• How Do the Steelers Look at Landry Jones as Their Long Term Backup QB?

    The Steelers have an interesting decision to make with backup quarterback Landry Jones, who at times has come in and won games for the team (Arizona and Oakland in 2015), and then at times it seems has looked like a deer in headlights that fans can’t wait to jump on as nothing more than a bum backup QB.

    Jones is a free agent next month, and according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the powers that be with the Steelers think that the backup QB is “to be better than 80 percent of the other backups in the league,” and will bring him back to again serve under Ben Roethlisberger (provided he returns).

    It’s an interesting decision if the Steelers don’t at least look around the market for another QB, as with the injury history for Ben, one would think the team might want to be careful with how they treat the backup quarterback spot.

    One issue with looking for a higher profile backup QB is money. We know this team is going to have to shell out a lot of money for players like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, so spending even 2-3 million on backup just might not be in the cards for this team.

    So the next time you’re ready to boo Jones out of Heinz Field or another NFL stadium, remember that right now, he might just be the best backup option the Steelers have.

    At least that’s how the Steelers upper brass feels.


     
  • As Usual, Steelers Slammed by Brady and Patriots When Season on the Line in 36-17 AFC Title Game Defeat

    2001, 2004 and now you can add to the list 2016.

    Sunday’s AFC Title Game between the Steelers and Patriots played like a broken record to most of the matchups between these two AFC foes, with Tom Brady picking apart a Steelers zone defense, and as usual a player from the Patriots making the most of an opportunity.

    The end result is the end for the 2016 Steelers, a bitter 36-17 loss that really wasn’t even that close considering the black and gold allowed 19 second half points while scoring just eight after trailing 17-9 at halftime.

    The Steelers, as they usually do against the Patriots, made a ton of mistakes, from missing tackles and coverage on an afterthought of a wide receiver named Chris Hogan, to not being able to score a touchdown from the one-foot line in the second quarter trailing 17-6.

    Receivers dropped a number of passes, the team lost it’s biggest playoff playmaker on offense in Le’Veon Bell to an injured groin, and again the defense never had any answers for Brady despite allowing just 57 yards on the ground.

    In the end, the Steelers played like the Cowboys of the 1960’s trying to beat the Packers, it’s been a one-sided rivalry that always looks like the Steelers are a step behind in.

    Brady, per usual, was stellar against the black and gold, picking apart a zone defense that had issues all night in making sure players were covered, and even when they were they missed a number of tackles that allowed for yardage after the catch.

    The Pats future Hall of Fame QB was 32-for-42 for 384 yards with three touchdowns, and a QB rating of 127.5 Without Bell, the Steelers offense just seemed two steps behind, which is usually where they are Bell or no Bell against a Brady led Pats offense.

    Ben Roethlisberger,
    who is now 3-2 in five AFC Title games (both losses to the Pats) was 31-for-47 for 314 yards with a touchdown and a pick.

    Much will be talked about concerning the Steelers issues inside the red zone, but in the end no one is ever going to be Brady and the Pats after allowing 36 points, and it probably could have been worse if New England wanted it to be.

    The pass rush was null most of the night by the Steelers, and a secondary that had made plenty of strides during the teams’ long win streak after sitting at 4-5 looked more like it did the first nine games, allowing way too many yards and not making plays when they had the chance.

    Brady threw for 222 yards in the first half as the Pats built a 17-9 lead, but still the Steelers were in it as the offense played motivated, and it seemed despite not scoring the TD late in the first half they had a shot as they got the ball first in the second half.

    Instead they went 3-and-out, and New England got a Stephen Gostkowski 47-yard field goal to make it 20-9, and from that point on the game was basically over.

    The Steelers scored one meaningless TD late in the game to pull it to 36-17 after the extra point, but by then many Steelers supporters were already talking about next season or were looking for other Sunday night viewing options.

    Don’t kid yourself, the Steelers have plenty to be proud of in 2016, but at the end of the day, if they don’t figure out a way to at least challenge Tom Brady when titles are on the line, the results when the season is on the line will likely always be the same.

     
  • Steelers Gab 2016 AFC Championship Game Preview – Pittsburgh at New England

    Two years ago it was the wild card game, a loss to the Ravens. Last season a tough to swallow AFC Divisional loss to the Broncos after beating the Bengals in the wild card game.

    Today, it’s another step forward as the Steelers face the team that has dominated them over the years, stamping their way to the Super Bowl twice against them, the New England Patriots.

