Tag Archives: New England Patriots

What Killed the Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 Season?

By Ivan Cole

As has been noted in these spaces before, the off season can evolve its own strains of hysteria concerning the state of a team. I think Art Rooney II got it right when evaluating the season—he pointed out that a 13-3 record signifies a very good year. For a fan base that measures success in Lombardi Trophies it is easy to dismiss the regular season as meaningless. But as Rooney noted, few teams can point to many instances when they have done that well. I would add that nearly a third of the schedule was played against eventual playoff teams, so the record was not a cheap or inflated achievement.

This highlights a disquieting, even disturbing truth about the game: Ultimate success often hinges not upon big problems. As often as not, one event, a game, even just a play or two can determine the outcome of entire seasons. What follows is one person’s opinion of what derailed the Steelers’ run to the Super Bowl in 2017.

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What I Saw in the 52nd Super Bowl: A Great Championship Game

Photo via PatriotsWire/USA Today Sports

By Ivan Cole

I had originally planned to not watch the game but changed my mind. I was glad I did. It was almost certainly the most entertaining offensive spectacle of a championship game, beginning to end, there has been. Further, the outcome, and the manner that it was reached was probably the best the league could hope for given the circumstances.

You didn’t have to be a Patriots hater or buy too deeply into the ‘cheaters/conspiracy’ narratives to believe that it would be best for the game that they lost. The league has staked its business model on being anti-dynastic (more commonly referred to as parity) for some pretty good reasons. Even some Pats fans were hoping to break the cycle this year. Read more

So What’s The Catch?

Photo via Michigan Insiders

The balance in the world order has been somewhat restored, as the Philadelphia Eagles outscored Tom Brady and the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.

Just kidding. Wait, I’m not kidding. But if I were an Eagles fan this morning, I would probably check the headlines a couple of times, just to make sure I didn’t dream the whole thing.

And all is right in Momma’s world, as pretty much the lone defensive hero of said Super Bowl was none other than Momma’s very first pick in her very first BLA Mock Draft. At the time I said:

Scouts Inc. has him at #18, cbssports has him at 28 and rising, and he won the Senior Bowl MVP. We need to get some younger players on the D-line, and frankly finding a good linebacker that is a pleasure to look at isn’t easy. This gentleman gets my recommendation.

And in case you’re wondering, the photo was the one published with the article. Which I would link, but a Google search didn’t reveal its location…

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5 Smoldering Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 15

AP Photo

The questions are going to be even more smolder-y than usual, because Hombre de Acero has a crazy week and only sent me three questions, and I’m still mad. So here goes. How could anything else be the subject of this edition? Yes, I’m going there, and we will be examining various aspects of The Catch That Suddenly Wasn’t. Feel free to use this as a cathartic experience…

1. After reading a Post-Gazette article in which writer Ed Bouchette fanned the flames pretty thoroughly, I did some research on my own. More on that in a moment. In his article, Bouchette says he isn’t accusing NFL Senior VP for Officiating Alberto Riveron of bias toward the Patriots, exactly, but he does present some interesting facts. Here are the salient points:

In three games this season the Patriots benefitted by the review of a called touchdown on the field.

Two of these rulings overturned the touchdown called on the field. The one which was not overturned was a pass to Brandin Cooks:

New England’s Brandin Cooks caught a 25-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds left to beat Houston 36-33 on Sept. 24. He caught the ball with both feet in the end zone but lost control as he hit the ground out of bounds. It was ruled a touchdown, and Riveron did not overturn it upon review.

The Jesse James touchdown reversal is probably pretty fresh in your mind. The third touchdown was also reversed. It was to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and here’s how nj.com describes it:

This was a huge moment in Sunday’s game. The Jets were down 24-14 with 8:24 left in the fourth quarter. So the touchdown would’ve cut New England’s lead to 24-21. Instead, the Patriots got the ball back, and the Jets couldn’t pull off the upset.

Though Riveron defended his call Monday, two former NFL head of officials — Fox Sports analysts Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino — disagreed with the overturn decision.

(Both felt it should have stood as called.) The final score was Patriots 24, Jets 17. (They did manage a field goal on their final series.)

It’s interesting to ponder that, had the two earlier calls been adjudicated differently, the Patriots might actually have been 8-5 when they travelled to Heinz Field. Or had Riveron been consistent, they might have been 9-4. In either case the outcome of last Sunday’s game would be much less momentous for the Steelers. How does this make you feel?

2. Back to that research I mentioned. There have been other touchdown catches reversed this season. Most of them have had what seems like a direct effect on who won the game. Here are all the reversed rulings I could find:

Austin Sefarian-Jenkens had another fourth-quarter touchdown catch reversed upon replay, in the November 26th game against the Panthers, and the Jets lost by a score of 35-27. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t the Jets in the same division as the Patriots? Just checking.

