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Despite Loss; Steelers Officially Headed to the Postseason


While Steeler fans will go to sleep upset over a Sunday loss to the Jets, take notice that the team is officially going to be playing past January 2nd, their final regular season game of 2010 in Cleveland.

Yes, the Steelers have clinched at worst a wild card birth in the AFC, this after they were told after the game that they have clinched due to strength of victory.

Of course the Steelers are looking for so much more instead of just a wild card. If the Steelers can top the 2-12 Panthers Thursday and at Heinz Field and then win in Cleveland against the slumping Browns on January 2nd, they would win the division over the Ravens based on a better division record (5-1 vs. 4-2).

Then, because the there are no teams in either the AFC South or the AFC West with fewer than five losses already, the Steelers would finish as the #2 seed in the conference and get a first-round bye, playing their first home game at Heinz Field on either January 15th or 16th.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Jeff

    December 19, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    So many questions after this game! More stupid penalties (thanks Flozell!)! Questionable play calling! Waste of what I thought was a good effort by the patch work O line! Something tells me the Browns game won’t be easy, it will be there Super Bowl! Tell me the Brownies playing in Cleveland, wouldn’t love to knock the Steelers from potentially #2 to # 6?

    Thanks for nothing New Orleans!

  2. Steve

    December 19, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Look, fact is this. The offense isn’t any good, I mean at this point in the season, it is what it is..and they aren’t good. I’m starting to think they need to get rid of Ariens. The offense looks like a sandlot game…you pray whenever Ben throws the ball. You don’t need to be as good as the Pats..but you have to better than the Steelers have been since Jerome left.

    • Chuck

      December 21, 2010 at 1:38 pm

      You’re just now starting to think Ariens should go?!? That’s a carry over from last year if you ask me! HE NEEDS TO GO!! As far as Ben goes, He’s actually playing pretty well considering the year he has had, and a lot of his throws on Sunday were bullets – dead on! No Miller hurt him bad…He came within 9 1/2 yards of pulling out a 92 yard winning drive with 2 very young WR’s, 1 taveling vet Wr, and an aging Hines, and a back up TE…Not to mention a patch work offense line.
      Brady would’nt fair so well if his “O” line change names every game either. It’s sad but true. W/o Troy the “D” just allows to many short to intermediate passes over the middle, it killed us. Penalties did hurt them but you’re gonna have those – you gotta overcome them.
      SPEC teams needs some evaluation as well, how many times do we need to lose a game due to a punt/kick return for a TD? By the way the avg start for the Jets was the 40 yard line – If that’s gonne be the case on every KO, send it out of bounds deep and let them place on the 40 – No returns for TD’s then!

  3. DrGeorge

    December 19, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Another game we lost that we should have won because of Arians’ play calling and an underachieving offense. Even when we lose, we should play well. But we don’t for reasons well analyzed here. The O-line blocked well for rushing plays, but Arians disdained the run when it was needed most. Redman was hardly used at all. There is little deception. Ben continues to hold the ball far too long, waiting for pass patterns to open up. At times, the young receivers run the wrong routes. Our players have talent and play hard, but lack discipline (dumb penalties, silly mistakes, poor decisions). And the coaching staff seems unable or unwilling to correct the problems. We struggle to score 20 points a game with some of the best talent in the NFL. It’s the same old song and dance.

    At the start of the season, we knew our defense was older and slower than in seasons past. It is now late in this season, and the defensive problems we anticipated are now apparent. Despite the best rush defense in the NFL, the Steelers are porous against the run when it counts. The pass defense ranks low and continues to concede too many short passes and fails to get to the QB in a timely way. The secondary is both over aggressive and too slow. McFadden has problems with technique. Injuries have made these flaws worse, but we saw them before the season began. This year, we knew that the offense had to compensate for our defensive shortcomings; and quite frankly, Arians and the offense haven’t been up to the job.

    We are now guaranteed of making the playoffs, and we may even secure a first round bye. But an anemic offense and an aging and injured defense are not going to take us far. LeBeau can’t fix the injuries and aging that have made his defense less dominating; but Arians has no such excuse. The offense should be far better than it is right now. It is up to Arians and Ben to prove their worth and adapt to the talent around them. Facile excuses won’t cut it anymore for either of them.

  4. browns1

    December 19, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    ha! you bitches lost

    • The Tony

      December 19, 2010 at 9:57 pm

      Really didn’t Cincinnati lose 10 straight games until today!

