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ТЕМА: Will the real Pittsburgh Steelers please stand up?

Will the real Pittsburgh Steelers please stand up? 3 нед. 2 дн. назад #385

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Tonight Alejandro Villanueva Jersey , viewers across the nation will get another opportunity to witness the greatest rivalry in sports today when the Pittsburgh Steelers square off against their hated rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, in the friendly confines of Heinz Field. Maybe I should clarify the aforementioned statement a little. The best rivalry in the NFL. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Ohio State vs. Michigan rivalry in college football, which takes the whole hated-rivals scenario — and the lengths some fans will take to prove it — to an entirely different level.This is a home game for the Steelers, and they have to hold serve at home in this rivalry because it’s so difficult to win in Baltimore. Ben Roethlisberger has been more successful than most, and they did win there last season, but it’s always a tough endeavor, to say the least. It seems Big Ben owns the state of Ohio, but Baltimore has been his own personal house of horrors. There have been blowout losses, a broken nose, too many late hits to mention and, of course, the devastating collision served up by Bart Scott which would have killed a lesser man. If a defender impacted a passer in today’s NFL, as Scott did, he would go directly to jail and would not pass “Go.”This week’s game finds both teams entering the fray with more questions than answers. This is a rare occurrence for two of the most established franchises in the league. With GM Ozzie Newsome at the helm, the Ravens have won two Super Bowls and been a perennial playoff contender. It seems they’re always one of the top defenses in the league. Lately, they’ve struggled to remain a contender, as they try to overcome the loss of franchise cornerstones Hall of Famer Ray Lewis and no doubt future Hall member Ed Reed — all the while being saddled with the albatross contract of Joe Flacco hanging around their necks. This past offseason, the Ravens brought in a whole new group of wide receivers and tight ends, as well as drafting Heisman Trophy winning QB Lamar Jackson John Stallworth Jersey , in an attempt to light the proverbial fire under their presumably unmotivated franchise quarterback. So far, their offseason additions have had the desired effects. Flacco seems to have gotten his mojo back and has played at a remarkably efficient level. All of the skill-position players have been involved and effective, and the offense appears to be a potent unit at first glance. But is everything as positive as it seems?For starters, the Ravens absolutely crushed the hapless Buffalo Bills in a home game to start the season. Have I mentioned how good the Ravens are at home? This was also a Bills team which decided it was a good idea to march out Nathan Peterman as their starting QB for the season opener. Yes, the same Nathan Peterman who threw five interceptions in the first half of his first career start last season against the Chargers. His first-quarter performance against the Ravens resembled a dream sequence from a Nightmare on Elm Street movie, and it only got worse from there. Final score was Ravens 47 - Bills 3. I’m not sure what can be learned from that debacle, unless it’s never to anoint Nathan Peterman as your starting QB. To be fair, it did shield young-stud passer Josh Allen from a traumatic welcome to the NFL moment. It could have scarred him for life. The Ravens would then go on to lose their next game against the Cincinnati Bengals on the road on Thursday Night football. Andy Dalton is a bona fide, established NFL QB and he proceeded to team up with A.J. Green and friends to bring the Ravens back to earth — and in some ways, the fans and announcers back to reality.Then this past Sunday the Ravens won a hard fought contest against the Denver Broncos. The Broncos shot themselves in the foot repeatedly with ill-timed penalties, which just so happens to also be one of the Steelers’ specialties. Best in the league actually. That’s one stat I don’t think anyone is too proud of and it needs to be addressed immediately.Honestly, the Ravens played very well. Flacco was motivated and engaged. He protected the football, made the correct reads and adjustments, and was extremely accurate throwing the football. Probably his best overall performance in quite a few years. That’s not a good sign for the Steelers, as he’s enjoyed more success at Heinz Field than most QBs can claim.On defense against the Broncos, the Ravens pass-rush created havoc throughout the game for Denver QB Case Keenum, consistently collapsing the pocket. But there were open receivers aplenty whenever the line could provide Keenum with a modicum of time to throw. This week’s contest could come down to which offensive line performs best and which team avoids those crippling turnovers and penalties.The rookies from both teams will hear all week about the physicality of the matchup they are about to experience first hand, but they’ll still be taken aback by the ferocity of it. The intensity is immediately taken to another level that’s hard to put into words. Some players will rise to the occasion and perform, while others will wilt under the pressure.This week is the perfect opportunity for the Steelers to prove they are who we thought they were — a powerful offense capable of rewriting the team's record books plus improved tackling on defense that would stymie the running game and create opportunities to build on last season's league-leading pass rush. We’ve seen glimpses of both so far this season, but that’s been it — only glimpses and no consistency.This week's game isn't what the league offices had in mind with all of the offseason rule changes. The physical nature of this matchup could get out of hand quickly considering what’s at stake and the shared loathing between the combatants. So expect a deluge of yellow flags to rain down on Heinz Field in an attempt by officials to stem the tide.Better double check that chin-strap and give those shoulder pads one last pop.Buckle’s about to get real. This should be fun.Steelers’ strut some serious potential in 41-17 win over Atlanta It was the kind of dominant win that tantalizes Steelers Nation with hints of the complete team this 2018 edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers might become. After taking a 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter Jordan Berry Jersey , the Steelers’ offense seemed to retreat into its shell in the second quarter, squandering two excellent scoring opportunities — an overthrown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown on a crossing route which looked like it might have been one of his trademark catch-and-run TDs — plus an ill-advised, up-for-grabs pass by Roethlisberger on a 1st-and-goal play from the Falcons’ 7-yard line which was intercepted