Steelers Winners Of Their Last 8 Games

Steelers Unleash Offensive Arsenal & Vintage Defense To Bury Miami

by Bo Marchionte

Pittsburgh – Soak up some sun and enjoy the smell of the ocean breeze. It was possibly the Steelers mindset heading to Miami in Week 6 to take on the Dolphins. Grant it, Miami was a dreadful 1-4, and the hiring of their new head coach Adam Gase looked like a colossal mistake.

The Dolphins splashed an embarrassing loss on Pittsburgh 30-15 in that Week 6 contest. It ignited the Miami franchise to win nine of their next 11 games and their first playoff appearance since 2008.

Returning winless from Miami sent Pittsburgh into a spiral, it marked the first of four straight defeats that quickly erased their hot start. The Steelers were 4-5, facing a winless Cleveland Browns team on the road and had to find a way to get back on track.

Pittsburgh took out that frustration out on the Dolphins today in the bitter cold conditions at Heinz Field, with a convincing and revenge packed 30-12 victory, and are winners of their last eight games.

“We tune out the outside noise,” Tomlin said in response to the teams winning streak. “We focus on the variables that matter, the things that are within our control. That’s our preparation, and ultimately, our play. That’s no small thing. The guys are to be given credit for that.”

Unleashing their arsenal of offensive weapons immediately on the Dolphins the Steelers were able to jump out to a dominant 21-3, just minutes inside the second quarter.

“We had the big three rolling on offense,” Tomlin said. We needed to establish our core offensive weapons. We were able to do those things.”

Antonio Brown had two first quarter touchdowns and tied his post-season career high of 119 receiving with three quarters of football left in the game. Brown would go on to finish with five catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Currently, Brown owns three of the top receiving yardage games in Steelers’ playoff history.

“We play off each other,” Le’Veon Bell said of his Pro Bowl teammate Brown. “When he scored on those guys early they were just letting us run the ball.”

Le’Veon Bell had 99 yards at half-time and became the ninth Steelers running back in team history to eclipse the century after his 15 yard gain up the middle in the third quarter. The last Steelers running back to go over 100-yard rushing was Isaac Redman in 2012 against the Denver Broncos.

“Offensive line did an incredible job,” Bell said. “Coaches put a lot of faith in me.”

Pittsburgh had 286 yards off total offense at the first half ended. Only 11 yards shy of their entire game total (297) in their previous meeting this season and finished today’s game with 367 total offensive yards.

The last real chance for Miami to stay in the game was right before halftime. Roethlisberger escaped the pocket and threw his only interception of the game. The Dolphins took the ball all they way down to the Steelers own eight yard line with 27 seconds left on the clock.

Veteran linebacker James Harrison blindsided Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore forcing a fumble that was recovered by Stephon Tuitt. Pittsburgh was able to preserve their 20-6 half-time lead. The opportunity to cut into the double digit lead disappeared on that play.

“That’s just the savviness of a guy like James,” Tomlin said and added, “he showed coverage and rolled down late and came off the edge, and was unblocked because of it.”

This game was as much about as advancing Arrowhead and playing the Kansas City Chiefs as it was as burying the hatchet on the dismal performance in Week 6.

Miami’s turnover woes continue on the opening drive of the third quarter. Moore let loose of another football leading to consecutive drives ending in fumbles.

“It looked like we were at least going to have a shot there near the half,” Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase said. “Then we turned it over, which hurt us. But I felt that we could maybe get going there in the third quarter. We just couldn’t put enough together to get points.”

The turnover resulted in 3-points off the right foot of kicker Chris Boswell, increasing the Steelers lead to 19 points in the third quarter. A heavy dose of Le’Veon Bell was prescribed by offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Bell had 49 yards on the 43 yard drive. Take into account that Roethlisberger and Brown lost ten yards combined on the drive, leaving Bell’s total yards gained longer than the actual drive.

Bell continued to swim through the Dolphins defense piling up a total of (0) yards and breaking the all-time franchise single game mark set by HOF’er Franco Harris in 1975. Bell said he does remember if ever had ten straight carries like he did in his first playoff game.

“It kind of blew me away,” Bell said during his post-game press conference referring to the record setting afternoon.

Roethlisberger revealed that former Steelers’ quarterback Charlie Batch would tell him how fun it was to watch Barry Sanders run the football. The two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback said, “I got the best seat in the house.

I am not trying to put Le’Veon with Barry Sanders yet, you know that is an awesome honor. But, it is fun to sit and watch and just see what he is going to do because he is incredibly talented.”

His record setting carry went for eight yards and ended in Miami’s end zone. It increased the Steelers lead to 30-6 and basically set the stage for the Steelers advancement to play the Chiefs.

Pittsburgh is 0-1 against Kansas City in the playoffs, losing at Arrowhead in the Wildcard round of the NFL Playoffs 23 years to the day today (January 8, 1994). It is now their next opponent and will look to even the playoff series with one game a piece.

Pittsburgh was firing on all cylinders against the Dolphins. It was vintage Steelers defense along with a potent rushing attack. The offense and defense fed off one another and dismantling a talented Miami team in the opening round of the playoffs.

“It was tough,” Matt Moore said. “We had a difficult time running the ball. Again, it kind of took us a little but to get going early on. We eventually found some ways to move the passing game, which is good. But it was difficult for most of the day.”

The Steelers defense roughed up Moore more than a piñata at Major League Baseball tryout. With five quarterback sacks and knockdowns Moore was under duress the entire afternoon. Harrison registered his third multi-sack postseason game, totaling 1.5 and Lawrence Timmons added two on the Dolphins final drive in succession.

Second-year man Bud Dupree added his half sack and it should be noted the Steelers have not lost since his return eight games ago.

This is the healthiest the Steelers have been in a very long time when entering the playoffs and it coincides with possibly possessing the most lethal roster top to bottom in recent memory.

 

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

Dupree Could Be Special

Steelers “Bud”ding Star Of the Future

by Bo Marchionte

Pittsburgh – The Steelers stood at 4-5 after and were on a four game skid that erased initial excitement on what could be this season. Then the team rattled off seven straight wins and there was also a significant resource replenished to the team.

Bud Dupree.

The return of the second year linebackers’ return coincides with reaching the playoffs for the third consecutive season for the first time since 1995-97.

“I hope that’s the case,” laughed the chiseled Dupree after the Browns 27-24 win over the Cleveland Browns. The second year linebacker out of Kentucky dismissed the notion he was part of the streak but happy to be mentioned.

Seeing action in all 16 games his rookie season Dupree started only five, but finished just three sacks behind Cam Heyward for the team lead (Seven). Growing into the roll he was drafted to fulfill, Dupree was eagerly awaiting on in his second season to showcase the skills that made him a First Team All-SEC hybrid leaving Kentucky in 2014.

His rookie season he made the PFWA All-Rookie Team and his much anticipated sophomore debut was placed on hold after he suffered a core muscle tear. Pittsburgh placed him on IR after September 4th so he would be eligible to be designated to return later in the season.

Dupree made his season debut (2016) against Cleveland in October and didn’t make his first start until three games later versus the Buffalo Bills. A game in which Dupree recorded his first multi-sack game (2.5) against Tyrod Taylor and added another quarterback take down in the division clinching game after sacking Joe Flacco.

“Just got over it quicker than they thought,” Dupree said about his injury. His response shared some insight that he was surprised to be able to come back as soon as he did. Dupree said that without any ‘setbacks’ allowed him to get back to what he does best and that is getting to the quarterback.

“He is energy out there,” Pittsburgh’s ten year veteran and leading tackler Lawrence Timmons said of Dupree. “We got our outside rush back..Jarvis (Jones) had a sack today so we are getting better.”

The Steelers defense is predicated on their linebackers creating big plays via the quarterback sack. The team invested three straight No. 1 picks from 2013-15 (Jarvis Jones, Ryan Shazier and Dupree) on linebackers. It was vital the team replace the most important position in order for their defense to thrive.

“Bud has been tremendous,” said teammate Jarvis Jones. “He flies around the ball. He is everywhere. He can cover and get sacks. He’s just a ball hawk.”

Dupree ended the regular season with 4.5 sacks a half-sack behind team leader James Harrison who finished with five. It coincides with him starting the last four games.

“I can’t wait to see him really go,” Jones said and added, “To see him really get going and become one of the premiere players in the NFL.”

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

Rivalry On Hold

The Rivalry That Cleveland Ruined

by Bo Marchionte

Pittsburgh – The night of September 16th, 1996 the Steelers faced the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football at Three Rivers Stadium. Pittsburgh’s opponent today the Cleveland Browns were in their first year of exile from the league after then owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore.

Being in attendance that evening, I witnessed an image that I photographed, of a sign proudly hung off the side of Interstate 279 North that read ‘Cleveland Still Sucks’ a fitting tribute to a bitter rivalry. This was a rivalry every bit as intense as Yankees vs. Red Sox or Celtics vs. Lakers.

Steelers’ running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and native of Youngstown, Ohio grew up closer to knowing the rivalry more than most inside the current Pittsburgh locker room.

“It’s always a rivalry especially when it’s a division game,” Toussaint said. Even though he missed the best of times between the two franchises facing off, he recognized growing up the tension of the AFC North foes.

Two decades ago that rivalry really mattered in part because of logistics and each franchise standing firm in being relevant. Even being absent of their place in the NFL at the time the Browns still irked the Steelers’ faithful.

It is now a game that is looked at on the schedule for season ticket holders to ditch and rake leaves or shovel the drive.

Why?

The brief hiatus took a toll on a franchise rich in tradition and a fan base as proud and loyal any in sports.

It is no secret the Browns return to the National Football League has been less than lack luster. A franchise that began in 1954 suffered only six seasons of 10 or more losses in a span of 41 years. The regimes that followed have lost ten games plus in 14 of the 18 seasons upon their return in 1999.

“I think so,” Lawrence Timmons replied on the topic if the rivalry still remains between the to rust belt cities. “They came out and tried to get a W today.”

Pittsburgh’s player easily identified the importance of the game with several stating the fact it was the AFC North and a division opponent. Truth be told in my opinion the rivalry is unknown to the younger generation of Steelers that currently occupy the roster.

No fault of their own, because the absolute dominance by the Black-N-Gold has left this showdown lopsided over the years.

Those dismal after pitiful seasons have faded this once proud tradition between eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Cleveland is in the midst of earning the NFL’s No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft trailing Pittsburgh 32-5 upon their return in 1999. Mike Tomlin took over head coaching duties in 2007, and amassed 103 victories compared to the 88 Cleveland has won since 1999.

“It was another tough one,” Hue Jackson said after the 27-24 overtime loss to Pittsburgh. The Browns 19th head coach since 1999; Jackson won one game in his inaugural season. “Obviously it wasn’t the type of season we’d like to have, but we’ve earned the record of 1-15.”

Cleveland did put up a valiant effort today, but the Steelers had their eyes set on next week and winning their first home playoff game since defeating the New York Jets 14-4 during the 2010 season.

Pittsburgh rested Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Maurkice Pouncey and Ben Roethlisberger to avoid any injury setbacks. This would be the equivalent of the Golden State Warriors resting Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymon Green, and Klay Thompson and still pulling out the win in overtime.

The Browns played hard and that is a deserved credit that should not be avoided, but so did the Steelers who had nothing to play for as well.

“It doesn’t impact me,” Darrius Heyward-Bey said of the rivalry. “Other than that it’s a AFC North game. We know when that games happens it does not matter what the records are those teams are going to be hard nosed and tough.”

Heyward-Bey had the hustle play of the game. He the forced fumble off the Landry Jones interception. Heyward-Bey ran a post route to the opposite side of the field the ball was thrown too and chased down Browns’ defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun 66 yards to knock the ball out prior to him reaching the coveted end zone.

Final game of the year and nothing to play and this 29 yard old veteran with eight years of experience (Heyward-Bey) is hauling tail to make the play.

“Credit goes to everybody,” Heyward-Bey said. “This organization does a good job of reminding everyone ‘The Standard Is The Standard’ and I guess that is why the Steelers lead the National Football League with seven Vince Lombardi Trophies.

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

Timmons Leading The Way

Defense Finds ‘Rhythm’ Steelers Win Three Straight

by Bo Marchionte

Pittsburgh – It was hard to imagine at any point of the Steelers previous four game losing streak that the defense would be holding a team scoreless heading into the third quarter, but that was the case against the New York Giants.

Pittsburgh climbed to 7-5, after defeating New York 21-14. The win keeps the Steelers a game behind the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC North division crown. The victory stopped the streak of two straight loses at Heinz Field to the Giants. The Steelers are now 2-1 under Head Coach Mike Tomlin against the Giants.

“I just think we’re finding our rhythm,” said Head Coach Mike Tomlin. “I think we’re gaining continuity with the mix of guys who are playing.”

It is the perfect combination when it is cohesive and clicking on all cylinders. Defensively tonight, we witnessed two interceptions. Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning was picked off twice against the Steelers, once by Lawrence Timmons with 154 NFL games under his belt, and another pick by rookie Sean Davis with just 11 games of experience as a professional.

It was clear very early in the game after Manning dumped a screen pass off to Rashad Jennings that the defense has been playing lights out over the last three weeks. In their four game losing streak the defense allowed 28 points per game. Fast forward to the current three game winning streak and they have allowed 30 points combined.

After Manning released the ball to Jennings, he was quickly tackled by rookie Artie Burns and topped off by rookie defensive tackle Javon Hargrave.

That mixture Tomlin spoke of post-game was truly coming into form of late, hence the success the Steelers have seen in their overall record and more importantly points allowed.

“I’m excited about what they are going to do or capable of doing moving forward,” said Tomlin in regards to the rookie trio of Burns, Davis and Hargrave. “Because they work hard every day. They are adding detail to their game every week. I think the first thing is all three guys are likeable young guys. They endear themselves to the older players and the older players want to help them.”

Davis showed his up coming brilliance when he broke to the ball and stuck Paul Perkins for no gain on a second and 14. The balled remained on the Giants five yard line and the next played resulted in a holding penalty. The key tackle made by Davis helped keep the New York pinned near the endzone that led the eventual two-point first quarter lead for Pittsburgh.

“Second and long,” said Davis nicknamed the ‘Smiling Assassin’ at Maryland. “We disguised (Defense) it well and I came down flying. Just did my job.”

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Davis has been making key plays with another coming last week against the Colts on a critical fourth down play, where the rookie once again stood his ground and forced a turnover of downs.

Going into the 2016 NFL Draft, it almost seemed certain Pittsburgh would address their secondary. The transition of productive players retiring and others leaving via free agency left a void that had to be addressed.

Hargrave is learning on the fly with defensive leader Cam Heyward out for the season with a pectoral injury. In his absence, Stephon Tuitt their third year defensive tackle has stepped up his play not only on the field but as a leader to the others on the line.

Their has been plenty of criticism and possibly deserved, but truth be told this has been a work in progress trying to get this unit up to speed to some of the stout defenses from years past.

Take into consideration that among the five defensive linemen against the Giants, Daniel McCullers nearly has more experience in the NFL (Seven Seasons) than the eight years combined by Tuitt (Three), Ricardo Mathews (Three), L.T. Walton (Two), and Hargrave (Rookie).

The Giants ranked 13th overall in the National Football League in passing offense prior to the Week 13. Manning was held 61 yards below the teams’ average of 256 and visibly disrupted the mindset of receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on several occasions.

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“He’s a competitor and he wants a fair game,” said Davis. “But I’m always going to go for us. You know, it is what it is. I’m glad it happened, but I’m not too worried about that.”

“Definitely flamboyant,” said Artie Burns regarding Beckham. “He’s a good guy and a great competitor.” When asked if Beckham was jabbering in his ear, Burns jokingly replied, “You already know the answer to that.”

The Steelers are now 25-6-1 at Heinz Field against NFC teams since the stadium opened in 2001. The win also included the defenses fourth first quarter shut out of the season.