  5. Matt Loede

    December 19, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Listen, the offense played better this week than the past three. They put up near 400 yards against a defense that many felt was right near the top of the NFL! Mendenhall had 100 yards, Wallace had 100 yards, and they were 11-for-17 in third downs.

    Sure they should have scored more, but to me, the D and special teams was the letdown in this one. I felt they would hold the inept Jets to 6-9 points, maybe 10 at the most on offense. Instead, they gave up 13, and allowed too many long drives when the Jets needed them most.

    They had just one sack on Sanchez (this without Woody in the lineup for the Jets), and the Jets put up about 4 yards per rush, and over 100 yards.

    Put this one on the special teams and defense. I’ll take this type of game from the offense any day of the week.

    BTW – I can’t even fathom being a Browns fan after that game today…you come to a Steelers site and run smack after your team loses to the Bengals – WITHOUT Terrell Owens? Unreal.

    • Jay

      December 20, 2010 at 9:40 am

      I’ve read your remote replies for some time now and th eoverall theme is that you have piped the fact that this is not the same smashmouth steelers team (run the ball) and IS a new style open up team (pass the ball)…Although I don’t like it, I agree taht that’s what it is. If that’s the case, how can you, in your sound and right FOOTBALL mind, take a 17 point performance with this much offensive talent and this type of scoring philosophy?!? I agree that teh special teams screwed us but the defense (and you said it) only gave up 13 points?!?! I know the defense is bad in certain areas but this is Arians, period. third and short in the shotgun…only reason we converted so many is because the o line played well today. If you woulda told me the o line woulda played this well and we still lose only giving up 13 points, I woulda pointed to either the special teams or to the TYPE of play calling…really, M. Moore in the game at the goal line…what do moronic kids say these days,,,oh yeah…LOL! Beginning to wonder just who in Pittsburgh knows what about football and who is drinking the Arians kool-aid…Dr. Geoerge is exactly right…go read his blog again!

    • Chuck

      December 21, 2010 at 1:43 pm

      That’s all the Brown’s fans have got – Shit talk!
      They suck, they have always sucked, and we will all be dead before they ever win a Super bowl, if ever!
      “If it’s Brown flush it down!”

  6. The Tony

    December 19, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    This season can also be summarized by the lack of penalties that the Steelers get in their favor. In the final drive for the Steelers, Sanders had the defense beat for a touchdown but was just out of reach due to a pass interference that was not called yet again! I know that our team has its flaws, but at some point it would be nice to get a little help from the refs when there is a penalty committed.

    Week after week it is more apparent that Bruce Arians’ play calling has been costing the Steelers during pivotal moments of the game. To continue on what Dr.George mentioned that when our running game has been very effective today, we decide to abandon the run. Then when we should have passed the ball from our own three, we decide to run a draw that results in a safety, which inevitably cost us the game.

    I will never understand why our defense becomes dormant when Troy Polamalu is not on the field. We hardly blitzed Sanchez today, when we should have been applying constant pressure to make Sanchez make poor decisions. Instead we blitzed three and allowed the short pass. Our defense were unable to maintain their assignments and displayed poor judgement.

    Today was a game in which we should have won. We can not take this short week lightly against Carolina. They have been running the ball extremely well lately and we have to be able to shut them out. We control our own destiny for the two seed and the much needed first round bye.

    • George H

      December 19, 2010 at 11:30 pm

      Spot on Tony…

      Few more points:

      Wallace has really become our number one and Saunders looks like he could be our number 2.

      Let Ben call more plays and improvise… Arians is worth a damn and everyone knows it. Arians would rather have stats that look good instead of calling an effective game. i.e. 1000 yd rusher and qb having big stats. Just like last year, our players had big numbers but Arians failed to run an effective game plan.

      I can only imagine the reason for not blitzing more today was we wanted to help shield our secondary. More blitzers would mean more one on one coverage and more holes for the secondary…

      I cant believe how different the defense looks without Troy.. The defense had a terrible time trying stop the run and defend the pass to a struggling Jets team. This was a game that we should of won and had in our grasps but again poor play calling let us down.

      Luckily our Steelers have Carolina and Cleveland for our final 2 games and I expect 2 wins. Let Troy sit this week and if we win let him rest until the playoffs…. if we somehow blow another game to Carolina Troy better e ready to go vs Cleveland.

