Saturday, November 29, 2008

Week 13 Preview

We're not kidding anyone. This week is all about two big matchups. Steelers-Patriots and Giants-Redskins. While there are other important matchups out there (Bears-Vikings for the outright lead in the NFC North)...all eyes in the nation will be on the big two.

Thanksgiving games were a joke. As expected, Tennessee and Dallas won easily. Arizona couldn't close out the division title, but can clinch if San Francisco loses to Buffalo.

Matchup of the Week: Pittsburgh at New England
This game is huge for both teams involved. Matt Cassell is starting to look like Tom Brady and the Steelers defense is leading the league in most major categories.

Most Intriguging Game of the Week: NY Giants at Washington
The Giants are running away with the East and Washington is struggling to stay afloat in the NFC playoff race. The Redskins boast a good run defense, which should matchup well against the Giants rushing attack. No-Catch-ico is out...again.

Worst Matchup of the Week: Jacksonville at Houston
Two 4-7 teams playing on Monday night? This game might be worse than the Apple Cup last week. Houston can't stop the run and Jacksonville can't stop the pass. This game has the look of a shootout waiting to happen, which probably means it will end up 13-9 or something like that.

Other interesting games:
Chicago v. Minnesota -
Battle for the outright NFC North lead
San Diego v. Atlanta - LT vs. Michael Turner, enough said
Carolina v. Green Bay - Two teams in the midst of tough divisional battles in the NFC
New Orleans v. Tampa Bay - Tampa just took the division lead and New Orleans is struggling to get back in the race
Denver v. NY Jets - Two division leaders face off. Will the Jets have a letdown after their win in Tennessee?

Look out for: Joe Flacco
Did I just say that? Yes, I did. Baltimore is playing Cincinnati, who can't stop anyone.

Stay away from: Matt Forte
Minnesota's pass defense is weak, but their run D is fantastic. If this game turns into another shootout, the Bears will take to the air which will limit Forte's carries.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Miller Time: Steelers Win


Thursday night games are like amateur hour at the stadium.

Intros: it's all about the defense.

Some joke from NStink sang the national anthem.

Bungles won the toss and deferred so that they got to face our offense first.

Ben hit Holmes to get things going, but a drop by Washington on 3rd down forced a punt. For as bad as Mitch Berger was, Paul Ernster is worse.

The Bungles come out and run the Steelers motif offense. Willie Gay makes a huge stop of Housh on 3rd down to force a punt.

Parker gets 1, then Washington picks up a few on an end-around, but Holmes drops a 3rd down pass, forcing another punt.

The Bungles incredibly Irish quarterback, who we have dubbed "Erin" for his Irishness, orchestrated a nice drive and converted two 3rd downs. Cincy pulled out all the stops in the red zone, setting up in a "Wildcat" formation and having Benson run a direct snap. On 3rd down, Erin fired a good pass across the middle and Glen Holt made an unreal catch in traffic to come up with the touchdown.


After a great return by Russell, Ben hooks up with Washington to get the ball into Cincy territory. Parker nets nothing on 2 carries and another 3rd down incompletion forces a punt. Ernster gets booed off the field after a 23 yard punt.

Benson runs twice to close out the quarter.

Second Quarter

Erin goes deep for Holt on 3rd and short, but Clark is there and the pass falls to the turf. Punt.

Heath gets called for holding on 1st down, but makes up for it with a 14-yard snag. Ben hooks up with Hines for a huge 37 yard gain as Hines takes it down the sidelines to the Cincy 13. Ben hits SWEEEEEEEED on 3rd down, but he comes up just short of the sticks on a diving effort. Tomlin elects to go for it, and Gary "The Bulldozer" Russell converts. On 2nd and goal...

Heath Miller takes over the world.

Erin comes out firing and hits Holt for 11 yards on 2nd down. After some success passing, the Bungles go to the ground, where the defense holds 3 times, forcing a punt.

