Tag:Pittsburgh Steelers
Posted on: November 18, 2011 6:42 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 8:30 pm
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NFL fines Flacco $7.5K for horse-collar tackle

If the NFL has a fine schedule why were Polamalu and Flacco given different fines for the same offense? (Getty Images/AP)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

No one, it seems, is immune to the the long arm of the NFL law responsible for handing out punishments to weekly rules-breakers. The latest unlikely target to end up in the league's crosshairs: Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who was fined $7,500 for his horse-collar tackle on the Seahawks' David Hawthorne last weekend.

Only knowing this, you might think, "Good. The league doesn't consider quarterbacks, its most prized possession, above the rules."

Sort of. For starters, Flacco gets fewer roughing-the-passer calls than almost every other quarterback in the league. So it's not like he's Tom Brady or Drew Brees when it comes to officials giving him the benefit of the doubt

But then there's this: Flacco's fine was half what the NFL fined Troy Polmalu for his horse-collar tackle on Ravens running back Ricky Williams. And before you note that the league punishes repeat offenders more heavily than first-timers, the Polamalu-on-Williams crime took place in Week 1.

It seems like the NFL is arbitrarily handing out fines. "But the NFL has a fine schedule," you might point out. "One that explicitly lays out how much players can expect to fork over for every infraction." 

Well let's take a look. Under the heading "Player Safety Rules and/or Flagrant Personal Foul (including, without limitation)" is the following:
Horse Collar Tackle: $15,000 / $30,000
We take this to mean that a first offense will cost you $15,000 and subsequent offenses will cost you $30,000.

So why was Flacco fined $7,500?

A league source tells CBSSports.com that Flacco was a first-time offender, and the minimum fine for first-time offenders is $7,500. While it may have been Polamalu's first fine of the season, he had been fined previously. Flacco had not.

Here are the two penalties:


Polamalu horse-collars Williams during Week 1.


Flacco horse-collars Hawthorne during Week 10.

The story here isn't that one player was fined more than another for the same offense, it's that the league appears to haphazardly assign punishments. We've said it countless times before, but here goes, once more: if the idea is to reduce personal-foul penalties, shouldn't the sanctions be transparent and crystal clear? Because otherwise, no one knows what's deemed legal and what isn't and you end up with situations like, say, this (and this).

Put another way: the league views Flacco's offense to be as egregious as what Browns guard Shawn Lauvao did to Brian Cushing last week. Lauvao was fined $7,500 for head-butting Cushing, which opened up a blood-gushing gash on the Texans linebacker's face.

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Posted on: November 16, 2011 10:35 am
Edited on: November 16, 2011 6:23 pm
 

Casino fires Franco Harris for supporting Paterno

Posted by Will Brinson

Earlier this week, Steelers legend and Penn State alum Franco Harris came out and publicly ripped the Penn State Board of Trustees for firing Joe Paterno.

The decision to do so got Harris fired, as the Meadows Race Track and Casino decided to dump the Hall of Famer as an endorser.

"In light of the recent developments with Franco Harris regarding Joe Paterno’s dismissal, Franco and The Meadows have mutually decided to put their business relationship on hold at this time, while these matters are looked into further," the Meadows said in a statement.

It's a surprising turn of events, especially considering that this is, you know, a casino. It's not exactly the home of the moral high ground. Still, it seems that they probably recognized Harris Q-rating would take a hit.

More on Penn State scandal

"Now, everyone gets to interpret in their own way," Harris said recently. "That's what really bothers me: Joe did what was right for him to do. He forwarded the information to his superiors. That's the legal procedure at Penn State." 

According to a story posted Wednesday on WTAE.com, Harris' friends warned him that speaking out in support of Paterno would leave him susceptible to criticism from potential sponsors, but Harris said he was unconcerned. 

WTAE's Sally Wiggin reports that Harris will meet with Penn State University President Rodney Erickson and the Board of Trustees.

"I really want to get some answers," Harris said. "How do you justify the firing of Joe Paterno? And I want to know from the president, why aren't you rehiring Joe Paterno?"

Harris might be legally right to defend Paterno. We won't know that until the full legal proceedings in this matter are finished. But if Paterno could have stopped the terrible things that allegedly happened at Penn State from happening, there's really no moral ground to stand on.

Even the people who run a casino can see that.

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Posted on: November 15, 2011 1:55 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 5:47 am
 

Roethlisberger has broken thumb, will still play

A broken bone won't keep Big Ben out of the lineup. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It's part of the deal: the Steelers let Ben Roethlisberger play his game -- which consists of holding the ball for an eternity, breaking tackles in the backfield, buying time with his feet and finding receivers open downfield -- with the understanding that he'll take a beating and suffer the occasional injury. It's unconventional, but it also works. (As Warren Sapp pointed out last week, when you're facing Ben, it's not the first three seconds of the play that hurt you, it's the last three.) In Roethlisberger's first seven years in the league, Pittsburgh made three Super Bowl appearances, winning twice.