Pittsburgh’s offense should be the given week in and out. The offensive line was the focal point for many seasons due to injury and finding the right pieces to allow the unit to thrive. That is exactly where the defense is right now.

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It is going to take some time to get it just right and finding the right pieces to the puzzle with come with some bumps and bruises. Currently, the Steelers defense has as Tomlin stating finding that “Rhythm” and the wins are piling up.

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

All Cylinders Firing

Tomlin: We Got Contributions From A lot Of Guys

by Bo Marchionte

Pittsburgh – The Steelers won their second game in a row after suffering a four game losing streak. The 28-7 triumph over the Indianapolis Colts help keep them in contention for the AFC North crown.

“A good win for us on a short week on the road,” Mike Tomlin said after the victory. “We don’t take it for grant it we appreciate it, but it was much needed.”

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After two straight road games the team heads home to play the New York Giants. Standing at 6-5 overall and well in striking distance for the division title their room for error has been neutralized dramatically after losing four straight.

Andrew Luck was declared inactive for the final Thanksgiving game due to concussion protocol, and his absence left inexperience Scott Tolzien under center.

Call it the ‘Luck’ of the draw as the Steelers arrived in Indianapolis to take on a Colts team without their starting quarterback. Pittsburgh enters a critical closing stretch to their season, after the four game skid erased the fabulous 4-1 start and now they must get hot again.

The game was indicative of how the first play of the game played out for Pittsburgh. William Gay set the tone early for how both sides of the Steelers units would play in Indianapolis. Gay forced a fumble on Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien that resulted in a 10 yard sack.

Those types of big plays helped put Pittsburgh ahead and keep them relatively in control the entire game.

“We got contributions from a lot of guys,” said Tomlin. It was a full circle of life from the current roster that helped put together the win. Two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Roethlisberger with a 146.0 passer rating or rookies Sean Davis with an interception and rookie defensive tackle Javon Hargrave with a sack. The big plays kept the momentum on the Steelers sidelines.

The group effort could not have come at a bigger or better time for Pittsburgh. With only five games left in the 2016 regular season the urgency to get settled into the AFC North lead is a must.

Ben Roethlisberger won his third consecutive game against the Colts, throwing for quiet but deadly 221 yards and three touchdowns. He found his favorite target Antonio Brown for two first half scores and connected one for more time in the fourth quarter.

The importance of Roethlisberger getting hot at the right time is perfect for a team capable of beating any team.

The Colts primetime appearances have not gone in their favor of late. Since 2014 they are a combined 3-10 when playing under the bright lights. Lucky they aren’t vying to arrive in Las Vegas like the Oakland Raiders.

“Really it was two nice plays by safeties,” Tomlin acknowledge on why the Steelers were able to force the Colts to turnover the ball on downs on the goal line. “One instance Sean Davis, quarterback was scrambling and he made the decision the definitive decision to come out of coverage and make the tackle. The other one was Mike Mitchell in a similar play. Those are two significant plays from pass defenders first.”

“It’s Thanksgiving,” Lawrence Timmons said after the game. “We want to enjoy our families. We get the weekend off. We want to be like you guys (Jokingly to the Writers).

The real nail on the coffin came midway through the fourth quarter when safety Mike Mitchell intercepted Tolzien. Pittsburgh took advantage of the quarterback’s sixth all-time interception in three career starts, after Roethlisberger threw his third touchdown pass of the game all to Pro Bowl receiver Antonio Brown.

“I appreciate it,” Tomlin said of the play of Brown and added, “I don’t take it for grant it. He is a hard diligent worker. He is a talented guy, so he maximizing his opportunities.”

It marked the 42nd time in the quarterback’s career he has found the end zone via the pass at least three times in one game. With 5:30 left in the fourth quarter it was a point in the game Pittsburgh could exhale and feel confident they had were bringing their sixth win of the season back to Pittsburgh.

WEEK 11 OFFENSIVE MVP
Let’s give the offensive line some credit for the statistical success the Steelers had over the Colts. Roethlisberger was efficient in the pocket with plenty of time to look downfield due to the blocking up front against the Colts defense. The offensive line helped Le’Veon Bell to his second straight 100-yard performace (120) along with a 5.2 yards per carry. It kept Roethlisberger untouched and allowed him to complete 14 of the 20 pass attempts.

WEEK 11 DEFENSIVE MVP
While Lawrence Timmons has been on a terror of late it is going to be the trio of rookies who played tonight and showed significant growth in a short amount of time. Artie Burns (25th overall), Sean Davis (58th overall) and Javon Hargrave (89th overall) picks in the 2016 NFL Draft. Injuries as well as talent have catapulted them into valuable roles.

“I’m excited about what their going to do,” Tomlin said in regards to the rookie defensive trio. “They work hard everyday; they’re adding detail to their game every week.

Very few question the accountability of the offense despite a few hiccups this season, but the microscope remains squarely focused on the defensive unit. Those questions revolve around plenty of new faces and trying to gel together.

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

Eyeing Rookie Rushing Record

“Probably top 5 backs in the league to tackle,” Ryan Shazier

by Bo Marchionte

The NFL’s leading rusher after Week 10 hails from the Dallas Cowboys. His name Ezekiel Elliott and the former Ohio State Buckeyes running back is proving to more than most professional defenses can handle.

He is punishing NFL defenses like he did to defenses in the Big 10 and across the college landscape while playing in Columbus, Ohio.

His combination of power and speed make him such a wicked opponent to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers saw first hand how he can dismantle teams even when the preparation looks solid.

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“Giving up runs for the last two scores when we are in a good defensive call,” left another former Buckeye Cameron Heyward speechless after what appeared to be a sure victory for Pittsburgh, after they took the lead over Dallas 30-29.

Elliott made them pay twice late with two runs one of 14 yards and the game winning run of 32 that saw him go untouched as he advanced the Cowboys to an NFL best 8-1 record.

“He’s definitely gotten a lot better since playing against him his freshman year,” said Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier who played for Ohio State 2011-13.

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“Zeke is a good guy. He is a good running back. He has a good team. He’s doing exactly what his team needed him to do. He’s a hard runner and hard to tackle. He displayed that today.”

Shazier was obviously distraught after the game and quietly sitting at his locker pondering how victory slipped through the Steelers defense. The Cowboys had 42 seconds left on the clock and moved the football 75 yards (60 offense/15 penalty) to win the game 35-30 in front of the largest Steelers crowd (67,737) at Heinz Field.

Despite the crushing defeat, Shazier revealed he planned on hooking up with his former Ohio State teammate after the game. Their plans and length of time together were not discussed.

zeke-carrying

What was discussed was the power that Elliott generates when carrying the football. Plenty of times you could see Pittsburgh safety Mike Mitchelll get jolted when making contact with the rookie back.

If you watch Mitchell play, he is usually the one applying the punishment to the ball carrier and not the other way around. Cornerback Ross Cockwell left for a few plays after making a tackle on Elliott where it appeared he had a stinger in his shoulder from the force of impact when he and Elliott collided.

“Probably top 5 backs in the league to tackle,” Shazier said his Elliott. “You got Le’Veon (Bell) he is up there and a few other guys.”

Elliott is averaging 111.6 yards per game with 1,005 totaled in his first nine games. Eric Dickerson set the rookie record back in 1983 with a final rushing output of 1,808 (113 yards per game), leaving Elliott in striking range of making history.

“He’s an exceptional football player,” Dallas Head Coach Jason Garrett said after reaching their eighth victory of the season. “One of the things you find out is that good things happen when he has the ball in his hands.”

Great Offensive Line + Great Running Back = NFL Rushing Records

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

Zeke Runs Wild In Pittsburgh

Discipline: Steelers Searching For It After 4th Straight Loss

By Bo Marchionte

If you asked a cross section of Dallas Cowboys insiders and fans at the start of the season for a prediction of where the team would be on competitiveness, few of them would have predicted 7-1 after eight games.

To imagine the Cowboys leaving Heinz Field with an 8-1 record would have been even more far fetched, but that is the reality of it all after they escaped with a 35-30 thrilling last second victory.

“Compliment the Cowboys,” Mike Tomlin said after losing his fourth straight game in a row. “For us, just not enough discipline and detail in our play to be victories. It’s not mystical, it isn’t okay, we won’t accept it, we can’t accept it, and it was the case tonight.”

cowboys-tomlin

Pittsburgh had their chances and took the fight to Dallas early on in the game. Linebacker Anthony Chickillo kicked started the night with a strip sack of Dak Prescott. At first Prescott escaped the clutches of Ryan Shazier only to fall victim to Chickillo’s arm chop to dislocate the football.

Chickillo slapped the football out of the scrambling Prescott. The football was muffed and scuffed around the field before Ryan Shazier recovered the ball on the Cowboys 38 yard line.

Ben Roethlisberger off the rip looked crisp and accurate for Pittsburgh, going 4-for-5 on the opening drive for 24 yards that ended with a touchdown pass to Le’Veon Bell. Roethlisberger would continue his renaissance play for the entire game. Coming off his one game hiatus after suffering a minor knee injury last week against the Baltimore Ravens, he struggled to find a rhythm.

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This afternoon he was firing on all cylinders as he completed 37-of-46 passes for 408 yards and three touchdowns. It marked the 52nd game with 300 plus yards passing the 41st game with at least three touchdown passes.

Defensively, Pittsburgh held the NFL’s leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott to 34 first half yards.

“He has definitely gotten a lot better since I was playing against him at practice at Ohio State,” said former Buckeyes linebacker Ryan Shazier.

Elliott exploited the Steelers defense in the second half of the game adding 80 yards on the ground and more importantly two touchdown runs and one that sealed the deal for Dallas. The Rookie of the Year candidate finished with 209 combined yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns.

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The ironic aspect of the game for Pittsburgh is the amount of misfires on two-point conversions by the Pittsburgh offense, where they elected to bypass the extra point four times and it resulted in zero points. Add in a missed field goal and that is seven points taken off the scoreboard.

Tomlin defended the decisions to purge on the two-point attempts saying, “We want to be aggressive. That’s not out of line with our personality. Not only recently, but in recent years.”

He stands corrected, the Steelers have used the option for two-points, but today it created a slight deficit that helped place barrier between the team and victory.

It was one of the best games in recent memory, with seven lead changes. It was a battle of one team surging towards home field aspirations in the NFC playoff race and another searching to find the antidote to cure their current four game losing streak after starting 4-1.

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Dak Prescott astonishing rookie campaign in the absence of Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo has been nothing short of sensational. He showed veteran poise in the pocket and delivered big time passes when needed and picked apart the Steelers secondary.

The first half saw each team battle for the lead with three different lead changes. Pittsburgh failed to add to their 15-13, prior to half time when Chris Boswell went wide right from 55 yards out.

His next attempt was at the end of the Steelers first second half drive and by pushing it through the up-rights he advanced the Pittsburgh lead to 18-13 with a 25 yard field goal.

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Prescott would help Dallas put the next ten points on the scoreboard, leading 23-18 as the fourth quarter got underway with a record attendance of 67,737 at Heinz Field. The rookie quarterback showed great poise under pressure and was able to pick apart the Steelers with tiny dump offs before hitting Dez Bryant for a 50 yard touchdown.

Dallas took their 23-18 lead into the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter would see four touchdowns scored, with two by each team. Le’Veon Bell scored his first rushing touchdown of the season on the one yard score that placed the Steelers back on top 24-23 with 6:46 left in the quarter.

That is when Elliott carved through the Steelers front and rumbled 14 yards, basically untouched for his eighth touchdown of the season. He is helping revive the offense in 2013 for Dallas that saw DeMarco Murray lead the NFL in rushing and helping the Cowboys win the division.

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The go ahead touchdown left the record crowd stunned with Pittsburgh left with under two minutes on the game clock to find a way to win the game.

“You take the lead, so it feels pretty good,” said Ben Roethlisberger after his fake spike that ended with Antonio Brown scoring what appeared to be the game winning touchdown. Roethlisberger faked the spike and lofted the football into the south endzone to Brown for a 15 yard touchdown pass.

Pittsburgh failed to convert their two-point conversion and left 42 seconds on the clock.

Resiliently, the Cowboys used only 33 seconds to score. The Dallas offense had 60 yards of offense and another 15 added by a facemask cornerback Ross Cockwell. The penalty looked like the nail in the coffin for Pittsburgh. It advanced the football inside Steelers territory.

The ball now stood on the 32 yard line of Pittsburgh and basically an automatic three for the Cowboys clutch kicker Dan Bailey.

In the end it would not be the accurate leg of Bailey that changed the outcome of the game. It would be the former Ohio State rookie, Elliott, who went untouched from 32 yards out to give the Cowboys the final go ahead touchdown 35-30 with just nine second left on the clock. It would be his ninth rushing touchdown of the season.

“It just shows the resiliency of this team,” said Elliott after his game winning performance. “It shows we are grinders. We have such a great chemistry. At no point will we let anyone down. I think that’s why we are successful.”

Their success is nearly unmatched with only the New England Patriots having one loss at the time of this writing.

“We’ll chew this up,” Roethlisberger said after the game. “And we need to be more disciplined and more accountable.”

Discipline was the resounding word spoken by the Steelers after witnessing the 15 yard facemask penalty in the final moments of the game that put the Cowboys in scoring position.

“Lack of discipline, not detailed enough,” Cameron Heyward said with and ice wrapped shoulder after the game. “Giving up runs for the last two scores when we are in a good defensive call.” Heyward sat speechless for a few seconds after reflecting on those scores on how it eventually led to the demise of the Steelers victory.

Pittsburgh now heads to Cleveland to take on a winless 0-10 Browns team. If the Steelers are unable to reach their fifth win next Sunday in Cleveland, there will be a lot of sole searching and heads rolling in the organization.

Week 10 Offensive MVP

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The trio of Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown delivered tonight, but the 30 points were not enough to seal the deal. Any of the three would be candidates to be the Week 10 Offensive MVP. Roethlisberger gets the nod for his ability to lead the team and direct what appeared to be the game winning touchdown. Had the score stood it would have been the 38th game wining drive by the veteran quarterback. He rebounding brilliantly after a less the stellar performance one week ago and looked like he had Pittsburgh in the position to win, but it was not to be and to no fault of hi s own.

Week 10 Defensive MVP

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Originally the entire defense was going to get the nod, but after a couple late scores it was hard for me to announce the defense would garner the accolades as a whole. Timmons made six combined tackles on the evening but it was the solo big play preventing stops he made the help place him in the MVP box after Week 10. One particular play stands out the most on a short third down attempt by Dallas he made a open field tackle on Ezekiel Elliott that if not made would have resulted likely in a long touchdown run.

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

Jones Is Not Reason For Loss

Steelers Lose 10 out of last 13 against New England

By Bo Marchionte

The initial outlook of the New England Patriots taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7 was an AFC Championship preview. That idea was tossed out the window when two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger inactive with a knee injury, leaving the seldom used, and sometimes underachieving Landry Jones under center.

New England prevailed 27-16 over Pittsburgh marking the tenth loss to the Patriots in their last 13 meetings. The short comings against the Foxboro franchise has left the Steelers on the short end of the stick way to often of late.

“He was confidence,” offensive lineman Chris Hubbard said post-game in regards to Landry Jones. “He was ready to go and making plays as he needed to, he was well prepared.”

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Since arriving in the NFL via the NFL Draft in 2013, Jones has attempted 56 total passes in his three starts that included this afternoon against the Patriots. He nearly attempted more passes versus New England (47) than in the previous 11 games he has appeared in. Jones had a career high 281 passing yards on 29 completions, one touchdown and one interception.

“I thought he did some good things,” Head Coach Mike Tomlin said after suffering his third straight defeat at the hands of the Patriots and being outscored 110 to 68 in the process. “The red-zone interception was unfortunate, but it wasn’t going to be about Landry Jones’ play for us tonight.”

