Monthly Archives: December 2015

2015 Buckeyes: What Could’ve Been

So the defending National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes didn’t repeat. I guess Buckeye Nation should’ve reveled in the 2014 team’s accomplishment a little longer, instead of getting greedy for more. But that’s not what this is about. This season just goes to show no matter how talented a team is, winning back to back championships may very well be more difficult than winning the first one.

I titled this “what could’ve been”, but that was just click bait to get you to read this. I’d rather focus on what was. And, what was is very positive and impressive when you look at the totality of what has been accomplished in the last four years, especially considering where this program was at the start of the 2011 season.

Finishing 12-1 with a 44-28 Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame isn’t a bad or disappointing season. But more impressive, the Senior Class leaves Columbus with a record of 50-4, and is tied for the winningest senior class in COLLEGE FOOTBALL HISTORY. They completed 4 consecutive 12+ win seasons, which included a 12-0 season in 2012 when they were bowl and conference championship ineligible, a Big Ten Championship, an impressive 4-0 record against “that school up north”, a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama and the big bad SEC, and a National Championship. How can one be disappointed in that?

In addition to the senior class, the junior class will highlight this spring’s NFL Draft as several of them will be first round picks with Joey Bosa leading the way as potentially the first OSU #1 overall pick since Orlando Pace back in 1997. This team will potentially have 5 players drafted into the first round of this spring’s NFL draft, and as many as 12 in the first 3 rounds.

The offense that was much maligned for the majority of the season, wasn’t as horrid as many fans made it out to be. The Buckeyes finished the season 2nd in the Big Ten in scoring at 35.7 points per game, while averaging 434.1 yards per game. They had the B1G’s number one rushing attack averaging 245.2 yards per game with a league best 39 touchdowns.

5 Buckeyes were selected as First-Team All-B1G performers, and Ezekiel Elliot won B1G Offensive Player of the Year, which is the 4th consecutive season a Buckeye won the award.

And, once again, Ohio State saved the B1G’s reputation, along with the “Fighting Khaki’s”, after a dismal performance by their conference mates in the bowl season. Buckeye Nation can be disappointed that this team didn’t get a shot to defend it’s title, but as Coach Meyer has said on many occasions in the past couple of weeks, the season is not a disappointment.

Enjoy this Buckeye fans, what we have witnessed doesn’t come around often, if at all.

Advertisements

Ohio State in The NFL (Week 16)

There’s good news and bad news. Good news is the current Buckeyes take the field in the Fiesta Bowl against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 5 days. The bad, several former Buckeyes were on the losing end in the NFL in week 16.

Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins had 6 tackles Saturday night in their loss to the Washington Redskins 38-24. The loss ended their slim playoff hopes.

The Pittsburgh Steelers trio of former Silver Bullets played well, but in a losing effort. Defensive lineman Cam Heyward had 5 tackles, while linebacker Ryan Shazier had 13 tackles (8 assisted), and safety Will Allen had 6 tackles (3 assisted) in their 17-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Rookie cornerback Doran Grant also saw some action on special teams. Pittsburgh still has a shot to make the postseason, if they win next week at Cleveland and the New York Jets lose to the Buffalo Bills.

Speaking of Cleveland. Browns safety Donte’ Whitner had 6 tackles in their 13-17 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs.

Also in a losing effort, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown had 3 catches for 39 yards, while his offensive running mate Ted Ginn Junior had one catch for 9 yards. Safety Kurt Coleman had 8 tackles (1 assisted) in the 13-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. It was the first loss for the Panthers on the season. They’re now 14-1.

Linebacker James Laurinaitis had 7 tackles (5 assisted), and his teammate defensive back Christian Bryant had 2 tackles in the 23-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

A.J. Hawk and Mike Nugent of the Cincinnati Bengals take on Bradley Roby of the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football.

Steelers-Browns Preview: It’s About Pride


What a difference a week makes. This time last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers were everyone’s the hot pick to potential dethrone the New England Patriots in the postseason. This week, they are no longer in control of their playoff hopes. But, they still have a chance.

First they must beat the 3 and 12 Cleveland Browns. The last time the Steelers and Browns met, Pittsburgh won 30-9. You may remember that game for Ben Roethlisberger coming in off the bench to replace Landry Jones when he injured his ankle. Roethlisberger went on to have the best day by a quarterback in a relief role; 379 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. Martavis Bryant caught 6 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown, while Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns.