    The stories of the past failures have already been retold a number of times, but today the Steelers and for most of their roster can put those failures in the past with a win over Tom Brady to advance to their ninth Super Bowl.

    Here’s the keys to how the Steelers can do it, and if they will and we’ll still be talking about a Super Bowl bound Steelers team or another offseason of ‘what ifs’ and looking forward to the 2017 campaign.

    1. Be Super Careful with the Ball

    Last week the Steelers survived the Chiefs despite what could have been a game-changing end zone pick, but today those types of turnovers could easily be the reason the Steelers on the short end of the stick. Look at losses to the Pats in the past, more so the title game losses, and New England always owns the edge in the turnover battle. When the Steelers have beaten New England (and it’s not much), it’s usually the other way around, it would be nice to shorten the fields a little with a couple freebies thanks to some big plays on the Steelers defensive side of the ball.

    2. Pound the Line

    The Patriots were very good during the season allowing 88.6 yards per game on the ground, 3rd best in the NFL. Le’Veon Bell has been on a mission this postseason, shattering records and hopefully he can duplicated that again tonight. It will start up front with the line, something that the Pats will surely stack to stop Bell and force Ben to throw early and often. Look at how some of the better NFL backs have fared against New England this year – David Johnson (89 yards, 1 TD), Jay Ajayi (14 yards game one, 59 yards game two), Lamar Miller (80 yards), LeSean McCoy (70 yards), Bell (81 yards). It’s hard to think about Bell having the same yardage he did in the first two playoff games, but the Steelers O-line having a big night could help take the pressure off Ben and company.

    3. Pressure Tom

    If you give Pats QB Tom Brady time to throw, he’s going to pick you apart, and the Steelers have had to watch him do that over and over in the past. Brady through can be rattled, and the pressure up and middle and from the outside can help that. The Pats run a rhythm-based offense, and if you can disrupt that offense, that’s when things can swing the way of the Steelers. You saw last week when Alex Smith had time, he was often able to find guys, but when he was pressured, he was unable to make plays. Do that to Brady, and it by far gives the Steelers the best shot to win.

    Prediction: I felt the Steelers last week would have issues with the weather, and therefore the Chiefs would sneak by. The good news this week is the weather won’t be much of an issue, but the Patriots at home are very very tough to beat, and Brady’s past against the Steelers should give him a ton of confidence in this game. Look for Julian Edelman to have a big game, and I can see both backs LeGarrette Blount and James White making an impact. I like the swagger of the Steelers over their last nine games after the loss to Dallas, but unless this offense can find a way to score 35, I think New England again breaks the heart of Steeler fans everywhere and they move on to play the Packers in two weeks. New England 34 Pittsburgh 24

     
  • Brown’s Lack of Sense Sunday Night Just Gave the Patriots All the Billboard Material They Need

    It’s six days away from the AFC Title game and a chance for the Steelers to advance to the Super Bowl where they would meet the winner of the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers.

    They have in front of them a team that has been their toughest test by far over the past 16 seasons, a team that has beaten them twice in AFC Title games, and in all but two games with Tom Brady under center have defeated the Steelers.

    Places like bestbettingwebsites.org.uk already have the Patriots as solid favorites, sitting at 6-point favorites to move on to Super Bowl LI.

    So instead of making things easier, already there’s a feeling that Sunday’s ‘Facebook Gate’ may give New England all the ammunition they need to make it three in a row over the Steelers in AFC Championship Games.

    In case you have been under a rock since the Steelers beat the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game Sunday night, Antonio Brown following the game went live on Facebook with his personal account during the teams’ locker room session.

    It was in that session that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who for sure wasn’t aware anyone was recording him, called the Patriots ‘As#holes,’ stating that the Steelers “spotted these a–h—- a day and a half.”

    Ugh.

    I actually turned on Brown’s feed for a few minutes, and it’s mostly just a bunch of half naked guys with big smiles on their faces as they celebrate a win in the locker room.

    Nevertheless, Brown should have known better, and for a guy that should have his ego in check less than a week before the biggest game of his life, worrying about the 20,000 fans that were watching the feed (at least that’s the number I saw when on the feed) should have been the last thing on his mind.

    Now though, while unintentional, the Patriots have billboard material for a game they are already favored in, and why not, they usually treat the Steelers like the unwanted step children when they take the field.

    The last three times the teams have played, it’s not been pretty for the Steelers. In two games in Foxborough (2013 and the opener of the 2015 season), the Steelers were beaten soundly both times 55-31 and 28-21.

