Why The Steelers Will Not Be On HBO’s Hard Knocks

There are two reasons the Steelers won’t be on Hard Knocks and probably never will. Primarily, it’s not the Steelers way, at least not the way of the modern-NFL-era Steelers. It doesn’t fit well with the tradition and old-school values the team seeks to embody. This is a team that built a new stadium in the north and left off the top – guaranteeing that they’d never host a Super Bowl. A team that continues to hold their training camp at Saint Vincent College in the small town of Latrobe and that shares their practice facilities and stadium with the local college team.

Get it? This is not a flashy look-at-me organization.

But no less a factor is the coach.  It’s not the Mike Tomlin way. While Coach Tomlin seems  an amiable fellow, the shenanigans and distractions associated with an appearance on Hard Knocks would not be tolerated.   Can you imagine the distractions with a  camera around every corner? Hines Ward’s recent win on Dancing With The Stars would be a hot topic.  What about the new “Steelers Rule” changes by the NFL? Heck, avoiding massive fines is a great reason to not have those cameras around.  And while Tomlin may not have the final say in such a decision, the organization has generally granted a great deal of power to their coach and would likely respect his decision in such a matter. Coach Tomlin has earned that respect and that decision.

If there’s an NFL season this year, and thus, a training camp,  we can rest assured that there will be no Hard Knocks in the Steelers’ future.  But you know what?  I’d rather like to see it!

Mavericks Take Western Conference Finals 4-1

It was eerily similar to Game 4 in Oklahoma City on Monday night. The Thunder lead for most of the game and by as much as seven points deep into the fourth quarter. Then it happened again: the inexperience and youth of the Thunder yielded to another Mavericks comeback. The duo of Durant and Westbrook took bad shots while the team committed untimely fouls and eventually, with 74 seconds remaining, after just missing his first 3 point attempt of the game, Dirk Nowitzki sank one from the top of the key. And the Mavericks had a one point lead.

This was the closest 4-1 series I’ve ever seen. Either of the last two games could have gone the other way, but the Mavericks wouldn’t allow it. Come the final two minutes, the Thunder fell apart and the Mavericks gelled, plain and simple. It perfectly illustrates the advantage a veteran team has over a youthful one.

Now the Mavericks wait for the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals. Next game to be determined!

Marion, Kidd & Nowitzki

Marion, Kidd & Nowitzki versus the OKC Thunder, 2011 WCF

Plaxico Burress a Steeler?

Not a chance. Sure, the speculation is out there, but that’s all it is. Remember, the Steelers chose the less-flashy and not-so-tall Hines Ward over Plaxico Burress six years ago. While Ward’s career is certainly winding down, why would the Steelers now decide that Burress, after serving a stint in prison, is a free agent they’d like to pursue?

Simple: they won’t. Burress will get looks by the usual suspects like the reform-minded Philadelphia Eagles, the mind-boggling Cincinnati Bengals or ever-receiver-hungry Baltimore Ravens. Some have even mentioned the San Diego Chargers – let’s hope not for Burress’ sake – that’s a long way from some fresh key-lime pie!

Don’t worry Steelers fans, there will be no Burress in Pittsburgh in the case that there is actually a 2011 season.

Mavericks Stage Epic Comeback in Game 4

With their comeback from 15 down with 5 minutes to play the Dallas Mavericks effectively closed the door on the OKC Thunder’s season. Dallas ended their 17-2 run with two clutch free throws by Dirk Nowitzki to force OT.

Of course, no massive comeback happens on its own and the Mavericks had much help from a Thunder meltdown. Brian Westbrook continued to show that, while he possesses a wonderful skill set, his mental game needs massive amounts of work as he committed fouls, failed to pass, took shots early in the shot clock and turned over the ball down the stretch. If there was anything he could do to hurt his team, Westbrook found a way to do it.

But let us not overlook the great team effort from the Mavericks and their standout player, Dirk Nowitzki. Despite another great defensive performance by Nick Collison in which there was nothing he could do for 43 minutes to earn a foul call, Nowitzki persevered and overcame the adversity when it mattered most, finding a way to get a shot and earning his way to the foul line.

Shaun Marion’s defense smothered Kevin Durant down the stretch and his block of Durant’s last-second shot secured the tie.

The series moves back to Dallas for Game 5 on Wednesday @ 8:00 pm CDT.

Mavericks Storm Back, Take Game 3 in WCF

The Dallas Mavericks wasted no time in regaining the home court advantage. They increased their 15 point first quarter lead with an 8 point run to start the second. From their they hung on to the end. OKC cut into the lead, drawing to within 16 by halftime, 12 points by the end of the third and down to 5 at points late in the fourth.

The comeback was aided by enormous disparity in free throws. The Thunder attempted twice as many as the Mavericks, going 32-36. And it helped that the Mavericks all star forward had a very un-Dirk-like night has he went 7-21 from the field including 1-6 from the 3-point line and only 3 free throws. Contrast this to game 1 where he was 12-15 from the field, no 3-point attempts while sinking 24 straight from the stripe.

