View Full Version : The going got nasty, and the nasty got going

11-23-2010, 03:07 AM
Collier: The going got nasty, and the nasty got going
Monday, November 22, 2010
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Just as a matter of taste, that was pretty much exactly what I was looking for in a Steelers-Raiders collision, a total unreconstructed brawl of a football game in which all rules and most protocols are marginalized on the altar of general mayhem.

An actual contest might have been better, but let's not quibble.

First a general description:

Undisciplined, unfocused, unrepentant, unreliable and unforgiven -- and that was just the officials.

"I'm not going to question the officiating," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, last seen 25 yards from the sideline doing exactly that. "I understand the climate that we're in from that standpoint, and I'm just not going to do it; our guys aren't going to do it. We're going to play football, and we're going to try to play it as fairly as we can, as cleanly as we can. We didn't do it very successfully today in some instances."

That the Steelers somehow put a 35-3 tattooing on the white-hot Raiders while simultaneously committing 14 penalties for a franchise record 163 yards was one of those odd creatures so ugly it was beautiful, playing like viral video about the winner of the world's ugliest dog contest.

Usually, coaches will walk into a postgame news conference and announce confidently that you're simply not going to win when you commit 14 penalties, but when the opponent commits seven of its own, including the one that gets its best defensive player ejected, all frets are off.

Decorum had already been hacked to tatters by the time Ben Roethlisberger shot a perfect 22-yard scoring strike to Emmanuel Sanders for a 21-3 lead late in the first half. Then things got nasty.

"Me and him were going at it," said Steelers guard Chris Kemoeatu in reference to Oakland defensive tackle Richard Seymour. "Then Ben was saying something and I guess he took it out on Ben."

Seymour turned and popped No. 7 with a straight right, and the quarterback went down like he'd been hit by Mike Tyson. That right got in!

"I haven't seen a quarterback get punched since I've been in the league," Tomlin said. "It was unfortunate. I've got big-time respect for Richard Seymour as a football player."

I've got the same thing for him as a puncher, frankly.

"Definitely, definitely, he should be fined," Kemoeatu said. "I thought that was cheap, really cheap. I mean really uncalled for."

So Kemoeatu hit Seymour in the face, instantly drawing an offsetting penalty.

"I'm sure I'll be hearing about it," he said.

Referee Tony Corrente eventually clicked on the field mic to announce incorrectly that No. 93 (defensive tackle Tommy Kelly), in perhaps some sort of unprecedented James Bond maneuver, "has ejected himself."

That's when Tomlin bolted the sideline to correct Corrente. Seymour should have been ejected instead. Corrente agreed, and Seymour began a deliberate walk to the tunnel that ended around dusk.

In the infractions department, the Steelers were just warming up. Fifteen Steelers were penalized while they were allegedly improving to 7-3. Eighteen flags flew against the Steelers in toto, two on one play, with 14 being enforced, three short of the franchise record.

"It's tough when you play the brand of football that we play," said Steelers safety Ryan Clark, nailed for unnecessary roughness even as he was knocking himself senseless in the first quarter. "But you just have to keep working."

Cornerback Ike Taylor got whistled for interference and for holding, and had his pick-6 nullified when James Harrison collected the second of his three penalties, this for tackling Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell in a manner that apparently caused the poor fella some discomfort.

Harrison accomplished this, in Corrente's words, by falling on him "with the full weight of his body."

I wonder what's the allowable percentage of Harrison's body mass index that can be applied while he's falling on top of an opponent. Perhaps the officials are putting too fine a point on the league's new and worthy safety concerns.

Art Rooney II wouldn't comment about that Sunday, even though he'd previously issued a warning that games like Sunday's impromptu flagapalooza appeared to be inevitable. Had the United States Ambassador to Ireland been on hand, official comment would have not have been so difficult to come by. It would have been harder to avoid.

The league is in a transition period relative to enforcement on the standing rules that prohibit rough play, and inconsistencies are going to be plentiful until it reaches a new understanding.

But that doesn't excuse the seven holding penalties the Steelers drew, nor the two offside penalties, nor the illegal block, illegal formation and clipping penalties.

Clipping? They still have that?

What's next, piling on?

The Steelers endured their first 100-plus-yard penalty episode since Nov. 16, 2008 (a 115-yard atrocity they also managed to win, 11-10, against San Diego). Eighty-eight penalty yards was their previous high this season; 85 last year.

But I know this: You're not going to beat a fine club like the Buffalo Bills committing 14 penalties for 163 yards. Or certainly not by more than 35-3.

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11-23-2010, 03:08 AM
On the Steelers: Steelers regain more than their swagger after Sunday
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
By Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Steelers would have taken a victory Sunday at Heinz Field under any circumstance against the Oakland Raiders. They needed a win to remain in good playoff position in a jumbled AFC playoff picture, but they also desired a feel-good performance to regain some of the swagger they had lost after a sound beating at the hands of the New England Patriots a week earlier.

The Steelers accomplished both missions with a 35-3 victory against the Raiders. The Steelers played one of their most complete games of the season with the offense, defense and special teams contributing to the most lopsided win by either team in the long history of the Steelers-Raiders rivalry.

"A win is a win, but we definitely wanted to establish our physicality and mental toughness," linebacker James Farrior said. "Last week, it got questioned a little bit. I think guys wanted to come out here more focused and with a little bit more fire, and we did that.

"It was a tough loss last week. We definitely wanted to bounce back and have a good game, have a good showing. [Sunday] helped. A win is a win, but it was definitely more impressive to have a big victory."