    Earlier this season at Heinz Field, sure the Steelers didn’t have Ben Roethlisberger, but let’s face it, would the outcome have been any different?

    Landry Jones did what he could, but in the end the Steelers couldn’t stop Brady and company, and the Patriots left Pittsburgh with a 27-16 win.

    Now, with the Super Bowl in sight, instead of getting ready for the biggest day of their lives, Brown and his mates were busy dancing around on Facebook celebrating a game in which they didn’t manage to score a touchdown.

    “We’ll be ready for their a–. But you ain’t got to tell them we’re coming,” Tomlin said in the what should have been private speech.

    “Keep a low profile, and let’s get ready to ball like this up again here in a few days and be right back at it. That’s our story.”

    Sadly the Steelers story was seen and heard by over 20,000 people thanks to a flat out stupid act by one of the best players on the team.

    Shame on Brown for that.

     
  • Steelers Headed For AFC Title Showdown with Patriots After 18-16 Divisional Win Over Chiefs

    If you have said the Steelers would have won in Kansas City on Sunday night without scoring a touchdown, many probably would have said you were crazy.

    But sometimes in the playoffs, that’s how it goes, and that’s exactly how it went for the Steelers in their latest postseason win, a gutsy 18-16 win that probably should have been a lot more if the Steelers could have scored touchdowns instead of having to settle for six Chris Boswell field goals.

    Many betting websites like gamblingwebsites.org.uk had the game as the Steelers as slight underdogs, but in the end they did their part to dominate the Chiefs for most of the 60 minutes.

    In the end though they will take it, and after two very different postseason wins, the team will get a third AFC Title Game shot at the big bad New England Patriots Sunday in Foxboro for the right to play in Super Bowl LI.

    The Steelers lost to the Patriots in the AFC Title Game in 2001 and 2004, but both those losses came at Heinz Field.

    Sunday against the Chiefs, the Steelers dominated in terms of yards and time of possession, putting up 389 yards to the Chiefs 227, and holding the ball 34:13 to 25:47.

    Le’Veon Bell again was the driving force for the Steelers, pounding through for 170 yards rushing on 30 carries, a 5.7 yards per rush. The back has set records for his first two playoff games, running for 337 yards in the two wins over the Dolphins and now Kansas City.

    Boswell’s foot was just a big a factor, setting a record for field goals in a Steelers playoff game with six. He hit field goals of 22, 38, 36, 45 and two 43-yard kicks for all 18 Steelers points.

    They led 12-7 at half, and 15-10 after three quarters, and went up 18-10 with 9:49 to play, leaving the game in the hands of the defense the rest of the way.

    The Chiefs were able to mount one final drive, getting two big calls along the way, and also converting a key fourth-and-7, and eventually getting a one-yard Spencer Ware score with 2:43 to play to make it 18-16.

    Kansas City converted the two-point conversion when Alex Smith hit Demetrius Harris to appear to tie the game at 18, but on the play, left tackle Eric Fisher was called for holding on James Harrison, appearing to pull him down.

    Smith’s second two-point attempt was batted away as he looked to hit Jeremy Maclin, keeping the Steelers up by two.

    The Steelers needed a first down to seal the game, and after a Bell run, a pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Eli Rogers for five yards, the Steelers had a 3rd-and-3 from the 12-yard line at the two minute warning.

    Going for the win, Roethlisberger rolled out, and hit Antonio Brown with a 7-yard pass for the first down to seal the win, and send the Steelers to their 16th AFC Championship game.

    Roethlisberger had a pretty forgettable night, going 20-for-31 for 224 yards with an end zone pick that could at the time have seen the Steelers go up 16-7 in the second quarter.

    The Steelers defense allowed their first opening drive touchdowns of the season, but buckled down after that, allowing the Chiefs to 227 yards, including 61 on the ground.

    Speedy Tyreek Hill had three carries for 18 yards, four catches for 27 yards, and in four kickoffs his longest run back was just 21 yards.

    Brown had six catches for the Steelers for 108 yards, including a 52-yard grab after the Chiefs had scored their opening drive touchdown to get the Steelers back into the game.

    It wasn’t pretty, and if the Steelers want to make it to their first Super Bowl since their last appearance in 2010, they are going to have to play a lot better against Tom Brady and company.

    For now, the 2016 Steelers are already a step ahead of 2015, and now with a third playoff win next Sunday, they have a chance to reach their 9th Super Bowl in franchise history.

     
 
 
 
 

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