Big Lead Sports Bar

10/18/2009

POTENT

STEELERS (4-2) 27
BROWNS (1-5) 14
ROETHLISBERGER 23-35, 417 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT
MENDENHALL 17-62, 1 TD
WARD 8-159, 1 TD

Thoughts from the 12th consecutive victory of Hammer over Nail:

1. I realize it was "only" the Browns, but Ben Roethlisberger's grasp of the offense is bordering on scary right now. Even fantasy football fans have fallen for the big guy, who threw for 417 yards, 3rd all-time for a single game in Steeler history, on Sunday. In case you were wondering, the top two: Tommy Maddox's 473 in 2002's "The Tie" against Atlanta, and Roethlisberger's 433 in 2006 against Denver.

2. Just to give you an idea of how accurate Roethlisberger has been throwing the ball, his 73.8 completion percentage is 10.4% above his career average of 63.4. For comparison's sake, Derek Anderson is completing 46.4% of his passes, which probably has something to do with the fact that his team has one win.

3. Hines Ward had another monster day, with eight catches, 159 yards, a touchdown, and another touchdown taken off the board. Through six games, he remains on pace for 109 catches. By the way, Terrell Owens, who got the key to the city upon his arrival in Buffalo, is on pace for 40 catches. Just thought that was worth a mention.

4. One thing that was disappointing: the sloppy sequence of hot potato when the Steelers and Browns kept trying to prove who wanted the ball less. Five fumbles in five straight possessions was nothing but bad football. If anything, it proves that the Steelers, despite a 4-2 record, have yet to play their best game.

5. Another minor disappointment: the Browns came into the game allowing a league-worst 170 yards a game on the ground, and the Steelers came up with 140. That's nitpicking when your QB throws for 417, but the Steeler rushing attack was nothing special on Sunday. The first look at the revised Parker-Mendenhall combo resulted in a total of 88 yards on 24 carries (3.7 per). That gets a "meh" against a bad Browns rush D playing without Kam Wimbley.

6. As for the Steelers' defense, they got high marks by holding the Browns below 200 yards and keeping Anderson to single-digit completions for the second straight week. Their only weapons (and I use that phrase loosely) appear to be WR Mohamed Massaquoi, who broke out with 148 yards against Cincinnati a few weeks ago, and Josh Cribbs, who burned the Steelers for his third career kick return TD today (with help from an uncalled hold on Keiwan Ratliff).

7. Jamal Lewis looked like Jamal Lewis usually looks against the Steelers, and that's not good. Counting today, here's his games against the Steelers while with the Browns: 21, 94, 38, 35, and 35 yards. Hard to believe that he once ran for 2,000 yards in a season. Harder to believe that a guy in my fantasy league paid $21 in real American dollars for him last week. For one game, that's a dollar a yard. What's that make Adrian Peterson worth?

8. Santonio Holmes broke out of his mini-funk with his first 100-yard game since week one, which was the last time he found the end zone. But he had some key plays and nice YAC work on Sunday. Plus, he had a pass intended for him intercepted by Hines Ward, illustrated above.

9. There are many candidates for the worst team in the NFL these days, and Cleveland has to be right in the thick of that race. Head coach that nobody seems happy with? Check. Dumpster fire at quarterback? Check. Lack of consistent playmakers on offense? You know it. Lack of consistent playmakers on defense? Check, unless you consider the worst rush defense in the league as a positive. And the one guy that have that makes plays on the team (Josh Cribbs) is unhappy.

In short, there's a loooooong way to go before they will be ready to compete for anything other than a high draft pick.

10. The officiating, much like the officiating across all sports these days, was not good. I'm still wondering how the Steelers got a first down on a spot that at least appeared from the TV angle to be short. As previously stated, Cleveland got away with a hold on the Cribbs TD. And the overturned Hines Ward TD could have been interpreted either way. That being said, the refs still aren't as bad as what I've seen in the baseball playoffs.

11. Was that a Hank Poteat sighting on Sunday? Yes it was. Somehow, the Pitt product who was cut by the Steelers back in 2003 has managed not only to score a Super Bowl ring (New England, Super Bowl XXXIX), but play 10 seasons in the league. His journey has taken him from Pittsburgh (2000–2002) to Tampa Bay (2003), New England (2004–2006), the New York Jets (2006–2008), and now, Cleveland (2009–present).

12. Nice to see Troy Polamalu back to his playmaking self with an interception and four tackles in his first game since week one. And on the topic of injuries, I thought the run defense handled themselves well on Sunday, keeping the level of competition in mind. Next week against Adrian Peterson and Minnesota will be as big of a test that exists in the NFL.

