Friday, November 29, 2013

Ravens Edge Steelers 22-20 As Steelers Remain In The Hunt By A Thread

Steelers Lose To Ravens But Remain In The Hunt By A Thread

If there is any truism in the NFL, it's this: Whenever the Steelers play the Ravens expect hard-hitting, intense football. That intensity was on display again last night. In addition, it's expected the game will always come down to the final moments. Leading up to this game, eight of the previous ten games were decided by 3 points. That script was also on display last night with the Ravens edging out the Steelers by 2 points highlighted by a missed 2 point conversion by the Steelers in the last minute of the game. Adding to the nail-biting, they had two on-field touchdowns erased in the last 90 seconds of the game, one by Miller and the other by Bell.

With the end of the Steelers three game winning streak last night, they now stand at 5-7 in the division. The Steelers find themselves in must-win  situations with their remaining four games to capture a Wild Card birth.

The Numbers

  • Roethlisberger was 28/44 for 257 yards and two TD's. No interceptions.
  • Bell rushed for 73 yards on 16 attempts and one TD.
  • Miller had 86 yards on 8 receptions.
  • Bell pulled in 7 receptions for 63 yards.
  • Antonio Brown managed 59 yards on 5 receptions.
  • Sanders scored one TD and 43 yards on 6 receptions.
  • Cotchery had 1 touchdown.
  • Steelers ended play selection at 71% passing plays and 29% rushing (a significant decrease from the game against the Browns last week where those numbers stood at 50% a piece).
  • While it might not have appeared that way, time of possession for both teams was about even with 7 seconds separating both teams.
  • Steelers managed 22 first downs to the Ravens 16.
  • Bell left the game with a possible concussion.
Steelers next meet the Dolphins on  Sunday, December 8, 2013. 1 p.m. game time ET, Fox Sports, Yahoo Sports, CBS Sports

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Steelers--Ravens: Thanksgiving Day Preview

Steelers @ Baltimore
Thursday, November 28, 2013 8:30 p.m. ET

Steelers and Ravens are both  looking to get their sixth win of the season. The good news for the Steelers? The team is finally playing playoff football. Roethlisberger has 6 TD's in the last two games with no interceptions completing 63.3% of his passes. And while the Steelers are still ranked 30th in rushing in the league, Le'Veon Bell is finally racking up some yardage (80 against Cleveland last Sunday). In addition, the Steelers have won their last three games including five of their last seven. LeBeau's defense has 10 sacks over the last three games while the secondary has forced 7 turnovers. The 0-4 start now appears to be a distant memory.

The Steelers have also been able to remain in the hunt with key players out with injuries throughout the season including C Pouncey,  LB Woodley (still doubtful),  TE David Johnson, LB Larry Foote and E Brett Keisel (who might return tomorrow).

The bad news? The Ravens are 4-1 at home with their defense allowing just under 11 points per game. Nevertheless, there remains some good news for Steelers. They've won their last three trips to Baltimore, and the Ravens' offense is ranked 31st in the league averaging only 4.5 yards per play.

Perhaps S Will Allen said it best: "We're getting on a roll at the right time.", Fox Sports, NY Post, USA Today


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Steelers Beat Browns 27-11; Ron Cammarata's "View From The Stands"--- Would Expanding Roster Depths Improve The Game?

Steelers Back In The Hunt: Beat Browns 27-11
After one of the poorest starts in franchise history, the playoffs to the Steelers now look like a possibility. The Steelers (5-6) remain in the hunt after besting the Browns 27-11 for their third straight win.
The Numbers:
  • Roethlisberger improved to 37-11 in starts against division teams. He's 16-1 against the Browns since 2004, his rookie season.
  • Ben was 22/34 for 217 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
  • Bell rushed for an impressive 80 yards on 23 attempts.
  • Antonio Brown managed 92 yards on six receptions and one TD.
  • Sanders had 52 yards on six receptions including one TD.
  • Heath Miller recorded 41 yards on five receptions.
  • Steelers play selection was 50 for 50 on rushes and passes.
  • Steelers also won time of possession by approximately 7 minutes.
  • Third down efficiency was 29%.
  • Red zone was 50%.
  • Penalties-Yards: 2-8
  • Defense only allowed 55 yards rushing low for the season.