      Unbelievable how one player can change a team as drastically as Troy does… I guess thats why he is the best

  7. mark

    December 20, 2010 at 6:50 am

    Opening KO for a TD,No turnovers,Sanchez hardly gets dirty,1 dumb penalty (Flozell) and 1 penalty that seems to haunt the Steelers this season (Clark)and finally an inside handoff in the shadow of their own endzone to ……. Mewelde Moore? All this adds up to why the team lost. Lets look at it another way. On the final 2 plays Ben best option seemed to be Matt Spaeth. Now, Im just a t.v fan and know little about being a coordinator, but is Matt Spaeth the best you can come up with in this situation? Im probably wrong about the progressions, and Spaeth may have been desperation, but I would rather stare down Ward than throw towards Spaeth in a desperate situation. Getting back to the safety. If you are not using Mendy there, whay arent you using Redman? A simple HB dive with Redman is certainly a better/safer call then asking Moore to do anything in that spot! I thought the O-line played a very good game but the Steelers sqaundered it. Defense only gave up 13 points, but they looked very vanilla without Troy. We know Troy is a difference maker, but isnt there anyone else on that team that make a big play when its needed? Harrison/Woodley/Farrior were hardly mentioned yesterday! This is the 2010 Steelers, like it or not. They better right the ship Thursday against a bad team. Losses like this tend to fester and disrupt because of the way it was lost. 11 wins is a clincher, but 12 is our new “magic Number” and its their own fault.

  8. Matt Loede

    December 20, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Mark, in defense of your Spaeth comment, if you read the post game quotes, Sanders was the intended WR on the final play. In that respect, give the Jets credit, as they have the best CB’s in the NFL, but the Steelers were STILL able to throw the ball.

    Heath Miller would have made a HUGE diff as well based on how much action Spaeth saw.

    • mark

      December 20, 2010 at 10:26 am

      Matt, It was very apparent that Miller was missed, and I did protect myself by saying that the natural progression of things led to a throw to Spaeth. However, I think the Steelers can do better than a back-up TE with questionable hands in that situation? Where was Ward? Randle-El? Wallace? Of course I give tons of credit to the Jets and their CB’s (Even when they do NOT get flags for Interference/Holding) but the Steelers inability to score a game winner, at-home, to clinch a playoff berth, from the 8 and 2 shots at it, is distressing. Are the Steelers too predictable in the red-zone? Ben tried to improvise at the end and had to look for Spaeth twice. That scares me.

    • Curt

      December 20, 2010 at 7:13 pm

      spaeth sucked all night long he droped alot of catchable passes

      • The Tony

        December 20, 2010 at 7:19 pm

        I disagree Curt. Spaeth only had one drop yesterday and made big catches when we needed him to. Not to mention he was a pivotal part of the success of the Steelers running game and protecting Ben.

        • Curt

          December 20, 2010 at 7:39 pm

          yeah I guess your right i,m just frustrated with the loss and for some reason he just came in mind.

  9. Jeff

    December 20, 2010 at 8:51 am

    First browns1 – go crap in your hat! Even if you beat the Bungles 56-0 don’t come on another teams site and be an idiot.

    Every team needs a little good fortune/bit of luck to have a successful season and win some games. I haven’t seen much of this so far with the Steelers but I can tell you living up here in Mass the Tapetriots are bathing in good fortune. I’ve never seen a team benefit more almost every week from their opponent being either decimated by injuries or having one/two key players ruled out just days B4 the game. This was apparent again last night when they got to play the Packers w/out Aaron Rodgers. The inexperienced back up, Flynn, played very well but that inexperience hurt them when he couldn’t handle the last 40 seconds or so. Rodgers in there would have meant a win last night for GB. The Pats D will get exposed in the playoffs!!!!!!!!

  10. Jeff

    December 20, 2010 at 9:40 am

    I just watched some post game interviews on Steelers.com. I’ll tell ya, I love this kid # 53 Pouncey! He was pissed about losing and glaring at reporters asking questions. He’s has the perfect mentality to play in Pittsburgh. I would seriously consider drafting his twin brother if he’s anything like Maurkice!

