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Jordan Berry explains what happened on the Steelers botched fake punt vs. Arizona

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 8:58pm
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers almost lost the game due to a huge snafu between Jordan Berry and the rest of the punt team.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were winners vs. the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14, but it probably shouldn’t have been that close when the dust settled. One of the main reasons the Cardinals were allowed to claw their way back into the game were two big miscues in the game.

The first, a Benny Snell Jr. fumble, and the second, and more egregious, the Jordan Berry botched fake punt.

When the play happened, the vast Pittsburgh Steelers fan base let out a collective, “What the ____!” wondering what went wrong. In Mike Tomlin’s post-game press conference he spoke about how it was his decision, taking full blame for the play.

However, after the game Berry was able to say what really happened on the play. This per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

P Jordan Berry: “The guys up front called it off and nobody told me. I just tried to make a run for it and I ran straight into some guys. I was planning on getting ready to run up there and they all shot off to go cover and I was like, Aw (expletive).”

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) December 9, 2019

He added to Brooke Pryor of ESPN:

Jordan Berry on the fake punt snafu: "It was just some miscommunication, that's all. They called it off up front, and I didn't get the call. I'm 15 yards away. I can't hear what they say."

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) December 9, 2019

Tomlin took the heat, considering it did turn out the fake punt play was put into play, but Berry stating he didn’t hear the players get out of the play makes sense too. After all, it isn’t every day you see 10 players run to cover a punt with the punter tucking the ball and running right into a brick wall.

The Steelers were lucky in a multitude of ways in this game. Lucky Trey Edmunds hustled back to get the loose ball on Berry’s fumble, or else it would have been an easy scoop-and-score situation for the Cardinals.

The Steelers were lucky in other areas too, like when Kyler Murray didn’t try to run for the first down, or touchdown, instead throwing an interception to T.J. Watt in the end-zone. There is a certain amount of luck involved with winning, and the Steelers certainly had their share on Sunday at State Farm Stadium.

Nonetheless, you won’t hear much about this considering the team didn’t lose, but won their third straight game to improve their record to 8-5 on the season. They are in sole possession of the 6th spot in the AFC Playoff Picture with the Buffalo Bills coming to Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football next week.

Let’s hope the miscues stayed in Arizona...

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Bills to invade Heinz Field in Week 15.

Chalk up another season where Mike Tomlin will finish .500 or above for the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 8:28pm
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There are some stats which can be deceiving. Mike Tomlin’s run without a losing season is not one of them.

There are certainties in life.

Death.

Taxes.

And now Mike Tomlin coaching the Pittsburgh Steelers and not experiencing a losing season.

For the thirteenth consecutive year, since being hired in 2007, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin won his 8th game. He still has three games remaining on the schedule, but the 8th win solidifies yet another non-losing season for the Super Bowl winning coach.

How good is that historically? Field Yates of ESPN puts it into perspective:

Mike Tomlin has now opened his career with 13 straight seasons without a losing season, tied with Don Shula for the second longest longest career-opening streak in NFL history, per @EliasSports. Marty Schottenheimer holds the record with 14.

— Field Yates (@FieldYates) December 9, 2019

As stated earlier, Tomlin is a Super Bowl winning coach, but you would be hard pressed to find someone who suggests the 2019 season hasn’t been his greatest, or one of the greatest.

When you look at the amount of key injuries the team has sustained so far, and the fact they are 8-5 on the verge of making the postseason, it is nothing short of remarkable.

Just look at this list:

Done for the season

Missed extended time

On top of injuries, the team is now winning with their third string quarterback, Devlin Hodges, who is throwing and handing off to players who were on practice squads for other NFL teams just a few weeks ago.

It has been a crazy season, and when you throw in trades for Minkah Fitzpatrick and Nick Vannett, the Steelers’ 2019 season has been intriguing, to say the least. For me, all of this combined makes this season of not finishing with a losing record even sweeter. Starting 0-3, and 1-4, had fans and pundits everywhere throwing Tomlin into the fire.

And rightfully so. But he has rebounded in a way very few saw coming, and it sure is nice.

Congratulations to Mike Tomlin for another non-losing season, but you and I both know there is plenty of work left to be done. Next up? The Buffalo Bills in Week 15 in likely the last home game of the 2019 season.

As Bart Scott so famously said, “Can’t wait.”

Devlin Hodges gets the win over a No. 1 overall pick for the second straight week

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 8:01pm
Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

With his path to the NFL coming via tryout, Hodges has now earned wins over the last two top draft picks

“When you’ve got a defense like ours you can probably beat anybody.”

When Steelers’ quarterback Devlin Hodges was asked about getting back-to-back wins against teams whose quarterback was the first overall pick in the NFL draft, he gave credit where credit was due. Since Hodges was not on the field at the same time as the opposing teams’ offensive signal caller, he wisely pointed out the fact it’s the Steelers defense who has been holding opposing quarterbacks in check.

Regardless, Hodges did what was needed in order to secure a victory for the Steelers over the last two weeks. With only a combined 10 incompletions, he has completed 30 of 40 passes for 364 yards and two touchdowns. While these numbers are sometime put up in a single week by quarterbacks of the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Hodges has been efficient in order to secure Steelers’ victories.

In Week 13, Hodges out dueled 2018 number one overall pick Baker Mayfield by out gaining him in yards while they both threw an interception. In Week 14, Hodges secured the win over 2019 number one pick Kyler Murray by taking care of the ball. Murray did throw for 40 more yards than Hodges, but his three interceptions made the difference in the game while Hodges didn’t throw any.

Comparing statistics is interesting, but to think Hodges is going to constantly out perform these highly touted picks is asking a lot. What matters is how Hodges is managing the game with the ball in his hand while the opposing quarterback in waiting on the sideline. And what ultimately matters most, in both matchups Hodges has come out victorious.

“I’ve never really thought about beating the number one player taken this year or last year,” Hodges stated in his post-game press conference. “I just want to get out there and beat the opposing quarterback because that’s the opposing quarterback.”

Along with doing a lot of good things on the field, Hodges has learned to say a lot of good things as well. Understanding it’s his defense who is holding down opposing quarterbacks is important. Worrying about one game at a time is key. As of right now, it just feels like he gets it.

