Daily Archives: June 20, 2012

NFL Films’ Greg Cosell Breaks down Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger


It's been written here the success of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger often comes due to his ability to extend plays well past their normal point of death and find something off-schedule in which to keep chains moving.

NFL Films' Greg Cosell, one of the best analysts alive, has an excellent piece of analysis on Roethlisberger's overall game that not only refutes some of that theory (warning: he doesn't use the words "offensive" or "line" next to each other at all), he says Roethlisberger has improved greatly as a passer from his Super Bowl-winning second season.

As most things from Cosell, it's well-written and informative. One of my favorite stances he has is on the notion of the "winning" quarterback. Cosell largely feels that trait is arbitrary, citing Patriots QB Tom Brady as an example. Brady is far better a quarterback from 2007 to today, but has no Super Bowl rings. He has three from 2001-2006.

Cosell asks whether Brady is still a "winner." It's a great question, and one I feel should be asked any time the topic comes up. Clearly, he's won before, and judging by his 2007 output - probably the best individual passing season in league history - his team may not have earned the ring, but certainly, he played at a high level.

Cosell isn't comparing Roethlisberger to Brady, but he is saying much of the same thing. The first of Roethlisberger's two Super Bowl championships came amid one of the worst games he's ever played.

The argument could easily be made that it was the worst performance by a winning quarterback in Super Bowl history. That was seen as irrelevant. The Steelers won and Roethlisberger was the quarterback - case closed.

I'd venture a guess most of us are comfortable with the last part of that statement. Not to take anything away from Roethlisberger, but he didn't play well at all in that game, despite playing very well in the three playoff games before it in 2005. He ratcheted things up a notch in 2008 when he played well in all three playoff games, en route to his second championship.

All the while, we're praising Roethlisberger for those off-schedule plays, for "making something happen" when he's out there. Cosell doesn't quite see it that way.

The best way to portray Roethlisberger at that point in his career (2009) was this: When his pre-snap read was correct, he was outstanding, delivering with rhythm, timing and accuracy. When the picture was a little cloudy and muddied, his predisposition was to rely on his instincts. Roethlisberger was more of a reactionary quarterback, responding to (and countering) the defense after the snap with his strength, exceptional movement ability and extraordinary downfield vision on the run.

Gradually over time, Roethlisberger has gotten better and better. He's more aware before the snap of the ball, and he's more disciplined in the pocket. While he still has the ability to impress with his idiosyncratic combination of physicality and movement, his game is now less arbitrary, less random, more structured, and therefore more consistent. This is rarely acknowledged, however, because there has been no clear quantifiable means by which to measure the progress. The Steelers still win and Roethlisberger still makes plays. As I said earlier, case closed. End of discussion.

That misses the point entirely. One part of Roethlisberger's improvement for which he does not get enough credit is his ability to make throws consistently from the pocket. It sounds strange to say that, because that's the essence of NFL quarterbacking: delivering from the pocket. Yet the continued emphasis on his distinctive style has led many to disregard his pocket passing.

Color me guilty. For my useless part, I was not out-and-out impressed with Roethlisberger's throws from the pocket last season, and I've questioned not just his arm strength, but his arm health. Cosell sees it a little differently, though.

I charted all 60 of Roethlisberger's pass plays of 20 yards or more in 2011. Only five of them came outside the pocket. Time and again, Roethlisberger exhibited one of the most essential attributes necessary to play at a consistently high level: the ability to stand in the pocket in the face of pressure and deliver the ball with accuracy. That's an element of his play that often gets overlooked. It shouldn't.

Roethlisberger has a natural ability to throw with just the right amount of touch. Does he have a strong arm? Yes. But I would contend that he is more of a finesse passer with power than a pure arm-strength passer. The difference may be subtle, but it's significant. It's one reason he has the ability to throw from different platforms, without his feet always being set and on balance. Overall, few quarterbacks in the NFL have Roethlisberger's throwing skill set.

