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I have one personal reason why I'd like to see the Steelers get a playoff bye

Behind the Steel Curtain - 2 hours 49 min ago

Wildcard Weekend is a blast, but it's even more fun when the Steelers are on a bye.

A lot has happened in the last seven years.

For starters, I've gone from a 38-year old man who dreaded turning 40, to a 45-year old man who doesn't think 40 was all that bad.

But one thing that hasn't happened over the past seven years is a post-season bye for your Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that improved to 8-2 after pasting the Titans, 40-17, Thursday night at Heinz Field.

After the Chiefs dropped to 6-4 following an ugly loss to the lowly Giants on Sunday, it now appears that the race for the AFC's top two seeds (and those precious byes) is a three-team gallop with just six weeks to go.

In addition to Pittsburgh, the Patriots are also 8-2, while the Jaguars improved to 7-3 with a victory over the still-winless Browns.

Not to sound like I'm one of those people who’s satisfied with second-best, but if someone offered me the deal right now, I'd sign my name in blood for that No. 2 spot.

Why?

I want to enjoy Wildcard Weekend in peace, that's why.

Week 11 was a small slice of heaven, as I sat around and watched football all day long. And I didn't have to concern myself with anything Steelers, since their impressive victory had long-since been savored and digested.

This is what Wildcard Weekend is like when your team is on a bye—only it's so much more glorious.

But when your team is involved in the wild-card round, which Pittsburgh has been the last four times it's made the playoffs (dating back to January 2012), you can't enjoy things as much.

Why?

Because of that churning in your stomach, that churning that signifies a huge battle is on the horizon for your favorite team, a battle that will either leave you euphoric or wanting to call in sick to work on Monday. Even if the Steelers play the late wild-card game on Sunday, I still have that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach while I watch the first three games, as if I've just woken up on the morning of a scheduled colonoscopy.

And don't even get me started on those years when the Steelers don't make the playoffs, which happened most recently following the 2012 and 2013 seasons, years that—and I think I can safely say this now without being hit with rotten fruit—the team was in a bit of a rebuilding mode.

As it pertained to that 2013 season sans the postseason, how could I enjoy the wild-card-round, knowing the Steelers should have been the sixth seed embarrassing the Bengals in their own house, and not the Chargers?

I couldn't because Ryan Succop kept Pittsburgh out of the playoffs, when he missed a last-second field goal against San Diego in Week 17.

Back to those four most recent instances in which the Steelers had to play on Wildcard Weekend. Sure, they managed to advance on two of those occasions.

But those other two?

Pittsburgh lost to Tim Tebow and the 8-8 Broncos following the 2011 season. And three years later, after roaring into the playoffs on a four-game winning-streak as AFC North Champions, the Steelers lost to those hated Ravens, who came into Heinz Field and toyed with Pittsburgh before exiting with a 30-17 win.

I don't want to have to deal with Wildcard Weekend this year—at least not emotionally.

I just want to sit back and enjoy the show, knowing the Steelers will have to face one of three teams in the divisional-round, depending on how things shake out.

I remember nine years ago, after sixth-seeded Baltimore knocked off the fraudulent Dolphins on Wildcard Weekend, I thought, "That's cute, Baltimore. Good luck with those top-seeded Titans."

Little did I know, the Ravens would go to Tennessee and ugly their way to a second-straight postseason victory, setting up an AFC North Showdown with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line (and little did I know how truly memorable that night would turn out to be).

That same Wildcard Weekend, as I watched the 9-7 Cardinals outlast what I thought was a much better Falcons squad, I said to myself, "Oh well, I guess it's going to be either the Giants or the Panthers making it out of the NFC."

Little did I know it would actually be those Cardinals who would be the NFC's representative in Super Bowl XLIII and go on to give Pittsburgh all it could handle.

Seven years ago, when the sixth-seeded Packers left Philadelphia with a first-round playoff win, I said, "Good luck with trying to repeat what Pittsburgh did in '05!"

Turned out, Green Bay did just that, by winning two more road playoff games before outclassing the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

For my money, there’s nothing like the NFL post-season, and when your team is on the bye, I believe that's how college football fans feel as they watch all those secondary bowl games in the days before their team plays in the National Championship Final Four (as a Pitt fan, I can only guess that's what it feels like).

Finally, while there certainly is nothing like the NFL playoffs, I want to enjoy the first round this year without any anxiety, regret or depression.