Along with getting victories over first overall picks the last two weeks, Devlin “Duck” Hodges has now become the first undrafted rookie to win his first three starts at quarterback in the NFL since 1987. But as far as he’s concerned, the record means nothing to him because he wasn’t trying to set any records. Hodges was just trying to win each game.

Three games started. Three games won. In those three games, the opposing quarterbacks were: 2004 fourth overall pick Philip Rivers. 2018 first overall pick Baker Mayfield. 2019 first overall pick Kyler Murray.

Next week, the Steelers get some reprieve as they take on 2018 seventh overall pick Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. And as Hodges said to the on-field reporter after the game, “We’ve just got to worry about next week.”

Quack.

Hodges on-field post-game interview:

“We got great players, and great coaches. When you get a good game plan it makes it easier.”

Devlin Hodges explains the secret to winning three straight games as the Steelers’ starting QB. pic.twitter.com/1i9MqVzbE2

— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) December 9, 2019

Hodges post-game press conference:

#LIVE: Devlin Hodges addresses the media following our win over Arizona.@budlight https://t.co/IkPE79ukzv

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 9, 2019

Knee-Jerk Reactions after the Steelers’ 23-17 win over the Cardinals

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 6:33pm
Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

One BTSC writer shares his real-time, initial thoughts of the Steelers

The Steelers don’t always shine out west, but they are the better team even with the injuries. The game in Arizona is key to secure a non-losing season and keep momentum going for a playoff push. But you still have an unpolished signal caller. Will the magic of the Duck Dynasty continue?

Nonetheless, a simple reminder, a knee jerk reaction is an immediate and unthinking, emotional reaction. It’s basically shooting first and apologizing later. I can safely say that’s a true definition of your’s truly and a good lot of Steeler Nation. Here’s my real-time reactions during the Steelers’ quest to extend their record to 8-5 after starting off the season so poorly.

Quarter 1
  • Here we go.
  • Kyler Murray is going to keep a great defense on their feet all day long.
  • Barron may be the weak link, but he still comes up big at times.
  • I really like Kerrith Whyte.
  • I’ll take that penalty, but I don’t like the rule.
  • Steelers got a gift on that one to extend the series.
  • Snell could be a guy that controls drives and games.
  • They still need to be able to establish a passing game.
  • Samuels is lucky his head didn’t fly off there in his helmet.
  • Is that not flaggable?
  • Samuels saved a pick-six there with an amazing catch.
  • Defense is swarming.
  • Kam Kelly with a huge block and an amazing run back by Diontae Johnson.
  • Haven’t seen one of those for a long time.
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
  • That could be one of the longest in team history.
  • Bud the Stud! Another sack. He’s having another multiple-sack game.
  • The streak continues. Uggh!
  • Benny Snell Jr with the bad ball security.
  • Our old friend T-Sizzle with the recovery.
  • Good field position. Lets see how the defense does.
  • They are moving it well against the Steeler D.
  • At the end of one, it’s 10-0 for now.
Quarter 2
  • Minkah with a really big stop.
  • The Steelers are really scheming well against Murray.
  • Another sack. VinnyVidiVici!
  • Kept them to three.
  • Steelers have to establish something on offense.
  • Deon Cain with an aweome grab.
  • I would go for it here.
  • They are really moving the ball on the Steeler Dee.
  • I forgot David Johnson was on this team.
  • They have to buckle down and hold the Cards to three.
  • And they couldn’t. Charles Clay? Ugggh.
  • Gonna have to throw on this drive.
  • I like that initial pass to Washington.
  • Great run. Love when Duck takes off.
  • I like that play from Duck to DJ18.
  • Feiler saved the day, but he gave up the sack.
  • That could have been disastrous?
  • That’s a huge kick by Boz.
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
  • That’s the half. 13-10 Steelers.
Quarter 3
  • They are coming really hard after Hodges.
  • Good run. But just not enough.
  • What a great punt by Berry. Let Cooper return it for way too many yards.
  • Defense needs to help out here.
  • Edmunds with a monster sack.
  • You gotta be kidding me!
  • Fake punt.
  • Kam Kelly has to tackle better there.
  • We need a defensive play to stop this momentum.
  • I thought Watt was offsides there. Needs to get to Murray.
  • Almost had him again.
  • I’m getting worried.
  • That’s grounding.
  • Holding on Alualu? Really?
  • Watt is winded.
  • This is getting bad.
  • Joe Haden is on fire. That was very big.
  • Now please make them pay.
  • Kerrith Whyte with a nice move of the chains.
  • That was a hell of a rumble by BSJ.
  • I like the sneaky and shifty run by Samuels. Can’t believe that was nine yards.
  • They have to get a touchdown here. Can’t risk it.
  • I’ll take that PI.
  • Get in now.
  • We need a pass to McDonald for the score.
  • Wow! Field reversal scares the bejeebers out of me. That was pretty.
  • “Glad to see Suggs hasn’t mellowed”, he says facetiously.
  • It won’t be Vanimal. In the prrotocol.
  • That was pretty. Great day by DJ.
  • Duck couldn’t have placed that any better.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
  • 20-10. Steelers
  • Steven Nelson gave way too much of a cushion there.
  • You don’t hear that very often.
  • End of three. 20-10.
Quarter 4
  • The Cards Just was red a TO.
  • Murray is going to be a good QB in this league.
  • Need to hold them to three.
  • They are going to go for it here.
  • Yep. They are keeping the offense on the field.
  • It did not work.
  • Huge pick by T.J.
  • He could have walked in.
  • Huge mistake.
  • You are going to see a lot of Benny Snell Football here.
  • I love when Steeler outside linebackers drop in the coverage against the Cardinals.
  • I say it every week, James Washington has phenomenal hands.
  • Big first down.
  • Why in the blue hell would they call a fake and get their punter leveled?
  • Was that a call or an improvisation?
  • That was a heck of a throw by Murray for the touchdown.
  • I thought Edmunds was going to pick it off.
  • They really need to move chains and score here.
  • Patrick Peterson pushed Washington closer to the sticks.
  • Thats a really huge pass interference call.
  • I like this stable of runners.
  • If you use the Wild Cat sparingly like that, it is bigger.
  • I love Diontae Johnson.
  • The play calling is suspect here.
  • They really needed a TD. But let’s see what Boz can do.
  • This game is not over.
  • Kick it deep. Don’t let them return this.
  • Well, he did. Nice!
  • Haden needs to ice this again.
  • Heyward with a huge sack.
  • Bud will get another sack there.
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
  • Nelson with good coverage.
  • 4th and 17. Lets end this.
  • Holy Gee! I called it.
  • That’s the game. Final score: Steelers

Once again, I just shot first and I’ll apologize later. All reactions were in real time. Basically, it is the equivalent of watching me do the highlights if I hadn’t been blacklisted by the major networks. Now time to watch it again and see what really happened. Make sure you get your voice heard in the comments below.

