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Showing posts from January, 2012

Some of the Steelers' worst losses

The Steelers' loss to the Broncos in the playoffs still is fresh in my head, even though in was way back in wild-card weekend.

Also notable from that loss was a comment made by Hines Ward after the Steelers' surprising loss 29-23 loss:
"This will stick with (us) a lot as one of the worst games we ever lost." Yeah, that was a tough loss to take, but I'm not sure it cracks this list:
Steelers lose 24-7 to the Raiders in the 1976 AFC Championship Game. The Raiders beat a Steelers team without Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. This was probably the best Steelers team of all time and the injuries prevented the Steelers from winning three straight Super Bowls.Steelers lose to Cowboys 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX. Neil O'Donnell makes Larry Brown the Super Bowl MVP.  Steelers lose to Patriots 24-21 in AFC Championship Game in January 2002. Troy Brown returns a punt for a TD.Steelers lose to Chargers 17-13 in AFC Championship Game in 1995. Ugly loss to a team the Steelers sh…

Who's the bigger goat: Cundiff or Williams?

After watching the two championship games Sunday night, one thing became clear.

An argument can be made that the Ravens and 49ers both lost the games instead of the Patriots and Giants winning.

That being said, which goat from the two games would you rather be
Billy Cundiff, the Ravens kicker who missed a 32-yard field goal that would have sent the AFC Championship Game into overtimeKyle Williams, the 49ers punt returner who had to bad miscues, the last set up the Giants' game-winning kick in overtime I think I'd rather be Cundiff. And I made that decision before reports surfaced that Williams was receiving death threats.

What's your take?

Ravens should meet 49ers in the Super Bowl

This entire postseason, we've heard all about the offenses in the NFL.

Then they played the games.

The defenses have stood out the past couple weeks, and I'd expect that to be the case for today's conference championship games.

The consensus is a Patriots-Giants Super Bowl, and there's nothing wrong with thinking that.

I'm not sold on it happening, however.


AFC Championship Game: Ravens at Patriots

It's all about Tom Brady in New England.

He's gotten all of the hype, and after a six-touchdown pass game, he deserves it. However, it's the defense that people will talk about after the game.

The Ravens know how to beat the Pats. They have the running game to keep the ball away from Brady and the Patriots' offense.

The big question is whether the Ravens will get the play needed from their quarterback to win.

Many people have their doubts, including members of the Ravens.

Somehow, with Ray Rice running the ball, and the Ravens smacking the Patriots around …

Overrated Arians might not be back with Steelers

Is Bruce Arians on his way out of Pittsburgh?

I fell for that two years ago when it was reported Arians wasn't going to return.

I'll refrain from cheering until I hear it's official. I'll also refrain until I hear who replaces him.

Instead, I'll repeat my position on Arians.

If he is such a good coordinator, as some might say -- or, at the very least, his supporters say Arians doesn't deserve the criticism -- why is Arians never mentioned as a possible head coaching candidate?

Seriously. Why is Arians never on the short list of any vacancy in the NFL? I simply do not recall him getting any mentions as a head coach.

Why?

The Steelers have been to two Super Bowls recently, winning one of them. Usually coordinators on successful teams have teams beating down their doors for interviews.

With Arians? There's no such clamor.

The clamoring is from people asking for him to leave.

They might get their wish.

I'm in that camp, but I'm hesitant.

Can the Steeler…

Let's not crown the 49ers' Alex Smith just yet

Alex Smith to Vernon Davis.

Seriously? Smith to Davis?

The next Montana to Clark in 49ers' lore?

That's what they're saying in San Francisco after Saturday's thrilling 36-32 win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC divisional playoffs.

It's a great win for San Francisco fans. And Davis' grab at the end of the game was one heck of a play. He took quite a hit in the end zone.

But let's not make them legends just yet. So excuse me while a rain on their parade.

Once Smith continues to perform at a level warranted of legends like Joe Montana, then throw him in that class.

San Francisco's defense deserves some credit, too, for picking off Saints quarterback Drew Brees twice and recovering two fumbles. The Niners offense, however, continued to look like it was allergic to the end zone until the end of the game.

So, San Fran fans, enjoy the win. It likely won't happen next week.

