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Bengals-Steelers wrapup...

December 12, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode

The headline:


Steelers turn INTs into a big W-I-N

It was over when:

+ Shaun Suisham, who’s on his way to becoming a Pittsburgh folk hero, put this one away when he buried his third field goal of the day a little over midway into the fourth quarter. Suisham, kicking in terrible conditions but with the benefit of new sod, split the uprights on his first two kicks and hooked the game clincher in from 41 yards out.

Play of the day:

+ The Bengals had just recorded two sacks that pushed the Steelers out of field goal range and that should have shifted momentum in what was still a one-score game when Carson Palmer floated a simple out route into LaMarr Woodley’s hands for a Pick 6 that made it 20-7 Steelers early in the fourth quarter.

Hot topics:

+ If Troy Polamalu’s injury is an aggravation of his ankle problem and not his Achilles problem, the Steelers will have dodged a huge bullet, even if Polamalu misses next Sunday’s game with the Jets. Ankles heal relatively quickly. Achilles tendons do not.

+ The Steelers offense continues to sputter mainly due to the asinine playcalling of Bruce Arians who continues to run the ball way too much on first down (17 of 29 times Sunday, a 50-50 balance is a must) which means he ends up passing in passing situations, which is a recipe for disaster in the NFL (and hits on your quarterback, incidentally). Arians was bailed out Sunday by two defensive scores and three amazing catches. The sad thing is the Steelers probably can win two of the last three and secure the No. 2 seed with the same approach. And we already know they can win a Super Bowl in spite of Arians’ bumbling. However, the one thing they will not be able to do in spite of said bumbling is beat the Patriots at New England. We guess that leaves us hoping we won’t have to.

Paralysis by analysis:

+ At least six guys on both teams slipped on first drive of the game. Dan Dierdorf’s assessment: “The footing looks pretty good.”

+ A few minutes later, Dierdorf said that “no one questions Ben Roethlisberger’s toughness.” Of course, Terrell Owens has done just that, publicly, for most of this season. Talk about not doing your homework.

Zebra hunting:

+ We told you coming in that Referee Walt Coleman is borderline incompetent and he proved it yet again, missing the Bengals going to Roethlisberger’s head twice in the first half and, most egregiously, allowing Bengals safety Roy Williams to level Roethlisberger just before halftime a full two steps after the ball was out of the quarterback’s hand.

+ Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, the Jags almost lost a game when they were incorrectly called for going to Jason Campbell’s head. Obviously, the conference call the officials had this week resulted in zero progress in establishing standards across the league, something that existed before the change in rules, er, points of emphasis about violent hits after Week 6.

Game (mis)management:

+ The Steelers bench made a huge blunder signaling for a spike after the Roethlisberger scramble to the Bengals 5-yard-line with :34 left. There’s plenty of time there to run all four plays, especially with the Steelers having one timeout. Come to the line, call the play and you get it off at about :26 and you’re then looking at second down with about :20 left. That’s a senseless waste of a down that might have cost the team four points.

And now a word from our sponsors :

+ THAT guy is the CEO of Johnny Rockets? Never eating there again.

+ We said it earlier this year, but we’ll reiterate: The Allstate “Mayhem” campaign is just great. A fantastic idea, perfectly executed.

Sweet tweets:

@dandrea15: Gaining confidence? Fourteen games into the season? (Blogger’s note: Dierdorf’s commentary didn’t make any more sense to Bengals fans.)

@steelersdepot: Is this the guards versus inmates game? Warden Hazen really wants to win this. (Blogger’s note: Great reference!)

@JoeNYLaw: GOODELL'S CULTURE OF CORRUPTION! Where were the flags when Bengals struck Ben in the face & head? Even Tomlin screaming. (Blogger’s note: True that. Goodell must go. The midseason violent hits initiative is becoming of the biggest blunders in pro sports history.)

@ESPN_Michelle (Michelle Beadle): I hope someone is waiting to hug Carson Palmer.

@sportsguy33 (Bill Simmons): …wearing an overcoat filled with thumbtacks.

We were right:

+ We told you on Thursday that Walt Coleman’s crew was likely to botch this one, noting you should keep sharp and/or heavy objects away from the television. We hope you heeded that advice.

We were wrong:

+ We believe we said Greg Bumble, er, Gumbel was still one of the best play-by-play guys in the game. Scratch that. He still has one of the best play-by-play voices and deliveries, but obviously he’s miscalling way too many plays (wrong guy punting for the Bengals, wrong teams winning in the highlights, etc.)

Next week:

Despite what Dierdorf said (imagine that!), next week’s game is not really THAT huge as far as a first-round bye. The Steelers could lose next week, beat Carolina and Cleveland, finish 12-4 and take the second seed (and week off) comfortably (even if the Ravens won out the Steelers would win the AFC North with a better division record). But a win next week DOES raise the possibility that Week 17 game in Cleveland could become meaningless and THAT means some banged up players could conceivably get 23 days off between the Thursday night game (Dec. 23) with Carolina and the playoff opener the weekend of January 15-16.

I am looking for: