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ramblinjim
01-19-2009, 02:07 PM
Michael Wilbon from the Washington Post is a big fan of "Old School" "Smash Mouth" football. This is his article from Saturday's post before the game. It's a great read.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... =emailpage (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/16/AR2009011604667.html?nav=emailpage)

This One Is Going to Hurt
By Michael Wilbon

Saturday, January 17, 2009; Page E01

No amount of scrubbing can sanitize the AFC championship game.

There's nothing the NFL can do to get the Ravens and Steelers to be nice to each other tomorrow in Pittsburgh. There's no good will to be fostered. The title game isn't going to be about the West Coast offense or fancy passing or any of the things the NFL loves to promote. It will be about grown men, some of the fiercest in the game today, trying to knock the opponent's head off, to hurt one another. Men will be helped off the field, if not carried.

And that's the way it should be. Steelers-Ravens goes to the very heart of pro football, the way it was played for close to 80 years, before the league decided quarterbacks were sacred cows and defense was the evil thing that kept down scores and television ratings.

Steelers-Ravens, I'm quite sure, is something that would make very proud gentlemen named "Night Train," Lipscomb, Nitschke, Huff, Deacon, Butkus, Atkinson, Taylor, Blount and Lott. And for that matter, Halas and Lombardi.

A reader who is as excited about this game as I am wrote earlier in the week to say Steelers-Ravens should be played in the Roman Coliseum.

This AFC championship, even the pregame chatter about it, isn't rated PG. It's NC-17 at the very least. Let the kids watch something happy . . . like the NFC championship game. There will be violence, offensive language, gore and very adult situations, like anytime there's a scrum over a loose football.

The discussion of football has become fraudulently polite in recent years. The conversation is littered with stuff about 2-deep zones and zone blitzes and rarely deals with men squaring up to break somebody's shoulder with a ferocious hit, which is exactly what the Ravens' Ray Lewis did to Pittsburgh's Rashard Mendenhall back in late September. The league, the TV heads and, yes, the newspaper, don't want to talk about the violence, lest it seems like we're celebrating it.

Yet, that's exactly the allure of professional football and one of the pillars on which the league was built: violence and the explicit threat of violence.

Don't get me wrong, I understand it. Violence has grown distasteful.
And practically speaking, violence in this day and age, given the size and speed of the players, the things they put in their bodies that make them as hard as concrete and the nature of the sport, can lead to a depleted work force. The NFL, rightfully, is trying to protect the players from one another, though the quarterback more than anybody on the other side of the ball.

Still, some of us prefer throwback football. And that includes, apparently, the Steelers and Ravens. Baltimore linebacker Bart Scott said: "We were kind of hoping for it. . . . It's an opportunity for one of our organizations to really build up the level of hatred. "

It's not trash-talking, as much as it is an honest assessment, the way it used to be when Chuck Bednarik's Eagles played Frank Gifford's Giants. I'm not suggesting one man needs to be hospitalized for months the way Gifford was back in the day; I'm just staying this is still the reality of professional football, even if everybody acts as if it isn't.

In this case, Baltimore's Scott is Bednarik and Pittsburgh's Hines Ward is Gifford. Except Ward has this habit of blocking high and hard and knocking guys out like Mike Tyson.
Scott, to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, said of Ward: "His time will come. He'll get his. . . . He'll come across the middle one day, and someone will hit him or take out his knee. The guy will be fined, and [Ward] will be gone. No one will care. No one will even care. No one will send him any cards saying they're sorry. Not to that guy. . . . You reap what you sow."

So Scott, among others, has it out for Ward. And linebacker Terrell Suggs said during a radio interview the Ravens had a bounty out on Ward and Mendenhall. For his part, Ward told Tony Kornheiser and me on Thursday on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" he hadn't bathed or brushed his teeth all week because he didn't want any Baltimore guys to even want to come near him, much less cover him.

What seems clear, and perhaps the only thing you can count on tomorrow, is that the talking won't stop and neither will the hitting.

The Ravens might have the two most dynamic defensive players in the game, the aforementioned Lewis and safety Ed Reed, who is elbowing his way into the discussion of best-ever at his position.

