Monthly Archives: December 2016

Buckeyes in the NFL (Week 16, 2016)

Christmas came early for Philadelphia Eagles Safety Malcolm Jenkins. He kicked off a strong week for OSU Alumns in the NFL. Jenkins picked off New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning twice on Thursday Night Football, one he returned 34-yards for a touchdown. It was his 6th interception returned for a touchdown in his career, placing him 2nd among active safeties. Jenkins now has a total of 12 picks in his 8-year career. He also had 6 tackles (5 solo) and 3 passes defensed in the Eagles 24-19 victory to keep the G-Men from clinching a playoff spot. Eli Apple had 2 tackles and Johnathan Hankins 1 tackle for the Giants in the loss.

Zeke Elliott pretty much sealed up the Rookie of the Year award and possibly the NFL MVP against the Detroit Lions. Elliott had 80 rushing yards on 12 carries, but 2 important touchdowns. His first TD of the night was a 55-yard run, his longest of the season. His second TD, from a 1-yard out, broke a 21-21 tie and put Dallas up for good as they cruised to a 42-21 win.

Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier had 10 tackles (5 solo), a pass defensed, and an interception in the Steelers 31-27 come from behind win over the Baltimore Ravens to win the AFC North title and seal a birth in the AFC Playoffs.

Chargers rookie Joey Bosa made his first trip as a pro back to the Buckeye State against Terrelle Pryor and the Cleveland Browns. Bosa had 5 tackles (4 solo) and 2 sacks in San Diego’s 20-17 loss to the previously winless Browns. Bosa now has 9.5 sacks in his rookie season. His fellow rookie Josh Perry had one tackle in his first trip back to his home state. Pryor had 3 catches for 36 yards in the victory for Cleveland.

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn Junior followed up his great performance against the Washington Redskins on Monday night with a below average outing against the Atlanta Falcons. Ginn had only 3 catches for 29 yards, Corey “Philly” Brown had one catch for 12 yards, and safety Kurt Coleman had 4 tackles (2 solo), a sack, a QB hit and a tackle for loss in the 33-19 defeat to Atlanta. The Panthers, the defending NFC Champions, were eliminated from the postseason with the loss.

Bradley Roby recorded no stats for the Denver Broncos in their 33-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. With the loss the defending Super Bowl Champions were eliminated from the playoffs. It’s the first time since 2003 that both the defending champs and the Super Bowl loser didn’t make the playoffs the following season (Buccaneers and Raiders, 2003).

San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde was searching for his 1st career 1,000 yard rushing season versus the Los Angeles Rams in southern California. Hyde had 38 yards on 13 carries, missing going over the 1K mark as he left the game with an MCL injury that will keep him out of the final game of the season. He came into the game needing only 50 yards to get a thousand, he’ll fall 12 yards short. He also had 2 fumbles, losing one. Hyde also had 3 catches for 15 yards and a touchdown to help the Niners win 22-21.

Mike Thomas had 6 catches for 98 yards for the New Orleans Saints to help them beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-24 to effectively end their NFC South division rival’s hopes of making the playoffs. Vonn Bell had 5 tackles (4 solo) to help get the victory.

New England Patriots special teamer Nate Ebner had 2 tackles for the Pats in their 41-3 drubbing of the New York Jets. Rookie linebacker Darron Lee had 7 tackles (2 solo) in defeat. Wide receiver Devin Smith had 1 catch for 20 yards, his fellow Buckeye receiver Jalin Marshall was inactive for the game.

 

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Le’Veon Bell’s Case for NFL MVP

Bell is 2nd in the NFL in total rushing yards and 3rd in total yards from scrimmage, despite missing 3 games to suspension. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

(Update – 12/28/16): Le’Veon Bell will not play Sunday in the Pittsburgh Steelers final game of the 2016 season vs. the Cleveland Browns. Neither will Ben Roethlisberger or Antonio Brown.)

I’ve been saying for weeks now that Le’Veon Bell is the best offensive player in the NFL. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to my readers that I think #26 should be the 2016 NFL MVP. On a team with arguably the best wide receiver in the League in Antonio Brown, who leads the NFL in receptions, a perennial pro-bowl quarterback with two Super Bowl victories in Ben Roethlisberger, Bell is the most lethal of the “Killer B’s”. He’s even already been named team MVP for 2016.

