Hoo boy.

Written by Dan Gigler on .

The only appropriate reaction to the fourth quarter of the Steelers' record-setting loss yesterday in New England:

Now, what to do about it ... 

Deadspin had an interesting article last week about the dramatic turnaround of the Kansas City Chiefs, who a year ago were en route to a 2-14 season and the top pick in the NFL Draft and are now 9-0 and the best team in football. 

On the surface you'd say, 'well, duh, they got a new starting quarterback and a new head coach," but that isn't relevant to the Steelers situation because the two gentlemen that occupy those positions for the Steelers now will so again next year (unless something truly cataclysmic occurs).

However, it seems there are two far more fundamental reasons for Kansas City's success: they pressure quarterbacks and they don't turn the ball over. 

"Kansas City plays an aggressive, blitzing style of defense under new coordinator Bob Sutton, who came over from the Jets this offseason. It's transformed a pass rush that was average last year to the best in the NFL. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston have already combined for 20 sacks ..."

That's 20 sacks for two guys. The Steelers entire defense has a measly 13. 

Furthermore, they aren't turning the ball over. 

The "game manager" label can be stupid, but this actually is a case where a quarterback was brought in for his accuracy and aversion to turnovers and installed into a system that didn't ask for anything more. The Chiefs needed the stability desperately: Last season, KC had a turnovers per drive rate of .193, worst in the league. Think about that. Nearly every fifth drive ended with a fumble or interception.

This season the Chiefs have dropped that down to four total turnovers, a rate of 7.1% (both 31st in the league). The Steelers conversely have stunk out stadiums on two continents with 17 turnovers (tied for third in the league) -- a rate of 17.7% (third). Not to mention the abysmal takeaway/giveaway (-11).

Just saying that while firing some permutation of Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin, Dick LeBeau & Todd Haley seems to be the popular sentiment, especially after a bed-wetting like yesterday, the solution may be as simple as improvement in two areas.

Then again, they might have to burn the barn down.   



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How WVU stacks up in national OFF/DEF rankings: Week 10

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .


Well, we're back again. After a 30-27 victory against TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, let's take a peek at where the Mountaineers (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) fall in the national rankings.

What you'll find here are the national rankings for West Virginia on all three sides of the ball -- offense, defense and special teams. The easiest way to split it this was "GAIN" vs. "ALLOW" on the chart. So, under "interceptions," for example, on the left is the number of interceptions gained by WVU (caught), on the right is the number allowed (thrown).

The NR numbers are the national rankings (and there are 125 FBS teams). +/- marks whether WVU rose or fell in the rankings: means they got better, means worse.


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Upper St. Clair to move up to No. 1 in the state?

Written by Mike White on .

Notes, quotes and anecdotes after the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.

The next time the Upper St. Clair football team plays, it will likely do so as the No. 1 Class AAAA team in the state.

The Post-Gazette state rankings are released tomorrow, but it's pretty much a given that Upper St. Clair will be the No. 1 team in AAAA. The Panthers were No. 2, but No. 1 Coatesville lost to No. 1 Downingtown West, 24-7, this past Friday. Coatesville was one of two Philadelphia-area teams in the top five to lose. Neshaminy, previously ranked No. 4, lost to Pennsbury, 31-3.

Moving to No. 1 in the Post-Gazette rankings will make a clean sweep for USC. THe Panthers already were ranked No. 1 in the and Pennsylvania Football News state rankings.

Central Catholic will likely move up to No. 2 in Class AAAA.

With Upper St. Clair No. 1, it means that three of the four classifications will have a WPIAL team at the top. Thomas Jefferson is No. 1 in Class AAA and Aliquippa No. 1 in Class A. The only non-WPIAL team at the top is Southern Columbia in Class A.

Upper St. Clair plays in the WPIAL quarterfinals Friday against North Allegheny, the three-time defending WPIAL champion. The WPIAL will release quarterfinal sites tomorrow morning.

Quoting 'em

Bethel Park quarterback Levi Metheny did not play in Friday's game against North Allegheny. He broke two fingers on his right (non-throwing) hand the week before and had surgery. He dressed for the game and warmed up, wearing what looked like a pad and plenty of tape on his hand. Here's what Bethel Park coach and Levi's father, Jeff, had to say about his son's prospects of playing: "If you would've asked him and his mother, he would maybe play. But he just couldn't do enough to play, and didn't have enough time after the surgery. He can't take a snap and can't catch the ball. He would've been putting himself at risk."

McKenzie visits FSU

Washington star running back Shai McKenzie made an official visit this weekend to Florida State and he attended the Shai McKenzieMiami-Florida State game. You wonder what McKenzie did on his visit? Who knows. But he tweeted about it being 4 a.m. "and we ain't done yet."

He also tweeted today "on the plane back to Pittsburgh with my FSU gear on."

McKenzie plans to visit Virginia Tech in two weeks. Pitt and Georgia Tech are his other two finalists.

Must-see TV?

The Moon at West Mifflin Class AAA playoff game had to be one for the ages Friday. How often do you see a game at any level with two running backs running for more than 300 yards? But that's what happened with West Mifflin's Jimmy Wheeler and Moon's Cole Blake.

And you can see this game if you are a Comcast cable subscriber. It is on Xfinity's On Demand by going to the Sports folder and Get Local and Football.