On Tuesday, Big Ben told the media that he broke the thumb on his throwing hand during Sunday's game against the Bengals. He also said that he'll play against the Chiefs in two weeks, when the Steelers return from their bye.

"It will be painful but it takes a lot to keep me out," said Roethlisberger (via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review), who is wearing a velcro wrap to protect the thumb. "We'll concoct a splint. I'll have a glove on for the rest of the year."

Roethlisberger was sacked five times in Cincinnati, but played well, completing 21 of 33 passes for 245 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

At various points last season, Big Ben battled a foot injury and a broken nose. Since coming into the league in 2004, he's also dealt with concussions, knee surgeries, previous thumb and foot injuries, not to mention nearly dying during a 2006 motorcycle accident. (You can view the exhaustive list of nicks, bumps, bruises and breaks here.)

Coincidentally, when the Steelers face the Chiefs in Week 11, Kansas City will be without their starter, Matt Cassel, who suffered a hand injury during Sunday's loss to the Broncos.

If it turns out that Roethlisberger can't play, Charlie Batch will get the nod with Dennis Dixon backing him up. The duo led the Steelers to a 3-1 record to begin the 2010 season, while Big Ben served a four-game suspension following a sexual-assault accusation.

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 1:40 pm
 

Podcast: Week 10 NFL preview, Oakland/San Diego

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Week 10's gotten started, thanks to Oakland's big win in San Diego, and we break down that game -- the return of Carson Palmer! -- before diving into Week 10's preview podcast.

Are the Bengals capable of upsetting the Steelers at home? Does anyone care about the Eagles-Cardinals game except for Kevin Kolb? Have the Bears improved enough on offense since losing to the Lions last time to move into a tie for second in the NFC North this week? Can we really bank on the Patriots losing three-straight games? Is Chad Ochocinco really the key to beating the Jets this week? Are the Giants overmatched heading out west against San Francisco?

All those questions answered, plus much, much more, below.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: November 10, 2011 10:03 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 10:05 pm
 

Joe Paterno offered Steelers job in 1969

$70,000 wasn't enough to lure Paterno to Pittsburgh. (US PRESSWIRE/Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The abrupt end to Joe Paterno's 61-year coaching career at Penn State was national news Wednesday night. But 42 years ago, the winningest coach in Division I history almost left State College for Pittsburgh.

More on Paterno, Penn St

In 1969, a year after going 2-11-1 (and six years removed from their last winning season), the Rooney family offered Paterno $70,000 to coach the Steelers. It was $50,000 more than what the college paid Paterno at the time.

According to "Pittsburgh Steelers: The Complete Illustrated History," Paterno struggled with the decision before eventually declining the Rooney's offer to stay at Penn State.

"It was an awful lot of money, a fantastic offer," Paterno said at the time. "I'd never dreamed of making that much money. Then I started thinking about what I wanted to do. I had put some things out of whack. I haven't done the job I set out to do at Penn State."

The Steelers had to settle for one of Don Shula's assistants down in Miami. Some guy named Chuck Noll, who went on to coach in Pittsburgh for 23 years and led the Steelers to four Super Bowl titles. He retired in 1991 with a 209-156-1 record, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

"Hiring Chuck Noll was the best decision we ever made," Dan Rooney said in the book.

Bill Cowher succeeded Noll and coached in Pittsburgh from 1992 to 2006, winning one Super Bowl in 2005. Mike Tomlin was hired in 2007, after Cowher retired, and the Steelers made two Super Bowl appearances in his first four years (winning once in 2008).

hat tip: Shutdown Corner


After a tough loss to the Ravens last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers hope to bounce back as they travel to Paul Brown Stadium to battle the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Jason Horowitz is joined by NFL.com's Pat Kirwan to break down this game.

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 11:05 pm
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Week 10 Film Room

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

We've made the turn, the first half of the season is officially in the books, and as the weather worsens, the games become more important. Lucky for us, we have Andy Benoit to break down the biggest matchups of the week, starting with Steelers-Bengals.

We also discuss whether the Patriots dynasty is officially dead (or did that happen a few years ago?), if the Raiders can keep the Chargers down, how much of a chance the Giants stand out west against the 49ers, and which rookie wide receiver is better: AJ Green or Julio Jones.

Just hit the play button below to listen (and did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?).

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:01 pm
 

Tomlin said to be furious about NFL fine on Clark

Clark's collision with Dickson resulted in a $40,000 fine. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

On Tuesday there were reports that Ryan Clark and Ray Lewis could expect fines for their play in Sunday night's Ravens-Steelers game. Wednesday it became a reality; Clark was docked $40,000 and Lewis $20,000.