But, that game will also be remembered for the Black & Yellow defense giving up a career high 372 passing yards to Johnny Manziel—I guess that’s the norm this season, they just gave up a career day to Ryan Mallett last Sunday. And, Russell Wilson threw for a career high 345 yards on them in Seattle back on November 29th.

The Steelers secondary looked more vulnerable last week than it has since playing against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots opening night. The third worse pass defense, giving up 278.2 yards per game, is the key to this team keeping their season alive. They’ll also need to watch for Manziel using his legs. Against the Kansas City Chiefs he rushed for a Cleveland Browns franchise record for a quarterback 108 yards.

But forget the numbers, it’s about pride. As we saw against Baltimore, scoring 30+ points a game isn’t as easy for the offense as it appeared during their franchise record 6 consecutive games streak.
Pittsburgh is 10 point favorites at Cleveland with the over-under at 47. A win will also mean the 6th 10+ win season in Coach Mike Tomlin’s 9 year tenure. In their last meeting at First Energy Stadium on October 12th, 2014, the Browns beat the Steelers 31-10.

Steelers Nation will also be keeping one eye on the New York Jets-Buffalo Bills matchup. A Jets win means the Steelers will miss the playoffs for the 4th time under Tomlin, regardless if they beat Cleveland. Both games kickoff at 1 p.m.

Pittsburgh’s Playoff Hopes Slowly Dying 

 

If the Steelers miss the playoffs, the Ravens will get the credit . Photo Credit: Steelers.com

 
If the Pittsburgh Steelers miss out on the playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens can take the credit. The Steelers are no longer in control of their destiny after losing 17-20 to their now 5 and 10 hated rivals for the second time this season. It’s Baltimore’s first sweep of the season series since 2011.

At the start of the game it appeared the Steelers offense would have their way. Pittsburgh received the opening kickoff and appeared to be attempting to make a statement. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley called 5 consecutive run plays which resulted in 52 yards, followed by a short 3 yard pass on third down put them at the Baltimore 25. But, the promising drive yielded no points when Coach Mike Tomlin chose to go for it on 4th and 1, and the Ravens D held.

Quarterback Ryan Mallett, making his first start as a Raven after being signed on December 15th, proceeded to march the Baltimore offense 85 yards (38 by Rush, 47 passing) that ended with an 8 yard touchdown to Chris Matthews. The Steelers playoff hopes began its slow death from there.

The Pittsburgh D allowed Mallett to throw for a career high 274 yards. This is the same guy who got cut by the Houston Texans–who have gone through 4 QBs this season–for sleeping through his alarm. But, as has been the case throughout the season, the Steelers couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down. Baltimore converted 9 of 18 3rd downs in the game, and at one point Mallett was 5 for 5 passing on the key down.

Pittsburgh has proven all season long they can’t be left on the field too long. It showed Sunday with Baltimore winning the time of possession battle 34:20 to 25:40. Baltimore gained 386 total yards, 121 via rushing and 265 through the air.

Even with the D playing down to the level of their competition, the high-powered offense had their chances. But they looked out of sync all afternoon. Not once did they resemble the unit that average 35 points a game over the last 6. In their 5 first half possessions they managed to score only 3 points, and had drives of 2 punts, an interception and a turnover on downs.

Roethlisberger came into the day leading the NFL in passing yards per game at 336.9. He only passed for 215 yards, 193 if you count the yardage loss by the 3 times he was sacked. The Ravens gave up an 8th worse 25.7 points per game coming in to Sunday. The Steelers only managed to get 17. The Ravens were also giving up an 8th worse 342.7 total yards per game. Pittsburgh only gained 303.

DeAngelo Williams was the lone bright spot as he rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries with 2 touchdowns, but 84 of those yards came in the first half. Antonio Brown was held relatively in check by the Baltimore secondary with only 7 catches for 61 yards and 0 touchdowns.

The Steelers only hope for the playoffs now is a victory over the Cleveland Browns next Sunday, and a win by the Buffalo Bills over the New York Jets. If both happen, the Steelers would get in as the 6th seed.

OTHER KEY NOTES

• Pittsburgh’s franchise record of 21 consecutive quarters scoring points coming into the game was snapped in the first quarter when they didn’t score on their two possessions.