Conference beatdown

Should the Class AA Allegheny Conference and Class A Tri-County South get much respect in WPIAL football playoff seedings? You decide. The Tri-County South went 0-4 for the third consecutive year and the Allegheny Conference 0-4 for the second consecutive season.

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Empty Netter Assists - 11-03-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-Dave Molinari's recap from last night's game. "He put it right in the wheelhouse, and I just shot it. I wasn't picking a corner or anything. But it found its way in." - Deryk Engelland on taking a pass from the great Joe Vitale which set up his game-winning goal.

-The Columbus' Dispatch's recap. "They found a way to clog things up." - Blue Jackets forward Derek MacKenzie on the Penguins' defense.

-The Associated Press' recap.  ''I've been waiting for a month now." - Jeff Zatkoff (above) on getting his first career win.


-Dan Bylsma speaks:

-Engelland speaks:

-Zatkoff speaks:

-Are the Penguins and Blue Jackets rivals?

-What are Chris Kunitz's chances at making the Canadian Olympic roster?

-Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers made 22 saves for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 4-2 road win against the rival Hershey Bears.


-The Penguins recorded a rare weekened sweep of the Bears.

-Cody Sylvester scored two goals for the Wheeling Nailers in a 5-2 home win against the Greenville Road Warriors. Denver Manderson added a goal and two assists for the Nailers while teammate Barry Goers netted a goal and an assist. Mike Condon made 21 saves in the victory.


-Happy 44th birthday to former Penguins forward Jim McKenzie. Acquired at the 1994 trade deadline in a move which sent Mike Needham to the Stars, McKenzie spent parts of two seasons in Pittsburgh. He finished 1993-94 by appearing in 11 games and failing to record a point. During the lockout-shortned 1994-95 season, McKenzie played in 39 games scored three points and compiled 63 points. In the 1995 offseason, he joined the Islanders as a free agent. In 50 games with the Penguins, McKenzie recorded three points.

-After the Jump: Banner nights in Colorado and Vancouver:

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Three thoughts on Georgia Tech 21, Pitt 10

Written by Sam Werner on .

ATLANTA -- It certainly wasn't as demoralizing or damaging to Pitt's bowl hopes as last week's loss to Navy, but this one probably won't sting any less. Once again, Pitt had an opportunity to seize the game and take a lead in the second half, but once again they failed to do so. Here's a link to my quick game story from the P-G website, and here are a couple of thoughts to send you off into the night...

  1. Yet again, Pitt only played one complete half of football. Last week, it was the first half against Navy. This week, it was the second half. In a lot of ways, this game was almost a mirror opposite of the Navy game. Pitt was thoroughly outclassed in the first half, but caught enough breaks and found one or two stops to keep them within striking distance at halftime. Once the offense started moving in the second half and the defense found itself against the triple-option, it seemed that it was only a matter of time before the Panthers got the go-ahead score. This might be one of those situations where Pitt, as a team, just hasn't learned how to close out these types of games. Georgia Tech certainly didn't make many "winning" plays in the second half, but the 42-yard pass from Vad Lee to DeAndre Smelter was the only one they really needed. And on that play, it's tough to find any fault with Ray Vinopal and Lafayette Pitts in coverage. Both guys were there and tried to make a play. Smelter was just bigger and came down with a heck of a catch. Sometimes, the other team just makes good plays no matter what you do, and there's nothing to do except tip your cap and move on.
  2. Tom Savage showed some improvement, but the game-breaking ability seems to be gone from Pitt's offense. Savage looked more comfortable in the pocket tonight, especially in the second half. He was a little more erratic in the first half and had some times when he needed to get rid of the ball. The Pitt offense hit tonight on a lot of short five- to eight-yard crossing routes, mostly to Tyler Boyd (11 rec, 118 yds, 1 TD), but couldn't push it downfield with any effectiveness. Savage's completion rate was good (25 of 37), but he averaged only 6.3 yards per attempt. There were a couple of scenarios where he really needed to take a chance and let it fly downfield, even if it meant risking an incompletion and forgoing a short, safer pass. Particularly, at the end of the first half when Pitt faced 3rd-and-18 from its own 46-yard line. He checked down to a short crossing route to Devin Street that didn't get the first, rather than take a shot down the field. There's little downside to throwing deep there. Even if it's picked off, it has the same effect as a punt, whereas Street had no shot of getting the first down where he caught the ball. Savage was fine, but this was more the type of game we saw from Tino Sunseri last year, with a lot of short passes, rather than one where Pitt took advantage of Savage's superior downfield ability.
  3. Next week's game is big. This is pretty obvious, as it'll be against a ranked Notre Dame team in front of of a sold-out Heinz Field, but let's just go through where Pitt stands heading into the game against the Irish. With a win, the Panthers one victory away from bowl eligibility with a very beatable North Carolina team coming into Heinz Field, and they have the momentum of a win over a ranked Notre Dame team. Plus, it would probably be pretty sweet revenge after the way last year's game in South Bend went down. Let's also remember that Pitt generally plays Notre Dame tough every year, and the Irish certainly didn't look dominant holding on for dear life against Navy this week, so Notre Dame is certainly beatable. If the Panthers lose, though, they're suddenly on a three-game losing skid (something that didn't happen last year) and have even less margin for error when it comes to bowl eligibility. It's hard to call next week a "must-win" when it would be an upset victory, but sitting at 4-5 and having lost 4 of your last five is not a place the Panthers want to be.

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