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Showing posts from October, 2009

Steelers defense back in touchdown-making form

After going out and celebrating the Steelers' 27-17 win late Sunday night, I turned on a national talk radio show.

I wanted to hear what they were saying about the Steelers' win.

It turned out, the host wasn't all that impressed.

He kept saying there was something missing from this Steelers team.

Maybe he didn't watch the game. He could be going on accounts from stories or highlights.

There wasn't much missing Sunday from the Steelers' win.

In fact, it looked like their wins against the Chargers and Cowboys last season. Those were victories triggered by huge defensive plays.

Their win against the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game had one too, if I remember correctly.

The point is, the Steelers defense provided the signature moments throughout the 2008 season, except for that brilliant catch by Santonio Holmes in the Super Bowl.

But the defense is back.

The Minnesota Vikings have one heck of an offensive line, but the defense got pressure on Brett Favre and th…

Nutting or Lerner? Which one do you prefer?

The Cleveland Browns are bad.

Terrible.

Pitiful.

Awful.

Horrible.

Yeah, I like to pile on sometimes.

But back to the Browns.

During their loss to the Steelers on Sunday, it got me thinking that it would be terrible being a Cleveland Browns fan.

I know a few at work, and the Steelers' domination combined with the Browns' ineptitude has taken all of the fun out of a Steelers win in the rivalry.

Those fans are miserable. They expect bad things to happen. They don't expect good luck.

Again, it would be terrible being a Cleveland Browns fan.

Their ownership stinks, their management stinks, their players stink.

But I stopped myself. I'm a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. I have it just as bad, or perhaps, worse.

Our ownership stinks, our management stinks and our players stink.

So, I simply ask this: Would you rather have the Nutting ownership running your favorite team or the Lerner ownership that has run the Browns?

Don't mess with the Terrible Towel -- just ask the Titans

Don't mess with the Terrible Towel.



Everyone scoffed at that idea last season after the Tennessee Titans beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-14 to secure home-field advantage in the playoffs and the No. 1 seed in the AFC.



On the sidelines, running back LenDale White and other Titans could be seen stomping on the Terrible Towel after the game. Defensive end Jevon Kearse pretended to blow his nose in the Towel.



Bad move.



The heinous acts cause an outcry in Pittsburgh and throughout Steeler Nation.



You don't mess with the Terrible Towel.



Period.



Everyone else laughed. It's just a towel, they said. The didn't believe in the magic of Myron Cope's creation.


Steelers fans knew better. They believed.

The Titans lost their final game of the regular season, but no one really paid too much attention to that as they finished with a 13-3 record. Plenty of NFL experts thought there would be a Steelers-Titans rematch in the AFC Championship Game.

Didn't play out that way.

The Titans lost t…

Good signs for Pitt football

My friend from high school e-mailed me two weeks ago with free tickets to the Pitt-Connecticut football game at Heinz Field.


Nah, I thought. I wasn't ready to see Pitt this season. I wanted to wait. I wasn't convinced the team was as good as its record was at that point.


Then there was the team's struggles against UConn, and my mind was made up.


At halftime, I still was pretty sure I made the right decision on that game.


Pitt proved me wrong that week with a strong second half and a win over the Huskies.


On Saturday, they got the attention of the national media with a win over Rutgers that vaulted the program into the Top 25 this season.

There still are tough tests ahead, with South Florida, West Virginia and Cincinnati still on the schedule, but this team looks special, largely because of running back Dion Lewis.

This kid has the goods.

He finished that Connecticut game with 158 yards rushing. He followed it up with a 180-yard, two-touchdown performance against Rutgers.

Lewis alo…

Forget the officiating, change the NFL rules

It's typical to argue about officiating in any sport.


One bad call there, another missed call here, and, who knows, maybe the other team could have won.


At least that's how it works if your team is on the losing side of the equation.


Then there are the blown calls. You know the type, the ones where everyone in the stadium knows it was a terrible call. Then, television replay confirms it and your blood pressure goes through the roof.


Meanwhile, the officials just stand there waiting for the commercials to end and for the next play to begin.

But what happens when the officials enforce a bad rule?

That's what happened after Hines Ward caught a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger in the Steelers' win over the Browns.

Only in the world of the NFL can a player have possession of the ball, get two feet in bounds, roll over and have it not called a touchdown.

The official said Ward did not maintain control of the ball. Presumably, he meant after Ward did his second rollover, wh…

Browns rivalry not the same

There was a time not so long ago that the Steelers-Browns game was an event.


When you mentioned the Cleveland Browns, the eyes got red, steam billowed out of one's ears and a general dislike was a polite term to call it.


Now, however, the Browns are a joke in the NFL.


I'm not sure what that means to Buffalo Bills fans, who endured a 6-3 loss to the Browns last week. But that's besides the point.


