Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

AFC Championship Discussion Thread

This thread is for discussion of Sunday's AFC Championship between Pittsburgh and Denver: before, during, and after the game.

You can find discussion of the NFC Championship between Seattle and Carolina here.

Comments

1
by Israel (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 8:08am

FIRST.

It seems to me that all this hype about sixth-seed teams is alot of hooey. The wild card teams have one major disadvantage - they generally aren't as good. That's why they are WC, not division champions. A secondary disadvantage is the lack of home field advantage.

In the case of the Steelers, they tied for the division and split games with the division winner. They are sixth rather than third because of a second level tie-breaker. So actually, aside from the first road playoff game against that s ame division winner, the Steelers are quite close to being a third seed.

So, yeah, they are/will be the first sixth seed to do whatever it is they do, but that is really the least important aspect of the conclusion of their year.

GO STEELERS!

2
by Tim (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 10:29am

You have to check out the article Bill Johnson wrote about the City of Pittsburgh and fans! You can read it on www.rockymountainnews.com. He calls Pittsburgh a butt-ugly city! This is exactly how the trash-talking begins between cities! Talk about irresponsible journalism!

3
by admin :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 2:01pm

I'm not sure the right place to put this, so I'll ask here and hope I can get an answer before the game.

I just bought a PS2 and Madden and went last night to play DEN vs. PIT for fun. And I cannot believe how BAD the Broncos are. The Madden people rated Denver a "74." That's lower than Arizona or Detroit or Oakland. I understand if Chicago isn't rated high -- these things are done before the preseason even starts -- but Denver was in the playoffs last year. What the hell? Does anyone know the reason for this?

4
by matt (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 2:17pm

why denver should win:

Everyone is still disrespecting them. I was really scared that if pittsburgh won then the Broncos would become the huge media favorite and it'd go to their head. Instead (even though the smart guys in vegas know denver's the favorite) most media hotshots are lining up behind the steelers because "they win on the road" and "rothlisburger is the next brady" and "plummer isn't that good." Take a look at the media coverage of the New England game- the broncos force 5 turnovers and everyone still says "the patriots beat themselves." The story is that the patriots didn't play their normal brand of mistake-free football and noone can figure out why. Oh gee, maybe because Denver freakin' rules and outplayed them! Here's an example: the biggest turnover, Champ's INT, was a result of a big blitz and a DB switch. Darrent WIlliams was on the guy brady was throwing to when they lined up but Champ and Darrent switched during the route. As a result Brady thought he was throwing toward a rookie cornerback but he actually threw to the best CB in the NFL who made a great play. How is that the patriots killing themselves? The Broncos just did an incredible job, and they've been making picks like that all season. They lead the league in turnover ratio so it's not like it's some fluke.

Instead we're seeing lavish praise heaped on the Steelers for beating the colts (who always choke) even though they tried in every way they could to give that game away at the end (the stalled drive which could've sealed it, the Bettis fumble, and two dropped interceptions not including the Polomalu stupid call.) Big Ben was unimpressive when it mattered whereas Plummer threw a great TD pass to Rod in crunchtime as well as a big 45 yard play on a bootleg to really seal the game. The latter being the type of play Plummer's made all season. I bet that's fueling the Broncos like crazy and I hope the media never wakes up.

5
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 2:59pm

3: One of the new features in Madden this year is they rate a quarterback's descision making skills & 'field vision'. This, as you can imagine, is highly subjective so I'd guess that Plummer, due to his past reputation, was given a low rating in this area. Also, nobody expected that importing the Cleveland Browns defensive line would turn out as well as it did. Perhaps a lot of thier ranking was influenced by that. I haven't played the new Madden, so it's possible I have no idea what I'm talking about, though.

6
by matt (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 3:40pm

Well actually in Madden I've found that my "overall rating" changes according to scheme and playbook I have selected. The Broncos are an overall 87 I think (with an O and D in the high 80s too) but I've seen it as low as 72 with I switch to a Balanced D playbook and start Anderson at Tailback.

I could be wrong about this, but I think that's how it is.

7
by Balaji (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 4:36pm

#4: Really? I've been seeing a lot of articles about how "Big Ben makes bad decisions", "the Steelers held on to win", "Denver never loses at home", "Pittsburgh won't be able to blitz Plummer like they did Manning", and my personal favorite, "Pittsburgh should be tired from all the road games and is due for a loss".

The general theme I've picked up is "Pittsburgh's a good team, but Denver is at home and only one team has ever won three road playoff games before." Lots of love for Denver.

8
by matt (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 4:42pm

Big Ben makes bad decisions�, “the Steelers held on to win�, “Denver never loses at home�, “Pittsburgh won’t be able to blitz Plummer like they did Manning�, and my personal favorite, “Pittsburgh should be tired from all the road games and is due for a loss�.

All of the above, aside from "big ben makes bad decisions" is very likely true. A statistical comparison, which I think I saw on this site, showed that blitzing is less effective against denver than any other team in the playoffs. They pick it up well, Plummer's very mobile, and they run too much playaction. Who knows though, Pittsburgh has a great D so if anyone's gonna blitz Denver effectively it'll be them.

The Steelers certainly did "hold on to win." If that game had ended at half I would be heaping praise on Pittsburgh but they finished that game like that didn't want to win it.

I think it may also be true that Pittsburgh is running out of gas from two road wins- they certainly looked it at the end of that colts game.

9
by nick (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 4:52pm

I'm a true Broncos homer and I must say that the Steelers worry me...more than New England. The model I worry about is the Kansas City chiefs...a very rush-heavy offense and opportunistic passing game. The broncos have quick but smaller sized linebackers, and a running game that pounds it up the middle can begin to wear down the second level. If the game is tight and the Steelers are working on a 35 rush attempt game, I think the Broncos won't have it in them to adjust. And the Broncos MUST run better than last week to win. It will be a battle for run games, for sure.

10
by Balaji (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 4:55pm

Hey, I never said those statements were totally wrong. I'm just saying I'm not seeing any excessive love for the Steelers from the media. But it could always be a case of tinted glasses - you're looking for anti-Denver stuff to feel disrespected, I'm looking for pro-Denver stuff.

Thankfully, there are no media types disrespecting Rodney Harrison right now.

11
by matt (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 5:11pm

balaji, cheers, you're probably right about our perspective differences.

Also nick, I;m concerned too mostly about Pitt's defense. The broncos don't play well against physical defenses, thinking here of KC and the NY giants...

They match up really well with denver, but then again Denver matches up well with them. As I mentioned Denver is the best team in the NFL against the Blitz and that's what the Steelers love to do.

12
by nick (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 5:53pm

The one thing that I think may get the Steelers in trouble is over-aggressive defensive play. I would like to see the Broncos run the stretch play a couple of times and try and hit the edge, then get the cut back lane open when/if the Steelers become over aggressive on the strong side. Also, I'd like to see some screens and throws to tight end Jeb putzier to keep Troy Palomalu honest.

Of course, the Broncos might have the same problem, particularly on the blitz. The Pats did a nice job adjusting to the all-out blitz, and they eventually made the Broncos pay with short drops to the tight end. I wouldn't mind seeing more coverage protection out of the Broncos and force Big Ben to make decisions.

13
by Steve Z (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 6:32pm

Re: #2

He calls Pittsburgh a butt-ugly city! This is exactly how the trash-talking begins between cities!
How silly of us Western Pennsylvanians. We could have gentrified the whole rusting mess US Steel and their kind left us when the regional economy imploded. From world-class industrial plant to big honking wine and cheese shops and luxury condos. But we missed the boat. It just goes to show how backward we yinzers are! How could we not miss the boat?

14
by Björn (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 6:37pm

I would not be surprised at all to see Denver tone down their blitzes this week. But the main factor that has allowed Denver to blitz heavily this hear has been stellar play by their corners.

RE: Matt #4
I hadn't noticed the DB switch on the play. I was probably too giddy, then gravely concerned, then giddy again. That play was an emotional roller coaster ride. Kinda like Bettis' fumble and the ensuing drive, but in in a more compressed timeframe.

15
by Tim (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 7:36pm

#13 You missed the point. The article was supposed to be about a football game.... Not a "travel guide article" I still say it promotes contempt between two cities, that otherwise didn't have it! Responsible Journalism? I suggest they go back to the stupid comments about "Ben the Cry Baby Rothelisberger" or "Jake the Fake Plummer" People handle that as part of the hype! I think it is expected in the NFL, College Football and maybe even High School games. What the heck did that article have to do with the football game at hand.... trashing a city? I still feel it promotes unwarranted animosity. Prior to this article, it is my opinion, (on both sides of the fence) the feeling had been... watch the game, root for your home team, and hopefully they'll come out on top (even though privately, I'm sure each fan ruled the other out.) Face it, I'm pretty sure most fans realize that on Monday after the Super Bowl (regardless of the outcome)it probably won't affect their life (other than perhaps depression!) I think these journalists need to get a grip!

16
by matt (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 7:38pm

I hear ya Bjorn. Denver has been winning with a positive turnover margin all season and it shouldn't surprise anyone to have them win in the playoffs in the same way. What I don't understand is, why assume that the Patriots just played uncharacteristic football? They've been stellar in the past so why not assume that the Broncos just forced those errors instead of assuming the unlikely: that N.E. just layed down.

17
by matt (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 7:46pm

Tim, I'd be defensive too if I lived in that stupid hellhole!

Note: The above is an ironic joke. I agree that dissing a city is stupid, esp. when the fans have been impressively civil to each other.

18
by Adam (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 7:50pm

HERE WE GO STEELERS HERE WE GO!

19
by Steve Z (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 7:57pm

Re: #15

I did miss the point! That fool called Pittsburgh butt-ugly because it actually turned a lot of the old industrial buildings into wine and cheese shops, condos and the like. The author seems to think that we should have spent precious money eliminating about 150 years of physical plant and living history so that he wouldn’t have to look at old buildings. Give him a ten-year-old strip mall any day! I guess he’d also complain if he were touring Manhattan’s Soho district, even though he probably couldn’t afford to shop or live there.

Actually, I did get the point his article having little to do with the football game. I just questioned his taste. It seems I gave him too much credit.

