Monday, September 27, 2010

Week 3 Rundown

Three weeks into the season, all but 3 teams have lost a game. Five teams have yet to tally a win. The Steelers are 3-0 without Ben. This is the Steelers first 3-0 start since 2007. This is the first time we've started 2-0 on the road since 2005. This is the first time we've started both 3-0 overall AND 2-0 on the road since 1992.

What We Learned
  1. Kansas City is better than you think. San Francisco isn't as good as you thought.
  2. Buffalo and Cleveland actually showed signs of life this weekend. Jacksonville and Carolina looked like teams that will be picking in the Top 5 in April.
  3. It doesn't matter who plays WR for Indianapolis. Peyton Manning will throw them a touchdown pass.
  4. San Diego can't win in September. We've known this for many years, and it's still true.
  5. The NFC West struck back this weekend, going 2-1 against the AFC West, bringing the "Worst Division in the League" race to a closer 3-2 edge for the AFC West. The NFC East merits some discussion in this conversation as well.

  1. The Steelers have the best strength of schedule of all the 3-0 teams. Their opponents are a combined 6-3. Kansas City's opponents are a measly 1-8. Chicago's opponents are 3-6.
  2. Everything about Leon Washington. I was really hoping he would have been a component of the Santonio Holmes trade, but I'll take getting B-Mac back. Two KR TDs for Washington against San Diego was pretty sweet too.
  3. Atlanta getting redemption after going 3-and-out on their first OT drive and beating New Orleans. This is a good Falcons team and we're finding that out as the season goes.
  4. Minnesota running their offense through Adrian Peterson rather than Brett Favre.
  5. The Jets throwing the ball down the field, rather than dump-downs. Their offense is a lot more potent when Sanchez throws vertically.

  1. Missed game-winning field goals. Sebastian Janikowski missed a 39-yarder for Oakland, after which Darren McFadden said, "If he kicked that ball 100 times, he's going to make 99 of them. It just so happened that he missed that one." Garrett Hartley missed a 29-yarder for New Orleans in overtime, after which Drew Brees said, "He makes that kick 99 out of 100 times. That was just the one he missed."
  2. The Redskins in Week 3. They lost to hapless Detroit in Week 3 last year and St Louis in Week 3 this year. 
  3. Houston laying a dud against Dallas.
  4. Buffalo dumping quarterback Trent Edwards. The guy was their starter in Week 1 and is now on waivers. Ouch. Buffalo really shot themselves in the foot not drafting a quarterback this year.
  5. The New York Giants. They look horrendous right now.

Going Streaking

Futility Watch

Off the Schnide
St Louis ends the league's longest losing streak with a 30-16 win over the Redskins. The bad news? Running back Steven Jackson went down with a knee injury.

Greg Lloyd "I Wasn't Hired For My Disposition" Award

James Harrison

James would seemingly be an obvious recipient of the award and might be even more badass than Greg Lloyd. That being said, Harrison's quote on the NFL Today segment before the Steelers game sums up what this award is all about. Harrison said something to the extent of, "A lot of people want to jump on the Steelers bandwagon now. We don't need you. We don't want you." That's about all that needs to be said. 

Bob Smizik "Douchebag of the Week" Award

ESPN Radio

For as much as we ripped on ESPN Radio for being overly-negative about the Steelers, it was still a better option than The Fan, which is just insane bridge-jumpers calling in all day spouting ridiculousness. The ABC/ESPN Corporation opted last week to shut down the local branch (ESPN 1250 Pittsburgh) and make the broadcasts nationally syndicated shows, putting a lot of local radio personalities, including former Steeler Mike Logan, out of a job. Additionally, word is that 1250 on the AM dial will be moving to a Disney Channel radio station next year. So basically, local sports talk got ousted by Hannah Montana. Barf.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Homestead Charlie: Steelers Win


Coming into the game, the script was set for a 10-6 game. We all knew Tampa's offense wasn't great and they were 2-0 by virtue of beating two teams that went into this week at a combined 0-4. No one expected a performance like this.

The Steelers got off on the wrong foot with Homestead Charlie throwing a pick, but the defense stands strong and holds the Bucs to 3.


The game follows script as teams trade 3-and-outs, but the Steelers win the field position battle as the sunny day provides Superman the extra strength to pound a 62-yarder.

Homestead Charlie takes advantage of the good field position and goes to the air, launching one deep for Mike Wallace who reaches around a defender to pull it in for our first passing touchdown of the season.


Sir Francis Drake isn't quite ready to hang it up though. Under the radar of reason and legitimacy, the Buccaneers drive down the field against the Steelers defense, using their running game. The quarter break happened somewhere in this drive.

