January 25, 2011
9:48 am | link
to the Super Bowl
I realize there are a lot of folks who only check out Steelers blogs when
the Steelers make it to the Super Bowl, and that's fine. People are busy. I understand.
If you haven't come to my site all season and are coming back now as part of the Super Bowl crowd, you should know
that I have moved my site. My Steelers blog is now Respect the Towel. The full URL is www.respectthetowel.blogspot.com. I started it in May and have been blogging there the entire season.
I basically didn't like the name "Steelahs." I had to spell it every time I told someone about it. It's
kind of a branding nightmare if you have to spell the name of the product every time you say it. Also, the Blogger network
So this could be my last post on Steelahs.com. Maybe
I'll do one more if the Steelers win the Super Bowl. I think I've finally moved the entire Steelahs.com library over to Respect
the Towel. I might pay to keep the domain name so no one ever uses it again, but that's it.
So head on over to Respect the Towel, because ... Pittsburgh's going to the Super Bowl, here we go ...
July 30, 2010
3:20 am | link
A new taste
Twenty-five years ago this month, a big company synonymous with American culture
admitted it made a mistake and pulled a product off the shelves.
In the spring of 1985, Coca-Cola tried to fix
something that wasn't broken and came up with New Coke. It was a disaster, and by July, the sight of New Coke was like the
sight of Joey Galloway in a Steelers uniform.
This spring, I took Steelahs.com, a brand almost as established as
Coca-Cola, and decided to start morphing it into Respect The Towel. I talk about that, as well as the start of Steelers training camp, more in my newest post on Respect The Towel.
I'd have posted the column on both sites, but I can't afford to sue myself, so it's a Respect The Towel exclusive.
Don't let Respect The Towel become the New Coke. Check it out.
May 4, 2010
12:57 am | link
ago today, Steelahs.com was born.
What better way to celebrate
the site's birthday than to change its name?
Steelahs will become Respect the Towel. The full URL is respectthetowel.blogspot.com.
Although I plan to keep this site running for a few more
months to ease the transition, this will be my last post on Steelahs.com.
My debut post on Respect the Towel, which explains the method to all this madness, is up right now.
So come along with me on a magic towel ride to Respect the Towel!
April 28, 2010
3:33 pm | link
By Mike Batista
So while the Steelers try to rehabilitate their sexually deviant quarterback,
they take Florida center Maurkice Pouncey in the first round of the
Just what Ben Roethlisberger needs. A center. Someone
else whose crotch he'll be sticking his hands into.
Well, for now it looks like Pouncey (6-4, 304) will line up at guard for the Steelers. Hopefully by the time he's ready to take over for Justin Hartwig at center, Roethlisberger will have learned to behave.
The Steelers have a proud tradition at
center (Mike Webster, Dermontti Dawson, Jeff Hartings) that Pouncey
will hopefully restore. Choosing him in the first round signals the
Steelers' commitment to re-establishing the running game.
Here's a quick look at the rest of the Steelers' draftees:
2 (52): Jason Worilds (OLB, Virginia Tech,
6-1, 254): Could develop into a monster pass rusher. Also
strong on special teams. First of three linebackers chosen in the
draft by the Steelers. Not only do they need linebacker depth in a
3-4 defense, but James Harrison is 32, and James Farrior, who is 35,
really started to show his age last season. This guy better be good,
because since LaMarr Woodley in 2007, the Steelers haven't got much out of the second round. They didn't have a second-round pick last year, and Limas Sweed (2008) has one last chance before
he is officially stamped as a bust. Another reason Worilds (pronounced
Worlds) better be good is that Terrence Cody, Alabama's 349-pound
nose tackle, was still on the board. The Ravens got him five picks
later. The Steelers need an eventual successor to Casey Hampton, and
I'm concerned about that mountain playing in the AFC North. The Steelers
didn't address their aging defensive line until the seventh round.
3 (82): Emmanuel Sanders (WR, Southern Methodist,
5-11, 186): The Steelers needed to pick a receiver somewhere
in the draft, although I thought the third round was a little early.
They must have liked this guy. He was projected as a fourth- or fifth-round
pick, but the Steelers took him in the third round so they wouldn't
risk losing him before their turn in the fourth round. SMU's all-time
leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Also can return punts.
(116): Thaddeus Gibson (OLB, Ohio State, 6-2, 243): Left school
a year early after being named second-team all-Big 10. Doesn't seem
to be a finished product. Also can help out on special teams.
5 (151): Chris Scott (OG, Tennessee, 6-5, 319):
Started last 39 games for Volunteers (eight at right guard, 31 at
left tackle). Did not allow a sack at left tackle during the regular
season in 2009, but projects as a guard in the NFL.
5 (164): Crezdon Butler (CB, Clemson, 6-0, 191): 10 career interceptions at Clemson. Return of Bryant McFadden is reason Steelers didn't take a cornerback sooner.
(166): Stevenson Sylvester (OLB, Utah, 6-2, 231): A first-team all-Mountain
West selection in 2009. A project at linebacker but can help on special
6 (188) Jonathan Dwyer (RB, Georgia Tech,
5-11, 229): Everyone says this guy's a steal as a sixth-rounder.
He had two straight seasons in which he gained 1,395 yards at Georgia
Tech. It's possible he benefitted from Tech's triple-option offense.
With his size, he could be the short-yardage guy the Steelers have
lacked since Jerome Bettis retired. But it remains to be seen whether
he can fill the Steelers' need for someone who can spell Rashard Mendenhall as a featured back. Interestingly, at Georgia Tech he followed in the footsteps of Tashard Choice, who has averaged more
than five yards a carry (821 yards on 156 carries) in two years with
6 (195) Antonio Brown (WR, Central
Michigan, 5-10, 186): Guess where this guy can help? That's right. Special teams. He's a two-time MAC Special Teams
Player of the Year. In three years he amassed 3,434 yards and five touchdowns returning kicks and punts. Something tells me
special teams was kind of important for the Steelers in this draft.
7 (242): Doug Worthington, (DE, Ohio State, 6-5, 292): Better late than never as far as addressing that aging defensive line.
April 20, 2010
4:04 am | link
Oh yeah, the draft
By Mike Batista
My life has been too busy to update this site as much as I would like
during the offseason, and the little time that I have had to write about
the NFL draft has instead been spent writing about Ben Roethlisberger's
ability to keep his DNA, if not his dick, to himself.
still haven't worn any of my Steelers T-shirts or sweatshirts in public since Roethlisberger put Milledgeville on the map
a month and a half ago.
Just so everyone knows, my draft blogging this
year will be limited to this post, perhaps a brief post Friday morning
(after Round 1) and Saturday morning (after rounds 2 and 3), with
a wrapup sometime between next Sunday and Tuesday.
