YCOD Stunned as AB and Steelers Celebrate Pittsburgh’s Light Up Night Early

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Photo via Steelers.com The Helmet Catch wasn’t AB’s only great feat last night…

By Homer J

Homer has been asked to announce that the Yinzer Cult of Doom’s weekly post-game Bitchfest and Kvetching Bee has been postponed for lack of material. The YCOD promises to return next week or whenever they can find something real or imaginary to complain about, but they are taking a bye week of sorts after last night’s game to grab some smelling salts and try to come to their senses. A forty-burger can do that to you.

Homer, as always, apologizes for any inconvenience. Read more

We Had ‘Em All the Way: Titans @ Steelers

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via Steelers.com.  By gum, the black unis are slimming…

For whatever reason, I was far more nervous for this game than any I have watched this season. (Had I not already known the outcome, last Sunday’s game might hold that distinction.) Talk about thrills and chills, as Ivan would have it. Opening drive: Touchdown! Sweet! First Tennesse drive: Interception!! Even better!

But things quickly went—well, perhaps not south, but definitely in a southerly direction. There was the niggling worry that the Steelers couldn’t turn a drive that started at the TEN 24 into seven points. And then the Titans offense coolly sauntered out and put up a touchdown, and suddenly the lead was down to three points.

That’s when I started to get the shakes. The Steelers went three-and-out, and the Titans had another nice long drive (if you’re a Titans fan, although they had to settle for a field goal. But wait! I should have realized that however it might look, it was the Steelers’ night, because the field goal attempt was blocked! Hooray for the good guys!

Not that the Steelers made it comfortable, or at least not until well into the second half. But a lot of good stuff was happening, and eventually the offense got back off the schneide and did what they were supposed to be doing all season—put up lots of points and make it look easy in the process. So now for the Acceptable, the Objectionable, and the Appalling:

I’ll begin with the Appalling, and that’s the referees apparently not knowing the rule changes for fumbles in under two minutes left in the half. The AB catch that got knocked out and was recovered by Martavis Bryant should have, by rule, been spotted where it was fumbled, not where it ended up. And even though this benefitted the Steelers, I really think the refs ought to get it right.

Had that been called correctly, Boswell’s 50-yard field goal attempt (which he made) would have been a great many more yards than 50, and the Steelers would have had to punt. Or so I assume. Perhaps it wouldn’t have made a lot of difference, since there were less than 20 seconds left in the half, but you never know.

Once again, I suppose I should have taken this as a sign that all would be well, but frankly a nine-point lead didn’t feel like nearly enough. Especially when the Titans came out and scored on their first play of the second half. I’m getting tired of that narrative, but since the Steelers won I’m just going to put it into the Objectionable category. And since they won by quite a lot, I’m just going to move right along to the Acceptable category.

I’m sure we’ll discuss some of the stuff that was less than optimal in the coming days—we have a lot of time to kill before the next Steelers game, after all. But here are a few things I found rather more than Acceptable:

Four picks and five sacks by the defense—the first time they’ve done that in 30 years.  Mike Tomlin, who was complaining about the -1 takeaway/giveaway ratio last week, must be a bit happier after tonight.

Cameron Heyward, who went down in the fourth quarter and didn’t look good at all, was back a few plays later. Hopefully we dodged a major bullet there. You’ve got a week and a half to heal, Cam!

Three touchdowns to Antonio Brown, including the crazy helmet catch, which was rather reminiscent of one of the first big plays of his career. Three touchdowns matches his career high, achieved last year right about this time against the Colts.

Coty Sensabaugh, in relief of Joe Haden, had one interception and almost had another. Robert Golden, in relief of Mike Mitchell, had an interception. L. T. Walton had a sack of Mariota. The Revenge of the Back-ups, I suppose you might say. Not that I didn’t appreciate the interceptions from regulars Mike Hilton and Sean Davis, or the sacks from Vince Williams, Cam Heyward (two of them), and Stephon Tuitt.

45 pass attempts for Ben and 12 rushing attempts for Le’Veon has not typically been a recipe for success. How refreshing that it actually worked. It seemed like as the game wore on Ben and his boys started to get some of their mojo back. And four touchdowns makes a nice accompaniment to four field goals. Makes the latter more palatable.