And not long after the fines were announced, Clark spoke frankly on the matter.

"Somebody else needs to step in ... not that I respected Roger [Goodell] before this ... but this is ridiculous," he said. "I'm not going to sit across from [the Commissioner] unless they handcuff me. which is probably the next step anyway."

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette writes that Steelers head coach "was said to be furious when he learned about the fine from the league office today."

In a statement released by the team, Tomlin called the fine excessive.

"I am a proponent of player safety and the league's pursuit of improvement in this area," he said. "I, like the vast majority of people in this industry, witness daily the steep price that these young men pay to play this game on so many levels. Ryan has my full support if he chooses to appeal this in any way."

Judge for yourself:


Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also supports Clark and thinks that NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith should get involved.

"It's unfortunate," he said."You never want to see one of your guys get hit, especially for that much money. I went back and watched it. If you slow down and watch it, it's about as picture-perfect of a tackle you can make. His head was down right across the chest and the back of his helmet maybe grazed the wide receivers bottom of the face mask. Someone needs to stand up and do something -- like De Smith. He is our player guy, stand up and do something for our players."

Reviewing Week 9

Fair point. Smith hasn't been seen since the lockout ended. Maybe that's why, when the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly asked James Harrison Wednesday if De Smith should get involved his response was "Who's that?"

(We're pretty sure that was Harrison being sarcastic.)

But it's not just those in the Steelers organization that think Clark's punishment was exorbitant. Sports Illustrated's Peter King sent the following tweets Wednesday:

"Watched replay of Clark's hit on Dickson 20/25 times. Clark lowers head, aims for chest w/right shoulder. Clips Dickson facemask w/helmet. … This is not the kind of hit to generate a 40k fine. Clark DID hit helmet--but he clearly was aiming lower. Some fine? OK. 40? No way. … 'Fine Clark till he stops.; Stops what? Lowering his head and aiming for a guy's sternum? Bury a guy when he AIMS for head. Clark didn't."

As our colleague Will Brinson wrote earlier, the reason Clark is now out $40,000 wasn't the result of some blindfolded dart-throwing exercise down at league headquarters. It's because the NFL's fine schedule plainly states that the second offense for "Impermissible Use of the Helmet" will run you … $40,000.

The players are well aware of this. They're just apoplectic at the amount. Well, that and the arbitrary nature with with Goodell metes out punishments. Like, say, this.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 7:17 pm
 

Film Room: Bengals vs. Steelers preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



So let’s get this straight: the Steelers, at a respectable 6-3, are in third place of the AFC North? And it’s not the soft-scheduled Browns they’re chasing, but rather, the dysfunctional Bengals?

We’re going to find out over the next two months whether the Bengals are a Cinderella story or a farce. First, let’s establish some expectations by examining what the film has revealed over the past two months.



1. The ginger rookie & Jon Gruden’s brother
There’s a growing movement to anoint Andy Dalton the Offensive Rookie of the Year instead of Cam Newton. That’s a fair. Dalton’s team is 6-2, Newton’s is 2-6. But let’s keep our perspective and remember that Dalton is NOT the physical specimen that Newton is. He doesn’t have Newton’s arm, wheels or athletic improv skills. And he’s not being asked to do the same things as Newton.

That said, Dalton has been much closer to Newton’s athletic level than anyone would have ever guessed. He has shown the arm strength to make just about every throw that first-year offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has asked of him. He’s been poised when operating from a muddied pocket, and he’s very good at releasing the ball on the move.

Gruden has done a phenomenal job playing to Dalton’s strengths. The Bengals have a balanced attack that hinges on play-action and rollouts, two concepts that slice the field for a quarterback and help define his reads (see graphic). Gruden also incorporates a lot of three-and five-step drops – another simplification tactic. As a result, the Bengals offense has not only been nearly mistake-free but also calm and consistent.

A play-action rollout simplifies things for a quarterback by essentially slicing the field in half. In this sample (against a basic two-man coverage), a fake handoff compels the defense to flow left. The only defenders who go right are the ones responsible for the two receivers running their patterns to the right.

Quarterbacking 101 teaches you to never throw across your body or back across the field. Thus, after the quarterback rolls out, he only has to read the right side of the field, which consists of nothing but his two receivers and their defensive matchups. Often, the read is simplified even more by throwing to wherever the free safety is not giving help-coverage. If a play is there, it’s easy for the quarterback to see.

If nothing’s there, the quarterback has plenty of room to throw the ball away or scramble.