I won't do any live blogging this year during the draft. I think it might have been overkill last year, creaming myself over Frank Summers and A.Q. Shipley (who's an Eagle now, by the way) and spending 10 hours a day in my squalid studio apartment on the first real spring
weekend of the year.
So here's what I've done this year. I've surfed the 'Net for mock drafts and come up with 15 players whose names have appeared next to "Steelers." I'll say a little bit about each one, then we'll talk Friday morning (although I will post the Steelers' 2010 schedule sometime
The Steelers have the No. 18 pick in the
first round and 11 overall, including four picks in the fifth round.
They could package some of those picks in a trade to move up, but
I'm hearing this is a deep draft. So maybe more picks is better. Let's
not forget the Steelers were mediocre in 2009 and they're getting
old on defense. They could use some new blood.
Guys who have appeared as Steelers' picks in more than one mock draft:
Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida (6-4 1/2, 304): This could be the second straight year the Steelers pick the winner of the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the nation's best center. Hopefully if they pick Pouncey, he'll work out better than Shipley. Justin Hartwig
just seems to be keeping the seat warm while the Steelers look for
the next guy who can truly carry the torch of their proud center tradition.
Pouncey seems to have all the tools, although most of his snaps at
Florida were in the shotgun. Pouncey played in the 2010 Sugar Bowl
just hours after getting IVs and being treated for kidney stones.
So if he's a Steeler, maybe he'll be a little tougher than the guy
whose hands will be under his crotch.
Mike Iupati, G, Idaho (6-5, 331): Iupati moved to the United States from American Somoa when he was 14. He was lightly recruited by
higher-profile programs because of academic concerns arising from
the language barrier. So the level of competition in college might
be concern. He didn't allow a sack in 2009 and could end up as a tackle
at the next level. Perhaps not as good an overall blocker as Pouncey,
but might block a little better downfield.
McCourty, CB, Rutgers (5-11, 193): McCourty could help the
Steelers in two areas of weakness: cornerback and special teams. McCourty
blocked seven kicks during his college career. Ball skills might be
lacking, which isn't something Steelers fans want to hear after all
those dropped interceptions in 2009.
Guys who have appeared only once as Steelers picks in mock drafts (at least the ones I saw):
Joe Haden, CB, Florida (5-11, 193): The best cornerback
in the draft. Doubtful he'll still be there at 18.
Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State (5-10, 194): Probably would be ranked right up there with Haden if it weren't for the weaker competition he faced.
Earl Thomas, S,
Texas (5-10, 208): A ball-hawk. Steelers could use a successor
to Ryan Clark at free safety.
Bryan Bulaga, OT,
Iowa (6-5, 314): Probably won't be there at 18.
Odrick, DT, Penn State (6-5, 304): Steelers need to get younger
on the defensive line, but Odrick might be more of a defensive end
in the NFL, and the Steelers picked Ziggy Hood in the first round
C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson (5-11, 196):
Steelers really don't have a true No. 2 running back behind Rashard
Mendenhall, but I expect them to look for a running back in the middle
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame (6-3, 222):
That's right, someone has him going to the Steelers at 18. I don't
know about taking a QB in the first round, but considering the Roethlisberger
situation, the Steelers might want to take a shot at finding the next Tom Brady or Joe Montana-type success story in the middle or late rounds (maybe Cincinnati's Tony Pike?).
Tate, WR, Notre Dame (5-10, 199): Could be the next Hines
Ward, but even with Santonio Holmes gone, the Steelers have stockpiled
wide receivers and should wait until later rounds to pick one.
Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama (6-3, 249):
Not the Steelers' top position of need.
Charles Brown, OT, USC (6-5, 303); Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois (6-1, 219); Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma (6-5, 315): All would be reaches at 18.
April 13, 2010
10:31 am | link
By Mike Batista
Ben Roethlisberger is in a place a whole lot different from Milledgeville
He's in New York to meet with NFL commissioner Roger
Goodell, where it is likely he will be asked to drop his pants so
Goodell can whack his big ass 10 times with a paddle shaped like the
When Goodell is done with Roethlisberger, here's what I think the Steelers should do: Suspend him for two games (if Goodell doesn't
do it), and tell him that if he fucks up the tiniest bit, one lewd
comment to a woman, one speeding ticket, one public urination, one
fart that stinks up the locker room for more than 30 seconds, he's
off the team. Goodbye Roethlisberger. Hello shitload of draft picks (and hopefully an actual player).
It seems there might be some racial tension if
Roethlisberger gets a lighter punishment than Santonio Holmes, who
was shipped out by the Steelers then suspended for four games under
the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Before anyone accuses the Steelers of preference based on race, keep
in mind that the Rooney Rule came from Pittsburgh. Not only did Dan
Rooney introduce the rule requiring NFL teams to interview at least
one minority candidate when hiring coaches, he practiced what he preached
by hiring Mike Tomlin.
District Attorney Fred Bright didn't
charge Roethlisberger on Monday, but by revealing the lewd details
of the investigation, he turned the tide of public opinion against
him, even more so than it was before the announcement.
This all could wear off by training camp, but in listening to Pittsburgh talk radio, it seems the backlash against Roethlisberger
is so strong that there's only one way he can repair his image: By
winning more championships.
That's the Kobe Bryant method
of recovery after a scandal of this type.
But if Roethlisberger goes out and has a year like he did in 2006, he might be run out of town. Unfortunately, I'm concerned that might happen.
See, since no respectable woman
will want to come near Roethlisberger now, his offensive linemen won't
get any sloppy seconds when they go out on the town. So they'll be
less likely to protect him on the field, and he'll probably get sacked
So while he wasn't charged with a crime, Roethlisberger
could be sentenced to a lifetime of masturbation.
One way to be paroled from that sentence is to contribute to and volunteer for women's causes. Maybe he could wear pink shoes or pink gloves for breast cancer awareness every game next season. That would be a start, even if for Roethlisberger, "every
game" means only 14 games.
April 12, 2010
2:53 pm | link
No charges, but ...
By Mike Batista
Ben Roethlisberger is proving to be just as adept as escaping accusatory
women as he is at escaping pass rushers.
Circuit D.A. Fred Bright said today that charges will not be filed
against Ben Roethlisberger.
Bright said that the allegation
of sexual assault cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
So no courtrooms or jail cells for Big Ben, but there will be a
trip to the principal's office.
Well, two principals, actually.
and Principal Rooney (no, not from Ferris Bueller's Day Off).
like Dennis Dixon might get another start next season. Or two. Or three ...
12:16 pm | link
All eyes on Georgia
By Mike Batista
The Masters is over, but Georgia remains a focal point of the sports
world for one more day.