Second Quarter

LeGarrette Blount powered for some big gains, but the defense held when it needed to, forcing another field goal.


The Steelers come back leaning on Mendenhall to move the ball down the field. Homestead Charlie gives us all a heart attack as he converts a 3rd down with his feet, charging between defenders for 26 yards. Two plays later, Raise Some cashes in from 3 yards out.


Robert Lewis Stevenson tries to draw something up, but whoever tried to read it fell asleep, resulting in a holding penalty and sack. Mike Williams makes a catch in space but a hit from behind by Farrior knocks the ball out, right into the waiting hands of Ryan Clark, who takes it back across midfield.

Homestead Charlie doesn't waste any time going to work. The first play is a play-action that he slings downfield for Mike Wallace. The pass hits the fingertips of the corner and lands softly in Wallace's hands for the score.


Haters gotta hate.

Laws of the English language tell us that "should have" does not mean "were."

Also, the scoreboard doesn't lie.

The highlight of Tampa's next drive was a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Keyaron Fox. 

The Steelers take over with 4:18 to go and get rolling with a 3rd down snag by El Yeah. Homestead Charlie moves us into field goal range with a pass to Wallace with a minute and a half to play. Hines steps up and racks up a bunch of YAC yards, taking a short pass down the sideline into the red zone. Two plays later on 3rd and 3 from the 9, Batch steps away from pressure and finds Hines wide open in the back of the end zone.


Third Quarter

If there were any Tampa fans actually left in the stadium by this point, Willie Gay's 3rd down sack had them all asking the same thing.

Why is the rum gone?

The Steelers start moving the ball again, but get stuffed on a 4th and 1 try from the Tampa 37. It wasn't a bad call to go for it, but it would have been nice to have a blocking back in there rather than just trusting Redman to find a hole.

Nick Eason blows up the next drive with a first down sack that pretty much ensures Tampa won't do anything with the ball.

With the lead and the heat, it was a simple gameplan for the Steelers from here on out. Run right. Run left. Run again. A 34-yarder from Raise Some on a play similar to the one he scored on against Atlanta sets the Steelers up to tack on more points. Batch threw one pass on the drive, a 3rd and 2 (passing down for Arians) pass at the goal line. Incomplete pass brings Reed out.


The Steelers start cycling in their defensive reserves and Tampa starts moving the ball down the field. Ernest Graham makes a big run down the sidelines off a screen pass and 2 missed tackles to put Tampa in the red zone.

Fourth Quarter

Freeman comes out and tries a quick out but overthrows the receiver, who gets a hand on the ball popping it up into the air. Right on cue, Brett Keisel steps in and snags the ball out of the air and rumbles like a freight train down the sideline, picking up a block from LaMarr Woodley, all the way back to the house. 

Jack Sparrow volunteers for the gallows after that play.

Tampa uses the exact same dump-down pass to the running back for the entire next drive, which the Steelers eventually snuff out and force a punt.

The running game is able to move the ball all the way from the 4 to the Tampa 32 before Batch is forced to throw on a 3rd and 4. Not that it matters, but the pass was intercepted.

For the second straight week, the Steelers chase a starting quarterback, with Josh Johnson coming in to replace Freeman. The Steelers use their whole second team defense, and second round pick Jason Worlids rings up his first career sack.

Beyond that, Johnson leads the Bucs down the field, eventually punching it in with LeGarrette Blount on 3rd and goal from the 1.


Victory formation.


Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Charlie Batch
Defensive Game Ball: Brett Keisel

Honorable Mentions:
Rashard Mendenhall
Mike Wallace
Hines Ward
Troy Polamalu
Lawrence Timmons
Jason Worlids
Willie Gay

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game

No Bucco Bruce

Honestly, we've got nothing for this one. This was a great game and we really have nothing to complain about. I'm sure the Negative Nancy's out there on ESPN Radio and the Post-Gazette sports section will find plenty to complain about from this game. But from us? The only thing we're sad about was that Tampa didn't wear the creamsicle Bucco Bruce Jerseys.
How awesome are these jerseys though?

