Saturday, November 12, 2011

Very Late Recap/Review

Almost a week since that defensive breakdown against the Ravens.  Offense had chances too, some weird play-calling, but Ben did things he was supposed to do and gave the Steelers a chance to win.  It was the defense, especially on that last drive.  James Harrison blew up in a big way, but the defensive backfield fell apart.  I honestly don't know what it'll take for Tomlin to get rid of guys who are liabilities in pass coverage, cause it looked like things got better with the defensive backfield this season for the most part, but it went south that night.  I just hope the Steelers can bounce back tomorrow against the Bengals and Tomlin needs to get his coaching staff to get the players to play their best.

The Cincinnati Bengals have definitely improved this season.  Their rookies have done well, especially their quarterback Andy Dalton.  AJ Greene has shown his big play abilities as a receiver and the defense is decent, if not better, than the Steelers.  I hate to say it, but regardless of being the best passing defense statistically, it means nothing if you can't stop the teams when needed, and the Bengals, at least in highlights I've seen, have done what the Steelers haven't.  The Steelers won't have Lamarr Woodley again and the Steelers defense needs to generate pressure and actually force punts and/or turnovers to give themselves a chance.  Speaking of turnovers, the Steelers had chances against the Ravens, but didn't get any except for one fumble.  The Steelers need to do something about that, otherwise they'll still be facing long drives from opposing teams.  The Ravens got 14 third down conversions, which is unacceptable.  The defense needs to force the Bengals to not even have chances at 3rd down conversions, but right now, it's more important that the defense actually makes stops against the Bengals.  In addition, they need to stop the Bengals' run game cause the Ravens gashed them with the run game last week.

Offensively, the Steelers have been fine but they still need to put points on the board.  Ben had a bad pick against the Ravens that killed a strong drive at the start of the second half against the Ravens, and the Steelers can't afford that at all.  Perhaps the run game will come up, but I don't know.  The Steelers have been effective in the passing game, but the Steelers still need to protect Ben and give the rest of their playmakers chances to come up big.  Special teams also needs to have better punt/kickoff coverage, and make the field goals when given the chance.

Overall, I look for a bounce back for the Steelers early tomorrow afternoon.  The Steelers most likely aren't going to win the AFC North title, but they can still make the playoffs.  They just need to do that by beating the Bengals tomorrow.  It'll again be close, but hopefully it's a Steelers 28-20 victory.

Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ravens-Steelers Tonight. Big Rematch.

Can't really say much except it's a big game for both teams in terms of divisional standing and potential playoff seeding.  The Ravens have struggled recently and are looking to win the regular season head-to-head with the Steelers, whom they crushed in week 1.  The Ravens' offense has struggled and are looking to get Ray Rice and Joe Flacco on track tonight.  The Steelers, on the other hand, have been looking good and are coming off of a big win last week against the Patriots.  The Steelers are also at home and are looking for revenge for their week 1 flop against the Ravens.  It's one of the most intense rivalries in the NFL, and it's not going to be any different tonight.

Ben Roethlisbergher has been on fire lately, but it's going to be tough tonight against the Ravens defense.  That unit has always given the Steelers offense trouble, especially Terrell Suggs, who's always had Ben's number in terms of pressuring Ben and making him do things he shouldn't be doing that would hurt the Steelers.  The offensive line will have their hands full against a powerful defensive front led by Haloti Ngata and the run game will certainly struggle against it.  Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are dangerous in the open field, and will certainly be causing problems for the Steelers.  One of the keys for the Steelers to win is to protect Ben well enough so that he can get rid of the ball to avoid turnovers or find open guys.  In turn, Ben has to protect the ball and play smart football.  He needs to do what he did last week against the Patriots, spreading the ball around and not make mistakes.  That is what the coaching staff should focus on, preventing mistakes while looking to make plays.
Another key is the receiving corps, who will be watched by one of the league's best overall defenses.  The Ravens passing D is miles ahead of the Patriots, and it will be important that it's not just the big plays the Steelers should be going for, but time of possession and efficiently effective yards gained.  Finally, the run game, while not as important in terms of play calling, must be ready as it has been inconsistent all season long.  It isn't just gaining tough yards that is needed, but also pass protection and catching that the backs need to be involved in.

