Friday, October 31, 2008

Ian's Week 8 Power Rankings

From a parity standpoint, last weekend was great for football. The Bills lost to the Dolphins, drawing the AFC East race into a dead heat between New England and Buffalo. Washington struggled to put away Detroit. Kansas City gave the Jets a run for their money.

Chasing Lombardi

Tennessee, the lone remaining unbeaten team plays a dominating kind of football that Steelers fans are used to seeing. They're tough against the run and they run the ball well. Their pass defense is solid, but their passing game is below-average. If anyone can put up more than 21 points against their defense and stop their running game, they'll have a legitimate shot at winning.

The Giants are good. We're not going to kid ourselves by saying that there wasn't a chance of the Steelers getting dominated. If the Giants had converted their 4 field goals into touchdowns, they would have put up 37 points against us. The Giants showed both the strength and weakness of their secondary against Pittsburgh, which may be exposed later in the year. But for now, they're the top team in the NFC.

Did anyone really expect Carolina to be this good? Fueled by a retooled offensive line, the Panthers are playing strong. The NFC South is loaded with good teams, so the Panthers are in for a fight the rest of the season, but they played well against the Cardinals in a game that may determine who gets the #2 seed in the NFC.

Right now, there are only two teams in the league with less losses than the Steelers. I know I typically drop teams out of the top 5 that lose, but there really aren't any other teams playing as well as the Steelers are right now. Additionally, they lost to a fellow top-five team in the Giants. The offense completely lost it's stride in the 4th quarter and another solid defensive effort went to waste.

The Redskins aren't flashy, but they get the job done. Yes, they have struggled away from home with the likes of St. Louis and Detroit. But they also beat Dallas and Philly on the road. They have a big matchup on Monday night with the Steelers this week that they need to win to stay in the division hunt.

Just Missed: Buffalo Bills

Waiting for April

At least they're showing heart. They keep coming closer and closer to getting that elusive first win. They gave Washington all they had. The Bears come to town this weekend. Could this be an upset in the making? Unlikely with the way the Bears defense is playing. The Lions only have 3 of their remaining 9 games against teams with records below .500, which are Jacksonville, Minnesota, and Indy. This team is staring 0-16 right in the face.

If there's a situation that can't get any worse, it's Cincinnati. After Cleveland beat Jacksonville last week, the Jags are desparate for a win against the Bungles to keep them in the playoff race. Cincy's only hope at not going 0-16 might be in the last two weeks when they face Cleveland and Kansas City. This team can't win without Carson Palmer.

Tyler Thigpen outplayed Brett Favre. Never thought I'd say that. The Chiefs gave it an inspired effort against Herm's old team. Is Matthew Stafford still going to be there at #3? Brodie Croyle is obviously not the answer here. With L.J. joining the ranks of criminals, they might as well deal him to the Bungles for their draft pick.

New coach Mike Singletary got embarrassed against Seattle, then he took it out on his players. I don't know if calling out Vernon Davis in public was the right call. This could be a team heading for the bottom. J.T. O'Sullivan has been okay, but they're going to be looking QB in the draft as well. Mark Sanchez might land here. They really need this bye week.

The second AFC West team and the second team from California on the list. It's just not happening on the West coast this year. With the struggles of San Diego and Seattle as well, the Pacific teams are probably the worst region in the NFL. Oakland had an overtime win against the Jets that was worthy of office talk, but then got smoked by the Ravens. They get the Falcons this week in what looks to be a battle of running games and young quarterbacks. Micheal Turner v. Darren McFadden. Matt Ryan v. JaMarcus Russell. Sounds like a good matchup until you consider the Raiders awful defense.

Just Missed: Seattle Seahawks

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Week 8 Recap

AFC Rundown
Tennessee beat Indy to take a 4-game lead in the AFC South. Jacksonville lost to Cleveland, putting Cleveland back on the outer fringes of the playoff picture and giving Tennessee a cakewalk to the division title. Kansas City showed some spunk against the Jets but ultimately lost. Baltimore beat Oakland to put themselves within striking distance of the Steelers, who suffered more costly injuries against the Giants. Miami upset Buffalo, which enabled New England to pull into a tie for the division lead and gave the Fins hope again at making a run for the playoffs. Buffalo, who faces the Jets and Pats next, has a tough task ahead of them to claim control of the division. Houston clobbered Cincy in the Futility Bowl and put themselves within two games of the playoffs. San Deigo still has a shot at Denver, but losing to New Orleans in London didn't do them any favors. Their defense is awful.

NFC Rundown
The Giants are the best team in the NFC. No doubt. If they had converted their field goals into touchdowns, they would have blown the Steelers out of the water. Philly made a statement against Atlanta to pull within a stone's throw of the playoffs. Detroit still sucks, even though they gave Washington a run for their money. The Skins aren't flashy, but they play solid ball and get the job done. Carolina is good. Very good. Arizona can't win on the road. That's not going to help them come playoff time. Seattle beat San Fran in the Toilet Bowl and Tampa laid an egg against Dallas.

