5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers: Post-Chiefs Pre-Patriots Edition


Shall we dance?

By Hombre de Acero

The Pittsburgh Steelers went into Arrowhead Stadium last Sunday and are now headed to New England for the AFC Championship game, thanks to six Chris Boswell field goals, stout defense and excellent special teams. But before we see whether the Black and Gold will qualify for a shot at climbing the Stairway to Seven, this corner of Steelers Nation must first answer these 5 Smoldering questions.

1. The Pittsburgh Steelers offense was revving between the 20’s but stalled badly in the end zone, to the tune of 0 touchdowns on 4 visits. What do you think is the root of the issue, and does it give you cause for concern looking ahead
2. In 2007 James Harrison established himself as a force to be reckoned with. Ever since then opposing offensive lines have made holding James Harrison without getting called an art form. Yours truly once published a “fake news”-style story saying the NFL had legalized holding James Harrison. In 2010, Neal Coolong kept a weekly column of “Harrison Holds” that weren’t called.

Do you take the fact that Kansas City’s successful 2-point conversion got called back because of a holding call on James Harrison as a sign that there is some sort of balance in the universe?

3. Since it was released, Antonio Brown’s 17 minute live-stream post-game video from the locker room has caused a lot of controversy. All parties involved have said all of the right things since then. What impact do you think this distraction will have on the AFC Championship game?

4.The need for a player with the “Field Flipping” ability of Ladarius Green should be obvious at this point in the playoffs. IF Green can suit up, and this is a big if, which other offensive  player should give up his helmet?

5. The 1994 Steelers had a chance to stop the San Francisco 49ers from becoming the first NFL team to win 5 Super Bowls, but came up 3 yards short in the AFC Championship. The 1995 Steelers had a shot at stopping Dallas from winning a fifth Super Bowl, but Neil O’Donnell threw that away in Super Bowl XXX. In 50 tries, only two NFL head coaches have won four Super Bowls—Chuck Noll and the man he beat in his final NFL game, Bill Belichick.

From the Rooneys on down, no one in the Steelers organization would admit to this being an objective (nor should they) but how important is it for the Steelers to prevent Bill Belichick from getting a shot at Lombardi No. 5?

And since getting back to the AFC Championship game is a pretty big deal—as Ryan Shazier noted, a lot of guys have played a lot longer than he has and have never made it to one—I thought that we at Going Deep could respond in kind with a couple of bonus questions. This makes seven questions, which is perhaps a lucky number. Here they are:

6. During the now nine-game winning streak (the longest active streak in the league, as it happens) the  Steelers seem to find a different way to win the game each week. Some of them are seemingly very unlikely indeed, like last Sunday’s win via six field goals and no touchdowns, which has never before produced a win when the other team scores two touchdowns. Do you find this disturbing or comforting?

7. When asked about Mike Tomlin’s characterization of next Sunday’s opponent during Antonio Brown’s unauthorized video stream, Ramon Foster implied that Tomlin’s remark was meaningless, as the view from the locker room is that all the other teams are thought of in those terms. However, it does seem rather different than Tomlin’s depiction of opponents as “gray faceless men” a few weeks previously. Do you believe Ramon Foster or do you think Tomlin reserves some sort of special animus for the Pats?

That’s it for this week. Let’s hope that next week will be the post-Patriots pre-Super Bowl edition. Let’s go, Steelers!



  • 1. Part of the blame for this should go on KC’s Defense. They have been known this season as a bend but don’t break defense, allowing A LOT of yards from scrimmage, but also allowing very few points per game.

    Also, the play calling once we got into the redzone had a lot left to be desired. One drive stalled due to Ben’s pick, and that was 100% his fault as it was initially a running play. I kind of think we have know idea what to do/what play to call when we get to the redzone. It has been that way for a few years now.

    2. Yes, though the universe still owes him (and the steelers) a few more of those calls to fully balance the scales.

    3. I hope none. I think the media has overblown the significance of the video (As usual). I doubt there is anything about the video distracting the players, except during interviews, and interviews are not practice or game planning. Also, it is not like he called out teammates and/or coaches, yelling to “give me the ball” or anything.