My case starts here:

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the midst of a 6-game winning streak that helped them clinch the AFC North title and the 3rd seed in the AFC Playoffs. This after being 4-5 after the first 10 weeks of the season. In this run, Bell is averaging 139.2 rushing yards (5.2 yards per carry) and 42.7 receiving yards game (8.5 yards per catch), for an average of 181.9 yards from scrimmage. His 12-game average of 157 yards from scrimmage per game is the most in the NFL since Priest Holmes in 2002. He’s converted 62 first downs running and receiving in the streak, His total for the season is 94). Most importantly, he’s scored 7 touchdowns (6 rushing, 1 receiving).

Don’t forget about the 2016 NFL league high and Steelers franchise single-game rushing record of 236 yards he set against the Buffalo Bills in week fourteen. Also, he has more receptions than a handful of NFL teams’ number one receiver.

In the Steelers only loss in the second half of the season to the Dallas Cowboys, Bell rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown, caught 9 passes for 77 receiving yards and a touchdown, as well as converted 10 first downs.

Bell doesn’t just make the offense better, but the defense as well. The formula for the Steelers to win is simple, when he touches the ball 25+ times via the run and the pass, it helps win the time of possession battle, keeping that much maligned defense of theirs off the field. Since week 11 they’ve been a top 5 defense, mostly because they’re on the field less and not as vulnerable to be exploited.

In the win streak, Bell averages 32 touches a game. In the 4 losses he played in, he touched the ball an average 23 times. Much like Pittsburgh’s magic number on defense is 20—they’re undefeated when allowing 20 points or less, 1-5 when allowing 21+ points—25 touches for #26 is the magic number for their offense.

Bell averages 181.9 yards per game from scrimmage in the Steelers 6-game win streak. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

Even after missing 3-games due to suspension, he’s second in the NFL in total rushing yards, and third in total yards from scrimmage. In his first game of 2016, Bell rushed for 144 yards on 18 carries and had 5 catches for 34 yards as the Steelers blew out the Kansas City Chiefs 43-14. Proving just how much extra “juice” he brings to an already lethal unit.

Since I mentioned his suspension, most would think that would disqualify him from winning this award. But, Tom Brady is gaining momentum for votes. He was suspended four games to start this season. Therefore it shouldn’t be a knock on Le’Veon either.

#26 has scored 7 touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s 6-game win streak. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

My final point is this, most valuable player should go to the player who if they weren’t on the field for any reason, the team wouldn’t be as successful as they are with him. It shouldn’t just be given to the best player on the team with the best record, as is the case most of the time. Or to the glory position of quarterback which has happened eight of the last ten seasons. LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006, and Adrian Peterson in 2012 were the only non-QBs to breakthrough.

Bell’s performance and incredible versatility is why Steelers Nation gets so upset and disappointed in him that he’s been suspended for off-the-field issues twice in his career. Who knows what this guy could do had he been available for a full 16-game schedule? Who knows where the Steelers would be if he hadn’t stepped up the second half of the season the way he has. That’s why he’s the most valuable.

He probably won’t win the award, he maybe won’t even finish in the top three. But, as I’ve showed you, he should. Who’s been hotter when it mattered the most?

Pittsburgh Uses 4th Quarter Explosion to Steel AFC North Title

Le’Veon Bell rushed for 122 yards a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass to help beat the Ravens 31-27. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

In a week when Pittsburgh Steelers legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw criticized Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin’s coaching ability and philosophy, even going as far to say “He’s a great cheerleader guy…”, Tomlin’s team came out and backed up their #1 cheerleader by winning their 5th AFC North division title in his 10 seasons as a head coach. Especially, the Killer B’s of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.

When it looked like Roethlisberger was going to throw away the division and possibly the playoffs with 2 second half interceptions that set the Baltimore Ravens up for 10 points, offensive coordinator Todd Haley turned to the guy I call “the most lethal offensive weapon in the NFL”, Le’Veon Bell.

The Steelers offense started the game ringing the Bell successfully. #26 converted 4 of the Steelers 6 first downs on their first drive of the game and rushed for 45 yards, which were more than the total he had the entire game against Baltimore in week 9 (32 yards). That 9 play, 87 yard drive ended with a 20-yard TD pass from Roethlisberger to Xavier Grimble to put the ‘Burgh up 7-0. We all know what happened from that moment through the beginning of the final 15 minutes. Pittsburgh was soundly out played and Bradshaw’s assessment of Tomlin looked pretty spot on.