And speaking of the latter, the kicking game was almost uniformly excellent. Special teams was generally on the ball, as the TEN returner (Adoree Jackson) is a handful. And no special teams penalties on the PIT side, either, at least as far as I noticed.

NO Pittsburgh turnovers. That’s huge.

And while we’re at it, let’s note the Steelers offense finally broke through the Mendoza line of football for the first time this season, getting not just 30 but 40 points. Very gratifying.

And the most important of all—the Steelers are now 8-2, Mike Tomlin’s best start to a season ever. In fact, this now means the Steelers are 17-3 in their last 20 games. I’d say that’s pretty dang acceptable.

And with that I will say adieu. It’s past my bedtime. I’m sure we will have more to say about this. Amazing how much more fun it is to write about wins than losses, even measly wins against inferior opponents such as last Sunday’s tilt. A decisive win against a very respectable opponent? Practically priceless.*

*As was the obviously genuine and heartfelt hugs, plural, between Ben Roethliberger and Dick LeBeau after the game was over. It was quite sweet.

 

 

 

Steelers Opponent Preview: Dick LeBeau and the Titans Come to Town

Photo via Steelers.com. Can you tell I’m loving the color rush unis?

The title of the article pretty much sums up the feel of this game. Many of the Titans coaches have played or worked for the Steelers at one time, including Mike Mularky, Deshea Townsend, and of course Dick LeBeau. It goes the other way, too. Starting corner Coty Sensabaugh was drafted by the Titans. But perhaps the big name here is Offensive Line coach Mike Munchak, who played for the Titans, coached in a variety of capacities for them, and was their head coach for three years. Bob Labriola of Steelers.com pointed out that there are more Steelers/Titans connections than there are between the Steelers and the Cardinals, and that’s saying something.

But once the “hail fellow well met” greetings are over on the sidelines, the battle lines are drawn up, and what we have is a game between a 7-2 and a 6-3 club. Both would very much like to win it. For the Titans, it would represent a sweep of the AFC North, as they’ve already beaten the other three teams (barely.) And they would naturally like to hold on to their lead in the AFC South. For the Black and Gold, it would represent another step towards a bye week and home field advantage in the playoffs. Read more

5 Smoldering Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers: Week 11

The Pittsburgh Steelers headed into Lucas Oil Stadium heading out of their bye week, and although they appeared to end their bye week about 30 minutes later than they should have, they nonetheless triumphed over the Indianapolis Colts.

This is a short week featuring one of those dreaded Thursday night football games as the Tennessee Titans come to town. When the schedule came out most pundits marked this as a fairly straight forward win for the Steelers, but don’t look now, Mike Mularkey’s Titans are 6-3 and leading the AFC South. But before we can get into protocol planning for Dick LeBeau’s Heinz Field home coming, we must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers.

1. When the Steelers acquired Joe Haden in late August, Ross Cockrell was suddenly deemed expendable and shipped off to the New York Giants. Now that Haden will be out for several weeks at a minimum, his cornerbacking duties fall to Coty Sensabaugh. Are you comfortable with Sensabaugh as a starter, or would you prefer Ross Cockrell?

2. Tony Dungy, one commentator not given to hyperbole, recently suggested that the Steelers “struggles” (in as much as a 7-2 team struggles) come down to a question of maturity. Agree or disagree?

3. Our own Homer J, in his game recap/analysis earlier this week, noted the kerfuffle over the two-point conversion attempts. Unlike most of the people discussing this, Homer chose to demonstrate the poise and maturity displayed by Ben Roethlisberger during that sequence of events. Rather than being rushed into running the play with the wrong personnel or lineup, he took first the timeout and then the delay of game. And of course they successfully ran the play from the seven yard line in the end.

Do you agree with this positive take on the situation, or do you agree with the entire rest of the fanbase/commentators/etc. that this confirms all the things you/they have been complaining about with this year’s team? And if so, what exactly, in your estimation, are said problems? (Question by Rebecca, as you can probably tell : )

4. Early in the season it seemed to this writer’s eye that Ben Roethlisberger was trying to force the ball to Antonio Brown. If memory serves a question to that effect even found its way into this column.