The 49ers still are flawed and I would pick against them in the NFC Champions…

NFL championship weekend will be Pats-Ravens, Packers-Saints

I had a rough weekend picking the wild-card round.

I had too many outside influences on my choices.

Fantasy football leagues, home teams, allegiances all came into play.

I've eliminated all the outside factors this week.

It's time to bounce back.

Saints at 49ers:

Classic matchup between great offense and great defense. The Niners are at home and on grass, which should slow down the Saints, but I don't see how Alex Smith can lead San Fran past Drew Brees and the Saints.

If the Niners are to win, the defense will need some turnovers and probably score at least one touchdown.

The Saints are just too much.

Saints 27, 49ers 16


Giants at Packers:

Don't look now, but the Giants defense on a roll. They will face a serious test against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, but they are peaking at the right time.

Will it be enough? I don't think so.

All season, Rodgers and Co. have come through, putting up the points when needed.

The Giants might shut down the Packers for a quarter …

'Bama rules, but not in my book

I know I'm on the wrong side of the majority here, but I don't see Alabama as the deserving No. 1 team in the country after Monday's win over LSU in the BCS championship game.

Part of that is my belief that Alabama didn't deserve to be in the game in the first place.

The Crimson Tide didn't win their division in the SEC and didn't play in the SEC championship game. That enough should have kept them out.

But the way the BCS is rigged, deserving teams like Oklahoma State didn't have a chance.

And, yes, I did want to see Oklahoma State in the title game.

I think the Cowboys would have beaten LSU, especially the conservative one that showed up Monday night at the Superdome.

I don't think the Tigers would have been able to slow down Justin Blackmon, which would have given the Cowboys the edge.

And I think the LSU offense was overrated, too. They couldn't score a single touchdown in two games and an overtime against Alabama. Rave about the 'Bama defen…

What happened to that Steelers' defense?

I'm still scratching my head wondering how the Pittsburgh Steelers let the Denver Broncos win Sunday's AFC wild-card game.

The defense was supposed to be No. 1-ranked defense and No. 1 in passing yards allowed. Yet Tim Tebow threw for 316 yards.

Ike Taylor will get a brunt of the criticism because he couldn't cover himself with a blanket during the game.

But it's not all his fault.

The defense did not sack Tebow. In fact, it looked like they were afraid to deliver a hit to Tebow, who looks more like a tight end than a frail quarterback.

It appeared the Steelers sold out to stop the run, daring Tebow to beat them with the pass. In fact, it looked like they didn't think Tebow could complete a pass.

I have to admit, I, too, don't think he's much of a passer, but he completed enough to win. And, man, those completions were long.

Maybe the Steelers just had a bad game plan.

Maybe the team was too old on defense.

Maybe Ben Roethlisberger hurt them more than helped…

Steelers leave Denver stunned and beaten

The Steelers got Tebowed?

Nah.

For a team to get Tebowed, it must have the game in control and have Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow pull out a stunning victory.

Outside a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, the Steelers never were in control of their AFC wild-card game against the Broncos on Sunday.

Tebow made the Steelers defense look silly, making big play after big play. He passed for 316 yards, a career high.

The last 80 yards came in overtime on a catch-and-run on the first play.

Game over.

Season over.

But  it shouldn't come as a big surprise.

Even though the Steelers won 12 games, they hardly looked like a dominant team. They never really had the look of a team ready to compete for a Super Bowl championship.

They especially struggled on the road, barely getting b weaklings in Indy and K.C.

And now comes the Tebow game.

The defense should be embarrassed for allowing the number of big plays.

I warned of a perfect storm brewing for an upset. It all came to pass.

You can blame …

Perfect storm forming for Broncos' upset

Everyone is saying this should be a playoff game the Pittsburgh Steelers win.

The Denver Broncos backed into the playoffs, quarterback Tim Tebow is struggling and the team doesn't deserve to be in the postseason.

I don't see it that way.

I see a dangerous team playing with house money in front of a home crowd.

I also see a beat-up Steelers team.

The game certainly can be a lot closer than people expect, and the Broncos can pull off the upset.

Fans point to Tebow's struggles the last three weeks, especially last week's 7-3 loss to the Chiefs.

They don't say much about a healthier Steelers' team that only scored 13 points against those same Chiefs.

And if you want to talk about struggles, how about Ben Roethlisberger's hard time playing on a bad ankle? He hasn't looked right in his two starts since suffering the injury. Will he be OK?

