Greetings all, hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. Coming at you today live from the ultra glamourous and luxiourous confines of the second floor of the 34 Boulevard of the Allies building -- a place with all the charm of a Greyhound station, but not as clean. After five days of turkey and beer, we feel a bit like this guy. Seriously, I think I could sweat gravy at this point. The last of the turkey and stuffing leftovers will be eaten during this game, so if the updates aren't coming fast enough, its because my heart seized up and I'm on the floor in a purple heap.
- First off, Ed Bouchette reports that Willie Parker will play. Not quite sure how much action he'll see or how this will affect today's proceedings, as the Steelers haven't exactly missed Parker given the play of Mewelde Moore, but it certainly won't hurt.
- We're sitting here watching the waning moments of the Baltimore-Cincinnati massacre, and the crowd shot of a cold and rainy Paul Brown Stadium reveals a on hand that might be less than the WPIAL Single A championship game.Or a Pirates game on a September weeknight. Maybe 200 people there. While throttling the Bengals is nothing impressive, the Ravens keep breathing down the necks of the Steelers, adding to the importance of today's scuffle with the Pats and setting up quite a showdown in Charm City in two weeks.
- The Browns continue to find new and interesting ways to lose. If you were to read a Peyton Manning game line that read: 125 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INT and Joseph Addai is held to 57 yards you'd assume the Colts lost. But you'd be wrong. If ever you're having a bad day, take solace in the fact that you don't cheer for the Browns.
- We wish Plaxico Burress a speedy recovery and hope that his mishap does not end his playing career. That being said, HOW STUPID IS THIS GUY? He is absolutely the Nuke LaLoosh of the NFL. Ten million dollar talent and a ten cent head. If someone said to you that an NFL player would accidentally SHOOT HIMSELF and you had to guess who, would Plaxico not be at the top of your list? What a dummy.
Kickoff coming in a driving Boston rain ...
- Let the splitting headache begin. Opening kickoff, Carey Davis fumbles, and the temples are throbbing. Steelers get the ball back but why bother ... Big Ben throws a pick right into the waiting arms of ... Mike Vrabel. MIKE VRABEL! Not a defensive back. A 57-year-old linebacker! Ugh. This is going to be one of those afternoons ...
- Three plays, Patriots touchdown. New England 7 Steelers 0.
- Let's try this again ... and, not so much. Steelers go 3 and out.
- Steelers D comes to play, and forces a Patriots punt. Decent return by Santonio and a Steelers blocker -- not sure who, absolutely lit up a Pats defender.
- Steelers settle for a FG after a really nice drive in which they convert not one, but TWO third and longs -- both passes to Nate Washington. Carey Davis, already having a grrrrrrreat game (see above) can't convert and 3rd and a long one from the two yard line. Ben is getting more than adequate protection, which is good to see.
- Pats punt. End of quarter.
- Steelers start the quarter with an uninspired possession. Punt. The guys are having a hard time pulling in the pigskin in this driving rain.
- Pats punt again. The final score of this game could well be 7-3.
- ... And the Steelers punt ... again. Ben has missed four straight -- he's 5 for 13 with a ton of drops -- and Santonio seems to have minmal interest in playing today. As pointed out by NYCSteelerFan in the comments section he had a huge drop on the Steelers FG possession and on 3rd and 10 basically quit running his route and Ellis Hobbs nearly picked off a Ben pass. Santonio looks terrible. But he's hardly the only guy dropping balls on either -- Heath Miller, Willie Parker and Randy Moss are all guilty too -- as illustrated by a CBS lowlights package.
- The bend but never break Steelers defense hold the Pats to a FG on a drive that started near midfield. The Pats were able to convert a 4th and a half inch deep in Steelers territory, but as per usual, the Steeler D stays stout and forces a field goal. Troy came in untouched on a blitz on 3rd and 2 and batted down a Matt Cassel pass. PATS 10 STEELERS 3.
- Nice return by Gary Russell will give the Steelers their best starting position of the day, at their own 37.
- Four straight plays to Mewelde Moore -- 3 run, 1 pass -- yields 2 Steelers first downs. Steelers on the move ...
- After a giving up a sack, the Steelers get 5 yards back on an encroachment penalty, Nate climbs the ladder for a ball -- he's having a really nice game thus far, wish Santonio would follow his lead -- and Hines grabs one to convert a 3rd and 2. Another quick dump underneath to Moore who gets up to the Pats 19-yard line as we head to the 2 minute warning ...
- ... and its as if he heard us ... Santonio torches Deltha O' Neal and makes a gorgeous catch of a Big Ben pass, and we're deadlocked at 10. This might be one the Steelers best drives of the entire season. The run/pass selection was dead on, Big Ben hit at least four different receivers on the drive. Just terrific. STEELERS 10 PATS 10.
- Steelers absolutely dodge one. Stephen Gotkowski misses a chip shot field goal after Randy Moss drops a sure touchdown. The Steelers are getting brutalized by Kevin Faulk and Sammy Davis. Let me repeat that: Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris. These guys aren't exactly Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris back there. The pair already have 81 yards on the ground -- the Steelers give up 66.5 rushing YPG this season.
HALFTIME STEELERS 10 PATS 10
- Halftime discussion point: Given the production and cheaper price tag of Mewelde Moore, should the Steelers consider trading/cutting Fast Willie this offseason? Talk amongst yourselves ...oh, and the turkey and stuffing were great, BTW.
- Buckle up ... second half underway ...
- Steelers open with a bunch of penalties -- an obvious Ike Taylor hold of Randy Moss and a holding on Casey Hampton. I have never seen holding on a nose tackle -- didn't even know it was possible -- but all that did was serve to get the fat man mad. Two plays later Hampton barrels through the Dan Koppen like a Sumo champion and deposits his massive girth right on to Matt Cassel. Pats punt.
