5 Smoldering Questions: The Post-Bills Pre-Bengals Edition

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Via Steelers.com

By Hombre de Acero

The Steelers have answered their 4 game losing streak with a four game winning streak, with an exhibition of Smash Mouth Football paving the way to their latest win in Buffalo. Cincinnati looms next, but before the Steelers travel to the Queen City this corner of Steelers Nation must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers.

1. Passer rating can be a poor indicator of a quarterback’s performance some times, but Ben Roethlisberger clearly did not have his best day in Buffalo. While no one wants to see a retrun of Ben’s Road Rust, the poor outing did allow Chris Adamski to unearth this factoid:

For the record, the loss came against the Bengals early September 2006. The wins, in addition to last Sunday, came at Washington in 2008 (where Ben got hurt and didn’t finish), the Jets in December 2004 and the Lions in the last game of 2005.
Can anyone synthesize any information out of all of this statistical noise?

2. Mike Tomlin’s response to Jim Wexell’s question about what reaching 100 wins means drew a terse, “It means I’ve been here for a while” which at this point shouldn’t surprise anyone.
However, what do you think this win signifies?

3. Which linebacker made the bigger impact for the Steelers last Sunday, Bud Dupree or Ryan Shazier?

4. While he stopped well short of suggesting any sort of favoritism on the part of Park Avenue, Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports wrote at length about the differences in how the NFL handled Deflategate and the non-story about deflated balls during the Steelers game vs. the Giants.
Is this another case of the NFL’s arbitrary administration of justice, or are we seeing Roger Goodell & company finally doing the right thing?

5. Since losing to the Steelers in Week 2, the Cincinnati Bengals have gone 4-6-1. Yet, despite the absence of A.J. Green, Andy Dalton has stepped up his game in a big way over the last two weeks as the Bengals defeated the Browns and the Eagles.

How confident are you heading into this game?

8 comments

  • 1. I make nothing of it. Simply a series of seemingly common events without common causation.

    2. Tomlin’s 100th win signifies the triumph of the Rooney School of Management. No other team in NFL history has had three head coaches with 100 wins. And the Steelers have done it with their last three coaches. Three head coaches in 47 years. Hire well and offer stability.

    3. Both were terrific, but the key to the game was supporting the front three and stopping the run, so Shazier was more important to the win.

    4. If the NFL tested the footballs before the game and the chain of possession protocol was properly followed, there’s no “there” there. By the way, the temperature dropped below 40 during the game, which would be a factor in pressure readings. Anyone who has ever dribbled a basketball in a schoolyard on a cold winter day knows how that works. Nothing to see here, folks. Move on.

    5.I’m never confident, because, above all, football is a game of violence and people get hurt. And the Bengals, as Chuck Noll once said about another similar team, are part of the criminal element in the NFL.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Wow, I think Homer pretty much nailed this. I’d just copy off his test, with a few additions. 1.) Maybe if Ben isn’t doing well the Steelers run more, which is a good thing? Plus, statistics aside, Ben’s a winner, no matter what the rating. 3.) Let’s not carried away here. It seems rare these when an OLB not named Harrison plays “above the line” and Dupree’s play has to give us all a jolly jingle, BUT Shazier was really phenomenal in that game. 4.) Since in my understanding the NFL handles all the ball inflation stuff, they’d have to criticize themselves, which is something they don’t like to do. 5.) On the road, December, divisional rival? Don’t bet the house, though I wouldn’t get too fired up about Bengal’s victories over the hapless Brownies and fading Eagles.

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  • Not much left to say here. I could add maybe that Ben, especially early in his career, has typically better under pressure and is more likely to have bad games when there is no pressure because they are winning. And yeah, it’s a real stretch to try to make an issue about ball inflation once the league has just done everything possible to prevent it from becoming an issue again. After a crushing defeat in Miami, I think it’s going to be a long time before Steelers fans are confident going into any game. We definitely have what it takes to win if we play our game, though.