20
by nick (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 8:02pm

I really think denver is getting dissed in the media. See Gene Wojciechowski on espn. Five out of six "experts" on si.com picked pats last week and steelers this week. I know the steelers, pats, and colts are more "likeable" and have a better storyline, but come on...

21
by matt (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 8:12pm

Nick you're right, that's what I'm saying. Next week if Denver wins we're gonna be hearing about how good Jake Delhomme is in the postseason and everyone's going to fashionably pick Carolina against Denver.

22
by Tim (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 9:48pm

#19 Point taken.... I just wanted to keep the game in focus and not deviate from that perspective. I believe Mr. Johnson was trying to do the opposite and that leads to contempt. Personally, I don't believe either city needs it. Let the better team win on that day. End of story...

23
by DenverMatt (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 9:53pm

I went to espn.com, cbssportsline.com, and nfl.com earlier this week. espn and cbssportsline both had cover stories about rothlisberger and bettis, about the resilient steelers, etc. Both had 'experts' picking the steelers with a slight edge. nfl.com was a little more balanced, but still had more steelers stories than about the broncos.
I have to give the Steelers their due, they have had a great year. But I haven't seen much media attention for Denver all year long. I admit I was skeptical of their draft (actually I though their draft was horrid on draft day) and bringing in the "Browncos", the four Browns' D-linemen.
But if you've watched the Broncos this year, they are a team that knows how to win. They aren't flashy on offense, but they get the job done.
And don't think Broncos fans are looking past the Steelers, I've been having Troy Palomalu nightmares!! LOL. I give them all the credit in the world for their playoff run.
Unfortunately it will end Sunday.

24
by DenverMatt (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 9:55pm

^ should end Sunday, hopefully ^ .....

25
by Björn (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 10:12pm

If you guy's think that that is bad, when my town of Edmonton held the IIAF World Championships of Athletics in '02, some British journalist wrote a big story about our city and how boring it was. He even nicknamed us Deadmonton. Welcome to our city! Enjoy our hospitality! Trash our city when you get home!

26
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 10:28pm

My present theory about the Broncos is that they win for entirely unsexy reasons that don't get a lot of respect.

#1) Field position. This was a huge offseason priority for Shanahan and he talked about it a lot. I guess the comparative field position was really bad in '04. In all of '05, field position has been a battle that Denver has regularly won, although I don't have stats on that. Maybe they were even adjusting their play calling on third and longs because they were okay with punting from a good field position vantage. As for NE, I've mentioned it before, but they forced NE to start drives from within their 20 six times. Denver didn't start within their 20 all game. And even without the penalties and turnovers, they had a huge field position advantage (more than ten yards) in drive starting yard line.

Does DVOA figure in field position in any sense? After all, a fifteen yard play deep in a team's own territory isn't as valuable as a fifteen yard play that gets you in scoring position.

#2) Turnovers. This was another big offseason priority for Shanahan - both in increasing received turnovers, and in limiting lost turnovers. Teams don't tend to get a lot of respect for getting turnovers because it's so seemingly random, but the thing about limiting one's own turnovers... really contributes to increasing one's odds of winning.

3) Matchups. Just plain old coaching. I've watched Denver for a long time, and this season I've seen something kind of new, where it really does appear that they are a different team from week to week. Sometimes they rush like crazy. Against Buffalo, they passed first. Sometimes they go for the short passes, but they also have a good midrange game that they'll focus on sometimes, especially with their tight ends. (The only thing I haven't really seen from them is an effective screen pass.)

The team just doesn't really seem to care about stats. Of course their passing defense doesn't look good if they're trading yardage for time, and if opposing teams are regularly starting drives backed up way in their end. Their running backs obviously aren't selfish. And there really aren't any major stars - Champ is the only one that comes close.

Yeesh, it's starting to sound like I'm describing New England from a couple of years ago.

27
by pghfan (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 11:16pm

The same guy has now written a nicer column (click my name), claiming to better "get" Pittsburgh. I don't know if 2 columns was his plan all along, but it seems pretty disingenuous to me.

28
by Tim (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 11:17pm

#17 First of all, Pittsburgh is not a "hell hole" If you were "well traveled" you would already know that. Secondly, I understood the comment. I wanted to get away from the "travel channel" (that you obviously are still trying to pursue) and concentrate on the game... The initial writerunderstood via his later comment. Apparently, you did not?

29
by NF (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 12:39am

Does nobody remember that while a few blitzes caused Brady to throw incompletions, by the second-half the blitzes allowed him to make mid-range passes with ease? The Broncos big blitz was getting burned repeatedly.

Also, the two sacks of Manning that should have ended the Colts-Steelers game were actually from just bringing the nose tackle down the middle and the defensive ends trying to go outside and around.

30
by matt (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 12:59am

tim I was making a joke and wrote that I was making ajoke. What are you talking about? I'm sure pittsburgh is great city.

31
by Pio (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 1:31am

29: I think part of that can also be chalked up to him taking riskier throws, which had some rewards but also resulted in the 2 interceptions. neither one of the ints should have been thrown, especially the 2nd into what in the end amounted to triple coverage.

32
by Mikey (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 5:37am

#26 - Fantastic post. I couldn't agree more. I've been saying for days that Denver reminds me of the 2001 Patriots, and to me that is a scary statement.

Win the field position battle, ball-hawk, run the football, wait for the other guy to fck up. Sounds simple, right? Turns out you can win a hell of a lot of games that way.

33
by JC (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 6:40am

Thank you for pointing these articles out. I read both of them and was able to take something of value away from them. This guy basically went from the airport to the strip. For those of us from Pittsburgh we should all know better than to get bent outta shape over this perspective. One thing he fails to mention is the dramatic exit of the Fort Pitt tubes. All that set aside - Pittsburgh (my home before moving to the hell of California) is made up of many townships, ethnicities, and areas. You would need to spend weeks there to really get a good visual and understanding of this city. Those who visit for a day or two are most likely to experience gray skies and see old brick buildings as far as the eye can see. Those of us who know better revel in our blue collar town - we love our dive bars and our restaraunts Primanti's is awesome, along with Tom's diner, Yovi's hot dogs, Mario's, Jimmy's up and over fish sandwiches, Sammy's pastrami, and there nothing like a Vincent's pizza - the list goes on. Bottom line is we have tradition, a home grown attitude, a work ethic unparalled anywhere else - and some of the best sports fans in the nation. This includes the Pens and the Pirates - we go equally as nuts when they perform well (I was there for our Stanley cups). We stand behind our teams - even when we move away (this is why you'll find a DEDICATED Steelers bar in all 50 states and every major city - 5 here in Southern California alone). This attitude and tradition carries over to our beloved football team. They remain consistent and loyal to both their fans and their staff. The Steelers are consistent - not bowing to trends in the NFL - this, I believe, is why they are the most feared during this time of the year. The attitude of the city and the team are the same - work harder when there is hard work to be done. Yeah I'm sure someone will write about our past AFC Championship losses - but consider this - 2 were to a "dynasty" and 1 was to a hall of fame QB.

I visited Denver last year and since my stay there consisted of a trip from the airport to downtown I guess I'm qualified to make a comment or two. Denver is very nice. It has a beautiful mountain backdrop, a very clean downtown, and a really nice pool hall. For the most part it seemed like a western version of Pittsburgh without the diversity. There is an influx of West Coast types there so an easy outward appearance would be to say the people are well, different. Denver, you have a nice city and I hope those of you who read that article can understand that it takes more than a day or two to pass judgements such as the ones presented in his article. Furthermore, you might want to wait until after February to find out for yourselves because we really do take our Steelers seriously - as a heart attack - sometimes.

As for the game. I think these are two very dynamic teams that appear to mirror each other. I believe the Steelers will win for these reasons; Ben is unstoppable right now, we have Jerome and he is gonna smack the D around in the 3rd and 4th quarter after your guys are tired from chasing Willie, Troy will be there to harass the O all day and finally, our pass rush is amazingly fast (I think Peyton had about .6 seconds to do something with the ball - Joe Montana couldn't have handled that). Good luck Denver - you wanted us - now you've got us!

34
by Mikey (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 6:55am

#27 -

Disingenuous or not, I enjoyed the column. I do believe that he's sincerely saying to Denver readers: You can't believe how much these people want it.

I grew up in the Burgh and I say this with only the greatest affection: it's ugly. The streets are ugly, the people are ugly, the accent is ugly. Embrace it folks, it's a fact. Given the choice, nobody in their right mind would choose damp, gray Pittsburgh over beautiful, majestic Colorado. And that's fine. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Many years ago Pittsburgh was famously described as "hell with the lid taken off." Am I the only one who takes a perverse pride in that? For decades, people came to Pittsburgh with nothing but a willingness to do the hardest, dirtiest, sweatiest work imaginable. These were the people who couldn't make it in New York, couldn't make it in Boston, so they came west and did the filthy, backbreaking work that built America. The Pittsburgh of today is their legacy.

In my experience, there has always been a small, affluent, vocal minority in Pittsburgh that wishes the city would become a smaller New York. Well, I respectfully say to hell with that. I say let's hear it for the "butt-ugly" Pittsburgh, for the blast furnace town that has too quickly faded, for the yinzers and millhunks who remember when you could keep time by the whistle from the mill. That's my town.

Gee whiz, I've gone over the edge with this one. This post is proof that you shouldn't come home drunk and start posting on FO. Well....I'm giving myself a free pass. If you're a Steeler fan you only get one chance a year to blow the AFC Championship Game, so why not get sentimental?

Steeler nation, rally behind your butt-ugly town. Put away your store-bought Terrible Towels and pull out a dirty yellow dishrag like we did back in the day. Throw back a shot and an Iron, and take pride in our dirty, ugly, stinking, beautiful city. Here we go, Steelers, here we go!

35
by Adam (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 11:34am

I've got goosebumps after reading this thread.

Pittsburgh rules.

I wasn't really around in the 70's when the Steelers Dynasty was at it's peak, and while I remember the Pirates winning the divisions, the Penguins winning the cups, and the Steelers playing in the last Super Bowl I really don't think i've ever seen the city as a whole as jacked up as they are now.

It's really amazing.

