Showing posts with label Rashard Mendenhall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rashard Mendenhall. Show all posts

Monday, February 7, 2011


ABOVE: As seen from outer space, today a gigantic black hole is sucking the life out of the entire Pittsburgh area into "God knows where".

Just as every other Steeler fan who watched SuperBowl XLCDII2 or whatever the hell number it was, today we all have one thing in mind: Escaping the gigantic black hole that now threatens to destroy all of us.

As Steeler fans we don't accept losing easily. To describe it even more succinctly, losing for us is tantamount to a complete disaster, to be avoided at any cost. But I must admit that for as confident as I had felt prior to this game, that confidence came leaking out as though there was a two foot hole in a hot air balloon during that awful "Aguilera Anthem" that we all had to endure. The sight of seeing seasoned veteran, Hines Ward, hyperventilating was a little more than I could take. I was half expecting him to keel over. This was the time that was supposed to be our advantage! Our guys had been there before! Was this a sign that subconsciously the Steelers were already fearing the worst? Methinks so.

You already know what happened in this game, I'm not going to bore you with another blow-by-blow-by-blow recap, but I'm basically going to take a different approach to this story through actual pictures that were not cleared by the NFL. As everyone in the free world already knows, we basically beat ourselves, much the same as Neil O'Donnell did in SperBowl XXX with two interceptions and a killing fumble. These plays can best be described through the photos below.

ABOVE: Ben Roethlisberger's arm is hit as he throws to Mike Wallace. We all know what happened next: Pick six.

ABOVE: Ben forces a pass to Mike Wallace in tight coverage. After this second interception, four plays later the black & gold found themselves down 21-3

If there's one thing that was reinforced during this game though, it's that the Steelers never quit, no matter how deep of a hole they may dig for themselves. Another image that was further reinforced is that Pittsburgh fans have unquenchable thirsts, especially on the South Side at the many fine establishments there...

ABOVE: Trailing 21-10 at the half, Steeler fans stepped up their drinking by hijacking a beer truck in the hopes that their collective inebriated state would somehow transfer itself to Aaron Rodgers. In theory a fun idea, but it didn't work. This is the aftermath of that beer orgy. 

As I said earlier, the Steelers are not quitters. In the second half they came out smoking and stuffed the Packers, following it up with a Rashard Mendenhall ten yard touchdown run. However, for Mendenhall, who had become a solid ball carrier this year, he chose a most inopportune time to have the most disastrous play of his career.

The Steelers had stopped the Packers yet again and their momentum was threatening to take them all the way back into the lead. It was turning into a comeback of historic proportions. On second and two and just after an eight yard run, the third quarter ended. The Steelers had the ball on the Green Bay 40 with a full head of momentum. The first play of the quarter, unfortunately, was not good. That last sentence could best be described as an "understatement".

ABOVE: Rashard Mendenhall's fumble was the turning point in this game. It was enough to send many despondent fans over the side of the Westinghouse Bridge.

BELOW: Casualties were not confined to human beings. A television, set up for Pittsburgh Zoo workers was unfortunately observed by this pacyderm. The end result was not pretty.

While the Steelers then fell behind 28-17 on a Rodgers pass to Jennings, to their credit, these guys weren't about to go quietly into the night. Mike Wallace would score on a 25 yard touchdown pass, capped by a two point conversion scored by Antwaan Randle-El on a "wishbone-type" option play.

Amazingly, the Steelers were now only down by a field goal. They were now starting to resemble this guy:

ABOVE: Yes, it's the "T-1000" from "Terminator 2". Try as Arnold would, he just couldn't kill this guy.

On the very next possession, the Steelers defense, in a position to get the ball back, had Aaron Rodgers just where they wanted him. With the ball on his own 25 and facing a third and ten, Rodgers, the eventual MVP, did what MVPs do:

ABOVE: Heartbroken again, this time by a 30 yard completion to Grant Jennings, Aaron Rodgers sliced the Steelers secondary up for another big gain. The man is truly ruthless.

To their stubborn credit...again....the Steelers managed to force the Packers to successfully kick a 23 yard field goal, leaving them with a six point lead, 31-25, and a full two minutes to work for Big Ben. These two teams had been considered so close, was it possible that the Steelers could pull out another amazing finish and win by a single point?

There were three reasons why this ultimately would not happen. The Steelers had squandered two timeouts earlier in the half. This in itself comprised two cardinal sins for a SuperBowl game. Then there was Keyaron Fox. His bonehead personal foul penalty on the ensuing kickoff was completely unacceptable, especially for a team captain. Fox took this same unnecessary roughness penalty in another game earlier this season. With the SuperBowl on the line, it is inconceivable that a shove could have really been worth it to him at that moment.

ABOVE: Keyaron Fox demonstrates another personality flaw in an earlier game this season, celebrating over a helpless Carolina Panther.

So after Fox's idiocy, the Steelers now had to start at their 12 yard line. A pass to Heath Miller moved it to the 25. Hines then caught a pass for four yards followed by a throwaway and then two incompletions to Mike Wallace...and that was the ballgame, as they say.

Mike Tomlin, obviously very hot over this loss and more abrupt than normal was nonetheless gracious to the Packers in defeat. "Usually when you lose it's because of penalties and turnovers...But we're not about making excuses...ever. Our hat is off to the Green Bay Packers. They made enough plays today, we didn't."

For Pittsburgh fans their only option today is to register for disaster assistance while dealing at the same time with a classic case of football withdrawl. It's not going to be fun living in Pittsburgh until the draft. Maybe, if we can get some offensive line help and a couple defensive backs, we'll be able to look forward to next season. But with Evgeni Malkin out for the year and Sidney Crosby dealing with a concussion in Nova Scotia, it might be a long winter. We may have to pin all of our winter hopes on the Pitt basketball Panthers. Maybe Pitt can reverse their NCAA fortunes this time...

ABOVE: Thanks to some quick thinking by the mayor, Pittsburgh today opened an office of "Disaster Recovery".

Monday, January 24, 2011


In a contest very reminiscent of the recent Pitt-Syracuse basketball game where the Panthers unexpectedly ran out to a 19-0 lead against the third-ranked Orange, only to see them storm back to a 19-17 score; The Pittsburgh Steelers surprisingly displayed smash-mouth football at its' very finest, running out to a 24-0 lead and only allowing a single field goal just before the half. But in the back of your mind you knew it would be a harbinger of things to come. This game was far from over.