The Steelers defense, and Diontae Johnson, beat the Cardinals 23-17

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 6:12pm
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Sparked by the defense and Diontae Johnson, the Steelers move their record to 8-5 after a huge win over the Cardinals in Week 14.

The Pittsburgh Steelers took to the road in Week 14 when they traveled to the Mountain Time Zone to play the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. The Steelers might have been on the road, but it certainly didn’t look like it considering how Steelers fans invaded the Cardinals’ home stadium.

Mike Tomlin’s crew won the opening coin toss and elected to defer their possession to the second half. Kyler Murray and company took the first possession, but only mustered one first down before punting the ball to Devlin Hodges and company.

Hodges and a good mixture of run and pass were able to move the ball into the red-zone thanks to a personal foul penalty for a defender who hit Trey Edmunds high after the play was over. All the free first down did was extend the drive, and the 8 minute affair ended with a Chris Boswell chip shot to make the score 3-0.

After Keith Butler’s defense forced a three-and-out, the punt, which was fielded by Diontae Johnson, was returned 85 yards to the house for the Steelers touchdown.

85 yards TO THE HOUSE!!@Juiceup__3 + #ProBowlVote pic.twitter.com/ceVz05jvxr

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 8, 2019

The Chris Boswell point-after was good, making the score 10-0 with just 2:52 left in the first quarter.

Another three-and-out set the Steelers’ offense up to really put the hammer down, but on first down Benny Snell fumbled, and was recovered by Terrell Suggs.

The Cardinals received the ball on the Pittsburgh 34-yard line and quickly moved the ball into a first-and-goal situation. However, the Steelers’ defense pushed the Cardinals backwards before gaining any ground, forcing a field goal to make the score 10-3 with 11:15 left in the opening half.

Hodges wasn’t able to manufacture points on the Steelers’ next drive, but were able to flip the field position game. On the next Arizona possession Murray settled in and used mismatches and tempo to move the ball into the Pittsburgh red-zone for the second time of the half. The first attempt ended in a field goal, but the second attempt was a Charles Clay touchdown reception. After the point-after the game was tied 10-10 with 1:51 left in the half.

Pittsburgh’s offense was able to quickly move the ball deep into Arizona territory, but a Chandler Jones strip sack of Hodges turned the potential touchdown drive into a field goal drive. Chris Boswell hit a 37-yard field goal to make the score 13-10 heading into halftime with the Steelers due to get the football to start the third quarter.

The first drive of the third quarter was customary for opening drives for the Steelers, and it resulted in a three-and-out. Just as it looked as if Murray was about to orchestrate at least a field goal drive, Joe Haden jumped a route and intercepted Murray. It was Haden’s second interception in the past two games, and a huge play for the Steelers.

His third INT of the year!!@joehaden23 + #ProBowlVote pic.twitter.com/DdIqF11Gvi

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 8, 2019

Desperately in need of a touchdown off the turnover, Hodges and the offensive line put together arguably their best drive in a long time together. Powered by a mixture of Kerrith Whyte, Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell on the ground, the Steelers pounded their way into the red-zone. From there it was a Hodges pass to Diontae Johnson for the Steelers touchdown.

Punt return for a touchdown ✔️
Receiving touchdown ✔️@Juiceup__3 + #ProBowlVote pic.twitter.com/odGuXe7oNo

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 8, 2019

The Boswell point after was good, making the score 20-10 Steelers with 2:00 left in the third quarter.

A disturbing trend for the Steelers throughout 2019 has been their defense giving up points after their offense adds points to the scoreboard. This trend continued on the Cardinals’ next drive after Murray hit several big passes to move quickly into the Pittsburgh red-zone for the third time. After falling two yards short on third down, Cliff Kingsbury elected to go for it on 4th down. Murray rolled to his right, but was intercepted by T.J. Watt in the end-zone.

Devlin Hodges’ next drive ended after a lone first down, but when it looked like the Steelers would punt the ball back to the Cardinals, Jordan Berry faked the punt and was tackled for a loss. It gave Arizona prime field position, and three plays later Murray hit David Johnson for a touchdown. The Gonzalez point-after made the score 20-17 with 6:44 left in regulation.

When the Steelers desperately needed a time-consuming drive, Devlin Hodges delivered. A unique blend of power running and timely passes worked the Steelers into Arizona territory. After a false start to Alejandro Villanueva, Pittsburgh faced a 3-and-12 when Hodges hit Johnson for the first down.

After the two-minute warning, the Cardinals held only two timeouts, which meant you would think the Steelers would run the ball three times to kill as much clock as possible. But on second down a Hodges pass was tipped and stopped the clock. The result? A Boswell field goal to make the score 23-17 with 1:42 left in regulation.

Murray and the Cardinals were out of timeouts, and the Pittsburgh pass rush was relentless in their pursuit of the rookie quarterback. Two sacks and an incomplete pass resulted in another Joe Haden interception to seal the win.

The Steelers’ win moved their record to 8-5 on the season, setting up a huge contest in Week 15 with the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field in Week 15. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold moving forward.

Steelers vs. Cardinals, Week 14: 3rd quarter live in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 5:29pm
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter Update

2nd Quarter Update

The first drive of the third quarter was customary for opening drives for the Steelers, and it resulted in a three-and-out. Just as it looked as if Murray was about to orchestrate at least a field goal drive, Joe Haden jumped a route and intercepted Murray. It was Haden’s second interception in the past two games, and a huge play for the Steelers.

Desperately in need of a touchdown off the turnover, Hodges and the offensive line put together arguably their best drive in a long time together. Powered by a mixture of Kerrith Whyte, Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell on the ground, the Steelers pounded their way into the red-zone. From there it was a Hodges pass to Diontae Johnson for the Steelers touchdown. The Boswell point after was good, making the score 20-10 Steelers with 2:00 left in the third quarter.

