Steelers Zap Bolts

How about “Steelers Buzz Bolts?”

“Chargers Drained at Heinz?”

“Steelers 11, Chargers 10, Refs $$$$$$?”

How does a team have a 300 yard passer, 100 yard receiver and 100 yard rusher, own TOP by a 13:02 margin, win the turnover battle +2 with zero of their own, run 23 more offensive plays than their opponent, score on a safety and still win by only one point?

It helps to also win the penalty game by 13/115 to 2/5 and punt four times for an average of 31 with only one of those inside the 20. But that begs: When was the last time you saw an NFL game with such a disparate view of the penalty situation of two teams by the officials? James Harrison was mugged every time he lined up to rush the passer. On one play he was pulled down from behind by his face mask. What was the penalty call there? Personal foul? Hold? Not so much.

Once again the defense was dominant. Is there anything these guys can’t do? They scored the safety that proved to be the difference. They scored a TD which would have made sure that there still was never an 11-10 final score. They sacked the quarterback, took away the ball and in the end made sure their team won the game. It was another stellar performance and one that was finally not wasted by the offense.

But it looks like we fans will have to continue wondering about the strange statistics compiled in this game. Because you know what they say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Right, refs?

Fast Willie Rolls. He’s Baaaaaaack!

On a day that saw snow and on a field of muck Fast Willie Parker showed why the Steelers’ running game had floundered over the last several games: He wasn’t there.

Back from injuries but still nicked, Parker pounded out a tough 115 on 25 clock eating carries. He showed that extra burst that had been missing from the running game, even though his backup Mewelde Moore filled in admirably during Parker’s absence.

Provided he stays healthy through a short week, Parker will be able to have a pre-Thanksgiving feast this coming Thursday: the Cincinnati Bengals are coming to town!

Fast Willie Will be Ready for Chargers

Willie Parker continues to rehab and expects to play against the San Diego Chargers this coming Sunday. While Mewelde Moore has posted impressive (better) numbers in Parker’s absence, the Steelers lack of depth at the position is a concern. Having Parker back will allow Moore to focus on his return and 3rd down duties, hopefully keeping him fresh for the remainder of the season.

Perhaps the fall off in Parker’s production this season can be attributed to not being able to get into a groove due to injuries. Whatever the case, Parker should be motivated, even behind the Steelers sad-sack offensive line.

Hope you are well, Willie.

Next Two Games are “Must Wins”

The home loss to the Colts finds the Steelers sitting (barely) atop the AFCN with a 6-3 record. The next two games are at home versus the struggling Chargers of San Diego and the ever-hapless Cincinnati Bengals. These are games the Steelers simply must win if they harbor thoughts of playing deep into the playoffs in the new year.

After these two relative cream puffs the going gets tougher with 3 of the final 5 games on the road at New England, Baltimore and Tennessee. The Patriots remain a tough out even sans Beardy. Flacco seems to be improving for the Ravens. And the Titans from Tennessee remain unbeaten. When their run game is stuffed their QB has proven the offense will still score points. While none of these teams should prove overpowering for the tough Steelers defense, they will all make it tough on Big Ben and the boys. There’s no walk in the park among these three.

The remaining two of the final 5 will be at Heinz field against the Dallas Cowboys and the Fighting Quinns of Cleveland. While the Cowboys have been on a sharp slide of late, by the time they roll into Pittsburgh Tony Romo will have been back for a few games. The regular season wraps with the Brownstains.

So while there will be plenty of opportunities to win down the road, the best of these will be at Heinz field over the next two weeks. After that the Steelers will have to depend on some lucky bounces because it’s clear they cannot depend on their offense when it counts the most.

Colts Stuff Steelers

With a 17-7 Steelers lead and the defense turning in yet another stingy performance, it appeared little more was needed than a couple of first downs to run out the clock and head into halftime with momentum and high hopes of continuing the beating on the other side.

Whoah, nelly!  The Colts would have none of that.  After their fourth straight punt ended their 5th drive, the Colts had the Steelers start from their own eight yard line.  Three plays and an interception later, a reenergized Colts offense took the field on the Steelers 30 with 1:24 to go in the half.  Six plays later they seized momentum with a TD, turning a 17-7 game that was building to a rout into a close game which they would tie on the opening possession of the third quarter.

The next score came early in the 4th.  The Steelers had managed a long clock-killing drive down to the Colts 5 yard line.  First and goal it was.  Three straight runs later and the Steelers were kicking a FG to take a 20-17 lead.  The Colts undersized defense yielded four yards on the first down play but stuffed Mewelde Moore in his tracks, even getting to him in the back field on the next two plays.  It was a disheartening site for Steelers fans everywhere and effectively won the game.

