Steel Curtain Rising Offers Apologies to Direct TV South America

It’s time for Steel Curtain Rising to step forward and take one on the chin. Time to say “mea cupla.” About 40 minutes ago we published a post lambasting Direct TV South America for screwing Steelers fans. Viewing their programming guide, it seemed that the channel was not showing the Steelers-Colts game, and instead opted to show the Texans-Patriots Colts twice.

And while they Texans-Colts game does appear twice on their NFL Sunday Ticket programming guide, that has nothing to do with the Steelers game.

  • Because of course, the Steelers and Colts are playing at 4:30 Eastern. 

Yep. Quick glance at the Steelers Media Guide confirmed that after some suggestions from friend on Twitter about checking seeing what FOX Sports was showing independent of NFL Sunday ticket.

  • I fired first, and then asked questions. That was very bad on my part.

So I’ve deleted my previous, deleted all of the rants on Twitter, and now I’ll tender my apology to Direct TV South America and whoever manages the NFL Sunday Ticket. The truth is that while there have been service issues in the past, its been several years since s a programming error or issues has prevented me from seeing the Steelers game.

So you guys have done your part, and I was very wrong to call you out w/o checking the facts first. You have my apologies.

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Steelers Defeat Titans on “Buenos Aires MNF Special,” Sort of

One of the benefits of being a football fan outside of the US, is that it is possible to tape games and watch them later, with little worry of accidentally finding out the result.

Of course, you have to be able to tape the game first.

For whatever reason, DirectTV Plus was not showing the Steelers Titan’s game on its programing schedule Thrusday night/Friday morning, even though ESPNDeportes clearly showed that they were showing the game on tape delay from 4:00 am to 7:00 am.

Which meant I had to get up and manually set it, which was not a problem as my wife and I were rising early for a long weekend in Punta del Este.

Sure enough the game was on at 5:00 am. I hit record, and it should have recorded the entire program….

Breaking the Seal

Despite my vow not to check the final score, I could not resist. Once I saw them go up by 7 before the half, and then give up an easy TD, and THEN heard that Troy Polamalu got hurt, there was no avoiding it.

Which is all well and good, as Direct TV only tapped until the middle if the third quarter….

Which means I missed Ben’s latest heroic comeback, among other things. Ah….

Hard to complain too much about Direct TV when they’ve apparently decided to give Argentine NFL fans the full NFL Sunday Ticket as opposed to the “6 Games Every Sunday” half-baked option they’ve offered in the Cone of South America for the last three years.

Still, it would be nice to set the system to record during specific times on specific channels, because its programing schedule does not always match what the channel is already showing….

Tune in in a day or so for Steel Curtain Rising’s “full” analysis. (Click here to read about lessons learned from the Titan’s game.)

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2008 Steelers Shut Out Cleveland 31-0; Lose Ben Roethlisberger to Concussion

Citing a need to go into the playoffs on a positive note, Mike Tomlin rolled the dice by playing most of his starters in a meaningless game against the 4-11 Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.

By the time the first rays of sun begin hitting the waters that surround the Golden Triangle, the Pittsburgh press corps will undoubtedly be reminding Tomlin of that old credo:

  • Careful for what you wish for, for you may get it

The Steelers hammered the Cleveland Browns, notching their first shut out of the season and closing the season with a clean sweep of the AFC North and improving their final record to 12-4.

They also saw Ben Roethlisberger carted off of the field after taking a vicious hit late in the second quarter.

The good news is that Ben’s injury was only a concussion, and with an extra week off he should be ready to return to the starting line up in two weeks. But there is little doubt that time between now and then will be filled as the pundits second guess Tomlin’s move.

No Buyers Remorse Here

For the record, Steel Curtain Rising fully endorsed Tomlin’s decision to play to win. While the Steelers could not improve their playoff position today, they were a team in the need of a shot in the arm. While the Steelers 12-4 record does include impressive wins over teams such as The New England Patriots, The Dallas Cowboys, the San Diego Chargers, and the Baltimore Ravens, both of their wins over the Cincinnati Bengals were criticized as lackluster.

One week after seeing their beloved Terrible Towel stomped on in Nashville after they self destructed against the Tennessee Titans, the last thing the Steelers did was another slid-shod performance against one of the league’s bottom feeders.

  • This victory had a price, and if Ben struggles in the playoffs, the din created by those calling for Tomlin’s head will be deafening.

But football is a contact sport. You play, you risk injury. And, as they used to say on the playgrounds, if you can’t take the pain, don’t play the game.

Steel Curtain Rising was not happy to click the Post-Gazette’s home page to learn that Ben was taken out on a stretcher. (Takes to Direct TV Argentina’s “Pay full price but get half the Sunday ticket” policy, the game was not shown in Argentina.)

But Mike Tomlin knew the risks involved in playing his starters, and did not hesitate because he is a coach who plays to win instead of one that plays not to lose.

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2008 Steelers Defeat Bengals, 27-10, But “Half Full/Half Empty” Questions Persist

The 2008 Steelers completed the final leg of their three game home stand by defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 27-10.

Despite the lopsided score, the pundits in the press sought fit to pan the team’s performance.

The Post-Gazette’s Bob Smizk summed it up this way:

The Steelers came out of their game against the Cincinnati Bengals last night with their eighth win and still in undisputed possession of first place in the AFC North Division. But there were as many questions as there was jubilation surrounding this 27-10 victory. It was not a performance befitting a team with Super Bowl ambitions.