Game of the Week: NY Giants over Pittsburgh
There were other good games this week with the Jets coming back to beat KC, Cleveland and Jacksonville slugging it out, and Tennessee's close match (until the end) with Indy. But the Giants-Steelers game had it all, and gets the Game of the Week honors.

Most Disappointing Game of the Week: Dallas over Tampa Bay

Both teams struggled on offense and it was just an all around boring game. We were really looking to see if Jeff Garcia could exploit the holes in the Cowboys secondary but he only came out with 227 yards passing on 43 attempts. Dallas has no offense without Romo.

Performance of the Week: Brian Westbrook
167 yards, 2 TDs.

Playoff Picture:

1. Tennessee (7-0)
2. Pittsburgh (5-2)
3. New England (5-2)
4. Denver (4-3)
5. Buffalo (5-2)
6. Baltimore (4-3)
Outside Looking In: NY Jets (4-3), Miami (3-4), Cleveland (3-4), Jacksonville (3-4), Indianapolis (3-4), Houston (3-4)

1. NY Giants (6-1)
2. Carolina (6-2)
3. Arizona (4-3)
4. Green Bay (4-3)
5. Washington (6-2)
6. Dallas (5-3)
Outside Looking In: Tampa Bay (5-3), Philadelphia (4-3), Atlanta (4-3), Chicago (4-3)

The Race to the Bottom:
Current Draft Selection Order
1. Cincinnati (0-8)
2. Detroit (0-7)
3. Kansas City (1-6)
4. San Francisco (2-6)
5. Oakland (2-5)
6. St. Louis (2-5)
7. Seattle (2-5)

November Preview

Since the season is about half over and the Steelers are hold on to a division lead by essentially a game and a half, here's what we have to look forward to in November.

Overall: 5-2 Conf:5-0 Div: 3-0
@ Washington (Mon)
San Diego
Cincinnati (Thur)
@ New England
This schedule is brutal, but it doesn't let up. December looks even rougher. The Steelers are going to need to find a way to get to 10 wins.

Overall: 4-3 Conf: 4-3 Div: 2-1
@ Cleveland
@ Houston
@ NY Giants
@ Cincinnati
Joe the Quarterback is 3-1 at home and 1-2 on the road thus far. At least he has a defense that keeps him in games.

Overall: 3-4 Conf: 2-2 Div: 1-2
@ Buffalo
The Browns have four of their five games at home, but all four are very losable games.

I'm just saying this right now. It is entirely possible that all 3 teams could enter December with a 6-6 record. Granted, this would mean that the Steelers went 1-4 in November, which is not ideal. The big question marks for Cleveland and Baltimore right now are in their games against Houston. How good are the Texans? They're certainly not the same team that got rocked here in Week 1. They should have beaten the Colts, lost to Miami by 1, and almost beat Jacksonville. Their offense has been coming alive as of late, which could be troublesome for the weak secondaries of Cleveland and Baltimore.

As I said at the outset of the year, 9-7 may very well win this divison. But it would be great to get to 10 wins. With the Bills loss this past weekend, the Steelers are still sitting in 2nd place in the conference, and it would be great to be able to hold on to that bye week. November is going to be a tough road, and San Diego and Indy are going to come in here fighting for their playoff lives. The way I see it, if we come out of November with at least a 3-2 record, we'll be in great shape.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Yorkers are obnoxious, go figure: Steelers Lose

Coming into this game, we knew it was going to be a tough matchup. What we didn't count on was a) how many New York fans would be in attendance and b) the Steelers getting rocked in time of possession.

The national anthem is sung by some local R&B artist. It was okay, nothing special. Apparently, the radio crew was all over her.

The Steelers introduce the defense and give Aaron Smith a pat on the back by giving him the honor of being the last player introduced. Good morale booster for Aaron.

The Steelers win the coin toss and slap Harvey Dent in the face by deferring to the second half.

First Quarter

With a stiff wind blowing off the river, Reed blasts one out the back of the end zone. Touchback.

Big Stick and Farrior stop Jacobs for a loss on first down. Manning goes after Deshea and dumps off two short passes, but Deshea is a solid tackler and helps the defense off the field. Punt.

Mewelde Moore gets interfered with, but the refs don't call it, so it goes down as an incompletion. Ben goes to the bank and reminds us that, even in troubled times, Heath is a sure thing. 22 yards. Moore is inches from breaking one as he gets tripped up for a 6-yard gain. Then it happens. Moore goes off right tackle...

...stiff-arms a defender...

...and takes it 32 yards to the HOUSE.


4 plays, 60 yards, 1:27 off the clock. Great drive.