He definitely shines a different light on the Steelers' franchise passer. With his point of view in mind, it's interesting to think about the direction of Roethlisberger's career, and how, perhaps, his maturity as a player is melding with the best protection he's had since that first Super Bowl championship year, and wonder how far away he is from the gaudy numbers being produced by some of this quarterback brethren.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Confessions of a Die-hard Steelers Fan, the Prequel: I Wussed Out and Missed the Craziest 2 Minutes and 42 Seconds in Steelers History

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A couple of weeks ago, I told the story of the time I was too nervous to watch the second half of the AFC Championship game between the Steelers and Ravens from a few years ago. And because of that, I missed out on experiencing Troy Polamalu's 40 yard interception return for a touchdown that secured a berth in Super Bowl XLIII.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the first time that the stress of a close postseason game got the best of me. In fact, because of the stress and anxiety that I was feeling late in the Steelers Divisional playoff game vs. the Colts following the 2005 season, I may have missed the most heart-stopping two minutes and 42 seconds in Steelers history.

Most fans know the story of the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. After barely sneaking into the playoffs as the 6th seed in the AFC, they had to win three-straight road games just to make it to Super Bowl XL, where they finally brought home the franchise's first Super Bowl title in over a quarter of a century.

Of the four postseason games that the Steelers played on their way to the Lombardi, none of them had more drama than the Divisional match-up against the Colts in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis on January 15th, 2006.

2005 was supposed to be the year that Peyton Manning and the Colts finally won "the big game" after coming up short time and again in previous seasons. There was even talk of Indianapolis going undefeated after they started the year 13-0. After a loss to the Chargers in week 15, however, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy decided to rest most of his key players over the course of the last two weeks in-order to avoid any serious injuries before the playoffs.

Our Pittsburgh Steelers, meanwhile, had no such luxury as they headed for the home-stretch. Sitting at 7-5 after losing three straight games, the Steelers were in playoff mode the last month of the season. Not only did they need to win out, they needed a lot of outside help just to make the postseason.

Pittsburgh did, indeed, win out and get the help they needed to make the playoffs as the final Wild Card team in the AFC.

In the Wild Card round, the Steelers went to Cincinnati and avenged a lost to the Bengals in early December with a 31-17 victory.

After that, it was off to Indianapolis, where the Steelers were to be the sacrificial lambs for Peyton and the boys.

The top seeded Colts were heavy favorites, and rightfully so. In a Monday night match-up in November, the Steelers had no answers for the Colts offense or defense in a 26-7 beat-down.

I know there weren't too many people outside of Pittsburgh giving the Steelers much of a chance in the playoff game. In fact, on one radio show that previewed the four divisional games, the Colts/Steelers match-up was the only one that wasn't expected to be a contest as every expert on the show gave a huge nod to the Colts.

Even Big Ben Roethlisberger was giving the Colts respect when he went on record as saying that the Steelers A game wasn't good enough to beat the Colts B game.

Huge underdogs or not, I was obviously confident that the Steelers could pull it out as I sat down in my uncle's living room to watch the game with him and my cousins. I had no plans on walking out at any time. I was there to watch something awesome unfold.

And it did, at least initially.

Instead of the Steelers having no answers for the Colts, the roles were reversed. Pittsburgh surprised Indy by coming out passing, and on the game's second play from scrimmage, Roethlisberger hit tight end Heath Miller with a 36 yard pass. A few plays later, it was Big Ben to Antwaan Randle El for a six-yard touchdown pass, and Pittsburgh was up, 7-0.

On Pittsburgh's third possession of the first quarter, they made it 14-0 on a Ben to Miller seven-yard touchdown pass.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Steelers had Peyton Manning and his offensive linemen totally confused, and the Colts offense had a really hard time moving the ball at all. At one point during the second quarter, the Steelers had 10 first downs to Indy's one.

It may have been 14-0, but the fact of the matter is, the score could have been a lot more lopsided in Pittsburgh's favor. The Steelers were moving the ball on their second drive when Roethlisberger was hit as he threw, and the pass was intercepted. On the team's fourth drive of the first half, Randle El had his man beat for what could have been a long touchdown pass, but the pass was under-thrown, and to make matters worse, El was blatantly interfered with on the play, and nothing was called.

Beings that the Colts were an offensive juggernaut during the regular season--they averaged nearly 28 points a game--I was waiting for the other shoe to drop at any moment.

That moment looked like it would come in the second quarter when Colts running back Edgerrin James fueled a 96 yard drive that consumed 9:39 of the game clock. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, the drive came up a couple of yards short, and they had to settle for a short field goal.