Every newscast no matter the time or station leads off with like 20 minutes of non-stop Steelers coverage.

Live from Denver. Live from Sports Bars. Lives from fans homes that are totally black and gold.

It's really incredible. I can't imagine it being like this in other NFL Cities. Sorry. I just can't.......

36
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 11:55am

Adam, as a native Pittsburgher, transplanted to the other side of the state, I assure you that it was crazier here in Philly last year. Lots worse. Triple Murder below the fold, McNabb breaking wind above the fold worse. But that's Philly.

37
by Walt Pohl (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 12:43pm

Pittsburgh is prettier than Denver. You want ugly, try Dallas.

38
by DGL (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 1:57pm

Yeah, but the mountains outside Denver are prettier than the mountains outside Pittsburgh. The Foothills are scenic, but the Rockies are amazing.

What this has to do with football, I can not say.

39
by JC (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 2:02pm

Actually. if you want ugly go to Cleveland.

40
by Björn (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 2:36pm

My city can beat up your city.

41
by DenverMatt (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 3:55pm

#33 and #34 - There are actually alot of Steeler fans in Denver. They are definitely good fans, no doubt about it.
This thread is going way off track though, Aaron we need the previews put up ASAP!
Anyways I disagree that Steeler fans 'want it more', I don't know if you can measure that. If you're looking for fairweather football fans go to Boston, you won't find many here in Denver!
I think this is going to be a great game, I agree with #33 these are two great teams that mirror each other in many ways. Strong running game, a strong, blitzing defense, both teams dedicated to the run on offense.
And for #34 late-night drunken posts are the way to go, I've posted several on FO over the years! Go Broncos!!!!

42
by Mikey (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 4:24pm

Denver's got great fans and a great tradition. Earlier this week I was going through Broncos history trying to find some embarrassing stuff to rip them for on another site where the trash talk is a bit more unrestrained than it is here. You know what I found? Nothing. (well, except Romanowski) Point is: Denver and their fans get nothing but respect from me.

I do think, however, that Pittsburgh fans now are where Bronco fans were before Elway finally won the big one. So close so many times and you're just dying to finally break through.

43
by JC (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 4:44pm

I agree Mikey, other than Romo the fans and Broncos deserve respect. They resemble the Steelers in many ways. The one thing that all of you may be interested in is that you will find the Steeler faithful everywhere. Here in California I go to a Steelers bar every weekend. There is always 150+ fans decked out in black and gold. I found the same when I was in Louisville KY and Nags Head NC. I'm curious if this is true for Denver fans. Oh yeah - one more funny thing - the Steeler fans in KY actually tailgated in the parking lot before the game - that's hardcore.

44
by Dr. 20-20 Hindsight (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 4:47pm

I finally realized two good possibilities for different strategies, up by 3, opponents' two-yard line, opponents have all three time-outs, 1:20 to go.

First down, line up in victory formation, kneel the ball down, opponents take a time-out.

Second down, line up in victory formation, QB draw off-tackle for the touchdown.

Failing that, I think the right strategy might be to kneel it down three times and then go for the touchdown with your goal-line offense on fourth down. Don't make it? I'd rather have the opponents at their own 5 or worse, down by 3, then kick off to the opponents with them down by 6.

I'm not seriously criticizing Cowher, though, since just trying to go for the touchdown may be the best strategy of all. I also think Cowher's on-side kick call in Super Bowl XXX was one of the most inspired gambles in NFL history.

45
by JC (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 5:16pm

Ok, I agree we should get back to talking football. I'm curious how the Broncos faithful feel about handling the Steelers pass rush. I really think that the blitz package LeBeau put together last week would put fear into any QB. Honestly, after looking at the stats for both teams and reading a ton of commentary, this is starting to sound like one of the closest matched games of the year. I suspect there isn't much talk about the football game because it's very difficult to find a weakness that can be exploited by either team. I'm starting to think this game will come down to a few things: field position, opportunities to capitalize on mistakes (which I suspect will be far and few between - if at all), penalties, and special teams. Hopefully will get a good officiating team so that the Steelers won't have to beat them too.

46
by Chance (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 6:27pm

I don't think the Pittsburgh pass rush will be nearly as effective against Denver. Denver's offensive line is far quicker than Indy's, and Jake is very mobile. He actually throws better on the run, and has a knack for slipping away from defenders who are coming at him.

On offense, I think Denver will be able to run with success. Last week, they never established the run, but never really tried that much, either. I remember thinking during the game, "Why aren't they even trying to run the ball?!" The Steelers will probably get their rushing yards, too, but if Denver can keep the third downs to reasonably long yardage, say four or more yards, the Broncos should be able to keep it from getting out of hand.

I think it will be a tough game, especially early on, but I think the Broncos will prevail. If I had to pick a score, I'd go with 24-17.

47
by Kal (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 6:37pm

I think it's going to come down to two things - Plummer and Ben. Defense wise, they're both very tough teams to play against, both fairly opportunistic, both teams that like disguising elaborate blitz packages and attempting to sow confusion. They're both very good teams against the run.

Plummer does well against blitzing, true, but he doesn't do as well against complex defenses. If Plummer can be competent in the face of weird schemes and mixing up the looks, I think he'll be okay. If he gets frustrated or confused, Denver will lose.

Similarly, with Pittsburgh; I don't think that Pitt has faced a team that can pressure their line as well as Denver all year. While Indy pressured using 4 men and did so well, expect a lot more blitzes. The question is, how will Ben deal with this? If he can do what Brady did last week, I expect Pitt to do very well. If he can't or he performs similarly to how he did in the playoffs under pressure, I expect Pitt to lose.

I do think that Denver will win, but it's not an easy game to predict. One really worrisome thing is how Pitt matches up against RB screens and flat passes. They're horrible at defending it. If Denver wins, I expect a lot of passes to the RB. When Indy did it a couple of times last week it was very successful; why they didn't keep doing it, I have no idea.

48
by Mikey (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 6:48pm

I don't think we'll see Pittsburgh blitz all that much. I'd set the over/under for Steeler blitzes at a dozen. I think they'd mostly prefer to drop seven guys into coverage and see if Jake can just stand in the pocket and make the throws.

So in one sense it's probably true that the pass rush won't be as impactful as it was against the Colts - I don't see five sacks coming in this game - but I think the overall pass defense will be good.

49
by Adam (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 7:00pm

Scott Paulsen, a local radio show host wrote this column on the building of the Steelers Nation:

Nation Building
January 18, 2006

Scott Paulsen

Think about this the next time someone argues that a professional sports franchise is not important to a city's identity:

In the 1980's, as the steel mills and their supporting factories shut down from Homestead to Midland, Pittsburghers, faced for the first time in their lives with the specter of unemployment, were forced to pick up their families, leave their home towns and move to more profitable parts of the country. The steel workers were not ready for this. They had planned to stay in the ‘burgh their entire lives. It was home.

Everyone I know can tell the same story about how Dad, Uncle Bob or their brother-in-law packed a U-Haul and headed down to Tampa to build houses or up to Boston for an office job or out to California to star in pornographic videos.

All right.
Maybe that last one just happened in my family.
At this same time, during the early to mid-eighties, the Pittsburgh Steelers were at the peak of their popularity. Following the Super Bowl dynasty years, the power of the Steelers was strong. Every man, woman, boy and girl from parts of four states were Pittsburgh faithful, living and breathing day to day on the news of their favorite team. Then, as now, it seemed to be all anyone talked about.

Who do you think the Steelers will take in the draft this year?
Is Bradshaw done?
Can you believe they won't give Franco the money – what's he doing going to Seattle?
The last memories most unemployed steel workers had of their towns had a black and gold tinge. The good times remembered all seemed to revolve, somehow, around a football game. Sneaking away from your sister's wedding reception to go downstairs to the bar and watch the game against Earl Campbell and the Oilers - going to midnight mass, still half in the bag after Pittsburgh beat Oakland - you and your grandfather, both crying at the sight of The Chief, finally holding his Vince Lombardi Trophy.

And then, the mills closed.
Damn the mills.
One of the unseen benefits of the collapse of the value systems our families believed in – that the mill would look after you through thick and thin – was that now, decades later, there is not a town in America where a Pittsburgher cannot feel at home. Nearly every city in the United States has a designated “Black and Gold� establishment. From Bangor, Maine to Honolulu, Hawaii, and every town in between can be found an oasis of Iron City, chipped ham and yinzers. It's great to know that no matter what happened in the lives of our Steel City refugees, they never forgot the things that held us together as a city - families, food, and Steelers football.

It's what we call the Steeler Nation.
You see it every football season. And when the Steelers have a great year, as they have had this season, the power of the Steeler Nation rises to show itself stronger than ever. This week, as the Pittsburgh team of Roethlisberger, Polamalu, Bettis and Porter head to Denver, the fans of Greenwood, Lambert, Bleier and Blount, the generation who followed Lloyd, Thigpen, Woodson and Kirkland will be watching from Dallas to Chicago, from an Air Force base in Minot, North Dakota, to a tent stuck in the sand near Fallujah, Iraq.

I have received more email from displaced Pittsburgh Steelers fans this week than Christmas cards this holiday season.
They're everywhere.
We're everywhere.
We are the Steeler Nation.
And now, it's passing from one generation to the next. The children of displaced Pittsburghers, who have never lived in the Steel City, are growing up Steelers fans. When they come back to their parents' hometowns to visit the grandparents, they hope, above all, to be blessed enough to get to see the Steelers in person.

Heinz Field is their football Mecca.
And if a ticket isn't available, that's okay, too. There's nothing better than sitting in Grandpa's living room, just like Dad did, eating Grandma's cooking and watching the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Just like Dad did.
So, to you, Steeler Nation, I send best wishes and a fond wave of the Terrible Towel. To Tom, who emailed from Massachusetts to say how great it was to watch the Patriots lose and the Steelers win in one glorious weekend. To Michelle, from Milwaukee, who wrote to let me know it was she who hexed Mike Vanderjagt last Sunday by chanting “boogity, boogity, boogity� and giving him the “maloik�. To Jack, who will somehow pull himself away from the beach bar he tends in Hilo, Hawaii, to once again root for the black and gold in the middle of the night (his time), I say, thanks for giving power to the great Steeler Nation.