- That rainstorm looks freakin' biblical.
- Steelers settle for 3 from Automatic Reed -- a bit of a disappointing end to what had been just a fantastic drive by the Steelers. By my unofficial count 7 runs -- five of them by Mewelde Moore who has been terrific today -- and 5 passes, including a pair of sweet 3rd down conversions by Santonio and Heath Miller. A great drive but the Steelers couldn't hit paydirt. 13-10 STEELERS LEAD.
- Christmas comes early. The Pats return man Matthew Slater drops the kickoff in a blooper worthy of those old NFL Films Football Follies tapes. Great coverage by Anthony Madison and recovery by Keyaron Fox -- two plays later Ben to Hines: TOUCHDOWN. 20-10 PITTSBURGH. Call it harmonic convergence in the cosmos balancing out the Pats TD after the Vrabel pick in the game's opening minutes.
- James Harrison is a part man, part beast. He's a Meast. Sack and strip of Cassel, Woodley recovers. Steelers with the ball on the Pats 30-yard line.
- First play on the possession and Ben fires a laser to Heath Miller who absorbs a massive shot from Pats' LB Pierre Woods ... and Woods gets the worst of it, his body prostrate on the deck as Miller holds on to the ball. And do you know why? Because HIS NAME IS PIERRE! NO FOOTBALL PLAYER SHOULD EVER BE CALLED PIERRE! EVER! UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! Steelers falter after a few handoffs to Fast Bill and settle for 3. STEELERS 23-PATS 10.
- Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf give due and propers to another massive turnout of Steelers fans in a visiting stadium.
- The Pats have five -- count 'em 1-2-3-4-FIVE yards of total offense this half.
- Ryan Clark is flagged for attempted assassination of Wes Welker. A gorgeous display of violence, for which he'll almost certainly be fined later this week. The 15-yard penalty gives the Pats their first third down conversion of the day.
- The Meast strikes again! Harrison blows past Matt Light again and sacks and strips Cassel, Farrior recovers.
- Don't know about you guys, but I can't wait for myriad camera shots of a miserable, scowling, soaking wet Bill Belichick this quarter.
- Rumors of the Pats demise are premature. After Nate Washington drops a suer touchdown, New England's defense holds the Steelers to a FG attempt which the normally prefect Jeff Reed goes wide left. Pats take over and go no huddle ... Pats cross midfield but the Steelers keep the pressure up like a pack of junkyard dogs, a Cassel pass is tipped into the hands of Troy Polmalu, who spins like a whirling dervish after grabbing the ball. Steelers look to grind out the clock with 8 minutes left ...
- Steelers take 3 minutes off the clock and Skippy redeems himself, nailing a 45-yarder in the rain ... 26-10 STEELERS LEAD ...
- Lawrence Timmons ices an incredibly dominant day by the Steelers defense with an 89-yard interception return. Two plays later, Gary Russell makes it 33-10 STEELERS. The only people left in rain-soaked Gillette Stadium are soaking rowdy Steelers fans, lapping up the rain and the joy of what is easily the Steelers best effort of the 2008 season and possibly the best win of Mike Tomlin's career. Two minute warning.
- Belichick retreats to bunker with Dick Chaney, Dr. Evil and C. Montgomery Burns where they'll blow off steam from today's loss by kicking puppies.
- To answer NYCSteelers question -- it looked like Ike flipped the ball at Gaffney after the play, mocking him for dropping the ball. Want to say thanks to all of our commenters today -- I think I recognize some of your handles from moderating Ed Bouchette's Tuesday chats. We'll have some postgame thoughts in a minute after we catch our breath, but in the mean time, keep adding your thoughts in the comments section ...
FINAL SCORE STEELERS 33 PATRIOTS 10
They didn't have Tom Brady. That's what every single Patriot fan on every single Internet message board and blog is going to say. "We didn't have Tahwmmee Braydee." If that makes them feel better, then good for them, but don't listen to it. Thems the breaks, baked bean eaters. The Steelers didn't have Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark or Aaron Smith when these teams met last year. And they didn't have cameras stealing signals in meetings prior to that. And I'm not sure how much of a difference Tom Brady even would've made in this game, such was the domination by the Steelers defense.
This was easily the Steelers best win of the season, against a quality opponent on the road. They did it passing, they did it running, they did it with above average pass blocking, they did it with special teams and above all they did it with smothering, dominant defense. The win is possibly the biggest of the Tomlin era and keeps the Steelers 1.5 games ahead of the Ravens as the final quarter of the season commences. A four-game gauntlet -- Dallas, at Baltimore, at Tennessee, before a gimme game with the Browns to close out the regular season.The 2008 Steelers will define their season and their place in the playoff hunt in the month of December.
- Steelers fans -- vote for a pair of your brethren, Jon Shink and Wesley Williams to represent Steeler Nation in a Super Bowl TV ad for Samsung.
- Check out Lawrence Timmons' blog. This is kinda cool, and looks like he actually wrote it too, it wasn't done by his agent or a publicist or something.
- Steeler Tribute summation.
- Why I hate Bill Belichick
- NY Daily News update on the Burress situation.
- Top 10 reasons the Steelers are cooler than the Pats. Only 10?
- The Triumverate of Hate. GREAT graphic.
- Dorks love the Steelers. That's OK, we're the big tent fan base.
- With authority! Quick hitters from PGH.
- Fun with the NFL Shop catalog!
- A belated Happy Thanksgiving, Pittsburgh style.
- And finally, Ryan Clark's annihilation of Wes Welker -- what's the over/under on the fine? $25,000?