Parker ground out 9 yards on 2 carries before Arians shocked the world by handing off to the fullback on 3rd and 1. Ben and Holmes hooked up deep to get the ball across midfield. On 3rd and long, Ben hits Holmes on a slant for big yardage and another first down. Ben hits Heath again on 2nd down to get to 3rd and 3 as the clock two minute warning rolls around. Ben and Holmes can't hook up and Reed is more reliable than the economy.


Cincy comes out and craps all over themselves. The Steelers take a timeout on 2nd down to try to get the ball back if they can get a stop on 3rd down...

Teddy Roosevelt and the Big Stick policy lay the hammer down on Erin, forcing a punt.

On a stroke of misfortune, the punt takes a bad bounce and hits Limas Sweed, who was covering the punt. The Bungles recover with good field position and a full slate of timeouts. If this was any other team, this would have been bad news.

But this is the Bungles. Aaron Smith bats down a pass, Harrison ruins Housh's life, then Taylor and Clark team up to hold Housh to nothing on a quick pass. With the ball on the 34, the Bungles elect to go for it, but Willie Gay is all over it, and makes a great play on the ball, almost coming up with an interception.

The Steelers, who are without a doubt the worst screen team in the league, try to run a screen to Moore, but it gets stopped in the backfield, and the Steelers let the clock run out.

Third Quarter

Willie Gay was everywhere on the first series off the break. He came up with a tackle on 2nd down and forced a bad pass with heat on Erin on 3rd.

Parker and Moore pick up 5 and 1 respectively, then Ben avoids pressure and scrambles, for the first time this year, for a first time. Ben responds to his newfound legs by thowing two incompletions, but comes back on 3rd down with a big completion to Holmes for 19 yards. Santonio got wacked on a head-to-head hit on the play, and was out the rest of the game with a concussion. Parker picks up 3 on first down, then dashes around the corner for 15 and skips out of bounds at the 28. Parker left the game, apparently with a sprained knee, and didn't return. With Parker out, the drive stalls and Reed comes in to extend the lead.


Erin thinks the Steelers are offsides so he takes the snap and takes a knee, costing the Bungles a down. The defense holds and forces another punt.

After an incompletion, Moore picks up 3 on 2nd down, but the drive gets set back on 3rd down when an offensive interference on Washington negates a Ward first down. The Steelers can't convert on 3rd and 17, forcing a punt.

The Bungles respond by throwing 3 times, all to Housh, all incomplete. Punt. Snore city.

Mewelde Moore comes out and runs the show for 3 carries, then hauls in a screen pass that he takes for 22 yards to get the ball down to the Cincy 24. After another Moore run, you know a pass is coming. Ben looks for Spaeth to the right, but he is covered so Ben comes back across to Heath running down the seam for 19 yards to get the ball down to the 2.

Gary Russell goes off right tackle and walks into the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.

Erin completes a pass as the quarter winds to a close.

Fourth Quarter

Stat of the game: The Steelers had the ball for 22:30 in the 2nd and 3rd quarter. Wow.

Benson picks up 4 on 2nd down, but gets rocked by Farrior and Keisel on 3rd and 1. Another punt forced by great defensive play.

The Steelers come out with the motif offense and guess what? They punt.

Erin scrambles away from pressure, and the Diesel goes down.

JD says it's a sprained knee ligament, and that he'd like an appletini for his services.

Benson carries and Erin connects on a pass to get to 2nd and 5. After an incompletion, the Bungles conversion is negated by a penalty, but Erin converts with a pass to Caldwell. The drive keeps rolling as Erin hits his tight end to get the ball down to the 10. But the defense holds once again, forcing a field goal.

You knew the Steelers could use a long drive to close out the last 6 1/2 minutes of the game. But things were looking grim when they stuck themselves with a 3rd and long. However, Ben flings one over the middle and Limas SWEEEEEED comes up with a tremendous catch to pick up the first down. The Mewelde Moore show was on full tilt now. Moore picked up 11 and 7 before Cincy took their first timeout with 4:13 to play. Moore picked up 4 yards and a first down as the clock winds under 4 minutes. The Bungles used their second timeout after they stopped Moore on 1st down. Air It Out Arians shows his stupidity and guts as he calls a screen pass on 2nd down, which Moore turns upfield for 18 yards and another first down. Arians calls a run to the outside as the clock winds under 2:40. Moore gets run out of bounds to stop the clock with 2:30 left. Arians wisened up and called a run up the middle on 2nd down. Moore picks up 3 and the Bungles use their last timeout with 2:22 to play.

