Tag Archives: Johnny Manziel

AFC North Stats ‘N At: And Then There Was One (Week 18)


via Times online

I’m still not over Saturday’s game. I don’t think anyone is. The repercussions from this game are going to be felt far into the future, I believe. But the irony for a post such as this is, the majority of the talking points from the game are philosophical and/or procedural.

Should anyone but the head coach be allowed on the field during an injury time-out?  Is there a difference between Ryan Shazier’s hit and Vontaze Burfict’s, and should they both have been flagged? For the answers to these and many other such questions, click here.

These and other storylines will doubtless be debated long into the off-season, but for now let’s turn to the comfort of statistics. There may be considerable confusion in the NFL right now as to what constitutes a catch, for instance, or when a play should be blown dead,  but there are some things which are black and white. Maybe looking at them will tell us something more about the game than just the drama of it does.

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AFC North Stats ‘N At, Regular Season Wrap



Particularly as Saturday’s opponent is our old frenemy the Cincinnati Bengals, this post will serve both of the AFC North stats article and the opponent preview. After all, there isn’t a lot we don’t know about Cincinnati at this point.


Record Week 17


Point Differential:

  • Bengals +142
  • Steelers +104
  • Ravens -44
  • Browns -154


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Steelers Opponent Preview: Last Stand in Cleveland

via Steel City Blitz

I’m hoping it’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, because I don’t know if I have a thousand words in me on this rematch. The Steelers need to win it. The Bills need to beat the Jets. That’s what this amazingly exhilarating and devastating and frustrating season comes down to.

In some ways the previous game between these two clubs is a microcosm of the season. The Steelers-Browns game was one of the few that week which wasn’t an upset, including Houston beating the undefeated Bengals. If anything, the game was an upset from the Browns’ point of view, as the starting quarterback for the Steelers was Landry Jones. Ben Roethlisberger relieved him after he sprained his ankle and set an NFL record for a quarterback coming off the bench. Read more

AFC North Stats ‘N At, Week 16 Edition

USA Today Sports/Tommy Gilligan photo

Week 16 was not a good one for the Black and Gold. The AFC North was a mere .250 this week, and the sole winning team was the one which damaged the Steelers playoff hopes the most—the Ravens. Given the Steelers loss to said Ravens, the best scenario for the Monday night clash between the Bengals and Broncos would have been a Broncos loss, but that was not to be, either. And to no one’s surprise the Browns did not beat the Chiefs, although this had perhaps the smallest effect for good or ill on the Steelers. In other words, it was not a good week, and I don’t think most of us have recovered yet.

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AFC North Stats ‘N At, Week 15 Edition

Post-Gazette/Peter Diana

The Tale of Two Teams has been thoroughly dissected on this august site, not to mention every other site/publication who reports on the Steelers at all, and I won’t belabor the point.

As for the Bengals, last week I noted:

It will be interesting to see whether the “starter vs. off-the-bench QB” effect holds for young A.J. McCarron. By this I mean that a young QB can be relatively successful coming off the bench and playing a defense who has absolutely no idea what he is like. But a game’s worth of tape gives the next defense something to work with, and a week to prepare.

The answer, as you will see below, is “pretty well.”

The Ravens and Browns are now in a race to the bottom. Or so the Steelers hope, since they need to beat both of them in the coming two weeks. The Steelers would, of course, be very happy if the Ravens would rise up one more time and beat the Bengals on January 3rd, but since the division is pretty much entirely out of the question at the moment, I believe they will settle for the Ravens losing out without murmuring.

And for that matter the Steelers would be quite happy for the Browns to rise up and beat the Chiefs this week, but again as long as they capitulate to the Steelers it really doesn’t matter that much.

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AFC North Stats ‘N At, Week 14 Edition

RVR Photos—USA Today Sports

The best game of Week 14, bar none, had to have been the Steelers/Bengals clash in Cincinnati. It began well before the opening kickoff with a breach of the DMZ by notable peacemaker Vontaze Burfict and friends, who doubtless just wanted to make sure the Steelers felt welcome to Paul Brown Stadium. Apparently this friendly gesture was misinterpreted, as were further neighborly overtures during the course of the game. It was no wonder head coach Marvin Lewis was described as “glum” in his press conference. It’s very difficult to feel you’ve been misunderstood, and perhaps lost the game as a result.

Or possibly the glumness could be attributed to the loss of his franchise quarterback, through what could either be described as a “football play” or wildly inadvisable, depending on who is doing the describing. Stephon Tuitt is obviously a highly conditioned athlete, with muscles of steel, and Dalton’s thumb was no match for whatever portion of Tuitt’s anatomy it connected with.

