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A level-headed news-discussion site with a sense of history and community https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/community_logos/47293/steel_curtain_fave.png 2019-10-15T13:19:00-04:00
Updated: 53 min 52 sec ago

NFL Power Rankings: Steelers begin to climb out of the cellar after big road win

1 hour 33 min ago
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have plenty of work to do before they are even considered a Top 15 team in 2019.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now 2-4 after Week 6 of the 2019 regular season, but how they got to this record has been a roller coaster ride. After a 33-3 drubbing by the defending champion New England Patriots, the Steelers followed it up with a close 28-26 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2 at Heinz Field. The loss was more than just another loss on the record, but the team lost Ben Roethlisberger in the process. With Mason Rudolph under center in Week 3, he was unable to lead the Steelers to victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, but did claim his first career win after beating the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football in Week 4.

How did they follow up that prime time win? With a gut-wrenching overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field in Week 5. In typical fashion, with their backs against the wall the Steelers gutted out a big win on Sunday Night Football over the Los Angeles Chargers before heading into their Week 7 bye week.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, it is that time of week where we check in on what other outlets are saying about the black-and-gold in those weekly Power Ranking articles. We all realize these rankings are completely meaningless, but they are great for discussion. Not just where the Steelers are ranked, but who made the Top 5 who should have, or shouldn’t have?

Check out the Power Rankings below, and be sure to let us know your thoughts on the rankings in the comment section below!

ESPN

1. New England Patriots
2. New Orleans Saints
3. San Francisco 49ers
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Kansas City Chiefs
7. Houston Texans
8. Buffalo Bills
9. Baltimore Ravens
10. Minnesota Vikings
...
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Biggest weakness: Passing game

It’s crazy to say that a team with JuJu Smith-Schuster is struggling in the passing game, but that’s been the case, as the Steelers rank 28th in passing yards per game. With the extra attention Smith-Schuster is receiving as a WR1, the Steelers desperately need a solid second option to draw attention away from him or capitalize on open opportunities. Smith-Schuster is coming off a game in which he had just one catch for 7 yards and was targeted four times -- the lowest regular-season output of his career when he has been targeted. The carousel of quarterbacks isn’t helping, as Devlin Hodges is already starter No. 3. -- Brooke Pryor”

Sporting News

1. New England Patriots
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New Orleans Saints
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Minnesota Vikings
7. Kansas City Chiefs
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. Carolina Panthers
10. Houston Texans
...
19. Pittsburgh Steelers
“The Steelers got a bonus home game in Los Angeles on Sunday night and took full advantage of it, hiding undrafted rookie QB Devlin Hodges with a heavy, effective dose of James Conner’s running and their swarming defensive front. They still have a big hill to climb to reach the wild-card conversation, but a bye will help get them rest and healthier.”

CBS Sports

1. New England Patriots
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New Orleans Saints
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Buffalo Bills
7. Baltimore Ravens
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Oakland Raiders
10. Minnesota Vikings
...
19. Pittsburgh Steelers
“Can defense and a running game turn their season around? It looked that way against the Chargers. They are far from dead after their bad start.”

Sports Illustrated

1. New England Patriots
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New Orleans Saints
4. Green Bay Packers
5. Seattle Seahawks
6. Kansas City Chiefs
7. Houston Texans
8. Minnesota Vikings
9. Baltimore Ravens
10. Indianapolis Colts
...
21. Pittsburgh Steelers
“The Steelers youth movement (yes, youth movement) did enough as Devlin Hodges turned in a clean performance (15-of-20, 200 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and the defense, led by Devin Bush, held off the Chargers for a solid, much-needed road win.”

Mike Tomlin on the Steelers’ running game: “We didn’t have a lot of other options”

2 hours 42 min ago
Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images

The Steelers stayed committed to the run during their 24-17 win over the Chargers

In his post game press conference following the Steelers 24-7 win over the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday night, head coach Mike Tomlin talked about the game plan with first-time starting quarterback Devlin Hodges.

“We knew we couldn’t give Duck (Hodges) a lot of exposure to that defense, so we had to do some things in other areas.”

Along with the defense stepping up and getting a score as well as creating situations where the offense could have a short field, Tomlin expounded on the importance of the running game in their overall success to aide Hodges against the Chargers.

“A quality running game to minimize his exposure. And not just him, anybody playing the quarterback position with a limited amount of experience. I think sometimes the more exposure is not necessarily good.”

When Coach Tomlin was asked about the importance of the rushing attack on Sunday, his response showed the Steelers were prepared to commit to the run throughout the night. With 36 rushing attempts for 124 yards, the Steelers kept the ball on the ground more than in the air for the first time in 2019.

“We didn’t have a lot of other options. Sometimes that’s life when you’re backed up against it. We needed that, and they delivered.”

By rushing the ball consistently and effectively, the Steelers put themselves in a situation to where they could sustain drives by converting third downs. In the Steelers previous five games, they only had three third-down conversions in each contest. Sunday night against the Chargers, the Steelers were 8 for 13 on third downs.

“We were on schedule,” Tomlin explained. “We put together a good plan, but those guys executed it. More than anything and we were in manageable third downs. We’ve been working hard to be in manageable third downs but haven’t necessarily done what we did tonight, so I’m not taking that for granted. But largely, when you have that kind of success, it’s because you’re not behind the chains.”

When Coach Tomlin was asked specifics about Devlin Hodges performance, he kept his play in context of what he was asked to do on Sunday night.

“We’re not getting over excited. This is a guy that played good tonight with very limited experience. We’re thankful to get a win and hopefully it will be a good learning experience for him and us collectively as we move forward.”

Obviously, Coach Tomlin was not willing to comment on who will be the Steelers starter moving forward beyond the upcoming bye week. But acknowledging that Hodges entered in a big spot with limited experience, the Steelers not only developed a good game plan, the execution of the game plan came along with it. With the defense forcing turnovers early and the offensive line opening holes for the running backs, Hodges was not asked to carry the team for the night but to work together in all aspects of the game in order to secure a victory.

“It’s just a good overall team win.”

The Steelers now head into their bye week with their next contest being Monday, October 28 at Heinz Field against Miami Dolphins.

Coach Tomlin‘s entire post-game press conference can be seen below.

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following our victory over the Chargers.@budlight https://t.co/PDpppFDRZC

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2019

Steelers sign L.T. Walton, place Stephon Tuitt on Reserve/Injured List

3 hours 56 min ago
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Steelers also added two players to fill their open spots on the practice squad

In a move which was known to be coming after reports Monday night of Stephon Tuitt needing surgery on his torn pectoral ending his 2019 season, he has been placed on the Reserve/Injured List. In his place, the Steelers have signed DT L.T. Walton.

The #Steelers have placed DE Stephon Tuitt on the team’s Reserve/Injured List and signed former Steeler L.T. Walton to the 53-man roster.

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) October 15, 2019

Walton was drafted by the Steelers in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL draft out of Central Michigan. Used primarily as a back up on the defensive line, Walton has appeared in 36 games for the Steelers with four starts. In 2017, he contributed two sacks with 12 tackles and three quarterback hits.