Manning comes out and hits Hixon, who turns it upfield for a big gain. Jacobs pounds for 5 and Big Stick hurries Eli into a bad throw on 2nd down. But Eli comes back and finds Ward, who turns a short gain into a big gain on 3rd down to move the ball into field goal range. Jacobs runs twice to set up 3rd and 5, which Eli converts again by finding Steve Smith at the 9. Jacobs fumbles a handoff, but the Giants fall on it. Apparently, Eli thinks the best way to score in the red zone is by short passes. He doesn't even throw for the end zone and the Giants are forced to kick.


Hines gets called for a false start on first down, but comes back with a 14-yard gain on the next play. Moore picks up the first down on a short run to move the chains. Things are looking good, but Ben doesn't see a hanging safety and throws one within reach that gets picked off, killing our momentum.

Eli comes out and hits his big tight end for 15 yards, but the Giants are set back by a personal foul after the play, putting them back in the same position. Manning hits Amani "It is not a" Toomer for 9, then Jacobs runs twice for 15. The Diesel stops Ward on 2nd and short, but Eli picks it up on a QB sneak on 3rd down.

First Quarter TOP: Giants 11:47, Steelers 3:13

Second Quarter

With a fresh set of downs at the far end of the field, it was Brandon Jacobs time. He picks up 13 yards on the first play to get the ball down to the 2. It looked like the momentum was starting to turn, but the Giants decide to go to the air. Harrison forces a bad pass that Troy gets a hand on, but there was no way he could have picked it off. Troy and Big Stick apply some heat, forcing another incompletion, but Woodley was offside, giving the Giants the ball at the 1. On second down Ryan Clark plugs the hole and stops Jacobs. Jacobs appears to get in on third down, but Tomlin challenges the call and it gets overturned. With 4th and goal, you know it's going to Jacobs. But the defense is there. Everyone piled on for the stop. Dicklin challenges the play, but the refs tell him to screw off and uphold the ruling on the field.

Huge goalline stand by the defense.

With momentum still on our side, the offense took the field. Ben hit Davis out of the backfield to get some breathing room. Moore got nothing on second down and Ben fired a pass to high for Limas Sweed on a slant route on 3rd down, bringing on the Lob Wedge. Hixon brings the punt back 28 yards to give the Giants the ball inside the Steelers 20.

Ward carries for 2, then Eli throws two incompletions, the first caused by pressure by Timmons, which, sadly, is the closest we got to Manning all day. Carney came on for the field goal.


The Mewelde Moore show took center stage as he took full control of the motif offense. The 3rd down pass was incomplete, but Moore got rocked by Kenny Phillips, for which Phillips got a penalty, giving us a first down. Moore was a little shaken up, so Ben took to the air and took a shot deep for Nasty Nate who couldn't hang on to the ball. Gary Russell countered with an 8-yard run on 2nd down to set up a short 3rd down. Ben hits Nate over the middle who gets rocked by a safety and the ball gets knocked free, landing in the hands of a Giant for Ben's second INT of the game.

Eli hits Jacobs on a short pass then Jacobs gets stuffed by the Diesel on 2nd and short. Eli converts a 3rd down with a pass to Ward to get the ball inside the 20. Jacobs goes nowhere on 2 carries, forcing Eli to call a time out to set up a 3rd down play. No-catch-ico made his first appearance but got stuffed by Ike on a quick out, forcing a field goal.


And right when you though things couldn't get worst as the Giants took the lead...

Ben is sacked by Justin Tuck. But Ben redeems himself by going to Mr. Reliable Heath Miller to get the yardage back and move the sticks. Moore runs up the middle for 9 yards to take us to the 2-minute warning. Moore comes back after the break with a 10-yard run to get the ball into Giants territory. Ben hits Hines on a short route for 6 more. Moore picks up 2 to give us a 3rd and short at the 36.

But our hopes for a halftime lead come crashing down as Ben gets sacked. Lob Wedge comes in and drops one down inside the five.

Our boy Patrick Bailey is there to down it at the 2, forcing Eli to make a difficult kneel-down to end the half.

Third Quarter

At halftime, the people behind me asked what the Steelers could do to get things going again. I gave the obvious answer of "throw it to Heath and Hines. When Heath gets the ball, we move down the field."

The Steelers got the ball to start the second half, and went right to the ground. Moore picked up a few, then Ben hit Heath for 11 yards, which prompted some smiles and wise nods from those sitting around me. But then things fell apart.

Moore stopped in the backfield. Ben forced into a bad pass by pressure. Ben sacked. Punt.

Lob Wedge manages a 41-yard punt, but a personal foul after the play sets the Giants back inside the 20.

After an incompletion and a stuff of Jacobs on second down, Derrick Ward takes a draw play for 15-yards on 3rd down, but it gets called back on a holding penalty. Manning hits Ward on a swing pass, but the Steelers are able to bring him down before he gets to the sticks. Punt.

On the first play from scrimage, Ben goes play action and finds Nasty Nate with single coverage heading for Grant Street. He throws a great pass that Nate hauls in, then puts a move on a safety and strides into the end zone.