And I'll leave you with this final thought:

If the Broncos are trailing by six points or less with under three minut…

Pitt goes in wrong direction at Compass Bowl

The Pitt football team scored six points in its spring practice game Saturday in Birmingham, Ala.

The defense, however, gave up 28 points at Legion Field.

OK. It wasn't Pitt's spring practice. It easily could have been.

It was Pitt's BBVA Compass Bowl loss to SMU on Saturday, and it certainly wasn't any more entertaining than a spring practice.

The Panthers gave up 21 straight points before you knew it and had to go through the motions for three more quarters to secure a 6-7 record.

The highlights of the game included a blocked punt, a field-attempt hitting the post, a lost fumble by quarterback Tino Sunseri and a pass bounce off the helmet of one player and into an SMU player's hands.

Yep. It was that kind of a day for Pitt.

Actually, it was a fitting ending for a season that spiraled out of control, highlighted by former coach Todd Graham bolting before the bowl game.

Now the Panthers can look forward to the future with new coach Paul Chryst.

The actual spring …

Wild-card round in NFL playoffs should be wild

The NFL playoffs finally are here, and, if you're like me, you can't get enough of the stuff.

It looks like we should be headed for some high-scoring games, defensive struggles and some close calls this weekend.

Here's how I see the weekend unfolding:

Bengals at Texans:

The Bengals are lucky to be in the postseason, while the Texans are lucky to have a quarterback after going through about 16 during the regular season.

Arian Foster should get plenty of carries for the Texans, along with Ben Tate. The big question is whether quarterback T.J. Yates will be able to find Andre Johnson. If he can, it would go a long way for the Texans to win.

However, something tells me rookie QB Andy Dalton finds some way to win against a tough Texans defense. Maybe he hooks up with A.J. Green on a big play. Maybe the Bengals defense pressures Yates into a big mistake.

Bengals 20, Texans 17.


Lions at Saints:

This game should be fun to watch.

The Saints, powered by record-setting QB Drew Brees, s…

Big Ben's bum ankle acts up again

I was leery of the Pittsburgh Steelers playing Ben Roethlisberger against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

It wasn't worth the risk, sending a hobbled quarterback into a meaningless game, unnecessarily risking further injury to someone vital to the team in getting back to the Super Bowl.

Maybe there is something to worry about.

Roethlisberger had a setback with his injured ankle, making a road game against a struggling Broncos team that much more interesting.

For those thinking the game is a gimme, think again.

The Steelers have struggled on the road all season, getting crushed at Baltimore, struggling to beat the Colts, losing against the Texans, barely getting by the Chiefs and edging the Browns.

The wild-card game was going to be tougher before news of Roethlisberger's injury.

Now, it just got a little tougher.

No Mendenhall? No problem

I wasn't impressed with Rashard Mendenhall this season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers running back finished the season with 928 yards rushing on 228 carries, good for a 4.1 average. He also had nine touchdowns.

He tore his ACL in Sunday's win against the Cleveland Browns, and now the Steelers will enter the playoffs without their leading rusher.

No problem, I say.

Mendenhall didn't have it this season. He had just two 100-yard games, 146 against the Jags and 116 against the Rams. Other than that, his best total was 70 yards against the Patriots.

I don't think the Steelers will miss Mendenhall.

Isaac Redman, despite his two fumbles against the Browns, is a capable fill-in. He totaled 479 yards on 110 carries, a 4.4 average.

I expect the Steelers to use Redman, John Clay and Mewelde Moore against the Broncos.

The bigger worry, to me, is Ben Roethlisberger's health and how he can handle the Denver defense.

It's a shame Mendenhall was injured, but that won't be the ma…

Steelers get shot to tame Tebow

It was looking like Steelers-Broncos for a couple weeks.

Now it's official.

Pittsburgh will travel to Denver for the first round of the playoffs and get a taste of Tim Tebow mania.

It's a game the Steelers should win.

Just one quick warning: Don't get too confident.

Last year, the Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West with a 7-9 record. Their opponent that wild-card weekend was the New Orleans Saints.

Seattle jumped on New Orleans early and held on to beat the then-defending Super Bowl champs 41-36.

Keep that in the back of your mind during the week.