5 Smoldering Questions On the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 3

via stlouisrams.com— Jeff Fisher—the man, the myth, the legend, the jinx?

Smoldering indeed! The Astroturf was more than smoldering at the Conflictus Interrumpo* Sunday. Let’s see if we can derive some light (and not merely heat) from Hombre de Acero’s questions…

Week 3 found the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road vs. the St. Louis Rams, and while the Steelers did escape with a 12-6 victory, their second road win vs. the Rams came at the price of an MCL injury to Ben Roethlisberger.

On a short week, the Steelers don’t have much time to feel sorry for themselves as the Ravens are up on Thursday night, which is fast approaching. But before that date arrives, here in this little corner of Steelers Nation, we’re left with these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers to answer.

1. Going into the Rams game, the Steelers offensive line had only allowed two hits and five QB hits in weeks one and two. The Rams however registered five quarterback sacks and five QB hits, on a day when daylight in the running game was equally hard to come by.

What does the Ram’s game tell you about the state of the Steelers offensive line?

2. As a rule, the Hombre de Acero never answers his own questions. But last week he sought guidance here concerning Jeff Fisher’s winning record vs. the Steelers and got a variety of answers. Now its time to break a rule. Prior to Sunday’s game yours truly surmised that the Steelers Jeff Fisher Jinx could be explained in two words:  Steve McNair.

The number seemed to back this supposition up. However, Ben Roethlisberger’s injury now has me asking if the Steelers Jeff Fisher Jinx isn’t for real. What say you?

3. Ben Roethlisberger has said that he doesn’t think Mark Barron’s hit was dirty but he does feel it was illegal. Credentialed journalists from Ed Bouchette to Jim Wexell concur. However, Mark Barron was not flagged for his hit, on the same Sunday that Cam Newton publically complained about being told he was “Too young” to get a personal foul call.

Steelers fans have long complained that quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rogers have gotten “extra protection from the guards” not afforded to quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger (or Michael Vick for that matter.)

What do you think of the issue in general, and do you think the no flag on the Roethlisberger hit offers evidenced that the NFL is indeed selective of the quarterbacks it protects?

4. The Baltimore Ravens are 0-3 for the first time in franchise history and are traveling on the road for a Thursday night game. Do you think Baltimore’s winless record makes them more dangerous, or do you think it means that the Ravens are simply ripe for the picking?

5. Numbers might not lie, but sometimes they do fail to tell the whole story. There are a lot of numbers you can associate with this Steelers-Ravens matchup.

  • The Steelers are 2-4 vs. the Ravens without Roethlisberger.
  • The Steelers are 15-8 vs. the Ravens at Heinz Field or Three Rivers Stadium.
  • Michael Vick’s record as a starter vs the Ravens is 2-1, and 2-0 at home.
  • The Steelers are 0-2 against Baltimore on Thursday Night.
  • Going into 2015 the home team on short-week Thursday Night games wins 55.8% of the time.

So many statistics! Which set of numbers do you think hold the most relevance in assessing the Steelers chances vs. the Ravens on Thursday night?

There you go folks. Quiz rules are in effect. Please remember that the successful student will show his or her work and will most certainly read their neighbors’ papers.

*That, believe it or not, is genuine Latin. It could scarcely be more appropriate…

17 comments

  • cold_old_steelers_fan

    The quality of the writing and comments on this blog are so good that I am often loath to make the first comment from fear of lowering the tone but I need to run an errand this morning so I cannot wait for some one else to start.

    1) The Steelers line in it’s current configuration is quite good. The Rams defensive line is excellent. There in lays the difference.

    2) It isn’t real. There is no curse.

    3) All QBs are protected equally but clearly some QBs are more equal than others whether this is based on NFL HO decrees or just personal bias on the part of the refs. I don’t think it is age based but I suspect there is a basis.

    4) The Ravens are not a great team but they are still a good team with a proud tradition. Three close losses are going to leave them surly and ready to thump someone. The Steelers better be prepared to thump back.

    5) Zero Big Bens on the field.

    Have a good morning. I will see you folks again after I drop the van off for servicing.

