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The Steelers have come a long way since being left for dead, by the media, after losing to the Jets earlier this season. Even the heartiest of Steeler fans had to have their doubts as to whether this was a playoff team. There were calls to fire Tomlin and Haley as well as for LeBeau to retire early. Thing is, nobody on the inside was listening to what was being said on the outside. Mike Tomlin and his staff continued to stay the course, and after today's 20-12 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, became a playoff team again. Through all the early season injuries and inconsistencies, the Steelers are now getting healthy on defense at the right time and have developed the depth necessary for a deep playoff run.
It was known, coming into the season, that the offense was going to have to carry the defense, and that was before all the injuries occurred. No one could have predicted at that time that the Steelers would come into today's game with the top ranked offense in the NFL or that Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le'Veon Bell would be breaking new team records on a weekly basis and become the most dangerous threesome in the league. Just how far can this team go in the playoffs, with the most explosive offense in team history and a defense that is improving weekly? All the way to the Super Bowl. This quote from @typestruth on twitter says it all about this Steelers team
"They remind me of the Team from 05, the team NO ONE wanted to play in the Playoffs!"
Just like the '05 Steelers, this year's version is getting healthy, hitting their stride and peaking at just the right time, only this time, they may get to host a home playoff game. All they have to do is beat Cincinnati next week to win the AFC North.
One of the biggest, yet overlooked moments in today's game was a play made by a guy who has stepped in and up due to an injury. In the corner of the end zone, Antwan Blake broke up a touchdown pass which helped hold the Chiefs to a field goal. That play seemed to fire up the defense and permanently give the momentum back to Pittsburgh, but it also is indicative of a defense that is postseason ready and led by a resurgent James Harrison. Perhaps the Steelers can send Harrison off into the sunset much like they did Jerome Bettis, with a Lombardi Trophy. One thing for sure is that, none of the other teams in the Postseason are looking forward to finding out.
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While walking around PirateFest, I saw one of the coolest things I believe I have ever seen when it comes to signed memorabilia. It is a seven foot, white ash, custom made baseball bat that weighs sixty pounds and contains approximately 183 signatures of current and former Pirates players. This bat is as unique of a piece as anything I have ever seen.
The idea behind the bat came to life over a few beers and soon after, the bat's owner began gathering the boards of white ash that would be necessary to make this monster. The production of the bat would take around a year to complete, which included adequately drying out the wood to prevent any warping. Once finished, this passionate Buccos fan began the pursuit of signatures to fill up this bat, which also includes a security escort at PNC Park.
The man and his son really seem to enjoy this pursuit of signatures together, which is perhaps the coolest thing about the bat. Because it truly is something that can be passed on to future generations in their family. Even with the 183 signatures they already have, it looks like there is room for quite a few more, with a different story for how each one was gotten.
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At this year's PirateFest, Kipper and I were able to sit down and chat with new Pittsburgh Pirates catcher, Francisco Cervelli, thanks to Pirates Social Media Director, Terry Rodgers. I asked Francisco how long it took him to look at video of our pitching staff once he became a Pittsburgh Pirate, and while he thought it was important to do that, he said he hadn't yet done it because he was on vacation. Kipper asked him what he knew about the Pirates before coming here and Cervelli responded by naming off a list of players, including, A.J., Marte, Hughes and a few others he has played against in the minor leagues. All Cervelli seemed interested in was learning where to go to eat and do things around the city.
When talk switched to places to live in Pittsburgh, Kipper suggested living in the suburbs, but Cervelli expressed the desire to live where it is noisy, with ambulance sirens and the ****ter clatter of trains, anything short of gun shots. I guess when you're used to living in Yonkers, sleeping with silence just won't do. Cervelli grew up in Venezuela being an Indians fan because of Omar Vizquel, a Venezuelan citizen himself. Francisco hated the Yankees and didn't really talk much about his time playing for them. He thought it was cool how Pittsburgh fans "love to wave their towels".
It was a pleasant change of pace to learn that Francisco Cervelli was interested in the Arts and the culture of Pittsburgh, where museums and types of restaurants were. Sure he was impressed with the electric atmosphere that was created by the fans at PNC Park and how the Pirates fans are creating a presence on the road, but he genuinely seemed impressed with the people of Pittsburgh themselves and how nice and respectful they are. That was what he wanted the focus of the conversation to be on and what the Pittsburgh lifestyle was like. This says a lot about Cervelli, the man, truly becoming a part of the city he will be playing in, especially... [Read More]
With the Cincinnati Bengals looking to put a strangle hold on the AFC North Sunday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers stung them with their best performance on the road all season. Trailing 21-17 heading into the 4th quarter, the Steelers used the final 15 minutes to turn a close game into a 42-21 laugher and pulled to within a half game of the division lead.
Le'Veon Bell had another monster game with 26 carries for 185 yards and another 50 yards on 6 receptions. He topped 200 total yards for the third straight game, joining Walter Payton as the only players to accomplish that feat. Bell found the end zone three times as well, twice on the ground and once in the air.
Antonio Brown extended his obscure NFL record of consecutive games with 5 receptions and 50 yards to 27, catching 9 balls for 117 yards. Although Brown never found the end zone, he opened things up for Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant, who also went over 100 yards receiving, and kept several drives alive with clutch receptions that tortured the Bengals secondary. After today, Bryant has 7 touchdowns in 7 games and has become a bona-fide deep threat for Roethlisberger.
Ben Roethlisberger is having the finest season of his career and loves playing in Ohio. He showed why in this crucial showdown with the division leaders. He finished the day going 25 of 39 for 350 yards with 3 touchdown passes, one each to Heath Miller, Le'Veon Bell and a 94 yard strike to rookie Martavis Bryant that put the game away and put Ben over the 4,000 yard mark for the 4th time in the last 6 seasons.
The Steelers need to use this win as a springboard to a playoff birth, and if they win out, they will win the AFC North. Despite their penchant for losing to sub-.500 teams, they still control their own destiny, which means they need to beat another sub-.500 team in the Atlanta Falcons, next week at the Georgia Dome.
| Dec 07, 2014 - 9:46 PM
That is how I can best describe myself preparing to head down to the Chuck Tanner Banquet Awards. The Suits and Ties, the Dresses and Heels.. all of it there, with a lot of higher profile folks from within the Baseball industry locally and nationally.
How out of place would I be?
On paper, the answer to that question is "very". However, as soon as I handed my coat off, I felt a sense of relief. I looked around, saw all of these people in the same venue as me and comfort started to sink in. They didn't know who I was, for all they knew, I was someone important. I had a suit on, the lovely Kim from Baseball and Bling was standing next to me, working out her nervousness.. we were a couple of bloggers that looked as important as most everyone else.
First things first, you can't walk around a place like this without a drink in your hand. The man needs a beer, the woman needs a glass of wine. You simply look more important this way. If Jim Leyland can carry around a beer, dagnabbit... so can I !! After buying raffle tickets and displacing them in baskets that there was no way of winning, due to luck, it was off to the bar.
While walking around, the eyes are always on alert. You're trying to see who is who. "Is that?" I'd ask. "Do you think that is?", Kim would ask. In a way it was like Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles walking around, but that is what makes it exciting; The experience for the first time.
Next on the agenda was an art revealing by the well known sports artist, Kevin John - ... [Read More]