steelers sabbatical, as followed the news as best I could, while taking in a couple of games on the fly.

2016 steelers 4-1 start, Lawrence Timmons, Artie Burns, Jordan Dangerfield, steelers vs. jets

Jordan Dangerfield, Lawrence Timmons, and Artie Burns gang up on Quincy Enunwa to help 2016 Steelers to 4-1 start. Photo Credit: Chaz Palla, Tribune-Review

1. Stats Mislead in Steelers Victory Over Bengals

The Steelers much anticipated re-match with the Bengals, sans Le’Veon Bell and Vontaze Burfict was easily on of the “Can’t Miss” games when the schedule was announced. Alas, booth set up responsibilities, paired with a corporate event at a baseball game meant there was NO WAY in HELL I was going to see the game.

  • When I finally got to grab lunch at 4:00 pm or so, the headline “Ben Roethlisberger throws 3 touchdowns as Steelers beat Bengals” pleased me.

And of course I thought that Roethlisberger had been on another rampage, similar to the one he led against the Redskins in week 1. Only later did I learn that Ben Roethlisberger had struggled for much of the day, and that the Cincinnati defense has managed to contain Antonio Brown fairly well. A win is a win, but this one reminds you of how misleading stats passed on the ESPN scroll can be.

2. Wife Wins + Steelers Loss = Husband’s Right Call on Philly Game

Week 2 brought my wife’s arrival in the US and by this time I was back in Maryland. And just as fate would have it, the Steelers-Eagles game was on national TV. No need to hike a Steelers bar, giving me my first chance to watch a Steelers game in my home state since 2008 and my first in my parents’ home since, what, 1991?

Ah, but it was a beautiful day, and my wife wanted to hit Georgetown. Good idea.

  • So I relented and slyly taped the Steelers game. Good decision.

Have the Pittsburgh Steelers ever performed so perfectly piss poorly as they did against Philadelphia during the Mike Tomlin era? Perhaps. The 2011 opening day Debacle at Baltimore would make as strong candidate. Outside of that you’d have to really search. The game started with a dropped touchdown pass followed by a blocked field goal. And things got worse from there.

In other words, it was the perfect time to take your wife down to Georgetown to do some shopping and site seeing.

3. Camerony Heyward, Steelers Clobber Kansas City

At some point we’ll have do a “Steelers history vs.” article on the Kansas City Chiefs, because those games often reveal a lot. But for now the Steelers Sunday Night Football victory over the Chiefs will remain something to relish.

Fortunately, I did get to see this one, and a shout out goes to Andrew Kipp who recommended the venue:

The Reservoir did turn out to be a good place to see the Steelers play. OK, it wasn’t the Purple Goose Saloon, but let’s not kid ourselves – they don’t make Steelers Bars like the Goose anymore. But the prices were great, there were plenty of TV’s to watch on, and the Steelers fans were friendly.

Most importantly, the Steelers bounced back from an ugly loss, and it was nice to see Jarvis Jones make a splash play and Markus Wheaton bounce back from a horrendous performance in Philly.

4. Still in NYC, but Can’t See the Steelers

My last weekend in the United States found me still in New York for the Steelers-Jets game, yet I was unable to watch the game! My wife might have been sold on this one (she was more than OK with me watching the KC game), but it was our last full day in Manhattan, and we had a number of things we wanted to do, and also some things we needed to do.

  • The Steelers won, despite an ever lengthening injury list, on a week that saw the Steelers stash not just Senquez Golson but also Ryan Harris on IR.

From what I read, it was a good game even if the Steelers didn’t start particularly strong, they closed out the game with a second half shut out. That got us to 4-1, and I will take a 4-1 start anytime I can get one.

5. Shout Out to a Special Steelers Nation Scribe

Running a truly independent Steelers blog can be a solitary experience. God knows you, my readers, give continue to come in increasing numbers and give me shout outs on Twitter and Facebook, but stark fact is that here in 2016 you can’t have a site go dark for 25% of a season and expect to be taken seriously.

  • Thanks to Tony Defeo, this was a non-issue during my month long trek.

As regular readers know, big Steelers news only breaks when yours truly is unable to write. The correlation has almost been scientifically verified. For the past several off seasons, Tony has been keeping an eye on the back door, and made sure that no important stories fall through the cracks while I’m away.

Earlier this year, Tony started contributing regular features, and I highly suggest you check out his pieces on Calvin Sweeny, Weegie Thompson, David Little, Harry Newsome, Mark Malone and/or Larry Brown. These profiles, in addition to his other features, have enriched this site in ways I could never do on my own.

  • Over the last month Tony has gone into “Above and beyond the call of duty” of a part-time contributor.

That’s to him, the updates kept coming, whether I was putting in 14 hour days at a tradeshow on the West Coast, scrambling to process leads by day and spending quality time with family at night in my stomping grounds in Maryland, or vacationing in the Big Apple.

  • I’ve thanked you in private, and now I’ll do it in public – Thanks Tony for your contributions to Steel Curtain Rising.