    Like

  • 1 – I think an above average offensive line got manhandled by a great defensive line. Those things will happen. However, they did keep Ben relatively clean…even the injury that knocked Ben out can’t really be put on the O-line. Vick got hit more in his short stint, but that’s part of being Vick. It’s a funny thing that those running QBs, supposedly able to dodge more, tend to get hit more than the stationary guys.

    2 – No. Can’t buy it.

    3 – It is definitely selective, but I don’t know that it goes all the way up to the top of the NFL structure. Officials develop biases over time. I officiated high school football for 3 years and found that it was easy to start thinking ‘well, it wasn’t so bad because that guy can’t really do X’ or ‘gotta throw the flag, that kid’s a bit reckless’. I think statues get more flags than running QBs. Big Ben built his reputation as the biggest, strongest QB in the league..and for whatever reason, that implies he should take more abuse. It’s like NBA officials refusing to call flops when certain players are driving to the lane since the player is bigger and should be able to handle it. That being said, I don’t know how a flag wasn’t thrown at Barron.

    4 – They remain dangerous. It is 0-3, but their offense is picking up. They can win any shoot-out type of game against the Steelers right now.

    5 – ‘2-4 without BB’ and ‘0-2 on thursday vs Ravens’

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    • 1. Not much. The Rams have a really good D.

      2. No jinx. Not McNair. Fisher is a really good coach.

      3. Definitely selective. Brady, Rodgers, and Manning and the like always get the calls. Ben doesn’t but it may have more to do than his demonstrated ability to escape and make plays? He doesn’t dive like Peyton. young guys definitely do not get the same roughing calls that the “elite” do.

      4. I think they are dangerous AND ripe. This is still a big rivalry game and both sides will be jacked up. That said, this is obviously not a primo Ravens team. Past versions would have found a way to be at least 2-1 in the games they have played. But, watch out, they’re still the rat birds and they are still dangerous.

      5. None of the above. The final score is the only stat that matters. This will test this team. With Ben, it’s a relatively comfortable win. With Vick, who knows? One thing is certain, this game will set the tone for the coming games without Benny.

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  • 1. I’m pretty annoyed about this, because it is forcing me to greatly modify the article I was in the process of writing about the O line. That said, sometimes the immovable force meets the irresistible object, and something has to give.

    2. How can you look at the picture which heads the article and say there isn’t something going on? Perhaps, like the guitarist in Brother Where Art Thou?, Fisher sold his soul to the devil somewhere in Georgia…

    3. The word from the NFL officiating people is that Cam Newton’s referee actually was saying something else—Ed Hochuli claimed he was saying “The difference is that you were running.” If you want to read more have a look: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/13761939/referee-ed-hochuli-face-discipline-comments-made-cam-newton-carolina-panthers
    That said, I think there is no question the referees are a lot quicker to throw the flag for some QBs. A classic example of how Ben is treated is when Haloti Ngata broke his nose, the ref refused to call hands to the face or personal foul or ANYTHING, and explained to Ben that “he (Ngata) was just trying to make a play.” Well, if that’s your standard, Mark Barron was just trying to make a play. So why isn’t it “just trying to make a play” when Peyton or Tom is involved?
    And to stand up for Aaron Rodgers (maybe it’s his dreamy eyes) he doesn’t get treated with kid gloves by the refs either. Maybe lately, but I haven’t watched a game with the Packers in it for a while.
    This is obviously wrong. Either you flag them all or none of them. Watch this video if you want to see what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meiU6TxysCg&feature=youtu.be It’s funnier than even a cat video : ) and so true.

    4 More dangerous. I had hoped for “ripe for the picking” but looking at the team in the opponent preview, they have some really good players on their defense but just haven’t put it together. As for the offense, it’s mystifying. Maybe Joe is secretly injured. I expect him to play the game of his life on Thursday. (Hopefully the bad game of his life, which will have a lot of competition. But the good game of his life would, too. He comes through in big games.)

    5 As always you can throw the numbers out the window when the Ravens come to town. We’ll know which it was when the game is over. Copout, much?