The earliest opportunity to research the issue came during the bye week, and this is what the results look like:

The numbers appear to disprove the working hypothesis. Assuming you’ve agreed with the conclusion, what other insights can you glean from this data set?

5. Thursday night will be Dick LeBeau’s homecoming at Heinz Field. LeBeau of course coached for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 15 years. The Steelers know LeBeau’s tendencies well, just as LeBeau knows the Steelers coaches and their tendencies.

Which side has the advantage in the chess match?

Bonus Short Week Question:

The commenter known as Earthling left the following lengthy but fascinating comment, which has been lightly edited for brevity. Please read and chime in, yea or nay:

Here’s my theory on Ben. Ben likes to throw the ball to people he trusts and that trust may need to be earned game by game right now. He likes to look around, check out of a play and find someone else. Maybe he knows best, maybe he has donkey ears. It hasn’t entirely been a bad thing that he doesn’t seem to like Todd Haley because he loved Arians and well, I’m done with that topic. But…Ben likes to improvise, and maybe he needs receivers who know how to catch a Big Ben pass whatever that means, especially if it means compensating for some inaccuracy. All of which worked great when he had Heath Miller and AB on the field all the time. In fact it was pretty great when he had Hines Ward and Cedric Wilson. On the field, all the time…Same guys. Even if they were guys like Cedric Wilson who aren’t a household name anymore. Or Santonio Holmes who didn’t do so well after Ben. But they were Ben’s guys and it worked.

Is it my imagination or does Ben play best when he has the same receivers on the field all the time? THe same people all the time. They don’t have to be world class WR’s, just guys Ben’s developed a connection with. When Ben seems to struggle, for whatever reason, there are a lot of numbers running on and off the field right and left, perhaps for Too Clever By Half OC kind of reasons…Changing personnel. I think Ben doesn’t like it.

So in that memo you’re sending to dear Todd, please include this: just leave the really really good players we have on the field all the time. Stop running AB or MB to the sideline so you can send in Eli or switch one not great TE for another or add another TE and let Ben sort it out and get some rhythm going with the guys he’s got, whoever they are. Let Ben work it out.

Homer’s right. The best Ben thing is the calm, the way he has often been unruffled when it all looks bad. He centers the O and makes it work.

Third Thoughts on Steelers @ Colts

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photo via Steelers.com

By Ivan Cole

Does this mean that the team should be banned from going to Dave and Busters?

I would be shocked, absolutely shocked if someone in Steeler Nation wasn’t pursuing that line of thinking. Some are rightfully concerned, perhaps outright annoyed that we come to a Steelers game looking for thrills and get thrills and chills instead. Read more

On Second Thought: Steelers @ Colts

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Photo via Steelers.com

Last Sunday virtue was its own reward, something that seems to happen rather infrequently. [It generally seems that no good deed goes unpunished…]  I’m visiting my aged mother, and we went to church. She always goes to the 11 o’clock service, and so we went to the 11 o’clock service, even though that’s when the Steelers game began, out here in the beautiful southwest. (Not that the Steelers’ game was broadcast anyhow, here in Cowboys/Broncos territory.)

And after church my mother always goes out to lunch with some old friends. When I say “old friends,” I mean people she has been friends with since 1959. We had a nice lunch, and drove back home. I finally then allowed myself to check the score, because I knew I would have to wait the rest of the day before the game would be available on GamePass. The game was over, and the Steelers had won. Little did I know how much drama (and trauma) had occurred during those three hours. Read more

Steelers Suffer YFL Setback [Steelers @ Colts]

Photo via Steelers.com

By Homer J.

Many thanks to Homer for getting this to me. I had to wait all day to be able to watch the game on Gamepass, as I am currently languishing in a place where the Steelers game is not necessarily the one they broadcast. Obviously a backwater. And I don’t know what’s happening in that photo—I presume JuJu has heard the groans of the denizens of the Yinzer Football League and fainted dead away…

The Steelers suffered a major setback in the YFL competition due to lack of style point, but move to 7-2, one game closer to clinching the division title. Yinzer fans respond with weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth… Read more

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