The Steelers really needed to get out of this game with no more injuries. A first down would end the game. Your heart stopped when Ben didn't hand off and scanned the field to throw. The pocket collapsed, but Ben remembered he had legs. Ben passes the first down sticks at the 5 with no defenders around. The 6'5" franchise QB dives....

After review...

On a meaningless drive, Erin drives the Bungles all the way down the field, but Troy Polamalu snags his 5th pick of the year at the goal line with 20-some seconds to play.

Victory formation. Game.

Players of the Game:
Offensive Game Ball: Heath Miller
Defensive Game Ball: Aaron Smith

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
Stores having Christmas sales before Thanksgiving. Macy's downtown had a full window display for Christmas, and it was a week before Thanksgiving. Absurd.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Game Day 15

It's a division game in late November and we have a 1-game lead. You shouldn't need any help to get pumped for this one.

But just in case...

Breaking News: Stinko on the Pine

Apparently he "violated team rules"...whatever that means.

What this means for us, is that William Gay will no longer be responsible for watching Housh. That duty falls to the one, the only....

Face Me Ike

William Gay will likely draw a matchup against Chris "Jailbird" Henry or Glen Holt.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Renegade: A brief history

I realized that when I mention "Renegade" in my game recaps, some people might not know exactly what I'm talking about. So here, in relatively brief form, is the lore surrounding Renegade and the Steelers.

The magic began January 5, 2002 during a playoff game against Cleveland. The Browns held a 17-7 halftime lead and stretched it out to 24-7 just after halftime. The Steelers were lagging. The offense was stagnant, as their only points had come on a Randle El punt return for a TD. The offense stalled again and had to punt. During the commercial break, the guys at Jumbotron control made a choice that forever changed Steelers history.

As the slow, melodic intro echoed out across the depressed fans, everyone got the sense of failure. Even the music controller had given up. 45 seconds later, the world changed. The scream in the song woke everyone up and the stadium started rocking. The crowd was back in the game, and the team responded. They stopped the Browns, then Tommy Maddox lead a 66-yard drive to paydirt to cut the lead to 24-14. The Steelers ousted the Browns 22-9 in the 4th quarter, capped off by a Touchdown run by Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala and Randle El to Tuman pass for the 2-point conversion.

The Steelers would go on to get screwed out of a win in Tennessee the next week. But the lore of Renegade was stuck.

Now, during the third quarter of every Steelers home game, a video compilation of defensive plays gets shown with the utter rocking of Renegade in the background.

As a recent addition to the lore, in the game against Baltimore earlier this year, after Renegade was played James Harrison sacked Joe Flacco on the first play from scrimage and forced a fumble that LaMarr Woodley returned for a touchdown.

The song works. Teams have yet to score this year on the drive after Renegade is played.

In the latest evolution, the version from the Chargers game, which I must say is the best Renegade compilation to date:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ian's BCS Predictions

Branching out a bit from the norm of the blog, here's my predictions for how the Bull Crap Series will play out.

As we near the end of the College Football season, there are some intriguing scenarios and situations that could play out. Topping the list would be a 3-way tie atop the Big XII South if Oklahoma beats Texas Tech this weekend.

I'm making some key assumptions in these predictions, so here we go:
  • Oklahoma beats Texas Tech. Due to Tech's weak out of conference schedule, voters see them as the 3rd best team in the Big XII, behind Texas and Oklahoma. Since Texas beat Oklahoma head to head at a neutral sight, Texas gets the benefit of the doubt from voters and goes to the Big XII Championship against Missouri.
  • The ACC Coastal ends in a 3-way tie between Georgia Tech, Miami, and North Carolina. UNC beat both teams and earns a trip to the title game to face Maryland in a rematch. Maryland earns their trip to the title game this week by beating Florida State.
  • Boise State goes undefeated and finishes high enough to earn a BCS bearth.
  • BYU beats Utah in the Mormon Bowl, knocking Utah out of BCS contention.
  • Since only two teams from a conference are eligible for the BCS, Texas Tech is eliminated from contention.