    • Jay

      December 20, 2010 at 12:25 pm

      I agree as well although I haven’t seen the clip, I shall when I get home. Also, I am already looking at next year…I know, I know, the apologists will jump all over my shit for this but I don’t think this team has what it takes this year…First line of business in the offseason is NOT renewing Arians’ contract, second, I heard conflicting rumors/reports about Pouncey’s brother…Some say he’s the man, others say he’s too slow…I just think BA is a stat compiler with zero ability to surprise the opponent and poor situational play calling, predictable as well…I think we should sign a mid level interior D-Linemen (mid only because we’ll NEVER sign a top tier interior d-lineman) for the Hood, Keisel, Hampton rotation next year, draft a DB and O-lineman HIGH in the draft! No reason we lose to four playoff teams this year when we have an elite quarterback, a number one rush defense and all the ofensive weapons we have (what would the antichrist, Tom Brady do with Ward, Miller, Wallace, Mendenhall, and rookies Sanders and Brown—it’s scary to think!!!)

  11. DrGeorge

    December 20, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Matt, your point about the special teams and defensive units letting us down is accurate, but a bit misleading. The special teams unit did give up an opening kickoff return for a TD, but on balance, that unit is much improved over last year. The defense did give up the rest of the points, because it has the deficiencies we have all noted above. LeBeau has few ways I can think of to make that unit better right now, and the number of points surrendered was not unusual for a team of the Jets caliber. The defense is playing about as well as it can, given the injuries and the age of the players.

    That is not true of the offense. After the Steelers game, I watched the Green Bay game and saw a second string, journeyman QB put up more points than the Steelers offense did against the Pats. When we played Buffalo, a QB from that football factory Harvard (meaning Fitzgerald) matched Ben’s output and narrowly lost. Nor has Ben played remarkably better than C. Palmer (Cincinnati) or J. Flacco (Ravens). Stick with me, there is a point to this. I am not saying that Ben is not the wonderful athlete we all know him to be. My point is that Arians has taken one of the best QBs in the league and made him an average QB by his play calling and strategic decisions, and I will include in that analysis Ben’s play in 2008 when we won the Super Bowl. Arians’ scheme sacrifices wins for yardage.

    Ben was most productive in terms of wins as a rookie when Ken Wisenhut forced him to play within the offense. He has not been as efficient since. Wisenhut didn’t get the head coaching job here in part because Ben didn’t like Wisenhut’s disciplined offense. Under Arians, the discipline was relaxed, the running game gutted, and Ben’s production fell. As much as Ben loves freelancing and putting up big yards, that style is less efficient in generating wins, converting 3rd downs, and scoring TDs in the red zone. In 2008, the Steelers were a ‘big play’ offense; they were lucky to win the Super Bowl and it took a heroic effort by Holmes and Ben to pull it off. Heroic play is not a reasonable offensive strategy. The 2009 season is Exhibit A for that proposition.

    Now consider that Green Bay used 3 power backs and only 2 halfbacks against the Pats on Sunday and almost beat them by running the ball. One of our rejects, Koons, had a career night running through the Pats D-line. The other two Green Bay power backs did as well or even better. Arians running attack against the Pats and everyone else consists largely of Mendenhall, a nifty runner, but not a true power runner, and M. Moore, a smallish 3rd down back. Redman is ignored; Dwyer untried. Arians has consistently favored RBs who can catch the ball over power backs who run the ball. That strategy might work behind a healthy, experienced line (as in 2008), but it isn’t the best way to win with an injured, makeshift line like the one we have now. And in that sense, Arians’ offensive scheme and play calling have made Ben an average QB, despite his superior physical skills.

    Against the Jets, with their injuries, the Steelers offense should have scored 30 points, by employing a power running game and keeping Ben within the offense. Arians and Ben are not willing to do that, and the results speak for themselves. Our anemic offense must become more productive — 17 points won’t get it done this year.