The New York Jets didn't get this far by not being resilient. In fact, if there is a message to be learned here, resiliency is the very essence of what it takes to be an NFL champion. The Steelers clearly own the patent on resiliency as evidenced again last night and this entire season. Can anything stop these guys?

Taking on a team that had just defeated both the Colts and Patriots in convincing fashion, the Steelers started off with one of the most suffocating offensive drives to start off a game ever seen. The Steelers used up nine minutes of the first quarter by going right at the teeth of the Jets defense...and winning. During the course of this withering drive, their quarterback, certainly no Jake Cutler (who took himself out of his championship game earlier in the day) sustained a nasty knee to the thigh, a very painful injury. Limping badly, he continued on. His pro bowl rookie center, Maurkice Pouncey, then suffered a game ending high ankle sprain. The resilient Steelers continued on with Doug "Bronco" Lagursky gamely taking his place.

The first half was filled with typical Big Ben plays: Crucial first down throws, skillful scampers at the most opportune times as well as another defensive touchdown, this time caused by Ike Taylor nearly taking off quarterback Mark Sanchez' arm and the resultant fumble being scooped up and run in almost matter-of-factly by cornerback William Gay. His "acting like he's been there before" after scoring was epic in my eyes. In fact, it was downright refreshing. It said, "This was not about me, it's about my team."

But mostly it was Rashard Mendenhall left, Rashard Mendenhall right, Rashard Mendenhall up-the-middle. Mendenhall has rushed for more yards in a single game before, but never for this many (121) and with such devastating results on such a big stage. Guaranteed a lot more national "experts" know who Rashard Mendenhall is today. Yes, they are all very learned, we know that.

ABOVE: SuperBowl XLV will be played in Dallas at the new "House that Jerry Built." Ever willing to squeeze every last penny out of America, the N.F.L. will have large screens outside of the stadium for loyal fans who cannot get a ticket. The difference between Mario's T.V. and these Shylocks? The NFL is going to charge $200 to enjoy this privilige. They're all heart!

But clearly though, for all of their dash and bravado, the Jets looked like a team that had left most of their game on the field last week in Foxboro. Their win against the Patriots was subconsciously, their SuperBowl. By contrast there were no head flips and cartwheels last week when Steelers defeated their arch-nemesis, the Ravens. For that matter, there weren't even gymnastics on display last night after the Steelers hung on after gamely doing a 30 minute "rope-a-dope" in the second half. 

After the Jets and Sanchez had gamely come back to make it a 24-19 score including a second safety against the Steelers in one season (surely some kind of a record) it all came down to possessing the ball. It was now "Antonio Brown time".

The rookie Brown competed all season simply "to get a hat" each week against fellow rookie receiver Emmanuel Sanders. For most of the year Sanders was leading in that derby but as the year has worn on, Brown has become more and more of a factor. In fact, his clutch play has become downright scary.

Last week he connected on that mammoth hookup that sent the Ravens flying back to Capistrano. This week when it came down to crunch time again, Brown once again was in the forefront.

The Steelers were leading 24-10 after three quarters, but you just knew what was coming...The Jets proceeded on an epic drive of their own, moving the ball all the way to the Steeler one yard line where the Steeler defense showed the depth of their resolve, stopping a largely ineffective LaDanian Tomlinson at the three inch line. Unfortunately, the dreaded "safety" reared its ugly head once again when Big Ben did not handle the next snap making the score 24-12. The Jets were coming now in a big way. They once again had regained their momentum. By the three minute mark, Sanchez connected to Jerricho Cotchery for a score making it 24-19. The Jets now had three minutes to get the ball back and score a touchdown... not an impossibility by any stretch of the imagination.

They elected to kick the ball low and squib style to the awaiting Antonio Brown. He scooped up the ball cleanly and in stride and cut up the left sideline taking the ball all the way to the Pittsburgh 40 and helping field position immensely. After a big first down catch by Heath Miller, the Steelers elected to run the ball twice. By this time the Jets had now burned all of their timeouts and passed the two minute warning.

Facing a third and six, commentator Phil Simms remarked that the Steelers should, "Run the ball here and not risk stopping the clock", sort of a "Don't try to win the game here, just try not to lose it" philosophy. To be completely truthful, this writer instinctively felt a pass to the ever-dependable Hines Ward coming at this moment. After all, he's done it a million times. This was contrary even to the words that had been stated earlier in the day by Nostradamus right here in "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold"!!! "Look for a young lad named 'Antonio' to dash the hopes of the invaders,". So as he said, it would be Brown who would come through again. "Don't you even read your own blog," you ask?

In retrospect, truer words were never prognosticated.

Ben then proceeded into one of his epic "Ben plays" where he this time rolled to his right and while pressured, threw to a diving and guessed it, Antonio Brown.

All that was left was for Ben to kneel down twice while Rex Ryan was busy breaking his expensive Motorola headset. The Steelers finished ahead 24-19. But remember, style points don't count in either AFC Championships or hand grenades. They count for even less with a Lombardi Trophy on the line. This is why Ben Roethlisberger never gets respect from NFL fans. His stats aren't always the greatest, but guess what, he wins!!! The Steelers aren't in business to win fantasy football leagues, they're in it to win reality league championships. Fans on a national level forget this important fact. Steeler fans thankfully don't. That's also why the Steelers aren't ashamed of that cupboard full of Lombardi trophies either!

So this tale of two halves ended with the Steelers front office planning another trip to the SuperBowl, The Rooneys and Mike Tomlin politely accepting the Lamar Hunt Trophy "hardware" as Tomlin calls it, and the Steeler fans celebrating with a lusty version of, "I've got a feeeling, Pittsburgh's goin' to the SuperBowl again....."I've got a feeeling, Pittsburgh's goin' to the SuperBowl again.....Yes, it certainly is a good feeling. As sports fans living in "America's Most Livable City", we are certainly living a charmed existence and best of all, we know it! Let's enjoy it for awhile. There's time before we have to start worrying about the Packers, a confrontation between two resilient teams and the league's two most ardent fan groups. Tickets for this one will be in tremendous demand and at all-time high prices. It will no doubt be the most-watched SuperBowl in history.

I guess "P.B. & G." will be faced with paying Nostradamus for another prediction. This guy's really expensive, but good.

Photo by Allison Viron Photography

ABOVE: Caught up in Steeler fever this past Saturday night, Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury dons a Steeler helmet and terrible towel. You have to love how all of the athletes in different sports pull for their fellow "Black & Gold" brothers. The Steelers are frequent visitors to Pens games.

Monday, November 23, 2009


With a home loss to division-leading Cincinnati last week before 65,000 screaming faithful, the Steelers, on the road this week and playing against a lousy Kansas City team were going to have a difficult time getting up for this game. They did not disappoint.

ABOVE: The Steelers were expecting "Chefs", they got "Chiefs" and lost 27-24 in O.T... Not their finest hour.

"How could this be," you wonder aloud? "These are the Steelers we're talking about, they're road warriors"

This week's Kansas City game would once again display two recurring themes of the 2009 season: Poor special teams play and sloppy ball handling.

I have long contended that "attitude" and "hunger" are as big of factors in determining who wins in the NFL as much as raw talent, injuries, even "X's and O's". As an example, last year who would argue that the Bengals were a grotesquely-underperforming team. Yet, how can you explain this same team recovering to the point where they have already swept their divisional games with the Steelers and Ravens this season? They apparently have become world beaters!!! Welcome to the crazy world that is the N.F.L. (an abbreviation apparently for No F'ing Logic).

The Steelers this week were able to top last week's inept performance against Cincinnati with an even more unexplainable loss to the woeful Chiefs. The Steelers managed to tip enough passes into the hands of the opposition, fumble enough receptions and drop enough interceptions that they lost in overtime despite even winning the coin toss! How often do you see a "defeat snatched from the jaws of victory" as thoroughly as this one?

Big Ben was his elusive, Houdini-like self, throwing for 398 yards, but therein may lie the answer to the Steelers offensive turnover problems. Rashard Mendenhall  ran the ball 21 times, averaging 3.8 yards per carry. NEWS ALERT TO STEELERS: THROWING THE BALL IS SIGNIFICANTLY MORE HAZARDOUS THAN RUNNING IT!!! This can be evidenced by two turnovers caused by Heath Miller and Mike Wallace on balls that were tipped or fumbled after being caught.

The Steelers have apparently become "crack-addicted" to the idea of throwing the ball on nearly every down, but this seems like a good place to remind all of you that, "When you throw the ball, there are six things that can happen and five of them are bad."

"Wait a minute," you ask? "I thought the old adage was that there are THREE things that can happen and two of them are bad?"

Well let's review: You can throw a completion, which is good, an interception (bad) or incompletion (also bad, but not as bad as the interception). New additions to this list are that you can catch the pass then subsequently fumble the ball over to the opposition (very bad), tip the pass to the opposition leading to a major runback (also very bad) or even have your franchise quarterback take a knee to the head, thus making his chances of playing next week very questionable (extremely bad).

Truth be known, this game was lost in the third quarter when the Steelers, having seized control of the game and up 17-7 were driving relentlessly for yet another score. Not only didn't they score, the resultant tipped ball drill by Heath Miller and subsequent interception completely changed the complexion of the game. This is what is known as, "Not putting away an opponent when you're standing on their neck." Instead of being up potentially, 24-7, instead the Chiefs were re-invigorated at 17-14.

But talk about not curing a problem, the Steelers cut Arnold Harrison last week, apparently making him the scapegoat for all of their return woes. On the opening kickoff, the Steelers once again allowed a kickoff return for a 97 yard touchdown, equaling a mark for futility not seen since 1950 (that's 59 years folks)! Once again, the Steelers saw a special teams gaffe not only help beat them, but in this case it actually gave Kansas City the initial spark to help them carry the play to the Steelers.

ABOVE: Jeff Reed makes light of the comment, "Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory". Steeler fans were not amused, but at least Reed has rid himself of his rainbow-colored hair.

Notice that this was a 97 yard return (ball received at the three yard line) as opposed to the many Ryan Succop kicks the Steelers received that were downed five yards deep in the end zone. I maintain that many of the Steelers kickoff coverage problems are emanating from Jeff Reed not getting the ball as deep as Succop who did it consistently. By the way, Jeff Reed is also the same guy who can't even get into a kick returner's way, let alone make a tackle.

But before any Steeler fans head for the nearest bridge or highway overpass, there comes this headline courtesy of the world-beating Cincinnati Bengals: "BENGALS LOSE TO LOWLY RAIDERS ON LAST SECOND KICK".

You see folks, the biggest problem that NFL coaches have is not drafting the right players, having the best assistant coaches, or even designing the best plays or game plan! Sure, all of those things are important, but even more so is the problem of finding a way to have your players play up to their full potential each week and not taking patsies for granted. The Steelers (six SuperBowls) still haven't completely figured this out (although they are usually better than most other teams at doing it). The Bengals, coming off a big win over the Steelers apparently decided that they didn't have to play as hard to win their game against the lowly Raiders. Apparently they still haven't learned anything from the fact that they've never won a SuperBowl in their long and storied past.

ABOVE: The Raiders did what they always do, "Just win, baby."
Next week the Steelers play a tough game against their nemesis, the Baltimore Ravens. In this day of extreme caution following head injuries, don't be surprised if Ben doesn't play this week, even though he says he's "Okay." Could Charlie Batch pull this off? I think so, but not because of anything special that Charlie would do. Instead, the coaching staff will begin use their heads again and quit relying so heavily on the pass. Big Ben has these guys thinking that they should throw on every play. With anyone other than the "Large One" behind center, sanity will hopefully return to the play calling.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Editor's Note: "Pittsburgh: Thru the Lens of Gary Gayda" will return next Tuesday.

ABOVE: Steeler fans are already watching the clock for Sunday at 1:00 when the Steelers have their showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Yes, that was some great beatdown that the Steelers layed on the Denver Broncos last night, winning 28-10. It was certainly one of the most enjoyable regular season games that a Steeler fan could ever watch. But while everyone was marveling at Mendenhall's rushing totals or Santonio's six catches, Hines Ward's two touchdowns, Ben's great game, or James Harrison's massive hit on Corelle Buckhalter, nearly everyone was missing out on the real story of this game: The Steeler's incredible depth.

For two weeks we were subjected to a heated debate on whether the Steelers should play Ryan Clark because of serious medical consequences he suffered the last time he played in Denver. I did not have a doubt in my mind that he would be held out as it turned out that he was. But while Clark's absence was being discussed, there was also plenty of hand-wringing over the absence of: Aaron Smith, Willie Parker and Lawrence Timmons. Fact of the matter, while all four are great players in their own right, the Steelers are such a strong team that even their backups are capable of starting for most teams in the league. 