All around the NFL, the word is out that the Pittsburgh Steeler fans “travel well�, meaning they will fly or drive from Pittsburgh to anywhere the Steelers play, just to see their team. The one aspect about that situation the rest of the NFL fails to grasp is that, sometimes, the Steeler Nation does not have to travel. Sometimes, we're already there.

Yes, the short sighted steel mills screwed our families over.
But they did, in a completely unintended way, create something new and perhaps more powerful than an industry.
They helped created a nation.
A Steeler Nation.

50
by Countertorque (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 7:37pm

The Steelers are due for a spec teams letdown this weekend. It's championship game tradition.

And I wouldn't expect much crazy blitzing from the Steeler D, as the head coach has stated that he intends to keep Plummer in the pocket, rather than try to flush him out.

51
by Ben (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 7:59pm

#43

Once you get to Denver, you never want to leave. That is the reason that you don't see Denver bars in other cities. Well that and no one is actually from here - everyone just moves here.

52
by Clod (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 8:12pm

You heard it hear first

Denver 17
Pittsburg 10

53
by Paul (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 8:15pm

You think Cleveland is ugly? Have you ever been to Detroit??? No one in their right would EVER want to go there...unless it was for a really important reason, but I can't think of any..

54
by Kal (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 8:39pm

Saying Cleveland isn't ugly because Detroit is is much like saying that Angelina Jolie isn't beautiful because Monica Bellucci is.

They're both ugly cities. If you want, you can fight over which is less ugly, but they're both ugly.

55
by Whiskey (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 8:59pm

From an old Northern Exposure episode:

"Detroit is Cleveland without the glitz."

56
by JC (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 9:03pm

Best sign in Cleveland: Pittsburgh 100 miles

57
by JC (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 9:27pm

You know what, I've been thinking about Mr. Johnson's articles and something just struck me. Denver fans, you're great, I respect you, very little smack talk and much respect for our team - and I hope those sentiments are felt on your side too. As for Mr. Johnson, in case you haven't noticed, ridiculous banter such as in your articles will only serve to make the Steelers prove that you are wrong. We love to be underdogs, have a bad image, be disrespected, etc.. it fires us up. The only defense Pittsburgh (the city of) needs will be handled accordingly on Sunday. These articles are all over the media in Pittsburgh. Don't think it wasn't noticed. Denver fans, if the Broncos are outplayed on Sunday I hope you tell your mouthpiece "thank you" for pissing the Pittsburghers off.

58
by the bike messenger (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 10:22pm

Adam, you may have a point.
Over the past 4 days I have ridden my bike all over DC.
Now if you spend any amount of time here you will see more people wering Redskins gear than anything. But the amount of Steeler hats, jackets and jerseys I have noticed is really surprising to me. By far the people wearing Steelers gear outnumbers the other 30 teams combined. Also I do not think I have seen a single person wearing anything from the Panthers, Seahawks, or Bronco's.

59
by Paul (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 10:26pm

I'm looking forward to reading the AGS article that explains how being PO'd about their city being dissed provided the Steelers with the winning edge....

60
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 10:40pm

Re:#44

What's the point of doing that, though?

Just go for the TD until you get it. If you don't get in on 1st down (or 2nd, 3rd, etc.), Indy has to start burning timeouts anyways. Once you get the TD, the game is over anyways, with a 10 point lead. And if you come up empty, then Indy has to drive from their own ~2 into FG range with no timeouts, and, what, a minute or so left?

You can criticize Cowher and Whisenhunt for many things, but going for the TD there is simply not one of them.

61
by Joe (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 10:58pm

OK, so the article says that this is a pretty even game, with the Broncos getting the edge pretty much because they have home field advantage.

Yet the headline reads "Broncos the AFC Favorite by a Mile (High)".

I understand that headline writers need to find something punny to use, but how many FO articles can they directly contradict with the headlines?

62
by rk (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 11:35pm

Re: 61
There really is no contradiction there. The article says that the deciding factor is home field advantage. Since Mile High is part of Denver's stadium's name, it makes sense to say that they will win by a Mile High.

63
by Fnor (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 11:50pm

Re: Madden (sorry, didn't notice this thread)

Games consider teams to simply be the sum of their parts: namely, the players (and almost entirely the starters). Past performance doesn't mean a whole lot other than the fact that the players who were there last year will be rewritten to reflect their performances that year. So, to determine what each player "is," they get workout numbers and stats from stats, inc, run them through some formulae and get ratings spit out, then finesse them to match what scouting reports and their experts think is right.

Denver's starting defence is a bunch of cleveland rejects. Their QB has a stigma, or did before this season. They don't have a running back (for some reason Madden's staff hasn't figured out they don't NEED one). Low ranks for everyone on the team because the good people are gone or aren't considered good before the season, so when it all adds up the package is bad.

Sports video games are horribly done. Go play Mario [Baseball|Golf|Tennis|Soccer] and have some real fun. :)

64
by DGL (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 12:09am

#60:

I think the point is that the kneel-down on first down gets the defense napping, thinking that the Steelers are going to take a knee three times, let the clock run down to :35 or so, and kick the FG. Then on second down, in kneel-down formation, Hartings, Simmons, and Faneca fire out and Ben sneaks into the end zone.

Clever idea, but I also can't blame Whizzer for not coming up with it on the spur of hte moment.

65
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 12:40am

Re:#64

Except that each time you kneel, you wind up losing a yard or so, making it a little more difficult to get the TD.

And anyways, why bother with the trickery at all? The odds of not getting the TD in 4 trys from the 2 yard line is very small. Just keep going for it until you get it.

66
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 1:29am

Calig23 (#65 )--

Well, faking a kneel-down would get some karmic payback for that nonsensical fake kneel-down Manning tried in the Tennessee game.

Not that the Steelers can actually draw on the Titans'karma, unless the Colts got a bunch of bad karma from that. Which would also explain Vanderjagdt's awful figgie try at the end of the game. So it all works out, really.

67
by David (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 3:18am

It's going to be an even game but I think in the end Denver wins for a couple reasons.

1. They match up well against 3-4 defenses--they've eventually worn down San Diego (twice) and New England (twice) while avoiding sacks/turnovers from the blitz. In just about all of these games the Broncos have started slow against the 3-4 (check the 1st quarter stats) and had success in the following quarters. On another note, Indy never has matched up well against 3-4's as shown by their struggles against San Diego and (historically) New England. Why was it such a suprise Indy would struggle against another 3-4 that utilizes elaborate blitzes? I don't know why anybody isn't talking about this.

2. While both teams take risks on the blitz the Denver defense has the superior corners, which I believe has had a direct correlation on the Broncos high number of picks this season. I'd say both teams are close to even at safety/LB and play in a similar way with a safety often blitzing and speedy backers covering TE's.

These teams are so evenly matched in so many ways on offense from quarterbacks who don't make many mistakes, dynamic running back duos, solid possesion recievers, and experienced lines.

This game is going to come down to which defense can force mistakes through the blitz. I think Denver's coverage (with Bailey, Williams, and Foxworth) better equiped to give the blitz extra time to be effective. On the other hand I think Denver can max protect against the Pittsburgh blitz and eventually make them pay against Taylor and Townsend. I wouldn't be suprised if Wesley Duke had a couple of big catches over the middle.

In the end I think it'll be Denver 23 Pittsburgh 16.

68
by J (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 3:29am

Great Article.

These two teams are a mirror image of each other.

The only exceptions would be Steeler's TE Heath Miller is alittle more dangerous than Denver's TEs. Denver's CB Champ Bailey is better than any of the Steelers. Last, the two teams use different defenses, 3-4 vs. 4-3; however, both defenses use the same philosophy...pressure QB with blitzers while disguising what they are going to do (blitz or cover).

Therefore, IMO, this game will be determined by the fundamentals. Avoiding penalties, tackling well, and taking care of the ball will decide the winner.

It should be a good game.

69
by NF (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 4:01am

Someone most of us never even heard of will be the difference in this game. That's my prediction.

70
by nobodaddy (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 6:40am

My intuition here, and it has not a single number to back it up, is that one of 2 things will happen:

1) Steelers suffer big letdown in 3rd road game after huge emotional win last week. Turnovers and a big, surprising blowout by Denver.

2) The juju is too strong and the football gods decree that Bettis shall get to the show before he ends his career. Steelers win a close one.

With 2 even teams, you gotta take the home team. And you gotta take Shanahan in the postseason over Cowher.

But outcome #2 is possible; and of course that's why we watch isn't it?

My $.02, and worth every penny... :')

71
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 6:44am

DEN 49 PIT 17

:-)

72
by Björn (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 11:17am

RE: #69

Some possibilities:
Jeb Putzier
Wesley Duke
Kyle Johnson
Nick Ferguson

73
by Spot (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 11:18am

In the end, I just trust Shanahan to put together a game plan to take advantage of Pitt weaknesses on Defense more than I trust the Steelers ability to exploit holes on Denver.

74
by Born a Bronco Fan/Die a Bronco Fan (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 11:35am

Great pregame analysis!!

I apologize for all the talk about the cities--who brought up the article in the first place? Wasted a lot of comments on that stupid stuff. Both cities are great football cities with great fans and winning traditions. Good luck to both!

Araon--who is your pick? Never really got that from the article and usually you imply who you think is going to win.

Hope this game is as good as it looks to be--Please Broncos pull it out this week again

75
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 11:48am

And you gotta take Shanahan in the postseason over Cowher.

Of course, Shanahan's postseason record has largely been built upon the arm of John Elway. Without Elway, Shanahan is 1-3. When has Cowher had a QB as good as Elway? O'Donnell? Tomczak? Stewart? Maddox?

Roethlisberger might finally be the QB that Cowher has always lacked in the postseason.

And to be honest, I'm surprised at the amount of faith people have in Jake Plummer. I know he has been very efficient this year, but this is a guy who thrown 20+ picks 5 times, including even last year. If I were Broncos' fans, I'd be very worried that Plummer is a ticking time bomb- much like Vinny Testaverde or Drew Bledsoe. You know the implosion is coming, it's just a matter of when...