In the waning seconds of their September 24th match versus the Falcons, the Lions thought they had won the game with a last-second touchdown pass to Golden Tate. But because Tate was ruled as having fumbled when the ball moved slightly as he went to the ground, and because there were only 8 seconds left on the clock, the mandatory 10-second runoff of the clock ended the game. The Lions lost, 30-26.

Also on September 24th, which was a busy day for Riveron, Sterling Shepard of the Giants had a touchdown pass reversed as the ball came slightly loose when he hit the ground. Earlier in the game, a catch by TE Zach Ertz of the Eagles was declared good despite him losing control of the ball when he hit the ground. The Giants lost, 27-24.

Zach Miller (Bears) dislocated his knee during what looked like an incredible touchdown catch that he somehow or other held onto as he collapsed onto the field. Riveron reversed it. Blandino disagreed. The Bears lost 20-12.

And finally, in a 31-24 loss to the Panthers, Vikings receiver Adam Thielen caught a touchdown. Quite conclusively, or so one would think. If one weren’t Senior VP of Officiating, at any rate.

Here’s how the Daily Norseman described the problem with the Thielen catch, which looked like a catch to pretty much everyone in the NFL-watching world:

This is the NFL. In order for it to be called a catch, you must catch it, get no fewer than four limbs and five internal organs in bounds, seal the ball in Lucite, get your cleats notarized, and recite the alphabet backwards.

So my question is, is the New York office unduly influencing the course of games, regardless of whether you believe there is a particular bias involved?

3. In looking at the above information, would you find it interesting to look very, very closely at Al Riveron’s financial picture?(Told you I was mad…)

Now to return to our regularly scheduled programming, and to Hombre de Acero:

4. The interesting thing about Jesse James’ non-touchdown is that there is no shortage of Steelers/Pittsburgh commentators who are saying, “Yeah it sucks but the ruling was correct” and no shortage of neutral observers saying, “This is INANE. THAT IS A TOUCHDOWN.” Based on your understanding of the rule, regardless of whether you agree with it or it, do you think it was correct?

5. Were the Steelers right to go for it at the end instead of kicking and playing in overtime?

And a bonus question for the holidays:

6. After the game, Jim Wexell’s instant reaction was, “I’m not sure the Steelers can overcome this.” However yesterday, he wrote a long column arguing that the game showed that the Patriots can be beaten. Which side do you come down on?

The NFL’s Problem

Photo via Steelers.com

By Ivan Cole

In my recent piece I wrote this about what I discerned is a problem with the league, as follows:

Inconsistencies on everything from what qualifies as a pass reception to the circumstances surrounding the cause, length and amounts of suspensions and fines has us traveling an axis that ranges from suspicion of incompetence to corruption. Contrast the treatment of Burfict with the constant ‘random’ drug tests that James Harrison must endure. Currently, compare the differing treatment of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Rob Gronkowski and George Iloka. The disparities among the crimes committed and the punishments meted out are stunning. This has led, among other things, to conspiracy theories that there is a New England bias, and that Gronk’s punishment was calibrated to insure his presence for the big game with the Steelers. Steelers Nation has been living by the credo of just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that someone isn’t out to get you as it relates to the league for years. The idea that there might exist biases (let’s break up the Steelers/promote the Cowboys or Pats) where the league places a thumb on the scale for selected franchises or players are incredibly corrosive, and don’t have to be true to be extremely damaging.

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Acme Fake Spike Kit Fails Steelers, Who Fall to Screwjob in Dusty Finish

Photo via Steelers.com

By Homer J.

Pregame remarks:

All right. Cue the music. It’s Cliff Friend’s 1937 classic “The Merry Go Round Broke Down.” When the Steelers face the Patriots, it’s Looney Tunes, and too often the Steelers are Wile E. Coyote and the Tom Brady is the Road Runner. So cue the Looney Tunes music….Gotta wonder what Coach Tomlin has purchased from the Acme Corporation this time around, and whether it’s gonna work.

Either that or we’re the Washington Generals and the Patriots are the Globetrotters. But, as Krusty always says, “the Generals are due.” Rooting for the Steelers is the triumph of hope over experience, but hope, talent, and home field advantage can go a long way.

Why the hell are they running commercials locally when the game is getting underway? We missed the first entire minute of the game while they ran commercials…

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Patriots @ Steelers: The Ecstasy and the Agony

Photo via Steelers.com

There was great rejoicing at Greg’s house in Herndon, VA, as a great number of the gathered faithful, including Ivan, Homer and myself hugged, screamed, high fived, and so on according to taste. The Outlaw had won the game! Touchdown! Surely the Patriots couldn’t score in 28 seconds!

But Tony Corrente’s Grinch Crew stole Christmas on a rainy night in Pittsburgh.

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