AFC North Standings

1. Cincinnati 7-4
2. Steelers 5-6
3. Baltimore 5-6
4. Cleveland 4-7

Next Game: Steelers at Ravens,  Thursday (Thanksgiving Day),  8:30 p.m. NBC

A View From The Stands

Would Expanding Roster Depth Improve The Game?

Sadly, over the past several weeks we have been reminded of the half century commemoration of President Kennedy's death by way of various media. Kennedy's love for football and in particular the Army/Navy game is well documented. The 1963 Army/Navy game was postponed the weekend following the President's death, and played in early December.  Many experts of Army/Navy football history view that game as the iconic classic of this rivalry, and played in tribute to the fallen Commander in Chief. Jack Ford, the ESPN legal analyst, produced a wonderful documentary on this event that has been broadcast on the CBS Sports Network. If you have the opportunity, and see it on the schedule, watch this one hour broadcast. It's a wonderful piece of American popular culture.

In that horrible weekend, a young NFL Commissioner, Pete Rozelle, after consulting with Kennedy's Press Secretary, chose to play scheduled games, based on the decision that the games might provide cathartic relief for a nation in mourning. Years later, Rozelle would claim this to be his greatest blunder as the league's commissioner. The Steelers owner, Dan Rooney, has repeatedly echoed the same sentiment.

In retrospect of this fifty year span, it has given contemplation on how the league and the game changed so dramatically from being second rate to the more popular college brand in 1963, to being the king of American televised sports in 2013.  For the purpose of this commentary, let's focus on the salary structure and the income generated through the business of the NFL. In 1963, salaries were minuscule compared to today, which is obvious in all walks of life. But, in 1963, the differential between what players were paid by their respective position was not as dramatic as what we see in 2013. For example, salary levels between the quarterback of 1963 were measurably more comparable with their team mates than what we see in today's league where the lion's share of cap space is budgeted to meet the market requirements paid to the star players, such as starting QB's.

In the Steelers present day salary cap structure, the large piece of the salary pie goes to the QB and a veteran safety. The market place dictates these inordinate windows of opportunity, so these comments are not made to disdain either Ben or Troy, or their skills; it is just the financial reality of today's game.

In the spirit of commentary, we will offer another scenario that is fantasy. Please bear with my seeming naivete as this proposal offers a simplistic approach to the much more complex issue of roster size. For people who pay close attention to the NFL, not the casual fan, there is a rumbling that the game is changing for the worse. That play is not as competitive, as good as it could be, or that it has been in recent decades.  Players are injured at peculiarity higher incidents than in years past...season ending injuries. Are injuries more prevalent today only because the players are so much bigger or stronger? Are players not prepared as well because summer camps are run differently today than in the past? Or is it just parity?

Perhaps there is something much deeper and inherently wrong in a system that is stymied by the existing salary cap and roster limitations. Very few NFL owners or groups of owners are solely dependent on football alone as the only source for their business portfolio (outside of the Packers organization). On the whole, NFL owners see higher revenue percentages generated by their football ventures, generally far exceed profit margins recognized by more traditional businesses. Outside of the gigantic dollars associated with television rights, ownership is making lots of money, especially when tying in all the ancillary products like food and beverage concessions, parking, and personal and luxury seat licensing with annual fees. Assuming this as logical theory, then where is it written that full time NFL rosters could not be expanded to accommodate the greater need for the good of the game. For example, every team is permitted a 53 man roster to dress at season's beginning. Yet every time a player is hurt and unable to perform, players are brought up from taxi squads, or brought in off a waiver wire. Predictably, often this produces lower caliber play, because it takes time to assimilate, in some cases learn a new playbook, or blend into the chemistry of the locker room. What if that 53 man roster was increased by 5 or 10 players? Obviously, it would cost ownership, millions more in salaries and expenses for an expanded roster of full time players, but the research may justify the costs, considering the big picture.