That said, Pittsburgh's defense, at least statistically, is better.

The Steelers -- and this rarely happens -- are ranked No. 1 in passing defense, total defense and points allowed. They're as difficult to move the ball against (if not more so) than the Steel Curtain of the 1970s.

And therein lies the glamour of this game. Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers quarterback who has the mentality and toughness of the team's linebackers, might well make the decisive play, as he has in so many fourth quarters. In fact, the Steelers' formula this year has been to play it close, ride the defense and let Big Ben draw up something in the dirt late.

That's the expectation here, that the Steelers will do to the Ravens what they've done twice in the regular season, which is to say win by a hair. But in the 50 or so minutes leading up to that, the Ravens and Steelers very likely will treat people to old-fashioned football, football before telestrators, before games on Monday night, before quarterbacks were exempted from tackles around the knees and blows to the head.
Ravens-Steelers is what some of us see not only as old-fashioned football, but real football, the way it should be more frequently allowed to be.

Iron Shiek
01-19-2009, 02:13 PM
Well Wilbon would've loved this game. I haven't heard for sure if any serious injuries are evident and hope everyone is okay. But I counted 3 paralyzing hits by our players. I'm talking those head ringers that made the ravens' guy body just freeze on impact. From the opening kickoff, to the Sweed block, to Clark on McGahee, those were 3 of the more punishing (and scary hits of the night). Not to mention all of the other crap. I saw at least two players with bloody arms and jerseys. Just a hard hitting, physical matchup. I applaud the two teams in last night's game for giving such a compelling performance. Its what football is about. Lets hope all with head and other injuries come out just fine.

JAR
01-19-2009, 02:17 PM
Here's what Wilbon said today, the media is finally waking up and recognizing what Ben is...

Big Ben Strikes Again

It's probably not a good thing that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens can play each other three times a year. Maybe the NFL, purely for health reasons, should set a two-game maximum. Their third game produced a concussion on the opening kickoff and a frightening knockout in the fourth quarter that led to on-field prayers.

After the latest go-round, Ben Roethlisberger removed his uniform and tape slowly, looking for the contusions he presumed were there. "It just can't get much more brutal than us playing each other," he said. "It's a slugfest, a fight, 12 rounds. It's always that way, violent from start to finish."

Of course, it's easier to talk about when you've won all three violent battles in a year, the third of which sends you and your team to the Super Bowl. It's easier to dissect the game and review the plays when the rookie, Baltimore's Joe Flacco, has thrown three interceptions and you've avoided throwing one to Ed Reed or Ray Lewis. Ben Roethlisberger has done it again, which is to say he's led the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons.

It didn't seem possible, after watching the Kurt Warner show in the first conference championship game of the day, that the nightcap could produce as much drama. Yet, it nearly did in its own brutal way.

It was almost predictable, the way Steelers and Ravens despise each other, that tough talk and violent collisions would lead to violence of an extreme nature. The most significant news out of Heinz Field at day's end was that Ravens' running back Willis McGahee had "significant movement in his arms and legs." Only the Ravens and Steelers, in today's offensive-minded football, could slug their way through what will be remembered as defense-only football.

Appropriately, the signature play was authored by a safety. Troy Palomalu's 40-yard interception return for a touchdown delivered victory and a trip to the Super Bowl and what happened thereafter probably just frightened the masses.

The last full day of pro football this season delivered the full range of championship football. The Cardinals' victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, long on passing and catching, was downright civil. The Steelers' victory over Baltimore was anything but.

Flacco, who had received much credit, and deservedly so, for being the first rookie quarterback to win back-to-back playoff games, made the critical mistakes that sabotaged his team and stood in stark contrast to the matinee performance of Arizona's Warner.

Of course, Warner will receive mountains of praise for getting the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, as should be the case, seeing as the Cardinals have been about as awful as you can get in American sports.

