Random Thoughts on Steelers @ Ravens
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/Matt Freed
These are mostly my random thoughts, but I will begin with Ivan Cole’s email. Although neither of us are known for being particularly succinct, it was a masterpiece of linguistic economy:
- From: Ivan Cole
- Subject: MVP
- Joshua Dobbs
Here are some of my thoughts on the game:
Once again I watched the condensed version, and was interested that it took a full 10 minutes more (43 minutes) than the Browns game (33 minutes.) Even the NFL Condensed Games editors apparently give the Browns no respect…
The sequence near the end of the first half was pretty scary. I love Vance, but man, you’ve got to take care of the ball better than that!
Before the game I read the DK Pittsburgh Sports’ pre-game info and predictions. One item which caught my attention was that the particular referee team which would be calling the game apparently averages substantially more penalties called on the visitors than the home team. I believe that there generally is a slight refereeing bias toward the home team, which constitutes part of the home advantage, but this was something like 30% more penalties called on the visitors. And sure enough, apparently only the Steelers, whether on offense or defense, commit pass interference. I recall seeing one play where no call was made, even though Antonio Brown had been tackled by the time the ball arrived. (Admittedly he could have fallen down on his own, as the condensed broadcast didn’t show what happened before the ball arrived, but he seldom does.) Also apparently grabbing someone’s facemask doesn’t constitute a penalty for the home team—just ask Vance McDonald. Nor, for that matter, landing with your full weight on a quarterback on his way out of bounds, sufficient so that he has to leave the field. Not that I’m bitter. I might be, though, had the Steelers lost.
The best Tomlin quote of the year (at least so far) led to the best headline of the year. Tomlin’s take on Le’Veon Bell’s continued absence to the ESPN interviewer (“we need volunteers, not hostages”) generated this headline to a Kevin Gorman Trib article this morning: “For Steelers, a Volunteer takes Ravens hostage.” (For those of you upon whom the reference might be lost, like it initially was on me, Dobbs was a UT Volunteer before coming to the Steelers…)
And speaking of great quotes, David DeCastro was asked for probably the 5000th time about Bell, and said “I couldn’t care less. Why would I waste my time thinking about someone who isn’t here?” It’s pretty difficult to think that Bell didn’t make a major miscalculation at this point. In fact, it looks as if he’s done the Steelers an enormous favor.
And speaking of running backs, how about James Conner? Against the best defense in the league? He just keeps getting better. And the offensive line is at least part of that, although what is really impressing about Conner now is how many missed tackles he’s generating and how many additional yards he’s getting on his own. There was one run which combined a spin move, a couple of jukes and stutter steps, and a bashing or two, that was pure poetry.
Although the stats weren’t particularly impressive, the Wrecking Balls (Tuitt, Hargrave, and Heyward) were making life miserable for Flacco all day. Which is how we like him to be. And furthermore what he deserves after his incendiary comments after the first game, however accurate they were.
Smart move of Ben to take that sack so the clock would keep running.
And speaking of Ben, I was following the game in real time off and on during the afternoon (I currently have no way of watching the games live except by going to a sports bar, and that isn’t my idea of a good time, unless I’m with my DC peeps.) Papa Rollett wandered in and asked how it was going, and I said the Steelers had first and goal at the 1. Quoth Papa: QB sneak! I explained to him that it wasn’t really a good idea, especially given that a) Ben has a broken finger and b) a QB sneak is quite possibly the reason why, and just then the screen popped up “Roethlisberger for 1 yard, TD.” Papa will probably never let me forget this, however long we both live. It is still difficult to look at it as a good idea, though—did you see how smashed up Ben got? But admittedly the touchdown was pretty necessary at that point.
I could wax poetic about the continued impressive development of JuJu, or James Washington actually seeing game action and catching the balls thrown to him, or how the duo of Edmunds and Davis are solidifying the back end of the defense, or how Mike Hilton was probably one of the better UDFA signings in recent years (although then we also have to give a nod to Ramon Foster and Alejandro Villanueva), or how Joshua Dobbs is proving he’s not just a pretty face on the sidelines, (that would be Mason Rudolph) and that he deserved to win the job, but I think this will do. As always, feel free to add your favorite moments/players in the comments.
Now my only fear is that after being bashed up in a Ravens game the Steelers won’t be in the very best shape to greet the visiting Panthers on Thursday night, but so be it. All I can say is that winning Thursday’s game would certainly shut up the naysayers (or so one would hope.) In the meantime, the Division Title is looking a lot more likely than it did four weeks ago or so.