His colleague Gene Collier was more upbeat in his evaluation (choosing to focus on the role that Santoino Holmes had in getting the offense moving) but he did offer this caveat:

Crocker ended his night, but if Holmes doesn’t remember any of it, let’s at least do him the courtesy of remembering it for him. And let’s not understate it, because when this offense again showed up with no apparent purpose — it finally broke 123 minutes and five seconds of touchdown-free football when Roethlisberger found Miller with a 3-yard scoring toss early in last night’s second quarter — it was Holmes who cleaned its fuel injectors just enough to pull away from the worst team in the AFC.

Commentary at the Tribune-Review was more positive, but the national media got into the act as well, as James Walker of ESPN started his article off this way:

The Steelers brought their “B-minus” game to Heinz Field Thursday night. But that was more than enough to beat up on the lowly Cincinnati Bengals

Pittsburgh continued its trend of surviving and advancing with a 27-10 victory over the Bengals to improve to 8-3. It was the second win in five days for the Steelers.

Perhaps style points are not important this time of year. But for three quarters the Steelers struggled in two phases of the game — offense and special teams — against an inferior team at home.

Paints a rather grim picture, doesn’t it? But is the portrait of “the struggling Steelers” accurate?

Black Out in Latin America

It is hard to know what to make of this for one who has not seen the game. As you might expect, Direct TV Latin America does not carry the NFL Network and they of course don’t make the Thursday night games part of the “pay full price and get half the games” Sunday Ticket offering that Direct TV offers customers in this part of the world.

  • On paper there is no way that a team like the Steelers should let the Bengals hang around like they did. But there is a reason why you play games.

If it is disturbing that the Bengals succeeded in shutting down Willie Parker, it is encouraging that the Ben was able to beat them with his arm, and he did it be throwing downfield. Heath Miller was also back in the line up, making his precense known by scoring the team’s first offensive touchdown in several quarters.

Sure the defense gave up an opening drive touchdown. Sure LaMarr Woodley’s sack was the only one of the night. But they held Cedric Benson to 35 yards on 16 carries. They also hauled in another interception, something which have not been in abundant supply.

The defense also kept Cincinnati off of the board after Limas Sweed gift wrapped good field position by muffing a punt at Pittsburgh’s 39 yard line with one minute left to play in the half. (And you know the NFL Network was cuing up that stat about how the Steelers have been outscored at the ends of halves.)

Your Chance to Sound Off

Adding to the mystery of this game is some rather eerie symmetry between the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Last year the Steelers played the Dolphins in a downpour, and escaped with a 3-0 win. They followed that a week later with a game against the Bengals, again in foul weather, where they won 24-10. That victory seemed to indicate progress, but the Steelers proceeded to lose the next three out of 4 (or 4 out of 5.)

Despite these similarities, my feeling is that the 2008 Steelers are different, if for no other reason than their defense is the real deal.

So, to my fellow members of Steeler’s Nation, ask not what Steel Curtain Rising can tell you, ask what you can tell Steel Curtain Rising…. (OK, that was cheesy.)

Seriously, if you watched the game please take a moment to leave a comment with your analysis. Did the Steelers simply escape with a win, or did they take a step forward?

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Direct TV Does Its Sunday Ticket Customers in Latin America No Favors

I have lived in Argentina for seven years now, and for all of that time, my goal has been to get Direct TV, with the sole motive of being able to watch the Steelers.

This year I got my wish, as my wife bought Direct TV/ the Sunday Ticket for our anniversary.

Due to a trip to the states, and by the virtue of the fact that the ESPN shows both the Sunday night and Monday night games here in Latin America, I did not have the opportunity to watch the Steelers via the Sunday Ticket until today….

…So you can imagine my displeasure when I discovered that, of the early games, Direct TV was only showing the Vikings vs. the Bears, the Cowboys vs. the Rams, and the 49ers vs. the Giants….

Who decided that those are the games I wanted to choose from?

Thanks pal, “… and don’t do me no more favors,” as my Aunt Rose from Mt. Oliver used to say.

OK, I should have read the fine print, where it said that you only got a limited number of games with the local version of the Sunday Ticket…. So shame one me.

But this is still an inane policy. Shame on Direct TV.

If you live outside the US, and you’re willing to plunk down extra money to get Direct TV, and on top of that pay extra for the ticket, there’s, oh what, a 97.5% chance you’re doing because you have a favorite team, and well, gee, you want to see that team’s games….

And the fact is that Direct TV has several channels available, so why not let me see whichever game I choose. That’s the point of the Sunday Ticket, isn’t it? More to the point, that’s why I am spending my money with them, isn’t it?

Outside of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, the 2008 versions of the Steelers vs. the Bengals isn’t going to draw a huge audience inside the US, and likewise isn’t going to generate much enthusiasm in the league nascent international market.

But no one is asking that ESPNdeportes knock off its regularly scheduled soccer game to show the Steelers vs. Bengals. Nor are we asking FOX sports to show its Sunday soccer schedule on a tape delay either.

No, we’re paying for a service dedicated to showing NFL games, and this pay-per-view model is based on consumer choice.

Why then are Direct TV Sunday Ticket customers not free to chose?

Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Buenos Aires

P.S. Folks, if you’re interested, and can read Spanish, some local guys down here have dedicated a site to resolving just this issue. Check it out!

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