Final Thoughts
  • Another great game by Mendenhall pounding the rock. 19 carries for 143 yds and 1 TD.
  • Yards are going to be hard to come by next week against Baltimore, but the Ravens gave up a ton of rushing yards to Peyton Hillis (who?) and the Browns today.
  • Remember when people were/still are mad about the Steelers using a 4th round pick on a punter? Sepulveda had 1 kick of 62 today. Tampa's punter averaged half that (31.0) on his 5 kicks.
  • Homestead Charlie...what can you say? Wow, what a game.
  • Mike Wallace, all he does is make big catches down field. 
  • Good to see the young guys get some reps on defense at the end of the game. Nice to see Worlids get his first sack.
  • Timmons might be our defensive MVP right now. He led the team in tackles for the 3rd straight week, this week with 7, giving him 33 on the season.
  • Willie Gay played a great game today.
  • You'll probably hear people ragging on Ike for dropping that INT. Tell them to suck it. Catching has never been Ike's forte, that's why he's on defense. At least he made a play on the ball unlike their joke WR.
  • Good game by the O-line, Chuck didn't get sacked at all.
  • Defense did a good job getting pressure all day, and it paid off with 4 sacks.
  • 3-0 baby!! No complaints whatsoever about that.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gameday: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1:00 PM
The Black Pearl
Radio: 102.5 WDVE

What to Watch For

1. Quarterbacks

Charlie Batch vs Josh Freeman. The aged veteran vs the up-and-coming star. Freeman has shown the ability this season to stand in under pressure and make throws, but he also has the speed that when he tucks and runs, he can pick up yards in a hurry. Batch on the other hand has pretty much seen everything that a defense can throw at him. Hell, he practices against Dick LeBeau's defense. That being said, Batch is fragile and could suffer another season-ending injury on any play. Our best guess is that the Steelers will keep with their conservative game plan and play the field position game with Tampa Bay. Batch won't be asked to do too much with the ball, and the Steelers should give him plenty of protection in most scenarios. For now, the strategy has to be "Keep the Quarterback Safe." And if this means a heavy dose of Rashard Mendenhall, then we're all for it. Freeman vs the Steelers defense is one of those matchups that we absolutely love. The Steelers defense has been playing with a chip on their shoulder all season and has carried the load of responsibility for winning games. Will Freeman be able to make the proper reads to attack the defense? We wouldn't count on it. If there is any "open" spot against this defense, it is on come-back routes in the 8-13 yard range. However, as Atlanta found out in Week 1, go to that well too many times and Troy Polamalu will eventually be sitting on one. Check-downs to Tight Ends are usually open as well, but our linebackers all have pretty good hands and good ball instincts, making those dangerous passes if Tampa tries it too much.

2. Field Position

This game has all the makings of a low-scoring slug-it-out affair that the Steelers have been a part of the first two weeks. While the animosity between these two teams won't be as high as it was for the Steelers last week in Tennessee, both teams are going to want to come out and establish themselves physically. The Steelers got killed in the field position battle against Atlanta, but owned Tennessee in it. If the Steelers can keep the ball in positive territory, including staying in front of down-and-distance scenarios (I'm looking at you Flozell "False Start" Adams) they'll be able to keep pounding the rock, eat up clock, and be able to keep Batch out of blitz situations. I'm fully expecting another big game out of Jeff Reed, and Daniel Sepulveda has had a monster year punting (46.3 yds per punt, long of 59). Don't expect any long drives out of either team in this game. If there is going to be a big play, it will probably come from the Special Teams. We wouldn't be surprised if there were under 300 total yards from both teams combined in this game.

3. Special Teams

Tampa isn't going to run on the Steelers defense. If Michael Turner and Chris Johnson couldn't do it, does anyone really expect Cadillac Williams to fare much better? Nope. That said, if one of these teams is going to hit a big play, it will likely be on Special Teams. Rookie Antonio Brown took one to the house for the Steelers on the opening kickoff last week, and the Steelers kick coverage has only been marginally better than last year (punt coverage is definitely worse than kickoff coverage). As we addressed with Point #2, the field position battle is going to be huge, and if the Steelers get pinned deep, it will be on Sepulveda and the defense to flip the field on Tampa Bay.

4. Pirate references

Last week, we mentioned the ongoing battle of us vs lethargy when it comes to mid-week blog posts. This week, we have a much more entertaining battle to watch. Us vs bad Pirate jokes. How many will we make? How deep into pop culture will we dig? Pirates of the Caribbean? Treasure Island? Peter Pan? While we're at it, we're instituting a blog-wide ban on eating Long John Silvers until after the game tomorrow. Stay tuned for the game recap to see how many bad pirate jokes we make. Or just watch the Pittsburgh Pirates play, that's enough bad pirate jokes for a lifetime.

Behind Enemy Lines

This week's guest is Eric from What The Bucs, probably the best-named Tampa Bay blog going. Eric also writes for and Check him out on Twitter as well if you want to bash on someone during the game.