1 play, 65 yards, 10 seconds

With the crowd back in the game, the PA system comes out with Renegade to pump up the crowd for a big defensive stand. It pays off as No-catch-ico drops one, Jacobs gets stuffed, and Manning throws to a place where no one is. Punt.

With momentum soundly on our side, the offense took the field looking to stretch the lead. Moore for 2, then Ben hits SWEEEEEEEEED on a slant route that he turns upfield and fumbles, but is able to fall on the ball. Moore tacks on 1 more before Ben hits Hines for 10 yards to get the ball near midfield. Moore picks up 5 and 4 to set up 3rd and short. The Steelers keep it on the ground and Moore picks up 7 yards on a play that gets called back for illegal formation. Ben comes back and hits SWEEEED for 10 yards and our only third down conversion of the day. Ouch.

And that's when it all fell apart. After the play was over Kemoeatu tried to be above the law, but picked up a personal foul, setting us back 15 yards. Ben went play-action again and went for Nate Washington in Market Square, who hauled it in down the sidelines and scooted into the end zone.

"Holding. Offense Number 74."
In what may soon become dubbed as a Colonoscopy, Willie Colon gets called for holding and negates the big play. Ben can't find Heath on 1st and 20, and is forced to scramble for marginal yardage on second down. On 3rd and long, Ben tries to go deep for Nate, who can't pull it in. Lob Wedge comes out and sticks the Giants at their own 10. But things get worse.

Long-snapper Greg Warren was injured on the play.

Christian has some hard news for Jack and all Steelers fans to hear.
That's a torn ACL, son. He's out for the year.
How important is a long-snapper? You're about to find out.

The Giants got called for a penalty, which set them back to the 5, where their offense proceeds to crap all over itself, forcing a punt.

The Steelers get the ball just across midfield. With their recent success going downtown, you would think they would try to hit up the Golden Triangle again. You were wrong. Mewelde Moore got the call and picked up 5, 5, and 4 before getting stopped in the backfield for a 2-yard loss as the period expired.

Fourth Quarter

On 3rd and 8, the Colonoscopy strikes with a false start. Ben hits Moore for 8 yards on a short pass to set up 4th and 5. With the ball at the 34, it's too long for a field goal and too short for a punt, so we go for it. Ben tries to hit Hines on a crossing route, but has some pressure in his face and throws the ball a bit behind Hines and it gets picked off.

Jacobs drops a pass on 1st down but Harrison gets called for pass interference, giving the Giants another first down and only 3 more yards. Ward comes in for a change of pace and picks up 10 yards . Ward gets stuffed on first down, which prompts Eli to take a shot deep for Steve Smith, but Ryan Clark lays a lick on Smith and knocks the ball out. Clark was injured on the play with a dislocated shoulder. Manning hits Boss for the first down and more as the Steelers do a terrible job of tackling. No-catch-ico pulls in a short pass, but Ike is there to bring him down. Ike got injured on the play but would return later. We were running out of defensive backs at this point in the game. Ward came back for 4 yards to set up 3rd and 1. But the defense stood strong again, stopping Jacobs in his tracks.

The Giants take a timeout to talk over their 4th and 1 play. Eli comes out and doesn't like what he sees, but by rule can't call another timeout and is forced into taking a delay of game penalty. On 4th and 6, in a gamechanging play, Manning goes down the sidelines and drops a perfect pass into the hands of Amani It Is Not A Toomer for 30 yards to get the ball down to the 4. The Steelers defense stepped it up again as the Diesel stopped Ward in the backfield, Eli couldn't hook up with No-catch-ico or Boss, forcing a field goal.


With a little over 8 minutes left in the game, you knew we needed points. Apparently, the offensive line didn't.

Pressure on Ben forces an incompletion.
Moore stopped in the backfield for a loss of 4.
Ben sacked back at the 18.

Why is it important where he was sacked? Because we don't have a long-snapper any more. James Harrison, in an incredible display of sportsmanship, stepped up and volunteered to be the long snapper. But the job is a little harder than it looks. Harrison's snap goes over Lob Wedge's head and rolls out the back of the end zone. Safety.


Lob Wedge makes an awful free kick, which the Giants return to near the 50.

Ward gets the ball to midfield on first down, but can't come up with a catch on second, forcing 3rd and long. With a chance to get off the field, the defense chokes and Eli goes at the spot vacated by Ryan Clark and hits Steve Smith for a 25-yard gain. Jacobs pounds out 8 yards, then No-catch-ico gets in on the act, getting the ball down to the Steelers 9. Ward goes off-tackle to get the ball down to the 2, from where Manning goes play-action and hits Kevin Boss for the score.


