Sunday, January 22, 2006

Steelers Move on to Super Bowl

The Steelers are really starting to like the feel of the slipper. The Glass Slipper that is. In a post-season that has been marked with surprises, the Pittsburgh Steelers have played the part of the ultimate Cinderella, winning three games on the road. Not only have they won three games on the road in the playoffs, they have knocked off the number 1, 2, and 3 seeds in the AFC to do it. As a result, they are moving on to Super Bowl XL (30), their sixth in team history. It will be the second Super Bowl for coach Bill Cowher, but the first for fan-favorites Hines Ward, Jerome Bettis, and Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers last Super appearance was in Super Bowl xxx (30) in Tempe, Arizona following the 1995 season. In that Super Bowl, the Steelers lost to the Dallas Cowboys 27-17, in a closely fought matchup that was decided on two Neill O'Donnell interception returns, one for a touchdown.

To read about tonight's AFC Championship game, check out these articles:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Monday, January 16, 2006

Steelers Win a Nail-biter

Steelers 21 - Colts 18

Well, you all saw the game. I don't have to tell you what happened, so I won't. I just want to explain some of my opinions on different things that happened in the game.

The "No Call"

During the 3rd Quarter, there was a play when some Colts defensive players jumped offsides and then pointed at the Steelers offensive line, accusing them of false starting. The refs ran in and stopped the play, blowing there whistles. Then, after huddling to discuss it, the head official said that there was no foul on the play and that it that the Steelers would do the play over. I am sorry, but if there was no foul, the refs would never have blown the whistle. Also, it was clear to everyone that the Colts defensive players made contact with the Steelers offensive line, which is a penalty. Even if the refs would have called the Steelers for false start I would have been happier than them not calling anything. That was a joke.

The Interception that Wasn't

You saw the play. You know Troy Polamalu intercepted the pass. Everyone knows that it was an interception. All of the broadcasters, even those for the Colts, could tell that the replays clearly showed that Troy had possession, then attempted a "football move" as the league calls it, then his knee hit the ball, knocking it out. There is only one person on the planet that could call that an incomplete pass. It just so happens that that one person was the head referee for the game, Pete Morelli. Morelli tried to explain the call but didn't do a very good job of it. All year we have been hearing that the league redefined what a catch is, to make it more cut-and-dry to the officials. If a player catches a pass and maintains possession and attempts a "football move", then it is a catch. The NFL defines Possession as follows: When a player controls the ball throughout the act of clearly touching both feet, or any other part of his body other than his hand(s), to the ground inbounds. A football move is any act which is common for a player with possession of the football (i.e. turning, jumping, running, etc.). I think that it was clear that Troy Polamalu had possession and attempted a football move. He rolled on the ground and attempted to get up, all while maintaining possession. It was about as easy of a call as there could have been, and the ref still blew it. Luckily for him, the Steelers won.

Peyton Manning Calling Off the Punt

That was just a sign of disrespect to Coach Tony Dungy. Coach Dungy told the punt unit to go on the field and Manning told them to get off. They got off. It does not matter that the 4th down play worked for the Colts. A player should never supersede his coach.

The Steelers got lucky to come away with the win, but maybe it was more than luck. Maybe the football gods were smiling on them.

The Steelers will play in Denver next Sunday for the AFC Championship game.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pitt Remains Undefeated

Pitt 73 - DePaul 65

Pitt's mens basketball team remained undefeated Thursday night, beating the DePaul Blue Demons 73-65 at the Petersen Events Center. Pitt was down by as many as 13 points early in the first half, but was able to get a lead shortly after halftime and never relinquish it. Pitt is now 13-0, and ranked #12 in this week's AP men's basketball poll. Their next game is at Louisville on Sunday, against a team that is the best they've faced so far this year.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Steelers Roll Past the Bengals

Steelers 31-Bengals 17

On Sunday, the Steelers showed why they have been the dominant team in the AFC North (old AFC Central) since Bill Cowher took over as coach in 1992. They also let the Bengals know that they are not ready to give up their crown as AFC North kings yet. Most Bengal fans (and even some national pundits), will say that the only reason the Steelers won the game was because of the injury to Carson Palmer, which he sustained on his first pass of the game. Those people would be mistaken however. For the first few series that he was in the game, Bengals' backup quarterback Jon Kitna played very well, staking the Bengals to a 17-7 lead in the middle of the second quarter. The Bengals offense did not initially look like a rudderless ship without Palmer. The problem with the Bengals on Sunday was their inept defense and their inability to overcome the challenge of the Steelers onslaught. In the second half, the Steelers showed that they had more poise, hunger, and tenacity than the Bengals. They dominated the Bengals in every facet of the game after half time, earning the right to continue west to Indianapolis for next Sunday's rematch against the Colts.

There definitely are some areas that the Steelers must improve on if they hope to beat the Colts. The Colts defense is much better than the Bengals, and they will be playing on the fast turf of the RCA Dome. However, if the Steelers can keep it close early, or even get a lead, they could wear down the Colts.

Next weekend promises to be a fun weekend in the NFL Playoffs.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Panthers win key game against Wisconsin

Men's Basketball: Pitt 73 - Wisconsin 64

My Take:

Up until this point in the season, Pitt accumulated a 10-0 record beating the likes of St. Peters, Duquesne, Vermont, and Coppin State. On Saturday, they finally got a win against an opponent of some merit. On top of that, is was with a great effort by their freshmen that they were able to get the win, showing that their team has more depth than most experts believed. The win for the Panthers should momentarily quiet their critics who complain that they play too soft of a non-conference schedule. It also could end up being the kind of win that will help their seeding come the NCAA tournament in March, or help them get in if their on the "bubble". Pitt now starts its conference schedule, with its next game against Notre Dame at home on Wednesday.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Pens Lose to Toronto 3-2

Pens Lose about it.

My Take:

The Pens are starting to play better, and definitely seem like a team with more fire. But they are still making too many mental mistakes: being in the wrong place, making bad passes, not playing hard every minute, etc. Michel Therrien obviously isn't happy with his team right now. He sees their deficiencies and is trying to correct them, but some of these players just are not a good fit for this team. It has to many veteran players who are used to getting to do things their way, and not having someone tell them what to do and what not to do. The Pens need more young players, the kind that want to be taught and accept instruction well. The kind of players that they have had on the baby Penguins in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Time will tell if this team can turn it around in time to salvage a playoff spot. And time is running out.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Steelers 41 - Browns 0

The score says it all. The Steelers put a whooping on the Browns.

Read this article for the details: AP Article (from ESPN)

My Take:

The Pittsburgh Steelers were running on all cylinders on Saturday, Christmas Eve. There offense was very productive, not just efficient. The defense was dominating. Even the special teams played well. Willie Parker showed why he is still the starting running back, rushing for 130 yards, with 80 of those yards coming on one run. A Cleveland fan even tried taking on the Steelers defense, by drunkenly running onto the field. He found out what its like to be on the bad end of a James Harrison take-down. Fortunately for him, the cops showed up to arrest him and get him out of Harrison's custody. Overall, it was a great day for the Steelers. They vastly improved their playoff chances, because while they won their game, the Chargers fell to the Chiefs. The Steelers dominated a division opponent on that team's home field, and did it in front of thousands of Steeler fans. As a result of their performance, the Steelers made it clear to the rest of the AFC that they are serious about being a contender in this years playoffs, and improving on their performance from last year when they lost to the Patriots in the conference championship.