The Colts, unable to drive the field all game, got the help they needed.  They quickly converted the second Roethlisberger interception into another TD to take a 24-20 lead which they would hold.

Another stellar Steelers defensive performance went straight down the drain.

The Colts offense made the most of the opportunities Ben presented while the undersized defense stuffed the Steelers when it mattered most.

Should the Franchise Sit, Rest?

Heresy!  Heresy!  Burn him at the stake!

OK, I get it, don’t mess with the 27 million dollar man.

Ah, screw it.  The Steelers have to sit Big Ben to save him from himself and from the offensive line and frankly, the Steelers playoff hopes from him.  What if the Colts game played out like the Redskins game of the prior week?  Ben sits after the half and Lefty comes in to rally the troops for a couple of second half touchdown drives?

Could have used that yesterday.  Probably would have won a 35-10 game with Lefty in there.

Now, I’m not calling for something permanent.  But until he heals, the best thing Big Ben can do is sit down and stop hurting his team.  The defense might actually win games if the offense did little more than NOT turn the ball over.

Rest Big Ben now because the second season is ahead and he’ll be needed then provided the Steelers can make it there.

Will the Steelers Outrun the Colts?

It should be a good game Sunday afternoon.  How will Peyton Manning and his blockers handle the deadly duo of James Harrison and Lamar Woodly?  Will Big Ben finish the game or will it be up to Byron Leftwich to rally the troops for a win?

But most importantly, will the Steelers get back to the ground game, their identity?  Pounding the football will go futher than any other tactic towards the goal of winning games and keeping the quarterback on his feet.  It let’s the team control the clock and thus win the ever important TOP battle.  It allows the offensive line to tee off on the opposing defense rather than the opponents teeing of on Big Ben.  It sets the tone for the physical style of game that the Steelers were built to play.

Ask anyone on the team if they want to run the ball more.  I bet that, to a man, they will say, “YES!  None here can figure out why we’ve abandoned the run game.  Let’s get back to it!  NOW!”

Update:  “The bottom line is the running game could be lights out if we gave it enough tries,” Steelers tackle Willie Colon said. “We know up front we can bang with them. We can get a hat on a hat and they’re not going to be able to hold up. We understand that. Will it go down like that? We’ve got to wait till Sunday to see.”

Bengals Win Battle of the Cats

The Jacksonville Jaguars have fallen hard and fast after their suprising success in 2007.  Last year they sacked Byron Leftwich and promoted long time backup David Garrard to the starting QB position.  He made Jack Del Rio look like a genius.  This year they’ve had to scratch and claw just to attain a 3-5 record.

The Bengals, on the other hand, have continued their long tradition of suckitude.  They dove straight to the bottom of the league, losing their first eight in a row.

But this day was different.  The Bengal reigned supreme in a meaningless Battle of the Cats.  Score one for the ‘Natti.

Meow.

Bigfoot’s Last TD Pass?

After the Jets beat the Bills, my local CBS affiliate switched to the final three minutes of the Ratbirds at the Brownstains.  Balty was leading 30-27 but Cleveland had the ball with plenty of time for the go ahead score.  Since Baltimore is a game ahead of Cleveland but only one game behind Pittsburgh, my rooting interests were obvious:  Cleveland must win to throw both teams into a 4-4 tie behind the Steelers.

On the first snap Browns QB Bigfoot Anderson tossed a 42 yard pick 6 to Terrell Suggs effectively ending the game.  Ravens lead, 37-27.  The next series saw the ball go back to the Ravens on downs.  Not a brilliant performance by Anderson and perhaps his last in a Brownie uniform.  Brady Quim was seen licking his lips on the sideline.

Suddenly the Steelers have a must-win game on their hands in DC with the 5-3 Ravens breathing down their necks.

And it all happened on a day when Bigfoot may be seen no more, his final TD pass going to the wrong team.

Holmes Debacle Put to Bed?

Head coach Mike Tomlin suspended San Antonio Holmes for the Giants game. The player will start in Washington this coming Monday night. Everything is all hunky-dory now, correct? Not by a long shot.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that punitive actions taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers organization will have no bearing on any decision he passes down. Since there were charges filed against Holmes by the Pittsburgh police, one can expect some action from the NFL offices. It’s only a matter of time.

Holmes, who said he would have made the difference in the loss to the Giants, did not originally seem to grasp the gravity of the situation. When asked if people will doubt him, Holmes replied, “Who cares? I really don’t.” He needs to work on how he is perceived now before he gets labeled as a chronic troublemaker. Hopefully, he heeds the words of veteran quarterback Charlie Batch who said Homes should work on his image and realize that no more mistakes will be tolerated.

That’s good advice, San Antonio, please accept it. But watch your back. Nate Washington is gunning for your job. And Limus Sweed and Dallas Baker are looking over his shoulder.