Tony will continue to contribute this season here, but he publishes several times a week on Behind the Steel Curtain and Cover 32. Regardless of the locale, Tony’s stuff is must read. Check him out and be sure to follow him on Twitter:

Thanks to you, readers, for continuing to read. The Steelers are off to a good start. Let’s see where they can take it.


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Pittsburgh Steelers Report Card for Win Over the Jets


Ben Roethlisberger completed 34 of 47 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 8.08 yards per attempt and had a quarterback rating of 124.4, according to ESPN.com. Roethlisberger’s numbers may have been even more impressive (or at least more efficient) had young receiver Sammie Coates held on to a few more of his passes. Grade: A

Running Back 

The Jets entered Sunday’s game second in the league against the run. Fact is, the sledding was pretty tough for Le’Veon Bell, who carried 20 times for just 66 yards and averaged 3.3 yards per attempt. But where New York’s defense didn’t have an answer for the star running back was when he was catching passes out of the backfield. Bell may have only gained 66 yards on the ground, but he complemented those by adding another 88 through the air on nine catches. As for veteran DeAngelo Williams, to say his day was uneventful would be an understatement; Williams carried just one time for zero yards. Grade: B

Wide Receivers

Sammie Coates had the game of his life (six catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns–the first two of his professional career). But he also dropped three passes and possibly two others, depending on who you talk to. As for superstar Antonio Brown, it wasn’t the kind of day that’s going to lead to him being named AFC Player of the Week, but he did reel in nine passes for 78 yards and one touchdown. Fourth-year man Markus Wheaton hasn’t found his stride since returning to the lineup after sitting out early in the season with a shoulder injury and had just two catches for 19 yards. Grade: B-

Tight Ends

Much like they had been doing all season, Jesse James and Xavier Grimble got the most out of the passes thrown their way on Sunday. In the case of James, he caught six passes for 43 yards and a touchdown late in the first half. Grimble only had two catches, but one of them went for 11 yards. Grade: B-

Offensive Line

For the second week in a row, the Steelers were down a starter on the offensive line (in-fact, they were down a starter and his backup–both right tackle Marcus Gilbert and swing tackle Ryan Harris missed the Jets game with injuries), but much like a week earlier when B.J. Finney excelled in place of Ramon Foster at left guard, Chris Hubbard stepped up in a big way at right tackle, and the line didn’t miss a beat. Sure, running the ball was tough, but the Jets were weakened in the secondary, and Roethlisberger was allowed to exploit that, as he enjoyed all the time in the world. He was only sacked one time in 47 drop-backs and was barely even harassed by the Jets’ potent defensive front. Grade: A-

Defensive Line

Defensive end Cameron Heyward left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury and never returned, but rookie Javon Hargrave filled in and performed admirably. While Bell and Co. had a hard time running against the Jets defense, Matt Forte and  Co. didn’t have it much better trying to do the same against Pittsburgh’s defense. New York rushed for just 71 yards on the day. Grade: B


For the second week in a row, Vince Williams filled in for Ryan Shazier at inside linebacker, and for the second week in a row, Williams led the team in tackles–this time with nine (eight solo). Williams also had two quarterback hits and a sack. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones played one of his better games as a Steeler, recording three tackles, one pass defensed and two hits on the quarterback. Anthony Chickillo registered the first sack of his career, while Lawrence Timmons and Arthur Moats had a half a sack each. Grade: B+


Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 25 of 38 passes for 255 yards and a touchdown. However, all but 92 of those yards came in the first half, as Pittsburgh’s pass-defense clamped down in a big way over the final two periods. Cornerback Ross Cockrell had a tough assignment trying to cover receiver Brandon Marshall all afternoon. Marshall had six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but was limited to 28 yards on two catches over the final two quarters, as Cockrell played much better down-the-stretch. Safety Mike Mitchell had another active game, totaling seven tackles (five solo), while Sean Davis had six tackles (four solo) and a pass defensed. Also, for the second week in a row, Jordan Dangerfield performed well enough at strong safety that nobody seemed to notice him. Grade: B-

Special Teams

There was the matter of that fake field goal Jordan Berry unsuccessfully executed in the first half (he was tackled well short of the sticks), but other than that, the special teams had another decent day. Speaking of Berry, he punted just three times but averaged 46.3 yards per boot and downed all three inside the 20, as New York recorded no return yards on punts.

The now frighteningly automatic Chris Boswell was dead-center on his lone field goal attempt from 47 yards away, as well as on his four extra points.

As for the return game, Antonio Brown returned two punts for 51 yards–including one for 33 yards early in the second half. Grade: B+


After a near-flawless performance against the Chiefs a week earlier, it may have been easy for the Steelers to have a letdown against a 1-3 Jets team. However, other than a stretch in the second quarter, when New York scored 10-straight points to take a short-lived six-point lead, one never got the sense the Steelers were ever in any danger of losing. Kudos to head coach Mike Tomlin for dealing with massive injuries for the second week in a row–Eli Rogers, Marcus Gilbert, Ryan Harris, Ryan Shazier and Robert Golden were all ruled out of the game–yet having his team (especially his backups) prepared to play.

For the second-straight week, Todd Haley had to game-plan against a defense with a weakened secondary, and for the second-straight week, he exploited that weakness in a big way.