With 3 minutes left on the clock, Ben had the chance to add to his reputation as a solid 4th quarter quarterback. But it wasn't happening. Incomplete passes on first and second down set up a 3rd down where he hit SWEEEEEED for 6 yards, setting up 4th and 4. Ben throws a pass for Hines that wouldn't have gotten the first down even if he had caught it, but it falls incomplete. Brandon Jacobs jaws at Hines from the sidelines, prompting comments from our section to the extent of, "Oh look, New Yorkers are being obnoxious, go figure."

The Giants get the ball and decide they have a better chance with Ward than Jacobs. Smith stops Ward in the backfield. Timeout. 2:05 to go. Ward picks up 5 yards off-tackle. Two-minute warning. Ward picks up 1 yard on 3rd down. Timeout. Punt.

The Steelers get the ball back at the 10 yardline and have to go 90 yards with 1 timeout in 1:48.

"So you're saying there's a chance"

Yes, there was a chance. But after two incompletions for Sweed and Washington, it's 3rd down again, which means....

Ben is sacked and fumbles, which is recovered by Colon. 4th and loooong.

The Steelers use their last timeout to draw up a play. With trips to the right, Ben goes deep to the left for Sweed who is double-covered. Kenny Phillips picks it off for Ben's 4th INT of the game. Eli comes out and kneels twice to end it.

Players of the Game:
Offensive Game Ball: Mewelde Moore
He managed 84 yards on 19 carries and 1 TD against a good run defense.
Defensive Game Ball: Brett Keisel

11 tackles, 2 tackles for loss. The Diesel was all over the place stopping the run today.
Honorable Mentions:
Ike Taylor
: The Giants went after Deshea all day, which is a tribute to how well Ike is playing this year. Once No-catch-ico came in, Ike held him to 3 catches for 15 yards.
Heath Miller: 3 catches, 52 yards. We need to get the ball in his hands more.
James Farrior: 11 tackles to lead the defense. Solid effort by the run defense to hold Jacobs to 47 yards rushing.

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game: Giants Fans
There were far too many Giants fans in attendance at this game. I don't know if I've ever seen that many fans of an opposing team at a Steelers game. I know Giants fans travel well, but who are they getting all these tickets from? Come on people, don't sell your tickets to opposing fans.

The solution? I think we need a Blackout against Indy.

Final Thoughts
  • The Steelers lost Time of Possession 35-25, including an 12-3 rout in the first quarter and 11-4 spanking in the 4th quarter.
  • We didn't have the ball in the red zone all day.
  • The Steelers were 1 for 10 on 3rd downs.
  • The Steelers scoring drives were 4 plays, 60 yards, 1:27 and 1 play, 65 yards, 0:10 for a total of 5 plays, 125 yards and 1:30.
  • Nate Washington only had 1 catch. The 65-yard touchdown.
  • Where were Heath and Hines in the 4th quarter? Why didn't we throw to them?
  • We had success going deep in the 3rd quarter, why did we stop?
  • No sacks from the Defense. They used a lot of short drops and quick passes to negate our rush, much like the Browns do.
  • Another good defensive effort against a good NFC East offense wasted by poor offensive line play.
  • Blackout against Indy.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Game Day 11

Game Day.

Defending Champs in town.

Time to defend the home turf again.

Trust Jack Bauer.

Week 8 Preview

Week 8 Preview

Here's what to look for in Week 8. We have a few great matchups of very even teams (PIT-NYG, SD-NO) and some games you couldn't pay me to watch.

Game of the Week: NY Giants @ Pittsburgh
Two 5-1 teams going at it...what could be better? The teams match up very well against each other and we should be in for an entertaining battle tomorrow at Heinz Field.

Most Intriguing Matchup: San Diego v. New Orleans (in London)
Both of these teams were predicted by many (including us) to win their respective divisions and both started 3-4. One team will emerge with hope remaining to make the playoffs, one team will be on the outside looking in. Really, really far in.

Worst Game:

We've been advertising this one for a while. Gag. Seattle @ San Fran was a close second here, but this game featured more combined losses and less combined wins.

Other good matchups: Arizona @ Carolina
Arizona doesn't travel well to the East, which could give Carolina a benefit here. But Arizona is coming off a bye week and will be well-rested.

Indianapolis @ Tennessee
This should be a good one on Monday night. If Indy loses, they're in danger of falling 2 games out of 6th in the playoff race.

Upset of the Week: Is it even an upset to pick Tampa over Dallas? No? Okay, then I guess I'm going to go with St. Louis over New England. The Pats have struggled against the run and Steven Jackson just exploded last week. Look for a similar effort this week.

Games with Playoff Implications:
Arizona @ Carolina
San Diego v. New Orleans
Tampa Bay @ Dallas
Atlanta @ Philly
Cleveland @ Jacksonville
Indy @ Tennessee

Best Performance: Jeff Garcia
At this point, I'll take any quarterback against the Cowboys secondary.

Stay Away From: Ronnie Brown
Buffalo's run defense is good and it's not getting a lot of credit right now.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ian's Week 7 Power Rankings

Week 7's edition of my power rankings is short and sweet.