This proved to be a moral victory for the Steelers defense. Not only did the Colts take nearly 10 minutes off the clock, they came away with just three points, and Pittsburgh headed to the locker room leading, 14-3.

The Steelers continued to dominate in the third quarter as Manning had no answers for the Steelers defense. Pittsburgh's offense started to use the running game to wear the lighter Colts defense down, and by the end of the third quarter, Pittsburgh looked poised to deliver the knock-out punch.

After Manning was nearly sacked for a safety, Indianapolis was forced to punt from deep inside their own end zone. Randle El returned the punt to the Colts 30. After a Willie Parker 10-yard run, the Steelers road the Bus, Jerome Bettis, the remaining 20-yards for a touchdown and a 21-3 lead.

I was never more confident in a victory than I was at that moment. I picked up my three-year old cousin and started spinning her around. It was great.

I probably shouldn't have been as confident. As I said earlier, the Colts were an offensive machine in '05. However, Dick Lebeau's defense had so thoroughly dominated and confused the Colts offense up to that point, I didn't think there was a way that even Manning could pull this out.

On the Colts next possession, they faced a 4th and 2 from their own 36 yard line. It appeared that Indianapolis was sending their punt team on the field, but Manning waved them off and decided to go for it. Pretty ballsy move, and it paid off as he hit Brandon Stokley for a first down at mid-field on the final play of the third quarter.

From that point on, the complexion of the game seemed to change drastically.

Two plays into the fourth quarter, Manning connected with tight end Dallas Clark for a 50 yard touchdown catch and run, and suddenly, the Colts had new life and only trailed, 21-10.

Fortunately, the Steelers went on a time-consuming drive that included two fourth down conversions--one on a QB sneak by Big Ben and the other on a one-yard plunge by Bettis.

The Steelers didn't score on the drive, but they did eat up over seven minutes of game-time, and when Indianapolis finally got the ball back, there were barely over six minutes left. If the Steelers defense could just come up with one more stop, it would be off to Denver for the AFC Championship Game.

Two plays later, the Steelers appeared to get that stop when Troy Polamalu dived in front of a Manning pass and intercepted it near mid-field. Troy tried to get up and make more out of the play, and when he did, he knocked the ball out with his knee. Fortunately, he quickly fell on the ball to secure the turnover, and more than likely, the game.

At that point, I started parading around my uncle's living room with my arms raised in victory. I probably picked my little cousins up and threw them around again. It was great. I knew that I had just witnessed an interception; the Steelers knew they had just witnessed an interception; the CBS announcers knew they had just witnessed an interception; the officials new they had just witnessed an interception; THE COLTS knew they had just witnessed an interception.

The Steelers were now going to run the clock all the way down and walk out of Indianapolis with a dominating victory.

Dungy decided to challenge the play. I don't know what he thought would come out of that challenge. Did he think he would get one of the most bizarre replay reversals in NFL hist.........oh wait. That's exactly what happened.

The referee gave some crazy explanation that because Troy knocked the ball out of his hand before he could get both knees off the ground, it was an incomplete pass. Yeah, I know. Whatever swear word you just said is probably what I screamed at that moment.

Let me get this straight: If Polamalu would have stayed on the ground after he picked off the pass, it would have been an interception. But because he tried to get up and EXTEND THE TIME OF THE PLAY, it was an incomplete pass?

After that reversal, I was never so angry watching a game. As I watched the Colts march down the field, I kept muttering that the refs were trying to give the game to Indianapolis. Little did I know, at that very moment, former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter was saying the exact same thing.

Indianapolis soon made it 21-18 on a short touchdown run by James and a two-point conversation on a pass from Manning to Reggie Wayne, and the Colts were really back into it with over four minutes left to play.

With all the momentum on Indy's side, could the Steelers offense get a few first downs and put this game away? The quick answer was NO!

The Steelers couldn't put together a sustained drive and had to punt the ball away to the Colts with 2:42 left to play.

I couldn't stand it any longer. I sensed that a heartbreaking loss of epic proportions was about to come down hard on Steeler Nation, and the thought of this was so frightening, I decided to high-tail it out of my uncle's house and go for a drive. Why did I do that? Beats me (again, someone should have).

I made my way up to Mt. Washington, where I drove around the empty treats for about 10 or 15 minutes (everyone else was probably inside, you know, actually watching the game).