It looked like it would be a long day for Keith Butler’s defense through two quarters, but after allowing 219 yards in the first half, Pittsburgh yielded just 97 in the second. Grade: A

Unsung Hero

They say the only way anyone usually notices an offensive lineman is when he screws up. If that’s the case, Chris Hubbard (normally third-string on the depth chart) did a great job on Sunday filling in at right tackle for Marcus Gilbert and backup Ryan Harris.


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Steelers Improve to 4-1 with 31-13 Victory Over the New York Jets

The Steelers defeated the Jets, 31-13, at Heinz Field Sunday afternoon to improve to 4-1 for the first time since 2010.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 34 of 47 passes for 380 and four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter that turned a rather tight affair into a no-doubter.

After New York opened the scoring with a Nick Folk field goal, the Steelers quickly responded when Roethlisberger found Sammie Coates for a 72-yard touchdown pass on third and seven.

The Jets then scored 10-unanswered points to take a 13-7 lead with just over two-minutes left in the first half. However, the Steelers quickly marched down the field on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to tight end Jesse James to give the home team a 14-13 lead at the break.

Pittsburgh’s defense looked pretty vulnerable in the first half, as New York amassed 219 total yards on offense. But in the second half, Keith Butler’s unit put the clamps down in a big way, limiting the Jets to 97 yards over the final two periods, forcing five-straight punts when the game was still in doubt and, of course, pitching a shutout on the scoreboard.

Also, the defense got after the quarterback for the second week in a row, as Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked three times–including the first career sack by outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo.

Finally, New York only had 16 first downs to the Steelers 30 and was held to two of 11 on third down.

The game wasn’t without its ups and downs, particularly for the youngster Coates, who had a career day (six catches for 139 yards and his first two touchdowns as a pro) but also dropped several passes and suffered a severe laceration on his left hand that, according to Mark Kaboly of DKPittsburghSports.com, required 17 stitches at halftime. 

As for Pittsburgh’s star receiver–Antonio Brown–he caught nine passes for 78 yards and a five-yard  touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 24-13. Brown also returned a punt 33 yards early in the third quarter and appeared to be one Calvin Pryor tackle away from taking it the distance.

In his second game since returning from a three-week suspension to start the season, running back Le’Veon Bell again was a weapon of mass destruction, as he carried 20 times for 66 yards and added another 88 yards on nine receptions.

Speaking of youngsters who experienced some ups and downs on Sunday, third-year corner Ross Cockrell had his hands full as he battled accomplished receiver Brandon Marshall all afternoon; Marshall probably got the best of  the match-up, as he caught eight passes for 114 yards and a touchdown that, by rights, Cockrell should have intercepted in the end zone late in the second quarter. But, just like the rest of the Steelers defense, Cockrell finished with a flurry, as he limited Marshall to two catches for 28 yards after the break.

Other than Coates’ hand laceration, the only other injury of note may turn out to be a big one, as star defensive end Cameron Heyward left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury and never returned.

Next Sunday, the Steelers travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins at 1 p.m.

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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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Steelers Report Card for Loss to the Jets

Taken from the grade book of a teacher who saw his star pupil soar on three straight tests, only to fail miserably on what should have been a “gimmie” here is the Steelers Report Card for the loss to the Jets.
steelers, report card, grade, jets

This was not Ben Roethlisberger at his best. Roethlisberger was threw two interceptions and failed to move the team meaningfully during the game. His passing numbers were not bad, but Ben was again out of synch with his receivers at times and even ended up losing a snap late in the game. Grade: D

Running Backs
Le’Veon Bell only rushed for 33 yards, although he did gain some tough yards. His biggest contribution came in in the passing game when he made lemonade out of lemons on a few occasions. LeGarrette Blount was ineffective, and cost the team dearly on the goal line. Grade:  C-

Tight Ends
Heath Miller had 3 catches for 29 yards and Matt Spaeth did well blocking, but overall the tight ends failed to be a factor for the Steelers vs. the Jets. Grade: C

Wide Receivers
Martavis Bryant led the group and had what could have been a game breaker for the Steelers late in the game. Still, he was targeted 7 times and caught four, although that was not entirely his fault. Antonio Brown committed two fumbles, both of which cost the Steelers dearly. Markus Wheaton had 4 catches, although was out of position on the one interception. There were a number of instances where the Steelers wide outs were broke off routes too soon, and that hurt the team. Grade:  D

Offensive Line
Roethlisberger was only sacked twice, although Kelvin Bryant got beaten badly on one. Ben was hit often, which doesn’t reflect on poor line play as many hits were clearly after the ball was thrown. Still, this is the third game in a row where the Steelers failed to control the line of scrimmage in the running game, and while playing from behind might make that look academic, it’s a troubling trend. Grade: C-

Defensive Line
The Steelers sacked Michael Vick 4 times, with the defensive line accounting for 3 of those. The Jets had 150 yards of rushing, but never controlled the tempo with their running game. The line didn’t put forward a dominating performance, but they did hit one that was better than the outcome indicated. Grade: B