Florida will beat Alabama in the SEC Championship game, earning their way into the BCS Title game. Texas wins out in the 3-way tie shenanigans of the Big XII South to get into the championship game. They beat Missouri once again and earn a trip to the title game that will be a commentator's dream. A speedy Florida team with an explosive offense and good defense against the dink-and-dunk offense of Texas. Neither team has a running game and this has all the looks of a schoolyard game with the over/under being in the mid 80s. I'd take the over.
Prediction: Florida 52-47

The Fiesta Bowl loses it's Big XII team to the title game and gets first choice of At-large teams. Which means, in the selection process, the Fiesta Bowl has picks #1 and #3 of teams. Oklahoma will end up #3 in the BCS poll and earn an automatic BCS bid. The Fiesta Bowl will snatch them up with the #1 selection. The Fiesta Bowl passes on a rematch of the 2007 game between Oklahoma and Boise State. The Fiesta Bowl uses their #3 selection to take USC, saving the Pac 10 the embarrassment of having a great team sent, once again, to the Holiday Bowl. USC's head-to-head victory over Ohio State propels them into this position ahead of the Buckeyes, the next eligible team for a BCS berth.
Prediction: USC 27-24

Since Florida went to the title game, the Sugar Bowl gets the #2 pick for a team to take the place of the SEC Champion. The Sugar Bowl also has the #4 overall selection (2nd At-Large team). The Sugar Bowl uses the #2 pick to take Alabama, who was undefeated until the SEC Championship. Alabama has had success in the Sugar Bowl before, and the bowl won't want to disappoint their constituency. The Fiesta Bowl will pass on Boise State, letting them fall to the Sugar Bowl, who gets a matchup for the second year in a row of the SEC #2 and the WAC Champion.
Prediction: Alabama 37-20

The Rose Bowl is contractually obligated to take the Big 10 and Pac 10 Champions. In a matchup of an early season blowout, Oregon State gets a shot at revenge on the Nittany Lions. Penn State gets in with a win over Michigan State to win the Big 10 outright. Oregon State controls their own destiny in the Pac 10 right now, and should win out over Arizona and Oregon to get to the Rose Bowl. If not, USC lies in wait for their 4th consecutive Rose Bowl.
Prediction: Penn State 42-17

The Orange Bowl is contractually obligated to take the ACC Champion. It is likely that no one will want the Big East Champion, who will fall to the Orange Bowl. UNC gets in by winning out and Miami losing to Georgia Tech. UNC then beats Maryland in the ACC Championship that one might think of as a basketball title game. Cincinnati beats Pitt this weekend then cruises through Syracuse to win the Big East.
Prediction: North Carolina 24-13

President-Elect Obama said he would like to see an 8-team playoff. Let's take a look at how that might play out.

Key Assumptions:
  • Conference Winners of the 6 Major Conferences get in to the playoffs. Two At-large teams are selected using rules similar to the BCS process.
  • Seeds are determined by Final BCS Standings.
Quarterfinal Matchups

#1 seed Florida gets #8 seed North Carolina, the lowest-ranking team of the 8 chosen.

#2 Texas draws #7 Oregon State

#3 Penn State vs. #6 Cincinnati

The 4-5 matchup is comprised of two at-large teams. In this case, the highest two from the BCS Standings are taken. Oklahoma's win over Texas Tech keeps them in the #3 spot behind Texas and Florida. Then it falls to a debate between USC and Alabama. The SEC lobby wins out over the Pac 10 lobby, getting Bama the spot.

Florida over North Carolina
Texas over Oregon State
Penn State over Cincinnati
Oklahoma over Alabama

Semi-Final Matchups:
#1 Florida vs. #4 Oklahoma
#2 Texas vs. #3 Penn State

Who wouldn't want to see these two matchups? This would be a great "Final Four." In two historic matchups for the ages, Florida and Texas prevail (both barely), in spite of my high bias towards Penn State.