Wildcard Weekend is a blast, but it's even more fun when the Steelers are on a bye.

Asked and Answered LIVE: Nov. 22

Steelers.com News - 3 hours 14 min ago
A live Q&A with Bob Labriola.

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Steelers.com Videos - 3 hours 44 min ago
Rod Woodson scored his first career TD on November 22, 1987.

Steelers News: Alan Faneca and Hines Ward semi-finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, again

Behind the Steel Curtain - 3 hours 59 min ago

Another big year for two legends of the Black-and-gold to hopefully be enshrined at Canton, OH.

Another year, another chance for a huge group of NFL players and coaches to become enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH, released their 2018 Hall of Fame Semi-Finalists, and two members of the Pittsburgh Steelers were among those awaiting the final phone call.

Those two players were Alan Faneca and Hines Ward, both of whom have reached this stage of the process once already. But the question remains whether they’ll be finalists this year with a star-studded cast of characters also awaiting the call.

Take a look at the complete list of semi-finalists below:

The 27 semi-finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2018: pic.twitter.com/B3ETpuqkI7

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 22, 2017

Mike Tomlin often said in the early stages of this season that he'd use the bye week at the halfway point of the season to “globally assess” some facets of his team.

One assessment he made is that the club needed more “splash plays.”

In other words, long scoring plays or big gains on offense, turnovers or sacks on defense and kick blocks or significant returns in the special teams game.

Let's go back to a quote from Tomlin as his team was coming out of the bye Nov. 7, before the win in Indianapolis.

“Being capable of cashing in on opportunities that are presented, that needs to define us in this second half of the season,” Tomlin said at that press conference. “We've had splash-play opportunities on offense that have been missed which could have made our journey easier. And we have had splash-play opportunities on defense that have been missed.

“Great teams seem like they have a flair for the dramatic. They make those plays when given the opportunity.”

Tomlin went on to specifically reference a Ryan Shazier interception that likely would've gone for a touchdown near the end of an eventual win in Detroit as evidence. He also pointed out a misplayed deep throw from Ben Roethlisberger to Martavis Bryant on the opening play of the loss in Chicago.

The presence of Chris Hubbard on the Steelers’ roster makes the loss of right tackle Marcus Gilbert to a four-game suspension easier to digest, coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday.

At his weekly press conference, Tomlin said he had "no reaction" to the suspension handed down to Gilbert on Monday for violating the NFL's policy against performance-enhancing drugs. Tomlin said he prefers to make an "adjustment" in the former of Hubbard returning to a starting role.

Hubbard has started five games this season while Gilbert has spent two stints sidelined with hamstring injuries.

"Sometimes you're faced with adversity and the things that you do in terms of how you respond define you," Tomlin said. "Thankfully for us, Chris Hubbard playing is nothing new for us. He's played a lot this year. He's done an awesome job of upholding the standard.

"From that standpoint, I'm excited for him and excited to watch him meet the standard of expectation."

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Steelers players weren't exactly caught off guard when right tackle Marcus Gilbert was suspended four games Monday for violating the NFL's policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

Roethlisberger said on his weekly 93.7 FM radio segment that he knew about the looming suspension for “a week or so, maybe two weeks.”

“He knew it was potentially coming,” Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger said players told Gilbert, who said he took an illegal substance “inadvertently,” not to appeal the suspension.

“How many times do you win appeals in the NFL?” Roethlisberger said. “You can postpone it, but how does it help us if in three weeks, they are like, ‘Nope, you have to serve your four games.' Or is it better for him to take this and get it over with now and get back for the last two regular-season games and postseason?”

Roethlisberger said Gilbert said he took the substance after he was given assurance that “100 percent no chance would it be an issue.”

“He knows that we are still responsible for what we put in our body,” Roethlisberger added. “We can't always take the word of a doctor or nutritionist.”

Ward and Faneca HOF semifinalists again

Steelers.com News - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 7:23pm
Hines Ward and Alan Faneca are semifinalists for the Hall of Fame Class of 2018.

Faneca, Ward, Ty Law Pro among Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 7:18pm

Former Steelers Alan Faneca and Hines Ward and Aliquippa native Ty Law again are among the modern-era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Tuesday night.