James Harrison had a strong game and was in Michael Vick’s face all day. Jason Worilds had a sack and also got his licks in on Vick. Sean Spence continues to improve as does Vince Williams. As usual Lawrence Timmons led the group and was all over the field. Grade:  B

William Gay let what could have been a game-changing interception slip through his fingers. Michael Mitchell made a bizarre attempt to disrupt a victory formation knee down which made the Steelers look desperate. Brice McCain made decent accounting of himself. Vick only passed for 132 yards and got half of them on one play. The Steelers secondary left some plays on the field, but did better than they are generally being given credit for. Grade:  B-

Special Teams
Markus Wheaton returned 3 kicks for a decent average. Blount was average. But this was not a good day for the Steelers special teams as a penalty nullified an on sides kick recovery and the Steelers failed miserable at another attempt. The biggest issue however was missed field goal which should have been automatic, and that could have been a game changer. Shaun Suisham simply cannot miss kicks like that. Grade: F

Mike Tomlin talked a good game about avoiding a letdown, but the Steelers with 4 turnovers essentially gave the game away. While Tomlin did not throw those interceptions or cough up those balls, this is yet another trap game the Steelers have surrendered on his watch.

Dick LeBeau’s defense did a respectable job, although they failed to match any of the Jet’s turnovers.

Todd Haley should take some heat for the lack luster performance of his offense – some of the play calling appeared questionable – what was James Harrison doing in as a tight end and why was he thrown the ball, but Haley isn’t responsible for those four turnovers. Grade:  D

Unsung Hero Award
The Steelers gave away the ball four times yet were still in the game until the very end. One of the reasons for that was the focused play of an number of individuals, but one of those stuck out, and that was Cameron Heyward, who had a sack, two hits of Michael Vick, and a tackle for a loss and should have had a fumble recovery on a play in which he kept hustling long after everyone else had stopped, and for that he gets the Unsung Hero Award for the loss to the Jets.


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Trap Game? Los Pittsburgh Steelers se suicidó en el pantano de New Jersey contra los Jets

Semana 10.

Los Pittsburgh Steelers, el equipo más caliente del último mes en toda la Liga, se suicidó en el pantano de New Jersey, cayendo por 20 a 13 vs los New York Jets.


  • (extraído de Twitter de @ca_salasv: Bad throws, fumbles, bad snaps, drops, bad playcalls, bad officiating, bad fieldgoal, at least the team got out of it healthy. #longweek)



Ese es, creo, el mejor resúmen de lo que la Nación Steeler pudo ver en el campo de juego esta tarde.

 Bienvenidos a casa, viejos Steelers

Que los Steelers arrancan lento, no ninguna es novedad. Tanto fue así que los Jets anotaron 17 de sus 20 puntos en el primer cuarto. La ofensiva acerera se ocupó de entregar el balón en 1 ocasión (fumble de Antonio Brown) que los Jets a su tiempo, transformaron en 7 puntos.

El primer cuarto terminó con 5 yardas totales para los Steelers y 164 para los Jets.

Durante el 2do cuarto la unidad de Ben Roethlisberger avanzó el balón durante 7:54 minutos para finalizar lanzando la primer pase interceptado en 147 intentos. Y, para hacer la historia más dolorosa aún, cuando estaban a punto de anotar, en la yarda 2 de los Jets. Si bien la intercepción se la cuentan a Ben, hay que atribuir mérito a los defensivos locales, Marcus Williams quien desvió el pase  y a Jaiquawn Jarrett quien lo atrapó. En el medio, el receptor novato acerero Martavis Bryant.

  • Pero las desventuras acereras no terminarían allí.

Luego de una patada de despeje, Antonio Brown soltó el balón siendo recuperado por New York en yarda 28 de Pittsburgh. Por fortuna, Nick Folk fallaría su gol de campo de 45 yardas.

Por su parte la defensiva estaba deteniendo a Michael Vick y compañía. Hay que tener en cuenta que el QB N° 1 es un gran atleta, siendo el cuarto acarreador de su equipo y que posee la destreza para escapar del acoso de linieros y linebackers, sobre todo de los linebackers acereros (sin Ryan Shazier en el campo) que están perdiendo su antigua velocidad. Así y todo lograron capturar a Vick en 4 oportunidades, aunque nunca perdió más de 1 ó 2 yardas por captura.

 La primera mitad finalizó con un gol de campo de Shaun Suisham de 53 yardas, récord en su carrera.

  • Las estadísticas de lo producido por ambas ofensivas hablaban claro y fuerte: Por tierra, 33 yds para Steelers; 104 para Jets. Por aire: 44 a 98. Total: 77 a 202.
  • Y lo más importante: 3 entregas de los Steelers que significaron tan solo 7 puntos para la casa.

Pero, con lo producido en las últimas 3 semanas por la ofensiva de Todd Haley, una diferencia de 2 TD no parecía a esas alturas, algo insalvable.

  • La esperanza se iba perdiendo poco a poco conforme pasaba el tiempo y las cosas se iban complicando, mientras Ben lanzaba su 2da intercepción de la tarde. Con gran protección de la línea ofensiva, parado firme sobre sus piernas, centrado en su eje.

