Archive for January, 2023

Steelers beat Browns…but fall short of the playoffs!

January 8th, 2023

It was a valiant try and there is a lot to build on…but the Steelers late season surge falls short of playoff contention.

Punishing defense, a strong running game and cautious passing was what the formula was supposed to be all season, and though it was only executed for half the season, the Steelers pummeled their oldest rival the Cleveland Browns 28-14 and turned what was a dismal season into the distinct feeling of hope.

The defense led the way registering seven sacks and picking off two Deshaun Watson passes. Cam Heyward anchored the defense and registered two sacks, Alex Highsmith chipped in with two and a half sacks and finished the season with 14.5 total. T.J. Watt had a half sack and one thing to note the defense plays noticeably better when he is in the lineup, even with him playing the entire second half banged up.

Larry Ogunjobi had a great day clogging the middle and registered a sack. Nick Chubb who torched the Steelers for 113 yards in the first meeting was held to 77 yards yesterday. The Browns finished with 171 yards in the first meeting and only 134 yesterday. Those numbers are deceiving because 44 of it came when Deshaun Watson was running for his life. The front seven did a good job stopping the run and attacking Watson.

When Watson was forced to go to the air he struggled and the secondary did a good job bottling the Browns up. Levi Wallace and Damontae Kazee both had interceptions. Watson was held to 173 yards passing with two touchdowns, one of which came after a VERY questionable personal foul call against Heyward.

It was an outstanding effort by the defense who held teams to under 20 points in 11 games this season.

The offense had an uneven day again. The good news is the running game finally looks like it is rock solid with Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris. They combined for 120 yards between them and with all the jet sweeps and inside handoffs, seven different players ran the ball and Derek Watt had his first rushing touchdown. Over all the Steelers combined for 148 yards on the ground. A tremendous performance. That starts up front with solid work by the offensive line who showed dramatic improvement in the second half of the season.

Kenny Pickett once again made the big throws when needed. His stats are mediocre but when the Steelers needed to make plays, he delivered. Pickett finished with 195 yards and a touchdown. He never forced anything and most importantly protected the football with no turnovers again. After his early struggles he seemed to settle into the role, and he looks like the future of the franchise.

The special teams were respectable yesterday, albeit with a few gaffes. Next to Pickett the most improved Steeler must be Pressley Harvin III, who became a bona fide weapon the last few weeks. He averaged 48 yards per kick and pinned the Browns down yesterday. Chris Boswell nailed his kicks hitting both his field goals including a 49-yarder. Steven Sims was scary on punt returns; he recovered his own fumble and the Browns did have a 35-yard kickoff return but for the most part they did well.

The coaching staff had a very solid game plan and they executed it. When things started going sideways, they kept the team on track and got them refocused and ready to play. Eventually they outlasted the Browns and sent them into the abyss. Coach Tomlin deserves a lot of credit for the turnaround, because despite the QB distraction and being a humiliating 2-6 they never gave up and stayed on track.

Losing to the Dolphins, the Jets and Patriots doomed the season, but despite that the Steelers were still in the hunt the last day of the year, surviving through adversity is the definition of good leadership.


My “GAME BEER” goes to: Cam Heyward… who was absolutely dominant and in the Browns backfield all day. He also was absolutely hosed on a questionable call. Honorable Mention: Larry Ogunjobi who was Heyward’s counterpart dominating up front, also Dan Moore Jr. who contained Myles Garrett for most of the day.

Beer of the Game: Modello, Went back to the original case that I didn’t finish, as they say it captures the fighting spirit of Pittsburgh!

“Steel the Snacks”: We went with traditional “Pigs in a blanket” with spicy mustard. A solid no nonsense snack, nothing extravagant on the last week of play.

My Stat of the week:  Pretty simple one and you knew it was coming, Mike Tomlin who half the fanbase wants fired for some idiotic reason just completed his 16th non-losing season. To put that in perspective Mike Tomlin matched George Halas for the 3rd-longest streak of seasons finishing over .500 or better by a head coach in NFL history with 16.

While 9-8 is mediocre, this team looked like an 8 or 9-win team at most and they did it, recovering from a disastrous start to go 7-2 down the stretch. It was a masterful coaching job for one of the NFL’s greatest coaches. He also now has 163 wins good for second in Franchise history and only 30 behind Chuck Noll.

Also considered for stat of the week, the Steelers manhandling Deshaun Foster for SEVEN sacks! How about the Steelers led the league in interceptions with 20! Both great stats to be proud of.