76
by jeff t (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 12:01pm

As I blatant Steelers homer, I think that some of you are underrating the Steelers CBs. Ike Taylor has developed into one of the best in the NFL (though, obviosly not in Bailey's league). I think he led the league in passes defensed and dropped between 5 and 10 INTs. Of course, all of the passes defensed could mean that he gets picked on a lot. I don't think that's the case here. Chad Johnson said that Ike is the best cover corner in the league, for what that's worth. On the other side, Townsend is a solid pro who doen't make many mistakes and is a pretty good tackler. The third corner is rookie Bryant McFadden. He has been coming on strong and will likely be the starter next year opposite Taylor. Many think he has pro bowl potential.

In short, Steeler CBs are the best they've been in years. They are no longer a liability and have actually been a asset throughout the season.

77
by thad (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 12:08pm

re 76
Yeah of course we are underrating Taylor.
I do not believe he was mentioned a single time in the last game. There were not a replays of the downfield coverage.
I assume he did well, they held the Colts to 3 points in the first three quarters and I never saw him get smoked. I hope the show more of all the DB's on sunday.

78
by jeff t (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 12:11pm

re:75

I understand your overall point about Shanahan but the same could be said of a lot of coaches. I mean, how many Super Bowls did Noll win without Bradshaw, Walsh without Montana, Belichick without Brady, etc? Shanny hasn't done much in the post season without Elway, so? I'm not sure it means anything. Maybe it does, maybe it does't but we just don't know yet. Having said that, and being a Steelers fan, I hope that Shanahan is actually a terrible coach and those Super Bowls were all Elway. Go Steelers!

79
by jeff t (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 12:18pm

re:77

Yeah, there were several times in the first half when Manning had time but had to throw the ball away due to good coverage. In general, I wish the networks would show more of the secondary. It's so difficult to evaluate DBs because most of what they do is never shown. Sometimes it's difficult to pick up on basic stuff like man vs zone, let alone more subtle aspects of secondary play by watching on TV.

80
by Steve Z (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 12:31pm

Re: 76, We like Ike
I think that some of you are underrating the Steelers CBs. Ike Taylor has developed into one of the best in the NFL (though, obviosly not in Bailey’s league).
Whenever I hear a talking-head say that a Steelers’ opponent needs to pick on Ike Taylor, the first thing that comes to my mind is, ‘Please God let this be so’!

81
by hector (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 12:33pm

I think Shanahan deserves the credit for unlocking Elway in a way Reeves never could. I know, apples and oranges in a sense, but let's remember Shanahan's been involved with a bunch of Super Bowl teams (five in Denver, and at least one more, I forget if it's more, in San Francisco).

I think we could have three Hall of Fame coaches working this weekend. That's pretty cool. Heck, who knows what Fox's resume will look like in 10 years.

82
by David (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 12:35pm

Is anyone else tired of hearing how the Broncos should not have beaten the Patriots. It seems as though nearly every "football expert" is talking smack about how Denver didn't win, the patriots lost. The other option is that the refs lost the game for the Patriots. I just skimmed through one last article by Mike Tanier and it made me pull my hair out. One questionable pass interference call that lacked conclusive evidence to reverse the call and all of a sudden these refs lost it for the Pats. One more thing, I'm no expert but I think that Denver forced these turnovers. I don't remember seeing any patriot fumble the ball all by himself (no shot intended Polamalu)

83
by hector (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 12:37pm

Yeah, there were several times in the first half when Manning had time but had to throw the ball away due to good coverage. In general, I wish the networks would show more of the secondary. It’s so difficult to evaluate DBs because most of what they do is never shown. Sometimes it’s difficult to pick up on basic stuff like man vs zone, let alone more subtle aspects of secondary play by watching on TV.
Very well said. We're at mercy of so many things when we try to evaluate secondary play. I hope some day we have the full picture accessible to us.

84
by Fnor (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 1:24pm

I would take Taylor over Bailey. Not that I dislike him or anything, but a CB covering #1 WRs simply cannot have the problems with deep routes that Bailey has had.

85
by Björn (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 1:26pm

#82

Troy Brown muffed a fair catch.

86
by Björn (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 2:08pm

RE: #84

Problems like what?

87
by Adam (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 2:12pm

27 hours until Kickoff..........

88
by Fnor (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 2:37pm

He gets burned on deep routes, Bjorn. Run a search for "Champ Bailey Football Outsiders" and you should get an offseason article by MDS (I think) called "The Trouble with Champ Bailey" or something like that. He just gets beat deep way too often for a top CB.

89
by Kay (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 2:55pm

I'm so proud of the STEELERS. The underdogs are taking over. I've heard so much trash talking and predictions from the middle of season until now. The Steelers are an amazing team and they will destroy Denver. Big Ben's will bring home the championship.

PITT 34 and DEN 21

90
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 3:05pm

Re:#78

I was merely pointing out that criticizing Bill Cowher's postseason adventures and using that as a reason that Denver and Mike Shanahan have an advantage is a poor argument. One of the main reasons that Shanahan has done so well in the postseason is because of Super Bowl runs with a team helmed by John Elway. Without Elway, Shanahan's postseason numbers are pretty pedestrian. Cowher's never had a QB that good, so it's amazing that he's reached the postseason and even won some games as often as he has.

91
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 3:15pm

Last weekend I gave the Broncos the slightest edge, only due to the home field, because I didn't think they'd run the ball effectively against the rejeuvanated Pats front seven, and absent not factoring the Pats fumbling a bunch of times, I thought I had it pegged pretty good.

This is a harder game to get a grip on, because Roethlisberger will likely play better than Brady did, in some measure due to the fact that Patriots didn't have any credibility in the their running game this year, and in some measure due to the fact that Roethlisberger is playing really well since getting healthy.

On the other hand, I think the Broncos are much more likely to run well this week, as compared to last week. I appreciate the Steelers defense, and all of Labeau's scheming, but in the end it comes down to personnel, and there isn't a player on Pittsburgh's defensive line (and the defensive line is the primary factor in stopping the run), who is as formidable as a healthy Richard Seymour. I think the Broncos will run with some effectiveness. That, combined with the hfa, spells a Denver victory. I think I'd lay the points as well. Or not. I don't know.

92
by Björn (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 3:46pm

Fnor,

I remember reading that article (but I read it again), and certain things are different from this year to last year. I could say some stuff to defend myself, but I'll just be rehashing the same old debate and nobody wants to listen to that again. I guess we'll just have to wait for PFP06. But I suspect that Bailey's been better this year.

93
by Thoreau (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 3:54pm

#91:

"there isn’t a player on Pittsburgh’s defensive line (and the defensive line is the primary factor in stopping the run), who is as formidable as a healthy Richard Seymour".

Casey Hampton gets no respect...note Pittsburgh's solid ranking in adjusted line yards....

94
by JC (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 4:13pm

What does past season playoff records have anything to do with this years playoff runs? Both Shanahan and Cowher get their teams into the playoffs, that alone should tell you that these are both very good football coaches. It's ludicrous to say either will not do well due to their history. Both teams had different personnel (with the exception of Bens rookie year against a dynasty team) and different circumstances. If the statements are true for past seasons we would be talking about Belichek right now. Give credit where credit is due - both coaches deserve respect for consistently fielding competetive teams each and every year.

Is it just me or does everyone feel like a kid at christmas time? these hours are going by entirely too slow. Does anyone have a fast forward button or a time machine?

I also believe that home field advantage can be a double edged sword. If a crowd is loud in the beginning and is quickly quieted by a visiting team it creats a sinking feeling in the home team.
If the Steelers get up early the crowd will actually work in their favor. Additionally, there is always a few Steeler fans there to make some noise. I think a visiting team has nothing to lose while a home team NEEDS to keep their fans in it. Maybe that's a reasonable explanation for the Steelers success on the road.

As for the game, the closer we get to game time I'm starting to think that the Steelers will be able to exploit the Broncos secondary. I believe Ward is going to have an amazing game with Ben throwing bullets. The Steelers should be able to get up early and maintain the lead into the 2nd half. Granted, I don't have any numbers to back-up these statements but after watching some footage from the Pats game it appears as though Denver can be beat on the long ball. Furthermore, the Steelers shouldn't have any problems in the red-zone - they haven't all year and there's no reason to think they would in this game. I also think that Denver would need to try to get there points from outside the red-zone. The Steelers appear to have a great ability to stop a team when they have a short field to work with and I don't see Denver winning this one with FG's. My prediction: Steelers 24, Broncos 13

95
by thad (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 4:17pm

well time to make the picks.
The Steelers are great, they have totally impressed me this year. But i am going with Denver.
My problem with the Steelers is this.
They pass effectively, but not often enough.
1994 463 pass atts 148 passing first downs
1995 592 atts 193 passing first downs
1997 466 atts 157 passing first downs
2001 454 atts 150 passing first downs
2004 358 atts 147 passing first downs
95 was the year they got to the Super Bowl.
I just think Denver is a tough team to pass on.
Don't get me wrong, the Steelers are as well.
And the Seahawks, I really like the Seahawks.

96
by thad (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 4:25pm

This is how I pick games
1. Pick Dallas, always pick Dallas(yeah its stupid I know)
2. Look for any statistical weakness.
I just look for historical indicators...
yards/rush against.
incomplete passes
yards/pass
None of these are perfect, but if you look back you will find teams that were bad in one of these catagories they often get shelled.
Passing first downs is a big reach.
I still do not really understand how the Steelers lost to the Pats in 2001 and the Chargers in 1994.
And if you want to disagree thats fine, I am not fully convinced of this myself.
but I am looking forward to some great games

97
by Adam (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 4:58pm

24 HOURS UNTIL KICKOFF!!!!!!!!

98
by Valerie (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 5:04pm

Go Steelers! The Steelers will prevail. Last week even after the "bad call" they managed to regroup & not fall apart.

99
by Björn (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 5:04pm

JC, how is Pitt's 8th ranked pass offence going to exploit Denver's 4th ranked pass defence? I think it is more likely that Denver will use their 5th ranked pass offence to exploit Pittsburgh's 8th rated pass defence.