The Sweet

Tennessee's defense is playing great, but they really don't have much of a passing game. If a team can shut down their running game, will they be able to score more than 13 points?

Their tuneup for the Giants went just fine. The team has a tough task ahead with Parker and Holmes out for the Giants game.

This team showed they were the real deal by beating San Diego. However, they have yet to play a division game. That will show their true stripes.

They're 5-1 and playing well. Bigtime matchup this week against the Steelers featuring 2 of the last 3 Super Bowl Champs.

After totally shutting down the Saints offense, they deserve this spot.

Just Missed: Arizona Cardinals

The Short

Is there a worse team than Detroit out there right now? If there is, I haven't seen one.

Cincy hasn't won, but they also haven't given up 300 yards on the ground in one game.

The #1 draft pick may be on the line when they take on the Chiefs in Week 17.

Without Hasselbeck, this team is a shell of its former self. Hard to believe they were winning at the end of the first quarter in the divisional round last year.

This is an honorary position for how bad they've played the last few weeks. Gross. Roy Williams did nothing for them this week.

Just Missed: Cleveland Browns

Week 7 Recap

Week 7 Recap

AFC Rundown
The Steelers took care of business by beating the Bungles. Buffalo showed they are the real deal by beating San Diego. Denver pulled an absolute choke job against New England. Baltimore's defense dominated Miami. The Raiders pulled it off in OT against the Jets and Tennessee ran all over Kansas City. Tennessee's matchup with Indy is huge this week. Oh yeah, speaking of which, Indy lost to Green Bay. A week after the media was ready to crown San Diego and Indy, both of them lay a dud. New England is still a dangerous team and might sneak into the playoffs on their weak schedule.

NFC Rundown
I called it. St. Louis over Dallas. I wasn't counting on it being by that much, but I still called it. The Giants played well in their tune-up game for Pittsburgh. Washington beat Cleveland. How tight is the AFC South? Every week you think a different team is the cream of the crop. It's definitely going to be a race for the playoff spot between the teams in the South and the teams in the East. No one from the North or West besides the division champs are making it. Speaking of which, Chicago bested Minnesota in what could best be dubbed a defensive shootout and Green Bay played great against Indy. Arizona was on their bye, but it didn't matter because Seattle and San Fran both lost, meaning that the closest team to the Cards is the 2-4 Rams. Ouch.

Game of the Week: Oakland over NY Jets
As much as I hate Oakland, Janikowski made a great kick in overtime to pull this one out. Even though there wasn't a whole lot of scoring and there was some sloppy play, this was still a very entertaining game to watch.

Most Disappointing Game of the Week: Green Bay over Indy

Everyone was expecting this to be a shootout, but Indy's offense forgot to show up. If this keeps happening much more often, Indy will be sitting on their couches watching the playoffs this year.

Performance of the Week: LenDale White and Chris Johnson

320 yards and 4 touchdowns between the two of them. Looks like I made a good call starting both of them on my fantasy team last week. Kansas City's run defense is downright awful.

Midseason Playoff Picture:

Outside looking in:
AFC: Ravens (3-3), Jets (3-3), Colts (3-3)
NFC: Falcons (4-2), Cowboys (4-3), Packers (4-3)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jungle Boogie: Steelers Win

Was anyone else a little worried when they saw it was Ed Hoculi's crew doing the game? Yeah, me too. Cincy wins the toss and defers. Ed, who is not Phil Luckett, doesn't need instant replay for the coin toss.

First Quarter

After all the pregame talk about how great Ben is in the state of Ohio, he comes out and takes a crap on everyone's face by fumbling the first snap. The only other team's I've seen do that this year were Cleveland and Cincinnati. Oh shit...

With the offense in trouble off the bat, Ben goes to Heath for a solid pickup to get to 3rd and manageable where he hits Hines on a crossing route that Hines turns upfield for almost 30 yards. Ben finds Spaeth on the sidelines on the next play and Hines wallops 1st round pick Keith Rivers with a massive (and totally legal) hit that breaks Rivers' jaw. Yes, Hines Ward broke a linebacker's jaw. Sick.

Nate Washington took an end around for 6 yards and another first down, but we lost most of the yardage on a Kemoeatu false start. Ben can't hook up with Hines on a slant route on first and long. After being quiet for the first 6 plays, Mewelde Moore gets his first touch, but doesn't do much. On 3rd and long, Ben finds Santonio for a huge gain to get the ball down to the Cincy 2. With no fullback in the roster, the Steelers come out with Najeh lined up at fullback and Moore in the I. Ben fakes to Najeh then throws a swing pass to Moore who waltzes into the end zone for the score.


After that great start to the game, the defense got it's shot. Let's face it. Cincy's offense without Palmer is nothing to be afraid of. This was evidenced early and often. Benson got stuffed by Farrior and Woodley. Housh caught a short one, Jailbird Henry couldn't catch it on 3rd down. Punt.