The Cardinals were driving the ball into Pittsburgh territory at the end of the third quarter.

Steelers vs. Cardinals: Second-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 4:48pm
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2019 regular season continues with the Steelers and Cardinals locking horns in Week 14. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field, and this time for the twelfth time in the 2019 regular season as they prepare to face off against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14 at State Farm Stadium.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

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Steelers vs. Cardinals, Week 14: 2nd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 4:41pm
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter Update

The Cardinals received the ball on the Pittsburgh 34-yard line to star the second quarter, and quickly moved the ball into a first-and-goal situation. However, the Steelers’ defense pushed the Cardinals backwards before gaining any ground, forcing a field goal to make the score 10-3 with 11:15 left in the opening half.

Hodges wasn’t able to manufacture points on the Steelers’ next drive, but were able to flip the field position game. On the next Arizona possession Murray settled in and used mismatches and tempo to move the ball into the Pittsburgh red-zone for the second time of the half. The first attempt ended in a field goal, but the second attempt was a Charles Clay touchdown reception. After the point-after the game was tied 10-10 with 1:51 left in the half.

Pittsburgh’s offense was able to quickly move the ball deep into Arizona territory, but a Chandler Jones strip sack of Hodges turned the potential touchdown drive into a field goal drive. Chris Boswell hit a 37-yard field goal to make the score 13-10 heading into halftime with the Steelers due to get the football to start the third quarter.

Steelers vs. Cardinals, Week 14: 1st quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 4:01pm
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

The Pittsburgh Steelers took to the road in Week 14 when they traveled to the Mountain Time Zone to play the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. The Steelers might have been on the road, but it certainly didn’t look like it considering how Steelers fans invaded the Cardinals’ home stadium.

Mike Tomlin’s crew won the opening coin toss and elected to defer their possession to the second half. Kyler Murray and company took the first possession, but only mustered one first down before punting the ball to Devlin Hodges and company.

Hodges and a good mixture of run and pass were able to move the ball into the red-zone thanks to a personal foul penalty for a defender who hit Trey Edmunds high after the play was over. All the free first down did was extend the drive, and the 8 minute affair ended with a Chris Boswell chip shot to make the score 3-0.

After Keith Butler’s defense forced a three-and-out, the punt, which was fielded by Diontae Johnson, was returned 85 yards to the house for the Steelers touchdown. The Chris Boswell point-after was good, making the score 10-0 with just 2:52 left in the first quarter.

Another three-and-out set the Steelers’ offense up to really put the hammer down, but on first down Benny Snell fumbled, and was recovered by Terrell Suggs.

The Cardinals received the ball on the Pittsburgh 34-yard line and threatening as the first quarter came to a close...

Steelers vs. Cardinals: First-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 3:10pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2019 regular season continues with the Steelers and Cardinals locking horns in Week 14. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field, and this time for the twelfth time in the 2019 regular season as they prepare to face off against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14 at State Farm Stadium.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Predicting the winner of Steelers vs. Cardinals, Week 14

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 2:14pm
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Predicting the winner of Steelers vs. Cardinals in Week 14 at State Farm Stadium.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are turning the page from their Week 13 win over the rival Cleveland Browns, and now face the Arizona Cardinals on the road in Week 14 at State Farm Stadium. On paper this game isn’t much of a contest.

The 3-8-1 Cardinals host the 7-5 Steelers in a game with huge playoff implications for the black-and-gold, but this game is anything but a lock. One reason would be the fact Mike Tomlin has never had his teams play well when traveling across country, and the big question is will there be a let down after the huge win over the Browns last week.

Picking this game just got a lot more difficult, but before I get to my pick let’s take a look at who the other side is picking...

This week I was fortunate enough to ask Revenge of the Bird’s editor Seth Cox some questions, and of course I asked him what his prediction for the game was, and you can check out his response below:

I want to believe in my favorite team, but I also am overly realistic. So, I am resigned to just hoping that the Cardinals put up a good game against the Steelers and create a bit of buzz heading into their final three games.

I see a back and forth game that the Steelers win late because the Cardinals defense can’t stop Duck.

Steelers 27 / Cardinals 26

When I think about how this game will play out I also think this game will be close. But only at first. I don’t see them falling behind 10-0 like they did to Cleveland last week, but I can see it being close heading into halftime. It is in the second half when the Steelers defense starts to stiffen and gets home.

Ultimately, I like the Steelers defense vs. a Cardinals offensive line who has surrendered a ton of sacks this season. On top of that, the Arizona defense is hardly an impenetrable force.

In other words, I like the Steelers to win and advance their record to 8-5, further solidifying their spot in the AFC Playoff Picture.

My Prediction:

Steelers - 27
Cardinals - 13

What is your prediction for the game? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold leading up to kickoff.

Artie Burns is the odd-man out and inactive Week 14 vs. Cardinals

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 2:07pm
Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

After good special teams play the last two weeks, Justin Layne earns the spirit over Burns

The Pittsburgh Steelers have released their inactives for their game against the Cardinals in Arizona. With two players ruled out with nobody else on the status report, the list is made up of five healthy scratches and two players out due to injury.

Inactives for #Steelers today in Arizona: QB Lynch, WR Smith-Schuster, CB Burns, RB Conner, OLB Skipper, T Okorafor, TE Gentry

— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) December 8, 2019

Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had previously been ruled out on Friday as he is recovering from a knee injury sustained against the Browns in Week 11. James Conner reaggravated his shoulder injury in Week 11 but was able to practice in a limited fashion for the past week and a half. Also listed as out, Conner will get another week to rest his shoulder as he is inactive.

After missing the last two games due to a knee injury, Artie Burns was ready to return for the Steelers. Instead, Justin Layne earns the spot as a key special team contributor.

As for the rest of the inactive list, it looks extremely familiar when compared to the last three weeks. Third-string quarterback Paxton Lynch is inactive yet again. The other players filling up the inactive list are TE Zach Gentry, OT Chukwuma Okorafor, and LB Tuzar Skipper.

As for the Cardinals inactives, they can be seen below courtesy of Steelers.com.