1. Both teams are surprisingly 2-0 coming into this game. What have you been most impressed with in Tampa's 2 wins this season?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-0 but this is the portion of the schedule where Bucs fans actually see where the Buccaneers are at. So far Buccaneers fans are impressed with 2 things. First, the development of Josh Freeman. He's come a long way from where he was at last season, when he committed 21 turnovers in 9 starts. Second, the improvement of the defense. Tampa was last against the run last season and the addition of rookie DT's Gerald McCoy and Brian Price appear to be paying dividends so far. 

2. Cadillac Williams, whose potential we loved at Auburn, has had a solid season thus far. The Steelers have one of the best run defenses in the league. What are the Bucs going to have to do to come out of this game with their first 3-0 start since 2005?

After watching the Steelers dismantle the Tennessee Titans last week with 7 turnovers and limited Chris Johnson to 34 yards, the Buccaneers have a huge task in front of them. Tampa will stick with the run, Morris is stubborn about that. I expect to see several quick slants and some bubble screens in the passing game. In order for the Buccaneers to win the game, they will have to control the ball and hope to wear the Steelers defense down in the Tampa heat. They must play and absolutely perfect game and they'll need something big from their special teams. The suspension of S Tanard Jackson is going to be a big blow for Tampa. 

3. The last time the Black and Gold visited Tampa Bay, they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. The last time these two teams faced off in Tampa, the Steelers handed the Bucs their last defeat before Tampa won the Super Bowl. Those two statements really have nothing to do with each other, kinda like this 3rd question really has nothing to do with the game. We love Tampa's creamsicle jerseys and Bucco Bruce, will we be seeing them again this season or was it a one-time throwback for the Bay of Pigs game last year?

Bucco Bruce. Those uniforms bring back some very painful memories for someone like me who has followed the Buccaneers from their creation in 1976.I've watched them start out 0-26 in those uniforms. I'm more partial to our current ones, when we hoisted the Lombadi Trophy wearing them. Yes, Bucco Bruce is back again this season, December 5th against the Atlanta Falcons. 

4. Tampa has built a solid young core with Josh Freeman, Mike Williams, and the talent along the defensive front. Are there any lesser-known (or under-the-radar) players that you think will have a big impact on this game?

There are three players on defense you should watch for. LB Geno Hayes, CB E.J. Biggers and S Corey Lynch. These are all young players but they have a knack for always being around the ball. Hayes is from Florida State and plays in the style of Derrick Brooks. Biggers started last week in place of CB Aqib Talib and should be in the nickle package this week. Lynch had an incredible preseason and should see a lot of action this week with Tanard Jackson being suspended. 

5. Any other final thoughts?

 I am expecting a very low scoring game with the Steelers winning 13-10. 

Around the League:

AFC North: 
Cincinnati @ Carolina, Cleveland @ Baltimore

Go um...Jimmy Clausen? Wow.

Game of the Week: 
Atlanta @ New Orleans

The Falcons are a good team that absolutely destroyed a bad Arizona team last week. The Saints are the defending champs who have struggled through 2 good defenses: Minnesota and San Francisco. Will the Saints offense finally explode against a relatively weak Falcons secondary? Can Atlanta's offense keep up with New Orleans if this game gets into a shootout?

Blowout of the Week: 
New England over Buffalo

The Patriots own Buffalo. That's about it. New England will be out for blood after being downed by the Jets last week. Buffalo sucks.

Upset Special: 
Detroit over Minnesota

Detroit might be the best of the 0-2 teams right now. I can't believe I just said that. The Lions offense looks legit with Shaun Hill throwing to Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best just dominating life. However, Minnesota has a very good front 7 that will challenge Best's streak of touchdowns. That said, Brett Favre is still itching to air it out, even though he lacks any real receiving threats. Detroit's secondary is their weakness on defense, but if their front 7 can get pressure on Favre, they can keep it close.

By the way, remember what happened last time we were in Tampa?


Monday, September 20, 2010

Week 2 Rundown

With two weeks down, who would have thought the Chiefs, Bucs, Bears, and Steelers would all be 2-0 while the Cowboys, Vikings, and 49ers would be 0-2? It's a crazy game. Gotta love it.

What We Learned
  1. Defenses aren't dead yet. In an age when offenses get all the credit, there were some outstanding defensive performances this week. Namely by Pittsburgh, Miami, and the New York Jets.
  2. Dallas and Minnesota are in trouble if they don't find an offense soon. 
  3. Since the Jets caught the Patriots cheating in 2007, the Pats are 3-3 against the Jets. Prior to that game, New Englad was 11-3 dating back to the 2001 season, when New England won their first Super Bowl.
  4. Currently, no one in the AFC North has an offense that should scare anybody. We'll see if that changes when Big Ben comes back in Week 6. The Steelers defense should scare the crap out of you though.
  5. The AFC West went 2-0 against the NFC West, temporarily settling the debate for "Worst Division in the League." By record: 5-3 (AFC South, AFC West, NFC South), 4-4 (AFC North, AFC East, NFC North), 3-5 (NFC East), 2-6 (NFC West).