But in terms of results, Warner's got nothing on Roethlisberger, who just might be taking Tom Brady's place on the big stage in January and February. Okay, 16 for 33 for 255 yards and one touchdown might not sound like much in the current climate of 70 percent completion rates and 400-yard totals. But Roethlisberger, remember, was going up against the Ravens' defense. The first thing he did was avoid being picked off. Second, he found Santonio Holmes for a 65-yard touchdown on a broken play, the kind that would have people writing love songs about Brady.

Roethlisberger is big, he's strong, and has taken more punishment than any quarterback in the league the last couple of years, perhaps save Leftwich. He's been carted from the field after hits. He's been carted from the street after a motorcycle accident. He's proven to be nearly indestructible. Oh, and he wins more than anybody out there, even though the talent around him is, well, pretty good. Eli Manning might miss Plaxico Burress, but Big Ben doesn't.

He's 15-4 as a starting quarterback vs. teams in the NFC, which ought to be of great interest to the Cardinals. He's got 24 touchdown passes to only 14 interceptions in those games, with a passer rating of 90.7. He was the difference between the two teams in the AFC championship game, as he is in most games the Steelers have played in his five seasons.

You want to know what quarterbacks in modern history (since 1950) have been better than Roethlisberger through five seasons? None. Nobody. Not Joe Willie Namath, not Joe Montana, nobody. Big Ben is the only quarterback to win 51 games his first five seasons. That's three victories better than Otto Graham, Dan Marino, Tom Brady and John Elway. If I had to win a game to save my own life I'd take Roethlisberger over everybody who played in the NFL this season, and that includes everybody named Manning. It's difficult to understand why the praise is so grudging.

"It's unfair," Leftwich said of the reluctant praise. "Not that it matters to Ben. But the Steelers are seen as a running team. When he first got here it was Bus [Jerome Bettis], then Willie Parker. They didn't throw it a lot. But he wins. They don't throw it 35, 40 times. Ben's capable of doing that if they ask, but they don't. It's run-run-run-run-pass. So what? He wins. I'll take him any day. He can win 10-7 or 37-34."

Roethlisberger and Donovan McNabb do more with less than any other quarterbacks in the NFL. We were reminded of that in the final minute of the first half here on Sunday when Roethlisberger heaved a perfect pass to Limas Sweed, who dropped it as he was going uncovered into the end zone. The ballgame should have been over right then and there at 20-7. Sweed should have been fined for staying on the ground for a minute because he was embarrassed after dropping so beautiful a pass.

Even so, Roethlisberger kept throwing it to him, kept at it patiently, kept taking whatever punishment the Ravens doled out (which was plenty), kept making small plays that added up to a field goal here, another field goal there, until it was 16-7 and the Ravens were two scores down with no way to strike quickly themselves.

In the championship game Sunday, in the cold and wind and swirling snow, all Roethlisberger needed to do was manage the game, not screw it up, which wasn't within Flacco's power. Asked after the game what he learned as a rookie quarterback who lost the AFC championship game to the Patriots, Big Ben said: "Don't turn it over. Flacco will be fine. He faced the best defense in the world tonight; they're ranked that way for a reason."

So now the Steelers have a shot at a second Super Bowl championship in four seasons because of the defense and because of Roethlisberger, who in terms of pregame attention very likely will be overshadowed by Warner.

Yet, the Steelers have to know that at just 26, Roethlisberger's best years should be ahead of him.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... l?sub%3DAR (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/19/AR2009011900016.html?sub%3DAR)%%26s_pohtthttp://www.washingtonpost.com:80/ac2/wp-dyn?node=admin/registration/register&sub=AR

ramblinjim
01-19-2009, 02:25 PM
Another nice article from Wilbon. He's a fan of Ben and you can tell.


Big Ben Strikes Again

By Michael Wilbon
Monday, January 19, 2009; Page D01

It's probably not a good thing that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens can play each other three times a year. Maybe the NFL, purely for health reasons, should set a two-game maximum. Their third game produced a concussion on the opening kickoff and a frightening knockout in the fourth quarter that led to on-field prayers.

After the latest go-round, Ben Roethlisberger removed his uniform and tape slowly, looking for the contusions he presumed were there. "It just can't get much more brutal than us playing each other," he said. "It's a slugfest, a fight, 12 rounds. It's always that way, violent from start to finish."