Cardinals Inactives

No. 19 WR KeeSean Johnson

No. 30 CB Jalen Davis

No. 35 S Deionte Thompson

No. 49 LB Kylie Fitts

No. 65 C Lamont Gaillard

No. 66 OT Joshua Miles

No. 82 TE Dan Arnold

Identifying the X-Factors for the Steelers in Week 14 vs. the Cardinals

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 12:37pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

There are several players for the Steelers who could be viewed as ‘X-Factors’ leading up to the game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14 in the desert. It is the Steelers’ thirtheeth game of the season, and hopefully their eighth win of the 2019 regular season.

When looking at the matchup between AFC North and NFC West foes, there are players who can be viewed as ‘X-Factors’.

What is an ‘X-Factor’?

I would describe an ‘X-Factor’ as a player who can truly alter the outcome of the game, single-handedly. Not just a plug and play type player, but a player who always has to be accounted for, no matter what.

As a clear-cut example of what an ‘X-Factor’ player would look like, think Troy Polamalu. Polamalu’s skill set made him a force to be reckoned with on every play. So, who are the ‘X-Factors’ for the Steelers Week 14 game at Arizona?

Let’s take a look...

Offensive X-Factor: Benny Snell

It was a shock to most people, including me, when Benny Snell came back from a knee injury and took the reigns as the RB1 on the team’s depth chart with James Conner out of the lineup with a shoulder injury. Each week Snell gains more confidence, and the offensive line and Randy Fichtner gain more confidence in Snell. Establishing a running game will be huge for Devlin Hodges, and that falls on the shoulder of Snell.

Defensive X-Factor: Devin Bush

Kyler Murray is one of the most elusive players in the NFL at the quarterback position, and keeping him coned into the pocket is no easy feat. The Steelers would be wise to use a spy on Murray, and I can’t think of a better play to be that spy than rookie ILB Devin Bush. Bush has the speed and athleticism to help minimize Murray’s impact on the game as a runner. However, if the Steelers deploy this defensive method with someone like Mark Barron, it could be disastrous considering Barron’s lack of top-end speed.

This week I asked Revenge of the Bird’s editor Seth Cox a series of questions leading up to the game, and I asked him who he thought the Cardinals’ ‘X-Factor’ would be. Here was his response:

On offense the X-Factor is Kyler, but that’s easy, so let’s go with Kenyan Drake and Christian Kirk.

When Drake is able to get loose, he takes a lot of pressure off of Kyler and allows the Cardinals offense to run at an efficient clip, where they are in second and third and manageable. If they are in favorable downs and distances, that allows Kliff Kingsbury to use his full repertoire of plays.

That includes Christian Kirk. Kirk has the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands, but he’s not the dominant, top receiver type. Instead, he is a weapon that is best deployed in a variety of ways that takes advantage of mismatches. If the Cardinals are running the ball, it makes Kirk and his RAC ability on play actions and RPO’s is his biggest strength. If the Cardinals aren’t running the ball well, then Kirk is usually someone that is kept in check.

On defense, Vance Joseph. He’s been awful as a defensive coordinator.

Did I mention the Cardinals defense sucks?

Who would be your ‘X-Factor’ for the game? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the upcoming game!

2019 Week 14 Early Games: Updates, news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 11:55am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers don’t play until 4:25 p.m. ET in Week 14, but we all will be watching on Sunday to see how things shake out in the early games.

The Pittsburgh Steelers won’t play until they head out to the desert to play the Arizona Cardinals at 4:25 p.m. ET in Week 14, and there are plenty of key matchups to keep an eye on in the early games this Sunday. The Steelers Nation fan base will be watching games throughout the day to see how things shake out.

Some take this day to just relax and get caught up on things outside of football, but if you are like me, you are still watching the full slate of action on Sunday.

With that said, join others like me in the open thread to talk about all of the games going on Sunday. Which game are you watching? Are you someone with NFL Sunday Ticket who has access to all games, or are you stuck watching just one or two games? Let us know, and be sure to keep tabs on all those AFC North games in the process.

As always, remember we are all here for the same reason...

GO STEELERS!

How the Cardinals defense will try and stop the Steelers offense in Week 14

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 10:54am
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a look at how the Arizona defense will try to stop the Steelers’ offense.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14 of the 2019 regular season. Entering the game with a 7-5 record, the Steelers prepare to travel to the desert for the cross-conference matchup.

With this being an unfamiliar matchup for the Steelers, there are some faces many fans want to know more about. Sure, there are the big name players in the matchup, but what about all those other players who can make a difference?

So, I wanted to get a lowdown on what the Cardinals might have in store for the Steelers by talking with Revenge of the Birds, SB Nation’s Cardinals website, editor Seth Cox to pick his brain on the upcoming matchup.

In this second of many installments, I asked Seth what he thinks the Cardinals defense will do when they have to try and stop the Steelers’ offense. Check out his response:

Umm… just throw the football. No seriously, just throw the football and you’ll win.

If Chandler Jones can’t get to the quarterback then no one can. They have the worst pass defense in the NFL, by a lot, and Vance McDonald may put up career highs in catches, yards and touchdowns in this game.

The Cardinals pass defense is the worst I have ever seen in my life.

Opposing quarterbacks average: 71.4% completion 307.5 yards, 2.6 TDs, 0.5 INTs and a 112.5 quarterback rating.

They suck.

No, the above was not a joke. This is coming from a fan who cares enough about the Cardinals he is putting time into a site dedicated to the team. So, with that said, it looks as if the Steelers could have their way with the Cardinals’ defense.

But we’ve seen this song and dance before. A team who is extremely vulnerable in one specific area and the Steelers do one of two things:

1. Declare themselves to be so smart they don’t need to take advantage of the weakness.

or

2. Think the opposition will sell out to stop the weak part of their defense, and the Steelers plan to do the total opposite.

What is really interesting for me is how weak the Cardinals’ pass defense is, and the Steelers putting Devlin Hodges out at quarterback. Will Randy Fichtner actually trust Duck to go out and not just throw for first downs, but throw to win? Or will he deploy the typical run, run, pass offense we have all grown to hate so much?

Pittsburgh would be wise to still focus on offensive balance for multiple reasons, one of them being the ability to keep Chandler Jones from pinning his ears back and getting after the quarterback. Another will be to ease the pressure off a young quarterback. Hodges has been tremendous, but fans can’t forget he is still an inexperienced rookie.

Ultimately, this is a matchup the Steelers should dominate, beating the second straight first round overall draft pick quarterback.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to keep tabs on BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Cardinals in Week 14.