Jones tried getting the ball to Antonio Brown on the Steelers second drive of the game and it ended up being a touchdown back after Malcolm Butler picked off his fourth career interception (Including that memorable one in the Super Bowl). Brady would turn that turnover into the first six points of the game after connecting with James White on a 19 yard touchdown pass.

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Brady was aided by the power run game provided by LeGarrette Blount who was a battering ram for the Patriots ground game. Blount helped lax the pass defense allowing Brady to throw his 435th and 436th touchdown passes of his career in the win.

“I’m freaking devastated,” a very disappointed Jarvis Jones said. “They ran the ball and we did not make enough plays. We didn’t come off blocks in the run game and make enough tackles.”

Blount continued to gash the run defense of the Steelers who allowed Miami Dolphins Jay Ajayi to gain 204 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries last weekend. Blount pounded his way to another pair of scores against the Pittsburgh defense along with 24 carriers for 127 rushing yards.

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“I’m not concerned about the last two weeks,” Tomlin said. I’m concerned about what just transpired. And like I just told you, we acknowledge schematically that we were willing to bleed a little bit in the run game in an effort to minimize big plays.”

New England jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and it looked as if the Patriots were going to begin pouring down points on the Steelers, but they held it together and Jones was able to settle down and in all fairness do a pretty decent job against one of the best coached defenses in the league.

In the second quarter he found Brown for 51 yards and on the same drive hit Darrius Heyward-Bey on a 14 yard touchdown pass. A holding call nullified another would be touchdown pass to Heyward-Bey and eventually led to a missed field goal by Chris Boswell from 42 yards away. When facing a 5-1 opponent without your starting quarterback these types of miscues are the straws stacked to break the camels back.

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Pittsburgh was resilient in the second quarter and closed the gap to four points (14-10) heading into the third quarter. The Steelers added another three points to their total and were only one point behind (14-13) when Brady would lead two critical touchdown scoring drives.

Brady wasted little time on the Patriots next drive, in fact it was only two minutes and 25 seconds before he found Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 36 yard touchdown pass, after Pittsburgh closed the gap to one point. The usually automatic Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point, making the score 20-13 with 6:19 left in the third quarter.

Heinz Field erupted after long snapper Greg Warren emerged from a scrum with a fumbled Julian Edelman ball on the Patriots own 43 yard line. Pittsburgh failed to capitalize on the Patriots mistakes and Boswell missed his second field goal of the afternoon this one from 54 yards out.

“I saw it come out,” Warren said after the game. “It was in between my legs. I knew it was going to be a scrum it always is down there. Just trying to make a play to help the team out.”

The offense could not return the favor with the turnover. They managed eight yards after taking over on the Edelman fumble and Boswell missed his second kick of the afternoon at a distance of 54 yards away. That was the last real chance Pittsburgh had to gain some momentum and possibly get some quick points on the board.

If winning before seemed a bit diminished without Roethlisberger the immediate reaction seeing Antonio Brown exit the field to get evaluation by walking through the tunnel to seek medical attention did not help ease the pressure of Jones, in his attempt to put Pittsburgh at 5-2 on the season.

“I’m pretty good,” Brown said after the game. {It is} a thigh bruise.”

Luckily, Brown returned shortly after his exits and actually was targeted by Jones on a third and long that Jones over threw him. The drive did add another three points to the Steelers tally making the score 20-16 with 14:44 left in the fourth quarter.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick hi-fived his offensive unit after they responded with a three minute drive, covering 75 yards and another Blount scoring run. The 27-16 score with 11:44 left in the fourth quarter the Steelers could not afford any more mistakes. Pittsburgh would add another Boswell field goal to make the score 27-16 and remained as such with the Patriots giving the Steelers their third loss of the season and third consecutive loss between the two AFC powerhouses.

Offensive MVP Week 7

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The offensive line did a decent job and although they managed only 16 points and the red-zone offense was not much of a threat they protected Landry Jones by not allowing a single sack. They had a potent running game behind Le’Veon Bell who finished with 81 rushing yards. New England ranked 9th in the league in rushing prior to the game giving up 92 a game and Bell nearly eclipsed that mark by himself. Without Roethlisberger under center the offense will not just stream line like usual but at least the offensive line is able to be productive and efficient.

Defensive MVP Week 7

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“I’m pissed off,” Jones said about the defense giving up so many rushing yards and despite one of his better games of later Jones refused to look at it as a plus. “What I did don’t matter,” and adding, “It’s a team game and we didn’t play well as a team. I could have had five sacks we could have still lost.”

Jones did play very well by providing some spark to the defensive unit. He finished with seven combined tackles along with a forced fumble and fumble recovery. It is a positive to build off of as the team heads into it’s Week 8 bye.

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

Shazier Unable To Play

Steelers Are Perfect Fit For Inept Dolphins Team

By Bo Marchionte

Last year the first victory by the Baltimore Ravens that came in Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens ended up winning five games during the entire 2015 season with two of their wins coming against Pittsburgh.

Jettison back to 2014 against the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers received their first win of the season, also in Week 4 against the Steelers, with a last minute touchdown pass by Mike Glennon (Remember Him). The Buccaneers did not exactly turn around their season they ended up winning two games all season.

Four years ago, the Steelers lost on Thursday night to the Tennessee Titans, who where 1-4 prior to winning the game 26-23. In the capsule of that same season Pittsburgh gave the Oakland Raiders their first win of the year after starting 0-2 and finishing 4-12.

Pittsburgh has this odd way of giving life to the worst teams on their schedule. After five weeks of play in the NFL the Miami Dolphins, this week’s opponent, have not exactly been on top of their game.

“We’re inept right now.”

That is how Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase described the team’s offense after a 30-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. That inept team in Miami could be playing the perfect fit to briefly change the recent dismal post-game speeches with one filled with expectations and hope.

“We’ve just got to figure something out,” Gase explained further.

This is where the Pittsburgh Steelers need to show up. Time and time again they play to their opponents abilities rather remain consistent in leaning hard on the weaker pray the NFL has to offer on a weekly basis.

Since Mike Tomlin, has arrived in 2007, the Steelers have started out the season 5-1 twice (2008 and 2010) and currently stand at 4-1. Miami ranks 28th in total points (88) in the league and quarterback Ryan Tannehill struggled to find a rhythm. Pittsburgh has to find a way to keep him from finding his stride and avoid the pitfalls that plague them against the less than equal opponents.

This is a huge two week period for the Steelers, taking on a team most consider they should beat before returning to Pittsburgh to take on the Patriots, which is a possible preview of AFC Championship game.

Steelers at Dolphins

The Steelers will not have T Marcus Gilbert (ankle), DE Cameron Heyward(hamstring), LB Ryan Shazier (knee), S Shamarko Thomas (groin), C Cody Wallace (knee) and WR Markus Wheaton (shoulder) in Miami. WR Sammie Coates (finger) is listed as questionable.

Dolphins TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) and CB Xavien Howard (knee) will miss another game. S Isa Abdul-Quddus (knee), RB Arian Foster (hamstring), WR Jakeem Grant (ankle), TE MarQueis Gray (calf), LB Jelani Jenkins(groin), S Reshad Jones (groin), G Anthony Steen (ankle) and T Laremy Tunsil (ankle). Tunsil and Foster didn’t play last week.

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

Defense Grounds Jets

Steelers On A Roll To 4-1

By Bo Marchionte

Pittsburgh – The meanest animal in the wild is the most desperate and that paralleled with the New York Jets against the Pittsburgh Steelers in their game today. New York arrived with a 1-3 record and on the cusp of losing their season after nearly making the playoffs last season.

Their season is on the brink of destruction with them falling to 1-4 after losing to the Steelers 31-13.

“You can only play one game at a time,” Jets Steve McLendon about New York’s dismal start to the season. “We got Monday night game coming up against Arizona, we just have to come out there and bring it for four quarters. Coach said it best, we have to finish in the fourth.”

New York’s opening drive resulted in an early 3-0 lead, with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick targeting receiver Brandon Marshall three times that resulted in one catch. Fitzpatrick has been under tremendous pressure to raise the level of his play. He has thrown 10 interceptions in the last five games, with zero against Pittsburgh but it was not enough.

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The idea that the Jets might be able to pull to 2-3 was a real possibly after only one drive, but plenty of football remained to diminish the thought of them pulling off the win in Heinz Field.

Pittsburgh retaliated immediately with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finding Sammie Coates zipping down the sidelines for a 75 yard touchdown reception. It marked the sixth reception of 40 yards or longer for Coates who has carved out a niche as the Steelers long ball threat. Coates finished aggravating drops that must cease to continue if he is going to be a focal point of the offense.

After opening scoring drives, by each team the first quarter remained relatively quiet with neither team netting any points under the autumn sun of October.

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The second quarter began with Matt Forte bursting for 28 yards off his right tackle on a third and one play. Forte prior to the carry was bottled up 19 yards on six carries. Forte’s advancement of the football helped the Jets add another three points to their total and trailed 7-6 with 11:01 left in the second quarter. Forte finished with 53 yards rushing on 12 carries, the lowest of the season for him.

“I know about him from playing at Notre Dame,” Tuitt said after the game of his familiarity of Forte due to the proximity between Chicago and South Bend. “It was great getting to meet him a idol of mine. To shut him down like that was awesome.”

Throughout the beginning of the game it was apparent Le’Veon Bell was going to be in for another big afternoon. Effortless looking seven yard carries along with catches out of the backfield filled his stat sheet. Bell had 13 touches at half-time compared to the 12 combined by the rest of the offense.

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Fitzpatrick avoided turnovers in the first half and found Brandon Marshall for his 81st touchdown reception of his career. The connection put New York ahead 13-7 with 2:06 left in the second quarter. New York was lingering around in the game and making Pittsburgh work to get ahead.

A steady dose of Bell and steller defense in the second half helped the Steelers increase their lead by one, four, eleven and finally 18 points. The Jets were unable to get off the ground and now face a daunting task of resurrecting a season gone awry.

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The Steelers are playing great football and are now 4-1 under Mike Tomlin for the fourth time since he took over for Bill Cowher in the 2007.

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Offensive MVP Week 5
Le’Veon Bell ended up touching the football 29 times against the New York Jets. The rest of the Steelers offensive players (Including Punter Jordan Berry) touched the pigskin 29 times as a group combined. Since coming back last week, he had been and instant gamer changer and showing no signs of his last ACL injury.

He finished with 66 yards rushing on 20 carries against a Jets defensive front that ranked second in the league prior to their match-up this afternoon. Bell hurt the Jets with his ability to catch out of the backfield snagging nine passes from Roethlisberger for 88 yards.

Any question about how the Steelers were going to handle the workload of Bell and stellar back-up DeAngelo Williams is definitely not a secret after two weeks. Since his return Williams has carried the football fives times in the two games. The first three games he carried the ball on average of 22 times per game with a high of 32 in Week 2. Needless to reveal, Bell is the focal point of the Steelers offensive attack.

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Defensive MVP Week 5
Cam Heyward is one of the team leaders of not only the defense but the locker room that houses all 53 players on any given Sunday. He missed significant time with a slight hamstring injury against the Jets leaving Stephon Tuitt in charge and the he did a great job.

Tuitt has been playing at a high level regardless of trying to fill the void of leadership with Heyward’s absence this afternoon. Possibly some of the best defense the Steelers played all season especially in the second half were they shut down the Jets.

“I’m the next man up,” Tuitt said after the game. “We communicated up front and I’m not saying I’m a linebacker but I tried to shout out things for the linebackers and defense to see.”

Zero second half points scored as the defense came together even without Heyward and Ryan Shazier out of the line-up.

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Cause For Concern
Sammie Coates leads the team with six catches for over 40 yards. He is the ultimate home run threat for the offense, but like many homerun hitters it appears to be that strikeouts (Dropped Passes) are part of the repertoire. Blatant dropped passes placed a huge asterisk next to his in what otherwise should have been a career day. Coates caught six passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

“A roller coaster game,” Roethlisberger said regarding the ups and downs of Coates. “We talked to him about it. He had some great plays. He had some drops – big drops for us. But he bounced back. And that’s the biggest thing. He ends the game making some first down catches and staying in bounds. And then the touchdown, which is a big catch for him. I loved to let him know that my confidence isn’t going to waver in him.”

Easier said than done if the hiccups for Coates continue and it cost the team the chance to walk away winners later in the schedule. Minus the drops, he has filled in very well and helping ease the loss of Martavis Bryant who is suspended for the season for substance abuse.

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

Roethlisberger Throws Perfect Game

Steelers Bounce Back Big Against Chiefs

By Bo Marchionte

Philadelphia walloped the Steelers in Week 3, handing Pittsburgh their most lopsided defeat 34-3 in the Mike Tomlin era.

After two successful weeks of football the wheels came off against the Eagles and facing a well coached Andy Reid team on Sunday night was not exactly the easiest task.

Pittsburgh returned in Week 4 like a Goliath jumping out to a 21 point first quarter lead in route to their 43-14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Ben Roethlisberger sizzled in the first quarter throwing three touchdown passes the 39th time in his career he has thrown at least three in one game. Roethlisberger completed 14-of-17 passes in the first half for 210 yards and four touchdowns.

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Despite the falling rain the skies were clear for Roethlisberger to find one deep target after the next. He completed four pass completions in the blow out of the Chiefs that exceeded 30 yards or more.

“I hate losing,” said Roethlisberger after the game. He expressed that throwing a “trillion” interceptions and winning is worth more than throwing a trillion touchdowns and losing the game.

Hidden from the passing games success was the return of Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell. He picked up where he left off last November the last game he appeared in prior to tearing his ACL against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Bell displayed quickly the same ability that allowed him to set a rookie franchise record with the most yards from scrimmage (1,259). He ran the football 18 times for 144 yards and caught five passes for 34 yards. It marked his ninth career game rushing for over 100-yards.

“I definitely missed it,” said Bell with a packed crowd awaiting his first post-game interview since last November. “All of my teammates, obviously coming out here and getting wins. It felt real good today.”

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The quick start left the Chiefs out of sorts for most of the game and never found a rhythm. Each possession backfired into miscues and didn’t put points on the board until the fourth quarter.

“We were able to be multi-dimensional,” Roethlisberger explained as one of the key reason for the team’s success against the Chiefs. “We took advantage of turnovers,” he added and that resulted in the quick start.

Pittsburgh was aiming to get their first shutout that dated back to 2011 against the St. Louis Rams (27-0).

The Steelers needed this bounce back win and erase the distaste of their blunder last week versus the Eagles.

“They put a pounding on us last week,” Markus Wheaton said. “It was wonderful (Getting the win tonight), we were itching at the bit to get on the field and play how we play.”

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Offensive Game Ball Week 4
Ben Roethlisberger was terrific against the Chiefs tonight and his performance was more typical of what the fan base expects from their two time Super Bowl winning quarterback. His 300-yard performance was the 39th of his career and his five touchdown throws marked the third time in his career he reach the milestone mark.

“We wanted to bounce back,” said Roethlisberger. “I told you guys a trillion times I rather ten interceptions and win, than touchdowns and lose it.”

Roethlisberger finished the game going 22-of-27 for 300 yards and five touchdowns. He kept the football out of the opposing team’s reached and acknowledged that the positive statistics are distance from his memory, but the interceptions “are the (memories) ones that I do know.”

He connected with nine different receivers and was one touchdown short of tying his career high of six which he has reached twice in his 13 year career.

“I knew it was coming to me,” tight end Xavier Grimble said after the game. “I rushed it a little bit because I knew I was going to be open and I jumped the gun.” Roethlisberger told Grimble after the play to be “patient” and it will come. “He knows I can win the majority of those balls but I know I got to learn to be patient.”

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Defensive Game Ball Week 4
Watching him hustle and work every down and end up one second late on notching a sack appears to frustrate me more than it does Cam Heyward. Tonight all those almost chances ended up coming to fruition with his three sack performance.

