Posted on: January 28, 2009 2:10 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2009 2:47 pm

Cards on a roll? Steelers have one of their own

I have that itch. I'm guessing it's in you to. It's in almost every sports fan.

Somewhere inside you, you hear Al Michaels exclaiming late Sunday night, "can you believe it?! One of the greatest shocks in Super Bowl history. The Arizona Cardinals have defeated the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 43!!!!!"Ike Taylor destroys a wideout

Everybody wants to say, "I told you so." After all, all signs point to the Steelers. They won a tough division battle. They finished second in a much tougher conference and they have a premier defense, an effective offense and a rich tradition of postseason success.

The Cardinals have a history that's a well-documented mess, but they're on a roll. Being on a roll means a lot, just ask Prisco .

But the Steelers are on their own little roll. And their type of roll is impressive enough to quell my itch.

Since their bye week the Steelers have had the leading receiver in every game except one (Sproles' meaningless fourth quarter 61-yard reception three weeks ago is the exception).

Think about that. The Steelers, incorrectly known as a run-heavy team, have featured the leading receiver in a game since week six.

The impressive part isn't that names like Hines, Santonio or Heath led these games in yards. It's that names like Moss, Owens, Gates (in Nov.), Wayne or Burress didn't. The Steelers faced some pretty darn good passing games in New England, Dallas, San Diego, Indianapolis and the Giants since their bye week and stifled them all.

People remember their two playoff games vs. pass-aversion clubs like the Titans and Ravens and think, "heck, the Pitt Panthers could play solid pass defense vs. those two." But the Steelers shut down everybody. And they do it with a relatively unheralded secondary. Troy Polamalu is world class, but after that it's a bunch of somewhat-familiar names like Ike Taylor, Ryan Clark and Deshea Townsend.

One of those somewhat-familiar names is going to be the reason a familiar name like Hines or Santonio ends up leading this game in receiving yards.

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Klick of the Day

This guy can Dere-lick his own balls, thank you very much

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 3, 2008 1:53 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2008 2:23 pm

Key to Steelers-Redskins: the Rock

Rock Cartwright

Know thee name: Rock Cartwright.

(Did he have a TV show in the early '90s, Eric?)

No that, was Charles S. Dutton, and the show was called Roc.

Rock Cartwright is the 5-foot nothing, 200-pound nothing from nothing-football-school Kansas State.

(So, uh, what the hell are you talking about, Eric?)

If there's one thing the Steelers have done well this season it's stop the north-south runner.

Clinton Portis, nation's capital man of mystery, averages 5 yards per carry not by running east-west.

Ask Fred Taylor, Jamal Lewis, Brandon Jacobs, Willis McGahee or Cedric Benson, all north-south runners how it is running into Casey Hampton (when applicable) and those linebackers.

That's where backup running back and special teams ace Rock Cartwright comes into the fold.

(Lest we forget Shaun Alexander, he of former MVP fame, Eric?)

Only if we're lucky.

While I don't expect Cartwright to get many, (please don't be an "if any" situation, I can't afford to look dumb again!), I do expect him to be a factor in the passing game. Because that's where the Steelers are vulnerable. Remember offensive lineman-turned-running back Le'Ron McClain catching those screens for 32 yards? Remember Correll Buckhalter catching six balls for 44 yards and a touchdown? Remember Maurice Jones-Drew hauling in six balls? Remember Derrick Ward hauling in five catches for 43 yards? Maybe you don't. But the only thing that's important to note is that in two of those four games the opponent won and in the other two it went down to the wire.

And now, if we may make a loose and non-scientific-based correlation -- success will be dependent on Jason Campbell unloading the ball quickly, and often times to a running back on a flare or screen (well, that won't be quickly). That's where Rock comes into the mix (BTW, he's always Rock. Not "Cartwright," "Rock Cartwright" or "Mr. Cartwright" [that's his father, so he says!]).

He's in on third downs, typically, but I'd expect to see him pop up on a second and long here and there. He's got soft hands and loves the YAC. Plus, he has a little bit of Hines Ward-ian junkyard dog in him.

Now, I say Rock is the key with the full understanding that Rock may not even record a meaningful offensive stat this game. If that's the case, it's likely because Chris Cooley also serves this role, just not out of the backfield. But whoever the player is, the Redskins will need to get the ball out of Campbell's hands quickly in order to succeed and ensure John McCain takes control of the White House.