Title Game: Florida vs. Texas
Prediction: Florida

Obama's Original Plan:
President-elect Obama originally said he wanted to see "the top eight teams in a playoff." I made the assumption that, due to the lobbying power of the major conferences, they would each get a champion into the playoff system. But let's for a minute assume that these big power-brokers didn't have control over the system and we actually got to see a playoff with the top Eight teams.

Current Top Eight: Alabama, Texas Tech, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, USC, Utah, Penn State

Ian's Predicted Top Eight: Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Texas Tech, USC, Penn State, Boise State

The Matchups: Florida v. Boise State, Texas v. Penn State, Oklahoma v. USC, Alabama v. Texas Tech

Predictions: Florida, Texas, USC, Texas Tech

Semi-Finals: Florida over Texas Tech, USC over Texas (wow these would be two great matchups)

Championship: Florida over USC

Obviously, you can all tell who I think is the best team in the nation, and in a month and a half we'll find out. Did all these predictions serve any purpose? Not unless I'm right!

Week 11 Recap

Week 11 Recap

AFC Rundown
The Jets beat New England to take hold of the AFC East...for now. Buffalo is falling faster than the economy. The Steelers win over San Diego was huge, because it keeps them in the #2 spot in the conference and gives them the inside track to the division title. Where did Baltimore's run defense go against the Giants? Cincinnati tied. That's like a win for them. Cleveland is starting to turn it around, but it's too little too late. Miami might just sneak into the playoffs, but they're going to have to do better than beating Oakland by 2 points. Kansas City has heart and young talent, lucky for them they got their win early on. Tennessee is on upset alert again this week against the Jets. Indy has snuck back into a playoff spot. Jacksonville and Houston should start planning their draft-day parties.

NFC Rundown
The Giants are very, very good. Washington has been disappointing since their early season run. Philadelphia....really? Dallas found a little defense against a mediocre Washington offense on Sunday night. The NFC North and NFC South will go down to the wire. No clear favorite in either. Carolina is playing sloppy but winning games. Their running game looks great. Tampa has finally righted the ship and got things back on track. New Orleans is like the Denver of the NFC. A potent offense but no defense. Atlanta has been a surprise, but now they have to see if they can make that next step. Championships aren't won in September and October. Green Bay, Chicago, Minnesota. Each week a different team looks to be the clear frontrunners. The next week, that team loses. Green Bay was my horse to start the season, and I'm sticking with them. They are more balanced on offense than the other two teams. Arizona will have the division title closed out by the first week in December.

Current Playoff Picture
1. Tennessee (10-0)
2. Pittsburgh (7-3)
3. NY Jets (7-3)
4. Denver (6-4)
5. Indianapolis (6-4)
6. Baltimore (6-4)
Outside looking in: New England (6-4), Miami (6-4), Buffalo (5-5)
1. NY Giants (9-1)
2. Carolina (8-2)
3. Arizona (7-3)
4. Green Bay (5-5)
5. Tampa Bay (7-3)
6. Washington (6-4)
Outside looking in: Dallas (6-4), Atlanta (6-4), Philadelphia (5-4-1), Chicago (5-5), Minnesota (5-5), New Orleans (5-5)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Authority Always Wins: Steelers Win

18 11

Howdy kids. Today we're going to see one of the rarest animals on the planet, aw crikey! We're going to look at the natural habitat of the NFL Zebra to see how it reacts in certain situations. I hope you're excited kids!

If you lived in the Pittsburgh area and looked out a window in the 2 hours before gametime. You knew this was going to be a great day for football. San Diego. In the snow. Awesome.

The Steelers give the Offense some props and announce them to start the game.

Howdy kids, we start off our adventure today by watching the sacred ritual of the zebra: flipping the coin.

Steelers win: defer.

First Quarter

The Steelers come out strong on defense, stuffing LT and keeping Gates in front of them. Chambers converts the 3rd down, but Ike runs the Walsh/May-Traenor tip drill, and this time Troy is on the other end to make a diving snag for the interception.