“We got pressure from everybody,” Heyward said and added, “I clean up the trash a lot. Guys were beating their man one-on-one. He (Alex Smith) was trying to step up and I just thought we disrupted their passing game.”

Heyward notched his first hat-trick of sacks and joked, “It’s nice but I’m happy just to get off the field.”

The defense minus it’s dismal performance last week against the Eagles, stepped up in a major way tonight and were rewarded with a big win. Heyward led the way and like always passes the praise on the entire defense.

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What To Do With DeAngelo
Le’Veon Bell is one of the most lethal weapons in the National Football League. His ability one could argue in unmatched showing the successful knack for picking up large chunks of yardage via both the run and passing game.

His recent absents due to his suspension left DeAngelo Williams pounding the ball with great success. Even posing the question – What does Pittsburgh do when Bell returns to action?

“Le’Veon is one of the best in the world at what he does,” said Mike Tomlin. “His presence is always significant, because he does so many things well. Whether it’s running, or receiving out of the backfield, or whether it’s aligning out of the backfield. We challenged him intellectually this week and he delivered.

Bell being able to immediately show his potency as he diced in and out of would be tacklers. His patient to find the crease almost every run he has is something to marvel at when he is carrying the football.

The end result was Bell touching the football 23 times and Williams with five touches on the night.

“I felt like the first few weeks without they figured who they were, Bell said. “Heaven forbid I get injured or something else, they’ll know what to do.”

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

Roethlisberger Throws Perfect Game

Steelers Bounce Back Big Against Chiefs

By Bo Marchionte

Philadelphia walloped the Steelers in Week 3, handing Pittsburgh their most lopsided defeat 34-3 in the Mike Tomlin era.

After two successful weeks of football the wheels came off against the Eagles and facing a well coached Andy Reid team on Sunday night was not exactly the easiest task.

Pittsburgh returned in Week 4 like a Goliath jumping out to a 21 point first quarter lead in route to their 43-14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Ben Roethlisberger sizzled in the first quarter throwing three touchdown passes the 39th time in his career he has thrown at least three in one game. Roethlisberger completed 14-of-17 passes in the first half for 210 yards and four touchdowns.

bell-chiefs

Despite the falling rain the skies were clear for Roethlisberger to find one deep target after the next. He completed four pass completions in the blow out of the Chiefs that exceeded 30 yards or more.

“I hate losing,” said Roethlisberger after the game. He expressed that throwing a “trillion” interceptions and winning is worth more than throwing a trillion touchdowns and losing the game.

Hidden from the passing games success was the return of Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell. He picked up where he left off last November the last game he appeared in prior to tearing his ACL against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Bell displayed quickly the same ability that allowed him to set a rookie franchise record with the most yards from scrimmage (1,259). He ran the football 18 times for 144 yards and caught five passes for 34 yards. It marked his ninth career game rushing for over 100-yards.

“I definitely missed it,” said Bell with a packed crowd awaiting his first post-game interview since last November. “All of my teammates, obviously coming out here and getting wins. It felt real good today.”

ben-chiefs-1

The quick start left the Chiefs out of sorts for most of the game and never found a rhythm. Each possession backfired into miscues and didn’t put points on the board until the fourth quarter.

“We were able to be multi-dimensional,” Roethlisberger explained as one of the key reason for the team’s success against the Chiefs. “We took advantage of turnovers,” he added and that resulted in the quick start.

Pittsburgh was aiming to get their first shutout that dated back to 2011 against the St. Louis Rams (27-0).

The Steelers needed this bounce back win and erase the distaste of their blunder last week versus the Eagles.

“They put a pounding on us last week,” Markus Wheaton said. “It was wonderful (Getting the win tonight), we were itching at the bit to get on the field and play how we play.”

ben-chief-circle

Offensive Game Ball Week 4
Ben Roethlisberger was terrific against the Chiefs tonight and his performance was more typical of what the fan base expects from their two time Super Bowl winning quarterback. His 300-yard performance was the 39th of his career and his five touchdown throws marked the third time in his career he reach the milestone mark.

“We wanted to bounce back,” said Roethlisberger. “I told you guys a trillion times I rather ten interceptions and win, than touchdowns and lose it.”

Roethlisberger finished the game going 22-of-27 for 300 yards and five touchdowns. He kept the football out of the opposing team’s reached and acknowledged that the positive statistics are distance from his memory, but the interceptions “are the (memories) ones that I do know.”

He connected with nine different receivers and was one touchdown short of tying his career high of six which he has reached twice in his 13 year career.

“I knew it was coming to me,” tight end Xavier Grimble said after the game. “I rushed it a little bit because I knew I was going to be open and I jumped the gun.” Roethlisberger told Grimble after the play to be “patient” and it will come. “He knows I can win the majority of those balls but I know I got to learn to be patient.”

heyward-chiefs-circle

Defensive Game Ball Week 4
Watching him hustle and work every down and end up one second late on notching a sack appears to frustrate me more than it does Cam Heyward. Tonight all those almost chances ended up coming to fruition with his three sack performance.

“We got pressure from everybody,” Heyward said and added, “I clean up the trash a lot. Guys were beating their man one-on-one. He (Alex Smith) was trying to step up and I just thought we disrupted their passing game.”

Heyward notched his first hat-trick of sacks and joked, “It’s nice but I’m happy just to get off the field.”

The defense minus it’s dismal performance last week against the Eagles, stepped up in a major way tonight and were rewarded with a big win. Heyward led the way and like always passes the praise on the entire defense.

bell-chiefs-cirlce

What To Do With DeAngelo
Le’Veon Bell is one of the most lethal weapons in the National Football League. His ability one could argue in unmatched showing the successful knack for picking up large chunks of yardage via both the run and passing game.

His recent absents due to his suspension left DeAngelo Williams pounding the ball with great success. Even posing the question – What does Pittsburgh do when Bell returns to action?

“Le’Veon is one of the best in the world at what he does,” said Mike Tomlin. “His presence is always significant, because he does so many things well. Whether it’s running, or receiving out of the backfield, or whether it’s aligning out of the backfield. We challenged him intellectually this week and he delivered.

Bell being able to immediately show his potency as he diced in and out of would be tacklers. His patient to find the crease almost every run he has is something to marvel at when he is carrying the football.

The end result was Bell touching the football 23 times and Williams with five touches on the night.

“I felt like the first few weeks without they figured who they were, Bell said. “Heaven forbid I get injured or something else, they’ll know what to do.”

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

Williams Joins 10,000 Yard Club

Steelers Use Young & Old To Defeat Bengals

By Bo Marchionte

A soggy water drench field invited the Bengals and Steelers to square off in their Week 2 clash. Heavy rain left plenty of seats vacant for the kickoff in which Cincinnati deferred the ball to the second half.

Each team accomplished very little on their first couple possessions. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati had zero points after two drives apiece that finally saw Ben Roethlisberger hit tight end Xavier Grimble for his first catch and touchdown of his career.

“We didn’t play well enough,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said after they were defeated 24-16. “We really got behind today in field position, making some long fields for the offense and put the defense in some short fields.”

The Bengals were 4-16 on third conversions and stymied their run game containing both Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. The talented combo combined for 16 carries for 38 yards.

“I thought we stopped the run early,” said Cam Heyward. “They are predicated on smash run and it was especially important in a raining game you got to stop them.”

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Heyward past plenty of praise to the secondary and how they have been able to solidify the defense as a whole after two games in which the Steelers are tied for first place in the AFC North (2-0).

The Steelers held A.J. Green their arch nemesis to two catches for 38 yards. In his previous four games against the Steelers he produced 36 receptions for 546 yards and three touchdowns.

The first big play of the game came from the 44 yard connection between Ben Roethlisberger and Sammie Coates. It helped set up the games first score a 20 yard touchdown pass to tight end Xavier Grimble.

“Happy to get my first touchdown and a couple catches,” Grimble said after the game still in his mud drench pants.

The game that was filled with anticipation of brawls and ejections was played very professional and the biggest obstacle seemed to be battling the sporadic down pours.

Offensively Roethlisberger had his moments of ill advised throws and would likely admit it was not the most accurate effort he has put together. A few throws were off target and one ball slipped out of his hands.

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Pittsburgh appeared to make it a point to involve Coates with deep passes. Three passes intended for Coates were lobbed into the secondary one resulted in an interception and the other two gains of 44 and 53 yards.

“It was the look they were giving us,” Roethlisberger explained after the game in which he threw for 259 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. “They were giving us single coverage and we wanted to take some shots. They did a good job of kind of cutting him off at times and making some plays. I told Sammie that I was going to come back to him and came back to him on the deep ball.”

Their 2-0 start is the teams first since 2010 and the longest winning streak to start the season under Mike Tolmlin currently stands at three games in both 2007 and 2010.

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Offensive Game Ball Week 2
Denying DeAngelo Williams the title in Week 1 was hard to do, but in Week 2 he let it be known he is a force to be reckoned with as Pittsburgh awaits the return of Le’Veon Bell. Williams led the NFL in rushing after Week 1 and this week he added another 94 rushing yards just six yards shy of his 24th over his career.

Williams become a member of an elite club this afternoon rushing for 10,000 yards in his career. He is only the 30th running back in the history of the NFL to reach such a plateau.

“Uh nothing,” Williams said in what it means to reach the milestone. “Its 10,000 yards. Somebody said in the locker room, ‘You’re either old or you are good, which one are you?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ But if the media has anything to say, I am old.”

The aging wonder has taken the hard line when taking on the questions about his age that deflects his production. It our defense we are amazing at his awesome ability since so many others who played at his age never looked as fierce as Williams has in relief duty of Le’Veon Bell.

“L. Bell is so dynamic when he plays the game that I don’t want him to come off the field,” Williams said at the podium. His current production will bring the next round of questions – As good as Bell is how can you sit Williams moving forward?

He was consistent the entire game picking up yards on the ground and via the passing game. He caught four passes for 38 yards and one touchdown. Dating back to last season when Bell was gone via suspension or injury, Williams has been the best free agent signing over the last two years.

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Defensive Game Ball Week 2
We all love statistics and gaudy sack numbers, but to watch the effort by Cam Heyward today was special. Watching No. 97 hustle downfield time and time again to chase the ball carrier was impressive.

He also will not receive a stat in the local papers for the impact hit he put on quarterback Andy Dalton that he’ll probably fill well into Wednesday of this week.

“I thought when we were in the redzone we got some good pressure,” Heyward said after the game. “Are secondary is playing lights out right and holding down a guy like A.J. Green to a season low even if it is only Week 2. They continue to battle and hats off to them.”

The question directed at his own hustle was deflected to his teammates up front by Heyward towards his teammates.

“It wasn’t just me,” said Heyward. It was guys like Steph (Tuitt) or (Javon) Hargrave.” He said they all run to the football and then added, “That’s what we do at practice. Big guys running and little guys hitting, we pride ourselves on that.”

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Stepping Up
“They know how hard I have been fighting,” Xavier Grimble said after the game. The game in which he caught his first career reception that also coincided with his first touchdown and his second career catch went for a first down to move the chains.

“I’ve worked my buff off on the practice squad,” Grimble said and after a long three years he is finally seeing the fruits of his labor. “That is what they developed me to do,” he said referring the Steelers being able to count on him to contribute after being signed back in September of 2015.

“My mom,” Grimble smile on being the first person he was going to call after the game. He said his parents and family know the grind and being able to share the moment with them will be something to hold dear. Hopefully he makes this a habit of finding the end zone and calling home.

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

Williams Joins 10,000 Yard Club

Steelers Use Young & Old To Defeat Bengals

By Bo Marchionte

A soggy water drench field invited the Bengals and Steelers to square off in their Week 2 clash. Heavy rain left plenty of seats vacant for the kickoff in which Cincinnati deferred the ball to the second half.

Each team accomplished very little on their first couple possessions. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati had zero points after two drives apiece that finally saw Ben Roethlisberger hit tight end Xavier Grimble for his first catch and touchdown of his career.

“We didn’t play well enough,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said after they were defeated 24-16. “We really got behind today in field position, making some long fields for the offense and put the defense in some short fields.”

The Bengals were 4-16 on third conversions and stymied their run game containing both Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. The talented combo combined for 16 carries for 38 yards.

“I thought we stopped the run early,” said Cam Heyward. “They are predicated on smash run and it was especially important in a raining game you got to stop them.”

c-heyward-bengals-big

Heyward past plenty of praise to the secondary and how they have been able to solidify the defense as a whole after two games in which the Steelers are tied for first place in the AFC North (2-0).

The Steelers held A.J. Green their arch nemesis to two catches for 38 yards. In his previous four games against the Steelers he produced 36 receptions for 546 yards and three touchdowns.

The first big play of the game came from the 44 yard connection between Ben Roethlisberger and Sammie Coates. It helped set up the games first score a 20 yard touchdown pass to tight end Xavier Grimble.

“Happy to get my first touchdown and a couple catches,” Grimble said after the game still in his mud drench pants.

The game that was filled with anticipation of brawls and ejections was played very professional and the biggest obstacle seemed to be battling the sporadic down pours.

Offensively Roethlisberger had his moments of ill advised throws and would likely admit it was not the most accurate effort he has put together. A few throws were off target and one ball slipped out of his hands.

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Pittsburgh appeared to make it a point to involve Coates with deep passes. Three passes intended for Coates were lobbed into the secondary one resulted in an interception and the other two gains of 44 and 53 yards.

“It was the look they were giving us,” Roethlisberger explained after the game in which he threw for 259 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. “They were giving us single coverage and we wanted to take some shots. They did a good job of kind of cutting him off at times and making some plays. I told Sammie that I was going to come back to him and came back to him on the deep ball.”

Their 2-0 start is the teams first since 2010 and the longest winning streak to start the season under Mike Tolmlin currently stands at three games in both 2007 and 2010.

d-williams-circle

Offensive Game Ball Week 2
Denying DeAngelo Williams the title in Week 1 was hard to do, but in Week 2 he let it be known he is a force to be reckoned with as Pittsburgh awaits the return of Le’Veon Bell. Williams led the NFL in rushing after Week 1 and this week he added another 94 rushing yards just six yards shy of his 24th over his career.

Williams become a member of an elite club this afternoon rushing for 10,000 yards in his career. He is only the 30th running back in the history of the NFL to reach such a plateau.

“Uh nothing,” Williams said in what it means to reach the milestone. “Its 10,000 yards. Somebody said in the locker room, ‘You’re either old or you are good, which one are you?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ But if the media has anything to say, I am old.”

The aging wonder has taken the hard line when taking on the questions about his age that deflects his production. It our defense we are amazing at his awesome ability since so many others who played at his age never looked as fierce as Williams has in relief duty of Le’Veon Bell.

“L. Bell is so dynamic when he plays the game that I don’t want him to come off the field,” Williams said at the podium. His current production will bring the next round of questions – As good as Bell is how can you sit Williams moving forward?

He was consistent the entire game picking up yards on the ground and via the passing game. He caught four passes for 38 yards and one touchdown. Dating back to last season when Bell was gone via suspension or injury, Williams has been the best free agent signing over the last two years.

c-heyward-circle

Defensive Game Ball Week 2
We all love statistics and gaudy sack numbers, but to watch the effort by Cam Heyward today was special. Watching No. 97 hustle downfield time and time again to chase the ball carrier was impressive.

He also will not receive a stat in the local papers for the impact hit he put on quarterback Andy Dalton that he’ll probably fill well into Wednesday of this week.

“I thought when we were in the redzone we got some good pressure,” Heyward said after the game. “Are secondary is playing lights out right and holding down a guy like A.J. Green to a season low even if it is only Week 2. They continue to battle and hats off to them.”

The question directed at his own hustle was deflected to his teammates up front by Heyward towards his teammates.

“It wasn’t just me,” said Heyward. It was guys like Steph (Tuitt) or (Javon) Hargrave.” He said they all run to the football and then added, “That’s what we do at practice. Big guys running and little guys hitting, we pride ourselves on that.”

xavier-circle

Stepping Up
“They know how hard I have been fighting,” Xavier Grimble said after the game. The game in which he caught his first career reception that also coincided with his first touchdown and his second career catch went for a first down to move the chains.