'Tomlin's Takes' on balance, tackling & more

Steelers.com News - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 5:20pm
Coach Mike Tomlin talks about a variety of topics leading into the Packers game.

Olsavsky: 'Sometimes it’s very humbling'

Steelers.com News - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 5:10pm
Jerry Olsavsky has had the opportunity to learn from the best.

Legends Series: Olsavsky

Steelers.com Videos - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 5:00pm
Former Steelers linebacker Jerry Olsavsky looks back on his playing career in Pittsburgh.

Legends Series: Olsavsky

Steelers.com Videos - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 5:00pm
Former Steelers linebacker Jerry Olsavsky looks back on his playing career in Pittsburgh.

Upholding the standard

Steelers.com Videos - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 3:46pm
Coach Mike Tomlin praises Chris Hubbard's play this year as another opportunity opens for the tackle.

Upholding the standard

Steelers.com Videos - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 3:46pm
Coach Mike Tomlin praises Chris Hubbard's play this year as another opportunity opens for the tackle.

Quick hits from Tomlin press conference

Steelers.com Videos - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 3:46pm
Missi and Craig discuss the key points from Coach Mike Tomlin's press conference on Steelers Live.

Quick hits from Tomlin press conference

Steelers.com Videos - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 3:46pm
Missi and Craig discuss the key points from Coach Mike Tomlin's press conference on Steelers Live.

The Steelers need to enroll in Tackling 101

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 2:39pm

Teams riding a five-game win streak, with a three-game division lead, tied for the best record in the conference and 15-point favorites to make it six in a row at home normally do not have much to complain about.

ESPN predicts Joshua Dobbs, not Landry Jones, will replace Ben Roethlisberger as the Steelers future QB

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 1:44pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers might have a plan in place to replace Big Ben when he calls it quits, and ESPN believes that replacement is Joshua Dobbs, not Landry Jones.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a roster stacked with talent. Whether you are looking on the offensive or defensive side of the football, the team is brimming with players. However, there is one player who could change everything, for the offense, and that is Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger has hinted at his retirement before, and whether he plays in 2018 or not, the team has to start wondering who will be the next quarterback of the black-and-gold.

ESPN recently predicted who will be every team’s starting quarterback for the 2020 NFL season, and their prediction for the Steelers was surprising, to say the least.

Most would suggest the team would turn the job over to Landry Jones, while others will simply believe the organization would be best served finding the replacement via the NFL Draft. Either way, ESPN suggests the answer is already in the facility — Joshua Dobbs.

First, it should be noted, ESPN predicted all teams, but placed them in one of three tiers.

  • Teams with no plan
  • Teams with a plan
  • Teams with a solid plan

The Steelers fall into the second tier of having a plan. Check out what they have to say about their prediction:

Pittsburgh Steelers

2020 QB: Joshua Dobbs

Primary QB from 2014-16: Ben Roethlisberger

Total team QBR 2014: 70.4 | 2015: 64.0 | 2016: 57.0

In 2018, Roethlisberger finally follows through on that retirement threat. Dobbs, a former student of rocket science at Tennessee who spent two years backing up Big Ben, grabs the controls in 2019. Headline writers fire up their rocket puns.

This suggestion is likely to go over like a lead balloon with the Steelers faithful, but Dobbs was drafted in the fourth round for a reason. Meaning, he certainly has some issues to work out, but his intelligence speaks for itself.

Throughout the preseason, Dobbs showed continual development and growth with every snap he played. Did he make some bone-headed throws? Absolutely, but a lot of young quarterbacks do just that in their first NFL action.

What was also noticeable about Dobbs was how he became a playmaker towards the end of the preseason. For every head-scratching play he made early in the preseason, he started to make plays for the Steelers towards the end of the preseason.

Is Dobbs the next ‘guy’ for Pittsburgh? ESPN certainly thinks so, but I have a feeling most will say ‘No’. Take the time to tell us what you think about the future of the Steelers’ quarterback position in the poll below:

On the roster doesn't mean on the field

Steelers.com News - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 1:29pm
Mike Tomlin said there have been no decisions made on a role for rookie CB Cam Sutton.

Ben Roethlisberger: We told Marcus Gilbert not to appeal his PED suspension

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 1:21pm

Welcome to another week of the Ben Roethlisberger Radio Transcript Show. Last we left our cohost, he was detailing the measures he’s taken to keep JuJu Smith-Schuster’s ego in check.

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