The Steelers are 7-3 and in good position to make the playoffs for the third time in four seasons under coach Mike Tomlin. They are tied atop the AFC North Division with the Baltimore Ravens, who hold a tiebreaker against the Steelers based on their victory in early October at Heinz Field. Because of that, if the playoffs started today, the Steelers would be the No. 6 seed and would have to play a first-round game on the road.

The Steelers hold a one-game advantage in the wild-card race. The Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars are tied atop the AFC South, with the Jaguars holding a tiebreaker edge over the Colts based on a head-to-head victory. The Steelers have a tiebreaker advantage over the Colts and Jaguars based on a better conference record.

The Steelers have a two-game advantage in the wild-card race over the Raiders, Dolphins and Titans and a tiebreaker over each based on head-to-head victories.

That's not the only good news for the Steelers as they prepare for the final six regular-season games. Four of the six remaining games are against teams with losing records, including the game Sunday at the 2-8 Buffalo Bills.

The Steelers also have games left against Cincinnati (2-8), Carolina (1-9) and Cleveland (3-7). The only games left against teams with winning records are a date at the Ravens and at home vs. the Jets (8-2).

Of course, the Steelers need not be reminded that they had a favorable late-season schedule last season, when they dropped five consecutive games in November and December, including three to teams that finished with losing records.

"I would say we're in a better position than we were last season," linebacker James Harrison said. "Right about now is when we lost five in a row. We came out and executed well [against the Raiders] and won the game. First and foremost, we wanted to come out and win. After that, it was just about style points."

There were plenty of reasons to be encouraged about the win against the Raiders. The defense allowed only one field goal after surrendering 39 points to the Patriots. It allowed only 14 yards on 10 carries to Darren McFadden, one of the top running backs in the league. And it got back to pressuring the quarterback and forcing turnovers. The defense recorded six sacks and created three turnovers.

The offense compiled 431 yards and scored its second-most points of the season. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns as the passing game showed some signs of life.

But Roethlisberger said the offense still has room to grow over the final six weeks of the season.

"It's funny, because if you ask me I felt like we didn't have a good offensive performance," Roethlisberger said. "I felt that we were OK. I told the guys that at the very end. It's a good job of bouncing back and playing well, but we left a lot out there. It wasn't our best performance by any means."

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11-25-2010, 02:24 AM
Steelers: We learned our lesson in '09

The Associated Press

There's an unwritten rule in the Pittsburgh Steelers' locker room this week: No peeking.

Months removed from winning the Super Bowl in 2009, the Steelers admittedly overlooked the worst-record teams on their schedule. They wound up losing to nearly all of them, falling to the Chiefs, Raiders and Browns _ bottom-of-the-standings teams that had six wins among them when they played the Steelers.

The ensuing five-game slide triggered by those losses ruined Pittsburgh's once-promising season following a 6-2 start and kept the Steelers out of the playoffs.

James Farrior and Hines Ward insist it won't happen again.

Ward flashed a puzzled look Wednesday when asked if he's worried the Steelers (7-3) might get caught looking ahead to next week's important game against Baltimore (7-3) and ignoring Sunday's game at Buffalo (2-8).

"To be honest, I didn't know we were playing Baltimore next week," Ward said Wednesday. "That's been our mindset, one week at a time. Last year overlooking Kansas City, overlooking Oakland, that's the reason we were on a five-game losing streak."

Last year, the Steelers' shortened offseason following their second Super Bowl victory in four seasons may have caused them to take shortcuts when the season started. With so many supposedly easy games bunched together in November and December, they acknowledge they didn't prepare properly. Once they started losing, they had a difficult time figuring how to get out of the slide.

"So we definitely can't be overlooking a team because its record is 2-8," Farrior said. "No way. We're definitely not going to overlook this game. They (the Bills) have just found ways to lose it at the end sometimes. Those guys put up a lot of points, so we're going to have to be on our horse this week."

The Steelers showed Sunday they may have learned their lesson from a year ago. A season after being upset by the Raiders at home, the Steelers manhandled Oakland on both sides of the ball during a 35-3 victory achieved despite a club-record 163 yards in penalties.

They followed their worst game of the season, a 39-26 loss to New England on Nov. 14, with perhaps their best. Ben Roethlisberger thinks that's a positive sign with six games remaining.

"In this league, that's what's so important, when you do get hot, do you go on those runs?" Roethlisberger said, suggesting it's time to go on one. "I think you don't want to do it too early in the year; you want to hit it at just the right time, which we've done in the years we've won the Super Bowl."

Cornerback Ike Taylor said the concentration and attention to detail must be the same for the Bills as it was for Oakland. Buffalo rallied from a 28-7 deficit to beat Cincinnati 49-31 on Sunday for its second successive victory.

Buffalo also lost in overtime to the Chiefs (13-10) and Ravens (37-34), and dropped close games to the Dolphins (15-10), Patriots (38-30) and Bears (22-19).

"Every game they've played, those guys (opponents) are leading their division, from Kansas City to Baltimore," Taylor said. "The majority of games have been overtimes, losses by three to five points. Forget what the record says, it's a good team."

The Steelers haven't forgotten Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw for 316 yards against Cincinnati, 299 against Chicago and 382 against Baltimore. They faced him during a pair of victories against Cincinnati in 2008, when he filled in for the injured Carson Palmer.

Then, a rattled Fitzpatrick didn't throw for more than 168 yards in either game. He also was sacked seven times during a 38-10 Pittsburgh victory at Heinz Field.

"We're going to have to have people in his face," Farrior said. "I don't think he really likes the pressure too much, so we're going to have to force him into some bad throws."

The Steelers have won seven of their last eight against the Bills, with only one loss since 1992.

November 24, 2010 05:35 PM

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