“I’ve worked my buff off on the practice squad,” Grimble said and after a long three years he is finally seeing the fruits of his labor. “That is what they developed me to do,” he said referring the Steelers being able to count on him to contribute after being signed back in September of 2015.

“My mom,” Grimble smile on being the first person he was going to call after the game. He said his parents and family know the grind and being able to share the moment with them will be something to hold dear. Hopefully he makes this a habit of finding the end zone and calling home.

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt /College2Pro & Jason Pohuski /College2Pro

Tomlin Takes Aim On 2-0 Start

Steelers Aim For 2-0 Start Over Rival Bengals

By Bo Marchionte

The Pittsburgh offense filled with jet fuel didn’t exactly launch off the pad Monday night in Washington, as the Steelers eventually ran away with the win 38-16 off the arm of three Ben Roethlisberger touchdown passes.

Roethlisberger completed 27 of 37 passes for 300 yards, which allowed DeAngelo Williams to run wild on the Redskins defense. Williams is currently the NFL’s leading rusher after he ripped through the defense for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 26 power pack carries.

Prior to their win in the nation’s capital, Pittsburgh went 1-4 over the last fives years in season opening games. It marked the second largest margin for victory in an opening game under Mike Tomlin’s tenure as head coach. Tomlin’s largest point differential was in his inaugural season 2007, with a road win versus the Cleveland Browns.

It is a very encouraging way to the season especially with both the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals winners in Week 1. Cincinnati travels to Heinz Field this Sunday in the must anticipated rematch from the playoffs last season.

Antonio Brown Rules

WEEK 1 Offensive Game Ball

Roethlisberger and Williams were splendid, but the play of Antonio Brown seizes the Week 1 title. Brown caught eight receptions for 126 yards that included two touchdowns. His ability shined once again under the lights as both end zone grabs were from 26 and 29 yards out.

Shazier Tackle Machine

WEEK 1 Defensive Game Ball

Ryan Shazier showed his premiere athleticism with an interception return he nestled right inside the 10-yard line of the Redskins. A flag brought the ball back a bit, although it could not take away the speed and swiftness Shazier displayed on the play. He also notched six tackle (5 solo) in the Steelers win.

Next Man Up

Eli Rogers has been showing glimpses of athletic ability all summer and he continued the climb with a great Week 1 showing. He caught his first touchdown pass of his career and will make it hard to keep him on the bench as the season progresses. Rogers caught six passes for 59 yards.

Butler’s Brigade

Pittsburgh enters its second season with Kevin Butler as the defensive coordinator. Against Washington the team picked off two Kirk Cousins passes and made the Redskins offense one dimensional. Washington had 12 rush attempts total and 11 by their running back duo of Matt Jones and Chris Thompson. Jones with a long of 12 and Thompson with netted a long of nine yards.

Week 2 Preview

 

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Coaches

Marvin Lewis is 6-20 since taking over in 2003 as the head coach of the Bengals.

Mike Tomlin is 14-5 against the Bengals which also includes one playoff victory over Cincinnati last season.

Cincinnati Statistic Leaders

Passing

Andy Dalton – 366 yards and one touchdown

Rushing

Jeremy Hill – Nine carries for 31 yards and one touchdown

Receiving

A.J. Green – 12 receptions for 180 yards and one touchdown

Pittsburgh Statistic Leaders

Passing

Ben Roethlisberger  – 300 yards and three touchdowns

Rushing

DeAngelo Williams – 26 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns

Receiving

Antonio Brown – 8 receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns

The first NFL coaching job Marvin Lewis received was the job of coaching the Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers back in 1993. He now resides on the Bengals sidelines as the head coach of the most distasted team to arrive at Heinz Field in decades.

 

Possibly one of the most awaited games on the 2016 docket is the Week 2 game between rivals who despise on another in the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The playoff match this past January 9th was nothing short of playoff football at its highest level of intensity. Ejections, drama and the ‘Joey Porter Rule’ after Porter rushed on to the field after the illegal hit by Vontaze Burfict hit on Antonio Brown.

The senseless hit by Burfict left Brown unavailable for the next game against the Denver Broncos and that surely has to add another level of frustration for an organization aiming for a Super Bowl appearance.

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt

Brown Clone Paying Close Attention

Ben Rothelisberger Showing Interest In Eli Rogers – Breakout Player For Pittsburgh Steelers

By Bo Marchionte

It was somewhat reminiscent watching Eli Rogers in training camp and preseason games – He excelled liked the Steelers second sixth-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, Antonio Brown.

Brown was the guy you instantly took noticed of in 2010 and we have come to realize he is one of the best receivers, if not the very best, in the entire National Football League.

Rogers is not there yet and may never come close to matching the heroics displayed by Brown, but there are many similarities between the two that make Rogers a very interesting prospect to watch.

‘He is the best receiver in this league,” Rogers said referring to No. 84 Antonio Brown. “So I just try to follow his lead as far as his work ethic and how he carries himself as a player on and off the field.”

First thing they have in common is they both are from Miami, Florida. It is possible they might have been born in the same hospital. If you take I-95 south from Brown’s alma mater Miami Norland Senior High you would arrive roughly 15 minutes later at Miami Northwestern High School the school Rogers attended.

Nearly identical in size and ability each player stands at 5-foot-10 and Rogers out weighs Brown by five pounds. Each possesses that quick twitch suddenness to change direction and explode in and out of the cuts. Brown is exceptional and watching him just do foot drills is enough to make one shake their head in amazement. If Rogers can come anywhere near Brown he’ll still end up a very productive player in the NFL.

Rogers’, quietly went undrafted out of Louisville and played with Minnesota Vikings former No. 1 pick Teddy Bridgewater. The Cardinals had one of the best passing offenses in the ACC during that time with Miami Dolphins No. 1 pick in 2015 Devante Parker leading the way as the headline receiver. Rogers was the valuable asset in the offense but not the main focal point of the attack.

Eli Rogers One To Watch

Last year Rogers, went unnoticed again getting hurt very early in training camp it was hard to distinguish him from the other new faces vying to make the Steelers roster. The limited sample size of his abilities were left shelved after his injury leaving this year a critical moment in his career.

In May, the Steelers signed Rogers to a three-year deal that included a $5,000 signing bonus. Since that time it has hard to not be impressed with No. 17 as he is creeping up the Steelers depth chart.

During the Steelers second preseason game two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Ben Rothelisberger spent a hefty amount of time talking with Rogers after the offense came off the field.

“It is definitely humbling,” Rogers said then adding, “For him to put that much time in with me again is humbling.”

Personally, I think it reveals how much the franchise quarterback feels about the second-year receiver and his thoughts on how he can help trigger this offense to be even more explosive.

“I believe they are starting to see my ability,” Rogers admitted. “Outside of that I just try to be consistent as a player.”

Rogers appears to be heading towards making the 53-man roster, why else would the quarterback spend such a large amount of time with him after a series. One of his early personal goals was just to make it out of camp healthy and that has been accomplished.

Meeting that first individual goal has now allowed Rogers to set his sights on the final 53-man roster and create a pivotal role in the Todd Haley led offensive attack.

Eli Rogers One To Watch

His attention to detail and precise route running are the key components to his receiving game along with his quick twitch ability to make cuts that were on display while returning punts against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second preseason game of the year.

“Work head everyday and gain the coaches’ trust,” Rogers reiterates. “Find a way on this offense and this team.”

The hard work and trust is being noticed and making the team appears to be in the cards for the second-year receiver with potential.

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt / Jason Pohuski

Brown Clone Paying Close Attention

Ben Rothelisberger Showing Interest In Eli Rogers – Breakout Player For Pittsburgh Steelers

By Bo Marchionte

It was somewhat reminiscent watching Eli Rogers in training camp and preseason games – He excelled liked the Steelers second sixth-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, Antonio Brown.

Brown was the guy you instantly took noticed of in 2010 and we have come to realize he is one of the best receivers, if not the very best, in the entire National Football League.

Rogers is not there yet and may never come close to matching the heroics displayed by Brown, but there are many similarities between the two that make Rogers a very interesting prospect to watch.

‘He is the best receiver in this league,” Rogers said referring to No. 84 Antonio Brown. “So I just try to follow his lead as far as his work ethic and how he carries himself as a player on and off the field.”

First thing they have in common is they both are from Miami, Florida. It is possible they might have been born in the same hospital. If you take I-95 south from Brown’s alma mater Miami Norland Senior High you would arrive roughly 15 minutes later at Miami Northwestern High School the school Rogers attended.

Nearly identical in size and ability each player stands at 5-foot-10 and Rogers out weighs Brown by five pounds. Each possesses that quick twitch suddenness to change direction and explode in and out of the cuts. Brown is exceptional and watching him just do foot drills is enough to make one shake their head in amazement. If Rogers can come anywhere near Brown he’ll still end up a very productive player in the NFL.

Rogers’, quietly went undrafted out of Louisville and played with Minnesota Vikings former No. 1 pick Teddy Bridgewater. The Cardinals had one of the best passing offenses in the ACC during that time with Miami Dolphins No. 1 pick in 2015 Devante Parker leading the way as the headline receiver. Rogers was the valuable asset in the offense but not the main focal point of the attack.

Eli Rogers One To Watch

Last year Rogers, went unnoticed again getting hurt very early in training camp it was hard to distinguish him from the other new faces vying to make the Steelers roster. The limited sample size of his abilities were left shelved after his injury leaving this year a critical moment in his career.

In May, the Steelers signed Rogers to a three-year deal that included a $5,000 signing bonus. Since that time it has hard to not be impressed with No. 17 as he is creeping up the Steelers depth chart.

During the Steelers second preseason game two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Ben Rothelisberger spent a hefty amount of time talking with Rogers after the offense came off the field.

“It is definitely humbling,” Rogers said then adding, “For him to put that much time in with me again is humbling.”

Personally, I think it reveals how much the franchise quarterback feels about the second-year receiver and his thoughts on how he can help trigger this offense to be even more explosive.

“I believe they are starting to see my ability,” Rogers admitted. “Outside of that I just try to be consistent as a player.”

Rogers appears to be heading towards making the 53-man roster, why else would the quarterback spend such a large amount of time with him after a series. One of his early personal goals was just to make it out of camp healthy and that has been accomplished.

Meeting that first individual goal has now allowed Rogers to set his sights on the final 53-man roster and create a pivotal role in the Todd Haley led offensive attack.

Eli Rogers One To Watch

His attention to detail and precise route running are the key components to his receiving game along with his quick twitch ability to make cuts that were on display while returning punts against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second preseason game of the year.

“Work head everyday and gain the coaches’ trust,” Rogers reiterates. “Find a way on this offense and this team.”

The hard work and trust is being noticed and making the team appears to be in the cards for the second-year receiver with potential.

Photo Credits Frank Hyatt / Jason Pohuski

Moats Made It The Hard Way

Arthur Moats Knows The Importance Of Preseason Football – He Made It In the NFL Because Of It

By Bo Marchionte

The debate to reduce the amount of pre-season games remains a hot topic once again as the NFL dives into Week 2 schedule of games.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “I don’t believe the veterans need four preseason game anymore,” in referencing the topic on previous occasions. “The primary purpose of a preseason for a team is to evaluate and develop players and then they select their teams.”

Goodell played high school football and was named team captained three times prior to earning his degree in economics at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania. His collegiate career did not exist nor did a chance to play the game he is now in charge of directing into the future.

“Do I think we’ll move towards a shorter preseason? Yes, from a health and safety standpoint but also from the standpoint of fan reaction,” Goodell said. [Preseason] just does not meet the standard and quality of what the NFL is all about.”

Easy to say when you are at the pinnacle of decision making on what direction the NFL should go and not a late round selection or undrafted college free agent.

Arthur Moats Steelers

The NFLPA has worked to reduce the amount of time coaches are allowed to practice players and the reduction only hampers the ability for coaching staffs to gain the proper evaluation needed when the dreaded time comes to cuts players down to the coveted 53-man roster. The absence of practice time only increases the need for four preseason games.

In Pittsburgh tonight, Heinz Field was littered with players vying to make the impact needed to earn that place in an NFL locker-room.

Arthur Moats of the Steelers was originally drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the sixth-round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Any sixth-round selection is never a lock to make the roster and walk the line between making the team and being cut as much as undrafted college free agents.

The 178th overall pick in 2010 is now entering his seventh season in the National Football League. Appearing in 91 games (40 starts) he is the epitome of a late round prospect working his way up through the ranks and gaining the trust of NFL coaches.

“I feel it definitely helped me,” said Moats sporting a Roberto Clemente t-shirt which coincides with the baseball legends birthday (August 18th). “I know for me transitioning from defensive end to inside linebacker that it really helped me as far as having those four (preseason) games.”

This is the next big hurdle between the NFL and the NFLPA. It will be the ability to bring both sides to a point where the extra two games are worth the risk.

“If you only get two games,” Moats says then asks, “Where are they going to get the reps? Where are they going to get the opportunity to make a claim for themselves to make the team?”

Maybe the solution falls somewhere into the mix where the veterans will be aloud to skip more practices allowing the rookies and players with two or less years experience to showcase their merit to play in the NFL.

“Those games, they give you the opportunity to show the coaching staff how you react under the lights,” Moats said. “Somebody may look good in practice but not in the games and vice versa.”

Goodell mentions the preseason doesn’t meet the standard of the NFL’s regular season – In no way shape or form should the preseason compare to the regular season. Although in order for the regular season to separate itself from the preseason the reps and practices need to be performed so players can execute their craft and fine tune their abilities.

I doubt pn Broadway they erase practice days so they can up the box office sales with more performances. That is the case with the NFL where undermining the product for profit is the in vogue way of doing things.

The preseason is ugly, but that is the nature of the beast, it is exhibition and to think otherwise only enhances it unfavorable exposure. I see young men who may take their final reps. After spending their entire life suiting up on Friday then Saturday and then hold on the hope that Sunday will follow – That dream gets cheated with the desire to eliminate two preseason games from the schedule.

Moats was once one of those guys, who needed those four games to earn his keep. He mentioned that it was not until his fifth season he felt he actually could take a breath and know he made it in the league.

Tonight Moats made a terrific play on his way to sacking quarterback Sam Bradford. “It was a great call by Coach Butler,” said Moats. “It was something we had already seen a little bit on film. We really don’t dig too deep into film right now but it was something we had seen.”

The time is coming and we will see the deletion of two preseason weeks of NFL football.

How it defines the future and integrity of the game will remain to be seen.

Photos By FrankHyatt.com

Versatile Rookie Sean Davis

Meet The “Smiling Assassin” Rookie Sean Davis

By Bo Marchionte

There are times when covering the game of football and scouting CFL players for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers coincide – Well sort of in a way.

Scouting and covering the collegiate all-star games and being on a college campus nearly every single weekend you become aware of the next generation of top talent ready to hit the NFL landscape.

It becomes increasingly fun the further eye these prospects up close when they arrive in Pittsburgh to embark on their NFL careers with the Steelers.

In the second-round of the 2016 NFL Draft the Steelers selected former Maryland safety Sean Davis. A hard hitting big safety goes together better than peanut butter and jelly. It is one of the most enjoyable positions to view; especially in an age of the NFL football where passing in is vogue.

Sean Davis Rookie NFL

“Felt good having that first one under the belt,” Sean Davis said with a physic that would make even Arnold Schwarzenegger have envy as he changed to his street cloths after his first pre-season game. “A little nervous at the beginning of the first drive I am not going to lie to you, but once I got that out of the way I started playing more comfortable.”

Davis finished the game with five tackles on the night and four of those were solo hits.

“I just wanted to see him acclimate himself to the NFL and play,” Mike Tomlin said after the Detroit Lions got the best of Steelers, winning 30-17. “We did put him in a position to do multiple things.”