Clark's backup, Tyrone Carter, had two interceptions with one returned for a key touchdown in the first half. Keyaron Fox, Timmon's replacement, was all over the field and had a great game. Willie Parker's replacement, Rashard Mendenhall, only had 159 yards rushing and looked terrific. Aaron Smith's second replacement, Nick Eason (backup Travis Kirshke was out with a calf injury) also played admirably in completely throttling Denver's running game.

What other National Football League team could have sustained such major losses to key players and gone into a stadium as difficult as Invesco Field and won so convincingly on Monday Night Football? The answer? None.

Oh, sure, teams will have injury replacements going on all the time, because it's part of the game. But there's usually a major dropoff in performance level. If anyone noticed a dropoff last night, would you please raise your hand? ...I didn't think so.

Last night's win quite clearly demonstrated that the Steelers are again the class of the NFL. They can beat you with skill, they can beat you with physicality, they can beat you with guile and all the while they will do it with an enthusiasm that is unmistakable Pittsburgh Steelers.

The greatest fan base in all of sports had another great night too. Am estimated 20,000 Steeler fans made their way across the country and reveled in the success that the "Terrible Towel" brings to the team wherever it goes.

These same fans and their beloved Steelers have a big game coming up against the Cincinnati Bengals at home this Sunday, a team that beat the Steelers early in the season. The Bengals, who have been playing well, most recently defeated the rapidly-falling Ravens.

While the Bengals are an improved team, for sure, unfortunately for them, they're now catching the Steelers at a very bad time. I expect the Steelers to have another exciting game this week with a similar second half "sleeper hold" like the one they put on Denver in the second half. I would expect a score in the 30-17 range. This Steeler team is too good. It also knows that a win over Cincinnati puts them in the drivers seat in the AFC North. These players also enjoy winning too much to want to stop doing it now. For Steeler fans everywhere it should be another gourmet feast.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Three things that I learned a long time ago about football: The best team doesn't always win. Another thing I also learned a long time ago: The team that panics the least and has the most confidence in their quarterback's ability to come back and win very often does just that. The third thing that I learned a long time ago: Nostradamus knows what he's talking about when it comes to the Steelers.

In a recent phone call to the reclusive seer and mystic, Nostradamus, incredibly, stuck to his pre-season prognostication of the Steelers going 14-2 this season, that despite the fact that the Black & Gold have already lost two games! That would mean that the boys would simply have to finish the season's final ten games at 10-0. What a daunting task!

Nostradamus pointed out to me that the Steelers' final ten opponents currently have a combined won/lost record of 31-27. Of course, that's barely above .500. In addition, only four of those teams currently have a winning record: They would be this week's challenge, Minnesota, the Broncos, Bengals and Packers. The Steelers, according to Nostradamus, need not fear any football team as they are continually improving each week of the season.

Having just breathed a massive sigh of relief, and even knowing the outcome of this week's game already, we still decided to analyze this Steelers team and see where Nostradamus is getting his opinions.

ABOVE: It was nice hearing from Nostradamus again. Hey, the man's a Steeler fan, what can we say?

The Steelers offense, right now,  is functioning in a manner that can best be described as "breathtaking". Ben Roethlisberger continues to elevate his game each season to a point where it now appears that he is merely toying with the opposition. With the advent of yet two more potent weapons, Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall, I think it is safe to say that the offense representing the Steelers today is every bit as good, if not better, than the dynastic offenses of the 70s.

Even though Terry Bradshaw was my favorite Steeler of all time, I have to give Big Ben his due. He is a better quarterback than "The Blonde Bomber". For one thing, Ben doesn't force the ball nearly as much as Brad did. Terry's arm was so strong that he often thought he could beat any defensive back in any situation. While his confidence level was admirable, his decision-making often left fans aggravated during games. Big Ben, on the other hand, got off to a faster start in his career than Bradshaw and except for his vehicular and other off-the-field hijinks, has been most most impressive when lined up behind the center.

What is most impressive though is his complete grasp of the offense. Ben knows where every receiver is during each segment of every play and has the impeccable ability to extend that play and find his guys wide open. I have never seen any other quarterback with the ability to consistently do this. Ben is also so big and strong and relishes the physical aspects of the game so much, that he has managed to stay upright on the field, for the most part, during his career.

Make no mistake about it, the Steeler offense has matured, much like a fine wine, into what you see on the field today. Even a more senior player such as Hines Ward is enjoying a record-setting season. Ben's success has been everyone's success and vice versa. Bruce Arians, who for some strange reason has not received the "love" that people like Ken Whisenhunt and other past offensive coordinators have received, has proven what having a solid relationship and trust in your quarterback can mean for a football team. I also think that Steeler fans, though not used to having this type of an offense, are starting to warm to it. In fact, what other offense have you ever seen where the quarterback deliberately holds onto the ball for an extended period of time in order to get receivers wide open? None that I know of and it's a thrilling brand of football to watch. I certainly wouldn't want to attempt it with a lesser physical specimin than Big Ben.

ABOVE RIGHT: Big Ben, the clock, may be older, but Big Ben, the player, is much more valuable!

The reason that more teams don't employ this type of offense is because there are few teams that have the collection of unique talents such as Big Ben, Hines, Santonio, Heath, Mike, Rashard, Willie and Mewelde bring to the table. The offensive line? They're looking better each and every week. If this group can stay relatively healthy, this offense should probably own every offensive record, other than rushing yards, in Pittsburgh Steelers history. Write down that I said that, not Nostradamus.

On defense, the team, though playing well, is not playing suffocatingly great. They've had lapses that have been costly, but they've also played most of the year without their most dynamic player, Troy Polamalu. Polamalu's injury will take time to be fully recovered from, because it's tough to get healthy during the season when your body is taking such a continual beating. If Polamalu can get through the Minnesota game without suffering a setback, he'll then have a bye week to completely rest his knee. The Steelers chances will increase exponentially if this occurs.

ABOVE: Aaron Smith is a quiet unassuming man who has always been a rock on the defensive line. His humble disposition makes him a favorite among Steeler fans. Smith was a casualty of the NFL's annual "War of Attrition" that occurs each year between September and February.