Tiger Woods has left Augusta, and
the legal fate of Ben Roethlisberger will be announced at 2 p.m. today
Both events involve high-profile athletes
who think with the little head instead of the big head.
of fitting, considering that in colonial times, Georgia was a penal
10:42 am | link
More than a game
By Mike Batista
There's a hint of autumn in the air.
That's because it feels like a Steelers game day.
The Steelers will either win or lose today. The only difference is what happens at 2 p.m. today in Milledgeville will have more impact
on the Steelers' organization than what happens at 1 p.m. on a random
Sunday in October.
Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney
Fredric Bright will announce if sexual assault charges will be brought
against Ben Roethlisberger.
This whole ordeal has been a major headache for the Steelers, but at least they got rid of another headache late last night when they traded Santonio Holmes to the Jets for a fifth-round draft pick.
I had enough of Holmes when he announced that he didn't think the
Steelers would be able to pay him enough when he became a free agent.
Sure, Holmes was a Super Bowl MVP, but so was Larry Brown.
And Holmes had his best year in 2009 with 79 catches. But it's hard
to forget all those head-up-the-ass moments from the first three years
of his career.
Holmes just isn't good enough to be acting
like this big-ticket free agent. He made the Steelers sound like the
Pirates. And considering the incident at the Orlando nightclub and
his Twitter transgressions, it wasn't exactly the best time for Holmes
to ruffle feathers.
Holmes got his big-market wish. Somehow I see him taking
up a lot of space on the back pages of the New York tabloids. Just
Who knows? If Holmes keeps acting the way he does,
the spotlight of the Big Apple might get him on 60 Minutes.
Do you smell segue?
Speaking of 60 Minutes ... you guessed it, the emergence of Mike Wallace
makes Holmes' departure a lot easier to swallow.
Wallace was just about invisible during the Steelers' five-game losing streak last
season, catching seven passes for 93 yards. In the last three games, all Steelers' victories, the rookie caught seven passes
for 226 yards and three touchdowns. He's a difference maker, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him next season.
Will we see more of Roethlisberger next season?
March 9, 2010
2:53 am | link
Georgia on our minds
Say it ain't so, Ben.
Legend has it that a boy
said "Say it ain't so" to Shoeless Joe Jackson when he left
the courthouse during the Black Sox Scandal trial in 1920.
we're not dealing with Shoeless Joe. We're dealing with Brainless
Ben. So my sentiment is more like this:
"What the fuck, Ben?"
The Steelers are
uncharacteristically busy in free agency. They signed safety Will
Allen from the Buccaneers and wide receiver Arnaz Battle from the
49ers. In addition to providing depth at their respective positions,
Allen and Battle also are strong special teams guys, an area where
the Steelers need improvement.
The Steelers also re-signed
safety Ryan Clark (I wonder if after visiting the Dolphins, Clark
ran back to Pittsburgh like Billy Crystal ran through the streets
of New York to Meg Ryan at the end of "When Harry Met Sally")
and are on the verge of being reunited with wide receiver Antwaan
They also are close to a deal with former Bills
offensive tackle Jonathan Scott.
So while the Steelers are working their asses off to
get better after a disappointing 9-7 season, they might end up going 4-12 anyway because they could be without the
services of a quarterback who doesn't understand "No."
I can't say what happened at the bar in Milledgeville. I wasn't there. But this is the second time in less than a
year that Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault. Where there's smoke, there's usually fire.
And if Roethlisberger is so sure about his innocence, why does he need Ray Lewis'
attorney to defend him?
Whether Roethlisberger is guilty
or not, it sounds like he needs to start treating women with a little more respect. It also wouldn't hurt if he started
acting like a guy whose employer has more than $100 million invested in him.
Even if Roethlisberger doesn't end up in an orange jumpsuit, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell might send him to his
room for a few games.
It might be time to start thinking
about life after Roethlisberger. For starters, the Steelers might want to look for the next Tom Brady or Joe Montana in the
upcoming draft by taking a flier on a quarterback in the middle to late rounds.
Sure, if Roethlisberger went to the slammer or the Steelers cut him loose, they would lose a two-time Super Bowl-winning
quarterback. But that doesn't mean their quarterback has to be Mike Tomczak or Kent Graham. With the money they would free
up, they could afford to find someone with a discernable pulse rate to throw the ball.
Or how about Randle El? He did throw more touchdown passes in Super Bowl XL than Roethlisberger.
February 9, 2010
2:46 pm | link
10 Super thoughts
The Steelers officially have vacated the throne of defending Super Bowl champions. At least they didn't relinquish
it to the Patriots. In the five years since the Patriots last won the Super Bowl, the team that I've rooted for in the big
game has won. That doesn't count Super Bowl XLI, when the Colts beat the Bears. I really didn't care who won that one.
Here are 10 random thoughts and observations, mostly about the Super Bowl, that have been rattling around my brain
like loose marbles:
Dressed for success
The team wearing the white uniform has won six straight Super Bowls.
The Patriots started the streak with their win over the Eagles in
Super Bowl XXXIX. But the Steelers gave the streak some momentum when
they won three straight road playoff games in their white jerseys
in 2005. To keep that mojo going, Bill Cowher chose the white jerseys
even though the Steelers were the "home" team for Super
Bowl XL. The team in white has won ever since. Talk about Cowher Power.
Mark your calendars, maybe
Don't be surprised if the Steelers play in the Thursday night season
opener for the second year in a row.
As the Super Bowl champions,
the Saints will host that game, and the Steelers are on the Saints'
home schedule. I'd say it's either going to be the Steelers, the Vikings
(which might aid Brett Favre's decision-making process) or the Falcons.
The Saints' other home opponents are the Panthers, Buccaneers, Rams,
Seahawks and Browns.
The last two games between the Steelers and Saints have been entertaining.
In 2006, the Steelers won a 38-31 shootout at Heinz Field. In 2002,
the Saints beat the Steelers 32-29 at the Superdome in Tommy Maddox's
first start for the Steelers.
In 1967, the Steelers came
close to being the first team ever to lose to the Saints. They overcame
a 10-0 deficit in the fourth quarter and won 14-10. The Saints fell
to 0-7 in their inaugural season but beat the Eagles the following
week for their first franchise win.
Neat stuff, huh?
If the NFL maintains the formula
of starting the season the week after Labor Day, the 2010 Thursday-night
opener would be Sept. 9.
Memo to the owners
The increasing likelihood of a lockout in 2011 has me really pissed
and a little less excited about the 2010 season. Hey owners, your
workers sacrifice their bodies for you, compromising their short-
and long-term health and even their life expectancy in some cases.