During the 2018 season, Walton only dressed in four games as he was primarily inactive as the last option on the defensive line. After the season, the Steelers chose not to sign Walton to a new contract after his rookie deal had expired. Walton spent time this past off-season with the Buffalo Bills, but failed to make their 53-man roster.

As for Stephon Tuitt, his 2019 season comes to a close after arguably his best year with the Steelers. Tuitt was tied for second on the team with 3.5 sacks before suffering his injury in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers.

It is unclear at this time if the Steelers will call on Walton or rookie Isaiah Buggs to fill out the bottom of their depth chart on game days. Regardless of which player gets a helmet, the Steelers must have factored in Walton’s familiarity with the team’s system in order to help bolster the depth along the defensive line.

In other roster moves, the Steelers filled their two open spots on the practice squad with a running back and an offensive lineman.

We have added RB Tony Brooks-James and OL Christian DiLauro to our practice squad.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 15, 2019

Undrafted out of Oregon, running back Tony Brooks-James spent the 2019 preseason with the Atlanta Falcons before landing on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad. He was released by the Buccaneers last Wednesday.

The other players the Steeler signed, Christian DiLauro, was undrafted out of Illinois in 2018 and was signed by the Cleveland Browns. He originally made their practice squad only to be cut a few days later. DiLauro spent the majority of 2018 on the 49ers practice squad but was released during training camp in 2019. DiLauro then spent time with the Houston Texans on their practice squad this season but was released at the beginning of October.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, injury reports, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

Film Room: Dominant play in the trenches leads the Steelers to a big win over the Chargers

5 hours 16 min ago
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the line of scrimmage vs. the Chargers, and in the process developed a winning template moving forward.

The Pittsburgh Steelers delivered a clinic on the fundamentals of interior line play Sunday night, as their sound and physical execution up front sparked them to a much-needed 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.

While much of the evening’s intrigue centered on the debut of The Duck — rookie QB Devlin Hodges, who afforded himself fairly well in offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner’s conservative game plan — the outcome was decided in the trenches, where the Steelers were simply dominant. On both sides of the ball, the Steelers were technically sound and physically superior, controlling the line of scrimmage and making life miserable for the Chargers.

Defensively, the Steelers front seven assaulted an over-matched Chargers offensive line that was missing its two best players in Russell Okung and Mike Pouncey. Their patchwork starting five resembled a sloppy high school team for all of the bad technique and blown assignments on display. The Steelers poured into the backfield with regularity, harassing quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon nearly every time they touched the ball.

Conversely, the Steelers lessened the burden on Hodges by establishing a run game and affording him time when they needed to throw. Hodges was not sacked once on 20 pass attempts, allowing him to complete a host of quick throws and checkdowns. In the run game, the offense produced 124 hard-earned yards behind improved line play and tough running from James Conner and Benny Snell. It was a physical performance by an offense that has struggled in that capacity so far this season.

Here’s a closer look at how the Steelers beat up the Chargers to earn their second victory of the season.

A Physical Front Seven on Defense

The defensive line and linebackers were, in a word, stellar. They won the push at the line of scrimmage on almost every snap. Los Angeles could not get into any sort of rhythm for the first three quarters because of the constant disruption the Steelers front seven provided.

This was especially true for Rivers. Rushing just four on most downs, the Steelers seemed to be racing one another to the veteran quarterback on most of the Chargers’ pass attempts. The demonstrative Rivers was visibly frustrated at times as he was treated like a piñata throughout the first half.

Below, we see the Steelers generate a near-sack one play prior to Rivers throwing a lateral that was scooped up by Devin Bush and returned for a touchdown to open the scoring. At the top of the screen, Stephon Tuitt and TJ Watt run a well-timed twist stunt. At the bottom, Bud Dupree uses a nice dip-and-rip move to beat LA’s left tackle around the edge. All three players arrive at Rivers simultaneously, leaving the quarterback to spike a hurried throw into the turf:

Watch the craft work of all three pass rushers here. Watt and Dupree win the battle of the hands — T.J. by executing a beautiful arm-over swat to rip through the right tackle, Dupree by getting his hands inside and gaining leverage — while Tuitt gets extension and uses his athletic advantage to bend the edge and get back inside on Rivers. Technique-wise, the Steelers were simply better up front than Los Angeles on both sides of the football. Plays like the one above were the rule for the evening, not the exception.

Rivers may have had that pressure on his mind when he rushed his swing pass to Gordon on the next play, resulting in the lateral and Bush’s touchdown. It also resulted in my favorite image of the night from the NBC camera crew:

As if the Steelers weren’t strong enough on their own merit, Los Angeles occasionally made things easy by blowing assignments. Here’s LA’s third play from scrimmage. It’s designed as a zone run to the right with a playside fold scheme. This means rather than straight zone block it, whereby everyone blocks the gap to their right, the right tackle will block down on the 3-technique (Tuitt) while the right guard pulls around him to kick the edge (Watt). The play is designed to be blocked like this:

The Chargers have several problems executing their scheme. First, the backside tackle fails to climb to Vince Williams (98), who is stacked in the A-gap over top of Cam Heyward. Next, the left guard and center double team Heyward but neither chips off to block Devin Bush (55). With clean lanes to the football, Williams and Bush both come free, forcing running back Melvin Gordon to stop, stutter and attempt to cut back, where he is swallowed up by Dupree coming free from the left edge.

This play was a harbinger of the evening ahead for the Chargers offensive line. They were not physical enough to block the Steelers at the point of attack (watch Tuitt rip across the face of the tackle’s down block and Watt hold his ground against what becomes a double team) and they were not sound enough in their assignments to keep Steeler defenders from running free to the football.

Right guard Michael Schofield (75) was particularly accommodating in this regard. Schofield was a turnstile most of the evening, allowing black and gold-clad defenders to pour through his gap. To wit:

That’s Daniel McCullers — Daniel McCullers! — all 6’7-350 pounds of him, rushing Rivers like the second coming of Reggie White. The communication by the Chargers offensive line here is awful. The center doubles back on Heyward while Schofield slides away to block air, leaving no one to account for the largest man on the field. Rivers winds up having to throw the ball away in frustration, earning an intentional grounding call to boot.

Here’s another one. Watch Javon Hargrave (79) slap Schofield’s hands away on contact and blow past him to team up with Tyson Alualu (94), who expertly splits a double team on the other side of the center. The two combine to tackle the beleaguered Gordon in the backfield.

Then there was the problem of Vince Williams the Chargers failed to solve. Williams’s return to the lineup was a huge plus for the Steelers in the run game, as he brought energy, a veteran presence and a knack for filling gaps back to the defense. The fact the Chargers refused to get a body on him was simply astounding and led to a host of plays like this one, where Williams came unblocked to make a beautiful form tackle on Gordon before his teammates joined in the fun.

When LA wasn’t struggling with their scheme, Williams was just too good to block. Here the Chargers attempt to execute an outside zone run whereby the tight end to the bottom of the screen will reach block Watt while the right tackle will climb up onto Williams. Watch how deftly Williams ducks under the block to combine with Dupree to stuff Gordon yet again.