Ben wen right back to work picking on Dahanay Jones and found Santonio on a quick slant for 9. The Mewelde Moore show began as Moore ran for 3, 4 and 5 yards. On 3rd and 1, the coaches send in Gary Russell who gets stuffed. Lob Wedge comes in and punts 43 yards to the Cincy 22.

FitzPatrick fumbled but Housh was there to pick it up as Aaron Smith brought him down for a big loss. Benson got 8 back, but another incompletion on 3rd down brought out the punter. Kyle Larson defies logic by kicking a 15-yard punt. Yes, you read that right. 15 yards.

With the ball on the 30, we were already in field goal range. Moore for 3. Ben finds Hines for the first down. Ben takes a shot at the end zone for Nasty Nate, but he comes up empty. Moore goes around the right end for 16 yards to get down to the 3. With no short yardage back, Arians takes to the air. Leon Hall makes a great diving play to break up a quick slant for Hines. Ben can't hook up with Hines or Heath, and after 3 pass plays from the 3 yard line, Reed comes on for the chip shot.


At this point, you might be a little worried that we weren't able to convert that golden opportunity and take a big lead early.

James Harrison put those fears to rest with a big sack of FitzPatrick on first down. Antonio Chapman pulled in a pass to negate the sack yardage as the quarter expired.

Second Quarter

After a first quarter where we had almost 11 minutes in time of possession, you knew a letdown was coming, you just didn't want it to happen. Woodley applied the heat to FitzPatrick, who, because of his very Irish name, will be "Erin" from now on. Much shorter and easier. Punt.

If the Steelers could muster up some points here, they could pretty much put the game away. Buzzkill: they went 3-and-out. Ben took a shot deep for Holmes but came up empty. Moore reeled one in for 7 but we were set back by a false start and delay of game. Incomplete Pass. Lob Wedge pins Cincy inside the 10.

The Diesel stops Benson. Erin finds Ocho Stinko for a short gain, but can't deal with pressure from Harrison and throws an incomplete pass on 3rd down. Punt.

With the ball near midfield, Arians decides we haven't used the motif offense yet, so we might as well use it now. Moore for 6 and 2. On 3rd and 2, once again defying Steelers football logic, we put the ball in the air on a swing pass to Moore that gets stopped in it's tracks. Lob Wedge blasts one into the end zone.

Erin goes deep for Jailbird, but Ike was all over it and almost came up with the pick. Benson got stuffed and Farrior brings Erin down with a sack. The 2nd quarter was going great if you were a punting enthusiast.

Moore caught a short one for little, but Santonio came through to pick up a big first down and more. Ben went right back to him for 16 more yards to get to the fringes of field goal range. The first down pass got tipped at the line and fell incomplete. Moore got stuffed in the backfield for a loss of 4 on 2nd down and Ben was under pressure and threw a pass too high for Heath on 3rd down. Rather than try a 55-yard field goal, Lob Wedge comes out and pins the Bungles inside their 10.

Erin finds Stinko for 6 on first down and BUI Benson falls forward for 4 yards and the Bungles first first down of the game with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first half. The crowd goes nuts. With the crowd behind him, BUI goes for 9 yards in 2 carries and Erin finds Housh to convert again. A holding penalty negates their first play, but Erin gets it all back by finding Jailbird for 16 yards as the clock winds down to 2 minutes.

Former Nitany Lion Kenny Watson comes in and picks up the first down to get the ball across the 40. You have that sinking feeling that the Steelers didn't put the Bungles away when they had the chance and it's coming back to bite them in the ass. Erin navigates the field by finding Jailbird for 10, Housh for 12 and Jailbird again for 18 to get into the red zone. The Replay Booth challenged the catch, but Hoculi said there wasn't conclusive video evidence to show that he needs new contact lenses. Erin and Stinko decide to try and put on a show and hook up 3 times, the last one for a touchdown on a lob pass that Erin had to get rid of with Lawrence Timmons in his face.

The Bengals top fans celebrate their touchdown by stealing an airplane.

As Ben took a knee to end the half, you had a sinking feeling that with Cincy getting the ball to start the second half, we might be in trouble. We had the chance to put them away and now they're making a game of it.

Third Quarter

After what seemed like the longest halftime since the Ravens game, the Third Quarter finally started. The bad feeling in your gut didn't go away when Erin converted a 3rd and 7 by scrambling. Erin seemed poised to lead another scoring drive as he got the Bungles into a third and short, but...

James Harrison comes up with an incredibly timely sack for force a punt. Santonio brings it back to near midfield and the Steelers are in good shape.

Mewelde Moore alleviates some of your fears by taking a handoff on the first play around the left end and dashing for 24 yards. The Mewelde Moore Show continued as he snagged a short pass for 5 then busted another run for 6 to get the ball to the 20. Ben and Santonio can't hook up, but Ben finds Heath for 7 yards to get the ball down to the 13. On 3rd and 3, when, given their prior play-calling patterns, you expect a pass, Moore takes a handoff around the corner and gets a great seal block from Darnell Stapleton and he has a clear path to paydirt.


