Daily Archives: January 14, 2012
The Steelers 2011 season is over, but the NFL season continues this weekend, as there are still games to be played leading up to Super Bowl XLVI in Indy coming up on February 5th.
Here’s my picks for this weekend’s four games, two in the AFC and two in the NFC.
New Orleans at San Francisco – Everyone is on the Saints bandwagon, but a lot of people don’t seem to remember how good the Niners D is. With a solid front seven that will put pressure on Drew Brees, and a run game that will keep the Saints offense off the field, I like what the Niners bring to the table here. New Orleans is the sexy pick, but I think Alex Smith and the Niners do enough to pull off a huge win to advance to the NFC Title game the following week. 49ers 27 Saints 23
Denver at New England – Anyone else tired of Tim Tebow? Sure, he played the game of his life a week ago against the Steelers, but you can bet Bill Belichick will have his goons from New England ready to go against him this week. With temps below 10 degrees with the wind chill, and having already beaten the Broncos once, I have a hard time believing the Broncos are going to keep this close. Tom Brady and the Pats move on with relative ease at home as the clock strikes midnight for Tebow. Patriots 35 Broncos 14
Houston at Baltimore – Two very good defensive teams do battle in Baltimore, and the big question will be – what Joe Flacco shows up? The Ravens QB has had some solid games at home, and some that he’d probably like to forget. The game could come down to a battle of RB’s – Ray Rice for the Ravens and Arian Foster for the Texans. I like Rice and that Ravens defense to do enough to send rookie QB T.J. Yates and the Texans home for the offseason, setting up a Brady vs Ravens AFC Title game next Sunday. Baltimore 16 Houston 10
New York Giants at Green Bay - The finale to the weekend, a NFC showdown that a number of people seem to feel will play out like the 2007 NFC Title Game between the same two teams. Not gonna happen. Looks like a lot of people have already dismissed the Packers – you know, the Super Bowl Champs from a season ago that have gone 19-1 in their last 20 games. Love Green Bay here, as they will attack the Giants secondary, and I can see them getting to Eli Manning for a couple turnovers early to give them a lead they won’t lose. The Giants are playing well, but they are running into a hungry Packers team at home. Packers 31 Giants 13
AFC Title Game 3pm EST – Baltimore (13-4) at New England (14-3)
NFC Title Game 6:30pm EST – San Francisco (14-3) at Green Bay (16-1)
Source: Steelers Gab
The NFL has worked hard this season to ensure that the media understands the specific dynamics of the appeal process for in-game violations. With plenty of players and reporters and others criticizing the league’s review procedures by claiming that the same people who issue the punishment are the ones who determine whether to uphold it,…
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown addressed the media at the end of the season.
Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : Videos
After the Pittsburgh Steelers were bounced from this year's playoffs by the Denver Broncos last Sunday afternoon, speculation immediately began about Hines Ward. Was he going to retire? Had he played his last game in a Steelers uniform? Ward insists that he is not retiring, and he's made it clear that he understands the need to restructure his contract in order to return for his 15th season in Pittsburgh.
Even so, some wonder if the Steelers should bring him back. At 34 years old, Ward is definitely in the twilight of his career, but I don't think anything about this season necessarily suggests he can't still play. Ward finished the season with 46 catches for 381 yards and 2 TDs. His 8.3 yards per reception were the lowest of his NFL career. However, Ward caught an impressive 73 percent of the passes thrown his way. His catch rate was easily the highest amongst Steelers wide receivers. Mike Wallace's catch rate was 63 percent, 56 percent for Antonio Brown, while Emmanuel Sanders only hauled in 51 percent of the passes thrown his way.
I'd need to go back and watch the tapes again, but obviously a healthy percentage of Ward's 46 receptions came in the form of bubble screens. And yes, I was as frustrated by those play calls at times as you were. But the fact of the matter is those plays are essentially an extension of the running game, and some of the few plays where Roethlisberger wasn't in regularly under pressure or sacked frequently. In fact, I'd guess that he was never sacked on those types of quick-hitting horizontal passing plays.
More on this after re-watching the games and isolating Ward's receptions, but to me, the numbers are pretty clear. Ward was still a viable offensive weapon when his number was called. Three out of four times that the ball was thrown his way, Ward made the catch. And on average, those connections went for just over 8 yards per pop. Not staggering productivity by any stretch of the imagination, but for a team that struggled to protect the quarterback or run the ball consistently, perhaps it would have behooved Bruce Arians and Big Ben to utilize Ward more regularly, even at the expense of the spectacular, big play down the field.
Obviously Ward can't be targeted too much for the simple reason that he's not able to create enough separation on many routes down the field. But Ward knows he can still work the soft spot of zones and use his savvy to get a half step on defensive backs in the short passing game. Again, it may not be spectacular, but it would help keep Big Ben upright and healthy, the chains moving at a more steady clip, and presumably help the defense by shortening the game slightly and minimizing the veteran group's exposure to wear and tear over the course of a long season.
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain
With the season over it is now time for Pittsburgh to focus on re-signing the players who are due to be free agents at season’s end. Many key players are going to have the ability to test the market.
Mike Wallace is one of these players that Pittsburgh must resign. He is becoming one of the best deep threats in the league. He has the speed to run past most cornerbacks, and has the ability to cut on a dime and get open across the middle. Defenses must respect Wallace’s home-run potential, thus opening the field for other players. Wallace makes the whole offense better and can strike at any moment. Wallace is a restricted free agent, meaning that Pittsburgh can match offers from any team in order to keep him.
Another key player the Steelers need to retain is offensive tackle Trai Essex. He has the skills to play all five positions on the line, which is a key asset due to the Steelers recent history of injuries up front. Essex was asked to play center this season against St. Louis afte...
Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers
Offensive guard Ramon Foster talks with Teresa Varley of Steelers.com at the end of the season.
Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : Videos
ISAAC REDMANRunning BackWhen Rashard Mendenhall sustained an ACL injury on the final play of the first quarter in the regular season finale, there naturally was some concern about what that would ...
Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : News
In October, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu left a game with “concussion-like symptoms” and picked up a cell phone on the sideline to call his wife and tell her he was OK. As a result, the NFL fined him $ 10,000, because cell phone use during games is not allowed. But now there’s some good news for…
The San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints, on a collision course since mid-November, finally butt heads today in what promises to be a study in contrasts. That matchup pits Saints quarterback Drew Brees and a record-setting offense against a defense led by defensive end Justin Smith and linebacker Patrick Willis that has suffocated opposing offenses.
Source: post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL
MDS pointed out earlier today that Steelers safety Troy Polamalu won the appeal of his $ 10,000 fine for telling his wife via cell phone that, despite leaving a game with “concussion-like symptoms,” he was fine. The good news is that the ruling demonstrates to folks like Polamalu, who previously bashed the appeal system, that it’s…