Alternate title = "From One Group of Pussies to Another..."
The Panthers were not a feared team coming into last Thursday.
I mean, there's a reason they just locked up the #1 overall pick in April.
Not to beat a dead horse, but a 2-12 team, that was averaging less than 150 yards passing per game, meeting a 10-4 team with the league's 3rd best (as of today, the league's 2nd best) overall defense, isn't exactly a marquis matchup.
But it doesn't matter if it's the Panthers or the Patriots at this point - the Steelers need to keep rolling. And they'll do just that this weekend, when they head to Cleveland to dance with the Dawg Pound, and try to finally secure the AFC North.
It's amazing that going into Week 17 of the season, at 11 - 4, the Steelers have yet to even lock up the division, thanks to the Ravens, who ensured themselves at least a wild card spot by beating said Browns yesterday. Of course, we never expect Baltimore to roll over, but it's just kind of wild that it has come down to the final week of the regular season to determine who gets the 2 seed and who gets the 5 or 6.
But maybe it's something the Steelers need to keep them grounded and remind that every play of every game from here on in counts (though I doubt you need to tell a veteran team with many two-time Super Bowl champs that).
Losing in Cleveland next week means no home field advantage in the playoffs, and no wild card bye to rest up and get Troy Polamalu, Aaron Smith, and the 67 other Steelers who are banged up nursed back to health. Plus, it means losing the division to the Gayvens.
Being the 5 or 6 seed is still better than not making the playoffs at all, but I'm sure the Steelers (just like us) would much rather have TWO weeks to prepare for their next game after this coming Sunday.
Either way, beating a terrible team by 24 points is what it is...
It's nice to get to watch a rout again - the Steelers' fifth win of 14 points or more this season, and its third of 24 points or more.
But it's also what these Steelers SHOULD do to the NFL's dregs.
Now, looking ahead to next week, the Browns are getting their second shot at playing spoilers - not that they could keep a division team out of the playoffs next week (like they could have this week...by the way, thanks dicks), but they sure could make a hell of an impact on the Steelers' playoff situation.
Just being blunt about it - this is an extremely winnable game. 11 weeks ago, the Steelers beat the Browns 28-10 at Heinz Field in a game with no immediate playoff implications. The Steelers know what's at stake this time, and good teams always rise to the occasion.
Despite all of the turmoil this season - from suspension to injuries to Mickey Mouse officiating - they've shown how strong they can be both defensively, and offensively, though obviously they've struggled more on the offensive side of things.
Right now, the Steelers have three guys with more than five sacks - Farrior with 6, Woodley with 8.5, and Silverback with 11. They have 18 interceptions as a team - with every starting defensive back having at least one - and 26 forced fumbles, six by James Harrisassin alone. They're leading the league in points allowed per game with a shade under 15, they're one of only three defenses allowing less than 300 yards of offense per game (they're 2nd with 280.3), and as has been widely publicized, they're leading the league by a mile in rush yards allowed per game with a stingy 64.1. (the next closest defense - San Diego - is allowing 90.3 per game).
On offense, Mike Wallace has 1152 yards receiving and nine touchdowns - which puts him at 6th in the NFL in terms of receiving yardage - and is second only to Desean Jackson in average yards per catch (22.8 to 20.2). Rashard Mendenhall is also 6th overall in the NFL, only in terms of rushing yards, and has 11 touchdowns on the season. Big Ben can taste 3000 yards passing (he's sitting at 2920 right now), and has thrown for 15 TDs, with only FIVE INTs. Not only has rookie Manny Sanders surpassed Antwan Randle El on the depth chart, he's also surpassed all but three other Steelers in terms of receiving yards - which is pretty wild for a guy who didn't even dress for several games early in the season.
I guess what I'm saying is - the Steelers have been a pretty good team this year, and have only been heating up lately, despite the recent loss to the Jets (which could/should have probably been a win).
So, here it is - win on Sunday, lock up the 2 seed, raise hell in January, and try and make it to February.
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty fired up to be a Steeler fan right now.
But enough talking about things that are several weeks in the future - after all, this is a recap of the Steelers beating the NFL's last place franchise at Heinz Field last Thursday.
The Panthers were 2-12, with possibly the league's most dismal offense.
27 - 3 is exactly what the Steelers needed to do.
Tonight's game wasn't immaculate (unlike the reception that celebrated its 38th anniversary today), but it was pretty friggin' good.
Honestly, if you complain about anything after beating a team 27-3, someone should beat 24 points into YOU.
Some preliminary thoughts for you...
1. Mike Wallace can't be touched...
Visibly the fastest receiver in the game right now.
2. 22/32 for 320 yards, one passing TD and one rushing TD...
Big Ben is my homeboy.
3. The Panthers sure did...
Clausen looked like a boy among men.
So, now, in case you haven't been following along at home, if the Browns beat the Ravens, the Steelers get the division, and the 2 seed. If they don't, well, either way we have to go out and do work next week in Cleveland.
Enjoy your Christmases, Steeler Nation.
10 day respite here, but it's....
11 - 4, and humming along.
Full recap to come.
In the meantime, I'd love to get all your thoughts in the comments.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, though, that's about the only thing that's been electric in 2010...
The Panthers are 2-12...
Let me just say that again, in case you didn't hear me the first time - the Panthers...are..TWO...and TWELVE.
As in two wins, twelve losses.
You think the Steelers can't score, the Panthers averaging 13 points a game and have managed to score 10 or less points in almost half of their games this season.
They're averaging a league worst 266 yards of offense per game, and as you can also see above, they boast the league's worst passing offense, managing less than 150 yards a game.
AND, the only teams they've been able to find success against - the San Francisco 49ers (who they needed 10 points in the final two minutes to beat) and the Arizona Cardinals (who scored most of their 12 points in the 4th quarter last week) - are a combined 9-19.
It's pretty much safe to say the Panthers have finally, after years of trying, reached rock bottom.
Things have been so bad this season, the game photographers have resorted to taking pictures of the building in the background of the stadium...
But at least the AP is still dispatching shutterbugs to Charlotte, which is more than we can probably say for Cincinnati (/rimshot).
And, then again, it may be the best looking thing going on down there right now.
Look, we all know the Steelers aren't a team that typically blows people out. A few weeks back, they needed overtime to beat the 2-8 (at the time) Bills. But, the Panthers are not the Bills. The Panthers have an offense that really doesn't run (head's up, that's a pun) without its ground game. If the Steelers can flex their #1 rush defense on Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson, I see no reason why they should even come close to losing this game.
Of course, we all remember 2009.
Put it this way - if the Steelers lose, I'm going to implode the internet.
So, do whatever you want with that.
Anyway, I wrote most of this thing last night, because I have the good fortune of being at work until 1 PM today. So, let's just get right into it. I'm pretty sure you'll get more than you need on the other side...