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December 6, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode
BLEEDING BLACK AND GOLD
Cameron, Arians equally matched
Part of what makes Steeers-Ravens a tight, defensive game every time they play is the total cluelessness of the two offensive coordinators involved. Pittburgh's Bruce Arians and Baltimore's Cam Cameron put on a clinic Sunday night in peculiar playcalling. With a halftime lead built on vertical passing, the Ravens came out in the second half and went into an offensive shell, throwing horizontally almost exclusively and wracking up a handful of three-and-outs. Not to be outdone, Arians watched (or did he?) the Steelers line get pushed around all evening and the running game fail on multiple short-yardage situations but still decided to run into the middle of the pile twice on 1st-and-goal from the 2 early in the fourth quarter, which, of course, resulted in 3rd-and-goal from the 5 and an eventual field goal. We wrote a whole blog last fall on the art of playcalling, but the Cliff notes version is that it's about "feel" as much as technical knowledge of schemes and formations and these two guys just don't have a feel for the offenses they're (allegedly) coordinating.
Will Miller hit turn tide against NFL?
It will be interesting to see if there’s any change in the NFL’s violent hits posture (not policy) after the embarrassment of Sunday night’s missed calls. The Heath Miller non-call especially highlighted the folly of what Roger Goodell and “Laurel” Anderson and “Hardy “Hanks” are trying to do by changing the rules, er, points of emphasis, in midseason. If ever there were to be a galvanizing moment for the initiative, this was it. Miller was hit so hard, and his head snapped back so violently, that he began immediately to foam at the mouth, leading the Ravens to frantically signal to the Pittsburgh sideline for help. Now, everyone would see what the effort was all about, see how important it is, see how right it is. Everyone would see, that is, EXCEPT for the seven guys in stripes. Their collective decision not to throw a flag on the play is a total disaster for the NFL’s company line on the matter. A quick Google news search today will turn up a ton of “maybe the Steelers are right after all…” columns from all around the country. Expect it to be fodder for the afternoon TV talkers, as well.
NBC falls short on violent hits explainer
NBC tried to do a segment on why the violent hits initiative has been confusing to players, especially James Harrison, but, in true network form, they left out some key information and wound up with a report that was, um, confusing. With Cris Collinsworth narrating, they showed the Mohamed Massaquoi, Jason Campbell and Ryan Fitzpatrick hits, but what they should have added to tell the story properly is this graphic layover:
Massaquoi: NO penalty YES fine
Campbell: YES penalty NO fine
Fitzpatrick: YES penalty YES fine
We've ridden the referees hard in this space, but we’ll say again that it's just as difficult for them to properly officiate a rule, er, point of emphasis, change in the middle of the season as it is for some players to adjust to it.
We had ‘em all the way
We Steelers fans are hilarious. Most of us complained for three hours solid Sunday night about how poorly the team was playing and now we’re upset the Ravens won’t give Pittsburgh any credit. To the best of our knowledge, the Ravens have never given Pittsburgh any credit.
There’s a lot of playoff misinformation out there already. Here’s the real deal:
+ If the Steelers go 3-1 in their final four games, and the loss is not to Cleveland or Cincinnati, they clinch the AFC North regardless of what Baltimore does.
+ If Baltimore goes 3-1 down the stretch, the Steelers clinch the AFC North by beating Cleveland and Cincinnati.
+ If the Steelers lose to either Cleveland or Cincinnati and end up tying with the Ravens in the division (and provided that the Ravens don’t also lose to one of those teams down the stretch), it will bring the common games tiebreaker into play. All four remaining Steelers games and three of the Ravens final four would be “common games” games.
+ In a nutshell: That bloodbath Sunday will have been mostly for naught if the Steelers don’t beat the Bengals this weekend.