On The Black Side
A Steelers blog honoring the black left side of the Steelers' helmet - By Neal Coolong
Tuesday, September 30
It was a big Pittsburgh win, but losing Mendenhall and Simmons for the year, and two key special teams players, indicates Baltimore may end up being more able to out-last the Steelers over the season. Either way, the Ravens' defense is what got all the pre-game publicity, but it was the playmaking ability of the Steelers' D that won the game.

The Steelers got the better of rival Baltimore Monday night, sealing their seventh straight relevant win in the AFC North when Jeff Reed nailed a 49-yard field goal off Pittsburgh's first overtime possession.

Baltimore probably put themselves more in position to win the war, though.

Steelers players were dropping likes flies throughout the game, further depleting the team. Already without NT Casey Hampton, RB Willie Parker and DE Brett Keisel, the Steelers lost LB/special teams ace Andre Frazier, starting RG Kendall Simmons, RB Rashard Mendenhall, RB Carey Davis and special teamer Keyaron Fox.

Frazier was hit on the first kick of the game, and was taken off the field on a stretcher. If there is any justice in the NFL, Haruki Nakamura will be issued a fine for the helmet-to-helmet hit, which left Frazier with a spinal cord injury, according to the team.

Simmons suffered an Achilles' heel injury, and will be placed on the IR, ending his season. The rookie Mendenhall, making the first start of his career, fractured his shoulder, and will also be out for the rest of the season.

At least the Ravens can have comfort in losing, but physically disassembling the Steelers enough to severely damper their chances of continuing their dominance of the AFC North. Pittsburgh was 5-1 in the division last season, only losing at Baltimore when the division champions rested most of their starters in a meaningless game. They are 2-0 inside the division now, with wins over the hapless Browns and the Ravens.

Tomlin back to Minnesota roots in run game

The loss of Mendenhall for the year and possibly Davis for an extended period of time would put little depth behind (injured) starter Willie Parker. At the end of the game, Mewelde Moore - a big reason the Steelers were able to hang on for the win - was the only active running back available. Will the loss of Mendenhall bring with it a promotion of Gary Russell from the practice squad? Russell was cut not even two weeks ago for the sake of bringing in special teams depth.

Ironically, the Steelers will need that, and Russell, too, assuming Frazier's spinal cord injury will keep him out of action for a while.

Russell, a University of Minnesota product, joins Moore, a Minnesota Viking when Tomlin was the defensive coordinator, in the thinnest Steelers backfield in years.

Who had the better defense?

If one was go follow the 90 minute gush-fest about the Ravens defense, it would appear to have been pretty obvious.

Anyone who watches and understands the game in a capacity that does not include a need to increase TV ratings will be able to tell you it was the Steelers' defense - and not the highly touted Ravens - who controlled the second-half.

At the very least, it's fair to say the Ravens provided the tough-nosed stability and roughness, but it was the Steelers who provided the big plays and ultimately won the game.

If that is at all doubted, let's always remember who won the coin toss, who failed to move the ball, who punted, and who gave up 35 yards to Mewelde Moore to set up the game-winning field goal.

Harrison will pick up his second Defensive Player of the Week award

Lost in the hypnotizing and empty rhetoric of veteran, exhalted General Ray Lewis was the more impressive play of Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Interestingly enough, the broadcasting team barely touched on the fact that Harrison, in two games against Baltimore at home, now has 5.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. It's much more entertaining to watch Lewis wax moronical about finding balances and his best game instead of watching Harrison abuse the Ravens offensive line, and the most over-credited game-manager in football, Joe Flacco (that's FLACK-o, Mr. Jaworski, not FLOCK-o).

It's a good thing Harrison cares very little about getting his face on TV. He may be upset if he had Lewis's "team-first-as-long-as-the-team-is-about-me" attitude.

Giving credit where it's due, Lewis played a great game, and is clearly back from whatever was nagging him last year (ego bruise). The rest of the defense played very well, and first-year coach John Harbaugh clearly has them on the right track. The fact is, though, Harrison and OLB LaMarr Woodley were more impressive than any Ravens player, but got very little fanfare.