My Thoughts on next week: It is going to be a very long offseason, but one of hope. I can write this with 100% confidence, NO ONE wanted to see the Steelers in the first round. While this team is limited, they are dangerous, and they beat you up. Miami is going to get run down by whoever they get first after fading badly down the stretch.

Jersey of the Week: Jack Ham #59, Throwback, “The Bumble Bee” had to make sure this made an appearance. One thing I try and do during the season is wear a Steelers jersey to church. It reminds me of Pittsburgh, and I like to support the team. Two comments that were passed to me at mass on Sunday, “You look like you escaped prison,” and “Ham is what you eat for breakfast,” So had that going for me!


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Steelers stay alive!!!

January 2nd, 2023

It was slow and plodding, violently physical and exciting at the end in the latest chapter of the Steelers versus Ravens, with the Steelers pulling out the victory 16-13.

Just a few short weeks ago, the Ravens pushed the Steelers around up front, this week the black and gold returned the favor, gashing a stout Raven’s defense for 198 monster yards up front. Najee Harris had his biggest game as a Steeler rushing for 111 yards and catching the game winning touchdown. His counterpart Jaylen Warren added 76 yards and looked like a bowling ball. It was power running at its finest as the Steelers offensive line demolished the Ravens all night up front.

Kenny Pickett’s box score will not look great, but anyone who has watched him can see his maturation process. For the second week in a row in a national game, Pickett delivered and delivered big. This time he led an 80-yard drive that was 11 plays and ate up just over three minutes. It resulted in the game winner. He still makes mistakes including tripping and inexplicably staying down and eating a sack, but it is clear he is improving. His total line is not pretty 15 for 27 for a paltry 168 yards, but he protected the ball and his moxy in the clutch came through.

While no one’s numbers were great, the receivers all made huge clutch catches when called up. Pat Freiermuth, Steve Sims and Jaylen Warren led the team with three catches each.

The defensive game plan was drawn up well and it was executed well. The Steelers used a much heavier run stopping front this time around and it worked. The Steelers nearly halved the Ravens production from three weeks ago, keeping the Ravens at 120 yards. They also kept J.K. Dobbins under 100 yards, which is no small feat. Mark Robinson, filling in for Myles Jack did very well and the comparisons to Vince Williams seem justified, he racked up seven tackles and played a very physical brand of defense. Robert Spillane has played well in his leading role.

The secondary kept everything in front of them and put together a solid effort against the Raven’s middle school offense. Mark Andrews had a big game racking up nine catches for 100 yards, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story, he was mostly held in check when they needed it. Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted the Ravens final gasp at getting back into the game.

The only touchdown the Ravens could muster was on an egregious call by the officials on Cam Heyward. Heyward was flagged for unnecessary roughness that gave the Ravens a new set of downs and brought them half the distance to the goal. It was clear in the video that Ronnie Stanley was the offender and pulled Heyward forward. Tyler Huntley connected with Isaiah Likely for the touchdown.

Special teams were once again the achilleas heel, Chris Boswell missed a 48-yard field goal, his eighth missed opportunity of the season. With battling injuries and elements, this season has been a struggle for him. The kick coverage unit nearly got torched for a touchdown by Justice Hill, leaving the Ravens with excellent field position. The defense bailed them out forcing a punt. The Steelers had two holding calls on two separate punt returns that were fair caught by Steven Sims. The lone bright spot was Pressley Harvin III continues to improve and he boomed two punts for 99 yards with one landing inside the 20.

The Steelers coaching staff needed to make adjustments from the game plan three weeks ago. They did it and had all the answers needed to salvage what once looked like an awful season.


My “GAME BEER” goes to: Najee Harris… “ROCK TO THE NAJ” was in all its glory on Sunday Night football, Harris paced the running attack and caught the game winning drive. Honorable Mention: Kenny Pickett who once again delivered in a clutch performance.

Beer of the Game: Modello which is one of my favorite beers, NO Beer for KGB this week.

“Steel the Snacks”: Went with leftover mozzarella sticks that were mediocre at best. I made them after we had the traditional Italian meal of Cotechino Sausage and Lentils. Night games are tough on the snack front.

My Stat of the week:  Easy 198 blistering yards against a tough Raven’s defense. The Ravens were only allowing 87 yards per game, good for third in the league. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren dominated on the ground. Also considered Mike Tomlin has now leads John Harbaugh 17-15 all time.

My Thoughts on next week: I thought the game was going to get flexed, it didn’t. Expect the Browns to do everything in their power to send the Steelers home and this will mark serial rapist Deshaun Watson’s Browns debut against the Steelers. The playoffs are irrelevant without a big win here.

Jersey of the Week: Franco Harris #32, Salute to Service, stayed with our beloved running back who is sorely missed.

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