But just like they’ve finished the second half of this season, they did so in this game. In the 4th quarter Pittsburgh scored 21 points on drives of 75, 90, and 75 yards. The longest was 2 minutes and 49 seconds. On the 90-yard touchdown drive to put them ahead 24-20, Brown and Bell gained EVERY yard. With the game on the line, #7 went to #84 with 9 seconds remaining and he fought his way into the end zone to bring the AFC North title home with the 31-27 win.

For the game, Le’Veon rushed for 122 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, he also had 3 catches for 15 yards and a touchdown. Brown had 10 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown, 9 in the second half. Roethlisberger finished with 3 touchdown passes on 24 of 33 and 279 yards to go along with those 2 interceptions.

Defensively it wasn’t pretty, but they got it done when it counted. The Ravens won the time of possession battle 34:37 to 25:23. They were 9 of 17 on 3rd down conversions. Joe Flacco passed for 262 yards on 30 of 44 passing, while the offensive line bullied the Steelers D down the field for 122 rushing yards. Baltimore was beating the Steelers every which way you’d want. But Keith Butler’s unit forced Baltimore to settle for 4 field goals in the red zone, and a botched snap on another field goal attempt basically sealed their playoff fate.

Ryan Shazier’s interception as time expired sealed the AFC North title for Pittsburgh. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

Flacco was sacked 2 times for -18 yards, and Ryan Shazier’s pick as time expired clinched the division. This is the first game in 2016 the Steelers have allowed 21+ points and won. All 5 losses this season came when the opponent score 21 or more points.

Who would’ve thought at week 10 when the Steelers were 4-5 and on a four game losing streak, they’d be 2016 AFC North Champions?  But here they are. With a 6-game win streak, surging into the playoffs as the 3-seed, instead of sneaking in like last season and looking like the team NOBODY wants to play in January.

Next up, the 1-14 Cleveland Browns in Heinz Field on New Year’s Day.

EXTRA POINTS

  • Roethlisberger’s 3 touchdown passes moved him to 301 and past John Elway, he’s idol growing up, for 9th on the NFL’s All-time pass touchdowns list.
  • Antonio Brown joined Marvin Harrison as the only players in NFL history to have 4 straight season of 100+ receptions, and his 1 TD reception was the 50th of his career.
  • With his 6th 100+ rushing yard game of the season, Le’Veon Bell passed Barry Foster, Dick Hoak, and Frank Pollard for 5th place on the Steelers all-time rushing list.
  • The Steelers are the only team in 2016 to not allow an opening drive touchdown to an opponent.

Buckeyes in the NFL (Week 15, 2016)

There’s one less Buckeye in the NFL this week as 11-year kicker Mike Nugent was released by the Cincinnati Bengals. Nugent had struggled on extra points this season (23/29). The Centerville, Ohio native played the last seven years of his career with his home area team, and is the third all-time leading scorer in franchise history (718). The former 2nd round pick (47th overall) spent time with the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals since graduating from Ohio State in 2005.

Ezekiel Elliott had another monster game in primetime for the Dallas Cowboys. Zeke rushed for a new career high 159 yards on 23 carries, he also added 29 yards receiving on 3 catches. He’s on pace for 1,713 yards which would fall short of Eric Dickerson’s single season rookie rushing record.

The running back who Elliott replaced in the Shoe, Carlos Hyde, had 13 carries for 71 yards and one reception for 6 yards for the San Francisco 49ers in their 41-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Several Buckeyes stood out on the defensive side of the ball as well. Linebacker Ryan Shazier had 5 tackles (3 solo) a sack and a pass defensed for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 24-20 come from behind win over AFC North rival the Cincinnati Bengals.

New York Giants rookie cornerback Eli Apple had 7 tackles (4 solo) and 1 pass defensed in the G-Men’s 17-6 win over the Detroit Lions.

Joey Bosa had 4 tackles (3 solo) and one sack for the San Diego Chargers in their 19-16 lost to their AFC West rival the Oakland Raiders.

New Orleans Saints rookies Michael Thomas and Vonn Bell played against the Arizona Cardinals in the site of their alma maters College Football Playoff semifinal game against Clemson in two weeks. Thomas had 7 catches for 52 yards and a touchdown, while Bell had 9 tackles (7 solo) in the 48-41 victory.