But Dalton was not a victim of the peace process gone amok. A great many other Bengals were. In fact, the Bengals are seemingly getting a season’s worth of injuries in the span of a few short weeks after being remarkably healthy. All I can say is, we Steelers fans know all about how frustrating this is.

The end result was satisfactory from the Steelers point of view—a convincing win, with not a lot of collateral damage. The win was absolutely necessary, as the two teams positioned in front of the Steelers in the wild-card race both won on Sunday as well. However, for the first time since the loss to the Seahawks (or really, the earlier loss to the Bengals at Heinz Field) the faint possibility of the division title tantalizingly presents itself. It would still require essentially everything to fall the Steelers’ way, but it is a lot more possible than it was a week ago. All I ask is that it doesn’t come down to a Ryan Succop field goal and correct officiating…

While the Bengals’ remaining schedule is not particularly difficult, it will be interesting to see whether the “starter vs. off-the-bench QB” effect holds for young A.J. McCarron. By this I mean that a young QB can be relatively successful coming off the bench and playing a defense who has absolutely no idea what he is like. But a game’s worth of tape gives the next defense something to work with, and a week to prepare.

As for the Ravens and Browns, they were .500. The Ravens are now down to their third quarterback, Jimmy Clausen, and he was ineffective against the Seahawks, or so the final score of 35-6 would indicate. On the other hand, the Johnny Manziel-led Browns slapped 24 points on the 49ers. They are scarcely alone, though. The 49ers have given up an average of close to 23 points per game, while scoring an average of just over 14 themselves.

For what it’s worth, if the season ended today the Browns would have a top-3 pick (depending on the esoteric formulas used to divide them from the Titans and Chargers, the other 3-10 teams) and the Ravens would pick somewhere between № 4 and № 7, again depending on the way the NFL weights the relative claims of the 4-9 Lions, 49ers, Cowboys and Ravens. The Bengals would pick at № 28 or 29, the Steelers somewhere between № 22 and № 26. Naturally, I’m hoping the Steelers pick at № 32, but there’s a lot of football left.

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AFC North Stats ‘N At, Week 13 Edition

via Fox Sports

Week 13 in the AFC North saw the rich get richer (the Bengals,) the poor get poorer (Browns and Ravens), and the Steelers win big but still fall short securing a wild card spot. The AFC North contest last Sunday was Bengals/Browns, and the results were predictable.

This coming week features another—the Steelers travel to Cincinnati to take on the Axis of Evil (Andy Dalton, Tyler Eifert, and Vontaze Burfict.) Like most such characterizations, the “Axis of Evil” is rather overstated. Andy Dalton may have fiery red hair, but he seems like a nice enough guy, if annoyingly proficient this year. Eifert deserves a chance to excel, what with all the injuries he has dealt with since coming into the league. I just hope he doesn’t do so against the Steelers.

Ah, but then there is Vontaze Burfict. After shredding Le’Veon Bell’s knee he exhibited not the slightest sense of remorse, or so it seemed to Bell’s teammates, who have made rather dark and portentous remarks about how such things come back to haunt people. While one might assume Burfict was merely pleased at making a big stop, his actions in the following week’s game indicate he’s just not a very nice person:

After the Burficting of the cameraman the Bengals decided to take the high road by issuing this statement:

He ([the cameraman] and all other people that work those jobs are fully aware those positions entail some physical risk because [they are] close to action and [the] course of the play is unpredictable.

Their official spokesperson might consider having someone edit his/her statements.

Okay, I’m getting really snarky now. Just getting prepped for the game, I guess. And to be fair, Marvin Lewis forced Burfict to apologize to the cameraman. I’m sure that made his $80,000 camera feel much better.

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AFC North Stats ‘N At, Week 12 Edition


AP Photo/ Josh McCown at Training Camp

After taking its own bye week, Stats ‘N At is back! It will be even longer than usual, since there is a lot of ground to cover, so get yourself another cup of coffee and something nice to go with it and let’s look at the AFC North picture.

First, a quick review of the two AFC North games for Week 11. The AFC North was .500 that week. If you had to guess which team would win and which would lose I’m assuming you would go with a Bengals win and a Ravens loss, but of course that’s not how it came out, in terms of the record at least. You can argue the Ravens actually lost big time, as they lost their No. 1 running back, Justin Forsett, and their apparently indestructible QB, Joe Flacco, during the course of a game in which they scratched out a 16-13 win.