    4. Maybe Grimble. He has been pretty silent on the field as of late. Definitely need to keep Outlaw on the field.

    5. It is hugely important to stop belichick from SB #5, but moreso to keep the pats out of the superbowl completely. I do think that belichick’s legacy, no matter how many SB’s he wins will be tarnished, and rightfully so, by spygate and deflategate.

    Side note: Can we all stop adding “gate” and “pocolypse” to the end of any event that happens?

    6. I find it comforting. We are a team with a multitude of ways we can win games. Not one-dimensional. If one facet of the team is not doing so well, the other facets seem to step up and take over. I find it great.

    7. I think if you went into any of the locker rooms after a big win in the playoffs you would hear very similar sentiments. I don’t think there is any special animus towards the pats.


  • cold_old_steelers_fan

    1) Despite the growth in the backup WRs, they still are somewhat raw and in some cases short. I wouldn’t be playing Ayers and Rogers much in the red zone at this point in time as they are both raw and short while Grimble and Hamilton are merely raw.

    Also KC has a damn good red zone defence. Hopefully the Pats’ will not be quite as good.

    2) Over at the NFL network it seems the dialogue on James Harrison has changed from savage and untamed to something much more respectful. Does this mean that Godell had turned his malignant glare elsewhere or that he has forgiven James? Maybe Godell is losing his ability to influence the narrative? Whatever the case, it seems the refs have decided that maybe, just maybe, he deserves the same benefits of officiating (and not necessarily special attention) as most edge rushers.

    3) The media always looks for a new angle and controversy whether there is anything to it or not. Even if the majority of the media see it as a minor story, it only takes a few to make a big deal out of nothing. Really, a diva is being a diva? Nothing new here.

    This isn’t to say I don’t like AB, because I do, but he is a top tier WR and I don’t remember too many who were not divas. Maybe it comes from being so far from the huddle so much of the time.

    4) I don’t expect to see Green play professional football again. At this point in time I wouldn’t put him on the field before the OTAs. It just isn’t worth the risk to him or the team. Putting him on the field probably means the team will finish the game short one player. Football is a brutal contact sport and the likelihood of him being able to survive a full game seems fainter than the Browns SB dreams.

    5) Steelers need to win this season for the Steelers. It is time for them to put themselves and their team first. Not a time to worry about someone else.

    Legacy is a funny thing. I can think of many politicians who, long after they have gone are still loved and/or hated regardless on how good or bad they were in their roles. I think the same can be said about NFL coaches. His players, who were SB winners under him, are likely going to always speak fondly of him. His detractors, those who were on the receiving end of his cheating, will likely never accept his legacy. I think the truth is somewhere in between.

    6) Comforting. We find ways to win. This is a young team and those young players are growing in their confidence and experience.
    Every week the team plays, the better the rookies and raw players become. The better the chemistry and cohesiveness of the entire team.

    7) It is always them and us before a game. Very seldom does anyone, on the winning side, care after the game is over.


    • You raise an interesting point on Ladarius Green. And you and Rebecca may be 100% correct, that the smart move for Green would be to retire.

      Regardless, it really shows how much the game has changed, for the better.

      During the past year I’ve researched the Steelers games of the 70’s vs. the Redskins and the Dolphins for historical retrospectives, and both of them involved finding games where Terry Bradshaw took concussions. In the case of the Dolphins, he went back into the game. In the case of the 79 game against the Redskins, he was joking about it in post-game interviews.(In the case of Bradshaw, two weeks later he had a 5 interception, multiple sack game in San Diego – coincidence?)

      My guess is that even as recently as 4 or 5 years ago, Green might have been held out for a game, but would probably have been back in the lineup again.


  • 1. Agree that KC’s red zone defense was excellent. But I do think that there is still a problem. I’m always thrilled when the Steelers punch it in before the LOS gets to the 20, because it’s tough down there, and we don’t have Jerome Bettie anymore. Le’Veon’s best work is done where he has room to do so. Not but what we should give him the chance to try…

    2. I think it would take a lot more years of holding calls before the balance was evened. And although he’s amazing, I don’t think Harrison can play that long.