Simplemente eligió lanzar a Markus Wheaton, rodeado de tres defensivos, un pase muy alto, volado, con mucho aire debajo. Segunda intercepción para J. Jarrett. De este turnover los Jets tampoco sacarían puntos.

Luego de una pésima serie acerera, en la que Roethlisberg se mostró absolutamente fuera de tiempo con sus receptores, William Gay soltó una intercepción de sus manos, lo que habría significado un cambio de aire para un desmoralizado y frustrado Pittsburgh Steelers. El tiempo pasaba en el tercer cuarto y la gran jugada no aparecía. Finalmente, los Jets anotarían tres puntos más en el marcador transformando el partido en uno de tres anotaciones.

Que tal si les digo que a la fiesta no faltó Shaun Suisham, fallando un gol de campo de 23 yardas que hubiese acortado la distancia que a esa altura era de 17 puntos?

  • El equipo de New York ya estaba basando su juego en el ataque terrestre para quemar el reloj.  La defensiva del Coach LeBeau seguía poniendo el balón en manos de Big Ben.

Pero era inútil. La ofensiva anotó tan solo un gol de campo luego de tener un 1er y goal en la yarda 1 de los Jets. La serie finalizó en 4to y goal en la 9.

  • La penúltima serie de los acereros fue otro bochorno: en 3er y 5 en NYJ 47, un error en la coordinación del centrado, provocó un fumble que los puso en 4to y 21, y más tarde terminó entregando la posesión por downs.

El cierre de los Steelers fue un pase de TD a Martavis Bryant de 80 yardas, gracias a la elusividad de Big Ben.

Pero ya era tarde, 1:16 por jugar y con un time out por pedir.

Desde el cielo al infierno, en un paso

Luego de 3 semanas en que la ofensiva de Haley-Roethlisberger logró resultados impensados por los fanáticos, propios y ajenos, se ha vuelto a este funcionamiento (cuesta definirlo) autolesivo.

Reaparecieron problemas que imaginábamos, habrían sido superados: 

  • 0-3 en zona roja.
  • Sólo 36 yardas por tierra
  • 4 entregas de balón sin conseguir ninguno
  • QB-WR en distintas páginas
  • Errores mentales como el fumble de AB en la devolución de patada, el gol de campo malogrado o el mal snap, sea del centro o del mariscal la responsabilidad final
  • Equipos especiales que no regresan las patadas y que no logran mejorar la posición de arranque de la ofensiva
  • Déficit de cobertura en la secundaria (entiendo que no estén jugando los titulares pero “next man up”) Qué hubiese pasado si Vick hubiese lanzado más?
  • Jugadas grandes =0 (aquí podría argumentarse que debió contabilizarse como fumble cuando Michael Vick soltó el balón que fuera recuperado por Cam Hayward)
  • Pobre manejo de las cargas por parte de la línea ofensiva

 Y uno vuelve a las preguntas de siempre: cuáles son los verdaderos Steelers?

Es que el equipo aparece sólo cuando es punto y no banca?

Tiene este equipo (la ofensiva en el juego de hoy pero otras veces fue la defensiva) el estado mental que se requiere para estar en postemporada?

Sí la respuesta es Sí, lo tiene siempre? La respuesta es No

Hasta dónde llega la responsabilidad del CO Todd Haley? Quiero decir: son errores de ejecución o de selección de jugadas?

Cómo puede llegarse de 1er y goal en la 1 a 4to y goal en la 9 y 3 puntos en lugar de 7?

  •  Sólo tengo preguntas y ninguna respuesta.

 Ahora caímos a la tercera posición en la AFC North entrando a noviembre. Por desgracia es una división que no permite distracciones o licencias.

Vienen los Titans en Tennessee, en el MNF con marca de 2-7. Lo que para cualquier equipo sería una ventaja (esto es enfrentar a un contendiente con marca francamente perdedora) para los Steelers se convierte en una pesadilla.

 El Dr. de Acero



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Steelers Inconsistent 2014 Season Continues with 20-13 Loss to Lowly Jets

Perhaps it’s fitting that it’s been exactly 30 seasons since the Steelers up-and-down 1984 campaign that eventually culminated in an improbable berth in the AFC Championship game.

Much like the ’84 team, if the 2014 edition makes it into the postseason, it may look back on its performances against seemingly inferior opponents and realize just how fortunate things turned out.

The Steelers traveled to MetLife Stadium on Sunday with a 6-3 record and riding an impressive  three game winning-streak over Houston, Indianapolis and Baltimore–all AFC playoff contenders. However, just like against the Buccaneers in Week 4, who were 0-3 and the Jaguars a week later, who were 0-4, Pittsburgh got off to a slow start against a Jets team that came into the game 1-8 and fell behind by scores of 17-0 and 20-3 before losing, 20-13, to fall to 6-4 on the season.

If you’re a team historian and know anything about the ’84 Steelers, you know they recorded some crucial victories that year over the 49ers, the soon-to-be Super Bowl champions and the Raiders, the defending league champions. But Pittsburgh also lost games to a Colts team that would lose 12 games and an Oilers squad that would lose 13.