It will be an overall team effort for the offense, as this Ravens defense has been effective in terms of causing problems for them and Ben needs to play his best again.  The offense needs to protect the football better tonight, and if they can do that, then they will score points and control the game.  They cannot have seven turnovers again against the Ravens, or it will be a long day against the Ravens again.

Defensively, the Steelers will be without James Farrior and, more importantly, Lamarr Woodley.  Woodley was named Defensive Player for October and it will be a huge loss for the Steelers' linebacker corps.  He was getting on fire and would have been looking to continue that tonight had he not been hit by a hamstring injury.  James Harrison will be back after missing a whole month due to a broken eye socket, but I don't know how well he'll play after being out for that long.  It will be up to the youngsters to step up and not only create pressure, but make plays when needed.  We saw how the Patriots were able to come back after Woodley left the game due to injury, and the replacements need to step up tonight to show why the Steelers signed them to the team.  They need to play smart and effective against a potentially dangerous offense that has Ray Rice doing everything for the offense.  Joe Flacco has struggled, but he can cause problems for the defense and he'll look to have a repeat performance against the Steelers like in week 1.  The linebackers need to step up and create turnovers to give their offense a chance.

The defensive front needs to play extremely well, for Ray Rice has burned them before, especially in week 1.  The run defense hasn't been like they've been used to, although the secondary has improved in passing D.  In any case, the defensive linemen need to create pressure and force Flacco to make mistakes.  To do that, they have to contain Ray Rice, otherwise the Ravens will be eating up the scoreboard again.  It's an intense rivalry game, and the Steelers need to play with coolness.  Ike Taylor needs to show he's good at being a cornerback and not commit stupid penalties as he's shown to have done before.  Keenan Lewis has been a godsend, stepping up and improving when given the chance.  The Steelers defensive backfield needs to prevent the Ravens' receiving corps from causing a lot of damage again.  Troy Polamalu is nearing breakout game potential, and I personally hope that tonight is it for him to get on track.

The Steelers defensive needs to play near perfect football tonight.  They must be able to create pressure and force the Ravens to make mistakes if they want to make this game close, or at least prevent the Ravens from getting scoring chances.  The Steelers defense has definitely looked at their first meeting very closely and are looking to redeem themselves tonight.

Special teams took a hit when Daniel Sepulveda was put on IR yesterday.  Jeremy Kapinos has been signed on to replace him.  Sepulveda was looking good as a punter, but now it's imperative that field position is in the Steelers' favor.  The Steelers have to protect the ball to prevent blocking attempts on field goals and punts, prevent the Ravens from getting good field position and scoring chances, and give themselves chances at favorable field position.  It would be bonuses for the Steelers if they can get touchdowns on special teams play, but they need to play smart football in order to give Ben and the offense scoring chances.  It is another aspect the Steelers need to play smart at, as the last time they played the Ravens saw them score on a fake field goal.  That cannot happen again, and the Steelers' special teams unit needs to step up tonight as well.

I'm hoping the Steelers win tonight, I really do, but week 1's results don't really give me much confidence.  The Steelers did win big against the Pats last week, but the Ravens will be a tougher match up.  Plus, before last week's win, the Steelers have won against bad teams but a couple were closer than they should have been because of dumb mistakes and missed opportunities.  The Steelers need to make a statement tonight against the Ravens, because they have the players to contain the Steelers' receiving corps, and the defense has been hit by the injury bug.  It will be tough, and the Steelers need this win to stay close in the divisonal race, especially when they face an improving Bengals team next week.  For tonight, the Steelers need to win, and it will be a close 24-21 victory.

Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Injury News, Lamarr the Big One.

Well, Lamarr Woodley's pretty much out.  After waiting to read and hear about Woodley's injury, it looks like he's out.  A shame too, since he's been on fire and came up big last game against the Pats.  Bright side, though, James Harrison will be back most likely, and we'll see Jason Worilds and see how he does.  Lawrence Timmons will also be the inside linebacker since Harrison's coming back.

James Farrior is questionable, and so is Hines Ward, though, I find it highly unlikely he'll miss this Sunday's game.  The bigger, and sadder story, is Emmanuel Sanders taking some personal away time for his mom's death.  In addition to a knee injury, he has taken time away from the team to grieve for a lost family member.  Rightfully so, as it's only a football game that is one of many to be won, and while we would like a W, Sanders needs to be with close ones.  Hope he comes back strong.

Doug Legursky is going to miss his third game in a row due to a foot injury.  The surprise injury report is Daniel Sepulveda being listed as a questionable for a knee injury.  Hope it isn't serious.

We'll see how this all plays out and hope that the Steelers get some revenge against the Ravens on Sunday night.

Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Three Days after the Steelers' Patriotic Win, Latest News

Wow, still have trouble getting over a big W for the Steelers.  They played great defense, man-to-man instead of just bunching up against Brady's team.  The Steelers' defense really played well, although they lost Lamarr Woodley before the end of the 3rd quarter.  Lamarr was having a field day, with two sacks on Brady and disrupting everything for the Pats' offense.  Sadly, he suffered a hamstring injury and it's uncertain if he'll play on Sunday night against the Ravens.  The Steelers' defense really did lose pressure after he went out of the game, but they held.  Keisel sealed it with a sack-fumble, which lead to a safety and a 25-17 Steelers win.  Granted, there are still things that should have prevented the Pats from winning. I know the pass rush was lacking after Lamarr went out, but the secondary, while doing well overall, could have done more in terms of coverage, but they did what they had to do in the end.

Now we have to wait and see if Lamarr will even suit up on Sunday night.  On the brighetr side, James Harrison, James Farrior, and Jason Worilds were cleared to practice this week but we don't know yet if they will play.  The linebacking corps is really decimated with injuries, so we will have to see how Tomlin's coaching staff will adjust to this situation.

Offensively, it was near perfection.  Ben was Brady, and he only threw one bad pick.  Ben had a couple good TD passes, one each to Mewelde Moore and Antonio Brown.  We didn't need Hines that game, but he'll definitely be there for the Ravens game.  Personally, I can't wait to see Hines looking to pick it up against the Ravens, but that's getting ahead of myself.  Right now, the Steelers offensive line is doing well enough to protect Ben, but now it's going to be against a tough Ravens D.  Let's see if the coaching staff will be able to continue the hot streak like they did against the Pats, although that team's defense isn't really dominating like the Ravens.  They passed a lot, which I wasn't a big fan of in terms of short-yardage situations, but they didn't let Brady take the field, which was important.  I just hope the running game can still be a factor, cause then that will really give teams pause to think about what to do.  It's a passing league now, but it would really help if the run game also punches in a couple TD's a game.  For now, let's enjoy it and hope that the coaches will be able to find ways to game plan against the Ravens defense.

Special teams was pretty good, although Suisham could have made another field goal to give a bit more breathing room but it wasn't really a gimme kick.  He did well enough and I just hope he does more against the Ravens.  Still need to protect the ball and have tight coverage, but for the previous game, no complaints.

Coaches Tomlin, Arians, and LeBeau all worked in synch.  Now we just have to see if the defense can adjust again, possibly without Harrison and Woodley being the main factors.  We'll have to see, but for now, let's enjoy the win over the Pats and anticipate a really tough showdown with a divisional foe.  The Steelers have gotten it together, and they will need to do more against the Ravens.  Let's hope the Steelers coaches will figure that out.

Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!