• With his 4th catch of the day, Antonio Brown joined Minnesota Vikings great Cris Carter as the only players in NFL history with back-to-back 120 catch seasons. Carter did it in 1994 and 95.

• Steelers are 3-3 this season when trailing at halftime. They trailed the Ravens 13-3 on Sunday.

• Coach Tomlin is now 10-11 vs Ravens in his career. 9-10 against John Harbaugh. 

Steelers-Ravens Preview: Throw Out the Records 

 

The Steelers look to avenge their October loss to their hated rivals and avoid a series sweep .

The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost five games this season. Four of those to teams that are currently in the playoffs. The New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and the Seattle Seahawks. The fifth, is basically playing out the string while looking ahead to next season: the Baltimore Ravens.

The 4 and 10 Ravens would love nothing more than to play spoiler to their bitter rival’s playoff hopes, and sweep the season series for the first time since 2011. This Sunday they have their chance to add a silver lining to their abysmal, injury plagued season when the two meet in the “Charm City.”

The first time these two met on October 1st in Pittsburgh, the Steelers were without Ben Roethlisberger while he nursed a right MCL sprain and bone bruise. Mike Vick got the start, and they blew a late 4th quarter lead, thanks to a pair of missed field goals by Josh Scobee, which led to questionable 4th down calls by Coach Mike Tomlin, before losing in overtime 23-20.

This time #7 will be at the helm, and bring the hottest, most lethal offense in the NFL with their franchise record of 6 consecutive games scoring 30+ points to town. During the streak, Pittsburgh has scored 210 points (35 pg), 2,883 total yards (480.5 pg), 2,269 passing yards (378.2 pg), and most importantly a 5-1 win-loss record.

The keys to a Steeler victory are obvious. They average an NFL 2nd best 27 points a game on offense, while gaining 402.9. Baltimore’s D gives up 25.7 points a game, 8th worse in the NFL, and 342.7 yards a game. The blueprint for victory is there.

The one key issue with Pittsburgh is, they still turn the ball over at crucial moments, that’s the only thing that can keep a lowly Ravens team in the game. Baltimore has a league low 4 interceptions and 7 fumble recoveries thus far this season, and are 31st in turnover margin at -15.

On offense the Ravens are without quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Justin Forsett. That’s probably why they’re 28th in 3rd down conversions at 34%, 21st in points per game. But, they are 8th in passing yards at 266 per game. So the Steelers, young, vulnerable, 2nd worse ranked pass D will need to be on alert.

Regardless, this is Steelers versus Ravens, so you might as well throw the records and stats out the window. Baltimore is 8-5 against Pittsburgh since the start of the 2010 season.

On Monday, Vegas had Pittsburgh as 10.5 favorites, with the over-under at 47 points. I’m going with the under, while predicting the Steelers to win 30-10.

Steeler Nation should keep an eye on the (9-5) New York Jets versus the (12-2) New England Patriots and the (3-11) Cleveland Browns hosting the (9-5) Kansas City Chiefs. A Kansas City loss, with a Steeler win would move Pittsburgh to the 5th seed. While a Steeler loss and Jets victory would drop them out of the playoffs with one week to go. If all three win out, Pittsburgh will still get in as the 6th seed.

Silver Bullets in the NFL (Week 15)

Several former Silver Bullets contributed mightily to their NFL teams getting victories in Week 15.

Linebacker James Laurinaitis of the St. Louis Rams got the week started off with a 6 tackle game on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Laurinaitis is tied for 17th in the NFL with 101. The Rams pulled out the victory 31-23.

Ted Ginn Junior had 2 touchdowns to help the Carolina Panthers stay undefeated at 14-0. He now has 10 total for the season, he had 11 total in his career before the season began. He finished the day with 6 catches for 85 yards to go with the TDs. Corey “Philly” Brown had 3 catches himself for 51 yards and a touchdown. While safety Kurt Coleman led the stingy Panther D with 13 tackles in the 38-35 victory.

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Will Allen forced a fumble to set the Steelers up for their 1st touchdown of the day. He also made 5 tackles, and had a pass break up on the day. Defensive lineman Cam Heyward added a sack and 2 tackles, while linebacker Ryan Shazier had a key 4th quarter interception to set up the Steelers game winning touchdown to go along with 6 tackles (3 assisted). Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby had 5 tackles in the 34-27 loss.

