Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Johnnie Bettis, 61, dies in Detroit

Johnnie Bettis, 61, father of former Steelers RB Jerome Bettis suffered a heart attack today and passed away at a Detroit hospital.

Read the AP news report by clicking here.

Sun columnist says Cowher should have been fired

Talk about rash. A Baltimore Sun columnist named David Steele says head coach Bill Cowher should have been fired after Sunday's game....

Read the column by clicking here.

Ward undergoes knee surgery

WR Hines Ward had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee yesterday and will miss at least one game. Ward first hurt the knee Nov. 19 against Cleveland — an injury initially called a hyperextension. When an MRI exam Monday revealed a broken bone, he immediately underwent arthroscopic surgery. Ward said the operation was similar to the one that sidelined QB Ben Roethlisberger for three games in 2005.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bucs v. Steelers (what are the chances?)

The Steelyard estimates that the Steelers have a 65 percent chance of defeating the Tampa Bay Bucs (3-8) this Sunday at Heinz Field. In spite of its struggles Pittsburgh has a 3-2 record at home this season, while the Bucs are 0-5 on the road. Plus, the Steelers have a big advantage at the QB position with Tampa Bay starting rookie Bruce Gradkowski, a Pittsburgh native. On the other hand, the Bucs have 10 days to prepare for the game, having most recently played on Thanksgiving Day.

No surgery for Polamalu

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette safety Troy Polamalu has a sprained medial collateral ligament. No surgery will be required, but he is likely to miss several upcoming games.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ravens 27, Steelers 0

Today, the Steelers were defeated by the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens, 27-0, allowing a team record nine QB sacks in the process. "It was a pitiful performance out there today," said head coach Bill Cowher.

In his post-game press conference, Cowher revealed that safety Troy Polamalu may have a "significant" knee injury.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Three Steelers' teams among the "Top 20 Super Bowl teams"

Today, Pro Football Weekly announced its Top 20 Super Bowl teams of all-time. The Steelers are represented at the #2, #4 and #18 spots on the list, with the 1989 San Francisco 49ers ranked #1. Incidentally, weren't the Steelers the only club to defeat the 'Niners (18-1) that year? Click here to read the list.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Steelers v. Ravens (what are the chances?)

This week the Steelers are 3-point underdogs versus the Ravens, which sounds about right. One would expect that an 8-2 Baltimore team would be able to earn a win over a 4-6 Pittsburgh club, but the Steelers have traditionally fared well at Baltimore. And regardless of each team's record, Pittsburgh-Baltimore games always seem to be very competitive.

The Steelyard estimates that the Steelers have a 35 percent chance of beating the Ravens on Sunday.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Steelers 24, Browns 20

It wasn't pretty but the Steelers managed to escape Cleveland with a 24-20 win today, despite allowing Joshua Cribbs to return a kickoff for a touchdown and being outplayed for most of the game.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Steelers v. Browns (what are the chances?)

The Steelyard estimates that the Steelers have a 65 percent chance of winning tomorrow's game at Cleveland. Of course, the game is virtually meaningless, at least in terms of playoff implications, as neither team has any realistic chance of making the postseason. Notably, the Browns and Steelers are tied for last in the NFL in turnover ratio; both teams are -8 in that category. Although Pittsburgh has executed pass-heavy game plans the past several weeks, the Steelers may look to re-establish their running game in this contest.

Meanwhile, the loser of tomorrow's game becomes the odds-on favorite to finish last in the AFC North.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Polamalu "questionable" with concussion

The Steelers have listed safety Troy Polamalu - we affectionately refer to him as "Pu" - as "questionable" for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns. As was the case with Ben Roethlisberger a few weeks ago, we at The Steelyard urge the Steelers to err on the side of caution and to hold "Pu" out of the Cleveland game. At 3-6 the Steelers are virtually out of the playoff picture anyway, so they may as well give him some extra time to heal - just to be safe. The Steelers rushed Roethlisberger back from his concussion and we know how that turned out: 4 interceptions and one of the worst performances of his career.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A scout's harsh words about Roethlisberger

In the new edition of Pro Football Weekly, an anonymous scout had this to say about Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger: "I don’t think Roethlisberger is what people think he is. They won [in 2005] because he was on a very good team — strong defense, strong running game. That’s why he prospered.... I think when it’s all said and done, Roethlisberger is going to be a game manager ... not a guy who can win it for you — and he’s starting to show that." To read the full column click here.

Personally, I believe this scout is overreacting - not taking into account all the injuries that have clearly impacted Big Ben's play (especially versus Jacksonville and Oakland) this season.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Steelers 38, Saints 31

The Steelers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 38-31 victory over the New Orleans Saints at Heinz Field. The win improved Pittsburgh's record to 3-6.

RB Willie Parker rushed for a career-high 213 yards on 22 carries and QB Ben Roethlisberger threw three touchdown passes.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Saints v. Steelers (what are the chances?)

I've heard that the Steelers are the favorite versus the New Orleans Saints, but it seems hard to believe considering the Saints' 6-2 record and the Steelers' 2-6 mark. On the other hand, the Steelers have outplayed their opponent in 6 of 8 games this year, and most teams have struggled to beat Pittsburgh even in games where the Steelers have turned the ball over four or five times. That said, The Steelyard gives Pittsburgh a fifty percent chance of beating New Orleans. Last week, QB Ben Roethlisberger looked, more or less, like his old self. If Big Ben is indeed back on the road towards reasonably good health, and Pittsburgh doesn't fumble the game away on special teams Steelers fans will be celebrating a victory at Heinz Field. But right now those look like big "if's."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Broncos 31, Steelers 20

The good news is that QB Ben Roethlisberger looked more or less like his old self today, completing 38 of 54 passes for 433 yards, all personal career highs for Big Ben. The bad news is that Pittsburgh fumbled the ball six times and lost to the Denver Broncos, 31-20. The Steelers are now tied for last in the AFC North with a 2-6 record.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Broncos v. Steelers (what are the chances?)

Last I heard the Steelers were favored by three points over the Denver Broncos. Nevertheless, The Steelyard gives the Steelers only a 35 percent chance of defeating Denver on Sunday. Fact is: Until QB Ben Roethlisberger returns to reasonably good health, Big Ben and the Steelers figure to continue to struggle.

What The Steelyard can't understand is why head coach Bill Cowher and the team's physicians have allowed Big Ben to "play through" his most recent physical ailments. I'm shocked he was given medical clearance to play at Jacksonville and again last week at Oakland. He didn't appear to be physically up to the task in either game.

At any rate, Big Ben's struggles have only exacerbated the perception that he's "overrated," and that the success he experienced during his first two seasons was largely due to the fact that he plays on a "good team." Yes, he plays on a good team, but certainly not a great team. And yes, his teammates often carried him during his 14-1 rookie season. But last year, he carried the Steelers with his passing and had one of the all-time great playoff runs before finally staggering to a Super Bowl title.

Personally, I believe that Big Ben's struggles are all health-related, and when he returns to reasonably good health he'll play up to the level to which Steelers fans have become accustomed. In the meantime, if Cowher allows him to play the results will probably be sub-par.