So far in 2014, the Buccaneers, Jaguars and Jets all look to be on their way to similar records, with a combined four wins, yet two of them have come against Pittsburgh.

Heading into the game, many said the Jets weren’t quite as bad as their record may have indicated, what with veteran quarterback Michael Vick taking the place of the struggling Geno Smith, who was responsible for the majority of the team’s 18 turnovers, and receiver Percy Harvin in the line-up after coming over from Seattle in a trade.

Also, despite giving up the most passing touchdowns in the NFL and recording only three takeaways, New York’s defense did boast a rather potent pass rush, with 25 quarterback sacks before Sunday’s action.

Coming off a record 12 touchdown passes in two games, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was on the roll of his career. And against a make-shift New York secondary, he figured to be licking his chops.

Unfortunately, other than a long touchdown to rookie Martavis Bryant late in the game that cut the Jets lead to 20-13 and only delayed the inevitable, Roethlisberger didn’t look anything like the passer he was in recent weeks, as he was intercepted twice–including one near the goal line in the second quarter that snuffed out a potential scoring drive–and wasn’t in-rhythm with his receivers most of the afternoon. Roethlisberger may have only been sacked twice, but he was certainly under pressure a good bit of the day and needed his mobility and strength to avoid more.

Pro Bowl receiver Antonio Brown had a fairly awful day and equaled his quarterback in the turnover department, fumbling on a short screen pass early in the game that led to a Jets touchdown and muffing a punt later on that was recovered by New York.

Pittsburgh’s defense wasn’t  totally awful on Sunday, but it certainly wasn’t good enough to make up for four turnovers by the offense. And while the Steelers defense did sack Vick four times and limited him to just 125 yards through the air, the unit was gouged for 150 on the ground and failed to take the football away at all.

Kicker Shaun Suisham got in on the act, as he missed a 23 yard field goal in the second half after booting one from 53  near the end of the first half. Also, Suisham’s onside kick attempt after Pittsburgh cut the lead to 20-13 was pretty awful and recovered by the Jets without much suspense.

The Steelers, who had a chance at first place with a 7-3 record, now find themselves in a tie with Baltimore for third (or last) place in the AFC North, with the Browns on top of the division with a 6-3 mark.

Pittsburgh travels to Tennessee next Monday night for a prime-time match-up against a lowly Titans team, who will enter the game at 2-7.

Hopefully, the 2014 Steelers will find a way to avoid a second-straight loss to an AFC bottom-feeder. Otherwise, that impressive three-game winning streak at Heinz Field will seem like a distant memory.


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Mike Tomlin Right to Ban End Zone Somersault

Prelude – January 2, 2000, Three Rivers Stadium – The 6-9 Pittsburgh Steelers are en route to becoming the 6-10 Pittsburgh Steelers in a meaningless game vs. the Tennessee Titans. 

The game is sloppy. 

Both teams return fumbles for touchdowns. But it also features such low lights as Levon Kirkland getting muscled out of bounds by Neil O’Donnell, Wayne Gandy giving up yet another safety, and that of Bobby Shaw basking in garbage time glory by lifting his jersey to reveal a Superman shirt. Reflecting on the  erosion of discipline inherent in Shaw’s escapade  Bob Labriola of the Steelers Digest remarks, “This must never be repeated.”

The Pittsburgh Steelers have come a long way since then. And while it remains to be seen if the ’13 Steelers can improve on the ’99 Steelers mark for futility, they are exhibiting some similarities.

Witness Le’Veon Bell’s first touchdown during the loss in London (available as of 10/18/13):

Never let it be said that wide receivers conceded the spot light to running backs on the Steelers, and Emmanuel Sanders seemed intent on proving vs. the Jets (available as of 10/18/13):

There are a number of things wrong with these end zone somersaults:

  • At the very best, they’re a sign of excessive showboating the Steelers Nation loathes
  • In the middle, they create an unnecessary risk of an end zone fumble
  • At the worst, players are exposing themselves to potentially life altering injuries

Shaw’s Superman stint happened during the last game of the season, so their was no way to immediately address it. But, as Jerome Bettis often remarked, Bill Cowher reacted to that ’99 season by becoming more demanding. Such lapses of discipline disappeared during the Cowher-Colbert era.

Mike Tomlin said nothing publically about Bell’s end zone backflip after London. But he responded swiftly to Sanders’ imitation by banning such displays.

Tomlin made the right move.

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Steelers Report Card vs. Jets at MetLife Stadium

Taken from the grade book of a teacher who for the first time all year, saw his students avoid those same-old self destructive tendencies here is the Steelers Report Card for the victory over the New York Jets. As a caveat, no other report cards have been consulted prior to this posting.