Williams was credited with just four total tackles but he felt more disruptive than the numbers indicate. I could say the same for several players. Tuitt was a beast before leaving with what turns out was a year-ending injury. Thankfully his replacement, Tyson Alualu, was also disruptive. Bud Dupree continued to perform in what is shaping up as his best year as a pro. Devin Bush led the team in tackles and made a couple of splash plays. And T.J. Watt turned in his usual solid performance before getting dinged up as well.

It’s difficult to say if the success of the front seven was a factor of quality play on their part or a morbid performance from the LA offensive line. Likely, it was a combination of the two. Whatever the case, the Chargers were shut out for three quarters and limited to just 32 yards rushing on the evening. Losing Tuitt certainly hurts but Alualu is a solid veteran who has shown himself to be a steady contributor throughout his time in Pittsburgh. If the front seven can dominate the way they did Sunday night, the Steelers will win football games no matter who quarterbacks the team.

Improvement in the Run Game

The big guys up front on the offensive side of the ball weren’t quite as dominant as their defensive counterparts. Still, it was a significant step forward for the much-maligned run game. James Conner and Benny Snell (Benny Snell Football!) combined to rush 33 times for 116 yards. Those stats are by no means overwhelming, but in a game where everyone knew the Steelers had to establish the run, it represented great progress from the previous five weeks, where the offense ranked 29th in the league at a paltry 67 rushing yards per game.

How did the Steelers do it? For starters, they ran heavy doses of jumbo personnel formations that included either a sixth offensive lineman, multiple tight ends or some combination of the two.

Here’s an example of the Steelers utilizing heavy personnel on the second quarter drive that culminated in James Conner’s 26 yard touchdown reception that put them ahead 21-0. It’s a 2nd and 3 from the LA 35 and the Steelers are in an eight-man line with six offensive linemen plus tight ends Vance McDonald and Nick Vannett. They run an inside zone play to the left, with Vannett coming across the formation to seal the right edge. Watch the blocks on the left side of the football, where Zach Banner (72) turns out defensive end Issac Rochelle (98), Alejandro Villanueva (78) seals linebacker Kyzir White (44) and Ramon Foster buries the interior defensive tackle. Snell gets square and runs downhill through the hole, banging his way for seven yards.

It’s not a sexy play but it shows two things: one, Fichtner did a nice job utilizing his big personnel to bully LA’s smaller front seven (he even allowed them to get into three-point stances to run block, a point we’ve been hammering on for weeks!); and two, the technical work of the Steelers offensive line was just as impressive as the defense’s at times. Look at the flat backs, low pad levels and hand placement of the OL in the photo below. Football is still a game of fundamentals, and when linemen stay square and have superior vertical and horizontal leverage, good things happen in the run game.

Here’s one more example. Watch the Steelers reach block the LA defenders on Conner’s 12 yard touchdown run one series earlier. This is outside zone, where the aiming point for linemen is wider than on inside zone and the object is to reach a defender’s playside shoulder before driving them upfield. The Steelers are in an Ace formation out of true 12 personnel with Vance McDonald to the top of the screen. McDonald and Villanueva double team Joey Bosa (97) to seal the edge before McDonald chips off to kick out safety Roderick Teamer (36). Diontae Johnson (18) gets a nice stalk block to turn out the corner and the rest of the OL stays engaged on their assignments long enough to allow Conner to hit the seam. It’s textbook outside zone blocking — especially the combo block by McDonald and Villanueva on Bosa and Teamer — and a strong run by Conner.

It’s interesting, and in my opinion encouraging, that Fichtner utilized so many heavy and double tight end formations. With McDonald healthy (for now) and Vannett looking like the solid second tight end this team has desperately needed, a return to some old-school power football would be a boon for an offense struggling at the receiver position and with two inexperienced quarterbacks running the show. Once fullback Rosie Nix returns from injury, Fichtner might really have some options should he choose to embrace a more smash-mouth style.

Things got a bit dicey in the fourth quarter, when the Steelers lapsed into some sloppy play that allowed Los Angeles to make things uncomfortable. Missed tackles, a blown coverage on a 3rd and long, an inability to cover tight end Hunter Henry in the middle of the field, a dropped interception by Minkah Fitzpatrick and a terrible pick thrown by Hodges all contributed to the Los Angeles comeback. But the Steelers’ dominance up front that created a 24-0 cushion proved too much for LA to overcome.

With Hodges bearing an uncanny resemblance to Bubby Brister in his white No. 6 jersey, the Steelers produced a vintage physical performance that felt like something conjured from the past. They now head into their bye week with some momentum and perhaps a template for going forward - run the football, be physical on defense, dominate the trenches. For one night in LA, at least, it was a beautiful sight to behold.

Steelers rally around Devlin Hodges for impressive 24-17 road win over Chargers on SNF

6 hours 13 min ago
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

It was all hands on deck, as the Steelers rallied around rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges for an impressive win over the Chargers on Sunday Night Football.

“It takes a village.”

That phrase is often associated with what it takes to raise a child. As for the Steelers, I’m not sure if any of them know what it means (I had to Wikipedia it, myself), but they certainly embodied it as a team, Sunday night, with an impressive and much needed 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson City, California.

Down to Devlin Hodges, their backup quarterback—fourth-string, really, when you consider he was initially cut in the summer in favor of Joshua Dobbs before Dobbs was traded and then all the quarterback injuries started happening—the Steelers arrived in L.A. a beaten, battered and very desperate football team.

They were 1-4 and, to use a trite cliche, their backs were against the wall.

How would Hodges, playing away from home, fare going up against a future Hall of Fame passer in Philip Rivers?

Who said Hodges was away from home? Speaking of a village, the village that is Steeler Nation showed up in droves to the quaint little 30,000-seat soccer stadium the Chargers call home, and they made it their home. They made it so that Hodges didn’t have to use a silent count. The Hall of Fame quarterback had to.

And how about a defense that is quickly becoming the strength of this football team? Thanks to some quick thinking and reacting by rookie inside linebacker Devin Bush, who pounced on a Rivers’ lateral and took it in for a score, Keith Butler’s unit spotted the Duck Dynasty a 7-0 lead before he even picked up his first first down.

Moments later, there was Bush again, who was in perfect position to intercept a pass that was tipped right to him by veteran defensive end Tyson Alualu, and, just like that, Duck and the offense had the ball on the Chargers 40.

But that drive was all James Conner, who caught passes out of the backfield and ran hard out of the backfield and tallied all 40 yards, including the last 12 on an impressive looking touchdown run off the left side to give Pittsburgh a 14-0 lead.

By halftime, it was 21-0, thanks to a 26-yard touchdown catch and run by Conner on a little swing pass out of the backfield.

It was arguably the best game of Conner’s career, as he tallied 119 total yards from scrimmage—including 41 on the ground and 78 through the air—and two touchdowns.

That was certainly the case for Benny Snell Jr., who finally showed us what Benny Snell Football actually looks like by rushing for 75 yards on 17 carries.

By posting 124 yards on 36 carries, the Steelers ground attack looked as good as it has all season.

It had to.

The defense also had to limit the Chargers rushing attack, which it did to the tune of just 32 yards.