Philadelphia Eagles Safety Malcolm Jenkins had 3 tackels (2 solo) in their 26-27 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

New England Patriots special teams ace Nate Ebner had one tackle in their 16-3 win over the Denver Broncos.

Terrelle Pryor followed up his “trash” performance last week against the Cincinnati Bengals with only 4 catches for 19 yards for the Cleveland Browns in their 33-13 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Cleveland is now 0-14.

Houston Texans John Simon and Braxton Miller missed Sunday’s 21-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Simon with a chest injury and Miller is done for the season with a shoulder injury.

On Saturday Night, Darron Lee and Nick Mangold of the New York Jets played against the Miami Dolphins. Lee had 4 tackles (3 solo).  Jalin Marshall was inactive while Devin Smith registered no stats.

Monday Night Football will have a Scarlet and Gray flavor. Carolina Panthers’ Ted Ginn Junior, Corey Brown and Kurt Coleman play against Donte Whitner and the Washington Redskins in the D.C. Area.

Steelers Sneak Away With 5th Consecutive “W”

Bell’s 131 total yards from scrimmage help the Steelers escape with a 24-20 win over Cincinnati. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

Two teams from Pittsburgh got off the bus at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati on Sunday. The first half was the team that lost 4 consecutive games in weeks 6 thru 10. The second half was the team that has now won their last 5 games, especially on the defensive side.

The first half version of the Steelers beat themselves offensively and defensively with key penalties that set the Bengals up for points and kept themselves from scoring touchdowns. Pittsburgh was flagged 4 times for 74 yards in the first half alone. They finished the game with 7 for 104 yards.

Three major penalties told the story of the first half. A face mask by Stephon Tuitt on a 3rd down sack on the first Bengals offensive drive, and a pass interference in the end zone against Artie Burns on the second drive that put the ball on the Steelers one-yard line, set Cincinnati up to score 10 quick and easy points.

The third against Le’Veon Bell for a chop block that erased what would’ve been Antonio Brown’s 50th career touchdown reception and a what would’ve have been a 17-10 deficit. Instead the Steelers had to settle for a Chris Boswell 49-yard field goal.

Speaking of Boswell, he gets the game ball. If it weren’t for his Steelers franchise record tying 6 made field goals, 5 of 40+ yards, and a touchdown saving tackle on a kickoff return, Pittsburgh would have been out of this game at halftime.

Defensively, Keith Butler’s group couldn’t stop the Bengals running or passing game.

Cincinnati gained 184 total yards (116 passing, 68 rushing), they never punted and didn’t allow a sack or have a turnover. Andy Dalton was 10 of 16 passing for 116 yards. Jeremy Hill ran for 44 yards on 14 carries and had a touchdown that put them up 17-3 with 9:02 remaining in the 2nd quarter.

The Bengals did what the Steelers had done masterfully over the last month, win the time of possession battle and keep opposing offenses as spectators, while not allowing the suspect defense to be exposed. The Bengals held the ball for 17:59 of the first 30 minutes.

Offensively, Pittsburgh could only muster 3 field goals in the time they crossed into enemy territory. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley got cute, and clearly over-thought his game plan. There’s no reason Le’Veon Bell should’ve had 7 carries and 3 receptions in an entire half, as he did on Sunday. It lead to 29 rushing yards for the League’s best back and a 20-9 halftime deficit.

Coach Mike Tomlin implied to CBS sideline reporter Evan Washburn that the Steelers were beating themselves and needed to be “cleaner” in the second half. Obviously the team got the message.

Harrison and the Steelers D held the Bengals scoreless and to 38 total yards in the second half. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

Defensively, they cleaned up the penalties and held the Bengals scoreless, while only allowing 38 total yards. Hill rushed 6 times for -1 yard. Dalton went 6 of 11 for 41 yards, was sacked for an 11-yard loss, and threw an interception to Lawrence Timmons.

Meanwhile, the offense patiently and methodically took the lead. Ben Roethlisberger led them to 228 total yards in the second half. Le’Veon Bell rushed for 64 yards to finish with 93 on the day to go along with 5 catches for 38 yards. In total he touched the ball 28 times, and they them won the time of possession battle 32:32 to 27:28. LaDarius Green and Eli Rodgers stepped up and took the defensive attention off Antonio Brown that Roethlisberger has been begging for all season. Rodgers finished with 5 catches for 75 and the go ahead 24-yard touchdown pass. Green also had 5 catches 72 yards, 3 of which were converted for first downs.