So what if they have a bigger piece of the revenue pie. They deserve
Memo to the Steelers
I hope the Steelers learned from watching the Saints what
can happen when your defensive backs actually catch the ball.
Look a little closer
The MGM Mirage puts the Steelers' odds of winning Super Bowl XLV at 7-1, second only to the Colts at 5-1. Apparently they're anticipating the
return of Troy Polamalu and figure the Steelers were just a dropped interception or two away from the playoffs in 2009. What
they're not seeing is the signs of age on the Steelers' defense.
Up with Who?
who wondered why The Who was chosen for the Super Bowl halftime show,
let's not forget that Up With People was the act for several Super Bowl halftime shows, most recently in 1986.
Less of Moore
My biggest disappointment
with the CBS telecast of the Super Bowl is that Colts' offensive coordinator
Tom Moore, who I like to call "Coach Pruneface," got very
little face time. I find the sight of Moore hilarious. He constantly
looks like he's swallowing grapefruit juice or some rotten-tasting
I imagine Colts wide receiver Austin Collie is pretty bummed
out about the way the Super Bowl turned out. Maybe we can call this
"Austin Collie and the Infinite Sadness." I know, I know.
Lame. Don't worry. I won't close with this one.
Heaven for the Saints
I think everyone, including me, rooted for the Saints in this Super Bowl with the exception of Colts fans, certain gamblers and George W. Bush. It's nice to see the people of New Orleans have something
to celebrate post-Katrina. It's also a good lesson in perserverance
considering the futility Saints fans endured for so many years.
But there's one image from this season that stuck with me
and made me pull for the Saints just a little bit harder.
the Saints beat the Patriots 38-17 in a Monday-night game Nov. 30,
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick stood next to each other on the sidelines near the end of the game, looked at each other and couldn't figure out what to say.
soundly the Saints beat the Patriots.
Since the Patriots ducked the Steelers in 2005, it's nice to see that every Super Bowl champion has stepped on them
along the way.
The Colts came back to beat the Patriots
in the 2006 AFC championship game. The Giants beat the Patriots in
Super Bowl XLII. The Steelers beat the Patriots at Gillette Stadium
to establish themselves as legitimate Super Bowl contenders in 2008. Then there was that Saints' victory.
Not only did that game help me like the Saints a little more, it also helped me finally forgive them
for losing to the Patriots in the final weekend of the 1980 regular season, which knocked the Steelers out of the playoff
picture the year after they won their fourth Super Bowl. Like the Saints were going to beat the Patriots anyway. They were
1-15 that year.
By the way, the Patriots come to Heinz
Field next season.
Something to look forward to.
January 6, 2010
10:59 am | link
NFL power rankings
Looks like that Steelers-Giants Super Bowl I predicted isn't going to happen. And I guess the Redskins aren't going to be this year's surprise playoff team.
of the Redskins, who already have a new coach, they led the NFL with seven losses of six points or less. Does that sound
familiar? The Steelers lost six by six points or less and the other by seven.
No one's saying the Redskins were
almost an 11-5 team. A loss is a loss, and the Steelers had seven of them this season, which is too many.
the only thing I got right in my preseason predictions is that the Chargers would finish 13-3. One of those three losses was
against the Steelers. What a way to twist the knife if the Chargers end up winning the Super Bowl (as if the Steelers would
have a prayer against the Chargers if they played today).
Well, at least try to enjoy the playoffs without the
Steelers in them. I'll be rooting for any team not named the Patriots.
(Records and last week's ranking in parentheses)
1. Chargers (13-3, 2)
2. Colts (14-2, 1)
3. Cowboys (11-5, 4)
4. Vikings (12-4, 8)
5. Saints (13-3,
6. Eagles (11-5, 3)
7. Packers (11-5, 10)
8. Patriots (10-6, 6)
9. Bengals (10-6, 7)
11. Cardinals (10-6, 9)
12. Texans (9-7, 12)
13. Panthers (8-8, 11)
14. Steelers (9-7, 14)
15. Falcons (9-7, 16)
16. Jets (9-7, 17)
17. Titans (8-8, 20)
18. 49ers (8-8, 23)
19. Dolphins (7-9,
20. Bears (7-9, 21)
21. Giants (8-8, 19)
22. Broncos (8-8, 15)
23. Browns (5-11, 25)
25. Chiefs (4-12, 27)
26. Raiders (5-11, 26)
27. Bills (6-10, 28)
28. Buccaneers (3-13,
29. Seahawks (5-11, 29)
30. Redskins (4-12, 30)
31. Lions (2-14, 31)
32. Rams (1-15, 32)
January 4, 2010
1:57 am | link
Pulling the plug
Steelers 30, Dolphins 24
By Mike Batista
Perhaps it's fitting that Texans' safety Bernard Pollard was a central
figure in Sunday's intricate plot.
With a hair more than
14 minutes remaining in their respective games, the Steelers took
a 27-10 lead in Miami and the Patriots took a 27-13 lead in Houston.
It looked like the 1 p.m. chapter of this trilogy would play
out perfectly for the Steelers. Had they and the Patriots held on,
the Steelers would have needed a Ravens loss or tie at 4 p.m. OR a
Jets loss or tie in the night game.
Maybe, just maybe, the Steelers would get into the playoffs.
Before euphoria could ensue,
the Steelers' lead was whittled to three and the Patriots' lead was
a minute after Dolphins' third-string quarterback Tyler Thigpen threw
a 34-yard touchdown to Davone Bess to narrow the Steelers' lead to
27-24, Pollard intercepted Brady at the Patriots' 43 with four minutes
left, setting up the winning touchdown for the Texans.
This is the same Pollard who shredded Brady's knee and ended his season in Week 1 last year. The next day, "Bernard Pollard Fan Club" T-shirts became a hot item among Steelers fans.
That fan club probably lost a lot of members after that interception Sunday. Not that it ultimately mattered. The plug was pulled on the
Steelers' playoff hopes when the Ravens defeated the Raiders 21-13.
Then the Bengals took the night off against the Jets.
Say this about the Patriots, Brady played most of the game
even after Wes Welker was lost for the playoffs with a knee injury. They played to win. The integrity displayed by Bill Belichick
elevated his standing to the point that now he's just a prick.
got on my soapbox last year when certain Steelers fans celebrated
Brady's injury with those Bernard Pollard T-shirts. I asked how we'd
like it if something similar happened to the Steelers.
Well, it did happen. Sort of.
Like the Patriots in 2008, the Steelers lost a franchise player with the season just minutes old. And like the Patriots in 2008, they damn
near made the playoffs without him.