Ben Roethlisberger has shown he can move the ball, in spite of a terrible offensive line, but moving the ball and winning games are not the same thing. Vs. the Jets, Roethlisberger didn’t pass for as many yards, but he made each throw count, and on a day when the running game couldn’t get into second gear the Steelers racked up an enormous time of possession advantage. Clearly his best of 2013. Grade: B+

Running Backs
Le’Veon Bell got his second start and while he looked sharp on some runs, he struggled on others, although he did play well in the passing game. Felix Jones made the most of his carries, as did Jonathan Dwyer. While this unit’s play was “above the line” the Steelers had to punt the ball away several times while defending a lead in the second half. The Steelers will need more from this until. Grade:  C-

Tight Ends
Heath Miller really got things going for the Steelers with his 31 yard catch. Moreover, it is clear that everyone in the offense is better with Health on the field. David Paulson saw his time increase due to the injury to David Johnson, and did not attract attention to himself for the wrong reasons. Grade:  B

Wide Receivers
Antonio Brown again validated the Steelers decision to choose him over Mike Wallace, although his drop in the end zone was not helpful. Emmanuel Sanders likewise validated the coach’s move to convince the front office to match New England’s offer, although the end zone backflips need to stop. Brown also executed on a fake reverse with a completion to Bell, and avoided a costly mistake on another attempt. Overall a solid performance.  Grade:  B+

Offensive Line
Another week, another offensive line injury and configuration. The Steelers lost Levi Brown before the game started, and for one quarter this until looked “lost” in the first quarter of the season. But that changed after that, and Ben Roethlisberger found more time to throw as the game progressed. The improvements in pass blocking did not carry over the run blocking however. Kelvin Beachum’s holding class notwithstanding, this group put together an “above the line” performance. Grade:  C

Defensive Line
Brett Keisel led the unit in tackles despite not playing most of the second half. Cameron Heyward was making his first start, and if his stat sheet didn’t dazzle, it was his pressure that helped force Geno Smith into the Steelers first interception of the season. Ziggy Hood reacted to his demotion by getting a sack, a tackle for a loss, and a QB hit. While this unit’s play was solid, the Jets had enough success rushing the ball to suggest that Willie Colon was right in saying New York abandoned the run too soon. Grade:  B-

Lawrence Timmons’ interception sealed the victory for Pittsburgh and he was a force all over the field. LaMarr Woodley recorded another sack that ended a drive, and was in the backfield all day. Vince Williams smoked out a Jets attempt at trickery and improved. Jarvis Jones pressure helped secure another turnover and played well. Splash plays have been missing from the Steelers defense for too long, and the linebackers helped bring them back in a big way, even if they must shoulder some blame for the Jets success on the ground.  Grade:  B+

Early in the week the word out of the South Side via BTSC was that Ryan Clark would see his time reduced and might possibly be benched in favor of Shamarko Thomas. Whether that threat was real or mere rumor, Clark responded by leading the team in tackles and securing the first turnover of 2013. Troy Polamalu played well and kept Smith confused. Ike Taylor and William Gay’s names were not mentioned much, which is a good thing for cornerbacks. The Jets were 3-13 on third downs, and the secondary had a huge role in that. Grade:  B+

Special Teams
The Steelers did not give up a big return, but the Jets did enjoy some success in both their punt and kick returns. The Steelers return game did little of note. And there was the matter of the kick out of bounds. On the flip side, Zoltan Mesko’s punted deep, and Shaun Suisham was 4-4 including 2 from more than 40 yards out. It all balances out to an above the line performance. Grade:  C+

Technically, Dick LeBeau improved his record against rookie quarterbacks. His defense, even if it did give up yards, held the Jets to two field goals and shut them out in the second half. And if the Jets did move the ball a little more easily than one would like, LeBeau’s unit stopped two of those drives cold with turnovers. Todd Haley’s game plan was solid and the execution of it was above the line. The Steelers offense didn’t put points or yards up on the board in gobs, but they did protect both the ball and their quarterback.

Then their come the “style points.” There are no manuals for NFL coaches to consult when their teams start 0-4. Mike Tomlin made roster changes a plenty, and gave his team a fire and brimstone approach, going so far as to take away their pool cue sticks and ping pong balls. Such moves are easy to make, but results are not automatic. The fact that the Steelers hung in and continued to play in spite of a poor start, and then refused to take their foot off the gas when they had a lead is to Tomlin’s credit. Most importantly, for one week at least, Mike Tomlin found a way to keep his team from losing games. Grade: B+

Unsung Hero Award
The Steelers linebackers made plenty of noise, registering sacks, tackles for losses, and pulling in interceptions. Steelers Nation heard the names “Woodley” “Williams” “Timmons” and even “Jones” aplenty. But which linebacker led the unit in tackles? It wasn’t one of the four starters. Which linebacker made a key sack that prevented the Jets from answering the Steelers first field goal? It was none other than Jason Worilds and for that he is the Unsung Hero of the Pittsburgh Steelers victory over the New York Jets.

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Steelers Defeat Jets 19-6 – What It Means and Doesn’t Mean

The 13th year of the 21st century has been unlucky for the Pittsburgh Steelers indeed. They lost three players for the year during the first game of the season alone.

But the roots of the 0-4 start suffered by the Steelers went far beyond simply bad luck. With each successive loss, in both what they did and what they failed to do, the Steelers actively lost games.

Against the New York Jets the Steelers, for one game at least, began to break that cycle.