Denver 27
Pittsburgh 24

Seattle 35
Carolina 14

100
by Angel (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 5:12pm

Boys...Stats are okay for the season, however we all know that the final games are more about team effort & unpredictable plays. . As far as "best bars" in Denver Ben ...get a life..I'm from Patriots Country & the Steelers will rule. There are real bars in Pittsburgh too.

101
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 6:18pm

Well, if saying a defensive lineman is not as formidable as a healthy Richard Seynour is disrespectful, well, then nearly all defensive lineman in the NFL are being disrespected. I have all the respect in the world for the Steelers defense, but I've got a little more respect for the Bronco's running game. Respectfully yours....

102
by Israel (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 6:36pm

94 (jc) writes Is it just me or does everyone feel like a kid at christmas time? these hours are going by entirely too slow.

It is not just you, but since Sunday is a work day here in Israel, it's better this way.

103
by JC (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 6:54pm

Bjorn: where are your rankings coming from? And for what amount of the year do they apply to?

104
by luz (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 7:44pm

#33

hate to break it to you but... tom's diner has really declined. i can't recall if it's under new ownership or what but it's really fallen far, fast.

105
by thad (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 7:49pm

re 94
Denver has been really good this year at keeping teams out of the red zone.
The Redskins were numero uno this year with opponents getting only 37 shots in the red zone. Denver was tied for third with 39.

106
by Mikey (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 8:33pm

67 sez "They (Denver) match up well against 3-4 defenses–they’ve eventually worn down San Diego (twice) and New England (twice)"

That's a pretty generous read of last week's game. Most of the drives that started in their own territory went nowhere. If that game is an indication of how they do offensively against a 3-4, I'll take it.

107
by Mikey (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 8:38pm

One of the wildcards for Pittsburgh is that they have several young guys who are truly getting better with ever game and their season-long stats don't indicate their current level of play.

Ben and Polamalu, I think, have broken through to new levels. McFadden, Taylor, and Miller are others who I think have improved tremendously during the season.

I haven't watched enough Denver to pick out similar guys on their side. Who are the young guys, if any, who are on the improve?

108
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 8:42pm

I'm going to be rooting for Pittsburgh all the way. If Denver ends up in the Super Bowl it will prove that they hosed the Redskins in trades the past two offseasons. I also must hate Champ Bailey with a passion for the way he left Washington. I hope the Steelers are able to execute a good pump and go on old Champ... he likes to bite, a lot...

109
by Mikey (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 8:55pm

Let's talk about an area that has very rarely been mentioned in the exhaustive analysis of this game:

Punters.

Todd Sauerbrun had an absolutely phenomenal game last week. He stuck three punts inside the NE 10, a fourth inside the 20, and had no touchbacks. For the season Sauerbrun put 24 punts inside the 20 and kicked only six into the end zone.

Chris Gardocki put two inside the 10 and a third inside the 20. Gardocki had one punt go into the endzone. Following the touchback Indy drove the field for their first TD, surely their most impressive drive of the day. For the season Gardocki had 22 kicks inside the 20 and 7 touchbacks.

Obviously these are two defenses that you don't want to be facing inside your own ten yard line. If either of these punters replicate last week's performance it's going to be huge.

110
by DGL (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 10:51pm

Whenever the consensus is that a game is going to be a nail-biter, it never is.

I predict that this game is going to end up 27-13.

Oh, you want me to pick which team I think will win?

I have no idea.

111
by johnt (not verified) :: Sat, 01/21/2006 - 11:58pm

Seymour and Hampton are pretty much equivalent in run stopping. Both of them basically require a double team and play at a pro bowl level that allows the LBs to wreak havoc.

What makes Seymour the All-Pro is that he can also pass rush very well, making him basically a unique talent in the league. But in run stopping, they're pretty similar.

112
by nobodaddy (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 12:03am

@ Ron Mexico:
Your points about Shanahan vs Cowher are well taken. I'm more concerned about Cowher and Whisenhunt's play calling late in the Indy game last week than anything in past seasons. There's a thread in the other forum in which I argue that the excessive conservatism in the 2nd half of the Indy game didn't give Roethlisberger the opportunity to perform.

re Pitt Corners
They definitely deserve more respect, esp Ike. How about the rookie McFadden stepping up and saving the game? That said I wouldn't mind a big draft pick going towards the secondary.

I'd love to see the Bus go to Detroit, he really deserves it. I'm not optimistic but hey, it could happen.

113
by NF (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 12:14am

#109:

The Altitude Kicking Effect...

I'll be very dissapointed if this game becomes trap defense played on a 100-yard field.

114
by nobodaddy (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 12:20am

Correction:
Given how good McFadden looks, probably signing a FA in mid-career is a better way to "top off" the Steeler's secondary.

115
by Adam (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 12:21am

It's Almost Game Day!........

116
by Paul (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 12:33am

After careful analysis, Iron City is better than Coors...Pittsburgh 24 Denver 20 BTW, coffee is better than moonshine, Seattle;20-17

117
by Born a Bronco Fan/Die a Bronco Fan (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 12:37am

It seems the more people who discuss this game the more opposition there is as to strengths and weaknesses.
These two teams are too much alike and then to think of Seattle in the Superbowl would be another team that is identical. That is from the coaches, the QB's, the corners, the receivers, etc..

As far as the Den/Pitt game, it is going to be hard for either team to exploit the others weaknesses. Both teams will rely on what they do best, blitz and run.

I said this last week and it holds true this week, the only things the Broncos have on their opponent is the game is in Denver and this is Pitt's 3rd road game.

Sure hope that is the difference.
Good luck Steelers and their fans. Sure hope there best just gets them close.

118
by RCH (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 1:25am

RE: 82 - I'm also tired of hearing about it, but you brought it up. If you really think that one little pass interference call can be so insignificant, lets frame it a differant way. Lets say that on that play Samuel really did obviously interfere with Lelie. Lets also say that no call was made and that Samuel made the interception and returned it all the way to the Broncos 1. And then Dillon scores on the next play. Who wins the game?

119
by Adam (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 2:06am

HEY, YOU, BOY! WHAT DAY IS IT?

WHY IT'S GAMEDAY SIR!

120
by Mikey (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 2:21am

Gameday.

Good god, finally. Only fifteen more torturous hours to go.

This is it for me until after the game.

Adam, JC, Jeff T, Fnor, Israel, and all the other passionate Steeler fans that populate these boards: good luck, boys. I hope we have two more weeks of good football talk ahead of us. Praise the Lord and Pass the Iron.

To the Denver fans: here's to a good, clean, hard-hitting, well-officiated game. Good luck.

"It's been many years in coming....just keep the Steeler machinery humming!!"

121
by TomC (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 3:00am

HEY, YOU, BOY! WHAT DAY IS IT?

WHY IT’S GAMEDAY SIR!

Adam, that's awesome. And I am so [redacted] jealous (no Xmas this year for us Bear fans).

122
by Israel (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 3:47am

It's 8:42AM Sunday here in Israel. I will keep the Black and Gold flame while you guys sleep.

And my wife has agreed to give me the TV, which will be without sound as Bill and Tunch come in over the Internet in the next room and into my headset. (And I run back and forth to tell you Ben's passer rating after every drive.)

123
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 10:45am

A little over 6 hours left!

Although, to be honest, I'm not quite as revved up for this one as I have for those in years past. Maybe I'm jaded by all of Cowher's previous failures, and I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much...

124
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 11:38am

In Denver, 32 with light winds.

In Seattle, 47 with light winds.

125
by JC (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 11:44am

WOOOOO HOOOOOO !!!!!!

HERE WE GO STEELERS

126
by Rocco (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 11:44am

#123-

I'm pretty excited. After all, who knows how many more chances the Steelers will get to play a title game on the road where they have a chance to win. :)

127
by JC (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 11:45am

Previous failures will be redeemed today!

128
by lk6 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 12:08pm

1 am here in Brazil.

5 hours till kickoff.

5 hours till... PITTSBURGH STEELER TIME! PITTSBURGH STEELER TIME! PITTSBURGH STEELER! PITTSBURGH STEELER! PITTSBURGH STEELER WITH A BASEBALL BAT!

(Thank you, Vash)

129
by Dean from Oz (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 12:13pm

Its 11pm here, I'm going to bed for 5 hours sleep, see you at 4am my time for hopefully a Steeler victory.

130
by Dean from Oz (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 12:15pm

(in my absence can the same people as last week please discuss the foregone conclusion of a Broncos/??? Superbowl. Thanks)

131
by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 12:17pm

Not anymore sid. Looks like the Steeler faithful have found the poll. Nearly every answer there is overwhelmingly in Pitts favor.

132
by Adam (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 12:53pm

I'd just like to say this after reading this thread again:

Even though it got away from the actual game early on this was one of the best gameday (or game week) threads i've read on here.

It proved a couple of long beliefs for me:

1. Steelers Fans have the same rabid tenacity as Tyrone Carter in a street fight.

2. Steelers Fans are nuts.

3. Go Stillerz.

133
by Fitzcarraldo (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 12:59pm

The overseas posts remind me of last season's AFC Championship, when I was stationed in Japan and had to take a day of leave to watch the 6:15 Monday morning kickoff. I'm much happier to cheer on the Steelers from my apartment in the shadow of RFK Stadium this time around.

134
by Bronco Jeff (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 1:18pm

I'm going to the game, and let me tell you, I'm pumped like none other. This game is HUGE!

I went to the last AFC Championship game against the Jets in '99, but the anticipation for this is so much bigger.

Anybody else going to the game, or will the rest of y'all just be watching from the comfort of your own homes?

Broncos 24-17

135
by luz (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 2:18pm

one thing i wonder about... denver, according to DVOA, is excellent against TEs but only middling against #1 WRs. is this a reflection of using champ bailey on gonzo and gates for 1/4 of the season? conventional wisdom would have that champ should shut down whomever he covers, so are the broncos defensive numbers scewed with WRs and TEs because champ was covering the chargers and chiefs best recievers, the TEs?

136
by Adam (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 2:28pm

The Steelers Motto Coming In To Today:

Get Jerome Home.

137
by Israel (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 2:30pm

Adam, calm down. You'll burn yourself out before the game even starts.