The Browns stink. They have stunk for a long time.


And that's killing the once-great rivalry with the Steelers.

Pittsburgh has won something like 113 straight games against the Browns, or so it seems. So it comes with no surprise that Sunday's game against Cleveland isn't drawing much of a buzz.

How could it? The Browns starting quarterback, Derek Anderson, is coming off a game where he went 2-for-17 with 23 yards passing. And, yes, that's for the entire game.

Somehow they won.

Will they be able to manage it again? I wouldn't count on it.

It is a rivalry game, so you can…

Mendenhall provides jolt against Bolts

Quick thoughts on the Steelers' 38-28 win over the Chargers on Sunday:

Rashard Mendenhall had a great game (165 yards rushing, two touchdowns), but let's keep it in perspective. The Chargers have one of the worst run defenses in the league. They gave up nearly 150 yards against the Raiders in Week 1 and Dolphins last week, and 130 to the Ravens in Week 2.
If Mendenhall, or Willie Parker, can consistently put up 100-yard games beyond the beyond the next two against the Lions and Browns, then I'll be convinced the line is better.If Mendenhall can have half the game like he had Sunday against the Vikings in Week 7, I'll be thoroughly impressed.
Speaking of the offensive line, did Max Starks or anyone on the line pay off NBC announcer Chris Collinsworth to get compliments?
If Mike Tomlin's benching of Mendenhall helped get this kind of production, then I can't wait to see Limas Sweed's next game. He was made inactive after dropping a touchdown pass against the Beng…

Live blog tonight - Click Read More for window

With Big Ben appearing on WWE's Raw tonight, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to start a live blog. Join me tonight at from 9:30 to 11 p.m. for a live chat at sportsmonitor.blogspot.com.

Chat away talking Steelers, the Pirates' pitiful season, Pitt football, or anything else. You can even try to convince me it was a good idea for Big Ben to make an appearance on Raw. Or, even throw in a comment or two from the Monday Night Football game between the Vikings and Packers.

It's open talk.

Let's see where it goes.
<a href="http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php?option=com_mobile&task=viewaltcast&altcast_code=4a76b8f8b1">Sports chat for Oct. 5</a>

Win puts Steelers back on track

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of hearing about a Super Bowl hangover.

And judging by the way the Steelers played Sunday against the Chargers, I think they are, too.

The Steelers disposed of the Chargers 38-28 Sunday, putting them just a game behind the Bengals and Ravens in the AFC North Division.

For 30 minutes, the Steelers played at a very high level. In fact, it would be hard to think they could play better than they did. So, it was natural for them to hit a lull against the Chargers.

Compliment San Diego for not folding in the second half. A lesser team would have taken their medicine and made plans to their flight back home after trailing 28-0.

The Chargers fought back. But the Steelers responded.

Just like giving props to San Diego, give Pittsburgh credit for staying composed and icing the game at the end. A lesser team easily could have collapsed after all that went San Diego's way in the fourth quarter.

Jeff Reed's game-clinching kick was nice, showing he put…

An obituary for the Bucs' 2009 season

The Pittsburgh Pirates season ended mercifully Sunday, Oct. 3, after a 6-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

The 62-99 season marked the fifth straight 90-loss season. It was the fourth time in the last five years the team finished in last place in the National League Central Division. The Pirates finished 28 1/2 games behind the Cardinals.

The season started Monday, April 6, with promise. The Bucs rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 at Busch Stadium. That optimism spilled over into the home opener. The Bucs beat up the Houston Astros 7-0 behind the strong pitching of Zach Duke.

On Sunday, April 26, the team was four games over .500, the highest point all season. On Saturday, Sept. 26, the team was at its lowest point statistically, 39 games under .500.

The low point, perhaps, was the trading frenzy that jettisoned outfielders Nate McLouth and Nyjer Morgan, and infielders Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson from the franchise. It certainly was a morale killer for players and fans.

The team p…

Halloweekends at Cedar Point is scary good

I took a break this weekend.

It was our family's fifth annual trip to Cedar Point for their Halloweekends event.

After all my trips to the Point, I'm still in awe driving up to the park. You know you're in for a treat when you see a skyline at an amusement park.

Despite our worries, the rain stayed away for the two days we were there, and we rode plenty of roller coasters -- multiple times.

I'm convinced our first trip there turned my oldest son into a roller-coaster freak. He seeks out thrill rides and doesn't want the day to end. He loves getting K'nex sets and building coasters.

Back to our weekend. We stayed at one of the resort hotels and got in an hour early both days, although we didn't need it to get on the rides we wanted.

We rode 16 of the 17 coasters -- we were all too tall for Jr. Gemini. My favorite ride is Millenium Force. If you're not too familiar, it has a 300-foot drop, reaches 93 mph and is a pure adrenalin rush. My second-favorite is Maver…