  1. No substitute for being 2-0. Since 1990, 64.1% of 2-0 teams have gone to the playoffs.
  2. Being alone atop the division after just 2 weeks. Love seeing the Steelers play with a chip on their shoulder.
  3. We hate New England as much as anyone else, and seeing them lose was great. However, Randy Moss' one-handed TD grab was just a thing of beauty.
  4. Cleveland's upcoming schedule. It's downright brutal. Will they win a game before their December 12th showdown with Buffalo? If not, there could be two winless teams going into that game.
  5. Jahvid Best and Shady McCoy going ballistic in the Detroit-Philly game. That might have been the best performances by opposing running backs you'll see all season.

  1. Everything about the way the New York Giants played on Sunday night.
  2. Buffalo not getting the ball in the hands of CJ Spiller. The guy is obviously the best player on the team. Gotta do things to get the ball in his hands.
  3. Jacksonville's running game against San Diego. They never got rolling and none of their backs were effective against a poor run defense. 
  4. Monday Night Football announcers. It's a pretty easy script. Mike Tirico announces the play, then Gruden makes a hyperbole-filled statement about someone involved in the play. Repeat.
  5. People who care more about fantasy football than the NFL. It seems like more and more when we go out to a bar or even at a game, people are more interested in talking about their fantasy team than what's really going on. We enjoy fantasy football as much as the next guy, but let's keep our priorities straight.

Going Streaking

Futility Watch

Greg Lloyd "I Wasn't Hired For My Disposition" Award

Maurkice Pouncey

Any type of "Badass of the Week" award needs to go to someone who put forth a tenacious effort. While this could have gone to anyone on the Steelers defense, Pouncey gets the award for being the only  player on the Steelers offense to play every snap. Get some fluids this week, it's going to be another hot one in Tampa next week.

Bob Smizik "Douchebag of the Week" Award

Stan Savran

Not sure what team this guy is watching, but after listening to him both last week and this week, Stan has been nothing but a Debbie Downer. Not only does Stan, for no apparent reason, loathe Dennis Dixon, but he also keeps going back to mantras like "The Steelers haven't scored an offensive touchdown in regulation this year!" Calm down folks. Let's not forget the Steelers had two extended occasions in the '08 season (8 quarters between Week 2 and Week 4, 7 Quarters between Week 10 and Week 12) where the offense didn't find the end zone. But guess what? Even though our offense hasn't produced much, we're 2-0. And what did Stan want? For us to throw the ball all over the place and risk our last Quarterback's health behind our fragmented O-line? No thanks, we'll just run the ball, use clock, tack points on the board, and trust the defense.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Return of the Defense: Steelers Win


As we predicted in our gameday post, Jeff Fisher opts for the Titans to wear their away white jerseys, making the Steelers wear their home black jerseys in the 95-degree heat.

First Quarter

The Steelers take the opening kickoff and Mewelde Moore takes it and hands it off to Antonio Brown who takes it all the way down the sidelines TO THE HOUSE!!


On the ensuing kickoff, Stevenson Sylvester punches the ball out from the returner and Keyaron Fox falls on the ball to give the Steelers the ball back on the right side of the 50.

A fight breaks out after an incompletion on first down. No idea how Finnegan didn't get kicked out for being the 2nd man in and throwing punches to Ward's face. On 3rd down, the Steelers go empty set and Tennessee brings 1 more than they can block, forcing a fumble that Tennessee recovers.

The Titans come out and go right to the air, picking on Ike Taylor on come-back routes. Tennessee's offense falls apart inside the red zone, taking a timeout on 3rd down then a delay of game.


Patrick Bailey makes the tackle for the Titans on the kickoff. We still miss him. 

Arians goes back to his old offense, throwing a swing pass on 3rd and 2, which results in a 1-yard loss. What happened to the smart play-calling last week? Sepulveda booms a 47-yarder, but the coverage unit doesn't get down there. Danny saves a touchdown with a tackle on the sidelines.

Farrior goes down on the first play from scrimmage and Larry Foote comes in to take his place. Tennessee picks up a few first downs to move into the red zone. VY goes to the play-action well one too many times and tries to go deep to the end zone but Polamalu makes a diving interception to halt the threat.
What a player.