Hodges mostly dinked and dunked his way to a stat-line that read: 15 of 20 for 132 yards, one touchdown and one interception. But, so what? The Hall of Fame quarterback passed for 320 yards, but it wasn’t enough.

The Steelers saw to that.

Bush saw to that with his difference-making ability that has been becoming more and more apparent with each passing week.

Heck, Cameron Sutton saw to it with the fourth quarter of his life in-which he recorded multiple passes defensed, a recovery of an onside kick and the game-sealing interception in the waning moments.

There probably wouldn’t have been a need for all of Sutton’s end-of-game heroics if not for an ill-advised interception thrown by Hodges early in the fourth quarter, with the Steelers ahead by three touchdowns, and the Chargers looking for a soft place to land.

But, again, so what? To reiterate, Hodges wasn’t even on the 53-man roster at the beginning of the year. To expect him to look like Superman was expecting a little too much.

Thankfully, the Steelers had many other players more than willing to pitch in—Jordan Berry, Artie Burns, Anthony Chickillo and even Big Daniel McCullers were other notable participants—and help pull the rope along the way to victory.

The Steelers are now 2-4 and looking more and more like a team that doesn't have to depend on one person to succeed.

Former Steelers’ OL Fred Johnson claimed off waivers by the Bengals

7 hours 16 min ago
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Released on Friday to make room QB Paxton Lynch and RB Trey Edmunds, the young prospect did not clear waivers

Sometimes I love being wrong, while other times I hate being right. It was a welcome sight to be wrong when I believed the Steelers would not stick to their game plan with Devlin Hodges at quarterback which would cost them the game. But when I did not want to be right was if the Steelers released one of their back-up offensive linemen, he would not clear waivers to re-join the team. Unfortunately, when the Steelers released OG Fred Johnson on Friday along with Jayrone Elliott in order to promote Paxton Lynch and Trey Edmunds from the practice squad, Johnson did not clear waivers to re-join the team.

Former #Steelers rookie guard Fred Johnson was claimed by the #Bengals, I’m told. Another depth addition in Cincy.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 14, 2019

Johnson was one of the players in training camp for 2019 who came out of nowhere to make the 53-man roster. Undrafted out of the University of Florida, Johnson impressed coaches throughout training camp and played very well when given the opportunity in the preseason. Although he was on the roster, Johnson did not dress in any regular-season games for the Steelers.

Johnson was released due to the Steelers need to promote another quarterback and running back for Sunday night’s game in Los Angeles. While running back Trey Edmunds did not log a single snap on offense, he did contribute with 18 snaps on special teams. Paxton Lynch did not enter the game at all on Sunday, which is typical of a backup quarterback. But with the report on Monday that Mason Rudolph had been cleared by the independent neurologist to play on Sunday, the Steelers could have used Rudolph in a back-up role in order to preserve losing one of their young up-and-coming players.

The Steelers may get a chance to see if it was a mistake to expose Johnson to waivers as the Steelers will face the Cincinnati Bengals again in Week 12 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Only time will tell if Johnson will contribute enough to be active on game day or receive any playing time for the Bengals.

With the shortage of quality offensive line play in the NFL, the Steelers should have been aware that they’re fantastic depth was something other teams coveted. The Steelers were able to trade tackle Jerald Hawkins before the start of the 2019 season to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 2021 draft pick. Normally a late pick in two seasons is not something to write home about, but when the Steelers had so many offensive lineman that one was going to get cut, getting anything as compensation was a welcomed sight.

While, personally, I am sad to see Johnson go as I thought he had a lot of potential as an undrafted rookie to become a quality player in Pittsburgh, I must admit that I do feel bad for him even though he may get his chance to get on the field.

After all, he is now a Cincinnati Bengal.

Podcast: Lost season? How can the Steelers salvage 2019?

8 hours 16 min ago

Bryan and Tony for the fallout after a largely unexpected win against the Chargers on the latest episode of the ‘Steelers Hangover’.

Join Bryan Davis, and Anthony Defeo from BTSC as they share their thoughts on the overall landscape of the Steelers 2019 season after a mostly satisfying win to Los Angeles on SNF. It’s the extravaganza known as “Steelers Hangover”.

In case you are new to the show, you can check out a complete rundown of the show below:

  • Rehashing the Week 6 that was for the Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Shining moments and dim points.
  • Valrdictorian, Honor Roll and Doomed to Detention.
  • Does the Steeler win alter the 2019 or has too much damage been done?
  • Live chat Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: In 2019, teams are proving you can continue to win without your starting QB

9 hours 22 min ago
Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving into Week 7 of the NFL regular season, and as the team prepares to rest and recover during their bye week we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the next game starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how teams in the NFL are proving they can win without their starting quarterbacks.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers might not have won a lot without Ben Roethlisberger, but plenty of other teams are winning without their starting quarterbacks.

John Steigerwald: Losing a franchise QB not an excuse anymore

By: John Steigerwald, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

It can be done.

The Steelers have won two games with quarterbacks who, before being used in an emergency this season, had never thrown a pass in an NFL regular season game.

Devlin Hodges, who was working on his world famous duck calls before being brought in off the street to back up a backup three weeks ago, was asked to do what the guy who preceded him, Mason Rudolph, was asked to do — not screw up — and he came through.

Only being asked to throw the ball 20 times in 2019 is the equivalent of being asked to throw eight or 10 passes in 1989, and he completed 15 of them for 132 yards. Just as Rudolph did on a Monday night against the Bengals, Hodges bored a national TV audience to an early bed time and won a game.

The duck caller is 1-0 as a starter. Of course, every human, who has ever been a quarterback in the first 100 years of the NFL, could have done what he was asked to do, but the Steelers have proven they can win without Ben Roethlisberger.

Let’s not dwell on the fact that the combined record of the two teams they’ve beaten without him is 2-10. With the way the defense played Sunday night and the way the offensive line opened holes for Benny Snell Jr. and James Conner, the Steelers could have beaten better teams than the L.A. Chargers.

And it’s become apparent that losing a franchise quarterback should not be used as an excuse anymore.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

Devin Bush gets endorsement from Ryan Shazier

By: Darin Gantt, ProFootballTalk

Devin Bush is starting to get there.

At least, that’s the opinion of the man Devin Bush needs to replace.

Via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers rookie inside linebacker earned the seal of approval from former Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, after last night’s win over the Chargers.

“I thought he had a great game,” Shazier said. “He’s making a lot of plays. He’s starting to become a playmaker. . . .

“You can definitely tell he’s getting more comfortable. We knew it would come. It takes time.”

Bush’s first few games might have been uneven at times, but he made up for it last night.

He scored his first touchdown as a pro on a fumble return in the first quarter, and then added an interception as the Steelers ran out to an early lead. He leads the league with four fumble recoveries.

That’s the kind of play the Steelers were anticipating, when they traded up 10 spots in this year’s draft to get Bush.

“He’s just a really good player,” cornerback Joe Haden said of Bush. “He’s always around the ball. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He’s a very instinctive player. He’s very ball aware.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Devlin Hodges might not have been the next coming of Ben Roethlisberer, but he played well enough to earn himself a game ball.

Steelers’ Devlin Hodges passes for 132 yards and a TD in 24-17 win vs. Chargers

By: Brooke Pryor, ESPN

For at least a moment, it felt like Ben Roethlisberger was on the field at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday night.