Kicker Mike Nugent scored 6 points on 3 extra points and field goal for the Cincinnati Bengals in their 24-14 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Linebacker A.J. Hawk had 2 tackles to help the defense. The Bengals have clinched a playoff berth and are now 11-3.

Safety Malcolm Jenkins had 7 tackles (2 assisted) for the Philadelphia Eagles in their 40-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

In other Buckeye news, Terrelle Pryor saw his first regular season action at wide receiver as a member of the Cleveland Browns. He carried the ball one time for a one yard loss, but no catches, in the Browns 30-13 loss at the Seattle Seahawks.

Steelers vs. Broncos: A Tale of Two Halves 

 

Steelers win final home game of ’15 to keep playoff hopes alive

 

It’s a good thing they play 60 minutes in the NFL, because in the first 30, the Pittsburgh Steelers and their playoff hopes were flaundering.

I said in my post previewing this matchup, if you want to know who’s winning the game without looking at the score, look at third down conversions. The Steelers D allowed the Denver Broncos to convert a perfect 8 for 8 in the first half, while giving up 295 total yards, and most importantly, 27 points for the 27-13 halftime deficit.

It all flipped after the break. The defense held Brock Osweiler and the Denver O to 1 for 9 on 3rd downs, 0 for 2 on 4th downs, for 90 total yards in the half, and more importantly 0 points. It was a key interception by linebacker Ryan Shazier with 4:28 remaining in the 4th quarter set up the game winning 23 yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown. Just like it was a key fumble in the first half that set up the Steelers first TD.

On the day, the two Broncos turnovers led to 14 Steeler points. It’s this kind of defensive performance that has many “experts” selecting Pittsburgh to be their sleeper pick to make it to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara. But, it’s mostly because they know just how potent this offense can be if the defense gives them anything.

Roethlisberger completed 40 of his 55 passes for 380 yards, with 3 touchdowns, but 2 interceptions. The 380 yards is the most Denver has given up to an opposing QB all season. Antonio Brown upstaged his former  “Steel City” running mate, Emmanuel Sanders, for 16 receptions 189 yards and 2 touchdowns. While Martavis Bryant added 10 catches for 87 yards, and Markus Wheaton with 6 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown.

The Steelers have now faced 6 of the top 10 ranked defenses in the NFL this season. The 6th ranked New England Patriots, 4th ranked Arizona Cardinals, 8th ranked Kansas City Cheifs, 10th ranked Cincinnati Bengals twice, 2nd ranked Seattle Seahawks, and now the top team in the Broncos.

In the first half, it appeared Denver had them figured them out. Just like with the previous 5, Roethlisberger, Brown, Bryant, Wheaton and OC Todd Haley figured them out. #7 and his crew managed 192 total yards, 14 first downs, and 21 points for the 34-27 victory. It was the 6 consecutive time the Steelers have scored 30+ points in a game, extending their franchise record.

In case you’re wondering or forgot, here’s how they fared against those 6 defensive units.

  • New England Patriots (L): 21 points, 464 total yards, 330 passing and 0 turnovers.
  • Arizona Cardinals (W) : 25 points, 310 total yards, 169 passing  and 0 turnovers without Roethlisberger.
  • Kansas City Chiefs (L) : 13 points, 339 total yards, 192 passing and 3 turnovers without Roethlisberger.
  • Cincinnati Bengals (L): 10 points, 356 total yards, 240 passing and 3 interceptions.
  • Seattle Seahawks (L): 30 points, 538 total, 480 passing and 4 interceptions. 
  • Cincinnati Bengals (W): 33 points, 354 total yards, 270 passing and 1 interception.
  • Denver Broncos (W): 34 points, 377 total yards, 354 passing yards and 2 interceptions.  
  •  7 game averages of 23.7 points per game, 391.1 ypg and 290.7 passing ypg.

You can see why opponents fear these guys getting into the postseason. By virtue of having a better record against conference opponents, the Steelers currently are in the 6th seed over the New York Jets. All Pittsburgh has to do is win out in order to keep that spot or even move up to 5th if the Kansas City Chiefs slip up. Up next for the Steelers, at the (4-10) Baltimore Ravens next Sunday. Kickoff is at 1 PM.