Bold and Bizarre predictions for Steelers vs. Cardinals, Week 14

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 9:45am

Much to the chagrin of most, BTSC’s Nostradumbass predicts the Steelers’ matchup with Arizona.

The Steelers roll into Pittsburgh West after beating a team that many didn’t think they could. In a game that they are favored, some are afraid that this could be an Admiral Ackbar special and be a trap. However, the Steelers are much maligned on offense and in no way is any member of this team playing down to their competition.

Can Devlin Hodges keep it going? Will the Steelers win again without JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner? Will the 19 game streak of the Steelers committing a turnover continue? With these questions, story lines, and more, I’ve compiled a list of predictions (some basic, and some utterly idiotic) to look for in this pivotal contest.

Last week, I was correct on the Joe Haden interception. I was close on the strip sack, but credited it to the wrong player (Watt instead of Dupree) and close on Hodges’ stats. Thankfully, I was wrong on the outcome and final score.

  • Although the weather will be beautiful, the stadium will look like Heinz Field.
  • Bennie Snell Jr. starts making a claim for RB1 with a performance that eclipses 100 yards on the ground and a touchdown.
  • Despite the fact that he’s not playing, a street-clothed JuJu Smith-Schuster still celebrates a Steelers TD by commemorating the 67th anniversary of the subject of pregnancy being broached on television during an episode of “I Love Lucy”. To do that, No. 19 mimes birthing a baby delivered by Dr. Ramon Foster.
  • The Steelers’ defense shuts down the Cardinals offense for the most part, but Kyler Murray still finds a way to score twice (once in the air and another with his legs) on the first anniversary of his Heisman win.
  • Zach Banner continues to be ignored as a target while reporting as an eligible receiver.
  • However, the Steelers take advantage of the Cardinals ineptitude against tight ends and Vance McDonald ends with eight catches for 78 yards and a score.
  • With the Jets in Miami, Le’Veon Bell again tells his teammates he’s going to go out and get some air and that he’ll be right back. But this time, he meant the dry air of Phoenix There he commemorates tomorrow’s 39 death anniversary of John Lennon with his hip-hop version of “Watching The Wheels”. The only people to really notice are confused patron’s of a Steeler dive called “Charley’s Place” in Glendale where the performance takes place.
  • Steven Nelson records his first interception as a Steeler.
  • After sacking Baker Mayfield in Week 11 five times, the Steelers struggle to sack Murray, getting him only three times.
  • Having already surpassed thirteen players on the all-time ledger this season, T.J. Watt continues his dominance with two sacks to pass up Clark Haggans for sole possession of 11th in Steeler lore with 34.5 total and 14.5 on the season. This leaves him a sack shy of tying Lawrence Timmons and Kevin Greene for ninth and two away from the 2008 single-season mark owned by James Harrison.
  • Duck Hodges throws for 265 yards with two TDs and a pick.
  • The Steelers will end up having to put up points, and they do so with three TDs and three field goals. The Steelers prevail 30-20.

Will any of this actually happen? I’ll bet at least one or two. Heck, maybe every one of them. Be sure to post your predictions — basic or bizarre — below.

AFC Playoff Picture: A lot can change for the Steelers in one short week

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 9:10am
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers currently control their own destiny, but that can change in the blink of an eye.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 season is 12 games old, and they sit at 7-5 heading into a Week 14 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. With only four games remaining on the team’s schedule, it is now we start to take a look at the AFC Playoff Picture, and what might need to take place for the black-and-gold to get into the postseason.

After a Week 13 win over the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers are once again in the sixth seed and in control of their own destiny heading into Sunday’s game in Arizona.

Let’s take a look at where things sit heading into Week 14:

AFC Playoff Picture — Week 14

1. Baltimore Ravens (10-2) REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Bills (9-3), vs. Jets (4-8), at Browns (5-7), vs. Steelers (7-5)
2. New England Patriots (10-2) REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Chiefs (8-4), at Bengals (1-11), vs. Bills (9-3), vs. Dolphins (3-9)
3. Houston Texans (8-4) REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Broncos (4-8), at Titans (7-5), at Buccaneers (5-7), vs. Titans (7-5)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Patriots (10-2), vs. Broncos (4-8), at Bears (6-6), vs. Chargers (4-8)
5. Buffalo Bills (9-3) REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Ravens (10-2), at Steelers (7-5), at Patriots (10-2), vs. Jets (4-8)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Cardinals (3-8-1), vs. Bills (9-3), at Jets (4-8), at Ravens (10-2)

In the hunt:

7. Tennessee Titans (7-5) REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Raiders (6-6), vs. Texans (8-4), vs. Saints (10-2), at Texans (8-4)
8. Oakland Raiders (6-6) REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Titans (7-5), vs. Jaguars (4-8), at Chargers (4-8), at Broncos (4-8)
9. Indianapolis Colts (6-6) REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Buccaneers (5-7), at Saints (10-2), vs. Panthers (5-7), at Jaguars (4-8)
10. Cleveland Browns (5-7) REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Bengals (1-11), at Cardinals (3-8-1), vs. Ravens (10-2), at Bengals (1-11)

These standings will shuffle significantly in just a couple weeks, let alone by Week 17. Just take a look at the games in Week 14. The Titans vs. Raiders game will have a significant impact on the Playoff Picture. So will the Chiefs vs. Patriots, Ravens vs. Bills and of course whoever the Steelers play the rest of the season.

The Steelers still play the Bills on their schedule, at home, and a win over Buffalo would catapult them in front if there were a tie between the two teams. It is that time of year when you look at potential tie breakers, remaining schedules and see just how the seedings will fall when the dust settles.

Pittsburgh also has the head-to-head win over the Colts, and it seems the Colts, Titans and Texans could eliminate all but the division winner over the next few weeks. The Colts’ finishing schedule is easier than the Texans, but between the Texans, Titans and Colts, those three teams will certainly help pave the way for Pittsburgh to get a good look at a Wild Card spot.

It is sad to say, but the Steelers’ only hope for a playoff berth would be via the Wild Card. The Ravens look like the best team in the NFL at the current moment.

The Steelers have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL, per PFF, and taking care of their own business will leave no doubt whether they deserve a spot in the playoffs. A lot can change in just a couple weeks...