At least to Maurkice Pouncey.

Facing third-and-goal from the 2-yard-line in the third quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 24-17 win against the Los Angeles Chargers, the veteran center had a miscue on the snap, sending the ball between the legs of quarterback Devlin Hodges.

The ball bounced dangerously away from the end zone, the potential for disaster mounting with each roll. But the rookie quarterback raced backward, taking a moment to peek around to see if he had time to pull off a save. He found that he did, picking up the ball, rolling back toward the end zone and firing a pass in the general direction of tight end Vance McDonald.

Hodges’ pass went out of bounds, avoiding catastrophe and setting up for three points on the next play.

”He looked like Ben,” Pouncey said. “I told him, ‘I appreciate you, man.’ I was up there, talking trash, and he hurried-up snapped it. I was like, ‘Oh crap.’ But he did a hell of a job of getting that ball and throwing it out. I honestly thought in my head, ‘That’s Ben.’ Ben would’ve done the same thing. It was awesome.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

Hear from Cameron Heyward, James Conner, Benny Snell Jr., Cameron Sutton, and JuJu Smith-Schuster following our victory over the Chargers.@HeinzKetchup_US pic.twitter.com/PKbZvX8CoR

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2019

Wave those #TerribleTowels!#VictoryMonday | @TeamJuJu pic.twitter.com/agnnDodPW7

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2019

1️⃣st career touchdown for @_Dbush11 is in the books! pic.twitter.com/Hfxeei1HqA

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2019

Report: Steelers’ DE Stephon Tuitt to undergo surgery, out for 2019 season

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 6:30pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers’ worst fears became reality as Tuitt’s pectoral is torn and will require surgery

On Monday night, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Steelers’ defensive end Stephon Tuitt has a torn pectoral which will require surgery and end his 2019 season.

The @Steelers outstanding DL Stephon Tuitt did tear pectoral and will need surgery, out for year, per sources. No longer a “fear” but reality. Another huge setback for team.

— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) October 14, 2019

Tuitt was having arguably his best season with the Steelers, amassing 3.5 sacks, 22 tackles, and seven quarterback hits in a little over five games before he exited Week 6 in the first quarter. Tuitt continued to win individual matchups throughout the season, drawing more attention from opposing teams.

In his sixth year with the Steelers, Tuitt was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Notre Dame. Unfortunately, Tuitt’s rookie year is the only season in which he appeared in every game.

While the injury is concerning, it is also difficult for a team to have two of the top five salary cap players on injured reserve for the season. Tuitt’s cap number for the 2019 season is just shy of $10 million which places him eleventh among the NFL’s interior defensive linemen according to overthecap.com.

In his absence, the Steelers used both Tyson Alualu and Javon Hargrave in the other defensive end position opposite Cameron Heyward against the Chargers. At times, Hargrave was playing defensive end instead of nose tackle as Daniel McCullers came in to log a dozen snaps.

With Tuitt out for the season, the Steelers will look to add another player to the roster. It is unsure if the Steelers will go with another defensive lineman or if they will add depth to another position. Rookie Isaiah Buggs will also look to contribute to the defense as he has not been active yet for 2019.

It has been an injury-plagued season for the Steelers. Starting their third quarterback in six games, the Steelers defense helped lead the way Sunday night against the Los Angeles Chargers with three turnovers and a defensive score. Although some were ruled out before the game, the Steelers ended the night on defense without either starting cornerback, an outside linebacker, a defensive end, and one of their inside linebackers.

While the bye week is usually welcomed to get players healed up, losing players for the season is terrible regardless of bye week. Once Tuitt is added to the injured reserve list, he will be the fifth player the Steelers have used the designation on since the beginning of training camp, following Lavon Hooks, Ben Roethlisberger, Sean Davis, and Xavier Grimble. Since being put on IR, Grimble received an injury settlement and was released.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, injury reports, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

Post-Game Sound: Hear from Steelers coaches and players after their big road win over the Chargers

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 3:35pm
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were winners in Week 6 of the NFL regular season. Take a look and listen to what was said after the game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were winners in the sixth game of the 2019 regular season after a 27-14 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6.

After the game, there was plenty of video/audio to take in from inside the locker room and down at field level. Here at BTSC we try to gather as much information as possible for those fans who might not be on social media and see this on a weekly basis.

Therefore, in the post-game sound article you will hear from head coach Mike Tomlin, and a myriad of other players as the Steelers official Twitter account goes around the room to hear from all who participated on Friday night.

Enjoy the content and be sure to stay with BTSC for all things black-and-gold as they now turn their attention away from their second win, and get to focus on the bye week before playing the Miami Dolphins in Week 8...but first, the post-game sound:

Around the Locker Room

Hear from Cameron Heyward, James Conner, Benny Snell Jr., Cameron Sutton, and JuJu Smith-Schuster following our victory over the Chargers.@HeinzKetchup_US pic.twitter.com/PKbZvX8CoR

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2019

Devin Bush Post-Game Press Conference

#LIVE: Devin Bush addresses the media following our win over the Chargers.@budlight https://t.co/kfONZK5qnI

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2019

Devlin Hodges Post-Game Press Conference

#LIVE: Devlin Hodges addresses the media following our win over LA.@budlight https://t.co/KwCDbtijka

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2019

Mike Tomlin Post-Game Press Conference

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following our victory over the Chargers.@budlight https://t.co/PDpppFDRZC

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2019

Report: Mason Rudolph was cleared to play against the Chargers by independent neurologist

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 2:47pm
Photo: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

In order to fully prepare for Sunday’s game, the decision was made to go with Devlin Hodges before Rudolph’s availability was known

In a report from Gerry Dulac from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and unnamed source confirmed Mason Rudolph had been cleared by an independent neurologist and was available to play Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. According to Dulac, Rudolph wanted to suit up against the Chargers, but by the time he had been cleared to play the Steelers had already dedicated the preparation to starting Devlin Hodges.

Mason Rudolph was cleared by an independent neurologist during the week, according to a source, but the Steelers had already committed to Devlin Hodges.

So what's next for Hodges?

From: @gerrydulac ⬇️

https://t.co/PLxaUmFLsL

— Post-Gazette Sports (@PGSportsNow) October 14, 2019

While many NFL analysts and commentators felt Rudolph should be held out of the game due to the vicious nature of the hit he absorbed along with the scene that ensued on the field, it is unclear if this factored into the Steelers decision at all. While some injuries may look bad, they are not always to the severity of which they appear. But when it comes to the NFL and head injuries, most of those involved with “promoting the shield” would rather err on the side of caution.

The fact that Rudolph could have dressed and even served as the back-up quarterback is an interesting story as the Steelers had to make a roster move to promote Paxton Lynch from the practice squad. If the Steelers are unable to resign either Jayrone Elliott or Fred Johnson after the waiver period has passed, it will make for a very interesting story as to why the Steelers lost one of their players when the promotion may not have been necessary.

While head coach Mike Tomlin also dismissed any questions about who would be the starting quarterback moving forward, it was also reported that the Steelers plan on returning to Mason Rudolph following the bye week. Luckily for the Steelers, they will not have to answer these questions for over a week as they will take an extended break after several practices early in the week.