Of course, it's easier to talk about when you've won all three violent battles in a year, the third of which sends you and your team to the Super Bowl. It's easier to dissect the game and review the plays when the rookie, Baltimore's Joe Flacco, has thrown three interceptions and you've avoided throwing one to Ed Reed or Ray Lewis. Ben Roethlisberger has done it again, which is to say he's led the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons.

It didn't seem possible, after watching the Kurt Warner show in the first conference championship game of the day, that the nightcap could produce as much drama. Yet, it nearly did in its own brutal way.

It was almost predictable, the way Steelers and Ravens despise each other, that tough talk and violent collisions would lead to violence of an extreme nature. The most significant news out of Heinz Field at day's end was that Ravens' running back Willis McGahee had "significant movement in his arms and legs." Only the Ravens and Steelers, in today's offensive-minded football, could slug their way through what will be remembered as defense-only football.

Appropriately, the signature play was authored by a safety. Troy Polamalu's 40-yard interception return for a touchdown delivered victory and a trip to the Super Bowl and what happened thereafter probably just frightened the masses.

The last full day of pro football this season delivered the full range of championship football. The Cardinals' victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, long on passing and catching, was downright civil. The Steelers' victory over Baltimore was anything but.

Flacco, who had received much credit, and deservedly so, for being the first rookie quarterback to win back-to-back playoff games, made the critical mistakes that sabotaged his team and stood in stark contrast to the matinee performance of Arizona's Warner.

Of course, Warner will receive mountains of praise for getting the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, as should be the case, seeing as the Cardinals have been about as awful as you can get in American sports.

But in terms of results, Warner's got nothing on Roethlisberger, who just might be taking Tom Brady's place on the big stage in January and February. Okay, 16 for 33 for 255 yards and one touchdown might not sound like much in the current climate of 70 percent completion rates and 400-yard totals. But Roethlisberger, remember, was going up against the Ravens' defense. The first thing he did was avoid being picked off. Second, he found Santonio Holmes for a 65-yard touchdown on a broken play, the kind that would have people writing love songs about Brady.

"As long as I've watched football, I've never seen anybody extend plays the way Ben does," his backup, Byron Leftwich said. Baltimore's Terrell Suggs said he believes such plays are drawn up that way because Roethlisberger is so big (6 feet 5, 241 pounds) and agile the coaches and linemen presume Big Ben can shake or level the first defender. Told of Suggs's comments, Leftwich laughed and said: "No, no, no. That touchdown pass to [Holmes] wasn't drawn up. It was total ad-lib. Ben was that way in college."

Roethlisberger is big, he's strong, and has taken more punishment than any quarterback in the league the last couple of years, perhaps save Leftwich. He's been carted from the field after hits. He's been carted from the street after a motorcycle accident. He's proven to be nearly indestructible. Oh, and he wins more than anybody out there, even though the talent around him is, well, pretty good. Eli Manning might miss Plaxico Burress, but Big Ben doesn't.

He's 15-4 as a starting quarterback vs. teams in the NFC, which ought to be of great interest to the Cardinals. He's got 24 touchdown passes to only 14 interceptions in those games, with a passer rating of 90.7. He was the difference between the two teams in the AFC championship game, as he is in most games the Steelers have played in his five seasons.

You want to know what quarterbacks in modern history (since 1950) have been better than Roethlisberger through five seasons? None. Nobody. Not Joe Willie Namath, not Joe Montana, nobody. Big Ben is the only quarterback to win 51 games his first five seasons. That's three victories better than Otto Graham, Dan Marino, Tom Brady and John Elway. If I had to win a game to save my own life I'd take Roethlisberger over everybody who played in the NFL this season, and that includes everybody named Manning. It's difficult to understand why the praise is so grudging.

"It's unfair," Leftwich said of the reluctant praise. "Not that it matters to Ben. But the Steelers are seen as a running team. When he first got here it was Bus [Jerome Bettis], then Willie Parker. They didn't throw it a lot. But he wins. They don't throw it 35, 40 times. Ben's capable of doing that if they ask, but they don't. It's run-run-run-run-pass. So what? He wins. I'll take him any day. He can win 10-7 or 37-34."