    • jay

      December 20, 2010 at 9:21 pm

      Dr. George, I agree with your assessment but it’s nit just a subjective assessment; it’s objective fact that only a moron would argue with. What I’m trippin on is WHY it continues to happen…I guess it’s obvious but I tend to be slightly tempermental and idealistic in nature and wouldn’t believe in ulterior agendas; in fact in grad school, I recently opposed the political perspective of the five frames. You and I can see it, others can too but why do we still let or does Tomlin still let Arians to call an offense that:
      a.) sends most of its receivers down the field;
      b.) has a great QB whose major weakness is making his reads quickly;
      c.) has an offensive line that consists mostly of road graders and not pass blockers;
      d.) stubbornly doesn’t utilize game plans that attack the opponents’ weaknesses but rather sticks to what it does regardless of the opponent…
      You need an athletic offensive line to pass block (we don’t have that), your QB needs to be able to read defenses quickly (Ben’s major if only flaw), and designed plays that involve shorter, easier reads and underneath routes to take pressure off of the O-Line and BB. If that all fails, you need to be able to run the ball more often, more effectively and more regularly. WE DO NONE OF THAT! I mentioned in an earlier blog what Tom Brady would do with all this skill talent! And that’s not a knock on Big ben! I know it’s easy to sit back and criticize the OC when things go wrong but remember I jumper all over his shit even when we won. Facts are facts and they cannot be ignored. It’s time for the Arians apologists to look at the big picture and realize that the Steelers OC does indeed have ulterior agendas: HIS beloved offense! Point in fact is the fact that I was listening to Pittsburgh radio guys tonight one of whom is an Arians apologist and they (Josh Miller being the other one) both agreed that Heath Miller has not been a part of this offense this year. Why then, in the game he’s out, does Arians look to Spaeth, HIS GUY, often in this game. Why are a bunch of road graders trying to be turned into pass protectors? Why is Mendenhall fool-hardily being labeled a “finesse” back? He’s 225 pounds!!!! It’s almost like what the media does with agenda setting….Arians is trying to single handedly change the culture here and, in his attempts, ruining a franchise! I seriously cannot believe where this franchise is going. Cowher would never have let this happen…I would love to see the Steelers bring him back but that’ll never happen!

    • Mike

      December 20, 2010 at 11:17 pm

      Lucky, as in heave the ball with your eyes closed into a pack of football players and hope and pray that someone with your team jersey catches the ball!! Or, lucky, as in responding to your biggest challenge you will face as a player on the biggest stage and answering with an historic drive to win the championship!! Do you still think that the refs decided Super Bowl XL?

      • Jay

        December 21, 2010 at 6:09 am

        Mike, what are you talking about? And in response to whom or what???

  12. DrGeorge

    December 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Jay, I wish I knew why the offense is being run the way it is. But I don’t. No one outside the organization can really say. I did see the article by the knowledgable Ed Bouchette (Post-Gazette.com) this morning agreeing with the points we made here. It’s pretty obvious. Miller, Redman, and Ward are all being under-utilized. The Rooneys ask for a better running game and haven’t gotten it. The inability to score in the red zone continues. Those were pre-season points of emphasis according to comments made to the press by Mr. Rooney and the Steelers staff. Now, on top of those flaws, Ben is missing passes badly and his QB rating is slipping — and that started well before his recent foot injury.

    At times, it seems that Arians is sabotaging the shift in emphasis to a more balanced attack by calling the wrong running plays at the wrong time. Exhibit A is that sweep with Moore out of our own end zone last Sunday. (Would Wisenhut or Chan Gailey have called that one?) Exhibit B is the failure to use Redman and continue pounding the ball when it was working early. Exhibit C is calling slow- developing running plays at midfield behind a slow line against a fast defense.

    I don’t blame the O-line or Coach Kugler; the line can run block just fine if they are used properly, especially running between the tackles. I think I even saw Lugursky at fullback on our TD run when we opened up the Jets like a can of sardines. But that sort of power running is abandoned too readily and rarely used in midfield; it doesn’t fit Arians spread. But an OC must adapt to the talent he has. With our makeshift line, Ben’s injuries, and our aging defense, the old grind it out style of attack (using quick passing \ power running) is made to order to control clock and to rest the D. Any other competent OC would be using it by now. Cowher or Noll would have insisted on it. Our line is much better suited to power running than pass blocking for the spread.

    My guess — and it is only a guess — is that Arians is being protected, not by Tomlin and top management, but by Ben R. The OC and QB are joined at the hip. The brass may be afraid to intercede so late in the season for fear of offending those two and making a bad situation worse. But if the offense continues to underachieve through the end of the season, I suspect Mr. Rooney will address the matter and heads will roll — because he sure isn’t getting his money’s worth now.

    • Jay

      December 21, 2010 at 5:29 pm

      Thank you, thank you, thank you! Noll and Cowher would not have stood for it. Tomlin is turning into a milk toast, regardless of hands being tied or not! Arians HAS ULTERIOR AGENDAS TO BECOME A HEAD COACH AND IS USING THE STEELERS AS HIS PLATFORM VIA STAT COMPILATION AT THE EXPENSE OF WINS WHICH ARE CAST ASIDE IN FAVOR OF HIS AGENDA! Anyone who doesn’t see that hasn’t been paying attention!

  13. The Tony

    December 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

    I would rather lose a game running the ball 40 times than passing 40 times. Those were the good ol days.

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