In Rudolph’s absence, Hodges led the Steelers to a 24-17 win over the Chargers. Hodges completed 15 of his 20 pass attempts for 132 yards along with one touchdown pass and one interception.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, injury reports, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Chargers’ attempted “Rick Roll” of the Steelers in Week 6 fails miserably

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 1:35pm
Photo: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

With an overwhelming number of Steelers fans in attendance, the attempt to parody the Steelers’ “fire up” song did not go over well.

“Oh Mama, I’m in fear for my life from the long arm of the law...”

Preceded by a blank screen on the Jumbotron, these lyrics have inspired Steelers fans to twirl their terrible towels with the centripetal acceleration which is multiple times to that of gravity.

Alright, enough of the nerd talk. This is a pop-culture story.

When Steelers fans partake in a game at Heinz Field, one of the most memorable experiences is when the song “Renegade” by Styx is played to help fire up the crowd and inspire the defense to get a key stop. While not every game has the opportunity with the correct commercial break to play the song, it is very rare with the video board operator at Heinz Field is unable to cue up the fight song. In some circumstances, fans even get to experience a “Double Renegade“ in order to fire up the defense yet again.

The use of Renegade by the Steelers at Heinz Field is definitely noticed among other teams around the league. Going into the Steelers Week 5 games against the Baltimore Ravens, Lamar Jackson took a shot at Steelers fans by saying, “they play their little song and wave their little towels.”

Knowing full well the Steelers crowd would most likely outnumber Charger fans in Los Angeles Sunday night, those responsible for content on the Jumbotron in Los Angeles attempted to take a shot at the Steelers at a key point in the game. Needless to say, it did not go over well.

After scoring a touchdown and needing a defensive stop, the Chargers decided to fade their screen to black and begin playing the opening lines to the Styx hit. Both fans and players on each side were confused only to find out moments later it was the Chargers attempt at comedy as they “Rick Rolled” the Steelers.

So what is Rick Rolling? Whatever you do, do not ask BTSC’s Jeff Hartman or Lance Williams as they seemed to have no idea what was going on. If you were to ask Brian Anthony Davis, he would probably go on with an extensive soliloquy about the 1987 hit by Rick Astley “Never Gonna Give You Up,” where it placed on the charts, the history behind the lyrics, and every time it’s been performed since its release.

In short, Rick Rolling appeared sometime in or around 2007. It is a “trolling” joke on the user where someone is given a video to watch where eventually it breaks into the music video for “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Other examples I have seen have been term papers submitted in college classes with the first letter of each line spelling out the lyrics to the song. It was made more popular with children in the end credit scene of Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet when they appear to be showing a trailer for Frozen 2 when it breaks into Ralph’s rendition of the 80’s classic.

So this was what the Chargers were trying to do. At a point in the game where their defense was going to need a big stop, they tried to make a joke against the Steelers. Instead, it merely reminded the Chargers that, unlike when they were in San Diego, they never really play in front of a home crowd.

Chargers guard Forrest Lamp: “We’re used to not having any fans here. It does suck, though, when they’re playing their music in the fourth quarter. We’re the ones at home. I don’t know who’s in charge of that but they probably should be fired.” #Steelers https://t.co/wSMn4zosLM

— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) October 14, 2019

It also caught many in attendance from the Steelers by surprise.

They're playing Renegade here. Are you kidding me? #steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) October 14, 2019

Renegade morphs into Rick Astley's "Never gonna give you up." #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) October 14, 2019

Will some stadium employee for the Chargers lose their job over this? Probably. I don’t think it was very inspiring for the Chargers defense. So while it was a shot at the Steelers, it did not help in the overall cause.

For those of you who are curious, here is a small glimpse of what it looked like in the stadium.

Chargers pull off a Rick-Roll on the Steelers crowd after playing “Renegade” pic.twitter.com/DErEQAhYSz

— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) October 14, 2019

The Chargers did their best to pull one over on Steelers fans, but it was the Steelers who had the last laugh.

24-17. Enough said.

Report: Mason Rudolph expected to be cleared to play for the Steelers in Week 8

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 12:15pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are hopeful they get Mason Rudolph back in the lineup in Week 8 coming off their bye week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers won just their second game of the 2019 regular season Sunday night when they traveled to the west coast and beat the Los Angeles Chargers 24-17. How they did it was certainly noteworthy, considering they had their third string quarterback under center throughout the process.

Fans were wondering if Mason Rudolph would be cleared to play on Sunday Night Football, especially after practicing on a limited basis all week leading up to the game, but Rudolph was ruled out when he was not cleared by an independent neurologist.

Devlin Hodges took over, and the team promoted Paxton Lynch from the practice squad in case of an emergency. Lynch wasn’t needed, and Hodges won his first NFL start, but what about after the team’s Week 7 bye? Who will be the starting quarterback to face the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football in Week 8?

Mike Tomlin wasn’t willing to commit to any quarterback after the game Sunday night, but if he chooses to stick with Hodges, it is being reported it won’t be because Rudolph hasn’t been cleared from the NFL’ concussion protocol.

This from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler:

Steelers QB Mason Rudolph is eyeing a Week 8 return to the lineup, per source, planning to be cleared from concussion protocol as team comes off bye and prepares for the Dolphins on Monday Night Football, assuming no unexpected setbacks.

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) October 14, 2019

While many assume Rudolph will be the starter when he is able to return, the fact he is on pace to return to the team so soon after such a vicious hit is a great sign. Once cleared, it is now fairly obvious the Steelers have a pretty stable quarterback situation moving forward. They aren’t experienced, but Rudolph and Hodges are very capable of winning you football games for the remainder of the 2019 season, especially if the defense keeps playing at a high level.

In the meantime, when the Steelers practice keep an eye on Rudolph’s participation. If he continues to practice, even limited, it shows there hasn’t been a setback and he is still on track to getting “right”.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they look to get several players healthy on their Week 7 bye before preparing for the Dolphins in Week 8.

PFF highlights how T.J. Watt, James Conner and Devin Bush stole the show for the Steelers

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 11:06am
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were big winners in Week 6, and PFF show how three players in particular were dominant forces on the field.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were big winners in Week 6. Their 24-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football was a dominating performance in several areas for the black-and-gold.

The Steelers defense smothered the Chargers running attack early, and this was before the 21-0 score forced Philip Rivers and company to go into pass-happy mode in hopes of getting back into the game.

Pittsburgh also continued their takeaway trend, recording three more takeaways giving them 15 on the season after 6 games. Just for some perspective here, the Steelers registered 15 takeaways for the entire 2018 season.

On offense it was James Conner who shouldered the load and carried the offense to victory. Conner ran hard, but was equally effective in the passing game as well. Conner tallied over 100 yards of offense, scoring two touchdowns.

Oh, and there was that Devin Bush kid who always seems to be around the football. Of the Steelers’ 15 takeaways, Bush has been a part of 6 of them in some way. While far from perfect, he is having a potential Defensive Rookie of the Year type season in the early goings of 2019.