13. Celebrity fans at the game on Sunday included a rare appearance by Mario Lemieux as well as former Steeler Kimo von Oelhoffen, who successfully pulled off his plan to destroy the Bengals' franchise in 2006. Or so their fans would have you believe.

14. Looking down the road: prepare for a week of hype, because Peterson, Brett Favre, and Jared Allen will be in the Steel City for a 1 PM game next Sunday on Fox. Following a bye week in Week Eight, it's a Monday nighter at Denver and a rematch with Cincy on November 15. Buckle your chinstraps. The time to be in midseason form is rapidly approaching. A big month lies ahead.

UPDATE:

15. As you've probably heard by now, Jeff Reed was cited for disorderly conduct at McFadden's bar on the North Shore around 9 PM last night. It's kind of a "been there, done that" moment for Steeler fans at this point, and for Reed, he's obviously learned no lesson from previous incidents, be them internet embarrassments or his famous run-in with a towel dispenser at Sheetz. It will be interesting to see if the team (or the league) takes any disciplinary measures against the fun-loving kicker.

UPDATE II:

16. Turns out that Matt Spaeth was in on the fun, too. From TMZ:
It all went down at a bar right near the stadium where the Steelers played just a few hours earlier -- cops say they saw a man in the parking lot peeing next to a white SUV. The man turned out to be Steelers back up tight end Matt Spaeth.

When officers approached Spaeth, cops say Steeler's kicker Jeff Reed got out of the SUV to defend his teammate and "curled his fists" at the cops. Bad move.

Reed was placed in cuffs and charged with assault and resisting arrest -- as well as disorderly conduct and public intoxication. He was released to a family member at the scene.

Spaeth was cited for urinating in public and released.
This story just got a lot more interesting. Stay tuned.

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31 comments:

Jonny Van Mundegaarde said...

Ben threw for over 400 yesterday. Wonderful...

James Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Smith said...

I thought the worst non-call was the blatant holding on James Harrison as they completed that 40+ yard pass that led to the TD...

Honestly, I don't know how he keeps his cool with as much as he is held!

Steve said...

There is obviously a hidden allowance by officials that Harrison is allowed to be held. If not he'd have 40 sacks and obliterate sack records (and QB's) and the league can't have that. On a rare occasion they'll make a call in favor of Harrison but it's only throw everyone off. It's almost like the Gretzky rule but in reverse.

My only real gripe about the game is Taylor getting schooled by rookie Massaquoi. So much for Ike's speed. Plus, again the Steelers defense allowed a game to be closer than it should have been and again they played differently in the 2nd half, than they did in the 1st. I guess we'll find out exactly what this defense is really worth next week.

Corey said...

rumor has it that skippy reed was busted peeing on a car last night and cited for disorderly conduct...

Steve said...

Is Reed a FA next season? They might need to cut this guy loose. I mean, he's still a good FG kicker but he's been losing distance and hang time on kickoffs and I'm not a big fan of any player, no matter how good that are, if they keep doing idiotic selfish stuff that lands them on police reports and draws negative attention to their team. Maybe he can play for the Raiders next season, I hear they like that in a kicker.

Jeff said...

What this world coming too when a Steelers TE can't take a leak in a parking lot near the stadium after celebrating a win over the Browns? Back in the day, Bennie Cunningham could pee wherever he wanted to.

Corey said...

ummm....jeff, do you know who skippy reed is?

BurressWithButterflyWings said...

I thought Ben, the WRs, and and TE's were awesome yesterday. The running game lacked some consistency and the fumbles were horrible.

The defense held them to under 200 yards and looked decent enough, although it was the Browns. We did have a lot of the success blitzing up the middle and that was huge in 3rd down situations. Forced a lot of hurries.

Special Teams was not so good, even if there was a hold on the KR for 6.

The officials were awful. Missed a huge holding call on either Parker or Mendenhall on Holmes' big catch and run, not to mention Harrison being constantly held. I thought the spot on Ben's dive on 4th was bad, but then giving us a first down we clearly didnt have was almost as bad as taking the TD away when Hines' knee, elbow, butt, and helmet all came down in the endzone before the ball came loose.

Also, Mendenhall probably should have been ruled down on his fumble. He was done, nowhere to go and they just let the Browns take the ball from him similar to when Logan was stopped and being pushed back but they let them go. Anyone else see that?

Steve said...

Yup, Mendenhall's fumble was B.S. What was he supposed to do if a defender is underneath him? If forward progress is stopped and the whistle isn't blown anyone could strip the ball away like that. That head official was clearly on another planet anyway when he called "end of the 1st quarter" when it was the end of the 3rd. Is this official the same glue-huffer from the 1st game against the Titans?

Just another reason for the NFL to hire full-time officials and pay them accordingly, so they can get the brightest people who can concentrate fully on their real jobs, instead of these part-timer hacks who may have ulterior motives behind the calls they make.

Louis Lipps Sinks Ships said...

Steve, the Steelers D held the Browns to 7 points and under 200 yards. I don't know that I'd fault them for "making the game closer than it had to be."

So we face undefeated Minnesota and potentially undefeated Denver in back-to-back games? Reminds me of the time the Patriots and Eagles came to town to face an under-the-radar Steelers team. Let's hope the results are similar.

okel dokel said...

Unfortunately I did not see the game so I cannot comment on it. I was treated to Lord Favre.

Skippy is out of here...there is no question in my mind. His continued off-the-field issues and failure to accept the contract offer spell the end. I felt like they kept Petr Czeck (sp?) around much longer than normal and felt like they were sending Skippy a message.

Steve said...

Louis, I don't think I'm exaggerating by saying letting the Browns score an offensive TD at all is making it closer than it had to be. That was only their 5th offesive TD in the last 13 games. Plus, they way they did it in marching down the field on their 1st possession of the half with 3 consecutive pass completions to a rookie WR on the same veteran corner Taylor, is a joke. This, by a QB who set NFL record low stats in the previous game.

Simply put, if the Steelers defense was anywhere near as good, or aggressive as it was last season, the Browns "lamest in the NFL" offense never would have scored. It just seems to me that because the offense looks more dangerous this season and can hang points on the board easier, the defense isn't trying as hard. Only 2 sacks against the Browns?...someone let me know when Woodley decides to suit up.

tecmo said...

THIS Steelers defense is 3rd in YPG, 12th in passing YPG (at 200 yards per) and 2nd in rushing YPG. Not to mention 2nd in sacks (only because Jared Allen was on acid against the Pack).

I've said it before, last year's defense spoiled a lot of you who claim to be "fans." Defenses won't be 1st across the board in every category every year.

Get over yourselves. This defense, who just got Troy back, is fine.

BurressWithButterflyWings said...

i have no problem with what the defense did yesterday. The 4th quarter letdowns were a little scary, but i'm not taking to a bridge just yet.

Corey said...

don't think you can say the defense is fine when arians has benny slingling the ball around in the final minutes of a 13-point game - it looked pretty clear that the steelers didn't want their defense to have to go back on the field and they were not at all going to play it safe and rely on the running game...this all went down despite playing a horrible offense.

Steve said...

Those new defensive stats are against some of the leagues worst offenses. So, last season was a fluke? Why shouldn't they be just as good this season given the opponents they've faced? One key player gone regardless of who doesn't mean they are decimated with injuries. They have one of, if not the softest schedule in the NFL this season and last seasons was the toughest. I'll reserve any further comment until I see what they can do against the Vikings.

Steve said...

Sorry, one more comment:

Corey, exactly! It seems like they're trying to pad the score by scoring as quickly as possible late in games instead extended, time killing possessions with the running game (that seems to be working again) because they don't trust the defense to hold a lead right now. That's not just Steelers football either, any good team will typically put the ball in the RB's hands with an adequate lead if they think the defense can get the job done. Either Arians is a greedy, one-dimensional tard, or there is a method to his madness.

tecmo said...

It's two different seasons. If you keep using last year's anomoly to judge this year's team, then why even play the regular season because the Steelers are going to win the Super Bowl! They did last year!

Things happen. Nothing is predictable in football. You pointing out the obvious flaws isn't changing anything.

don't think you can say the defense is fine when arians has benny slingling the ball around in the final minutes of a 13-point game - it looked pretty clear that the steelers didn't want their defense to have to go back on the field

Emphasis mine. Final minutes. 13 point game. You're acting like it was a 3 point game. After the past 4 games, how are you going to get worried about a 13 point lead in the final minutes when we've just gone through a stretch of 3-7 point tenuous late leads. And maybe Ben's out there throwing because his accuracy is a lot better of an option than what the running game was offering?

Corey said...

yes! finally, someone agrees with me about something! first time ever... steve, if we were sitting at a bar, i'd buy you a beer ;)

Corey said...

tecmo, if it was a 3-point lead, i could understand why you would be slinging the ball around and not want to take the chance of putting your defense back on the field...heck i could almost understand it if we were playing manning...am i missing something here?

tecmo said...

Maybe because the combo of Willie and Mendinghall accounted for 88 yards or some shit when Ben was over 400 passing? He's putting the ball where it needs to be, and the receivers are catching it.That drains the clock just as well.

Or would you put out the guys who couldn't put up rushing yards against a porous Browns D, and had both fumbled earlier in the half? Go with what works.

I'm all for the concept of running the ball to kill the clock, but in yesterday's scenario, passing it made more sense.

Steve said...

Yes Corey, and we could toast to last years anomoly! That's 6 anomolies now if I'm not mistaken.

Corey said...

tecmo, i think we actually agree - you're just overly defensive i think - i think it was brilliant to throw the ball and the reason is because....drumroll please....the defense is not "fine" and the steelers are aware of this.

tecmo said...

Steve, your justification is the reason people hate Steelers fans. What does the past have to do with THIS team? Those 6 rings will really put us over the edge against an undefeated Vikings team next week, right? Last season was an anomoly defensively...we've always had great defenses, but how many were #1 in the majority of the flashy categories like they were last year? And now if we aren't again this year, fans like you get grumpy. Why the hate for a top 5 defense? As someone said in a recap a few weeks ago when Mondesi and the commenters were overly critical...why can't the Steelers just win? Somehow, the fans need the best defense, best receivers, most classy owner, most respectful fans...bullshit. We won and took the record to 4-2...its amazing that y'all are still acting up. The players said after the game that they know they haven't played their best game yet.

Corey - I get what you're saying. But you can make any assumption you want about why the team was either running or passing late...we had the ball and we tried to keep the ball. Who is to say that we were passing because the defense wasn't right? I'd hardly call allowing 7 points and less than 200 yards "not right." The object of the offense is to keep the ball, move it downfiled and score. We were doing better at that by passing, not running. The D had nothing to do with it.

Corey said...

tecmo, the defense has been "right" for 3 quarers all year long - it's been the 4th quarter where it has been "not right"...

okel dokel said...

The defense has had some unnerving tendencies in the 4th quarter since last year when they were #1.

Just look at the Ravens/Vikings game yesterday. Both defenses had major lapses at points in the game.

I think it is fair to say that all defenses in the NFL have lapses and a true test of a good team is their ability to overcome adversity.

tecmo said...

beautifully put, okel dokel.

if we are using last year's defense to judge the struggles of this one through 6 games, there's no way we'll make it to the end of the season

Eric from Moon said...

Steelers showed that propensity to play to the level of their competitors; If they end up winning, then I guess that's not such a bad thing.

Ben, Hines, and Mike Wallace - great game. Santonio - quit being so inconcsistent. You're better than that.

Skippy - I've always been a big fan. That said, you are an ass-clown. Have fun partying with 22 year-olds in another city next year. We'll miss you, but this one's on you.

Louis Lipps no longer accepts my phone calls... said...

I read that Tomlin said he's enamoured by what New England can do on offense.

This explains the excessive passing, the going for it on 4th down, etc etc.

He feels he has a QB and the weapons to do what New England did two seasons ago with Tom Brady, and he's going to try it.

Plus, maybe this is also to feed Ben's ego a little bit. So the press wasn't impressed with winning games and Super Bowls, they wanted Madden stats and big fantasy games before they'd anoint him one of the great ones. Well, they asked for it, and here it is!

I've realized this about Mike Tomlin, for better or worse, when he feels he has a thoroughbred horse, he'll ride the hell out of it all season long.

Two years ago Willie Parker was playing possibly the best football of his career, and Tomlin rode him until he couldn't ride him any longer. Last year he had one of the best defenses in the history of the game, and he leaned on it and rode it all the way to a title. This year, it's apparent that he thinks his thoroughbred is his quarterback, and he's gonna ride him as much as possible.

As for the defense, they're probably showing their age in a few spots, and it's really hard to perform that well two straight years. The 85 Bears couldn't, the 2000 Ravens couldn't, the 2002 Buccaneers couldn't either.

Louis Lipps no longer accepts my phone calls... said...

By the way, I'm really starting to think that we may have something with Mendenhall here. He's starting to hit the holes hard and running with violence.

He just seems like the type of guy who needs to be in the game a lot to be in the flow of things, so maybe splitting the time with he and Willie, even though it was 2:1 for Rashard, isn't a great idea. He would've easily had a 100+ yard game against Detroit if we hadn't abandoned him in the 4th quarter when we should have been feeding him the rock to kill the clock.