What a play.
Troy makes some good moves on the return, but it gets called back to the spot of the INT on offsetting penalties after the pick.

Crikey kids, right off the bat we see the zebra confused as he has to go watch what he just saw in a little TV booth.

San Diego loses the challenge, we keep the ball. That makes 4 INT's for Troy on the season.

Parker scoots for 4, then Ben finds Hines down the sidelines for a big gain to get inside the 40. Air it out Arians takes a shot deep against a cover-2 which is almost picked off, but it was worth the shot early to test them. To make matters worse, Ben gets sacked on 2nd down, forcing a 3rd and long. Moore gets a dump-off pass that he takes for 13 yards, leaving us with 4th and 5. With a sloppy field, we should have either punted or gone for it, but instead we opt to try a 51-yard field goal, which Reed misses badly. That's his first miss of the season, but you can't really blame him for it. Bad coaching decision.

San Diego takes over at the 41 and goes to work. LT rips his biggest run of the game for 12 yards, but then gets stuffed for nothing. The Chargers do nothing on a free play where Smith was offsides, but Smith gets his revenge quick by stuffing LT on 2nd and 5. Rivers converts the third down with a 17-yard pass to get the ball inside the 25. After LT gets stuffed again, Rivers takes a shot for the end zone.

Crikey kids! Here we see the zebra performing a time-honored tradition: blowing a call! I bet it won't be the first time we see this happen.

The Chargers get a gift touchdown as they get the ball on the 3 off of a pass interference penalty on a clearly uncatchable ball. LT takes it in.


Gary Russell grinds out a pretty good kick return to get the Steelers the ball across the 30. He's not fast or flashy, but he follows his blocks and is hard to bring down.

Parker runs the show for 12 yards on the first two plays before Ben hooks up with Spaeth to get the ball to the 50. Parker gets 4 on 3rd and 1 to keep the drive alive and then comes back with a rip of 13 yards to move the ball inside the 35. Ben hits Holmes on a great slant route that he turns upfield for a good gain but-

The zebras are getting really frisky on this one! The great thing about watching zebras in the wild is you never know what you're going to see. But make sure you keep a safe distance kids!

Willie Colon, an offensive lineman, is called for being off the line of scrimage. He's a lineman. He has to be on the line. But the clock is unfased. He comes back and hits Hines with a short pass that Hines turns upfield for a huge 30-yard gain to get the ball down to the 8. After Parker gets halfway there on first down, our moron offensive coordinator decides to go 5-wide. Well, guess what happens when you only have 5 guys blocking? Ben gets sacked. Ben takes a timeout to wash his hands of the last play and finds Nate running across the field who makes a lunge for the goal line...

Crikey kids, zebras are known for their incredible nearsightedness. They can't be trusted to see anything more than a meter in front of them.

Nate is called down at the 1. Replay showed he was in, but Tomlin refuses to challenge. Instead, the geniuses that be decided to go for it on 4th and goal, and instead of a QB sneak or a run up the middle, or even giving it to Parker, they decide to run Mewelde Moore to the outside. Yeah, it got stopped.

Keisel and Farrior stopped Tomlinson for nothing on first down as the quarter expired.

Second Quarter

The teams came down to our end where the wind was whipping off the river. On 2nd down, Rivers looks for LT out of the backfield, but pressure from Woodley and Smith force him to throw it away. On a huge third down, James Harrison comes free from the back side and swats the ball out of Rivers' hand. An O-lineman scoops it up and Harrison and Woodley push him out of the back of the end zone for the SAFETY.


San Diego's punter makes one hell of a punt on the free kick and drives Moore back inside the 10. Officially, it was marked as a 75-yard punt. Wow. The zebras flag Timmons for a block in the back, pushing us back to the 6.

Parker gets 6 and Hines reels another one in for the first down and more. Nasty Nate hauls in a 2nd down pass to set up 3rd and 2, where the Steelers go 5-wide, but dodge a bullet when Ben hits Moore along the sidelines for 4 yards. Just when it seems like things are coming together.

Let's not forget that in ancient cultures zebras were seen of deprivers of hope and bringers of woe.