Troy Polamalu packed
a career highlight reel into less than a half of football when the
Steelers opened the 2009 season against the Titans. He had six tackles
and one interception before Alge Crumpler crumpled his knee.
Unlike Brady in 2008, Polamalu did return for three full games,
helping the Steelers go 6-2. But he hurt his knee again in Week 10 against the Bengals, and his season was over.
The Steelers were without Polamalu for 11 games, and that's all you
need to know about their 2009 season. It will forever be remembered
as the year Polamalu got hurt.
Rising from the ashes
The third season of the Mike Tomlin Era obviously won't be remembered as fondly as the second. But I think it will ultimately have a sweeter taste than the first, when the Steelers started 7-2 but were slowly deflated by injuries, and were a dead team walking
before a heartbreaking playoff loss to Jacksonville.
something to be said for the way the 2009 Steelers emerged from the
ruins of a five-game losing streak. They finished the season with
three straight wins and still had a chance to make the playoffs when
their work was done.
You could call Sunday's game a season
finale in the same sense as a TV series, because the story line was
familiar. The Steelers built a big lead and let their opponent back
in the game in the fourth quarter.
But in a stunning conclusion,
they secured the lead with the help of some characters that might
be written out of the story next season.
Dolphins' receiver Brian Hartline went 16 yards on an end around for
a touchdown to narrow the Steelers' lead to 27-17 with 11:32 left
in the game. After a Steelers' three-and-out, the Dolphins needed
just three plays to score again. Bess's TD made it 27-24 with 8:46
It looked like this fourth-quarter collapse would
dwarf all others when less than two minutes later, Ben Roethlisberger
was strip-sacked and Joey Porter (who else?) recovered the fumble
at the Steelers' 21.
But with 6:10 left, Ryan Clark intercepted Thigpen at the Steelers' 2. Thigpen was in the game because starter Chad Henne hurt his eye
and backup Pat White was taken off on a stretcher after a helmet-to-helmet
hit by Ike Taylor.
Then Willie Parker gained 74 yards on
nine carries as the Steelers milked the clock with a 14-play, 98-yard
drive that ended with a 33-yard field goal by Jeff Reed and a 30-24
lead with 45 seconds left.
Clark and Parker both will be free agents and aren't likely to be back with the Steelers next year. If they're not back, this was a nice ride into the sunset.
For that matter, Deshea
Townsend also might not be back. The 34-year-old, who shares with
Hines Ward the distinction as the longest-tenured Steeler, grabbed
the first interception by a Steelers cornerback this season with 5:32
left in the first half. The Steelers had just taken a 17-10 lead on
Reed's 22-yard field goal.
Ike Taylor, who probably will
be back next season, followed Townsend's example with an interception
of his own. The stone-handed Taylor picked off Thigpen at the Dolphins'
38 with 36 seconds left to seal the Steelers' win.
If Taylor and his fellow cornerbacks (yeah, I'm talking to you, Joe Burnett) could have held onto the ball in the first 15 games of the season like they did Sunday, the Steelers might have had one more win, which is all they needed to make the playoffs.
The Steelers also might have had one more win had Polamalu played
anything close to a full season.
Al Michaels was calling
the game when Polamalu hurt his knee on Sept. 10.
months later, Steelers fans had to ask themselves if they believed in miracles.
Not this year.
January 3, 2010
Against all odds
4:37 pm | link
did all they could do by beating the Dolphins 30-24. I never thought I'd say these words, but the Patriots' loss hurts.
Now the Steelers need the Ravens and Broncos to lose or tie now and Jets to lose or tie tonight in order to make the
playoffs at 9-7.
I won't be watching most or all of the 4 p.m. games. To quote "Good Will Hunting," I
have to see about a girl. My chances with this young lady are probably about as good as the Steelers' chances of making the
Depending on how the Ravens and Broncos do, I'll start my column after those games or after the Bengals-Jets
The later I start my column, the better.
Bye for now.
January 2, 2010
12:11 pm | link
A win and a prayer
OK, so on Sunday the Patriots' starters might be sunning themselves
in Houston and the Bengals' starters might be sipping hot cocoa around
a fire in New Jersey.
Let's stop complaining about the
possibility of the Patriots and Bengals half-assing it and losing
to keep the Steelers out of the playoffs. The Steelers brought this
on themselves by losing five in a row, including losses to the Chiefs,
Raiders and Browns.
Let's just be happy that on the final
day of the regular season, the Steelers are still playing meaningful
football. Who would have thought that was possible three weeks ago
on that bitter, cold Thursday night when they lost in Cleveland?
A win today in Miami would provide Steelers fans with an entertaining and suspense-filled NFL Sunday.
Sure, this has been a disappointing season. But historically,
the 2009 Steelers already have given us more than the 1998 Steelers,
who started 7-4 but ended the season with five straight losses. At
least this season there's been an attempted rescue after the disaster.
By winning Sunday and still having a chance to make the playoffs
when they go home, these Steelers officially will be awarded a better
place in our memory than the 2006 Steelers, who as defending champions
were eliminated from playoff contention by Week 17 but still won in
Cincinnati to keep the Bengals out of the playoffs.
Unfortunately, Marvin Lewis might remember that.
With all the talk of what has to happen for the Steelers to make the playoffs, I think we've forgotten about what has to happen for the Steelers
to beat the Dolphins.
The bad news is that Troy Polamalu,
while listed as questionable, is not likely to play. If the Steelers
somehow get into the playoffs (and let's face it, the odds are against
that), it's more likely he'll be ready then.
The good news is the Steelers probably won't have to deal with the wildcat with Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown out for the season.
The wildcat made the Steelers defense look like a bunch of Sunday-morning rec leaguers against the Browns.
What's also good news for the Steelers is the
Dolphins' secondary might actually be worse than the Steelers' secondary.
So look for the Steelers to remain pass-happy.
All the Steelers can do is win and hope. The rest is out of their control.
At a glance:
Who: Steelers (8-7) at Dolphins (7-8)
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: Land Shark Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
TV: CBS (KDKA, Ch.
2 in Pittsburgh area. Go to the506.com for national broadcast map)
Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
All-time: Steelers lead 10-9 (Dolphins lead
2-1 in postseason)
The skinny: Former Steeler Joey Porter leads the Dolphins with eight sacks this season. ... Steelers RB Willie Parker (shoulder) and S Troy Polamalu (knee) are doubtful. ... Steelers G Chris Kemoeatu
(wrist), WR Hines Ward (hamstring) and LB Rocky Boiman (calf) are
questionable. ... Steelers DE Brett Keisel (shoulder) is probable.
... Dolphins RB Ricky Williams (shoulder) is probable.
December 29, 2009
1:13 pm | link
Before I explain the above monstrosity, let me tackle the question on everyone's mind:
Will Troy Polamalu play Sunday at Miami?