The Bungles sniffed the hope of winning, and weren't quite ready to give it up just yet. Erin found BUI for 10, then BUI powered for 5 yards. After an incompletion, Housh pulls one down to convert the 3rd down. Stinko snags a 7-yarder and 2 short runs set up a key 4th and 1 on the 14. Conventional wisdom would say kick the field goal and take the points, but the Bungles are 0-6. Erin sneaks for 2 yards to keep the drive alive then finds Stinko to get the ball down to the 5. Things look bleak, but the Big Stick Policy reminds everyone that this is the Bungles, and brings Erin down. Kenny Watson can't catch a short pass on 3rd down, and the Bungles are forced to kick a field goal.


We all felt a little better with the 7-point lead, but a 1-score game at the end of the 3rd quarter was a little closer than we wanted. Hines picked up 7 yards on first down, and Moore gets 2 to set up 3rd and short. Arians calls a stupid play to try to send Moore around the end on 3rd and short and we have to punt.

Harrison gets a paw on the ball and swats down a pass, but BUI comes back with a 7-yard charge as the third quarter ends.

Fourth Quarter

Erin converted another 3rd down with a pass to Housh and you had that sinking feeling that we were going to have to pull out another close game in the 4th quarter. That feeling didn't get any better when Erin hit Chapman and Housh to pick up another first down. After missing on a deep shot for Stinko, Benson plows through the defense and knocks out two guys. Troy layed a wallop on him and lost his helmet from the hit, but also knocked himself out of the game with a concussion. B-Mac also left the game with a broken arm.

JD says: B-Mac is out at least 5 weeks.

The run was good for a first down, but with the ball in Steelers territory, the Bungles choke. Timmons is all over the place as he stops BUI on a run, then sacks Erin on 3rd down to force a punt.

As the Steelers got the ball on the 9, we all knew the truth: we needed points of the 7 variety. Badly. Moore responds by taking the first carry for 16 yards to get the ball out of danger. Moore goes for 3, and Santonio pulls in a big catch on 3rd down to keep the drive alive after an incompletion on 2nd down. Moore runs for 5 more to get the ball up to the 50. On 2nd down, when it seemed like we were in for a long drive, Ben finds Nasty Nate on 5th avenue and Nate takes it to the HOUSE.


After that near perfect 6-play, 91-yard drive, the Bungles start to come apart at the seams. After an incompletion, BUI gets stopped in the backfield and Timmons comes up with another sack on 3rd down to force another punt.

With the ball near midfield, the Steelers knew they didn't want to just play field position. Ben takes a shot downfield for Hines, who draws a pass interference call that's good for 38 yards to get the ball inside the 15. Cue the Mewelde Moore show. He gets 6 yards on two consecutive carries, then seals the deal with a 2-yard touchdown run.


Stinko drops one on the sideline, then Housh can't come up with the ball, setting up another 3rd down. Big Stick takes a swat at Erin as he's getting pushed past him and manages to get the ball, forcing a fumble. Big Sticks swings off his block and dives on the ball to give the Steelers the ball in Bungles territory.

Byron comes in to close things off and, seemingly, just hand off to Gary Russell. But after Russell gets stopped in the backfield on first down, Byron has to go to the air. He finds Nate on 2nd down then hits Limas Sweeeeeeed for his first catch as a pro on a slant route to pick up the first down. Russell gets 2 carries to wind the clock down to 2 minutes to set up 3rd and 7. Byron throws one out for Hines and Jonathan Joseph makes a good play on the ball and is able to make a diving tip of the ball. However, the ball popped up into the air, and Hines pulled it down and was able to waltz untouched into the end zone for the final nail in the coffin.


With just under 2 minutes left, the Bungles send in Jordan Palmer to face the Steelers JV Defense. The Bungles offensive coordinator should be fined by the NFL for calling passing plays and delaying the game even longer. The Bungles were able to run 3 plays in the last 10 seconds of the game because of incomplete passes. I guess they really wanted to wallow in their misery even longer.

Players of the Game:
Offensive Game Ball: Mewelde Moore
Defensive Game Ball: LaMarr Woodley
Honorable Mentions:
James Harrison
Lawrence Timmons
Ben Roethlisberger
Nate Washington

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
Cincy's offensive coordinator for calling passing plays in the last 2 minutes when we really just wanted the game to be over.

Final Thoughts
  • Mewelde Moore is playing great. We just need to not run him into the ground like we did with Willie.
  • Nate Washington is turning into a great #3 receiver.
  • Hopefully Troy will be okay, he was having a Pro Bowl year.
  • Pro Bowl ballots are available on Make sure to vote!
  • This was a good tuneup for our big showdown with the Giants next week.