The second half performance followed the formula this team has used to win 5 games in a row and take the AFC North lead going into next Sunday’s major matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. If they play like the second half team next week and not the first half version, they’ll be one step closer to the AFC North title and a spot in the tournament.

Kickoff is set for 4:30 pm at Heinz Field.

EXTRA POINTS 

  • Pittsburgh is now undefeated on the season when they allow 20 or fewer points (9-0).
  • The Steelers have now won 7 of their last 8 games at Cincinnati.
  • With his second catch of the day, Antonio Brown recorded the 470th of his career, setting an NFL record for most receptions in a 4-year span passing 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrine Marvin Harrison.

Throwback Steelers Football…

And at the right time too. 

Le’Veon Bell rushed for a Steelers single game record 236 yards in the 27-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

 

I said it last week and I’ll say it again now, Le’Veon Bell is the most lethal offensive weapon in the NFL. That includes all offensive positions, not just running back. 

Bell ran for a Steelers single game franchise record 236 yards with 3 touchdowns versus the Buffalo Bills Sunday in the 27-20 victory. He also had 62 yards receiving on 4 catches.

As the Steelers need every win to keep pace for the AFC North title, to possibly be the division’s only playoff participant, the formula for winning is simple. Get the ball to number 26. 
During Pittsburgh’s four game win streak, Bell has rushed for 236, 118, 120 and 146 yards. In a league where everyone is throwing the pig all over the field, Pittsburgh has decided to go throwback.

These type of performances are why fans have been disappointed he hasn’t played a full season in his career due to two suspensions and two major injuries.

Who knows what kind of offensive explosion would’ve happened if Ben Roethlisberger hadn’t thrown three interceptions on the day, one in the red zone on their first drive, and another on the fourth drive that set Buffalo up inside the red zone for their first touchdown of the game down 14-0.

The only unit that stopped the Steelers offense, was themselves. Or Roethlisberger if we want to point fingers.

But back to Bell, his 298 total yards from scrimmage were more than the 275 yards Keith Butler’s unit allowed to the Bills offense.

Speaking of defense, I’m loving what I’m watching lately. At the beginning of this season I never thought I’d say that. Hell, a month ago I wouldn’t have said it. 

Stephon Tuitt sacks Tyrod Taylor, one of the five the Steelers D registered on the day. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

 
They’re blitzing more, which is resulting in more sacks. Sunday they got to Tyrod Taylor 5 times, 3 in the first quarter. They’re creating turnovers, even though William Gay’s pick 6 in the first quarter was called back due to a holding penalty,  Artie Burns picked off Taylor later in the game to kill a Bills drive. And, they’re stopping the run better. The Bills had 67 yards for an average of 3.7 yards per carry in the game. A quarter of the way into the second stanza, Pittsburgh held them to -1 total yard. 

Most importantly, the rookies in the secondary, Artie Burns and Sean Davis, along with Ross Cockrell aren’t allowing teams top receivers to light them up like in years past.

This is the type of Steelers football I grew up with, and expect. This is what won Super Bowls XL and XLIII, even though the offense gets the highlights on NFL Films, aside from the James Harrison pick 6. This type of defensive effort is what’s going to be needed if they’re going to make the playoffs and win a NFL record seventh Lombardi in February.

This team is clicking on all the right cylinders at the right time.

Next up, the Cincinnati Bengals in the Queen City. Kickoff is set for 1 pm.

OTHER NOTES

  • Mike Tomlin won his 100th game as coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Bell went over the 1,000 rushing mark for the 2nd time in his career.
  • Even though Ben Roethlisberger had a terrible day, he moved past Vinny Testaverde into 10th place on the NFL’s Career Passing yards leaders list (46,249).

Where’s This Defense Been?

Lawrence Timmons returns an interception 58-yards to set up a Steelers touchdown drive. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

Steelers Nation, do you recognize this group? I’ve seen great defense played from Pittsburgh teams before, but not from this collection of players. The stars for the Steelers versus the New York Giants were defensive coordinator Keith Butler’s guys.