The loss of Aaron Smith is huge, make no mistake about it. However, the Steelers proved to the league a couple seasons ago that an All Pro  caliber player such as Casey Hampton could go down and the team would not show a perceptible difference in continuity. This is because the Steelers have quality depth and they routinely rotate their players so as to keep fresh bodies on the field. This pays gigantic dividends when a starter gets hurt. A real test of how well backups Brett Keisel, Nick Eason and first rounder Ziggy Hood will perform will take place this week when Adrian Peterson comes to town. Peterson's nickname is "A.D." as in "All Day." That is what his teammates say he can do all game long, bring a brutally-fast and relentless running attack right at you. He could be in for a rare long day, especially if the Steelers jump ahead by a couple scores.

The special teams have been a mixed bag so far. Stefan Logan has been great on kickoff returns, but looked "dazed and confused", as the song goes, on punts. Putting Mewelde Moore back there was a good move that should pay off big. Daniel Sepulveda has been tremendous in the punting game, but kicker Jeff Reed is having some non-football-related problems...again.  Sad to say, this mostly-reliable kicker is right now in the process of getting himself kicked right off the Steelers. Oh, they won't make a change during the season, but the Reed baggage is something that the Steelers will not tolerate. Don't expect Reed to score a jackpot contract this offseason unless he kicks five field goals and is named SuperBowl XLIV MVP.

ABOVE: If party animal supreme Jeff Reed gets into any more trouble, I'm sure we'll all be referring to him as "Former" Steeler kicker, Jeff Reed.
The Steelers have some tough games coming up which is good. This team always performs better and is more focused against quality opponents. Look for a big win this week against the undefeated Vikings in what should be a thoroughly enjoyable beat-down of Brett Favre. Then the bye week will kick in at a most opportune time so that the guys can catch their breath in preparation for the long stretch run.

ABOVE:  Officials gather during Steelers-Browns game to determine if nose of ball has reached the first down marker. Sometimes when your fate is in the hands of these guys you live to regret it. That's why the Steelers have to start "putting teams away" and keeping them there in the fourth quarter.

Will the Steelers win another SuperBowl? Well you and I both know that luck, both good and bad can enter into this as well as injuries and interesting calls by the zebras. However, I feel as strongly today, six weeks in as I did before the campaign opened. This team can win it all again and its' chances right now are as good as any team's in the league. The big key is to keep improving, throughout the season, so that by year's end the Steelers are, once again, the team to beat. The Steelers always manage to accomplish this and with the maturity and leadership present on this team, there's no reason to think that it won't happen again.

ABOVE: Is the NFL trying to tell the Steelers something? Just imagine the howling you would have heard if the colors chosen for this year would have been black and gold instead of Bengal's orange and black!

ABOVE: A ref, obviously paid by the Steelers or some rich member of "Steeler Nation" checks out the replay on the fourth and inches call against the Browns. It was obvious to everyone in the country and the idiot announcers that the Steelers didn't make this first down, but did anyone bother to check out the camera angle on this replay? No question, the Browns were the superior team last week and would have won were it not for this call. Oh those crooked Steelers!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009




Despite reports to the contrary, NO, I'M NOT DEAD!!! It might seem that way since it's been a week since I last posted here, but alas and alack I had to do something really boring last week, like making a living!

So I'm on my way home today and in between flights (there's no such thing anymore as a direct flight) and I thought I'd take advantage of the internet thingie here and try to get caught up a little...

Here's a great suggestion for you the next time that you're traveling: Bring a couple Steeler shirts with you, not the game jersey, something simple like a black shirt with a small Steeler logo on the front, then get ready to hear the comments!

ABOVE: No, I don't have this shirt, but this sucker's nice!

I left Pittsburgh before the San Diego game, so all was not happy and chipper in Steelerland. When I was going through "Checkpoint Charlie" at Pittsburgh International, a black, pudgy, security guard, upon seeing my shirt said, "That's what I love to see, a man who loves the black and gold no matter what!" As I was putting my shoes back on (a process that causes me to constantly curse terrorists over) I replied, "Hey, I'm no fair-weather fan. I've been a Steeler fan for life."

This guard (by now assured that I was no threat to the national security) continued, "My wife taught me how to get on Facebook and you should hear the people crying on there! Hey be a fan or don't be a fan, right?"

"You got that right my brother. I feel bad for San Diego too. They're going to get the brunt of two weeks worth of frustration this week," I said.

"No doubt, no doubt." We parted company as members of the same brotherhood called "Steeler Nation".

At my final destination in Texas, I found myself in an Enterprise Rent-A-Car location and the manager there was a handsome, athletic-looking young African-American whose eyes lit up when he saw my Steeler logo. "Hey, Pittsburgh Steelers! My best friend just got a job playing for them!" "Who's that," I asked? "My man Ziggy Hood. I played with him at Missouri."

The recent Mizzou graduate, Justin Scott, explained that he had played free safety on Ziggy's defense. "Man he's really intense. You guys are really getting a good player."

Above Left: Justin Scott. The former Tiger is well into his "life's work" (as Chuck Noll used to call it) by managing an Enterprise facility.

I explained that in the true Steeler tradition that Ziggy was "learning" this year and according to the "D" linemen, he was doing terrific. "Just wait until next year. You'll start seeing him beginning to making a gigantic contribution."

As dinner approached I went into one of Houston's finer restaurants, the Post Oak Grill. The waiter, a 35-40 year-old fellow named Jade Castleberry, was most gracious. However, I couldn't help but notice that under his white apron that he wore (gasp) an Oakland Raiders tie. "Good Lord," I thought, "What a thing to wear!"

After he had refilled my drink, I said to him, "I realize that you're a fan of the Raiders, but can you tell me one good reason why you are still a supporter of that team?" "All we can hope for is that some day Al Davis dies. But I think his mother lived to be over a hundred, so it might be awhile. He has no heirs either, nobody to turn the team over to. Why do you ask, what team do you like," he asked?

By this time of the day I was now wearing a sportcoat over my black Steeler shirt. I slowly opened the jacket to reveal my beloved logo. It was like a vampire suddenly seeing a crucifix.

"STEELERS! Oh I should have known! We're still trying to figure out that "Immaculate Deception" when we got robbed by Franco and the officials." The conversation then went into a lengthy discussion of past (and present) bitterness between the fans, dirty tricks (by both sides) and how in "the good old days" the AFC title was always decided between Pittsburgh and Oakland. I also told him how much we loved John Madden here (the crybaby) and how Pittsburgh still decides who wins the title unlike the Raiders. 