Take a look at the above standings; who do you see failing down the stretch? And which team will be a surprise to climb the rankings? Let us know in the comment section below!

Here are the Playoff Clinching Scenarios for Week 14:

Today’s NFL playoff scenarios, heading into Sunday of Week 14: pic.twitter.com/8XLhSos1JC

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 8, 2019

NFL Odds and Predictions: Picking all the Week 14 games against the spread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 8:44am
Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

BTSC’s Jeff Hartman and Dave Schofield pick all remaining NFL games both against the spread and over/under point totals

After Week 13 of the NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are still in the AFC wildcard seat as they hold the tiebreaker over the Tennessee Titans who are both sitting at 7-5. With four teams being in the tie the previous week, several games went the Steelers way. Most importantly, the Steelers need to take care of their own business moving forward.

As for the other standings around the league, there are now five teams grouped at 10-2 at the top of each conference with three teams in the NFC and two in the AFC. Week 14 matches two of these teams against each other in the New Orleans Saints hosting the San Francisco 49ers. Two other games feature teams currently in the playoffs with the Baltimore Ravens at the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs at the New England Patriots. Additionally, with their win over the Jets last week, the Cincinnati Bengals got their first win of the season so there are no winless teams remaining in the NFL.

For the 2019 NFL season, both Jeff Hartman and myself will be picking every game (except Thursdays) against the spread and the over/under point totals. Please remember we are not experts on betting or any kind of sports gamblers. We are just a couple of Steelers’ fans saying who we think will come through each week.

Last week, I made a strong push against Jeff as I took the lead in the picks against the spread and narrowed the gap in the over/under category. I managed to go 8-5 against the spread while Jeff struggled at 3-10. As for the over/under, I crushed at 11-2 while Jeff was 8-5. Jeff still holds the overall lead in the over/under as we are now both above .500 in each category.

So here are the picks for the 15 games this Sunday and Monday for Week 14 of the NFL season. Please feel free to list your choices in the comment section below and play along!

All selections are based off of the consensus data from oddsshark.com as of Saturday night.

Fan Rooting Guide: Who Steelers fans may want to root for in other games in Week 14

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 7:26am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

BTSC’s guide to the other weekend games that might impact the Steelers the most.

The revenge game is over and Pittsburgh finished it. Of course, we were all well aware of the emotions and vitriol that surrounded the matchup. We are also aware of the significance of winning vs. losing when the Steelers take the field against the Pittsburgh West in Arizona this weekend. Of course, the Steelers do still need to win, but other games still have a direct impact on them. With parity ablaze in the AFC, the playoff contenders are far from being determined. However, it starts taking more and more of a shape with every passing week.

Most of the time, Steelers fans know who to root for. But here’s a guide to significant matchups, and whose losses the Steelers would benefit more from this weekend. Once again, the Steelers need to win for this wish list to be viable. For those that argue that this is a fruitless exercise, then think of this as a rooting guide for the Steelers traded first-rounder to go later.

If the season ended today, the Steelers would be the sixth seed in the AFC, but there are plenty of teams to root for in other action.

Here are the current AFC playoff standings.

  1. Baltimore Ravens 10-2 (Would win AFC North and earn a First Round Bye)
  2. New England Patriots 10-2 (Would win AFC East and earn a First Round Bye)
  3. Houston Texans 8-4 (Would win AFC South and host Wild Card Pittsburgh)
  4. Kansas City Chiefs 8-4 (Would win AFC West and host Wild Card Buffalo)
  5. Buffalo Bills 9-3 (Would earn Wild Card and travel to Kansas City)
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-5 (Would earn Wild Card and travel to Houston)
  7. Tennessee Titans 7-5
  8. Oakland Raiders 6-6
  9. Indianapolis Colts 6-6
  10. Cleveland Browns 5-7
  11. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-8
  12. Denver Broncos 4-8
  13. Los Angeles Chargers 4-8
  14. New York Jets 4-8
  15. Miami Dolphins 3-9
  16. X Cincinnati Bengals 1-11

(X) eliminated

Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Sunday 1:00 PM

A Steeler win and an Indy loss puts Pittsburgh much closer to knocking them out of the WC race altogether.

Who to root for: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills - Sunday 1:00 PM

I know it will feel dirty to root for the Ravens, but the Steelers do benefit more from Buffalo losing.

Who to root for: Baltimore Ravens

Denver Broncos at Houston Texans - Sunday 1:00 PM

The Texans are ahead of the Steelers and could be their opponent in the playoffs (should both teams make it), but still you want the other teams ahead to fall closer to your record.

Who to root for: Denver Broncos

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns - Sunday 1:00 PM

The Browns have surpassed Cincy on the enemy list (even though the Steelers may have knocked them back) and they are technically still in it. Plus, I want to see them lose more and more and see the Bengals win their way out of the No. 1 pick.

Who to root for: Cincinnati Bengals

Kansas City Chiefs At New England Patriots - Sunday 4:25 PM

I know I’m asking a lot for you to root for Baltimore and New England in the same week. But KC needs to lose to stay in the four seed. Watching the Pats lose is always fun, but it doesn’t help Pittsburgh’s cause as much.

Who to root for: New England Patriots

Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders - Sunday 4:25 PM

Tennessee has a rough road ahead, but they need to lose now and the Steelers need a cushion going into the Buffalo game next week.

Who to root for: Oakland Raiders

Other AFC Games in Week 14:

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals: A Complete History of the Rivalry

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 6:13am
Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images

In the NFL’s 100th season, a look at the Steelers and Cardinals, now and through history.

With all the NFL 100th Season lists, I’ve been thinking about the histories of various Steeler rivalries. So every week for the rest of the year, I’ll post a retrospective preview, considering the two teams and setting up for the upcoming game.