Hines, or the "Known Offender" as he is being called in the locker room, gets called for holding. Short passes to Parker and Hines get us back to 3rd and 10, but Ben is sacked, ending the drive. Our punter looks like a joke after what San Diego's just did, and he only manages a 30-yard kick.

The LT show looks like it's about to take over the world on the next drive until Polamalu blows up a play in the backfield and San Diego gets called for their only penalty of the game, a false start which the refs had to call, to their chagrin. Woodley makes a great play in pass defense on 3rd and long to force a punt.

Ben dumps a short pass to backup tight end Sean McHugh who rumbles for 15 yards to move the sticks. After an incompletion, Ben hits Hines for a solid gain that looks close to the sticks, but not quite. Moron Arians calls another off-tackle run on short yardage and what do you know, it gets stopped. I bet they didn't expect that one, right Bob "Huge douche" Smizik?

Even the punt team isn't safe from the zebras. Sproles calls fair catch, but then starts to run with it, so Anothony Smith tackles him...and gets called for catch interference.

Rivers comes out and hits Jackson for 8 yards, but Woodley stops LT in the backfield and Brett Keisel comes up with a HUGE sack on 3rd down...

Which he caps off by doing a little "Row the boat" celebration dance

After a 50-yard punt, the IOC calls up San Diego to test their punter's leg for steroids. The Steelers go 3-and-out.

As the clock winds under two minutes, you would like to see us put some more points on the board. As San Deigo starts with the ball near midfield, you come to the conclusion that the defense is going to have to produce something, because the offense sure isn't.

Another interesting trait of the zebra is it's inability to make decisions. It will often go back on what it previously decided.

The refs overturn a called-incompletion on the sidelines, giving San Diego even better position. Two plays later, Rivers dumps one off to LT who makes a mad dash down the sidelines before Tyrone Carter gets him at the 17. It was looking like Bad News Bears, but enter James Harrison. On a pass intended for a tight end not named Gates, Harrison jumps the route and pulls in a HUUUUUUGE interception to stop the drive and take it the other way.

What is it about linebackers making interceptions against San Diego?

The Steelers set up shop at their own 43 with just over a minute to go. Ben hits Hines and Moore then goes back to Hines to convert a 3rd and 2 (hey, we threw again on 3rd and 2, what a shock). The Steelers burn their second time out with 36 seconds left. Ben rockets one to Holmes over the middle for 14 yards then runs up and spikes it with 19 seconds to go. Ben hits Holmes again on the sidelines, but he can't get out of bounds, forcing the Steelers to burn their last time out with 11 seconds to go. Instead of just kicking it, the coaches send the offense out. On an endzone-or-bust play, Ben throws short of the end zone for Holmes, who pulls it in inside the 5 and wrestles with a corner until Hines comes over and knocks Holmes out of bounds with 3 seconds left. Hines might be the only one with a brain on the field. Huge heads up play to knock Santonio out of bounds to kill the clock, rather than let the DB hold him in.



Punt, Pass and Kick
Always entertaining

My dad noted we needed "a bloop and a blast" to get back in the game.

Third Quarter

The Steelers come out determined to do something on offense. Parker goes for 6, then a solid Spaeth reception is called back on a penalty on the Known Offender. But the Steelers strike back and Gary Russell plows through a pile to convert a 3rd and short. After an incompletion, Ben hits Spaeth on 2nd down to move the chains again. Ben is finally able to find Holmes two plays later for another first down. Parker picks up 12 yards in 2 carries, but the drive stalls out at the 23.

With runners at the corners, Reed blasts one to center field for a 3-run homer.

After Renegade, the Steelers defense looks poised for a 3-and-out, but Rivers hits LT on a screen pass that goes for 26 yards down the sideline. After another first down, the Chargers seem poised to take the lead back, but pressure by Woodley on 3rd down forces a bad pass intended for Gates, who had Troy all over him. Kaeding comes on and is too busy writing checks to the refs to kick, keeping the lead intact.

"You see Ben, we bet on the Chargers to beat the spread. That's why we can't let you score a touchdown."