138
by Adam (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 2:48pm

Two more hours.

It's almost go time.

139
by Fitzcarraldo (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 2:54pm

An omen, courtesy of a Friday morning text message from my friend Darryl:

"So, I'm driving down to [Duquesne University] now and I just saw Louis Lipps on one street corner waving to Mel Blount, standing on a corner across the street. Unreal."

My augur is preparing his analysis.

140
by Adam (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 3:58pm

ONE HOUR UNTIL GO TIME!

141
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:08pm

Adam, we know. ;)

Darrent Williams will be the nickle CB, and Foxworth will start.

142
by Born a Bronco Fan/Die a Bronco Fan (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:21pm

It is almost here and the pregame can't stop talking about the Steelers. Hope it is a jinx.

One last thing that I have been bitting my teeth on.. Denver was lucky in several situations last week but weren't the Steelers also? If the fumble recovery were returned correctly we would be in Indianpolis right now, and if Vanderjack makes the field goal we could be in Indy right now? Is that not luck also??

Hope at the end of this game we are hearing that same argument, Denver was lucky!!

GO BRONCOS!!!

143
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:23pm

Okay... I'm starting to get fidgety about the game...

Only 40 minutes 'till kickoff...

144
by Born a Bronco Fan/Die a Bronco Fan (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:27pm

Re 143
a little??? man lets get this thing going.

GO BRONCOS!!!

145
by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:28pm

30 minutes of pregame to go
30 minutes of pregame
Talking clowns
Blabbing around
30 minutes of pregame to go

146
by luz (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:33pm

#142

think of it this way, cbs is doing a lot of steelers in the pre-game because they figure this is their last chance to talk about them.

also, everyone keeps saying harper didn't "return it correctly" but roethlisberger was playing the outside. after harper cut back inside he turned around and as he was falling made the tackle. so, no, i don't think that was lucky.

the kick, however, was an act of god.

147
by Born a Bronco Fan/Die a Bronco Fan (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:39pm

re 146

I don't think you can say that Rothlesbegers tackle wasn't somewhat lucky but I will agree he made it a little difficult for Harper to make a good decision.

I like your philosophy on the pregame stuff. Sure hate that we have to listen to Phil Simms today. I have heard him too much this year.

GO BRONCOS!!!

148
by Phil (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:44pm

Has anybody understood a word that Shannon Sharpe has said today?

149
by Born a Bronco Fan/Die a Bronco Fan (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:45pm

Also, I just got reminded that in the first game Carson Palmer goes down early--that game could have been different also for the Steelers.

THe thing I am trying to say is that any team that makes it this far probably needs a lot of luck!!

As I said before, hope Denver gets some more today.

GO BRONCOS!!!

150
by Yaxley (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:46pm

Re 148: I was too busy wishing I had a hat like Sharpe's to listen to what he was saying.

151
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:53pm

10 minutes....

152
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:56pm

FO is biased towards Denver.

Don't think I don't know what that add about Colorado real estate is trying to say!

153
by lk6 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:58pm

PITTSBURGH STEELER TIME!!!

154
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 4:58pm

"ad", I mean.

155
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:02pm

Time for kickoff!

156
by Jon (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:02pm

Props to CBS for using Deacon Jones in its opening instead of, say, Matthew McConaughey and Will Farrell.

157
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:03pm

PITTSBURGH STEELER TIME!
PITTSBURGH STEELER TIME!
PITTSBURGH STEELER, PITTSBURGH STEELER, PITTSBURGH STEELER WITH A BASEBALL BAT
PITTSBURGH STEELER, PITTSBURGH STEELER, PITTSBURGH STEELER WITH A BASEBALL BAT
CHRIS HOPE, TROY POL, IKE
COACH COWHER
BIG BEN, BIG BEN, BIG BEN, BIG BEN
GO DUCE, GO DUCE, GO DUCE, GO DUCE
PITTSBURGH STEELER, PITTSBURGH STEELER, PITTSBURGH STEELER, PITTSBURGH STEELER, PITTSBURGH STEELER, PITTSBURGH STEELER, PITTSBURGH STEELER WITH A BASEBALL BAT
GO BUSSIE, GO BUSSIE, GO BUSSIE, GO BUSSIE
GO DESHEA, GO DESHEA, GO DESHEA, GO DESHEA
JAMES FARRIOR! JAMES FARRIOR! JAMES FARRIOR! JAMES FARRIOR!
POLAMALU, POLAMALU, POLAMALU, POLAMALU, POLAMALU, POLAMALU, POLAMALU, POLAMALU
WE'RE GOING PLATINUM! WE'RE GOING PLATINUM! WE'RE GOING PLATINUM! WE'RE GOING PLATINUM!
BILL COWHER'S MUSTACHE, BILL COWHER'S MUSTACHE, BILL COWHER'S MUSTACHE
PITTSBURGH STEELER, PITTSBURGH STEELER, PITTSBURGH STEELER WITH A BASEBALL BAT
FREAKSHOW, HINES WARD
FREAKSHOW, HINES WARD
FREAKSHOW, HINES WARD
FREAKSHOW, HINES WARD
GIVE ME SOME MONEY
PITTSBURGH STEELER WITH A BASEBALL BAT

(link)

158
by zip (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:05pm

Any bets on how long into this game the FO server will last?

159
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:06pm

Here we go Steelers, Here we go!

160
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:07pm

Zip: I give it 83 seconds game clock, at which point Plummer throws a pick returned for a touchdown and the servers die within seconds.

161
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:07pm

Er, maybe I jumped the gun by a few minutes...

162
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:08pm

Nice kick coverage

163
by Alex (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:10pm

Why is TO doing phone commercials? Does Boost Mobile really think he's gonna sell phones for them?

164
by morganja (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:10pm

What a beautiful day in Denver! Kickoff!

165
by Jon (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:11pm

Re: 163

TO needs the money, since Drew Rosenhaus probably cost him millions of dollars.

166
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:11pm

SMITH WAS BEING HELD RIGHT AT THE POINT OF ATTACK ON THE THIRD DOWN RUN! THAT'S A PENALTY!

167
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:12pm

Let's settle down D, settle down

168
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:13pm

Jake threw that into a crowd!

169
by JPS (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:15pm

Two Bronco receivers close together. Eeeesh!

170
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:15pm

We need at least 25 yards on this drive so we don't lose the Field Poss battle

171
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:18pm

Dammit, if Parker goes outside there, that's a HUGE gain.

172
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:18pm

Kendall Simmons got dominated on that 2nd pass play, but nice play calls

173
by JPS (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:19pm

Line play seems fairly even so far

174
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:20pm

Ben got really lucky on that one...

175
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:20pm

Nice play on the ball by Bailey, great pesence of mind by Ward and big hit by Lynch...cool play.

176
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:21pm

horrible decision to throw outside late by Ben but great play by Ward

177
by James, London (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:21pm

I have no real favourite here, but it would be great to see Bettis finish in the SB.

Big miss by Bailey, and to add insult to injury, Ward gets the first down on the rebound.

And as I write FUMBLE!

178
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:21pm

Not to worry Willie was down, challenge Cowher!

179
by Steve Z (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:22pm

First quarter, first blown call. Parker was down.

180
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:22pm

wow Parker sure didn't make any friends there.

181
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:23pm

179: I'm not quite sure. He was being pulled backward, his knee might have stayed off the ground.

182
by morganja (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:23pm

He's down. Elbow is down by definition.

183
by James, London (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:24pm

Given the "indisputable evidence" requirement, they shouldn't overturn this.

184
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:24pm

I could care less how many touches its been since he has lost a fumble Mr. Nantz,how many touches has it been since he fumbled period, I am guessing thats not so impressive...

185
by zip (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:24pm

Well that's a very close call. I don't think he's obviously down, but we'll see.

Kudos to Parker for not protecting the ball, either way.

186
by Travis (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:24pm

Terry McAulay - finally, a competant ref is doing a playoff game.

187
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:26pm

The rookie with the catch!

I guess the good thing about having Morgan out is that his replacement can actually catch the football.

188
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:26pm

Nate Washington sighting!!

189
by zip (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:27pm

I wonder how Joey Porter feels about that reverse call.

190
by Chris S (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:27pm

Nice job of staying home on the reverse

191
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:28pm

Greta play by Nate!

192
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:28pm

Nice play by Washington to prevent the INT there.

193
by Fitzcarraldo (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:28pm

It's the Coors Field effect.

194
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:28pm

Nate Washington is awesome.
That was an alert play.

195
by morganja (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:29pm

Ben with two poor decisions so far. I hope he settles down next drive. So far, he's a turnover waiting to happen.

195
by Israel (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:29pm

Ben's passer rating 103.5.

197
by James, London (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:29pm

The Steelers blitz pickup has been pretty good so far, and that was a hell of a play by Washington to break up the INT.

Unless Denver can get more effective pressure with the blitz, TMQ might not have a lot of work to do on his column this week.

198
by Paul (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:30pm

Washington played great defense and almost actually caught the ball for the TD. Ben's not playing perfect but the receivers are definitely helping him out. They could help him out more by getting open, but Denver has a very good defense.

199
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:30pm

Willie was CLEARLY down the rule is any part of the body except palms and soles which touches ground is DBC

200
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:30pm

End around, not reverse...

201
by MAW (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:30pm

Did the Ref say that "Cowher" would not be charged a timeout after upholding Pittsburgh's challenge of the fumble?

202
by Fitzcarraldo (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:31pm

Good kick coverage again.

203
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:32pm

The Steelers almost turned the ball over 3 times on that drive and still got 3 points.
I'm guessing Nate Washington is getting PT because of the Morgan injury? What about Wilson?

204
by Chris S (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:33pm

Re 200:
Right, end around. Hope TMQ didn't see that.

205
by Alex (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:33pm

Good commercial by Sony

206
by Travis (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:34pm

Re: 201

No, he said "Pittsburgh", albeit a bit quickly.

207
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:35pm

SACK AND A FUMBLE!!!!!

208
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:35pm

Go Joey! "Big players make big plays in big games"

209
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:35pm

What the devil happened with that fumble? The ball moved like 10 yards in a tenth of a second!