I didn't have my car radio on or anything, but after a safe amount of time had passed, I decided to turn it on to see what had happened. As soon as I did, I heard Steelers play-by-play man Bill Hilgrove singing, "Turn out the Lights! The party's over!" I knew that they had won at that point, but I had no idea what had transpired over the final 2:42.

I didn't know that the Steelers defense came down hard on Manning and sacked him twice during the Colts possession right after I had left my uncle's place--including the apparent game-clincher on 4th and 16 near the Colts own goal-line with 1:20 left to play.

I didn't know that the Steelers couldn't just kneel on the ball because the Colts still had all three time-outs remaining; they would have to score a touchdown in order to secure the victory.

I didn't know that Bettis fumbled while trying to score and that the Colts Nick Harper picked up the football and appeared to be on his way to a miraculous touchdown only to be slowed and miraculously tackled by a back-peddling Ben Roethlisberger.

I didn't know that Peyton Manning had quickly driven the Colts down inside the Steelers 30-yard line and almost won the game on a touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne before it was broken up at the last second by rookie corner Bryant McFadden.

I didn't know that Mike Vanderjagt, the Colts idiot kicker, missed a 46 yard field goal so badly, it looked like he was aiming in that direction.

All I knew at that point was that the Steelers had escaped with an awesome victory.

It wasn't until a couple of hours later, when I watched the highlights of the Bettis fumble, that I realized just how close the Steelers came to suffering the most heartbreaking loss in team history.

Speaking of heartbreaking. For those of you who don't remember, seconds after Bettis fumbled, a fan watching the game at a local Pittsburgh bar suffered a heart-attack.

Don't worry, he made a pretty nice recovery, but maybe it was fate that I didn't see the final 2:42.

No, not because I may have suffered a heart-attack, but because I may have suffered blunt trauma to the head.

While talking about the game with my uncle afterwards, he told me that he was eating dinner in his living room on one of those knock-down tables, and the second that Bettis fumbled, he flung the table across the room, dinner and all. Remember the scene of Hines Ward standing on the sideline as he anticipated a game-sealing touchdown by the Bus? That's how I probably would have been standing in my uncle's living room, and if my calculations are correct, the dinner and table would have hit me right in the head.

I have no excuse for missing Troy's pick-six, but missing the most bizarre 2:42 in team history may have saved my life.....or at least saved me from a face full of mashed potatoes.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Discussion of regular season game in Ireland crops up again

Back in January 2011, there was some speculation that the Steelers would be playing a regular season game in Dublin later that year. That never came to pass, but the idea of bringing a game to the Emerald Isle never went away. The BBC reports that the NFL came to Croke Park in Dublin this…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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Steelers OLB LaMarr Woodley 11th Highest Paid NFL Player in 2011


According to Forbes Magazine's yearly Highest Paid Athletes article, Steelers OLB LaMarr Woodley is the 11th highest paid NFL player, and 31st highest paid athlete alive, topping out at $ 26.5 million in salary and endorsements in 2011.

Now Broncos QB Peyton Manning was the highest paid NFL player, topping out at $ 42.4 million from salary and endorsements.

Woodley received a $ 13 million signing bonus in 2011, along with his base salary and a few bucks ($ 100,000) in endorsements. He had nine sacks in eight games before a hamstring injury largely derailed his season. His 48 career sacks in five seasons is the 6th highest mark in franchise history, and turning 28 this season, he's just entering the prime of his career.

The list is usually dominated by big-prize athletes like fighters (Floyd Merriweather and Manny Pacquiao are Nos. 1 and 2) and Tiger Woods (No. 3).

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is 43rd overall at $ 23.3 million, and LB Lawrence Timmons is 78th at $ 18.6 million.

Here are the top 11 NFL players, along with their overall rank and their reported earnings.

10. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts (now with Denver Broncos) ($ 42.4 million)

12. Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore Ravens ($ 37.3 million)

13. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals ($ 36.8 million)

14. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions ($ 36 million)

15. Charles Johnson, DE, Carolina Panthers ($ 34.4 million)

16. Mario Williams, DE, Houston Texans (now with Buffalo Bills) $ 33.2 million

22. Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets, $ 28.3 million

27. Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams, $ 27.8 million

28. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots, $ 27.1 million

30. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants, $ 26.6 million

31. LaMarr Woodley, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers, $ 26.5 million

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Former Steeler Clark Haggans to serve 9 days in Westmoreland jail for DUI

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Wed, 20 Jun 2012 17:23:48


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BountyGate: Saints QB Drew Brees Backs Off ‘WMD’ Comments

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Saints QB Drew Brees recently compared the NFL's investigation of a bounty program existing among the New Orleans Saints to former U.S. President George W. Bush's insistence of Iraq's ownership of weapons of mass destruction. For obvious reasons, his comment made headlines, but Brees apologized for the comment later on.

The question is why?

Essentially, what Brees is saying is the league is operating off evidence Brees (and the four suspended Saints players, Anthony Hargrove in particular) doesn't feel is credible.

Seems to me it's a perfectly valid comparison.

Brees's tweet:

He's not calling the NFL anything in particular, he's simply pointing out a recent historical event that he feels summarizes his stance on the entire affair.

He didn't quite back off the statement, but did offer his explanation for using the reference.

Hargrove didn't reference anything, just simply said the voice in the tape the NFL allegedly has isn't his. Maybe that's a bit thin (it's understandable the person accused of a violation doesn't agree he is guilty), the league certainly is certainly doing what it can to further its agenda.

Through league mouthpiece Mike Florio, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) is getting involved, and in Florio's words:

Though Goodell may not specifically blame the players, their lawyers, and/or the NFLPA for trying to frustrate that objective, he may not need to.

He's exactly right, he may not have to outwardly blame the players. He can simply call in a favor from a U.S. Senator, do a grip-and-grin photo opportunity and, through the league's top-notch media manipulation techniques, send out the impression they're so serious about their evidence, they have the backing of a prominent U.S. politician.

Is that any thinner than what Hargrove is saying?

Maybe it's time for the league to call the players' bluff, if they're so convinced that's what's happening here, and even though it may cause some short-term damage and headaches, let the public see and hear the evidence. Goodell created the breach of trust in 2007-08 when he ruled fines and docked draft picks on the Patriots during SpyGate, which is essentially the reason why the players are fighting this as hard as they are.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Charlie Batch Joins United Way of Allegheny County and TEAM NFL to Recruit Readers, Tutors & Mentors

TEAM NFL Launch Adds Star Power and Community Support to United Way Volunteer Initiatives

Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : News

Is Today The Last Birthday That Rashard Mendenhall Will Celebrate As A Steeler?

Today Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall celebrates his 25th birthday and you have to wonder if it is the last one that he will have as a member of the black and gold.

Mendenhall, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, more than likely will start the 2012 season on the PUP list as he continues to rehab the torn ACL he suffered in the regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns. Should that indeed come to fruition it means that he is guaranteed to miss at least the first six games, and likely even more. A return to the 53 man roster is more than likely Read more [...]

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Steelers Release Training Camp 2012 Schedule

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s almost that time of year again when thousands of Steelers fans converge at Saint Vincent College for training camp.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are still more than a month away from training camp, but today they released the practice schedule.

Players will report on Wednesday, July 25 and the first practice open to the public will be on Friday, July 27.

All practices begin at 3 p.m., except for the annual night practice which is slated for 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 3 at Latrobe Stadium.

Here is a complete schedule:

Friday, July 27 – (helmets and shorts)
Saturday, July 28
Sunday, July 29
Monday, July 30 – Campus closed
Tuesday, July 31
Wednesday, Aug. 1
Thursday, Aug. 2
Friday, Aug. 3 – Night practice at Latrobe Stadium, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 4
Sunday, Aug. 5
Monday, Aug. 6 – Campus closed
Tuesday, Aug. 7
Wednesday, Aug. 8-Friday, Aug. 10 – Campus closed
Saturday, Aug. 11
Sunday, Aug. 12
Monday, Aug. 13 – Campus closed
Tuesday, Aug. 14
Wednesday, Aug. 15
Thursday, Aug. 16
Friday, Aug. 17

For more details, visit the Steelers’ official website.

Filed under: Sports, Steelers Tagged: Camp Tomlin, Latrobe, Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers, Saint Vincent College, Steelers Training Camp, Westmoreland County

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

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Steelers’ Heyward has high expectations

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 17:23:42


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