The Steelers got the ball back and had one thing on their mind: more points. Parker and Spaeth went back and forth for a few plays, getting good yardage before Gary Russell got in on the act, converting another 3rd and 1. Holmes got called for a false start on 1st down, but another Parker-then-Spaeth combo picked up the necessary yardage and moved the chains. Stapleton got called for breathing before the play, setting us back again. Washington dropped a pass on first down and Parker only managed 2 yards on 2nd down, winding out the quarter.

Fourth Quarter

As karma would have it, Ben got sacked to start the 4th, forcing a punt.

San Diego looked ready to go 3-and-out after Willie Gay made a great stick on 2nd down, but Rivers converted, keeping the drive alive. Rivers continued to light things up, hitting Chambers for a first down then scrambling for another one to move the ball into Steelers territory. The ground game took over from there as LT picked up gains of 9 and 10 yards to get the ball inside the 25. Things were looking dim when Rivers hit Jackson on 3rd and 10 to get the ball down to the 6 and LT picked up 2 yards on 1st and goal. But veteran players make big plays when the time calls for it. Ike gets a great jump on a pass for Jackson, breaking it up. On 3rd down, Rivers lobs one for Gates in the corner...

New Guy is all over it to prevent the touchdown.
Great play by recently acquired corner Fernando Bryant.

Kaeding remembers to leave his checkbook on the sideline this time and makes the field goal.


Russell muffs the punt, but picks it up and scampers for 27 yards, all the way out to the 32.

Do yourself a favor. Just watch the video of the final drive. It's too good for words.



One last thing to remember about Zebras kiddies, they're very vengeful animals. If they don't get things the way they like, they'll do everything they can to try to get what they want.

Polamalu gets screwed out of a touchdown. Search for it on YouTube, everyone's calling that the game was fixed. Apparently Vegas made some $160 million because the Steelers didn't cover the spread. The refs even admitted it was the wrong call.

One last look at this fine specimen in hot pursuit of his gambling ticket that had the Steelers not covering the spread.

Players of the Game:
Offensive Game Ball: Jeff Reed
Hines probably deserves this one, especially for the huge catch he had to set up the winning field goal. But Reed did all the scoring and he came through in the clutch once again. Reed deserves to go to Hawai'i this year, and he just might get the chance if he keeps it up. I don't know if Hawai'i is ready for Jeff Reed though.

Defensive Game Ball: Troy Polamalu

So maybe Harrison deserved this more for his sack, INT and safety. But Polamalu played a great game shadowing Gates around the field, holding him to 2 catches for 10 yards and helping out in the run game. Troy had a great INT and a fumble recovery for a touchdown that the refs screwed him out of.
Honorable Mentions:
Willie Parker
Hines Ward
James Harrison
Brett Keisel
Matt Spaeth

I've watched a lot of games, but this was by far one of the worst officiating crews I've ever seen. I have no problem if you're going to call a game tight, that's fine. But if you're going to call it tight, you have to make calls against both teams. San Diego had a blank check out there tonight. 13-2 in penalties? 115-5 in penalty yards? No way that can legitimately happen. The Chargers were doing the same things the Steelers were, and weren't called for it. Simple as that. These guys should never be allowed back in the NFL.

Final Thoughts
  • A win is a win. Style points don't count in the NFL.
  • We still control our own destiny in the division and for the #2 seed, as the Jets have 3 conference losses
  • 400+ yards of total offense and only 9 points?
  • We need to find a way to get the ball in the end zone
  • 6 quarters without a touchdown
  • Ben remembered which color uniform we were wearing today
  • At least we have Cincy on the short week. Any other team might have given us trouble.
  • Worst officiating crew since Phil Luckett.
  • The NFL may have to put an asterisk in their record books next to "The Only 11-10 Game Ever*" *-but it should have been 18-10 as a touchdown at the end was wrongly called back.
  • The Steelers should get credit for two wins for this game because they beat the Chargers and the Zebras.
  • Over/Under on Steelers getting fined this week is 4 1/2.

As always, Mellancamp says it best: