|From Cats To Dawgs...|
|Written by Cotter|
|December 27, 2010 15:50|
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.
I think it's time to move on to recapping the "Things That Were Awesome," "Things That Were NOT Awesome," and "Things That Were More Painful to Watch Than Thursday Night Football's Broadcasting Crew."
Take them all in, and give us all your own things of each variety in the comments.
Things That Were Awesome:
1. The One-Trick Pony
"If you can't get it one way, work hard and get it another way. That's what I try to do."
- Mike Wallace
With four catches for 104 yards and a score last Thursday, this dude now has SIX 100 yard games on the season - and if he can put up another 100 yards next week, he'll tie John Stallworth for the Steelers record of most 100 yard games in a season (which in case you're mathematically challenged, is seven).
Not only that, but Big Ben and Wallace tied the Steelers record for most 40 yard touchdown hookups between a QB and a WR, with seven, in only two seasons (five came this year alone).
Ben and Santonio played together for four years and neither of these things ever happened.
You see where I'm going here...
Now, for the other half of that conversation.
2. How Do You Like Ben Now?
22/32, 320 yards, 2 TDs (should've been 3, but we'll get to that) = Big Ben fantasy stats.
Also, I object to any use of the word "skinny" anywhere in proximity to the words "Ben Roethlisberger."
Obviously ESPN's fantasy experts overlooked this statistic...
3. And Speaking of Woooooooo...
The Panthers gained less than 125 total yards on offense.
That's just straight up anal rape-age.
No other way to put it.
Traditionally, I've referred to Bryant McFadden by his given OFTOT name - McSickGoatee.
Or at least I did that once or twice, which apparently constitutes "tradition" in my book.
But this week, I've altered that ego to McSickINT, because well, McFadden had a pretty sick INT - with a Willie Mays-style, over the back shoulder catch.
Nothing particularly special about the way it happened, but it happened, and you've got to be able to capitalize when your opponent serves up a turnover like that.
Oh, and capitalize the Steelers did - with Mike Wallace's beautiful 43-yard catch and run for six.
But speaking of sick facial hair growth...
5. The King of All Manliness
This video has been missing from the internet for far too long.
A couple of years back, I wrote a post asking which Steeler over the course of the last 40 years or so has/had the best facial hair.
All hail, The Immaculate Beard.
Also, sack and batted pass (2nd week in a row) on back to back plays Thursday...
That one was for you old school WWF heads.
There's a new Big Daddy Cool in town.
5a. Big Money Heath
Big man contributed five catches for 73 yards a week after missing his 1st game in forever with post-concussion symptoms.
More importantly - thrown to six times, caught five.
I hope Matt Spaeth was taking notes.
Things That Were NOT Awesome:
1. Jonathan Scott
Apparently he missed the same block he missed on last week's bedshitting safety against the Jets, and that's why Tomlin/Kugler yanked/browbeat him in the 1st quarter.
Maybe try that shit or something.
2. Everybody Loves Ben's Nose
Can we please get through one of these games without someone disrupting the symmetry of Big Ben's face?
By the way...
Cute shirt, scumbags.
3. Third Brawl of the Season?
If the offensive line put as much fire into blocking for Ben as they have in these limited skirmishes, maybe they wouldn't have given up 41 sacks on the season.
I have to admit, though, it's fun to watch Chris Kemoeatu cockslap guys.
4. Downtown Antonio Brown Goes Uptown...
I think that characterization works.
Anyway, I just wanted to remind Antonio Brown that if the Steelers wanted someone to run backwards on punt returns, Randle El is already available on the bench.
Nah, I'm just nitpicking, here.
No harm, no foul kid.
5. Le Sweeze with Le Shank
Nobody's perfect, especially from 40+ at Heinz Field
It had to happen sooner or later.
Be thankful it happened sooner rather than later, and hope that it doesn't happen again at a more critical time than when we're up 20-0 going into the half, against the Carolina Panthers.
Things That Were More Painful to Watch Than Thursday Night Football's Broadcasting Crew:
1. Those Refs Should Be Incarcerated...
Because they straight up robbed Manny Sanders.
I'm not sure which is worse - the call, or the quality of that video up there (sorry, apparently that's the best YouTube could do).
Alright, so maybe he didn't have complete control, but it's way less fun if I give that call credence, nahmeen?
2. 4th and Fail
Not only could they not pick up 4th and 1, but then Tomlin challenged the spot and lost.
Obviously turning the ball over on downs when you're at your opponent's 5 yard line, up by like 20, facing the Panthers offense, isn't all that big of a deal.
But, if you only need one yard to get three more shots at the end zone, maybe run it up the gut or have Ben just lean forward (though I'd prefer they not risk injuring him more)?
Just a suggestion.
Sweet handoff between Ben and Ike Redman there in the 4th quarter, huh?
4. Big Jim Clausen...
But at least the Panthers offense was balanced...
A 33 rating.
QB rating is a useless statistic...unless yours is a 33.
5. Having to Try and Come Up with 5 Things That Were More Painful to Watch Than Thursday Night Football's Broadcasting Crew After A Beatdown Like That
You try it.
Now, it's high time I end this piece...
As usual, Yinz Luv Da Stillers, crushing a holiday episode...
Omitted Things That Were Also Awesome:
1. Doug Legursky at Fullback on Mendenhall's TD
2. Ike Redman - 5 rushes for 43 yards (8.6 yard/carry average)
3. Ryan Mundy leading the team in tackles, and knocking down a pass intended for Rosario Dawson in the 4th quarter
4. Audible "Refs You Suck" chant
5. Gotta give special teams some love - specifically, Key Fox for his forced fumble, and Kapinos for his three punts, TWO inside the 20
And so it is.
11 - 4, going into Cleveland with the division on the line.
Here. We. Go.
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