The ensuing drive gives people who grew up watching the 90s Steelers a massive erection. The offense comes out in an I-formation and runs the ball. Mendenhall makes two nice runs over the right side, picking up 2 first downs following his blockers. Redman throws a great seal block to spring Rashard for a 20-yard gain. Dixon converts a 3rd and 2 with his feet, scrambling for 21 yards. Mike Wallace saves the day falling on a fumbled snap.

Second Quarter

On 3rd and long from the 25, Dixon takes the snap and takes off on a sprint with blockers in front, picking up 7 yards. In this situation, it was a great play call. We ensured there wasn't a sack that forced us out of field goal range and didn't make Dixon try to force the ball downfield. Reed tacks it on.


The Steelers defense stands strong again forcing a 3-and-out, with Clark and Woodley teaming up for a good open-field tackle of CJ.

Homestead Charlie comes in to lead the offense and fumbles the first snap. Batch completes one to El Yeah on a quick-hitter then gets one batted away from Heath on 3rd down. Superman with a 45-yarder.

In the mean time, Dixon gets carted off the field, looking like he's stretching his knee. The Steelers waste a challenge, challenging a completed pass to CJ. On 3rd down, LeBeau out-smarts VY, and Woodley drops right to where Young is throwing, making a leaping interception.

The Steelers are able to pick up one first down, but the drive stalls out around the 38. Tomlin opts to punt rather than try a 55-yarder. Willie Gay can't keep it in at the goal line, touchback.

Chris Johnson breaks an 85-yarder to the house, but it gets brought back on a holding call. Whew. The biggest part of that play was CJ getting winded and being taken out. Javon Ringer comes in and the Steelers stack him up, forcing a punt.

The Steelers offense stalls out and can't pick up  yard on the next drive, wasting good field position once again.

Tennessee takes over with 1:45 to play, and tries to run it out, handing off to CJ, but he coughs it up, putting the ball on the turf and Harrison falls on it for a HUGE turnover to give the Steelers the ball back on the 23 with 1:36 left.

Mendenhall takes one up the gut to put the Steelers in positive down-and-distance then get called for a hold that brings back a touchdown pass to Wallace. Mendenhall gets brought down in the backfield on a draw play, moving the ball back to the 31. Batch steps up away from pressure on 3rd down and finds Wallace wide open. Wallace doesn't pick up the first down, but gets to the ball back inside the 20, where Reed nails it.


Third Quarter

CJ takes a hammer from B-Mac to start the 3rd. Harrison makes two great open-field tackles on VY scrambles, forcing a punt.

The Steelers come out with the motif offense. Randle El makes his 3rd drop of the year on a low-thrown but still catchable ball. Punt.

Vince Young gets JACKED on 3rd down by Harrison and Aerosmith who spike VY into the turf head-first for a sack. They'll probably get fined this week, but it was worth it. LOVE the way the defense is playing right now.

The Steelers start grinding it out with Mendenhall, but a false start penalty on Essex stalls things out, then Batch gets sacked on 3rd and long. The backup tackles were getting owned by the Titans DEs all day.

The Titans offense gets in a bad situation with CJ trying to block James Harrison 1-on-1. CJ whiffs and Harrison chops the ball out of VY's hand, and Steve McLendon, picked up this week for D-line depth, falls on the ball for the 5th Tennessee turnover of the game.

Raise Some comes out grindin' as the Titans warm up Kerry Collins on the sideline. Red Zone Redman picks up a 3rd and 1 out of the power-I. The Steelers pick up a break on a personal foul on Courtland Finnegan, more concerned about being the NFL's dirtiest player than situational football, moving the ball inside the 15. Offsides on Tennessee moves it inside the 10. Mendenhall gets stacked up twice, then Batch has to fire one out in a 5-wide set to avoid getting demolished.

Fourth Quarter

Reed comes out on 4th and 5 and drills it, extending the lead to 13.


Kerry Collins comes in for Tennessee.

Typical Collins, he starts using underneath passes to RBs & TEs to move the ball down the field. Polamalu rings up a sack on a low snap that Collins almost breaks a hip on trying to bend over and pick up the ball. On 3rd and long, Collins slings it for Nate Washington but B-Mac is all over it, making a great diving INT.
For those keeping score, that's 6 turnovers and 3 poins for Tennessee.

The motif offense doesn't do anything except run some time off the clock. Tony Hills gets blitzkrieged off the left side and Batch gets sacked.