    Liked by 1 person

  • 5 dampened answers

    1. A combination of our Oline isn’t as good as we thought and the Rams front seven were as good as we suspected.

    2. Eddie George had a lot to do with his success against the Steelers as well.

    3. I have thought the NFL was selective on the QB’s it protects for a long time now, nothing new here. I do tend to believe Cam over Ed because of Cam’s immediate reaction to Ed’s on field answer.

    4. That is very hard to predict, I do expect the Ravens to approach the game with blood in their eyes.

    5. I will go with Michael Vicks record as a starter, sometimes players have other teams numbers, yeah, lets go with that.

    Bonus answer: Steelers by 6 points, a relative blowout victory for the men in black and gold.

    Like

  • 1. It doesn’t diminish my feelings about the offensive line at all. I think I’m learning more of how Tomlin communicates. The first thing he talked about last week was how Aaron Donald, and by extension that defensive front had caused him to lose sleep. They are very good, and it would be foolishness to believe that any offensive line was going to thoroughly dominate them. On the other hand it was hardly one sided. The O line won its share of battles as well. A good competition.

    2. All things considered I think that of active coaches Fisher knows Pittsburgh as well as anyone and better than most. I don’t think it is a jinx, just a very tough out when he has the tools at his disposal to compete.

    3. Part psychological and part structural. Referees are human beings too, and though loathe to admit it even to themselves, they have biases that can influence their work. On the other hand, continuing my emphasizing that this is a business, and whether its high end basketball players being allowed to take an extra step on the way to the basket, or making it clear that, as was the case with Joe Namath, one of your high value assets must not be harmed it reflects the reality that it does not advance your goals if some no name defender sends a marquee player to the hospital even though on one level its just football. Our frustration is that Ben has never been on the beneficial side of that particular line and has paid the consequences time and again.

    4. I think that the truth of the matter is that conditions are in place for a ‘beautiful’ and very dangerous game. I use the term beautiful in the sense that Tomlin did when the Steelers defeated the Cowboys at Heinz Field in 2008 in that it left much to be desired aesthetically, but scratching, clawing and desperation to win was something to behold. In normal circumstances this is what Peter King calls a “Mayhem-fest”. But this is worse because 1.) there is something not right about subjecting these teams to this level of brutality on three days rest. Remember in 2013 when we lost three offensive lineman and Le’Veon Bell in the fourth quarter of this type of a game. 2.) These two teams will destroy each other just on gp (general principles), Add the fact that both teams see blood in the water (Baltimore’s record, no Ben, just to mention two) and perhaps you may want to put the children to bed early. 3.) Pride. National television. You don’t think this won’t be must see for the rest of the league? Various sources writing off both teams. Robert Kraft actually laughing at the Ravens’ misfortune. OMG. The might end up looking like Houston vs. New York in the 1972 version of the movie Rollerball.

    5. I think home field advantage on Thursday night will be the difference, with Steelers depth being the advantage if injuries are a critical factor, but advantage Ravens if its about turnovers.

    Liked by 1 person

  • And for those of you who didn’t see the ’72 version of Rollerball, it wasn’t the turf that was on fire, it was some of the players.

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    • Well, I guess that does put Turfgate into perspective : ) I have to note that my son-in-law who lives in St. Louis called me last night (and he never calls me), to ask what the deal was with the scheduled Cards-Pirates game. (Postponed because of the 3 and a half(!) inches of rain Pgh received yesterday.) But I mentioned the game Sunday and he hadn’t even heard the turf caught fire. Cover-up, anyone? : )

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      • cold_old_steelers_fan

        Cover up? Do you think they swept it under the rug?

        Liked by 1 person

        • They were definitely trying to… BTW, did anybody notice the shop vac they were using? I have a better looking one in my garage, and I had been thinking how disgusting it was. It reminds me of the shop vac the Festrunk Brothers (or however you spelled the Two Wild and Crazy Guys) smuggled out of Czechoslovakia

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          • I actually liked that the shopvac was dirty and beat up…that means it works and gets used. If that thing had been brand-spankin’ new, I would have assumed the NFL was finding new ways to get money from sponsors.

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            • Well, this is the Rams, of course. As far as I can tell, pretty much no one in St Louis cares about them. They aren’t getting many sponsorship $ – those are all going to the Cards.

              Like

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