Davis played the slot and covered the Lions shifty receiver Jeremy Kerley as well as lining up in his traditional role at strong safety.

“I’m still learning,” Davis said. “I’ll have to be more comfortable playing down there, because guys have so much space, but that is just something I bring to the table with my unique versatile skill set. I will embrace it and do what the coaches ask of me.”

In 2015, Davis led the Terrapins defense with 88 tackles and five forced fumbles. He is a big hitting safety with a knack of always being around the football. It is easy to see when watching him even as his hips blanket the receiver his head is eyeing where the ball is going. Instincts and reaction go a long way and when you combine it with the athleticism this young man possesses; you have the makings of a very special talent.

Originally, Davis thought he was going to play receiver and jokingly admitted that after attending several college camps in high school he was going to be playing safety.

Sean Davis NFL Rookie

“My tenth grade year or junior year I really knew defense is what I was going to do,” Davis said. “I really started to like hitting people.”

Davis has this embracing and charismatic smile, hence the nickname “Smiling Assassin” he earned while playing in the at Maryland.

“When I’m on the field I’m a whole new character,” Davis smiled. “I’m trying to kill you. I’m going to smile all up in your face but when that helmet goes on I’m a different animal.”

The lineage of top tiers safeties playing in Pittsburgh is no secret. If Davis can sandwich himself between some of the top names like Donnie Shell or Troy Polamalu the secondary will have a real enforcer for years to come.

Photos By FrankHyatt.com

Heyward Shares Thoughts on A-Rod

Jeter Was His Favorite But Gives Rodriguez HOF Pass

By Bo Marchionte

Love or hate him there is a polarizing effect when discussing the abilities once possessed by Alex Rodriguez. He took his final curtain call for the New York Yankees Friday night while the NFL had their second consecutive night of pre-season football games.

Only four homeruns shy of reaching the 700 mark it will remain interesting to see if he is not signed by another ball club eager for a homerun chase of ticket sales.

“I remember he was part of the 2009 team,” said Cam Heyward after the Pittsburgh Steelers lost 30-17 to the Detroit Lions in the pre-season opener for both teams played at Heinz Field.

Arod

“Between all the adversity and everything that has gone with him,” Heyward said he backs A-Rod. “One thing I respect is when you admit your mistakes and he did make some mistakes, but he was honest about them.”

That says a lot coming from one of the true young leaders of the Steelers organization. Heyward is respected and he speaks wisely when approached.

“Derek Jeter was like my favorite player,” Heyward said. “A-Rod was always putting up numbers and he’s got the stats to back him up to be in the Hall of Fame.

Destine For Canton

Grandaughter of John Wayne Declares Polamalu Hall of Fame Worthy

By Bo Marchionte

The Pro Football Hall of Fame 2016 enshrinement was roughly a week ago and the residue of the cancelled game currently fogs the memories of the countless events that did go on without a hitch during the festivities in Canton, Ohio.

Friday night the city of Canton enjoyed country recording artist Tim McGraw on stage and his opening act Run Away June. It is a collection of three talented young ladies, Naomi Cooke, Hannah Mulholland and Jennifer Wayne.

Often the Pro Football of Fame is where the most talented careers end, but for Runaway June it is possibly where it begins.

“This will be our biggest show,” Jennifer Wayne said who also is the granddaughter of one of the most iconic American figures in the legendary John Wayne. “We tour a bunch, but we have done a lot of radio touring. You literally go to every single radio station and play for them and try to win them over to play your songs on their station.”

Runaway June

That is the grind for the trio who all left home, hence the name “Runaway” to pursue a career in the music industry. None of them literally ran away from home, but they did pack their belongings and make their way to the music hotbed in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I wanted to be a song writer,” Wayne said in her denim vest layered over her sun dress. “I knew I had to be in Nashville. They have the best song writers and best musicians.”

She joined a band around the age of 18 and bought her first guitar and taught herself how to play chords. It ignited the passion to grow as an artist, but her initial desire for music would be on hold until she finished college, upon the request of her parents.

So the blonde hair and blue eye California girl left the West coast and a promising pro tennis career to follow her dream. It coincides with the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the dedication it takes to reach the pinnacle of personal accomplishments.

Wayne attended USC and shared her love for the Trojans. “I’m a huge SC fan,” said Wayne. “I’m also a (Seattle) Seahawks fan because of Pete Carroll.” It was only fitting that after talking a little about USC and being at the Pro Football Hall of Fame I presented this question to her – Who would you induct into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Truth be told I thought for sure it would be Russell Wilson or possibly Marshawn Lynch. Wayne announced neither of those two names nor any Seattle Seahawks player, but did venture back to her Southern California routs.

Troy Polamalu Hall of Fame

“Troy Polamalu,” Wayne said with conviction.

How could one argue her choice?

Polamalu, a two-time Super Bowl winner and four-time first All-Pro and NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2010) has all the credentials needed to one day unveil his bust into the sacred walls of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Few safeties or players in general displayed the ability over the last decade to change the outcome of games, solely on their behalf, especially on the defensive side of the football.

Besides writing songs, playing tennis at an elite level it appears that Jennifer Wayne also has a keen eye for the future enshrinement classes heading to Canton.

Stealing their lyrics from their song Lipstick, “If you are going to love somebody” – Why not fall in love with this young hungry group of female artist. To know more about their tour dates go to Runaway June.

Hargrave Is Real Deal

Steelers Guys To Watch

By Bo Marchionte

The Pittsburgh Steelers opened the 2016 season hosting the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field. It was a hot and humid evening as Pro Bowl receiver Antonio Brown remained cool on the sidelines with his golden earrings shining under the lights.

Antonio Brown Bling

It was not that long ago that Brown, a former sixth round selection out of Central Michigan was playing special teams and doing everything he could do earn his place on the 53-man roster.

Brown has become one of the best, if not the best receiver in the entire National Football League and his new found fame was harnessed on the pre-season. A time when most NFL fans complain that is simply isn’t worth watching – I beg to differ and find it extremely interesting.

There are plenty of other Steelers currently on the roster who like Brown in 2010 are eagerly trying to make it in the NFL.

Caushaud Lyons, DT – Saw action in the first-half against the Lions and showed great hustle. On one particular play he came off the left edge and chased the ball carrier for almost 20 yards without losing distance.
“Steelers defense is all about hustle,” Lyons said. “I definitely feel more comfortable.”

Caushaud Lyons

He followed the next play with another play in pursuit. Not to shabby for a man who is 6-foot-5 and 284 pounds. Another play he showed a great spin move and nearly added some pressure to Detroit quarterback Dan Orlovsky. Lyons was a undrafted free agent in 2015 out of Tusculum and spend last year in Tampa Bay with the Buccaneers on their practice squad.

“I would say I had my doubts,” Lyons admitted when he first got to Tampa on if the had the ability to make it to the next level. “I’m in the next phase now and just want to add to the Steelers franchise.”

He played in the Medal of Honor All-Star Game which afforded him the opportunity to display his skill set to NFL scouts on hand.

Lyons possesses a wealth of athletic attributes and has a real shot at the 53-man roster. Possibly the 53-man roster if things fall his way, regardless he is an exciting young talent to keep close tabs on.

Eli Rogers, WR – This kid has impressed since training camp has opened. He is very quick and has very clean routes. His ability to cut and accelerate and gain separation makes him one very interesting prospect to watch moving forward. Seeing action in the first-half with Landry Jones still in the game was a good sign for Rogers.

Javon Hargrave, DT – The rookie will leave the Steelers scouting department proud. Hargrave showed some terrific burst off the ball tonight versus the Lions and possessed the power to penetrate and collapse the pocket.

“Great feeling,” said Hargrave after his first game with the Steelers.

On one play he burst off the snapped and blew past his man to tackle the shifty Lions running back Zach Zenner.

“It was kind of a blitz play,” Hargrave said. “I read the play right and made the play.” Modest on the productive evening he went on to mention that personal goals don’t exist and his main goal is to help the team win.

College2Pro.com actually had him to the Steelers in the third round of our 2016 Steelers Mock Draft. If tonight is any indication of his abilities he’ll be able to steal some snaps off of veterans Daniel McCullers and Stephen Tuitt. Playing at South Carolina State he was a stout force in the game who was able to clog running lanes and allowing the edge players to work the outside edge. Tonight he was very effective establishing himself and disrupt the offense.

Xavier Gamble, TE – The former USC Trojan went undrafted in 2014. He arrived in Pittsburgh in January after brief periods with the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers (Twice) and New England Patriots. “Each team is different,” Gamble said and added, “it is different words but all kind of similar.”

Heath Miller has retired and new arrival Ladarius Green unable to contribute in training camp after leaving the San Diego Chargers via free agency. It has allowed Gamble to extend his practice film to the watchful eye of the Steelers scouting department. They are seeing a young tight end with size for the position and the ability to play a factor in both the passing game in run support.

Xavier Gamble

“My athleticism,” Gamble said is one of the main factors he is in Pittsburgh. “I think I can create some mismatches for defenses. I need to show that on a more consistent basis.” Gamble said he thinks that is one of the reason he is in Pittsburgh to display his ability to stretch the seam and possibly become a target Ben Rothelisberger can rely on in 2016.

Against the Lions, he displayed a couple nice routes and did a solid job holding his own and sustaining his blocks. Gamble also made a tackle on special teams late in the fourth quarter.

Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB – Year two in the Steelers offense and the running back the team had to ride in the playoffs feels much more confident.

“Special teams is the first focus,” Toussaint said. “Learning from DeAngelo (Williams) and Le’Veon (Bell) has been huge. Just focused on the task at hand and protecting our quarterback.”

Toussaint Steelers

Toussaint had only carries with Pittsburgh before he had to except the challenge at hand and carry the football 29 times in the playoffs. He finished with 134 rushing yards last season and there is plenty for him to learn to make it, but he has shown the toughness needed.

Greene Is A Pros Pro

“They’re Ass Kickers,” Greene on Steelers

By Bo Marchionte

The NFL Draft has become a glamorous event. It is the NFL version of Hollywood with the red carpet treatment. Soon to be hopeful NFL stars strut their thousand dollars suits and lavish entire in front of millions.

There was not a television camera. There was neither an entourage nor a walk across the stage to embrace the commissioner of the National Football League. Not even a room full of friends and family.

Kevin Greene, one of the men who will be enshrined tomorrow night in Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame was alone in a gymnasium.

“I was in the weight room,” Greene said.

I left my number at the football facility where I was going to be. If I get drafted tell them to call me there and they did. They got me in the middle of a set of bench presses.

There is something simplistic that inner twines with the gravity and dedication that Greene brought to the game. Hence, him ending up being selected in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after playing 15 years in the National Football League.

Tough as all hell outside linebacker, pumping iron, when the Los Angeles Rams select him with the first pick in the fifth round of the 1985 NFL Draft. No glitz and glamour just a fundamentally sound prospect dedicated to the game and art of studying film.

“I said cool let’s go,” Greene said. He acknowledges he was just thankful to be selected and the round attached to his name was the least of his worries. “Coming from a guy who basically just walked on a few years earlier (Auburn Tigers), I didn’t care where I was going to go in the draft. It was just neat they were talking about me.”

Greene established himself quickly with the Rams recording seven sacks in his second season in 1986 and four years later with his first Pro Bowl season after registering 13 quarterback sacks. Even though he spent more time in Los Angeles (Eight years), it was evident in his sincere words where he loved playing professional football the most.

All those years and accolades on the West Coast could not match the adoration he felt for the city of Pittsburgh.

“It looked glorious to me,” Greene said after head coach Bill Cowher picked him up from the airport and drove him through the Fort Pitt Tunnel. “Wow! (Greene pauses and relives the moment) It was just so awesome and coming out the other side and seeing the city.”

Greene then used his hands to describe his view to the left revealing Three Rivers Stadium saying, “Man this was cool.” The NFL All-Decade Team of 1990s member revealed that he was so impressed with his visit to the Steelers he cancelled his up-coming visit to the Washington Redskins – Even offering to refund them for the plane ticket.

“My agent told me do not worry about,” Greene said, “but remember you pissed off a lot of people.

The flight cancelled and the football cupid of love striking him in the heart with his arrow painted Black-N-Gold, Greene knew he found his home for the next three seasons.

In his own words, Greene explains he was a good player “a Pro Bowl player” prior to his arrival in Pittsburgh, but he became a “game-changing kind of player” with the Steelers.

“That is when I really stepped up on the stage,” Greene shared and added, “I was around a lot of fine athletes that allowed me to be a better player. “Obviously Greg Lloyd on the outside and Levon Kirkland and Chad Brown on the inside. My corner I worked with and learned his concepts in Rod Woodson and Hall of Famer, who made me a better player, and Carnell Lake along with Darren Perry. I was just surrounded by great players and my position coach was Marvin Lewis. I’m grateful to be here and thankful to a lot of people.”

Then there was another reason – Dom Capers.

Coach Cowher and Coach Capers had the perfect plan to extract the most out of Greene. He could have signed with Green Bay and played along side Reggie White as a defensive end with the Packers. Capers was waiting in Pittsburgh and had the combination to unlocked the vault to the best years Greene had in the National Football League.

Greene knew he wasn’t a defensive end and once he arrived in Pittsburgh fell head over heels for the city and told the defensive staff was going to use him to the best of his abilities as an outside 3-4 linebacker – The deal was sealed.

“I was a pure outside backer in the 3-4,” Greene said regarding how the Steelers planned on unleashing his talents on opponents. He registered 35.5 of his 160.0 regular season sacks lining up for the Steel Curtain of the 1990s in Pittsburgh. “I just fit right in and given their history and tradition of the Pittsburgh Steelers, they’re ass kickers, winning all those Super Bowls combined and I knew it was the place for me to be.”

Tomorrow night before he pulls the cloth off his newly dusted bronze bust it will be Dom Capers will present Greene during his induction ceremony on Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio. Ironic that the ring placed on the right index finger of Greene’s hand had a Super Bowl XLV. He received the ring when he was the teams outslide linebackers coach hired by – Dom Capers…

It seems only fitting a man who was pumping iron when he got drafted would reflect back on his NFL life with the most fondness on the city made of steel.

Can PSAC Star Stick?

Shabazz – Pennsylvania Born and Raised

By Bo Marchionte

It is a sad reality in sports that when one man goes down it allows the opportunity for other men to step up.

That is the case in Pittsburgh after second-year and second-round pick from 2015 defensive back Senquez Golson was lost for the second straight season.

Mike Tomlin confirmed the disappointing news a few days ago that Golson did in fact suffer a Lisfranc foot injury, after recovering from a shoulder injury last August that erased his rookie campaign.

This sheds some light on one defensive back in particular on the Steelers’ current roster that peaks my interest in Al-Hajj Shabazz.

Shabazz Steelers

After hearing that Golson was lost for the season only made it more intriguing on if the former Division II All-American can find his way to securing a larger role in the Steelers organization.

The 6-foot-2 and 200 pound defensive back played his college football at West Chester College in the PSAC and was invited to the NFLPA Bowl, a collection of the top seniors available for the up-coming draft. Shabazz was one of 11 non-Division 1 players selected last year to play out in Los Angeles in front of NFL scouts and coaches.

Guys with his size and ability are few and far between and with the injury to Golson only increases the possibility he can carve out a niche in the weeks to come to secure a spot on the roster or at the very least the practice squad.

Shabazz Pittsburgh Steelers

“We were down this road last year,” said Shabazz. After going undrafted in 2015 he signed with the Indianapolis Colts and also spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before being released prior to the final roster cuts in 2015.

During his college career with the Golden Rams’ the defensive staff used Shabazz as a true shutdown cornerback. He lined-up against the opponents top receiver and learned the true meaning of the so called “island” defensive backs live on. He is a high energy tempo setter like Richard Sherman and wears his emotions on his sleeve.