More specifically, look at the Steelers present day roster and consider the crying and whining specific to our poor offensive line play. In Pittsburgh, all we hear on the talk shows and in print is who can they get to play based on the roster limitations? It is to the point that if we suffer another injury to the interior offensive line that we will be moving Heath Miller to tackle (sarcasm please). If roster sizes were permitted to increase when camp breaks in August, and more players took every day reps, and coaches could see the development throughout the term of an entire season, then many of the young players that showed so much promise on draft day might bloom and turn into good players quicker. Instead, when injuries happen, we hear these stories about the guy working as a substitute teacher, or selling cars, when he gets the call. That is nice sounding, but that guy would be better suited to help a team if already on the roster.

In this make believe scenario, a better league may find a way to flatten yet expand salaries to the point where the majority of monies were not earmarked to starting quarterbacks, and rosters were expanded to offer real competitive depth at all positions. The NFL in the last 50 years has re-branded itself on numerous occasions. It is time to rethink its own great expectations and go back to the drawing board in looking at roster depth and expanded limits for the long term good of the game.

Ron Cammarata
Section 110--Row CC-Seat 10, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo Sports

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Steelers Beat Down Motown 37-27

Roethlisberger Shreds Lions 37-27

Steelers (4-6) burst out of the blocks early in their game against the Lions and then regained their momentum with a second half rally beating the Detroit Lions 37-27.

Roethlisberger was sharp. He had one of his best games of the season passing for 367 yards and four touchdowns including two TD's in the closing minutes of the game. WR Antonio Brown was impressive as well managing 147 yards on seven receptions. Two of those receptions were touchdowns.

The Steelers defense, asleep in the second quarter, awoke in the second half and shut down the Lions.

The Lions remain winless in Pittsburgh for the last 58 years. Pittsburgh owns Detroit with 12 of 14 wins in their history.

Perhaps Coach Tomlin summed the game best when he said, "Boy, that's a satisfying victory."

The Numbers
  • Roethlisberger was 29/45 with 367 yards and four TD's including zero interceptions.
  • Steelers passing dominated in play selection once again 63% vs. 38% rushing.
  • Rushing yards were negligible with Le'Veon Bell's 36 yards on 18 attempts. Bell also had four receptions for 52 yards.  Ben chalked up 12 yards himself.
  • On 7 receptions, Antonio Brown finished the day with 147 yards and two TD's.
  • Heath Miller added 67 yards on 8 receptions.
  • Cotchery had 48 yards on 3 receptions and one TD.
  • Wheaton  with 3 receptions totaled 38 yards.
  • At this time last season, Steelers were 6-4.

Next Game: Steelers at Browns Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. 1 p.m. ET

Fox Sports,, Yahoo Sports, USA Today

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Steelers Take It To Bills 23-10; Ben On Trade Rumors

Steelers Bounce Back With Running Game Beating Bills 23-10

In snapping a two-game losing streak, perhaps the narrative that stands out in the Steelers win over the Bills today is what's been lacking for most of the season. The Steelers rushed 52% of the time versus passing at 48%. Steelers managed 120 yards rushing (total 136) with Bell (57 yards and 1 TD), Dwyer (38) and Sanders (25). In addition, Antonio Brown had an impressive 104 yards receiving on six receptions. Cotchery added another TD (now leading the team with 6 touchdowns this season).

Ben Roethlisberger ended the game with 204 yards (18/30) and one touchdown. He also had one interception and was sacked four times. Roethlisberger has been sacked 35 times this season already. Considering his offensive line is riddled with injuries, this stat should  come as no surprise anyone.

The Numbers:

  • Steelers time of possession was almost a full 12 minutes more than the Bills (35:16 to 24:44)
  • Steelers managed 19 first downs.
  • The Steelers came into this game with an average of 37.4% on third-down efficiency. They ended this game at 47%.
  • Red zone efficiency was 40%.
  • Average yards per rush 4.1 with average yards per pass at 4.8.
  • When the Steelers opponents rush for less than 100 yards, the Steelers are 3-0. If it's more than 100 yards, they are 0-6. The Bills ended with 95 yards rushing.

Ben On Trade Rumors

"One of the BS stories I ever heard of. I want to be a Steeler for life...I want to finish my career here" Roethlisberger in post-game interview.

Fox Sports,, Yahoo Sports

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bills @ Steelers Preview: Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, 1 p.m.