Anyone who thinks that fumble recoveries aren't freaking random is nuts.

210
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:35pm

FUMBLE!!!!!

Porter with the sack, and big Casey Hampton falls on it!

211
by Travis (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:37pm

Re: 209

One of the Denver offensive linemen kicked the ball forward.

212
by B (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:37pm

Pittsburgh likes throwing to the outside and the inside. Where else is there?

213
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:38pm

Bettis parents sighting.

214
by Harris (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:38pm

Man, I am glad they showed the Bettises. Because they never get any camera time.

215
by James, London (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:38pm

And there goes the Bettis' parent shot and reference. What's the line on the total for today?

216
by foos (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:39pm

Just be thankful it's not Kurt Warner's wife.

217
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:39pm

Yah, but I don't think it was intentional. I think the ball just scooted under someone's feet, and they tripped over it.

218
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:39pm

I've seen enough of Gladys Bettis to last the rest of my life. Please go away.
Also, I'm setting the over/under for mentions of Gardocki's streak at 2.

219
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:41pm

Great pass, great catch. Steelers up by 10.

220
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:41pm

Too bad Ben can only manage the game, nice catch by Ced.

221
by JPS (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:41pm

What was Bailey doing? Did he have two cover two people or something?

222
by Israel (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:42pm

Ben is 152.6.

223
by Travis (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:42pm

Yup, the kick wasn't intentional. The lineman was still blocking at the time - you can see it pretty clearly on the first replay CBS showed.

224
by Willsy (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:43pm

Greetings from Sydney.
Given the negative comments in the prospectus re the Denver importation of the Clevland D line, what happened? Did the Denver coaching staff know that they would improve that much? Did they improve that much?
Willsy

225
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:43pm

TOUCHDOWN CEDRICK WILSON

226
by Matu (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:43pm

Re:221

I was wondering the same thing. I was hoping they would show a better replay.

227
by morganja (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:44pm

Nice play! Even harder considering Ben was looking into that sun. Great start for Pittsburgh!

228
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:44pm

Whoops.

Nice job, Jeff Reed.

229
by Chris S (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:45pm

Weird when the commercials feature rock stars older than anyone on the field, including the coaches

230
by Dean from Oz (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:45pm

The best part of Denver taking Clevelands line is that Pittsburgh is VERY familiar with them.

Not that is helping a great deal so far...

231
by JPS (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:45pm

Yup. Bailey fooled by the first move. ARGH!

232
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:45pm

If Broncos go 3 and out, look for Whis to get very aggressive. Let's go D, damn KO went OOB. Let's see what Jake is made of.

233
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:45pm

I guess Denver is winning the field position battle now.

234
by Matu (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:45pm

Ok. Bailey wanted to make a play and bit on Wilson's move.

235
by zip (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:46pm

Horrendous blitz pickup by Tatum Bell!

236
by JPS (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:47pm

That Polomalu tackle was pure desire! Wow!

237
by TomC (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:47pm

Horrendous blitz pickup by Tatum Bell!

Indeed. But nice call by Shanahan to use that same matador move by Bell on the next play and screen to him.

238
by Independent George (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:48pm

Damn. Nice 2nd effort by Anderson.

239
by morganja (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:48pm

Holy Crap! What a great play by Polamalu! That is what football is all about! That's just inspiring!

240
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:48pm

Damn great run by Anderson on 4th

241
by JPS (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:50pm

And what did FO say? Denver passing to its running backs.

242
by Independent George (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:51pm

What an unfortunate name - Putzier.

243
by Chris S (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:51pm

That run on 3rd & 3 in the first possession paid off for Denver on that last conversion. Pittsburgh bit on the fake.

244
by Matu (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:51pm

Gutsy throw by Plummer. Very nice though.

245
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:53pm

Ok so Jake aint folding, let's go D hold them to a FG, Boy Porter really came to play today

246
by ernie cohen (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:53pm

didn't think Jake could make that throw...

247
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:55pm

Running on 3rd & 10 from the 15?

Apparently it's a good job of managing the game and not taking a chance.

248
by Independent George (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:56pm

Uh-oh - the Broncos Cheerleaders are wearing heavy, bulky leather jackets. That doesn't bode well for them.

249
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:56pm

On that 3rd and 10: "They might've been expecting the blitz"

What?! If they were, they were idiots. All the Pittsburgh linebackers were lined up about 5 yards back to stop the first down pickup. No way that run was picking up the first.

250
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:56pm

Ooh Baby Baby, Damn I love that commercial. Let's grind some clock on this drive and get that FG back

251
by Fitzcarraldo (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:57pm

To be fair, it was a three-man front, and Anderson seems to be doing a good job of getting yards after first contact.

252
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:58pm

I'll say the same thing I said last week:

This is Todd Sauerbrun's field. Everyone else is just playing on it.
He was a great punter, and became awe-inspiring on his arrival in Invesco.

253
by ernie cohen (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 5:59pm

I guess DEN is eschewing the max protect approach. If PIT just sends one edge blitzer on each play and he just ignores the play action, they'll chase them out of the bootleg, at least until DEN goes back to those nasty screens...

254
by Fitzcarraldo (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:00pm

So far, it's last year's AFC Championship in reverse: road team scores on a long FG and a TD pass to go up 10-0, and home team answers with a FG.

255
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:02pm

Great play call by Whis

256
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:03pm

Why is Denver wasting all their timeouts?

257
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:04pm

Israel:

Why the constant updates on Ben's passer rating every week?

258
by JPS (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:04pm

C'mon, Bronco fans, get up and holler!

259
by TomC (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:06pm

How big of a jerk am I for thinking that Lynch should have laid Roethlisberger out when he had the shot?

260
by Matu (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:06pm

What kind of coverage call was that? If you're gonna blitz, take away the quick passes.

261
by JPS (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:08pm

Rushed only three, and Ward was easily open.

262
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:08pm

Steelers playcalling is very aggresive still, Cowher is going for the kill

263
by Acetone (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:09pm

Where's the intentional grounding call on Ben? I'm referring to the throw up the middle where there was no receiver.

264
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:09pm

Man, Willie Parker is getting stuffed every single time...

265
by Yaxley (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:09pm

When did the Steelers become the Eagles?

266
by Independent George (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:09pm

Parker needs to stop doing that stutter-step 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage. He had space on the corner - if he just accelerated, he might have picked up 1-2 yards, instead of losing 1.

267
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:10pm

The Steelers O-line is pass blocking their asses off, broncos are stoning the run though

268
by Independent George (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:13pm

Ben Roethlisberger: Pittsburgh's leading rusher.

269
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:14pm

1)Duce Staley was a total waste of money. He hasn't played that much, and he's getting paid for all this.

2)Denver is hurting itself with the blitz again. Pitt knows it's coming, and the WRs are getting open because they're isolated on the DBs, who aren't great.

270
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:15pm

oh, and they're taking way too many commercial breaks, as usual.

271
by lk6 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:15pm

IT'S TIME FOR MS. GLADYS!

272
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:16pm

265: When teams started expecting them to be the Steelers.

And when the elusive ability to run forward was transfered from Willie Parker to Antwaan Randle El.

273
by JPS (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:16pm

Re: 269 #2 -- it sure seems like both Bronco corners aren't keeping up with whoever they're covering.

274
by johnt (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:17pm

It's not Parker's fault. I don't know if he's really had a single chance to hit a hole at the OL the entire game.

275
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:17pm

TD, Bus!!!!!!!!

276
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:18pm

RE: 224

The Cleveland defensive line was not bereft of talent. The constant criticism of Denver's acquisition of them was inane. I said it at the time. Brown is talented, and if stays healthy, he's a good player. Otherwise, part of the problem was that these guys were not rotated, and Myers and Ekuban need to be rotated. Finally, being 32nd against the run has a lot to do with the linebackers and the defense in general. Also the scheme. Not just the DL.
Not to mention that Cleveland sucked, so teams ran on them a lot.

277
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:18pm

TOUCHDOWN JEROME BETTIS

GO BUSSIE GO

278
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:19pm

273: And the coverage is so bad, as you illustrated, we can't even tell who they're covering!

279
by Paul (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:19pm

Is it time to bring out Cowher's record when leading by 11 or more?

280
by James, London (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:19pm

And the Bus does what he does best. The blocking was terrific as well. It's not looking good for Denver.

281
by Israel (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:20pm

Ben is 127.9. (Sid, just so you know, Jake is 81.25.)

282
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:20pm

Now keep this one inbounds, Jeff.

283
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:20pm

RE: 248

Wind chill is about 30. TMQ can hardly blame them.

284
by Fitzcarraldo (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:20pm

17-3, just like last year. Can someone play the role of Rodney Harrison now?

285
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:20pm

RE: 281

And?

286
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:21pm

Plummer pick!!!!!!!!!

287
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:21pm

And Jake Plummer turns back into Jake Plummer! INT!

288
by Dean from Oz (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:21pm

Re276 - good points there Sid.

Will be interesting to see how they hold up as the game progresses - expecting their effectiveness against the run to decrease somewhat.

(hopefully)

289
by TomC (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:21pm

Oh, bad time for Evil Jake to show up.

290
by zip (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:21pm

Well shit.

When does the next game start?

291
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:22pm

Will the real Jake Plummer please stand up!

292
by pr9000 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:22pm

JAKE THE SNAKE! JAKE THE SNAKE!

293
by Paul (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:22pm

INT. The Jake every defense knew and loved has returned.

294
by little red tractor (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:22pm

276: spot on. Surprisingly pumped for a Steelers win for a long time Browns fan. Keep giving it to North-South Jerome.....interception!

295
by JPS (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:22pm

Oh, boy. It'll be 24-3 at the half!

296
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:23pm

And the holes are opening for Parker now!

297
by DGL (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:23pm

What did I say about Parker around left end??

298
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:23pm

Uh-oh, the Pittsburgh offensive line has been located and has arrived on the field.

299
by James, London (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:23pm

And just as Phil Simms says that the 1st thing you do "is be little careful", Jake throws a bad bad pass.

300
by Fitzcarraldo (not verified) :: Sun, 01/22/2006 - 6:24pm

And starring Ike Taylor...as Rodney Harrison.