in the end zone for a touchback. At halftime, the Steelers led by the slim margin of 13-10, and many of the Steelers Nation faithful were heard muttering “here we go again” under their breaths. But when the Steelers returned to the field following the intermission, they were all business. The defense promptly halted a Falcons’ drive, after which the offense resumed running the ball effectively with James Conner, just as they’d done in the opening quarter. On a key 3rd-and-13 play, Ben hit Conner on a screen pass and No. 30 rambled for a 23-yard gain, breaking tackles along the way. Then, on a 3rd-and-5 play from the Falcon’s 9-yard line, Ben timed his throw perfectly on an out-route to Brown in the front corner of the end zone for the TD that increased the lead to 20-10.With a little under three minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Steelers’ defense once again stepped up to thwart the Falcons and force a punt. Roosevelt Nix broke through the line and made a diving block of Matt Bosher’s punt, and Bosher recovered the ball but was stopped by Tyler Matakevich on the Falcons’ 18-yard line. The Steelers promptly scored another TD on a 3-yard Conner dive over the goal line which broke the game open at 27-10.While Atlanta scored one TD in the fourth quarter, they never challenged again as the Steelers added two more TDs — the first on a picture-perfect, 47-yard pass from Ben to Brown, and the second on a strip-sack by T.J. Watt as he ran down Matt Ryan from behind and the loose ball was recovered in the end zone by L.J. Fort. As impressive a win as this 41-17 thumping might be, the score doesn’t begin to represent the Steelers’ level of dominance over the Falcons. Without those two screw-ups by No. 7 in the second quarter, we easily could have been looking at a total of 50-some points — and this in a game where Ben didn’t even post one of his better passing efforts (19/29 for 250 yards). Perhaps most surprisingly of all, there was the Steelers’ much-maligned defense holding down its end of the bargain while allowing only 17 points — a total which would have been still smaller if the Steelers’ defenders hadn’t taken so many costly David DeCastro Jersey , defensive penalties that enabled Atlanta to sustain its scoring drives. Equally surprising were the two splash-plays by Nix and Watt that led directly to 14 points for the Black-and-gold. This is something we haven’t seen nearly enough of in recent weeks.Reading the tea leavesNobody can deny the magnitude of this win, especially for a Steelers team that came into the game winless at home. We also have to appreciate the fact that, coming into the game at 1-3, Atlanta needed a win just as badly as Pittsburgh. But make no mistake, the Steelers weren’t exactly facing the cream of the 2018 NFL crop in this matchup. While Matt Ryan certainly has his defenders, he’s not Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. As surprising as the Steelers’ defensive performance might have been, you still had the feeling this game might have been much more competitive if the Steelers had been facing a premier quarterback. So while there’s much to like in this win, the Falcons’ infamous choke in Super Bowl 51 apparently signaled the beginning of an extended decline for the team which nowadays doesn’t look anything like a serious contender.On the other hand, as recently as Week 4, Atlanta had the Cincinnati Bengals on the ropes before a late TD pass from Dalton to A.J. Green pulled out the win for Cincy. With Pittsburgh traveling to Paul Brown Stadium next weekend, perhaps it’s a good sign that the same Atlanta team which played the Bengals so evenly in Week 4 was no match for the Steelers the following week. But then you look at the Baltimore Ravens’ lackluster effort in losing 12-9 to the Cleveland Browns, and it seems pretty difficult to make comparisons based on the teams’ showings against common opponents.Some definite positives on offense, however, were the play of Conner (21 carries, 110 yards, plus 4 receptions for 75 yards, 2 TDs) and Antonio Brown (6 receptions, 101 yards, 2 TDs). On defense, the play of T.J. Watt (team tackling leader with eight Chukwuma Okorafor Jersey , plus the strip-sack) and the marked improvement shown by 2018 first-round pick, Terrell Edmunds (second in tackles with seven) were quite promising. Overall, the defense appears to be improving — albeit slowly — and that’s certainly a welcome sign. Special teams were generally solid during the game, including the aforementioned, blocked punt by Nix. As for the kicking game, Jordan Berry had a very respectable game on punts, while Boswell still managed to leave us with some lingering doubt by missing his first point-after kick.The one factor that keeps emerging in characterizing this win is consistency. Except for the Steelers’ second-quarter foibles and the bad kick by Boswell, the Black-and-gold were remarkably consistent throughout the game. And somewhat atypically for this team in recent years, they made this victory look ridiculously easy, as it might have been even a bigger rout. This tends to reassure the fan base that, when the Steelers come out well prepared for a game — and when their defense, kickers and special teams play at least well enough not to be conspicuous liabilities — they can make short work of opponents like Atlanta and also can be competitive with the better teams in the league. When we look back later in the season, this win might be viewed as a turning point for the 2018 Steelers. After the previous four regular-season games — all of which seemed very much like an extension of the preseason in terms of being unprepared and out of sync —perhaps this is the game that shows the team finally has turned the corner and is ready to start performing up to its capabilities.Next Sunday’s face-off on the road against the Bengals will be an excellent opportunity to test the theory that the Steelers have truly righted their ship. In the past, Pittsburgh has been able to beat Andy Dalton mainly by pressuring him into any number of serious mistakes. So if the Black-and-gold defense truly is beginning to come together, there’s no doubt that Big Ben and company bring more than enough firepower to the fray to secure the win and move Pittsburgh’s record to 3-2-1, while dropping Cincinnati to 4-2. But because of the Steelers’ relatively slow start, getting the win in this first of two matchups against the Bengals will be every bit as crucial as the victory over the Falcons. A loss would drop Pittsburgh two full games behind Cincinnati with 10 games remaining — not a very desirable position for the defending AFC North champions. So the arrow definitely is pointing upwards for the Steelers in the wake of this impressive win. If their improvement extends into the weeks ahead, we might even see the end of calls for Mike Tomlin’s head and a wholesale reconfiguration of the entire Steelers' organization. Well ... a guy can dream anyway.
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