Buffalo Bills (3-6) @ Steelers (2-6)
Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. 1 p.m. ET CBS

Game Notes:
  • In last week's game against the Patriots, the Steelers gave up the most yards---610---and points---55---in franchise history.
  • The Steelers are 7-1 at home in the regular season against the Bills.
  • The Bills have dropped four straight and eight of nine to the Steelers, including the playoffs.
  • A win would make Roethlisberger 66-39 during the regular season and 38-14 at home.
  • TE Heath Miller is two TD's away from tying Buddy Dial for the fourth most receiving TD's in franchise history.
  • Polamalu needs one interception to tie Jack Ham and Darren Perry for the seventh most in team history.
  • Pittsburgh is 31st in rush defense with an average of 131.3 yards.
  • Both teams will be trying to avoid their third straight defeat.
  • Buffalo's three QB's have been sacked 28 times and rank last in the league with a 55.4% completion rate.
  • Bills have been impressive in their running game and rushing the passer this season. This game could give them an opportunity to take advantage of Pittsburgh's two weaknesses.
  • Steelers play selection for the entire season: 65% passing and 35% rushing.
  • Steelers will be facing rookie QB E.J. Manuel
  • RT Marcus Gilbert is questionable (ankle) as is Mike Adams (rib injury). CB Ike Taylor is probable (concussion).
  • Line right now: Steelers by 3., Fox Sports, Bleacher Report

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Patriots 55-Steelers 31

Steelers Fall To 2-6 In Loss To Patriots

Roethlisberger had an impressive 400 yards with 4 TD's but so did Tom Brady. Brady decided to come out of his recent under performance and ended the game with 432 yards and 4 TD's. But there was also one other significant difference. Ben was intercepted twice.

I hesitate to call the game a blow-out considering the Steelers kept the game close for the first three quarters. In fact, the Steelers were still in the game with about 7 minutes left in the third quarter battling back to a 24-24 deadlock. Unfortunately for the Steelers, football has four quarters.  It was in that 4th quarter that one cannot deny the Patriots blew out the Steelers. The Patriots scored 28 points to the Steelers 7 in that last quarter. Brady did what he does best. He took over and never looked back.

The Numbers:
  • Steelers dropped to 2-6 for the first time since 2006.
  • Roethlisberg's pass to Brown was the 200th of his career.
  • Steelers play selection was heavy on the passing side yet again--passing 71% of the time.
  • Steelers edged out the Patriots in Time of Possession by about 3 minutes.
  • Patriots managed 33 first downs to the Steelers 24.
  • Steelers 3rd down efficiency was 38% compared to 58% for the Patriots.
  • Steelers red zone efficiency was an impressive 75%.
  • Steelers rushing yards: 108 but no TD's on rushes.
  • Net passing yards: 371
  • Penalties: 8-96
  • Cotchery had a big day with 3 TD's and 96 yards.

Next Game: Bills @ Steelers. Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013.  1 p.m. EST, ESPN NFL, Fox Sports

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Steelers @ Patriots Preview Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013

Steelers (2-5) At Patriots (6-2)
Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013. 4:25 p.m. ET CBS

The last road game the Steelers won against the Patriots was on Nov. 30, 2008. The Steelers have never beaten Tom Brady in New England. In fact, Brady is 6-2 against the Steelers.

But the Steelers are not concerned about those statistics. They're more concerned about getting back into playing Steelers football. Coach Tomlin still believes those areas that need to be fixed can be even after the embarrassing loss to the Raiders last week. "Our record is our record. There's nothing we can do about what has been played," said Tomlin earlier this week.

However, one statistic sticks out like a broken tibia. Namely, the Steelers have been disappointing in accumulating rushing yards. While the NFL overall average is almost 814 yards, the Steelers are sitting on a lowly 481 yards. Add to that, the Steelers are now tied for 27th in the league for scoring averaging 17.9 points per game. In other words, offensive production is conspicuous by its absence.

Ben Roethlisberger is going to also have to up his game especially in picks. He's currently sitting on 7, just one shy of his overall total all of last season.  Moreover, of the Patriots 10 interceptions, seven have been at home. However, there is some good news for the Steelers. Tom Brady is not playing as well as he has in the past. His passing rating is currently 70.9---20.7 below his career mark.

Probable Inactive List:

Landry Jones, Markus Wheaton, Curtin Brown and David DeCastro (R ankle injury last week against the Raiders)., Fox Sports