An engaging waiter he most certainly was, one of the best. Lucky for him that it was a Tuesday night and things weren't that busy so that he could pontificate at length on his beloved Raiders. Unfortunately though, I had to withhold any tip because of his team allegiance (only kidding of course).

The following Sunday, I found my way to St. Michael's Church for the 9:00 Mass. I was wearing a black Steeler logo shirt (no, it wasn't the same one). In the vestibule of the church, the parish priest (actually his name was Father Michael too) saw my shirt and said, "Ah, Pittsburgh! Are you visiting?" "Yes Father, I'm here on business," I said. "I spent 18 years in Pittsburgh at Duquesne University," he said.  "I just loved the city and I still love the Steelers."

Later, during the "Handshake of Peace," the fellow in front of me turned around to greet me and seeing my small Steeler logo remarked, "Hey, you're from Pittsburgh! I grew up in Upper St. Clair!"

And so it continued to go. That night I watched the game at a friend's place and was relieved to see the Steelers trouncing the Chargers so convincingly. I didn't know about Willie Parker's foot injury, so I was surprised to see Rashard Mendenhall playing such a huge roll, especially after being called out the week before by Mike Tomlin. I guess some guys just need a kick in the rump every once in a while. It certainly did Mendenhall's career a lot of good. He looked great as did the offensive line. Thank goodness. Now we can move on to hearing Steeler fans complain about something other than the offensive line and the running game. I know, let's all jump on Limas Sweed's back!

ABOVE: True, the fourth quarter remains a "Little Shop of Horrors" for the Steelers, but as they proved against San Diego, if you kill the other team for three quarters, it doesn't matter, you still win.

I know, I know. The fourth quarter has become a "Little Shop of Horrors" recently, but at least we got out of this tough game with a "W". We have a couple "easy" games against Detroit and Cleveland, two of the five worst teams in the NFL, before going up against one of the best this season, the Minnie Vikes. I hope our players can remain focused and uninjured during these next two games. As the Bengals found out against the Browns, on any given Sunday, anything can happen in the NFL, so you can't take any win for granted (see Redskins, Washington).

One thing is for certain, wearing the Black & Gold's logo will always get you a reaction, wherever you go around the United States...they're calling my flight now (finally) so I have to go. One thing's for certain, it'll be good to be getting back to the Burgh!

Monday, September 28, 2009

"YOU BLEW IT!!!!!!!!!" ---Happy Gilmore

ABOVE: One of the many female fans of the Steelers expresses her outrage at the teams' generosity this season toward its' least I think that's what this shirt means. The Steelers lost their second game in a row in the final seconds, losing to the Cincinnati Bungholes 23-20.

I had a queasy feeling about this game all week. For one thing, there was a lot of Bob Prince style "hidden vigorish" going in. Not only had the Steelers won eight straight in Cinci, but Ben was riding and undefeated streak against the whole state of Ohio (which of course would include Cleveland's own Bad News Browns). Sooner or later, those kinds of streaks have to end. But the Bengies hadn't been playing that bad either. Remove one miracle play and they're now 3-0.

The Steelers, on the other hand, are just not playing with the kind of hunger necessary to win in the NFL. Try as they may have tried to dismiss last season's accomplishments, this team still hasn't managed to come down off their SuperBowl cloud. They very easily could be 0-3 too! As Bill Cowher often used to opine, the margin of difference between winning and losing in the NFL is very slim indeed. The Steelers are finding that out the hard way right now.

ABOVE: The Steelers are trying to find their "Happy Place" as portrayed in the scenes above in the Adam Sandler comedy classic, "Happy Gilmore".

Some players' shortcomings are standing out more noticeably than others.

Limas Sweed, who has clearly been passed over in the depth chart by Mike Wallace showed everyone why yesterday: The guy can't catch. This is not good if your career is being an NFL receiver. Sweed should either get over this very soon or start looking for another career. His dropped touchdown catch would have won the game.

Rashard Mendenhall, another second year player from the so-far ignominious draft class of 2008. He is apparently so far out of it in practice that Tomlin benched him for the game. If Sweed and Mendenhall don't get their heads on straight soon, this draft could turn out to be one of the biggest disasters in recent memory.

Santonio Holmes has been dropping passes like crazy. Yesterday, he also miscommunicated with Ben and cost the team an interception and touchdown.

Jeff Reed missed another field goal. No one ever said that a field goal was a guaranteed thing. Reed did make two other chip shots, but in the combined melange that is a loss, you can't dismiss that three more points wouldn't have helped...not when you lose by three points.

The Defense has clearly looked mortal since Troy Polamalu's injury took him off the field. Yesterday, they couldn't hold off a fairly ordinary Carson Palmer at the end and missed out on three possible interceptions. Is Troy the only guy on that unit who can catch? Apparently so. The team did not get the kind of pressure on Palmer, a relative statue, that one would like to see.

Mike Tomlin didn't have his best game either. Early in the game he opted for a field goal from the one yard line. This didn't send the kind of message that you would expect to be coming from him. While the Steelers made the field goal, at that stage of the game, I don't see why you wouldn't want to go for the touchdown.

Then, as time was running out in the half, Tomlin "goes for it" on fourth down at the Cinci 35. The ball is turned over on downs and the result is a field goal given up near the end of the half. Thus a 13 point lead becomes a 13-3 lead.

On the positive side, I thought that Ben, the offensive line and Willie Parker looked very good. Ben was "operating" on the Bengals like the Surgeon general and the offensive line gave him an amazing amount of time. The run blocking was also greatly-improved and the resultant holes gave the aged, decrepid and nearly wheelchair-bound Willie Parker a chance to romp. The running game is going to steadily improve, but I have a feeling that Parker and Mewelde Moore are going to be sharing most of the workload. I don't know what Mendenhall did or didn't do, but I fear that he is squarely in Tomlin's doghouse as no doubt is Sweed now too.

Mike Wallace is the real McCoy and as Pitt's Dave Wannstadt likes to say, "This guy is fast." He's not only fast, he's scary fast and he can catch. Now all that we have to work on is him not running out of bounds when he catches a ball five yards beyond a defender. I really like Wallace though. Santonio's drops aside, I feel that the Steelers, right now, have the finest, most well-rounded passing attack in the franchise's history. Ward, Holmes, Wallace, Miller, Spaeth, Moore and even Parker give Big Ben a slew of targets to choose from. Ben, for his part, keeps getting smarter about looking-off defenders, pumping the ball and not forcing passes. His escape and subsequent touchdown pass to a wide open Willie Parker was vintage Ben.