I don't know.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said in today's press
conference that Polamalu's been running in a straight line this week. But can he cut? Tomlin said "the door is open"
for Polamalu to play Sunday. It sounds like it will be Polamalu's decision.
It's pretty apparent that Polamalu
won't play through the kind of pain Hines Ward has been playing through. However, I'd say the Steelers' playoff chances aren't
good enough for Polamalu to risk his long-term health to play in one game.
Which brings me to my neat little flowchart.
For those of you who didn't take Advanced Calculometry, hopefully this chart will help you figure out what has to
happen Sunday for the Steelers to make the playoffs.
Keep in mind that this chart ASSUMES THE STEELERS WIN. If
the Steelers don't win in Miami Sunday, then I basically wasted a couple of hours drawing up this diagram.
The chart traces the chronological order of games Sunday. The Patriots play at Houston at 1 p.m. The Steelers can't clinch
a playoff spot after the 1 p.m. games. The earliest they can clinch is after the 4:15 p.m. games.
As you can see
from the chart, things get really hairy for the Steelers if the Patriots can't beat or tie the Texans in Houston. Even with
all their starters, the Patriots have struggled on the road this season, and I'm hearing Tom Brady might not play at all.
At 4:15 p.m., the Ravens are at Oakland (not a slam dunk for the Ravens) and the Broncos host the Chiefs (a slam dunk
for the Broncos unless they've completely collapsed).
At 8:20 p.m., the Bengals are at the Jets. With the Bengals
and Patriots playing I-Don't-Want-It-You-Can-Have-It with the No. 3 seed, who knows if the Bengals will go balls out.
It's a colorful flowchart, isn't it? The purpose of the colors is as follows:
Red=1 p.m. game
Green=8:20 p.m. game
Last, and probably least, here are my Week 16 NFL Power Rankings, with record
and previous ranking in parentheses:
1. Colts (14-1, 1)
2. Chargers (12-3, 3)
3. Eagles (11-4, 4)
4. Cowboys (10-5, 5)
5. Saints (13-2, 2)
6. Patriots (10-5, 8)
7. Bengals (10-5, 7)
8. Vikings (11-4,
9. Cardinals (10-5, 9)
10. Packers (10-5, 10)
11. Panthers (7-8, 16)
12. Texans (8-7, 22)
Ravens (8-7, 11)
14. Steelers (8-7, 21)
15. Broncos (8-7, 15)
16. Falcons (8-7, 17)
17. Jets (8-7, 19)
18. Dolphins (7-8, 12)
19. Giants (8-7, 13)
20. Titans (7-8, 14)
21. Bears (6-9, 26)
22. Jaguars (7-8,
23. 49ers (7-8, 23)
24. Buccaneers (3-12, 28)
25. Browns (4-11, 25)
26. Raiders (5-10, 20)
Chiefs (3-12, 30)
28. Bills (5-10, 24)
29. Seahawks (5-10, 29)
30. Redskins (4-11, 27)
31. Lions (2-13,
32. Rams (1-14, 32)
December 28, 2009
12:49 pm | link
A little help
from my enemies
By Mike Batista
The AFC playoffs are like a treehouse with a sign that reads: Steelers
The Patriots and Bengals don't want to hang out
with the Steelers, because their parents told them they're nothing
The Steelers need to beat the Dolphins Sunday
in Miami, then get help from the Patriots or Bengals, and possibly
both, to make the playoffs. I don't think the Patriots and Bengals
want to help the Steelers.
Since everyone's talking about the Colts. I guess I should too for a second.
Sure, the Colts lack balls by ditching
their pursuit of perfection, resting their starters and losing to
the Jets. That kept the Jets alive and hurt the Steelers' chances
of making the playoffs. But if the Steelers are cleaning out their
lockers a week from today, they can't blame Jim Caldwell. How about
not losing five in a row?
The 14-1 Colts have bigger concerns
than the barely-above-.500 Steelers. The Steelers might be a little
more on the minds of the Patriots and Bengals. I think they'd rather
see the Jets or Texans in the playoffs than the Steelers. Those two
rings on Ben Roethlisberger's fingers are a lot scarier than Rex Ryan's big mouth.
Patriots can clinch the No. 3 seed in the AFC with a win at Houston
Sunday. The Bengals can clinch the No. 3 seed with a win at the Jets
Sunday night and a Patriots loss.
But do either of these
teams want the No. 3 seed? Not only would that likely entail a date
with the Steelers in the wild-card round of the playoffs, but a potential
trip to San Diego in the divisional round.
The Chargers look like a tougher out than the Colts right now. They're 12-3 and have won 10 straight. When the Colts host their first
playoff game the weekend of Jan. 16-17, they'll have gone a full month
without really trying to win. Can you say rusty? I knew you could.
If you're still reading my column at this point, let me show
my gratitude by clearly spelling out what needs to happen for the
Steelers to make the playoffs. Then I will continue rambling.
The Steelers must beat the Dolphins Sunday in Miami AND one of the following three scenarios must unfold.
1) The Patriots must beat or tie the Texans in Houston AND The Bengals
must beat or tie the Jets at the Meadowlands.
2) The Patriots
must beat or tie the Texans in Houston AND The Raiders must beat or
tie the Ravens in Oakland.
3) The Bengals must beat or
tie the Jets at the Meadowlands AND the Raiders must beat or tie the
Ravens in Oakland AND the Chiefs must beat or tie the Broncos in Denver.
The first scenario seems like the easiest for the Steelers,
even though the Patriots and Bengals could both lay down to get that
coveted No. 4 seed.
Just to prove that I'm not a lonely voice in the wilderness, Butch Stearns of WEEI in Boston last night talked about the Patriots laying
down in Week 17 to avoid playing the Steelers in 2005.
settled for the No. 4 seed and crushed Jacksonville in the first round
while the Steelers beat the Bengals and went on to win the Super Bowl.
If the starters for both the Patriots and Bengals are getting
manicures and pedicures on the sidelines Sunday, the Steelers better hope at least one of those teams has some damn good backups.
And let's not forget one thing. The Dolphins
still have a lottery-like chance of making the playoffs. So they'll
have something to play for Sunday.
I don't think Joey Porter
wants to see the Steelers in the playoffs either.
December 27, 2009
7:47 pm | link
Steelers 23, Ravens 20
I guess starting Deshea Townsend
at cornerback was the answer for the Steelers after all.
In Sunday's win over the Ravens at Heinz Field, Townsend unveiled a new technique for covering receivers: Get beat so bad they can't believe how open they are. Then they're so shocked they
drop the ball.