Roethlisberger and Donovan McNabb do more with less than any other quarterbacks in the NFL. We were reminded of that in the final minute of the first half here on Sunday when Roethlisberger heaved a perfect pass to Limas Sweed, who dropped it as he was going uncovered into the end zone. The ballgame should have been over right then and there at 20-7. Sweed should have been fined for staying on the ground for a minute because he was embarrassed after dropping so beautiful a pass.

Even so, Roethlisberger kept throwing it to him, kept at it patiently, kept taking whatever punishment the Ravens doled out (which was plenty), kept making small plays that added up to a field goal here, another field goal there, until it was 16-7 and the Ravens were two scores down with no way to strike quickly themselves.

In the championship game Sunday, in the cold and wind and swirling snow, all Roethlisberger needed to do was manage the game, not screw it up, which wasn't within Flacco's power. Asked after the game what he learned as a rookie quarterback who lost the AFC championship game to the Patriots, Big Ben said: "Don't turn it over. Flacco will be fine. He faced the best defense in the world tonight; they're ranked that way for a reason."

So now the Steelers have a shot at a second Super Bowl championship in four seasons because of the defense and because of Roethlisberger, who in terms of pregame attention very likely will be overshadowed by Warner.

Yet, the Steelers have to know that at just 26, Roethlisberger's best years should be ahead of him.

ramblinjim
01-19-2009, 02:29 PM
Thanks JAR, I put it in another post but you can tell he's a fan of Ben.

msp26505
01-19-2009, 02:30 PM
My favorite quotes from today's article:


Second, he found Santonio Holmes for a 65-yard touchdown on a broken play, the kind that would have people writing love songs about Brady.



Sweed should have been fined for staying on the ground for a minute because he was embarrassed after dropping so beautiful a pass.

:tt2

RKSteel
01-19-2009, 02:32 PM
Second, he found Santonio Holmes for a 65-yard touchdown on a broken play, the kind that would have people writing love songs about Brady.
Quote of the day, :D

ramblinjim
01-19-2009, 02:33 PM
My favorite quotes from today's article:

[quote=Mike Wilbon]Second, he found Santonio Holmes for a 65-yard touchdown on a broken play, the kind that would have people writing love songs about Brady.



Sweed should have been fined for staying on the ground for a minute because he was embarrassed after dropping so beautiful a pass.

:tt2[/quote:xed9g91h]


I love the second one, I think it was Deion Sanders on NFL Network that said on the Swee drop "The Coach shouldn't say anything to him, just point him to the locker room" or something to that effect. I thought it was funny but the kid played well down the stretch for us so I won't complain about the drop (had we lost, I'd want him out of the NFL, don't get me wrong).

Iron Shiek
01-19-2009, 02:35 PM
Yes Sir! Right on Wilbon. Good read. And Ben's comments about Flacco facing the best D in the world was awesome. I gave him a towel twirl when I saw him say that last night.

RuthlessBurgher
01-19-2009, 02:36 PM
This quote too:


Eli Manning might miss Plaxico Burress, but Big Ben doesn't.

D@mn, straight.

VirgilBosett
01-19-2009, 03:31 PM
Great articles from Wilbon.

I like Wilbon and Kornheiser. I know Korny takes a ton of heat.....but I think the guy is a pro.

stlrz d
01-19-2009, 03:36 PM
Great articles from Wilbon.

I like Wilbon and Kornheiser. I know Korny takes a ton of heat.....but I think the guy is a pro.

I like 'em both too.

Steelgal
01-19-2009, 03:49 PM
Great articles from Wilbon.

I like Wilbon and Kornheiser. I know Korny takes a ton of heat.....but I think the guy is a pro.

I like 'em both too.

I'd like to see how Wilbon would do in the MNF booth, instead of Kornheiser. Kornheiser isn't bad on PTI (maybe it's because it's only 30 minutes), but listening to him through an entire game is completely different............ and not in a good way

:tt2 :tt2 :tt2