The defense started the scoring for the team known for its offensive fire power. They drew several holding calls, including one on the ageless wonder James Harrison in the end zone on the Giants second offensive possession that caused the safety that put the Steelers on the board first at 2-0.

After Pittsburgh went up 5-0 on newly acquired kicker Randy Bullock first field goal in place of the injured Chris Boswell, the defense looked in trouble as Eli Manning marched his team down the field inside the red zone on a 10 play 62 yard drive before Lawrence Timmons intercepted Manning at the Steelers 3-yard line, that prevented what looked to be a sure touchdown for Larry Donnell and a New York lead, which he returned to the Giants 40-yard line.

Not only did the turnover flip field position and steal the momentum New York had built, it eventually led to a 22-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown for his 11th of the season, and an 11-0 lead.

The Pittsburgh D kept the pressure on from there. On the day, the Giants gained 234 total yards, 52 of those came in garbage time when the game was no longer in doubt. Odell Beckham Junior  got his 100 yards on 10 catches, but was severely frustrated all afternoon, and even drew a pass interference penalty that pushed the G-Men offense back that was followed by the safety.

Manning was sacked twice for a loss of 17 yards and hit 3 other times. Most importantly the Giants were held to 4-11 on 3rd down, and 0-3 on 4th down, one that led to an interception by rookie safety Sean Davis. The defensive was getting off the field and giving the ball to that offense that nobody wants to face.

Speaking of offense, coordinator Todd Haley did what he’s been doing for the past month, ringing the Bell.

Coming into Sunday, Le’Veon Bell averaged a NFL best 142.0 yards from scrimmage per game. Versus the Giants, he ran for 118 on 29 carries, his third consecutive game over the century mark and the 1st 100-yard rushing game versus the Giants since week 16 of 2015 to Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings. Bell also had 64 receiving yards on 6 catches.

Le’Veon Bell rushed for 118 yards Sunday vs. the Giants for his third consecutive 100+ rushing yard game. Photo Credit: Steelers.com  

I’m convinced Le’Veon Bell is the most lethal offensive weapon in the NFL. I don’t care what name you shout out. Ezekiel Elliott? Nope. Tom Brady? Nope. Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Junior, Antonio Brown, Rob Gonkowski? Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

If he hadn’t missed the first three games of this season due to suspension, he’d be the leader in the MVP race. His numbers would be historical, and I doubt the Steelers would have as many losses as they do.

His playmaking ability allows the Steelers offense to play ball control and win the time of possession battle, and keep that often struggling defense on the sideline. Pittsburgh won the time of possession battle 34:08 to 25:52. It’s no coincidence the Steelers D has been playing lights out at the same time Bell has been touching the ball 25 to 30+ times per game. Old school football can still win in this new school pass happy League.

The x-factor in this game I wasn’t expecting was tight end LaDarius Green. Now I see what the anticipation and hype was about in regards to his return from an ankle injury that kept him out the first 8 games of the season. I must admit, I’m a fan of 2nd-year tight end Jesse James. I think he’s a more athletic Heath Miller. So I don’t have the words to explain how annoyed I was that general manager Kevin Colbert spent money on a tight end that should’ve been used to bolster the defense.

But after the last two games against the Indianapolis Colts and the Giants, his play is a perfect example of why I’m not a GM. 6 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown Sunday, 2 catches for 67 yards on Thanksgiving night against the Colts. He appears to be the security blanket Roethlisberger was missing during that four game losing streak when he was blitzed mercilessly.

For now Pittsburgh seems to have finally found the formula to get W’s, and just in time as they’re entering the most crucial part of the season.

Next up, at the 6-6 Buffalo Bills next Sunday in Orchard Park. Kickoff is set for 1 o’clock.

OVERTIME

  • With the win, Mike Tomlin joins George Allen, Vince Lombardi and John Madden of 10+ seasons and no losing seasons.

Roethlisberger and Brown are now tied with Bradshaw and Swann for most TDs by a QB-WR tandem in NFL history. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

  • The 22-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown in the second quarter extended #7’s steak of at least 1 TD pass in 43 straight home games. It’s the 3rd-longest streak in NFL history, and the longest active streak. Also with that touchdown connection, Roethlisberger & Brown tied Terry Bradshaw & Lynn Swann for the most QB-WR TD connections in Steelers History.
  • The Steelers are 7-1 when scoring 24+ points, 0-4 when scoring less than that.