The strategy worked to perfection on the
first play of the fourth quarter. With the score tied 20-20, the Duquesne
Incline railway car could have fit through the space between Townsend
and Ravens' receiver Derrick Mason in the end zone. But Mason couldn't hang onto Joe Flacco's pass from the Steelers' 21.
For once, a Steelers opponent literally had the victory in their hands but couldn't hold on.
passes by Limas Sweed and Santonio Holmes, and a dropped interception
by Joe Burnett, are the difference between 8-7 and 11-4 for the Steelers
The Steelers got one of those back on Sunday.
Had Mason supplied the Ravens with six points by holding onto the
ball, Jeff Reed's three points on his 38-yard field goal with 5:30
left in the game would not have been enough for the Steelers.
What's not so simple is the mathematics needed to figure out how the
Steelers get into the playoffs.
As of press time, I'm not able to completely define the Steelers' playoff scenario.
But I can say that the Jets' win over the Colts was not a good thing for the Steelers. The Steelers finish the regular season
Sunday at Miami, and I don't think a Steelers win alone will get them into the playoffs. It looks like next week they'll not
only be going to the Patriots again with hat in hand (they need them to win at Houston) but also the Bengals (at the
The Eagles' win over the Broncos helps, though.
Having won two straight after losing five in a row, the Steelers are in the same position as a husband who walks out on his wife, then after five weeks comes home and begs her to take him back. Really, it's over between
me and my receptionist. And the housekeeper. And the babysitter.
The wife's answer? We'll see.
Indeed, we'll see. Even if the Steelers win Sunday, their playoff fate is not their decision.
Give it away, give it away, give it away now
The Ravens (8-7) did everything they could to give the Steelers this game in the first half.
The Steelers finally held onto an interception, but couldn't hold onto a pass from their own quarterback.
Farrior grabbed a Joe Flacco pass tipped by LaMarr Woodley (that would
be a "splash" play, right Mike Tomlin?) and returned it
to the Ravens' 8. Mendenhall dropped a pass that would have at least
put him close to the goal line. The Steelers eventually settled for
three points to open the scoring.
The Steelers settled
for three, and a 6-3 lead, again after Stefan Logan returned a kickoff
49 yards to the Ravens' 47. This drive was hampered by one of the
Ravens' four sacks.
Ben Roethlisberger's been sacked 47
times this season. If he breaks Cliff Stoudt's team record of 51 next
week in Miami, will they stop the game for a ceremony in which Stoudt
drives onto the field with a truck full of Tylenol?
The Steelers' first touchdown was set up by a shanked Sam Koch punt, which gave the Steelers possession at the Ravens' 43. Mendenhall
finished the job with a 4-yard touchdown run and a 13-3 Steelers lead
early in the second quarter.
It was Mendenhall's only moment
of usefulness in the game. He ran the ball 17 times for 36 yards and
caught one ball for four yards. Meanwhile, Ravens' running back Ray
Rice hung 141 rushing yards on the Steelers' defense, the first back
to gain 100 yards on the Steelers in 32 games.
After the Steelers lost to the Ravens last month, I noted that the Ravens chose Rice two picks after the Steelers chose Limas Sweed in the second round of the 2008 draft. Hell, the Steelers missed
the boat twice on Rice. At the moment, it looks like Rice would have
been a better pick than Mendenhall in the first round.
for a column on a Steelers' win keeping them alive in the playoff
race, during the holiday season no less, this is getting awfully nasty.
I have to stop thinking about the offensive line and Mendenhall and
think about something nice.
How about Mike Wallace?
As I said last week, Wallace had an impact when the Steelers won in Denver. Then he was all but invisible for five games, and the Steelers lost them all.
Wallace might not
be in every highlight reel in America like he was last week, but he
again made a difference Sunday, catching three passes for 83 yards.
More than half of those yards came on third-and-12 from the
Steelers' 4 with just over a minute left in the first half. It looked
like the Steelers' attempt to get points before the half was dead
in the water when Roethlisberger recognized the Ravens were offsides
and he had a free play. He fired a 45-yard completion to Wallace.
Heath Miller and Hines Ward followed with receptions to set
up Santonio Holmes' 24-yard touchdown catch, which gave the Steelers' a 20-10 halftime lead.
Considering how banged up the unit was, it wasn't a bad day for the
Steelers' receivers. Santonio Holmes caught five passes for 86 yards.
Hines Ward caught four for 37 on a bad hamstring. Even undrafted rookie
Tyler Grisham caught a crucial 14-yard pass on third down on the Steelers'
game-winning drive (yes, a drop later in the drive forced the Steelers
to settle for the field goal).
Joey Galloway? He was inactive.
I'll melt with you
One thing we learned from this game is that it's much better
for the Steelers' defense to melt down in the third quarter than the
The Steelers' 10-point lead was gone less than nine minutes into the
third quarter on Todd Heap's seven-yard touchdown catch, his second
TD of the game, and Billy Cundiff's 35-yard field goal.
Steelers' defense finally buckled down once it blew the lead.
and rookie defensive tackle Ziggy Hood plopped their 565 combined
pounds into the pool and made a few more splash plays in the fourth
quarter. Hood recorded his first NFL sack to force the Ravens to punt
from their own 29 and set up the Steelers' deciding drive.
After Reed's field goal, the Ravens moved the ball to the fringes
of field-goal range, the Steelers' 35, with 2:39 left. Then Woodley
sacked Flacco on two consecutive plays. The second forced a fumble, which Hood picked up.
The Steelers took over on their 42 with 2:27 remaining, but just like
they did in the AFC championship game last season, the Ravens did
their best Glenn Close-Isn't-Really-Dead-Yet from "Fatal Attraction."
Tom Zbikowski intercepted Roethlisberger and returned it 38
yards to the Steelers' 42 with still 101 seconds to play. The pick
was negated, however, by an illegal contact penalty on Frank Walker.
As much as Ravens' coach John Harbaugh pissed and moaned about the call, it looked like Walker had Wallace locked in a passionate embrace. It was nothing short of man love.
Speaking of man love, how's your knee, Troy?
December 26, 2009
6:52 pm | link
Spirit of '06
Which Steelers Super Bowl hangover is more severe? 2006 or 2009?
That question will be answered Sunday at
Heinz Field, because after 14 games, the Steelers are at the exact
point they were in 2006.
The Steelers are 7-7.
Just like 2006.
The Steelers host the Ravens in Week 16.
Just like 2006.
a disappointing season and some obvious flaws unbecoming of a playoff
team, Steelers fans are giddy about their slim chances of making the
Just like 2006.
If you don't recall how it turned out in 2006, let me refresh your
memory. The Steelers got pounded 31-7 by the Ravens. No playoffs.
