Category Archives: Game Analysis

Ravens vs Steelers: Sober Observations

By Ivan Cole

At what point is it appropriate to acknowledge a team and their season is special, even magical? Yes, there is the CONFRONTATION this week with the Patriots, as well as the hoped for happy ending in Minnesota. But forgive what might seem like lowering the bar by saying this—there is no way that what has transpired to this point could be viewed anyway other than a triumph of the collective spirit of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.

Like the Immaculate Reception, the story of this season deserves to be shared for decades hence as a salute to soaring feats of achievement, dogged determination and resiliency in the face of both competitive challenges and straight up tragedy. If it were easy it would be a more unambiguously pleasant experience, but would lose the true and deep resonance of its impact. This is a spiritual event authored by an organization that has unapologetically embraced the spiritual—they hold training camp at a monastery.

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Steelers reach into their pocketful of miracles to win eighth straight,  so that they can give the game ball to Ryan Shazier

Photo via Steelers.com

By Homer J.

As per usual, heavily edit (and occasionally commented-upon) game notes will be followed by Homer’s report card. I’m amazed he had the strength.

The mood was jubilant at first:

LET’S WIN THIS ONE FOR RYAN! If emotion can win football games, the Steelers will win this one by fifty. But a defense without Shazier and Haden is suspect, to say the least. It’s Sunday Night Football, and the best rivalry in the NFL. Let’s get started….

Rosie Nix plants Chris Moore on the opening kickoff at the BAL 17…and then…

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Ravens @ Steelers: A 38-Tums Game*

Photo via Steelers.com

If you watched the game you have no need of an explanation for the headline. If you have watched the Steelers at all this season you probably don’t need an explanation either. I had the joy of watching the game with both my sons, and it was a corker. After taking a 14-0 lead in the early going, the Steelers had to make it interesting for the next 45 minutes or so. And the Ravens managed to make it interesting by seemingly Bungling the end of the game, not at least going for a Hail Mary pass in the waning seconds. But in fact it was T.J. Watt’s strip sack that decided their fate. And a timely play it was, too. It was, I believe, the only sack of the game by the Steelers’ defense, and it couldn’t have been more welcome. Except, perhaps, to Joe Flacco.

There’s just something about this team. They are scarily slow on defense in the middle of the field without Ryan Shazier. The tackling was improved tonight, enough to come up to perhaps junior varsity level, but Alex Collins frequently ripped through them like a hot knife through butter. Or Javoris Allen. Or the friggin’ fullback.

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The Steelers Achieve a Hollow Victory

Photo via Steelers.com

The headline may seem overblown. Congratulations to the guys for overcoming a 17-point deficit to win the game on a Chris Boswell field goal in the final seconds an ‘at. This may seem strangely familiar, as the Steelers are making a habit of this. But what isn’t familiar is one of the players being taken out on a board after an injury that looked really serious. Like possibly life-altering serious. Quite honestly, I barely had the stomach to watch the game afterwards. I probably wouldn’t have, but I have a job to do.

Which is, I’m guessing, pretty much how it went down for the Steelers. They had to have been in shock, especially the defense. Injuries happen in football, but there’s a difference between the usual sort of one-to-two weeks sorts of things and something this terrifying. As sad as it would be if Ryan Shazier never plays another down for the Steelers, I’ll take it if he escapes permanent harm.

As far as the game goes, I hardly need to write it up, other than to commend AB for his toughness in playing with a toe which was clearly hampering him, and to remind JuJu that he may be all funny and cute but the officials aren’t impressed, apparently. I really don’t know what to think, speaking of that block, about the whole Vontaze Burfict having himself taken off on a stretcher thing, given that he apparently jumped right off the board as soon as they would undo the straps when they got down the tunnel. This is the same guy who still believes AB faked the concussion, all the way through the Denver playoff game. So I suppose he figures everyone fakes it, why shouldn’t he?

I also didn’t appreciate the officials calling a bunch of ticky tacky penalties, (on both teams—I think the JJ Wilcox holding call on Martavis Bryant’s kickoff return for a touchdown was a make-up call for a rather phantom holding call on Cinci on the previous series.) And then they inexplicably didn’t call a PI on Cinci when JuJu was mugged in the end zone.

But in the end, I just feel sick. I’m going to stop now, because none of this will matter if Ryan Shazier isn’t okay. The body count tonight (on mostly legal hits) is sticking in my craw. Hopefully tomorrow (well, actually, later today) will bring good news about Ryan, and we can all go back to complaining that the Steelers didn’t win the way we wanted them to. Please God, let it be so…

Packers @ Steelers—Something for Everyone

Photo via Steelers.com

By Ivan Cole…in which Ivan gives the best description of being a Steeler fan I’ve ever read.

Rebecca raises the question ‘Are you entertained?’, and the definitive answer is yes. But let’s delve deeper.

Obviously, for all but the most masochistic of Steelers fans, you don’t need this kind of entertainment. If you were wondering what it might be like to devoured by a tiger while the incident was being taped on YouTube, this was pretty close. You know that the video will certainly go viral, but the next few moments are really going to suck. There was a happy ending, but like some of the best amusement park rides (thrills and chills) there was a lot screaming, cursing, vomiting and petitions to God along the way. Read more

Packers @ Steelers: Homer J’s Patented Game Recap and Report Card

Photo via Steelers.com. I think a lot of us felt the way Shazier’s face looks…

As usual my comments will be in italics… Ed.

UPSIDE DOWN DEFENSE RIGHTS ITSELF JUST IN TIME, STEELERS LOSE TURNOVER BATTLE, BUT AVOID GETTING LIT UP ON LIGHT UP NIGHT IN THE ‘BURGH.

It’s a beautiful night for football in the City of Champions. All of downtown is lit up for Christmas. The Hall of Famers are there. It’s the nationally televised Sunday Night Football Super-Extravaganza. What could possibly go wrong?  Well, all of us, including the Yinzer Cult of Doom, know all too well. So buckle up your seatbelt and let’s see where this ride will take us…….

No Juju. No Gilbert. No VanceMac. You forgot “No Haden.” No problem??? We’ll see.

No Aaron Rodgers. No Clay Matthews. Hmm. Welcome to “The Replacements.” This is the time of the year when the bottom half of the roster becomes all-important.

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Packers @ Steelers: Are You Not Entertained?

Photo via Steelers.com

The answer to the question posed in the title depends, I suppose, upon how strong your heart is. I’m guessing this was a highly entertaining game to watch for anyone who didn’t have a dog in the fight. (Actually, I’m guessing most unaffiliated viewers were rooting for Green Bay because, you know, underdog, backup QB, Aaron Rodgers blue eyes and friendly insurance commercials and so on.) For us Steeler fans it was the usual coronary-in-waiting. Although I’m guessing that Steeler fans actually have stronger-than-average hearts, because if they don’t they don’t survive.

And let’s just get this out of the way before the Yinzer Cult of Doom, as Homer would have it, gets started—how often do you win a game with a minus 3 turnover ratio? I would have to look that up, and I’m not sure how. But my guess is, not very often. I know for sure that’s the case with the Steelers, for quite a while. If they win the turnover battle, they usually win the game. And vice versa. Read more

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