5 Smoldering Questions On the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 12

USA Today Sports/Joe Nicholson photo

by Hombre de Acero

The Steelers loss to the Seahawks left Steelers Nation sleepless in Seattle as it dropped the Steelers’ record to 6-5 and put their playoff hopes in jeopardy. Pittsburgh finishes the season with five straight AFC contests, so the men in Black and Gold most likely hold their own destiny in their hands. But before the Steelers can find their fate in the Final Five games of the season, this corner of Steelers Nation must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers.

1. Last week we made passing reference to the Steelers West of the Mississippi curse, referring to their dismal record outside the eastern time zone during the Mike Tomlin era. After nine seasons of struggles, do you think there’s something to this curse?

2. USA Today’s Steelers Wire editor Neal Coolong minced no words in pointing the finger at Mike Tomlin after the Steelers loss to the Seahawks.


In case you’ve been under a rock, Steelers Nation is up in arms over Tomlin’s decision to gamble early (and fail) with a fake field goal, and by his decision late in the game not to gamble by going for it on 4th and goal at the three-yard line.

Yet, from the day he arrived in Pittsburgh, Tomlin has never backed away from being bold. Regardless of your thoughts on this week’s in-game decision making, which are your favorite gambles that Tomlin has made during his tenure? Explain your choices.

3. Here’s one for you stats geeks. One of the Steelers’ two-point conversion attempts ended when Ben Roethlisberger’s pass was picked off by Richard Lane. Given that two point conversion attempts can be returned for two points by the defense, do you think that interceptions, forced fumbles and/or sacks on two-point attempts should count as official NFL stats for both the offense and defense? Defend your choice.

4. The Steelers final three AFC North contests are all in December and all on the road. At the beginning of the season I thought that put the Steelers at a great disadvantage, but they ended up 1-2 in division games at home. Is there an advantage or disadvantage to playing these divisional games on the road?

5. Prior to Thanksgiving yours truly remarked on the “Accidental” nature of the Steelers 2015 secondary, and pondered as to whether Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes rested in their hands. Do you think the 2015 Steelers can go as far as their secondary can take them, and if that’s the case are you an optimist or a pessimist? Explain your position.

That’s it, folks. Don’t use a № 1 pencil, as Richard Sherman might shut it down. You should probably go to your № 3 or even № 4. And please join me in wishing Hombre a safe trip to Chile. We look forward to hearing from him again in a few weeks.



  • 1. I don’t believe in curses, but it feels like one. So many of our self-inflicted foot wounds seem to happen out west.

    2. I don’t keep score, but let me say this. I love Neal and he’s a smart guy, but he’s full of doodoo on this one. I understand the criticism of this play, but Jones blew an easy throw. Unless you buy the fact that Landry Jones is not good enough to be on the Steelers roster, he must be expected to make this throw. It was there, and he missed it. I love the fact that we have an aggressive coach who doesn’t live in his fears. Those who cheer his successful gambits but trash him when he’s wrong are welcome to their bandwagon opinions, but I don’t share them.

    3. Don’t really care.

    4. It’s ALWAYS a disadvantage to play on the road. However, we are better than the Browns and the Ravens and should win those games. We have sufficient talent and motivation to beat the orange cats in Cincinnati. The one advantage is that if we win those game and make the playoffs, being road tested and on a roll is a recipe for success – see SB XL.

    5. I say yes. The rest of this team is more than good enough to make a run. The DB is _______ (insert Inappropriate adjective) awful. They don’t have to be good, they need to be less bad than they were in Seattle. They will get burned. They will mess up. But if they can make a few key plays to stop the opponent and get off the field, the offense will win the games. I am an eternal optimist, but this secondary scares me. Based on its body of work so far, I’m not placing bets on a deep playoff run.

    Liked by 1 person

  • 1 – No, not a curse. If you go down that list, most of those teams were good teams that won close home games over the Steelers. You hold serve at home and steal games on the road. The Steelers aren’t good thieves against solid western teams (and yes, I know Oakland was a clunker)

    2 – Whatever gets Coolong the clicks, I suppose. I can’t point to one specific gamble as my favorite, because I generally like the entire proposition of a coach that takes risks. I like that he goes for it 4th downs… I like that the team will throw it deep on 3rd and short on occasion… I like going for 2 pts… Football is a complicated sport. There’s nothing wrong with a coach trying to reach into every corner of it to get a play.
    It would just be nice if more fans actually paid attention to the plays instead of creating their own realities based on pre-conceived notions. ‘The fake FG play was a bad play because all fake FGs are bad!’ Maybe Landry just threw a bad ball.

    3 – They should count because it is a regular football play and can go in both directions.

    4 – I don’t know that there is an advantage…but I think there is less disadvantage. These are opponents that the Steelers know well. There won’t be many surprises, so the added difficulty of a road game is diminished.

    5 – The secondary is key. If they are playing poorly, the offense has to push more and the rest of the defense can’t buckle. The secondary is a huge gaping hole at times… easy for the rest of the team to fall into it.


  • I’m going to highjack this thread temporarily to mention that today is Rebecca’s birthday. I for one appreciate that she’s here on this planet.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Happy Birthday, Momma. Thank you for making this place for us. Thank you for encouraging me spot write. Thanks most of all for your great articles. Yesterday’s was especially wonderful.

    Happy Birthday to youuuuu. Happy Birthday to yooooouuuuuuu. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR REBECCAAAAA. Happpppyyyyy Biirrrthhhhhdayyyyy. Tooooo yooooooo. oooouuu. (Imagine that in a sweet soulful baritone that exits mostly in my mind).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like sweet soulful baritones, and for most of us our voice sounds much better in our minds : ) And any encouragement I’ve given you has been more than amply repaid!


  • 1. I don’t think there are enough games to be statistically significant, so I’m going with the jury is out.

    2. Favorite gambles? Definitely the “win big or lose it all” at the end of the Chargers game. Surely this doesn’t need defending. The yelps from Yinzer Nation would have been audible in Mars had it failed. But did anyone think that the defense was capable of another stop at that point? Or the offense of getting that close to scoring again.

    By nature I’m inclined to the safe path, but I really admire those who have the courage to go for broke.

    3. Yes. They change the course of the game. I’m glad, however, they didn’t count on Sunday, as the Steelers were -4 in the turnover column already…

    4. I don’t see it as an advantage, but I’m not sure it is as big a disadvantage as we might have thought. The main disadvantage, frankly, is the officiating. It’s pretty hard to imagine any of the other stadiums will be as loud as Arrowhead or whatever the Seahawks stadium is called.

    5. No, fortunately. I think that if the Steelers can figure out how to keep the damage the secondary does to an acceptable level it shouldn’t matter too much, as long as the offense is running on all cylinders and the defensive front is doing a decent job.


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