I wrote an article for Steelers Wire expressing my belief that this was fortuitous. Apparently the Ravens’ brain trust didn’t read it, because the Ravens beat the Browns this week. Well, I’m not going to weep for them losing out on a top-five draft pick, that’s for sure!

The Bengals, on the other hand, lost to the Cardinals, making the Steelers the only AFC North team to beat Bruce Arians’ squad this season. Admittedly the Bengals played them in Arizona, the Steelers at home, but the Steelers were playing Landry Jones at quarterback and the Steelers defense held the Cardinals to 13 points. The closest any other team has come are the Rams, Destroyer of Quarterbacks, (or at least some important bits of them,) who held them to 22 points. That’s something with which to comfort ourselves on a dreary December day after the Seahawks touched the Steelers D up for 39 points. But I digress.

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AFC North Stats ‘N At, Week 10 Edition

via Fansided

Week 10 in the AFC North began with a couple of wild games in the 1:00 pm time slot. Jacksonville beat the Ravens in Baltimore, snapping a 13-game road losing streak. They wouldn’t have been able to do it except for a couple of things.

Joe Flacco threw two interceptions and choked up a fumble. A wide receiver I’ve never heard up gave up another one. Both were lost. Despite this, the Ravens were poised to win the game. The score was 20-19. There were six seconds left in the game. Jacksonville was out of time outs.

Blake Bortles took the snap and promptly fell over backwards. That would have been it, except Elvis Dumervil grabbed Bortle’s facemask as he attempted to get back up, and was called for a 15-yard penalty. Since a game can’t end on a defensive penalty, the extra play plus the penalty yardage allowed the Jaguars’ rookie kicker to try for a 53-yard field goal. He nailed it. Jaguars win, 22-20. Unbelievable. All I can say is the Jaguars probably feel right now that the Josh Scobee trade was the smartest one ever made by any front office, anywhere… (For the record, the NFL now says the Jaguars never should have gotten the extra play because of an uncalled false start penalty, so the Ravens should have won. Their luck seems to have run out this season.)

Next up was Browns at Steelers. We all know how that came out. Our backup quarterback broke records, but didn’t break anything else, contrary to the usual storyline this season. The Steelers head into their bye week in much better shape than they ought to be by rights, considering the circumstances. The Browns also head into their bye week, probably wondering who their coaching staff will consist of after it is over. (For the record, owner Jimmie Haslam says he won’t be making any changes at this point.)Record Week 10

I suppose I ought to try to be more neutral, but I can’t. I have to report it gave me great pleasure to type that “1” in the Bengals’ win/loss column. Probably more pleasure than the people watching the game had on Monday night. I was checking on it from time to time on NFL Game Center, and it seemed as if the game must have been about as much fun as watching paint dry while undergoing a root canal. Did it set an NFL record for number of punts? Not impressive.

As a Steelers homer I like to think this represents the beginning of the end for Cincinnati this season, but I expect it actually represents just one of those games which even the really good teams have on occasion. From the looks of things the Bengals ought to be pretty tired when they head to Arizona for Sunday’s match. We can always hope…

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Battle of the Backups: Steelers/Browns Game Recap

Don’t mess with our backup…

The personnel for today’s match was in doubt well into the week, but the smart money was on Landry Jones starting for the Steelers. The surprise was his backup—Ben Roethlisberger was dressed in the stead of a healthy but unrehearsed Michael Vick.

Josh McCown was the purported starter all week for the Browns, right up until he wasn’t, and backup Johnny Manziel got the start.

As anyone reading this is doubtless aware, Landry Jones played for what might generously be called two series. A short pass to Roosevelt Nix—surely someone the Browns hadn’t given a great deal of thought to—gained 11 yards, but after that it was two stuffed runs, a short pass, and a punt.

The Steelers defense was having none of that, and got the ball back on Manziel’s first pass attempt. This was another three and out, but in field goal range. In the meantime, Armonty Bryant shoved Marcus Gilbert right onto Landry Jones’ foot, and the Steelers kicked the field goal as another injured quarterback limped off the field.

The cameras immediately panned to Roethlisberger, who leapt up off the bench like a superannuated war horse who hears the bugle and starts warming up. In the meantime, those of us who live in our fears either stepped up their consumption of their anti-anxiety liquid of choice or just buried their head in their hands. I was one of the latter. I did not see this ending well. As Homer commented before the game:

There’s no need for a write-up before this game, because we all know that the Browns are lousy, that they match up well against the Steelers, and that the Steelers give us heartburn in every game that looks easy on paper. Sooo, get out the Tums and the nitro and let’s get ready for some fooop-bawwwwl. 

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