He finished his senior season at West Chester with 39 tackles, five interceptions for 70 yards and one interception returned for a touchdown. Credited with 16 passes defensed he also blocked a punt and recovered another blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown. Selected as a first-team All-PSAC East (twice), he was also a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award presented to the top small school college defensive player in Division II, III, and NAIA. Last years winner was Cleveland Browns cornerback and fourth round pick (2014) Pierre Desir from Lindenwood.

Shabazz Steelers

Entering camp last year Shabazz weighed around 205 and now is slightly under the mark at 199 pounds. “I came out at 5.6% body fat,” Shabazz said when first signing with the Colts last year. “I’m down to 4.4%, feel light on my feet. I’m ready to move.”

Shabazz is anxious to show off his skill set at a lighter weight and earn the trust of the defensive staff. The biggest knock on the DII star may be his speed. Running a 4.63 at his Pro Day at Villanova last season was not exactly the desired time NFL scouting departments salivate over, but his overall size and ability make him hard to ignore.

“I can feel the difference,” Shabazz said. “I can’t lie to you I really feel the difference,” referring to shredding five pounds and decreasing his body fat. Shabazz is in the right place and at the right time with Pittsburgh looking to reshape their secondary with the mixture of savvy veterans and talented yet inexperienced bodies.

“Honestly all these guys are so supportive,” says Shabazz who acknowledges that isn’t the case all the time. “Literally everyone is so helpful the football atmosphere here is so amazing.”

Amazing, also describes the kid from Philadelphia who watched football at such a young age he thought both Barry Sanders and Deion Sanders were brothers, is again knocking at the door step of the National Football League.

The PSAC star is auditioning for the role of his life – playing defensive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Veterans + Youth = Expectations

Lake Is Excited To Get To Work

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” where the words spoken by Abraham Lincoln back in 1858. Lincoln’s speech was given three years before his arrival in the Oval Office as the 16th President of the United States.

After talking with defensive backs coach Carnell Lake for a brief period of time the spirit of unity that currently resides over the Steelers secondary seems like a huge positive, moving forward. It is reminiscent of those famous words spoken by our former President.

“It’s been a long time since we have had a secondary this young,” Carnell Lake said. The sixth year defensive backs coach for the Steelers also played in Pittsburgh in ten of the twelve years he played in the National Football League.

Lake appeared pleasantly pleased with the current group of players he looks to maximize and perfect over the course of training camp and well into the season. With a mixture of veterans along with some new faces they intercepted 12 passes and returned two in touchdowns last season. The 12 picks were the most since 2010 and really gave life to a defense lacking big play ability in prior years.

The secondary faced to ton of skeptics heading into last season and while they had their bumps and bruises at the end of the day they were good enough to help place Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game and nearly winning the contest on the road against the Denver Broncos.

This year the depth is deeper and the balance and continuity should help advance the unit overall to achieve more success. Which in turn creates a large amount of optimism on how much this secondary can improve in 2016.

Ross Cockrell Steelers

If the season started today William Gay and Ross Cockrell would be the team’s starting cornerbacks. Gay enters his 10th season in the NFL while Cockrell enters his first training camp with Pittsburgh after being selected in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills only to be released during the final round of cuts in 2015.

“I don’t know what the Buffalo Bills were thinking,” jokes Lake. “We will take him he’s been very productive. We needed him to come through last year and he did.” Cockrell was rewarded with a one year contract after stepping in and up as a rookie appearing 15 games, including seven starts. “Cockrell has been a surprise and really good surprise ever since we got him,” Lake said.

Cockrell said he inspects to improve his game and compares last year to this year as “night and day” regarding how comfortable he feels in the confines of the Steelers defense and being along side the current cast of roster teammates. “Especially Artie (Burns) and Sean (Davis) they are very talented,” said Cockrell. “Athletically explosive and guys I think will contribute this year. Since we are so young guys are just vibing together and we’re having a good time.”

It compliments entirely the mixture and balance between veterans and youthful upbeat guys ready and willing to learn – The Steelers Way to success.

“My older veterans (laughs) whom I call them now they are doing a great job to lead and mold this young talent,” said Lake who still looks physically fit enough to take some reps on the field.

The reason for Lake’s optimism is the success from last season along with a strong cast of veteran leaders who look to embrace the next generation of defensive backs in the Steelers secondary. “We got very smart and intelligent guys leading this group.”

Lake emphasized the character of veterans and their unselfishness and desire to advance the younger players.

“It’s inspiring to see the energy,” Lake grinned and acknowledged the communication from players like William Gay, Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden. He reiterated their value time and time again how they all step and deliver and be the guiding force that doesn’t carry a whistle.

William Gay Steelers

The influx of talented youngsters includes last years second round pick Senquez Golson and this years top two picks overall for the Steelers in first rounder Burns and second round selection Davis. Golson was lost last August due to a shoulder injury and along with the 2016 NFL Draft selections; there is a real sense of excitement of what possibly could develop in the secondary.

“We are going to need these young guys,” said Lake. “They are going to have to play and hopefully they play a lot. I’m looking at Artie Burns our 1st round pick I’m excited to see him get out here and compete in pads,” said Lake and added, “Sean Davis obviously our second round pick.”

The additions of Cockrell, Burns, Davis and Golson overall combine as one first round selection, two second round picks and one fourth round pick over the course of the last two NFL Drafts. That is a lot of youthful potential waiting to be untapped by Coach Lake.

After writing that sentence I begin to realize even more Coach Lake’s encouraging outlook on what could be. He has tremendous veterans wanting to coach the young guys and young guys oozing with talent.

Gay added his own interesting perspective on the unit saying,” I think we got a lot of guys who are versatile we got a lot of interchangeable guys.” Gay without a doubt appears to be the leader of the unit and with eight years of experience in the Steelers secondary he knows from the previous group of players the internal values of the Pittsburgh locker-room.

Camp is just beginning and plenty of obstacles will challenge of the most talented players as they hope to progress quickly from the college to professional level. One thing that can not be denied after talking to several of the players in the Steelers secondary – They are not a house divided – They are house united and ready to conquer all comers.

Something President Lincoln surely would feel happy to know I’m sure especially in this year of election.

Tomlin Eyes Another Title

Tomlin Aims For 3-Peat

Mike Tomlin enters his tenth season as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coming off back-to-back 10-plus game winning seasons that coincided with two straight playoff appearances, Tomlin can set a coaching career best this year if he meets the standard set in 2014-15.

Tomlin has won 10-games or more six times coming in pairs but always missing that elusive third season – It should be noted that those 10-game winning seasons also included six playoff appearances, two Super Bowl match-ups and one Lombardi Trophy.

“I have the same expectations that I’ve had for 10 years,” Tomlin said to the media to address the opening of training camp. He explained that while the perception may be higher outside the confines of the Steelers organization his internal outlook has not wavered. “We are taking off on this journey with the intentions of being world champions.”

At the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, the Pittsburgh Steelers are 12-1 (4th overall) to win Super Bowl 51 on February 5, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Both Vegas and the fans in Pittsburgh feel that his team is ripe to win its seventh Lombardi Trophy.

Getting there will likely take another 10-plus winning season.

Chuck Noll holds the team record with five consecutive 10-plus winning seasons with Bill Cowher in second place with four straight. Tomlin along with the scouting department have done a terrific job keeping the Steelers competitive as the team had to replace a mass quantity of key players. No Steelers team has ever won a Super Bowl winning less than ten games in the regular season.

If my calculations are correct (Mind you I have the mathematical skills of a 3rd grader) only four players that includes William Gay, James Harrison, Ben Rothelisberger and Lawrence Timmons remain from the first team Tomlin took over as head coach.

That demonstrates the change of scenery Tomlin has faced since taking over in 2007. It is possible he feels more comfortable with the current roster because the players on it are his guys not carryover bodies from the previous coaching staff.

Injury and Suspension Cloud Bell's Future

Bell Looks To Dodge Obstacles

”First and foremost I would like to apologize to Steelers Nation and all the fans,” were the first words spoken by Le’Veon Bell the extremely talented fourth-year running back from Michigan State. “I obviously do not want to be a distraction.”

Unfortunate for Bell he is the Steelers glaring distraction after missing several drug tests according to the powers that be in New York City from the NFL league office. Besides coming off his ACL injury Bell is now faced with a looming four-game suspension, recovering from his knee injury and finding a contract that will meet his exceptional ability.

Bell addressed a packed media room at Saint Vincent College to reveal the best he can where he stands and to hopefully put the onslaught of questions that will accompany his current situation in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The 24-year old Pro-Bowl running back says he expects to hear from the league office in a few weeks (Mid-August) on if his appeal will be approved.

While speculation will swirl on if he faces the full four game suspension Bell was able to give some relief to the Steelers Nation he apologized to by saying he feels ready to go after suffering a torn ACL against the Cincinnati Bengals on November 1st in Pittsburgh last season.

“I feel like if we had a game tomorrow I would be ready to play,” Bell said regarding the rehab and current condition of his left knee. That is very encouraging news for a player who holds single season record for yards from scrimmage (2,215) set in 2014. Bell has recorded eight 100-yard rushing games in his short career and during the six games he appeared in last season, three of those resulted in him eclipsing the century mark.

LeVeon Bell

Talented as any player on any offense the brilliance in Bell’s ability hinges on the outcome of this up-coming ruling on if he’ll serve the full fours games that coincides with the two-game ban he faced in 2015 after being pulled over with marijuana in the car prior.

The expectations for placing the seventh Lombardi Trophy in the Steelers main office run extremely high as the season quickly approaches. His availability is crucial to the distance this team can travel towards another Super Bowl crown.

Steelers Add Burns

Bengals Grab Jackson & Pittsburgh Strikes Back

Cincinnati was positioned one slot higher than the Pittsburgh Steelers, Thursday night, in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Bengals took Houston defensive back William Jackson who many perceived the Steelers to be interested in drafting. Pittsburgh took little time after the Bengals selections to hand in their card and nab the talented Hurricanes defensive back.

Pittsburgh spent their second-round pick on Senquez Golson last season, which was lost for the year with a shoulder injury. The team barring any setups has positioned themselves with to two talented defensive back that will need to adjust on the fly and get acclimated to the NFL. 

“We’re proud and excited to get the cornerback from the University of Miami,” General Manager Kevin Colbert said after the selection.

“He’s a solid young man. He had a little bit of a tragedy issue with his mother passing during the season, but he fought his way through that, came out the other side and put together a solid year. He ended up with six interceptions and put himself as one of the top corners in this draft class. We’re really starting to see this draft class with the corners coming together. I think back in November when we went to Florida, some scouts and myself, started to get a feel that this would be a strong corner class. We said that the other day and it turned out to be just that. We’re very, very fortunate that he was available to us and we’re excited to have him.”

Tonight begins the second and third round of the NFL Draft with Pittsburgh picking 58th and 89th overall. The possibility of safety or defensive line help appear to be the biggest concerns heading into the second day of the draft.

First-Round, 25th overall

Artie Burns, DB, Miami – Earned All-ACC second-team honors…led the ACC with six interceptions, the most by a Hurricane since 2003 (Sean Taylor, 10)…started all 12 games in which he played finishing with 36 tackles, five pass breakups, one fumble recovery and six interceptions…his six interceptions tied as the 10th-most in a single-season in school history…opened the year with an interception in three consecutive games…became first Hurricane since Sean Taylor to record at least one interception in three straight games…recorded his first multi-interception game of career 10/17 vs. Virginia Tech.

Second-Round, 58th overall
Vonn Bell, SS, Ohio State – Incumbent strong safety Will Allen an Ohio State alum enters his 13th season in the NFL. He still plays at a high level and his locker room presence with worth its weight in gold. A leader and guy who can mentor Bell on perfecting the craft of playing safety in the NFL. Bell has the size and smarts to earn playing time early in his rookie season.

Third-Round, 89th overall
Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State – Steve McClendon and Cam Thomas leave the defensive interior needy of depth and talent. Hargrave is a big man and Pittsburgh like beefy interior players. Standing at 6-foot-1 and 315 pounds, Hargraves is a stout force in the run game who is able to clog the running lanes and allowing the edge players to collaspe the pocket.

Fourth-Round, 124th overall
Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State – Only the second quarterback drafted by Pittsburgh with Kevin Colbert as General Manager. Brissett has some Ben Roethlisberger traits to his game. Landry Jones does not seem to be the guy Pittsburgh feels can help out in a quick pinch. I would not be surprised if another veteran name is thrown into the mix after the NFL Draft to provide Pittsburgh with additional options in case Roethlisberger misses any time.

Fifth-Round – Traded to Philadelphia Eagles for defensive back Brandon Boykin.

Sixth-Round – Traded to Jacksonville Jaguars for kick Josh Scobee.

Seventh-Round, 244th overall
Marcus Johnson, WR, Texas – Johnson never became the focal point of the Longhorns passing attack at Texas. However, Johnson is extremely talented and after his Pro Day performance he put himself on the back burner of late-round sleepers. Three of the Steelers seven receivers taken with Kevin Colbert as GM have arrived in the sixth-round. Johnson becomes the first seventh-round selection.

With An Eye On the Future

2016 Steelers Mock Draft 1.0

The Pittsburgh Steelers currently hold the rights to the 25th overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Steelers fail short of capturing back-to-back division crowns placing second in the AFC North behind the Cincinnati Bengals. It is likely the organization will look back on 2015 with a sense of pride considering the gritty performance made by both sides of the football. Pittsburgh was thrown a combination of punches this season that began during the preseason when Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the year – Then offensive tackle Mike Adams and it never stopped. The regular season had not even begun and Pittsburgh was shuffling offensive lineman to find the right combination. The list continued to grow and below was the final result after losing to Super Bowl 50 champion Denver Broncos in the AFC Playoffs.

Pittsburgh Injuries
Rob Blanchflower, TE, Injured Reserve
Bruce Gradkowski, QB, Injured Reserve
Mike Adams, OT, Injured Reserve
Cortez Allen, CB, Injured Reserve
Kelvin Beachum, OT, Injured Reserve
Maurkice Pouncey, C, Injured Reserve
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Injured Reserve
Shaun Suisham, K, Injured Reserve
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Out
Sammie Coates, WR, Questionable
Doran Grant, CB, Questionable
Antonio Brown, WR, Out

The injuries do come with a few perks. It allowed players with little experience to gain valuable time on the field and identifying what back-up players may need to be replaced because even in limited duty they can not cut it in the NFL. Enjoy the first edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 NFL Mock Draft.

First-Round, 25th overall
Eli Apple, DB, Ohio State – It appears the streak of three consecutive drafts of taking a linebacker in the first-round end this year. After selecting Jarvis Jones (2013), Ryan Shazier (2014) and Bud Dupree (2015) the Steelers can focus on the secondary. Pittsburgh is tied with the Carolina Panthers for the most Ohio State players currently on one roster (four) and add another in Apple. It was no secret heading into last year that the urgency to fill the secondary with adequate bodies was a dire need. Apple is a big physical defensive back with terrific size/speed ratio, long frame, smooth hips, changes direct well and with recover speed on deep passes.

Second-Round, 58th overall
Conner Cook, QB, Michigan State – One thing is evident that regardless of how much talent the roster possesses – If Ben Roethlisberger is out the team regresses immensely. Landry Jones simply is not the answer to the back-up position and bringing in Michael Vick immediately after Roethlisberger was hurt in addition to Bruce Gradkowski who hurt his hand in the preseason, was an indication of their concerns with Jones. Cook comes from a pro-style offense along with the quarterback IQ to have a shot at the next level. Roethlisberger will be 34 (March 2nd), so flirting with the notion of bringing in another young capable arm for the eventual long-term is not out of the question.

Third-Round, DB, 89th overall
Harlan Miller, DB, Southeastern Louisiana – Miller proved to be one of the top players at the 2016 Reese’s Senior Bowl. The cupboards are being replenished in the secondary in 2016 to catch up the makeovers already furnished up front on the defensive line and at the linebacker positions.

Fourth-Round, RB, 124th overall
Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas – Le’Veon Bell is one of the most explosive and unstoppable players in the NFL, but injuries have robbed him of starts and that has to be taken into consideration. Fellow running back DeAngelo Williams may have been one of the most valuable free agent additions last season signed by any team. Williams manage to keep the ground game vibrant and productive in the absence of Bell (ACL injury). Williams is an every down back who shared the football with Alex Collins at Arkansas. Currently off an injury Williams should be ready to go by the time rookies arrive in the NFL.

Fifth-Round – Traded to Philadelphia Eagles for defensive back Brandon Boykin.

Sixth-Round – Traded to Jacksonville Jaguars for kick Josh Scobee.

Seventh-Round, 244th overall
K.J. Dillon, S, West Virginia – This is more wishful thinking than anything else, because I highly doubt the talent this good will be around near the end of the NFL Draft. Dillon possesses fantastic cover skills for a safety and is not afraid to lower his shoulder in the ground game. He also brings a nice tempo and energy to the secondary and Pittsburgh needs another defensive body to add some punctuation to the charisma to the secondary.

As Tough A Performance You Will Ever Witness

Ben Delivers

“I knew this was one of those not so nice quarterback hits,” said Ben Roethlisberger after his heroic return after sustaining a severe shoulder injury. He ended up engineering his fourth career postseason fourth quarter comeback (38th overall), leading the team on a nine-play, 74 yard drive in 1:09. The 18-16 win tied the Dallas Cowboys all-time with 34 playoff victories in NFL history.

Roethlisberger has accomplished many accolades over his career topped by his two Super Bowl rings. Last night in Cincinnati he should have gained the respect of the nation with his performance.

The Bengals were playing with such vengeance and that is not taking into account the controversial calls on helmet to helmet collisions. The Cincinnati intensity at times pale in comparison to anything I witnessed from a football team. They were down 15-0 and after Roethlisberger left the game it ignited Paul Brown Stadium and the comeback march began for Cincinnati.

“I’m gonna go back out there,” said Roethlisberger to the training staff under the confines of Paul Brown Stadium. “Rather if I can go or not at least hopefully I kind of could get them going a little bit.”

Tom Brady has the rings. Peyton Manning has the numbers. Roethlisberger has unheralded toughness and that is not scoffing at the memorable plays both Brady and Manning have orchestrated. Hate him or adore him the one absolute you cannot deny Roethlisberger is his toughness.

Sometimes it appears his toughness and blue-collar type mentality masked the elite passes he has become. Roethlisberger played in an offense that didn’t feature the high-flying passing attacks that Brady, Manning and Drew Brees have operated under – Until now.

Against the Bengals he increased his postseason passing yardage total to 3,713 to join Terry Bradshaw (3,833) as the second player in team history with at least 3,500 postseason passing yards.

Roethlisberger told reporters Sunday that his shoulder was “sore” and termed himself day-to-day ahead of next Sunday’s playoff game against the Denver Broncos. Leaving some doubt if he’ll pass Bradshaw next week for the Steelers all-time leader in passing yards.

If the question has ever been asked – Is Ben Roethlisberger amongst the elite?

Last night was the validation for greatness and punching a ticket to Canton, Ohio. What transpired last night under the sleet and rain wouldn’t be considered ‘real’ in Hollywood.

Renegade linebacker takes star quarterback out of the game. Back-up throws pick. Next the play the star quarterback’s team gets the ball back from a fumble and he returns to lead them to the win.

Hard to imagine, but it happened last night in Cincinnati.

Steelers Aim To Win First Playoff Game Since 2010

Pittsburgh Steelers Playoff Preview

The Pittsburgh Steelers head to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals in the first-round of the playoffs. The two teams have only met once in the playoffs and that was in 2005 on with Pittsburgh on the road and winning 31-17.

That game is infamously remembered for the first play of the game with Steelers Kimo von Oelhoffen hitting then Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer and tearing his ACL. Hopefully, the same doesn’t happen to any player this weekend.

The Bengals are the winners of the AFC North and have won ten or more games in each of their last four seasons and have made the playoffs the last five straight.

Unfortunately, the team has not won a single playoff game during that stretch.

That has placed an immense amount of pressure on both head coach Marvin Lewis and the team. To walk away losers in the first-round of the last five playoff appearances could signal the end of Lewis running the show in Cincinnati.

Pittsburgh is in a bit of a drought themselves without the succulent taste of victory since 2010 when the lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.

Mike Tomlin, in his ninth season with Pittsburgh has been to the playoffs six times and appeared in two Super Bowls and winning one. It seems like ages ago since the Steelers lifted the Lombardi Trophy in Tampa Bay with the defeat of the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl. Their last playoff win was at Heinz Field against the New York Jets 24-19.

The Steelers face A.J. McCarron with starting quarterback Andy Dalton sidelined with a thumb injury. McCarron is 2-2 counting the Steelers game in which he stepped in for Dalton in the first quarter. He’ll face a defense that already knows him and has game film on him and that might play a big role in how Pittsburgh defends the second-year signal-caller.

It appears that DeAngelo Williams is not being able to suit up even with his status as questionable at the moment. He has provided a big spark to the offense picking up tough yards on the ground and allowing Roethlisberger to check down hit him on short passes underneath. His veteran poise and level of play are certainly going to be missed if he can’t go. Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman will split carries in his absences but in reality it all comes down to #7.

Roethlisberger has to avoid some miscues (turnovers) and he along with his receiving arsenal can pick apart basically any defense they face. He has thrown two interceptions in his last three games, which has not happened since 2006.

They can march deep in the playoffs and that march begins in Cincinnati.

Bengals Current Injuries
James Wright, WR, Injured Reserve
Darqueze Dennard, CB, Injured Reserve
Brandon Thompson, DT, Injured Reserve
Emmanuel Lamur, LB, Injured Reserve
Andy Dalton, QB, Out
Mario Alford, WR, Questionable
Ryan Hewitt, RB, Questionable

Pittsburgh Current Injuries
Rob Blanchflower, TE, Injured Reserve
Bruce Gradkowski, QB, Injured Reserve
Mike Adams, OT, Injured Reserve
Cortez Allen, CB, Injured Reserve
Kelvin Beachum, OT, Injured Reserve
Maurkice Pouncey, C, Injured Reserve
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Injured Reserve
Shaun Suisham, K, Injured Reserve
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Questionable
Sammie Coates, WR, Questionable
Doran Grant, CB, Questionable

Bengals Offensive Leaders
Andy Dalton – 255/386 3,250 yards, 25 touchdowns and 7 Interceptions
Jeremy Hill – 223 carries for 794 yards and 11 touchdowns
A.J. Green – 86 catches for 1,297 yards and 10 touchdowns
Bengals Defensive Leaders
Vincent Rey – 95 tackles
Reggie Nelson – 8 Interceptions for 115 yards
Carlos Dunlap – 13.5 sacks

Steelers Offensive Leaders
Ben Roethlisberger – 319/469 3,938 yards and 21 touchdowns and 16 Interceptions
DeAngelo Williams – 200 carries for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns
Antonio Brown – 136 catches for 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns
Steelers Defensive Leaders
Lawrence Timmons – 119 tackles
Mike Mitchell – 3 Interceptions for 16 yards
Cam Heyward – 7 sacks

“We know what we are and what we are capable of,” said Tomlin.

Double Digit Wins for the Sixth Time

“We got work to do,” yelled Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin in the visiting locker room at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland. “Hurry up get dressed and let’s go!”

Moments after sealing the second-straight postseason appearance with their win over Cleveland, Tomlin was eager to get his men out of the stadium and back home to Pittsburgh to begin preparations for their next opponent.

The 28-12 victory took some time to develop. “We don’t worry about slow starts,” said Tomlin. “We know if we take care of the ball we are capable of moving up and down the field.”

That is more or less how the game played out in Cleveland.

After a couple of Steelers turnovers the offense settled down and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found his rhythm. He finished the game with 349 passing yards and three touchdowns and two first-half interceptions.

Pittsburgh under the direction of head coach Mike Tomlin has had some repeat success. Tomlin in his ninth season as head coach finished the season 10-6 and winning at least ten games for the sixth time in his career.

Pittsburgh was victorious for the tenth time this season after beating the Cleveland Browns 28-12. The road win gives the Steelers back-to-back playoff appearances for the firs time since 2010-11.

In each of those double digits winning seasons has come on the heels on the other with Pittsburgh winning ten games in (2007-08, 2010-11 and 2014-15) each of those seasons also marked trips to the playoffs.

“We know what we are and what we are capable of,” said Tomlin.

It is possible Tomlin faces harsh criticism if Pittsburgh loses in the first playoff game this year. With a 5-4 overall playoff record, Tomlin has lost his last three playoff appearances. The Steelers last playoff win was in 2010 the same season they lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.

Stability and production is the staple of the Steelers franchise as Tomlin looks to bring his wildcard team into the 2016 playoffs aiming to win on the road.

“You know I always like my chances,” said Tomlin referring to the Steelers advancing to the playoffs.

Williams knew early on that he would be a valued commodity in Pittsburgh.

Free Agent Signing Was Key To Season

DeAngelo Williams has been one of the best off season signings in the entire league.

Last year Pittsburgh relied heavy on Le’Veon Bell with little depth behind him That was evident when the Steelers lost Bell and went into the playoffs minus a potent replacement.

Williams knew early on that he would be a valued commodity in Pittsburgh. Bell was serving a two game suspension and Williams would be counted on to help Pittsburgh return to the playoffs.

Filling in for Bell, Williams provided the Steelers with four 100-yard games and finished the regular season with 200 carries for 908 yards and 11 touchdowns before leaving the final game of the year with a right ankle injury.

Currently, it is unknown if Williams will be able to play after suffering a right ankle injury.

“We don’t know the extent,” of his ankle injury Mike Tomlin said after the 28-12 victory. In his absence Fitzgerald Toussaint will earn the start if Williams can not make the start next weekend in a destination unknown at this time.

Pittsburgh is awaiting the final scores of these afternoons’ games to know where they will travel to for the playoffs.

“He’s the best receiver in the league,” said teammate William Gay. “I’m glad I don’t have to cover him.”

What can Brown Do For You!

Antonio Brown makes beating Pro Bowl defensive backs look effortless.

Brown became just the fourth player in NFL history to have back-to-back 1,500 yard seasons. He joins and impressive list of names that includes Marvin Harrison Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson.

Ben Roethlisberger attempted 55 passes against the Denver Broncos and 18 of those passes were thrown to Brown.

“You get in zones where you feel unstoppable,” said Brown after his 16 catch and 189 receiving yard two touchdown game.

“Sometimes you get your butt kicked,” said Brown regarding playing against Cliff Harris who hadn’t allowed a touchdown pass in two seasons.

Against him tonight Brown added his eighth and ninth receiving touchdowns on the season.

Brown is playing at an extremely high level and Pittsburgh as a team is doing the same. Over the last two weeks they have defeated division leading teams in both the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos.

Tonight’s 34-27 was the last regular season game for the Steelers who head to Baltimore next week to play the Ravens before wrapping up the year against the Browns in Cleveland.

“He’s the best receiver in the league,” said teammate William Gay. “I’m glad I don’t have to cover him.”

During his career at Kent State he was named team captain twice and was also the first player in program history and fifth player in Mid-American Conference history to earn first team all-conference honors in four consecutive seasons.

The Story of Rosie Nix

In 2010 a young man from Reynoldsburg, OH left home to begin his college career at Kent State. The roughly two and half hours away this young man’s family didn’t miss the opportunity to watch him play.

His name is Rosie Nix and he became the first freshman to be named MAC Defensive Player of the Year in the 45-year history of the award.

“Sh#t I’ve seen him hit out there so I believe it,” joked Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jordan Todman in reference to knowing that his lead fullback once lined up with his hand in the dirt punishing the very position he is now employed to protect most (running backs).

A few other teammates hearing the question – What is it like being a former MAC Defensive Player of the Year not turned fullback? Where simply shocked to learn of their teammates back ground.

“A lot of people still don’t believe it,” said Nix. “Been a long journey just going from defense to offense. Not playing any in college and then learning the NFL playbook and NFL speed takes a lot but I’m dedicated to this position to this team and I’ll do what ever it takes to be part of something great.”

During his career at Kent State he was named team captain twice and was also the first player in program history and fifth player in Mid-American Conference history to earn first team all-conference honors in four consecutive seasons.

Nix finished as Kent State’s career leader in tackles for loss (65.0) and forced fumbles (12). He also ranks second in career sacks (24.0).

After his success defensively Nix knew his size (5-foot-11, 248 pounds) would limit him from being taken seriously at defensive and either linebacker or fullback was his meal ticket to the NFL.

“I knew it was a possibility coming out my last year in college,” said Nix referring the playing in the NFL. “Knew it was gonna be either linebacker or fullback so I trained for both.”

In the home opener Nix caught his first NFL reception.

He mentioned he caught a few in the preseason which I replied but preseason doesn’t count. Nix laughed out loud and responded, “It counted for me.”

Spending last year with the Cleveland Gladiators he stayed active using his time wisely allowing teams to watch him on film and keeping him in game shape. Both vital pieces to the puzzle of staying in the loop especially when training camps roll around.

“I’m still learning stuff everyday,” said Nix. “I’ve got great coaches in Coach (James Saxon) Sax and Coach (Todd) Haley. They take the time to teach me the little things to help my game here and there.”

Anyone who has covered Kent State football or familiar with the MAC would quickly identify Nix and his background. To the causal fan and even Nix’s own teammates are still learning about his college past and his terrorizing pressure on opposing defenses.

“This is my third year here,” said Cody Wallace. “So I have a good handle on the system, been with the same guys a lot with Ramon (Foster) and Dave (DeCastro) at the guard positions.”

Like a good ‘Neighbor’ Wallace is there

A lot of pressure falls on the shoulders of the center, especially when you’re replacing a Pro Bowler considered the best at his position – It intensifies with Super Bowl aspirations.

That is the situation for sixth- year veteran Cody Wallace of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pouncey was place on the teams Reserve/Injured; Designated For Return List back in September after hurting his right ankle.

“This is my third year here,” said Cody Wallace. “So I have a good handle on the system, been with the same guys a lot with Ramon (Foster) and Dave (DeCastro) at the guard positions.”

Wallace had done a superb job of directing the offense and snapping to three different quarterbacks this season.

“That’s life as a back-up in the NFL,” joked Wallace knowing that when your number is called you got to be ready roll.

The Steelers certainly know his value and establishing himself as a top reserve with starter potential. Prior to signing with the Steelers (2013) the 2008 fourth-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft spent time on five other NFL teams that includes the San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Six teams in eight seasons puts Wallace in that journeymen type category – Or maybe relatively unknown.

“Everyone calls me the ‘Neighbor’,” laughed Wallace. “Tomlin started it. He kind of jokes and says, ‘Yah this guy looks like your neighbor, but you get him on the field and he’s a bad dude’, everyone enjoyed it and it kind of stuck.”

Wallace has stuck just like his nickname.

“I like to think I’m a nice guy in the locker room, but when we go on the field I try to be a little dirty.”

That nasty tough play has helped the offensive line stay aggressive and keep the offense ranked near the top of the league (9th) in points scored.

In his third season with the Steelers he is learning the trade under Hall of Famer Mike Munchak. He is in his second season as the offensive line coach and has helped not only Wallace excel but the entire unit.

“He’s huge (In his importance) and all guys in the room love him,” said Wallace. “He makes it fun coming in there and he’s a guy that played for a long time so he understands what we go through. He knows it’s not always going to be perfect. He just wants us to play hard and bring a nasty attitude.”

Like a good ‘Neighbor’ Wallace is there – Doing a superb job and keeping the continuity along the offensive front cohesive.

This is an unofficial and independent source of news and information not affiliated with any team(s) or the National Football League (NFL).

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