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Klick of the Day 

The best part about a Texas Tech touchdown

Posted on: October 1, 2008 12:47 pm

How to scoop, courtesy of momluvsfootball

Twenty one thousand, two hundred and ninety five views.

That's the number of views, as of 12:19 PM ET, October 1, In Love with the Game, Mom's View had on her entry "Davenport Resigned by Steelers."

A tip of the hat to momluvsfootball for her football tip.

Here's the need-to-know about this particular blog entry. We recognized it shortly after it was published, we looked at our headlines lists and saw we had nothing on the signing of Najeh Davenport. So we put ILWTGMV on our NFL, and homepage headlines.

But we did this only because:

  1. It was a relatively important signing
  2. It was well-written
  3. Most importantly, it linked back to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette story where the information came from.

So the thing to gleam from this is -- we'll do more of this. Post in your blog some news you've gathered, provide the appropriate link to the publication you took it from, present it in a way to make the information digestable to the masses and there's a good chance your blog will make into our headlines lists. 

Great work MLF, and enjoy knowing you were yesterday's most read blog (including our columnist's blogs)

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Klick of the Day

The best prank caught by a photog since Billy Ripken's baseball bat.

Posted on: September 30, 2008 3:42 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2008 3:45 pm

Flacco's Ravens have '04 Big Ben's Steelers feel

It was a scorching hot Sunday afternoon in Baltimore 1,470 days ago from last night. I was attending a Ravens-Steelers game as an impartial observer. My only concern was the beer in hand, and watching my fantasy tight end, Todd Heap, record stats.

Then it happened.

Tommy Maddox went down and in came rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to face the league's scariest, and smartest defense. Most people in M&T Bank Stadium didn't know Roethlisberger from Ratzenberger, but I suddenly got really interested in the game. Months earlier I had seen Roethlisberger play his final home game in college, and now I was getting Big Bento see his NFL debut.

He held his own vs. the Ravens, going 12-20 for 176 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He connected with Hines Ward six times for 151 yards and a score. He also threw a late pick-six that sealed any chance of a comeback victorious debut. However, you could sense this guy was for real. I knew it after watching him for two-plus seasons in college, but the rest of the world got a glimpse of the giant, 6-5 quarterback with the funny last name. 

Last night another oversized quarterback with a funny last name showed a glimpse of what's possible in Baltimore. Joe Flacco, built like Big Ben, left his matchup with the Steelers with a loss, but a heaping dose of respect after his 4-minute drill scoring drive. Look at the comparison between Flacco's first game vs. the Steelers and Roethlisberger's first game vs. the Ravens.

  • Roethlisberger threw for 176 yards, two touchdowns and had two turnovers, one of which was converted to a touchdown.
  • Flacco threw for 191 yards, one touchdown and had three fumbles, one of which was lost and converted to a touchdown.
  • Flacco found veteran receiver Derrick Mason eight times for 137 yards and nearly two touchdowns.
  • Roethlisberger found veteran receiver Hines Ward six times for 151 yards and a score.

But that's not the only similarity between this year's Ravens and the 2004 Steelers. The Ravens have a bulldozer in Le'Ron McClain. The Steelers had a bus in Jerome Bettis. The Flacco walking tallRavens have the league's stingiest defense through their first three games. The Steelers had the league's stingiest defense in 2004. The Ravens have the aforementioned Mason, the Steelers had/have the aforementioned Ward. The Steelers had a former special teams coach, albeit now veteran coach, in Bill Cowher. The Ravens have a former special teams coach, albeit now respected coach, in John Harbaugh. The Ravens have a tall quarterback with a big arm from a small school. The Steelers had a tall quarterback with a big arm from a small school. It goes on...

... but here's where this is going. The Ravens have the look of a playoff team with Flacco under center. With their defense, the Ravens are going to win games alone, lesser teams in similar situations, like the Falcons, will not. And Flacco proved, like Big Ben did his rookie year, he can go out and lead a successful drive late in a game. The Steelers ended up going 15-1 before bowing out to the Patriots in the playoffs in '04. The Ravens aren't winning out, but expect them to make the playoffs if I'm even close to predicting Flacco as the second coming of Roethlisberger.

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Klick of the Day 

WIth WGN set to run a ALF marathon tomorrow, keep this in mind

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com