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  • 1. I tried. The loss was at home. Ben threw no TDs and 3 picks (sound familiar?) and garnered a 30.7 passer rating.
    The Jets game was also at home, and Ben threw no interceptions and 2 picks, and had a 33.6 passer rating. The Washington game was an away game, and before Ben got hurt he threw no TDs, 1 INT, and had a 15.1 passer rating. It was a convincing win, too—23-6. The Lions game was at home, Ben throw no TDs and 2 picks, and his rating was 34.1. That too was a convincing win—35-21. I guess the secret is that if he is going to suck the Steelers had better have a great running game.

    2. I can’t add anything meaningful, except that I want to thank the Rooneys for hiring a man who is fine in every way. It’s a pleasure to look at the sidelines…

    3. Yes.

    That said, I agree if you have to choose I choose Shazier.

    4. Agree with parson—since the league is now in charge of the balls, any problems are the league’s fault now. Which is probably how it should have been all along. And was for quite a long time, I gather, until the Pats lobbied to prepare their own. Or so I gather.

    5. It’s looking as if Green may play, incidentally. And yes, I’m worried. I hope I’m worried for nothing. A loss would be unfortunate, but the loss of Le’Veon Bell for the third year in a row would be quite depressing…

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    • The loss of Bell or another key player is my biggest concern by far also. The Steelers-Raisins matchup on Christmas Day is probably going to decide the division regardless of the Steelers-Bengals outcome. Burfict being Burfict and seriously injuring one of the Killer B’s would have a much much greater impact on the Steelers’ season than just losing the game, and based on history it’s actually more likely to happen than losing the game.

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  • 1. If you add in playoffs the Steelers have won 6 of Ben’s 7 worst passing games. They have only won 7 of his worst 20.

    His best 30 games the Steelers are 28-2, losing in 2006 to Atlanta in a game everyone should remember, and to Dallas this season.

    My guess is that if other things are working and Ben is playing terribly we stop throwing the ball, where if other things aren’t going we keep throwing and he pulls out of it enough to raise his rating.

    The 2006 loss to Cincy was the Houshmandzadeh game, we were back and forth until 8 minutes left when they got a tD pass to TJ and then we fumbled and next play Palmer to TJ for a TD.
    Wierd stat for that game: Hines Ward, 11 targets, 2 receptions. Ben threw 23 times to Ward, Wilson and Washington, they recorded 6 catches. Heath, Holmes and Haynes caught 11 of 13 passes thrown their way. This was one of the big games that caused me to hate Cedric Wilson.

    Also TJ had a rep as a Steeler killer, but he only had 4 good games against us in 15 tries.

    2. That the Rooney’s know how to run a franchise, including finding really good head coaches.

    3. James Harrison. Shazier and Dupree did great in mopping up the plays, but Tuitt, Harrison, and the not-Heyward band were the ones forcing Taylor to run to Dupree’s side and creating opportunities for Shazier to knife into plays. Overall a second great plan up front in 2 weeks. Last week we were focused on getting bodies in Eli’s comfort zone more than sacking him and it showed as Eli got happy feet and played poorly even though a lot of times there wasn’t that much of a sack threat. This week we were forcing Taylor to run to Dupree and Shazier, because they are faster than Taylor and Taylor isn’t easily breaking those tackles.

    4. They changed the procedures so that they can say that things were done right. With the Pats the league didn’t know what the balls were doing, because of how they handled game balls then. I’ll go with them doing the right thing, because they fixed the idiotic system that allowed all the trouble in deflate-gate.

    5. Bengals aren’t a weak team, they are a talented team playing poorly, and not as poorly as they were. They are dangerous, but our defense isn’t crap anymore, and Ben isn’t going to suck two games in a row, so I am pretty confident.

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  • #4 has Ben denied by everyone involved. Giants said they never said anything to the NFL and the NFL says the Giants never said anything.
    Something fishy about this “report”.

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