Once this offense can get the short yardage part of the game worked out, they should once again be one of the toughest to defend in the league. I wouldn't be writing a suicide note quite yet.

But they have to finish. The team has not been crossing the goal line as they should be. Once they start accomplishing this, watch out.

Meanwhile, I have a completely different feeling about this week's San Diego game at home. The Steelers need the friendly confines of Heinz Field to get themselves untracked and I believe they will find their "Happy Place". They also have a tough opponent coming in, so there should be no lack of focus this week. Plus, the idea of starting off 1-3 is not an appealing prospect. Look for the Steelers to play with much more intensity and desparation this week.

That should give them that little edge necessary to bridge that infintesimally-small gap between winning and losing in the National Football League. Until then, this week we'll just have to keep thinking back to that Adam Sandler classic, "Happy Gilmore" and repeating that now infamous phrase, "YOU BLEW IT!!!"

ABOVE: Carson Palmer (here played by Bob Barker) delivers a gut-wrenching blow to a typical Steeler fan (played by Adam Sandler) with 14 seconds left in Sunday's game against the Bengalese. Sandler's colors are right, but that logo has to go.
BELOW: Sandler, just seconds before uttering his now classic line, "YOU BLEW IT!!!"

Monday, September 21, 2009


Last week, the Steelers almost gave away their home opener against Tennessee with a Hines Ward fumble in the waning seconds. They managed to win that one in OT. This week, playing on the road in a stadium where they'd lost ten of their prior eleven games during the last several decades, they this time succeeded in losing a game they should have won, falling to the Chicago Bears 17-14.

Along the way, Jeff Reed pulled two medium-range field goal attempts that would have locked up the win while Santonio Holmes dropped, what more than likely would have been a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Reed, who kicked the winning field goal last week hasn't looked good even when his kicks have gone through this season. He has uncharacteristically been pushing, then pulling kicks and several have come out very low, barely clearing the crossbar.

Reed, whose kicks have always come out splitting the uprights and sailing very long seems to be in the type of slump that even good golfers occasionally have. He's not hitting the ball crisply and the result is ugly-looking kicks that sometimes sail off mark. To this writer, Reed's deviation from his normal dependability looks to be a much bigger potential right now than the running game woes that had Steeler followers in a near-suicide watch last week.

ABOVE: Jeff Reed is practically a legendary Pittsburgh party-animal, but yesterday's game was certainly no "day at the beach" for him as he pulled two fourth quarter field goals en route to a 17-14 Steeler loss. The Steelers are now 1-1.

While the running game still isn't where the Steelers would like it to be, there is no question that all of the backs looked much better this week. Rashard Mendenhall broke a 39 yard run that almost resulted in a TD and Willie Parker also had a couple 12 yard bursts. The team averaged 4.2 yards per carry, a significant upgrade over last week's anemic 1.6 yards per carry average and the often-critcized offensive line had much improved play. But it wasn't enough...

I figured out the other day that I've seen about a thousand Steeler games during my life and probably another three-four thousand "others". While that's a lot of football games, it does give you a relatively sound basis for my next comment. There is an unwritten rule in football: When you miss two makeable field goals in the fourth quarter, it spells an automatic loss. It's just an unwritten rule. I knew five minutes before the game ended that the Steelers would lose on a last second field goal. It's almost as though when you fail to cash in opportunities that this diabolical game simply jumps up and bites you, which it certainly did yesterday. It's practically a pre-ordained loss.

Another Kool-Aid-ism (new word) of football that the Steelers like to drink heavily from is the belief that when you allow your fate to be determined by the other team that you're going to get whatever you deserve and chances are, you're not going to like it. This also happened yesterday and it's a great way to look at things.

The Steelers didn't play a bad game in Chi Town, but they certainly didn't play with the killer instinct necessary to put away teams when they're down. Not only did the team not do this, they also allowed the Bears to tie the game just before halftime (after taking a 7-0 lead in the first quarter) and then to tie it a second time after Ben had managed to crash the end zone in the third period.

What became painfully evident to this writer was that this defense, although "very good" is definitely not "great" without Troy Polamalu on the field. Losing Troy on defense is the equivalent of losing Ben on the offensive side. Polamalu's defensive skill set is Hall of fame caliber and you don't replace that with very many different players. He is the straw that stirs this defensive poison and when that straw isn't in there a lot of the dynamics of this defense are toned-down immeasurably. Translation: Troy can't come back soon enough.

While one loss does not a catastrophic season make, coaches in the NFL are always worried about the 'snowball effect", as in, one mistake begets another, or one bad loss loss can beget another, etc. If the Steelers go to Cinci and lose, Steeler fans will then officially be in full siren mode. It will mean that the team will have 1) almost blown the first game, 2) succeeded in blowing the second game and then 3) followed that up with an unthinkable division loss to the "Bungles".

While I'm not nearly as inclined to press the old "panic button" as many others, I'm perfectly willing to let this game fall under the category of being "one of those days" where a bounce here, a catch there, could have made all the difference in the world. Remember folks, this is the NFL. The other side is trying to win too and the margin between victory and defeat is very slim indeed. Just ask the Dallas Cryboys. Even a $1.12 billion stadium and 105,000 roaring fans couldn't save them last night when they violated the dreaded four turnover paradigm (you practically never win with four turnovers).

ABOVE: Steeler fans will be in full siren mode if the team should fall to the "Bungles" in Cincinnati this weekend.

Friday, August 21, 2009


ABOVE: A bemused cop surveys the aftermath of a runaway wrecking ball smashing into the back of this car. Statistically, wrecking balls win nearly every matchup they face. In the picture above, pretend that the car represents the NFL and the wrecking ball? Your clue is that it should be painted "Black & Gold".

Analysis by Angelo Spagnolo, Editor

along with exclusive predictions by "P.B.& G.'s" Michele de Nostradamus

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been good enough to win six of the first 43 Lombardi Trophies ever awarded by the NFL (13.95% of the total league booty). For this, we as Steeler fans will be forever grateful. With that statement serving as a backdrop, get ready Pittsburgh: This season could be a vintage year even by Pittsburgh standards!
For a person who has followed the Steelers from the days before they'd ever even won a division title, I'd have to go back to 1976 to find a lineup that has so few weaknesses and such tremendous depth as this year's unit has. This team should be considered "scary good" and the reasoning is quite simple: The replacement parts are better than the parts they're replacing! For example, you replace a solid linebacker, Larry Foote with a dynamic first-round pick, Lawrence Timmons. You lose an "average" wideout Nate Washington and replace him with last year's number two pick, Limas Sweed and speed merchant, Richard Wallace. Bryant McFadden is also gone at cornerback, but William Gay, his backup last year, is a more than capable replacement there too.