    3. None. The Patriots don’t need bulletin board material to want to win the game…

    4. Completely agree with COSF. Green should never suit up again. It sucks for the Steelers, but he has to look to his own health and well-being first. And besides, if he’s out there I’ll be even more of a nervous wreck than I will be already. I really don’t want to see him take another shot to the head or bounce off the turf…

    5. I think that would give a bit of added satisfaction to winning and an even more bitter edge to losing, but it certainly isn’t something they should be thinking about.

    I’ll quit here rather than answer my own questions : )


  • 1. Give a huge share of credit to Kansas City, and the fact that a) this was a second meeting, and b) they had a bye week to prepare. Despite that they couldn’t stop the Pittsburgh offense cold, which is the encouraging aspect of it all. On the other hand, I also think that Ben, Todd or both tend to over think things. The interception at the five yard line was infuriating because up to that point there was no indication that KC could stop Bell, meaning no pass option was necessary at that point. In that case the Steelers simply stopped themselves. That is the concerning issue.

    2. Can’t say whether the Divine Winds have changed in favor of Harrison, but if you of a more conspiratorial frame of mind, then you might consider that as much as he seems to despise Deebo, there may be a greater incentive for Goodell to not have to celebrate a Tom Brady championship. Harrison may be one of the only people on the planet that can help him make that happen.

    3. This is just the kind of thing that drives the broken, controversy focused media. If Pittsburgh wins it will probably go away quickly. If not, they’ll try to play it as a factor in a loss.

    4. If its a skills player I would guess Ayers, Grimble or Toussaint.

    5. I think this is the wrong focus. This is about expanding the Steelers legacy generally and Tomlin’s specifically. A seventh Lombardi for the franchise, three trips to the finals for Tomlin and, two championships (three for Ben, Deebo and Warren) sets them apart such that it would take the closest pursuer (New England or Dallas) three seasons of championship play just to pull even, which may be unlikely given the possibility that this Pittsburgh team’s best years may lie ahead of them. Tickets to the Hall of Fame (Tomlin, Deebo in particular, and a good head start for Brown, Bell, Pouncey, DeCastro, etc.) will be punched. Free agents will view Pittsburgh as the prime destination. With Brady near the end, this could signal the beginning of the eclipse and decline of the Pats.

    6. Speaks to resourcefulness and resilience, which are just as important to a success run as talent.

    7. Could the compromise position be gray, faceless, A–holes?


  • Now that I’ve read all of Ivan’s answers, all I can say is, Yep, that’s what I think. Especially no. 7. And 2. And 5. Okay, all of them although for No. 4 I might be inclined to let the deciding factor be whoever appeared most often in AB’s cinematic masterpiece–by choice not the proximity of his backside.



  • Toronto Steeler Fan

    1. KC’s red zone defense is very good (4th). The Steelers’ red zone offense is very average (14th) in total, and on the road, it is downright terrible (28th).

    2. Over on BTSC, some commenter posted the actual rule on offensive holding, and to my surprise, it’s actually considered differently when the defender makes a “rip move”. Basically, on a rip move, it only becomes a hold if the defender ends up falling down (which Harrison did in this case). I don’t really understand this very well, but if this is so, then all those James Harrison holding non-calls may have actually been called correctly all these years.

    3. None.

    4. Ladarius Green.

    5. Real organizations win for themselves and not to prevent some other team from achieving a particular milestone.

    6. Tomlin and Colbert have re-built this team to be multiple, both on offense and defense. They can play multiple styles and beat you in multiple ways. That’s the only way you can take on anybody in the league not be fundamentally mismatched. That’s what we’ve been watching. And frankly, that’s the only way you can take on NE*, because they can also beat you in many ways. This is the game I’ve been waiting for since the rebuild got under way in earnest in 2013. They’re pretty much there in terms of personnel and they’ve gelled into a cohesive unit with a full playbook that they can execute now. Let’s see if they can beat their Nemesis.

    7. Tomlin has only faced them six times in the 10 years he’s been here, and won twice. Most of this team hasn’t even been here for five years. Tomlin wasn’t here for Spygate, and only Ben and Greg Warren were. I think we fans have more animus for NE* than most NFL players….


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