Here We Go Again…

After the Steelers 19-6 victory over the Jets, Ben Roethlisberger mentioned that the NFL season divides into quarters, and that the Steelers after going 0-4 in the first quarter had started the second 1-0.

The metaphor of quarters is useful because the first quarter of the Steelers game against the Jets presented Steelers Nation with a rehash of the first quarter of the season.

  • The Steelers lost Levi Brown before the game even started
  • David Johnson would likewise be lost to injury
  • The Steelers offense couldn’t move
  • The addition of Kelvin Beachum to the offensive line did nothing to improve pass protection
  • Pittsburgh began each possession deep inside its own territory

Every NFL team encounters such adversity; the Steelers are hardly unique. As Mike Tomlin said after the Trashing vs. Tennessee, the Steelers opponents would in fact be glad the for the Black and Gold’s problems.

How would the Steelers react? Would they delve deeper into the rut that got them to 0-4 or would they, or perhaps the better question was, “could they” find a way to break out.

Moving the Chains, Clapping Down in the Red Zone, But….

The Steelers rally was neither spectacular nor transformational but rather workman like.

The Jets seems to smell blood in the water after forcing the Steelers to go three and out on Pittsburgh’s first two opening possessions the second of which resulted in them getting the ball 45.

As other teams have done, New York nickeled and dimed its way down the field, all the way to the Steelers 2. Yet on third and goal at the two, Cameron Heyward and Brett Keisel accomplished something that had been in short supply in 2013 – they kept an opposing team out of the end zone.

  • On the ensuring drive the Steelers shucked off sacks and holding penalties as Roethlisberger hooked up with Heath Miller and Antonio Brown for big gains in a drive that tied the game at 3.

On the next series the Steelers defense added novel element to their game – ending a drive via sack, as Jason Worilds brought down Geno Smith on third down. Another workman like drive and the Steelers were up by 3.

  • The cycle repeated itself.

The Steelers defense forced a three and out, this time with a LaMarr Woodley sack while the Steelers offense stitched together another field goal drive.

A 9 to 3 lead at the half isn’t much in today’s NFL, but it looks pretty good when you’re sitting on an 0-4 record. But the problem with that is that 0-4 teams get that way because of their inability to even hold on to such meager advantages.

And so it was that Geno Smith moved his team from the Steelers 28 and into field goal position, in spite of a hellacious (and legal) hit by Troy Polamalu.

  • The Jets closed the half down 9 to 6 and they were set to get the ball back.

How would the Pittsburgh Steelers respond? Would they learn yet another lesson in losing or would they break the mold?

“T” Marks the Spot for the Steelers in the Second Half

The Jets got the ball to start the second half in a possession which former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach declared would be the key to the game. The Steelers forced a three and out.

The Steelers next drive also consisted of 3 plays, but on third and one they drew blood as Emmanuel Sanders burned Antonio Cromartie on a 55 yard touchdown run.

Impressive as it was, this was not the key play for the Steelers in the second half, as the team, for all its troubles, had shown an ability to get into the end zone in the losses to the Bears and Vikings.

No, the key play would come on the next drive by the Jets who looked to answer the Steelers score by marching right down the field. The drive saw the Steelers give up a 29 yard gain and several other medium to short gains.

At 1st and 10 on the Steelers 23 the Jets looked poised to score again, and then the unspeakable occurred:

  • Ryan Clark secured the first turnover for the Steelers of the 2013 season.

In a blink of an eye, with Heyward pressuring Smith and Clark’s interception, the Steelers went from looking at least a 16 to 9 lead if not a more meager 16 to 13 lead to holding it to 16-6.

And that’s the story of the game. The Steelers didn’t dazzle for the rest of the half. The offense only scored 3 more points. But they protected their quarterback, protected the ball, and moved the chains efficiently enough to suck the oxygen out of the game.

Late in the 4th quarter the cycle repeated itself. The Jets, with just enough time to give the Steelers a run for their money, marched down to the Steelers 12. This time it was Jarvis Jones turn to apply the pressure while fellow linebacker Lawrence Timmons came up with the game sealing interception at the three.

What This Game Means, What It Doesn’t

It’s important that Steelers Nation and, more precisely, the Steelers locker room understand the true meaning of this victory.

The Pittsburgh Steelers triumphed over a Jet’s team that has and 7-9/8-8 third in its divisionish look to it.

The Steelers failed to run the ball effectively, at least until the final clock killing drive. An NFL offense that musters 3 field goals and 1 touchdown will not beat many contenders. The interceptions salvaged drives where the Jets moved the ball with startling ease.

Yet, if those negatives are real, so Pittsburgh’s play revealed positives that have the potential to be just as real:

  • For the final three quarters the Steelers offensive line protected Roethlisberger pretty well
  • The Steelers defense applied decent (although far from dominating) pressure on the quarterback for the first time all season
  • The Steelers didn’t turn over the ball, and secured 2 turnovers in its own right

This game was very, very far from being a “statement game.” Yet the Steelers did shake the “no turnovers, no victories” monkey off their backs.

Most importantly, they broke the cycle of learning to lose. Next week at Heinz Field the Steelers have the chance to continue unlearning that lesson from a far more demanding teacher – the Baltimore Ravens.

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