Fortunately for the Mavericks, Shaun Marion stepped up with 18 points to match Dirk Nowitzki and the team defense stepped it up to their previous playoff levels. They held the Thunder to 12 and 20 points in the first and third periods.

Next game is Monday at 8:00 pm CDT on ESPN.

Thunder take Game 2 in WCF

The Oklahoma City Thunder flipped the script on the veteran Mavericks in Dallas. They slowed Dirk Nowitzki and the other Mavericks shooters enough to steal a road victory which was Dallas’ first home loss so far in the playoffs. Now the series shifts to OKC where the Mavericks will need a win to regain home court advantage.

Dallas’ play belied their veteran roster. Once, fouling a 3 pt shooter but not hard enough to disrupt the shot and yielding a 4 pt play at the end of a quarter. The stingy defense essentially collapsed while the offense did little to make up the difference.

Next game is Saturday at 8:00 pm CDT on ESPN.

Mavericks take Game 1 in WCF

It was a Dirk-a-licious night for the Dallas Mavericks as the big German scored 48 points on 12-15 from the floor and an NBA record 24-24 from the line.  J.J. Barea also stood out adding 21 points in only 16 minutes.

While OKC took a 7 point lead to the 2nd quarter the Mavericks overtook them near the end of the half and never looked back.  Dallas showed no rust after their  nine day break between series.

For all the flow and scoring of the first half, the 3rd quarter slowed as if the teams played in a sludge pit.  Foul after foul was called and both teams went to the line for 20+ free throws.

And while the Mavericks stretched the lead to 16, the Thunder refused to fold and closed to 5 near the end before Dallas sealed the victory.

Dallas remains undefeated at home.


It’s The End Of The World As We Know It

But there’s no end in sight of the lockout for the NFL players by the owners.  Nothing is likely to happen prior to the hearing scheduled for June 3rd in St. Louis.

So there you go.  No news about draftees in mini-camps.  No news of promising UDFAs since there are none.  No discussion of training camp plans.  Nothing.  Steelers message boards languish as members engage in small talk. Beat writers twiddle their thumbs and occasional bloggers bang out the occasional post.

Maybe a series of book and movie reviews is in order!  Stay tuned.

“Glad we broke Ben’s nose.”

Found this interesting little tidbit earlier, it can only add to the atmosphere of the game.

08:01 AM ET 01.11Haloti Ngata turned Ben Roethlisberger‘s nose sideways in one of the season’s more graphic moments, and while Ngata was fined, the Ravens aren’t about to tiptoe around the Steelers quarterback. … “He’s a Miami guy,” said Harbaugh, who also played for the RedHawks as a defensive back. “He’s a tough guy. He had the broken nose. I was glad we broke his nose and then I was very impressed that he played through it. Obviously, you can throw very effectively with a broken nose — he proved that.”

The Baltimore Sun

Careful John, Commissioner Douchell’s fining muscle is getting twitchy.

It’s Ravens Week (Again)

I’ll be honest with you, my choice was to have the Colts beat the Jets and let the Ravens soften up the Patriots.  That was my “perfect world” scenario for the AFC Wildcard round.  After Saturday my revised idea was for the Kansas City Chiefs to beat the Ravens and rely on the Jets to soften up New England.

But here we are with a third Ravens game for the second time in three years.  Last time the Steelers swept the season (23-20 (OT) and 13-9), won the playoff game (23-14) and then the Super Bowl. This time around each won on their foe’s turf (17-14 at Heinz and 13-10 in Baltimore) so Jan, 15 will be the rubber match.

Steelers/Ravens has typified the violence that Commissioner Goodell has sought to suppress in recent years, most demonstrably via the fines handed down this season.  Even casual NFL fans know this is a throwback game that reminds one of the Steelers/Raiders games of the 70s.

Players get injured in this game and frankly, one must wonder what either unit will put on the field versus the Patriots the following week.

But at this point thoughts of the following week must be put aside.  Consider only the matter-at-hand and how the Steelers will beat the Ravens.  The Chiefs/Ravens game revealed that Joe Flacco still has some work to do as a QB.  While he posted a 115 passer rating, he relied heavily on Todd Heap, an option the Steelers will take away on Saturday.  Frankly, if the Chiefs offense hadn’t played so poorly (5 TOs), their defense may have looked better.  It was a 10-7 game at halftime.  At any rate, I don’t expect the Ravens to break 20 pts against the Steelers. Look for  Roethlisberger to be more comfortable than Cassel, he’s been there and done that, many times.  The Ravens are old hat for Big Ben. And what of the vaunted Baltimore run defense?  Even without his long run of 41 yards, Jamaal Charles averaged over 5 ypc.  Look for the ground game to be a major factor.

I’m counting on an atypical game between these two with a 27-13 Steelers victory that doesn’t seem as close as the final indicates. Look for Mendenhall to top 100 yards as the Steelers take the air out of the ball in the 4th quarter.