It's likely not a coincidence that while Harrison is second in the NFL with 5.5 sacks, the only headlines he'll get over the self-promotional genius Lewis is the one that reads "Steelers Repeat as Division Champs."

Has Lewis ever earned that one? Nope.

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5 Comments:
Anonymous Andy from NJ said...
I couldn't believe how our guys were dropping. I kept replaying that hit on Frazier and yes it definitely was helmet to helmet - there better be a fine.

As for the analysts, I was getting so sick of them kissing Flacco's a$$. Is this the start of Favre-esque a$$ kissing or what??? And all they kept talking about during the post game was how disappointing it's been over the last several years not seeing Baltimore with a better defense!?!? Steve Young and Emmit Smif (yes I said 'Smif' because if his grammar can be horrible well so can mine) made me want to toss the TV. You're right..how bout giving credit to the Steelers D? How bout giving credit to Jeff "Money" Reed??? Shrugging off the ice time out and nailing it again...

I could go on man, but it's so obvious they just want stories and don't want to truly analyze the games. Ray Lewis is a fool and to feature his convict a$$ preaching about synergy was a joke. Do people really take that dope seriously? He may still be a bad mf'r on the field but he is so freakin annoying. And you mark my words...he'll be an analyst when he retires...

Anyway, felt like blowing some steam...glad to see your blog pop up again...

Anonymous andy from nj said...
Correction...they kept saying how disappointing it was that Baltimore didn't have a better 'OFFENSE'...

Blogger Neal Coolong said...
I hear ya cluckin', big chicken. Someone will have to explain to me what the hell Ray-Ray was talking about when he described why he hadn't played his best game because his offense has never been good.

That pre-game feature they did with him was awesome, too. Nuthin' better than just shutting down any and all interest in doing something original for the sake of putting Ray Lewis in a boxing get-up and giving him an opportunity to spout off every cliche imaginable.

Almost as nice as the shot of him lecturing Johnson after that penalty. Coach Harbaugh couldn't possibly have told him "that was dumb, don't do it again" in a way that would have sunk in. He needed Lewis's consult, otherwise he may have missed the moral lesson.

I don't claim to be a great athlete, but I played long enough to know you and your teammates get really tired of the rah-rah BS. If you want to lead, lead. Don't tell me about leadership. Show it to me. Doesn't seem to me Tom Brady takes every chance he can to draw attention to himself. His teams seem to respond pretty well to him. Maybe that's the problem with your offense, Ray. Shut up, and let your quarterback be a presence for a change.

Now you've got me rambling...I was at Steelerbro's watching the game last night, and there was a shot of Ray doing that motivational speech thing to Ed Reed. Reed looked like he had no interest in anything Lewis had to say. It was like, "Ray, no offense, but I've been Defensive Player of the Year. I've been to several Pro Bowls. I do a helluva lot more on this team than you do, don't worry about me. Let's just go play football."

And that's all Ed Reed does. He's damn good at it, too.

Anonymous mitchitized said...
I think my frustrated tweet says it all:

http://twitter.com/mitchitized/statuses/939919355

Blogger Bryon Houlgrave said...
Jeezus, you Steelers fans never cease to amaze me with (wif) your whining and b*tching about the thug Ravens and Ray Ray and the team's lack of offense ... (I could go on too).

And the media attention? Wow, I have to say that in the entire duration of the Ravens existence I have NEVER witnessed a game (outside of the Baltimore beltway, that is) where the analysts were pro-Ravens. Never, people. In the case of Monday's game, take off the purple-shaded glasses. Both teams received ample attention (love me, love me, I'm Steelers fan).

I regarded Baltimore's attention as more of a shock at how well its offense and rookie quarterback were doing, which spawned conversation of the teams' tradition of a lackluster offense. If I were coloring a game, I'd probably have talked that fact up too. Bias aside.

Yes, Woodley and Hair are great players. The fact is, though, that if it weren't for our rookie quarterback coughing the ball up for an easy six, you would really have something to complain about.


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