CJ gets smacked by Harrison on 1st down, then Collins moves the offense back even more taking an intentional grounding penalty with Farrior in his grill.
Love the look on Kerry's face here. He looks like he's shitting his pants.

The motif offense runs 2 minutes off the clock and Superman kills one 57 yards into the end zone.

Woodley gets in on first down and knocks the ball out of Collins' hand. Hoke falls on the ball at the bottom of the pile for the defense's 7th turnover of the game. WOW. What a performance by the defense.

The motif offense once again fails to do anything. Batch tries to hit Hines on a fade route on 3rd down but Finnegan pulls him down and the pass falls incomplete. Reed drills it.


Tennessee actually picks up a first down, barely, but Collins' arm takes another wack when Keisel gets it from behind. Collins hits a few more passes down the field, converting a 4th and 1 with a pass, signaling that they gave up on the running game and that CJ won't get his 13th 100-yard game. Collins moves the Titans into the red zone as the Steelers play prevent and give up the underneath passes. 

Polamalu makes a monster play (a mirror image of the play he made to stop Joe Flacco on a 4th and 1 QB sneak in the 08 AFC Championship Game) diving over the line to stop Kerry Collins on a QB sneak at the goal line.

On 3rd and goal, the Steelers defense gives up their first touchdown of the season, as Collins hits Nate on a fade. Tennessee tacks on the 2-point conversion to make it an 8-point game.


Will Allen tries to jump the onside kick and Tennessee falls on it, giving their team life. 

Hearts start beating faster and faster as Collins completes 2 passes to get Tennessee down to the 30. After a spike, Collins goes deep for Nate, but Ryan Clark comes across and knocks the ball out.

On 3rd and 10, Tennessee takes 2 false start penalties to move it back to 3rd and 20. To cap things off, as if it summarizes the whole game, Collins is pressured, dumps it off to CJ who gets hammered by Timmons right at the line of scrimmage.


2-0 BABY!!

Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Rashard Mendenhall
Defensive Game Ball: Troy Polamalu

Honorable Mentions:
James Harrison
LaMarr Woodley
Lawrence Timmons
Bryant McFadden
James Farrior
Chris Hoke
Aaron Smith
Brett Keisel
Ziggy Hood
Nick Eason
Steve McLendon
Larry Foote
Ike Taylor
Antonio Brown
Jeff Reed

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game


Regardless of who the quarterback is, they're only as good as their offensive line. If the tackles can't block edge rushers, it's going to be a long season no matter who is the quarterback. Tony Hills and Jonathan Scott really struggled today against the Titans D-line. The interior O-line did a decent job preventing A-gap pressure. Nevertheless, the line is going to have to improve their pass-blocking for when Ben comes back or else he is going to get killed in there.

Final Thoughts
  • What a game by the defense. That might be the best defensive performance since the New England game in 2008.
  • 7 turnovers (3 INT, 4 Fumble recoveries) AND 4 sacks. Wow.
  • Woodley and Harrison are having beastly years.
  • Polamalu is the heart and soul of this defense. 
  • What a job of stacking and wrapping on Chris Johnson. We held him to 34 yards on 16 carries. 
  • Mendenhall had double CJ's rushing yards, with 69.
  • The defense was playing prevent at the end, but they were still keying on CJ. Made someone else beat them.
  • No complaining whatsoever about being 2-0.
  • Everyone in the media who was giving Dixon shit this week for not scoring a touchdown (except in OT), guess what? Neither did Batch.
  • Hope Dixon's knee is okay. Assuming Leftwich clears waivers, he might start next week.
  • Cincy beat Baltimore, meaning we're alone atop the division at 2-0.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Gameday 2: Tennessee Titans

1:00 PM
TV: CBS, Radio: 102.5 WDVE

What to Watch For

1. Weather. The forecast is sunny and 94 tomorrow in Nashville. The first thing we'll notice tomorrow is how much gaming Jeff Fisher is up to. When the teams come out, if Fisher is strategerizing, the Titans (as the home team with the option to do so) will be wearing their white away jerseys. This means the Steelers would have to wear their black home jerseys, making it even more toasty for the players inside those pads. We've seen this happen before with other teams playing in warm weather, so don't be surprised if we see it again tomorrow.

2. The Steelers O-line vs Tennessee's D-line. Tennessee has a rebuilt defensive front, far removed from the days of Kyle Vanden Bosh, Jevon Kearse, and Albert Haynesworth. However, the Titans will run 8-deep on their D-line, rotating guys in and out of the game to keep them fresh. How will the Steelers O-line, a patchwork unit with Jonathan Scott starting at LT for Max Starks, handle the Titans defensive front?

3. Run defense. Chris Johnson is the most electrifying back the league has seen since Barry Sanders. Unlike Sanders, Johnson isn't going to scamper around for an hour. He is going to be patient, hit the hole, and be in the end zone. In fact, he can take it the distance in less time than it takes you to read this sentence. The Steelers need to play gap-sound defense and not over-pursue, particularly the defenders on the backside, because Johnson loves to cut it back.

4. Dennis Dixon vs Vince Young. Neither of these guys are exactly a franchise quarterback, but they've both been able to get the job done when they've been in games. In both games Dixon has started, the game has gone to overtime. Young, has a 26-13 mark as a starter.

5. History. The Steelers are 1-8 all time in the state of Tennessee. They haven't fared well at all there recently and have struggled against the Oilers/Titans franchise since Warren Moon was hooking up with Haywood Jeffires in the Astrodome. And there was that BS call on the field goal in the AFC Divisional Game in January 2003. Still haven't let that one go. Joe Nedney deserved an EGOT for that.

Behind Enemy Lines

This week's guest is Jimmy from Music City Miracles. Check them out on Twitter as well.

1. Both teams won their opening games through strong performances on the ground. What were you most impressed with in Tennessee's Week 1 victory?

There were two things that really stood out.  The first was the play of the defensive line.  Now granted this one has to be tempered a little bit because of how bad the Raiders offensive line is, but it was good to see these guys getting after the quarterback.  The pass rush was the biggest reason the Titans D was so bad last season, and it looks, at least early on, like they have fixed that issue.

The second thing was the play of Vince Young.  The Raiders were 9th in the league last year against the pass, and VY came out and played a very efficient game against them.  He only threw the ball 17 times but he made the most of those attempts posting a 142.8 rating.

2. The Steelers and Titans have had a lot of great games over the years and Tennessee has had a ton of success against the Steelers in Nashville. What do the Titans need to do to win this game and move to 8-0 against the Steelers in Nashville?

Take care of the football.  The Titans obviously catch a break facing the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger.  I think that makes the Titans the better team in this game, but that advantage quickly disappears with a couple of turnovers.

3. This game will be a reunion of sorts for two former Steelers: Nate Washington and Patrick Bailey. There really isn't a question in there, besides us saying we still have a warm place in our hearts for these guys. The real question is - with the Steelers stout run defense at mostly full health, how will Tennessee's offense attack the Steelers defense? Will they trust Chris Johnson to make plays on cut-back runs and short passes or will they put the ball in Vince Young's hands and let him air it out?

Well anytime you face a Jeff Fisher team you are going to get a heavy dose of the run, so CJ will get his chances early.  They will hope that he is able to find some room with the cut-backs, but at some point Vince is going to have to make some plays with his arm or legs to loosen up the defense.  Titans’ offensive coordinator Mike
Heimerdinger has done a lot of different things with VY and CJ in the backfield, so I expect him to have a few wrinkles for this defense. Of course the Titans best offensive play is the one where one guy is out of position and CJ makes them pay.

4. Everyone who doesn't live under a rock or in a van down by the river knows Chris Johnson and what he brings to the game. Any lesser-known (or under the radar) players that you think will have a big impact on this game?

The offensive line is a little different than the meeting last season. Kevin Mawae is gone.  Eugene Amano, who played guard last year, is now the starting center and Leroy Harris has taken Amano’s place at guard.  Obviously you cannot replace the experience Mawae brought up front, but his play had slipped a little over the past couple of years.  The interior of this line is a lot stronger than it was last season.
The other addition to the offensive line is TE Craig Stevens.  He is primarily a blocker and is a dang good one.  His role will be key against the Steelers’ 3-4 defense.

5. Any other final thoughts?

It is always a fun game to watch when these two teams get together.  I expect another defensive game that goes right down to the wire.

Around the League:

AFC North: 
Baltimore @ Cincinnati, Kansas City @ Cleveland

Go Chiefs.

Game of the Week: 
Manning Bowl II - New York Giants @ Indianapolis

Whoop-dee-friggin-doo. Peyton vs Eli in the battle of which of Archie's kids is more over-rated.

Blowout of the Week: 
Philadelphia over Detroit

Michael Vick is starting at QB for the Eagles. Detroit's D-line is pretty solid, but there are some big question marks at linebacker and in the secondary. Eagles win big.

Upset Special: 
Jaguars over Chargers

No real reason for this, but it seems like the best chance for an upset this week. San Diego didn't really show any improvement in their run defense, and their passing offense looked horrendous. Jacksonville's defense will face a tough task, but they might be able to pull it off.