2. The “sure thing” receiver & other weapons
Wideout A.J. Green has been exactly what you’d expect a No. 4 overall pick to be in Year One. He’s averaging roughly five catches, 75 yards and a little more than half a touchdown per game. He’s clearly Dalton’s go-to guy, being targeted almost automatically when facing one-on-one coverage. Green has a wide catching radius thanks to uncommon body control and a great vertical leap. He’ll climb to the top echelon of receivers once he polishes his route running (he has a bad tendency to yield ground and inside positioning on downfield patterns).

The receiving weapons around Green have been solid. Jermaine Gresham can cause matchup problems in the flats. Veteran Donald Lee has filled in well in the wake of Gresham’s hamstring injury the past two weeks. Jerome Simpson has shown why the team did not discipline him harshly after police found Costco amounts of marijuana in his home this past September. To be blunt, Simpson’s quickness is too valuable to take off the field. He’s much more reliable than Andre Caldwell.

Surprisingly, the black-and-blue ground game that figured to define Cincy’s offense has been extremely average thus far (the statistics support this, as Cincy ranks 28th with 3.7 yards per carry). Cedric Benson is a methodical, patient runner who needs steady blocking in order to thrive. He has gotten that, but not at the level he did two years ago when he averaged nearly 100 yards per game.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, despite a poor outing last week, has played at a Pro Bowl level, and right tackle Andre Smith has flashed astonishing power a few times. But the interior line and ancillary blockers (such as a sixth offensive lineman/fullback/tight end) have been up-and-down.

3. Defensive Overview
The Bengals have a deep, active defensive line that’s extremely potent against the run but just so-so against the pass. Tackles Geno Atkins and Pat Sims both regularly win phone booth matchups in impressive fashion, and Domata Peko almost always punishes teams who try to block him one-on-one. If he’s not penetrating, he’s stalemating in a way that allows teammates to make plays.
 
None of these inside players are dominant pass-rushers, though. And there isn’t much firepower outside. End Michael Johnson uses his athleticism in myriad ways but is not a regular presence in the backfield. Intriguing second-year pro Carlos Dunlap replaces Robert Geathers on passing downs. Dunlap, with his unusual upright style and sinewy explosiveness, is certainly capable of reaching the quarterback, but he’s also capable of disappearing for long stretches.

An impotent pass-rush can put considerable pressure on a secondary. Leon Hall is an elite cover corner who does not command a lot of safety help over the top. Using him in isolated solo coverage is a double-edge sword that has stabbed opponents slightly more than it’s stabbed the Bengals this season. Safeties Reggie Nelson and Chris Crocker are hit-or-miss in coverage but capable of playing in space or the box. They give Mike Zimmer options.

Veteran Nate Clements has done a commendable job replacing Johnathan Joseph. Clements has been especially aggressive in short, underneath coverage. Helping in this facet is the fact that linebackers Thomas Howard and Manny Lawson both move well in the flats. It’s a little surprising that Lawson, who is replaced by Brandon Johnson in nickel (Johnson is the more comfortable of the two between the tackles), hasn’t been asked to put his hand in the dirt on passing downs.

4. Something to consider
This is a sharp, fundamentally sound defense that plays well as a unit in Mike Zimmer’s fairly aggressive scheme. But it’s also a defense that has yet to be tested. Look at the Bengals’ schedule thus far. They opened against Cleveland and Denver, two teams with major problems at wide receiver.

They faced San Francisco in Week 3, a good team but a very, very basic offense. They beat Buffalo in Week 4. Buffalo has a much-improved offense, but they’re not exactly Green Bay. Or even Dallas (never mind what the stats might say). After that it was Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Seattle, three teams with a total of zero proven quarterbacks. Last week the Bengals handled a Tennessee offense that’s respectable but nothing close to dynamic (especially through the air).

You couldn’t ask to face a more banal collection of offenses. This defense is fantastic against the run, but it remains to be seen how it will respond against a rhythmic, up-tempo passing attack.  

5. Matchup with the Steelers
Pittsburgh does have an elite, formidable offense. Cincinnati’s ho-hum pass-rush is not ideal for defending Ben Roethlisberger’s late-in-the-down magic.

The Bengals at least catch a break with wideout Emmanuel Sanders being out (arthroscopic knee surgery). Sanders would have given the Steelers aerial attack third source of speed, which Zimmer’s nickel unit may not be equipped to combat. Instead, it will be either Hines Ward or Jericho Cotchery threatening to catch six-yard slants out of the slot.

On the other side, the only defense comparable to Pittsburgh’s that this Cincy offense has faced is San Francisco’s in Week 3. The Niners were physical in taking away the receivers’ quick routes. The result was eight points and a 1/10 third down success rate for the Bengals. However, Dalton’s game has expanded since then. If need be, it’s possible, though not probable, that he’ll be able to put the team on his back and open things up for the first time this season.

Unless there continues to be slews of the fortuitous field position breaks that this Bengals offense has frequently enjoyed this season, he’ll need to.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 10 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com