This trio of players were dominant in the Steelers’ second win of the season, and the folks at Pro Football Focus (PFF) highlighted them and the job they did vs. the Chargers. Check out what they had to say:

This was about as conservative of a game plan as you’ll see in a 2019 NFL game. Devlin Hodges was the definition of game manager in this one, taking just a few shots on Sunday night that traveled further than 10 yards downfield. When asked to throw, Hodges spent much of the night getting the ball quickly into the hands of his playmakers – primarily James Conner – and put the honus on them to keep the offense moving.

Conner was asked to carry the load, and he did just that until a quad injury knocked him out in the second half. Conner was especially fantastic as a receiver, where he hauled in all seven of his targets and picked up crucial first downs on balls thrown to him short of the sticks, forcing one missed tackle after another.

Devin Bush recorded the first two turnovers for the Steelers, but neither of the plays required him to do a lot. One was a poor pass from Philip Rivers that went backward for a fumble, and the other was a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage that he intercepted.

T.J. Watt gave Sam Tevi problems all game long. He recorded a sack, three hits and also a batted pass. Watt showed his ability to win with speed consistently against Tevi.

It was fitting PFF talked about the game plan for Devlin Hodges, because it was as basic as possible. But the game also dictated this type of game plan. If the Steelers didn’t score a defensive touchdown, and a turnover which turned into a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, the Steelers might not have been able to just run out the clock, but rely more on Hodges to throw them to victory.

Not that Hodges couldn’t have gotten the job done if the game called for him to throw the football more, but this was the best-case scenario for the Steelers. Suffocating defense, timely turnovers, defensive points scored, touchdowns off turnovers and a game plan which equated in a win.

Can’t ask for much else, and now the Steelers head into the bye week hoping to get several injured players healthy before their Week 8 matchup on Monday Night Football vs. the still winless Miami Dolphins.

Winners and Losers after the Steelers’ huge win over the Chargers in Week 6

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 9:38am
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After every game there are players who play well, and those who don’t. This is where the ‘Winners and Losers’ column comes from.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday night when they traveled to the west coast in Week 6 of the regular season on Sunday Night Football. The Steelers were winners in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had an outstanding performance.

Improvement was evident in the win, and is hopefully going to continue, but the judgement process must go on. Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.

Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after Week 6...

Winners

James Conner
Stat Line: 16 carries, 41 yards, 1 TD / 7 targets, 7 receptions, 78 yards, 1 TD

On a night when the Steelers had their third string quarterback under center, the team needed a dominant defense and a strong game from their starting running back. Conner did that, totaling 119 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. You would love to see some more production on the ground, but in today’s NFL production is production — no matter what form it comes in.

Devlin Hodges
Stat Line: 15/20, 132 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

If you take away Hodges’ interception I would say this was about as perfect a scenario as Hodges could see. On the road in a stadium which felt more like a home game than a trip to the west coast, a solid running game and make the easy throws when they present themselves. Hodges might not have been responsible for the win, but he certainly didn’t lose it...and that was key.

Devin Bush
Stat Line: 7 total tackles, 3 solo, 1 fumble recovery, 1 TD, 1 INT

Anyone still upset the Steelers traded up to get Devin Bush in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft? Of the Steelers’ 15 takeaways, Bush has been a part of 6 of them in some way. Outside of some poor angles on missed tackles in the second half, Bush had the look of a Defensive Rookie of the Year. Every week he gets more and more comfortable and you are starting to see the speed and athleticism Bush displayed in Michigan.

Defensive Takeaways
Stat Line: 2 INTs, 1 Fumble Recovery

As stated in the previous paragraph, the Steelers added three more takeaways to their register. They now have 15 takeaways, and are tied for second in the league with that total. Heading into Week 7 the Steelers now have as many takeaways as they had in the entire 2018 season. Think about that...a huge statistical improvement for this defense.

Benny Snell Jr.
Stat Line: 17 carries, 75 yards / 1 reception, 14 yards

I am someone was has been extremely tough on Benny Snell throughout his rookie season. He has been great on special teams, but when he has carried the ball he has left a lot to be desired. However, I have to give credit where credit is due, and Snell played well in this game. When Conner left the game with a quad injury Snell kept the chains moving and got those tough yards. It was good to see Snell show up and start to get into a rhythm with the offensive line.

Jordan Berry
Stat Line: 4 punts, 46.3 average, 2 inside the 20

Speaking of constantly hating on players, I have not been a fan of Jordan Berry in the past. But when the Steelers decided to punt on 4th and 1 the key was to pin the Chargers offense inside the 10 yard line, who were without timeouts remaining, Berry and Johnny Holton put them on their own 1 yard line. A great punt, and was clutch in the defense putting the final nail in the coffin.

Cameron Sutton
Stat Line: 1 tackle, 1 INT, 3 pass defenses

Sutton’s best play won’t pop off the stat sheet, and that was his jumping onside kick reception after the Chargers moved within a one score game late in the second half. Sutton did have himself a game while spelling Joe Haden. He tallied an interception and three pass defenses. Don’t look now, but the Steelers might have some depth in the secondary.

Losers

Tackling
Stat Line: Second half tackling was horrid

There wasn’t much to nit pick on, but the second half tackling was atrocious at times. Devin Bush was victimized a couple times, as was Kameron Kelly. Maybe it was fatigue. Maybe it was a lack of focus with a big lead. But whatever the cause for the tackling, hopefully it improves over the bye week.

Who were your winners and losers? Let us know in the comment section below! And be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they head into their Week 7 bye week.

Philip Rivers was “disappointed” with the loss, and why he grabbed Mike Hilton at the end of the game

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 8:28am
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Philip Rivers was caught on camera grabbing Steelers CB Mike Hilton at the end of regulation. Rivers claims it was nothing more than his competitive spirit.

The Pittsburgh Steelers ran away with the Sunday Night Football game in Week 6 by beating the Los Angeles Chargers 24-17 on their home turf. It was the second straight home loss for the Chargers, and things got a little testy at the end of the game.

After Philip Rivers threw the game-clinching interception to Cameron Sutton, NBC cameras caught Rivers grabbing cornerback Mike Hilton and having a few “words” wit him. If you didn’t stay up that late, you can see the situation unfold in the video below:

Mike Hilton is the best pic.twitter.com/vGaMMGMgDd

— Tony Digs (@ToneDigz) October 14, 2019

Clearly, Hilton wanted nothing to do with a flag, or fine, and just turned his back to Rivers and whatever the veteran cornerback had to say. But many wondered after the game what got Rivers so fired up?

As it turns out, he was just disappointed.

“I was disappointed the game was over,” Rivers said, via Jacob Klinger of PennLive.com. “I wasn’t frustrated. A guy comes and waves at our sideline, you protect your team. It was really no big deal. I haven’t seen him, but I’d probably shake his hand and tell him, ‘Sorry, I got a little fired up.’ But it wasn’t a big deal. There was no screaming and yelling. It was just defending our guys.”

Rivers was clearly frustrated with the outcome of the game, the way his team played and most likely how he was harassed throughout the four quarters of play by the Steelers defense. On the night the Steelers had just one sack, but six quarterback hits on Rivers, but the defense was constantly in Rivers’ face batting down passes and making him uncomfortable.