The Steelers' slim playoff chances gained about a half pound
on fruitcake Christmas night when the Chargers beat the Titans 42-17, reducing to five the number of 7-7 teams in the AFC.
To keep their playoff heart beating, the Steelers are going to have to win another game without Troy Polamalu, who didn't practice this week but said he was "encouraged" Tuesday by an MRI on his knee. I hope he wasn't encouraged the same way I'm encouraged
when I get one number in PowerBall.
There is some good
news, however, in the Steelers' secondary, where they're going from
Gay to Big Play, as in Trevor "Big Play" Deshea Townsend.
The 34-year-old, who shares with Hines Ward the distinction as longest-tenured
Steeler, will start at cornerback in place of William Gay. The cagey
veteran is the last Steelers cornerback to get an interception. He
did it against the Ravens in the AFC title game.
Townsend is just a whipper-snapper compared to 38-year-old Joey Galloway, who joined the Steelers to bolster their ailing receiving corps. Ward is questionable with a hamstring injury and Mike
Wallace is probable with a knee laceration.
But the Steelers
nearly beat the Ravens in Baltimore earlier this season with Dennis
Dixon at quarterback. If they can finish the job Sunday, they'll have
something to play for next week in Miami (perhaps with Polamalu) and
will officially be a cut above the last Steelers team that tried to
defend a championship.
If they lose, it will be 2006 all
over again, only the economy won't be as good.
At a glance:
Who: Ravens (8-6) at Steelers (7-7)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV: CBS (KDKA, Ch. 2 in Pittsburgh area. DirecTV Ch. 709. To find out if the game will be shown in your area, go to the506.com and they'll take care of you.)
Announcers: Dick Enberg and Dan Fouts
Steelers lead 16-11 in regular season (Steelers lead 2-0 in playoffs)
The skinny: The Steelers haven't beaten the Ravens at home in a day game since 2004. ... To keep their playoff hopes alive, the Steelers
need to win this game. Wins from the Eagles, Dolphins, Colts and Patriots
(as I throw up in my mouth) also would help their chances. ... Steelers
OLB James Harrison is questionable with an arm injury. ... Ravens
S Ed Reed is doubtful with a knee injury.
December 22, 2009
3:16 pm | link
Week 15 NFL Power Rankings
I was hoping the results of Troy Polamalu's MRI would come out before I posted this. But I haven't heard anything,
so I'll post my rankings now and have something about Polamalu later.
Polamalu, who has missed nine games this season with two different knee injuries, had an MRI today. Pending the results,
there's an outside chance he'll be available for Sunday's game against the Ravens at Heinz Field.
Having Polamalu back will increase the Steelers' chances of winning their final
two games, which they need to do, and get a lot of help, to make the playoffs.
Whether or not the Steelers have Polamalu, figuring out the playoff picture still requires filling a blackboard with
numbers, letters, decimals and fractions, I'll try to make things simple by outlining a scenario in which the Steelers could
hear next week the words every team wants to hear: "control their own destiny."
Obviously, the Steelers have to beat the Ravens Sunday.
Here's what else has to happen:
the Eagles have to beat the Broncos. A definite possibility.
Philadelphia is trying to clinch the NFC East, and the Broncos lost
at home to the Raiders.
In Indianapolis, the Colts
have to beat the Jets. I think Indianapolis has to go at
least one more week before resting starters. They'll have a first-round
bye in the playoffs. You don't want to go four weeks without meaningful
football. The Colts learned that lesson in 2005.
Tennessee, the Chargers have to beat the Titans. This might be a
tough one, but it certainly could happen. San Diego still has to clinch
a first-round bye.
In Miami, the Dolphins have
to beat the Texans. I could see that. This would knock out
the Texans, and the Steelers could knock out the Dolphins by beating
them Jan. 3.
In New England, the Patriots have
to beat the Jaguars. Yes, we have to whore ourselves out
and hope the Patriots win this one.
If all this unfolds,
all the Steelers have to do Jan. 3 is win in Miami (they'd have to
do a better job stopping the wildcat than they did in Cleveland) and
they're in the playoffs.
Even if all this doesn't go the
Steelers' way, as long as they beat the Ravens, their playoff hopes
will remain alive entering Week 17.
Here's the playoff
picture, with remaining games in parentheses:
1. Indianapolis 14-0 (Jets, at Bills)
2. San Diego 11-3 (at Tennessee, Washington)
9-5 (Kansas City, at Jets)
4. New England 9-5 (Jacksonville, at Houston)
5. Denver 8-6 (at Philadelphia, Kansas City)
6. Baltimore 8-6 (at Pittsburgh,
In the hunt
Jets 7-7 (at Indianapolis, Cincinnati)
Jacksonville 7-7 (at New England, at Cleveland)
Pittsburgh 7-7 (Baltimore, at Miami)
Tennessee 7-7 (San Diego, at Seattle)
Houston 7-7 (at Miami, New England)
A couple of other points:
I was remiss in saying Sunday's game was the highest scoring in the history of Heinz Field. I should have said it
was the highest scoring NFL game. Just two weeks ago, Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh 45-44 at Heinz in a college game.
I find it amazing that after the Steelers won in Denver, the talking heads all
handed the Lamar Hunt Trophy to them. Then the Steelers lose five straight. Now, the Steelers win their first game in a month
and a half, and everyone's puckering up to kiss the Steelers' asses again. Oooh, the Steelers are dangerous. No one wants
to face them in the playoffs. Everyone should just see how the games turn out and shut the fuck up! Oh, and Merry Christmas.
My NFL power rankings,
with record and last week's ranking in parentheses:
Colts (14-0, 1)
2. Saints (13-1, 2)
3. Chargers (11-3, 3)
4. Eagles (10-4, 5)
5. Cowboys (9-5, 12)
6. Vikings (11-3, 4)
7. Bengals (9-5, 7)
8. Patriots (9-5, 8)
9. Cardinals (9-5, 9)
10. Packers (9-5,
11. Ravens (8-6, 13)
12. Dolphins (7-7, 10)
13. Giants (8-6, 14)
14. Titans (7-7, 17)
16. Panthers (6-8, 21)
17. Falcons (7-7, 19)
18. Jaguars (7-7, 15)
19. Jets (7-7, 16)
Raiders (5-9, 24)
21. Steelers (7-7, 29)
22. Texans (7-7, 18)
23. 49ers (6-8, 21)
Bills (5-9, 23)
25. Browns (3-11, 27)
26. Bears (5-9, 26)
27. Redskins (4-10, 22)
28. Buccaneers (2-12,
29. Seahawks (5-9, 26)
30. Chiefs (3-11, 28)
31. Lions (2-12, 30)
32. Rams (1-13, 32)