You then mix in a quarterback who is the greatest we've had since Bradshaw and give him a more cohesive and better-seasoned line than he had last year along with last season's number one pick, Rashard Mendenhall back and healthy. If that's not enough for you, you also add a healthy punter, Daniel Sepulveda, back onto the roster after basically playing all last year virtually without a punter and the result is a team that right now looks even stronger than last year's SuperBowl-winning team, if that's possible.

Of course we all know about freak injuries, like yesterday's "ankle-stepped-on" injury suffered by Ben, can impact a team and derail what looked like a can't miss season. But that's the beauty of this team. The Steelers are positioned virtually everywhere on their roster that if a calamity unfolds on the field, there is a competent, experienced replacement ready to take over. Ben won't play tomorrow, but this will merely create more playing time for Charlie Batch and further progress the development of Dennis Dixon.
But I'm not just talking about the quarterback spot either. Look at the times where, say, a Casey Hampton got injured and Chris Hoke came in and the team didn't miss a beat, or Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker get banged up and Mewelde Moore comes in and carries the entire running game on his back! It's that kind of quality depth and attention to detail that should make this year's version of the Pittsburgh Steelers nothing short of a juggernaut. They know injuries are a big part of the game. they plan for them eventually happening and shrug them off when they do.

Indeed, so strong will this team be, that they should be the last remaining undefeated team this season, losing their first game possibly on November 29th in the annual blood-letting in Baltimore. At that point their record will "fall" to 10-1. Oh there will be close calls. In weeks three and four at Cincinnati and home versus the Chargers the Steelers will require Jeff Reed heroics to save the day. Their game in week seven at home against Minnesota should be a classic too. But basically it's going to be too much Steelers defense and too much Big Ben in what should be a much more balanced offense this season: Translation, more effective running game will save wear and tear on Ben while the defense continues to suffocate everyone around.
ABOVE: We sent our intrepid photographer, Dave Navis, out on a mission: Get a shot of Big Ben posing, ready to strike three for our Nostradamus predictions. Several thousands of dollars later he comes back with this... What can we say? It is Big Ben and it is about to strike three! We'll be more specific next time we give Navis an assignment!

Because their defense will once again possess such a withering attack, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a very real opportunity to repeat as back-to-back champions for the third time in their illustrious history. It's very easy to see that there are many players on this team who are just now entering into the prime of their careers. The coach is riveted onto the task at hand and the players really seem to have bought into the idea that last year's championship means nothing this year. In fact, they'd probably all tell you that it does nothing but put a big X on their back as the primary target and causes opponents to circle that game on their schedule as their biggest of the season.

It's tough winning a SuperBowl, even tougher doing it two years in a row. If ever the Steelers had a team that I felt confident could do it, it's this year's version without a doubt. Oh, by the way, that 1976 team spent most of the year winning without Terry Bradshaw (neck injury due to being "spiked" on his head by "Turkey" Jones of Cleveland) and pitched more shutouts than any defense in history. However, in a calamitous development, they lost both Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier in the same playoff game, a "Pyrrhic Victory" over the Baltimore Colts, if there ever was one, where they won the battle, but ultimately lost the war. The next week they were defeated in a dismal game against the hated Raiders in Oakland losing the AFC Championship. So the team long regarded by most as the strongest in Steeler history didn't win the SuperBowl that year. But that's football. You need luck too.

ABOVE: Michele de Nostradamus' predictions have been "spot-on" for us the past year and we can't say how grateful we are to now have his predictions exclusively here at "P.B. & G."!--editor

By Nostradamus

Below here's the 2009 schedule along with my forecast. You won't ever see many people predicting a season to be this strong, but 14-2 is very possible. Twelve wins for a team as talented as this one seems eminently doable. I'm even going to predict that there could be three games whose starting times are changed this year due to television! Where else are you going to get prognostications as detailed as that? You don't get my reputation by going out on a limb predicting a 9-7 season for a team this great. You have the guts to call it like it is.

Thursday, Sept. 10th 8:30 VS Tennessee W 20-10 (1-0) NFL season kickoff.

Sunday, Sept. 20th 4:15 at Chicago W 24-17 (2-0) Never easy to win here.

Sunday, Sept. 27th 4:15 at Cincinnati W 17-14 (3-0)* Watch it!

Sunday, Oct. 4th 8:20 VS San Diego W 24-21 (4-0)* Another tough win.

Sunday, Oct. 11th 1:00 at Detroit W 28-3 (5-0) Should stick with hockey.

Sunday, Oct. 18th 1:00 VS Cleveland W 31-10 (6-0) Blowout.

Sunday, Oct. 25th 1:00 VS Minnesota W 28-17 (7-0) (expect Favretime change!)

BYE WEEK. A nice late week followed by a Monday game!

Monday, Nov. 9th 8:30 at Denver W 35-7 (8-0) Broncos not looking good.

Sunday, Nov. 15 1:00 VS Cincinnati W 30-10 (9-0) Real Bungles show up.

Sunday, Nov. 22nd 1:00 at Kansas city W 34-0 (10-0) Awful team.

Sunday, Nov. 29th 8:20 at Baltimore L 17-14 (10-1) A coin toss decides.

Sunday, Dec. 6th 1:00 VS Oakland W 31-3 (11-1) Organizational chaos.

Thursday, Dec. 10th 8:20 at Cleveland W 27-7 (12-1) Browns dreadful.

Sunday, Dec. 20th 1:00 VS Green Bay W 31-17 (13-1) (possible time change)

Sunday, Dec. 27th 1:00 VS Baltimore W 17-10 (14-1) (make book on change)

Sunday, Jan. 3rd 1:00 at Miami L 16-14 (14-2) Second team almost wins.

* Denotes upset possibility

Heading into the playoffs, the Steelers will be the number one seed drawing a first round bye and home field advantage throughout.

ABOVE: This is what used to be called a "Stairway to Heaven". It's been officially renamed here in the Burgh to the "Stairway to Seven" SuperBowl Championships (heaven on earth for the Steeler Nation).