The Steelers don’t have to worry about Rivers anymore as they now get to rest their bumps and bruises on the bye week as they gained a little momentum and improved their record to 2-4 on the season. After the bye week will be another prime time game with the Steelers and currently winless Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football at Heinz Field.

Report Card: Grading the Steelers 24-17 win over the Chargers in Week 6

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 7:35am
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers after Week 6 of the 2019 season.

The Steelers were on the brink of elimination and there only hope not to fall in a debilitating 1-5 hole was a third-string quarterback, a wake-up from a struggling rushing attack and a trip to the West Coast where they rarely win in the Mike Tomlin Era. Could they overcome all these obstacles? Well, a 24-17 win says they did.

For some reason, I’ve been given the responsibility to rate the performance of the squad. It’s not easy, but I’ll give it a whirl. Despite my less than prestigious BTSC teaching certificate, I have to issue the necessary disclaimer. You know the story; of course, I’m not a football coach, or a teacher, but I play one in blogs and podcasts. All week, I had certain expectations of this contest, then the game happened and judgments abound.

Grading games is an extremely difficult and somewhat thankless task. While the coaches’ grades, of course, are what counts the most, the media and fans can’t help but evaluate as well. All letter grades are simply based on the eye test of somebody watching at home. In this case, it’s my doofus opinion.

So let’s take a look at BTSC’s early perceptions:

Offense: B+

The game plan was designed to protect Duck Hodges and was predicated on rushing the football and the excellent offensive line and James Conner answered the call in a big way. Conner took over with 89 total yards and two TDs in the first half and ended with 119 total. Bennie Snell Jr. thrived with 75 yards and a 4.4 average. Hodges did not have to feel pressure due to the defense scoring early and giving him opportunities. He ended 15/20 with 132 yards, a TD and a pick. The receivers didn’t do much, but did when they got the few opportunities that they did. Excellent game from these guys.

Defense: A-

This is a powerful defense now and they desperately needed to be due to the situation at hand. The rush defense, led by Vince Williams, was hardly penetrable early on and it continued by allowing only 32 yards rushing. The linebackers were swarming and the Bush TD and INT were due to aggressive defense. Hunter Henry gave them fits, but the secondary still held down the fort. With Hodges starting, the defense needed to score points and stop Keenan Allen. They did.

Special Teams: A

Berry didn’t have to punt much, but did it well when he did with an average of 47.0 on four kicks and two inside-the-20. Boswell has remained solid with a field goal and three point afters. Coverage team had a big play negated by a penalty, but came up big with the insides recovery and when Johnny Holton downed the ball on the one. The return game is again invisible.

Overall: A-

It got scary late, but they held on. The Steelers scripted the game well and got help from the defense early. It would have been nice to dominate, but the defense played back late and points were bound to happen. Injuries like the Stephon Tuitt pectoral concern is a huge concern, but nonetheless, it was a huge win. Bring on the bye, then the Dolphins.

Valedictorian: James Conner and Devin Bush

Honor Roll: Devlin Hodges, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, Bennie Snell Jr., Diontae Johnson, Stephon Tuitt, Joe Haden, T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Vince Williams, Matt Feiler, Cam Sutton

Requires Improvement: Artie Burns

Now it is your turn to play teacher. Use the polls and the comments section below. We can compare notes in the teachers lounge.

Steelers players take to social media to talk about their win over the Chargers

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 6:30am
Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

Members of the Pittsburgh Steelers take to social media after their win over the Chargers in Week 6.

The Pittsburgh Steelers won their second game! It took them 6 weeks to do so, but they have finally notched their second win of the 2019 regular season after being the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football.

Following the Steelers’ win, players took to social media to celebrate the big win over the AFC West opponent.

Take a look at what was said on different platforms following the game! I also added some interesting video which I felt fans might enjoy.

(Editor’s Note: This article may be updated as more players take to social media to talk about the team’s victory.)

Unbothered ‍♂️ Great Team Win!! https://t.co/7ZNGPpuqyC

— Mike Hilton (@MikeHilton_28) October 14, 2019

Wow !! Steeler Nation is unbelievable !! Felt like we were at Heinz field. Great team win going into the bye week !! #HereWeGo

— Nick Vannett (@N_Vannett81) October 14, 2019

Great team win!!! Back to the BURGH!! #SteelersNation

— Tyler Matakevich (@44_Matakevich) October 14, 2019

I thought it was a forward pass ‍♂️ damn can’t please everyone eff it we ball.

— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) October 14, 2019

Man I’m bout to grow me a Ponytail fade like @_Dbush11 !!! Young rook went nuts tonight.

— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) October 14, 2019

I know one thing. @_Dbush11 better be favored for Defensive Rookie of The Year. I know that he balling to hard not to.

— Ryan Shazier (@RyanShazier) October 14, 2019

God is the greatest.

— James Conner (@JamesConner_) October 14, 2019

Boys did that !

— Steve Nelson (@Nelson_Island) October 14, 2019

Team win @steelers. Love it

— Brett Keisel (@bkeisel99) October 14, 2019

Big Time Win!! #HereWeGo

— Arthur Moats (@dabody52) October 14, 2019

I told y’all about that defense !!! Let go CAM !!!!

— Steve Nelson (@Nelson_Island) October 14, 2019

Keep toting!!! @benny_snell

— Jaylen Samuels (@JaySam1k) October 14, 2019

Steelers head into their Week 7 bye week dealing with a slew of injuries

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 5:52am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are facing several noteworthy injuries as they head into their much needed bye week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a banged up football team after Week 6, and their Week 7 bye week couldn’t come at a better time. Following the Steelers’ 24-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football, the team is able to rest some of their wounds before preparing for the Miami Dolphins in Week 8 at Heinz Field.

As for in-game injuries, there were several big names listed by Mike Tomlin in his post-game press conference.

Stephon Tuitt left the game, and did not return, with a pectoral injury.

Joe Haden left as well, and did not return, with a groin injury.

And James Conner was removed from the game with a quadriceps injury.

Mike Tomlin said all players will be further evaluated, although Tuitt’s injury is considered to be the most significant of all those which happened during the Week 6 Sunday Night Football game. It should be noted how Devin Bush tweaked an ankle during the game, but was able to return to action after halftime,

There are other injuries which will benefit from the week off, and some of those injuries would be:

JuJu Smith-Schuster (toe)
Vance McDonald (shoulder)
Mike Hilton (foot)
Mason Rudolph (concussion)
Roosevelt Nix (knee)
Jaylen Samuels (knee)
James Washington (shoulder)

The list is long, and the week off will do wonders for those who are nursing their injuries back to health. In case you missed the Mike Tomlin post-game press conference, you can watch it all in the video player below.

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following our victory over the Chargers.@budlight https://t.co/PDpppFDRZC

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2019

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football after their Week 7 bye week.

Podcast: In a must-win game, Steelers gain momentum heading into bye week

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 5:31am

In the latest episode of “The Steelers Post-Game” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold from the most recent contest.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is here, and the Steelers returned to the win column after a big 24-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Post-Game Show. On this show Jeff Hartman and co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Recap after losing to the Chargers
  • Winners and Losers
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

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