This week: Arizona Cardinals 2019 Comparison Current Records:

Pittsburgh 7-5 (2nd AFC North)
Cardinals 3-8-1 (4th NFC West)

2019 Off/Def Comparisons:

....................................... Overall........... Pass ........... Rush........... Score

Pittsburgh Offense........291 (28th).......201 (29th)........91 (26th).......19.7 (24th)
Cardinals Defense........426 (32nd).......308 (32nd).....119 (24th).......29.3 (31st)

Cardinals Offense.........332 (23rd).........218 (22nd)...114 (14th).......21.3 (20th)
Pittsburgh Defense........317 (5th)........214 (7th)....104 (12th).......18.8 (6th)

Coaches in Common:

Ken Whisenhunt (Steelers Tight Ends coach 2001-03, Offensive Coordinator 2004-06; Cardinals Head Coach 2007-12)

Bruce Ariens (Steelers Wide Receivers coach 2004-06, Offensive Coordinator 2007-11; Cardinals Head Coach 2013-17)

Whisenhunt and Ariens each collected a Super Bowl ring as O.C. in Pittsburgh, before upgrading to H.C. in Tempe. They are two of the most successful Cardinal head coaches in team history (even though Whiz finished below .500). Whisenhunt coached more Cardinal games overall than any coach in team history (96), and guided Arizona to its only Super Bowl appearance in his second year there (where they, of course, lost to the Steelers). Ariens is the winningest coach in franchise history (with 49 wins five years) and recorded the best winning percentage for a full-time coach (.619) since Norman Berry went 16-8-2 (.667) from 1925-26. Note: the Cardinals franchise is largely where great coaches go to die, so Ariens’ and Whisenhunt’s successes are significant. Cardinal coaches who failed to match their achievements include Dennis Green, Buddy Ryan, Don Coryell, Curley Lambeau, and Ernie Nevers.

(Bonus coach: Whisenhunt also brought with him Russ Grimm, the Steelers great offensive line coach who was a finalist for the head coaching job in Pittsburgh that eventually went to Mike Tomlin.)

Player in Common (a.k.a. Pittsburgh West):

There aren’t a lot of Cardinals that made their way east to the Steel City, but the pipeline was open and active in the other direction for years. Among them:

Larry Foote (Steelers 2002-08, 2010-13 / signed with Arizona 2014)
Joey Porter (Steelers 1999-2006 / signed with Arizona 2010-13)
Bryant McFadden (Steelers 2005-08, 2010-11 / signed with Arizona 2009)
William Gay (Steelers 2007-11, 2013-17 / signed with Arizona 2012)

Team in Common:

Card-Pitt (1944). With manpower limited at the height of WWII, the Chicago Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers merged for one season, to become “Card-Pitt.” The franken-team amassed a record of 0-10 that season. (Though, in fairness to the hapless Steelers, the Cardinals combined record in the adjacent years, 1943 and 1945, was a gaudy 1-19, while the Steelers were 7-12-1 in those years.)

HISTORY: Photo by Terry Gilliam/MCT/Tribune News Service via Getty Images All-Time Records:

Steelers : 664-583-22 (.532)
Cardinals : 560-762-40 (.426)

Steelers have the 4th most wins in NFL history; 11th best all time winning percentage. Cardinals are 31st in all-time winning percentage, ahead of only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their 762 losses are the most in the league by a huge margin (the 2nd place Detroit Lions have lost 671).

Since Merger:

Steelers : 502-315-3 (.614)
Cardinals : 318-419-7 (.432)

Steelers are the winningest team in NFL since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger.
Cardinals are 25th in total wins since the merger, though of the seven teams below them, only the Lions have existed for the entire stretch. Arizona is 28th in winning percentage.

This Century:

Steelers : 212-115-2 (.648)
Cardinals : 137-175-1 (.438)

The Steelers are the #2 team in the NFL this millennium, behind the New England Patriots. Arizona sits at #24 in wins and #25 in winning percentage.

Best Early Superstar & Player/Coach

Steelers : Johnny “Blood” McNally (player: 1934, 1937-38 / coach: 1937-39)
Cardinals : Ernie Nevers (player: 1929-31 / coach: 1930-31, 1939)

What were the starting QBs this time last year?:

Steelers: Devlin Hodges : 2018 Walter Payton Award Winner, given to top offensive football player at FCS level
Cardinals : Kyler Murray : 2018 Heisman Trophy Winner, given to top overall player at FBS level

Nearly a Second Title Match:

In 1947, the Steelers had the best season in their 14 year history, tying the Philadelphia Eagles for the Eastern Division crown, and forcing a rare playoff to determine who would go to the NFL Title Game. It was the only post-season appearance in team history before Chuck Noll arrived, though it probably deserves an asterisk because the game was not a regularly scheduled playoff. In any case, the Eagles won 21-0 and went on to play none other than the Chicago Cardinals for the NFL Title. The Cardinals won 28-21, their most recent NFL Championship. They would return to the title game in 1948, losing the rematch with those same Eagles 7-0. It would then be 60 years before they returned, in Super Bowl XLIII. Oddly, they had to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game for a chance to play the Steelers that year.

Best Quarterback Retread:

Steelers: Bobby Layne (1958-61). A huge personality, a Hall of Famer, and a two-time NFL champion with the Detroit Lions, Layne was the most successful Steelers quarterback of all time until Terry Bradshaw came to town. He went 22-12 in three seasons in Pittsburgh, and more than once noted that his biggest regret as a player was not being able to bring home a title for Art Rooney.

Cardinals : Kurt Warner (2006-11). Hall of Famer, Super Bowl champion, MVP, and NFL MVP with the St. Louis Rams, Warner is the most successful quarterback in Cardinals history. Despite the presence of Jim Hart and Neil Lomax in Cardinal red, Warner holds nearly every team passing record, and came 34 seconds from bringing a Lombardi home to Phoenix.

HEAD TO HEAD: All-Time Series:

Pittsburgh 34 – 23 – 3

Playoff Series:

Pittsburgh 1 – 0 (Super Bowl XLIII)

Current Streak:

Pittsburgh 3w

Longest Streak:

Pittsburgh – 7 games (1950-53)
Cardinals – 5 games (1963-65)

First game: September 27, 1933

Pittsburgh Pirates – 14
Chicago Cardinals – 13

The second game in franchise history, this was the Pirates/Steelers first ever win. It also featured the first two touchdowns in team history (they’d lost their opener to the Giants 23-2). Pittsburgh finished the year 3-6-2, dead last in the Eastern Division, while the Cardinals finished 1-9-1, dead last in the Western Division. The Pirates trailed 13-0 in the second quarter, before Marty Kottler returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown. (I’m not sure who threw the INT because the Cardinals had—and I’m not kidding—TEN players throw passes that season, and eight of them threw interceptions. On the year, the Cardinal passers threw three touchdowns and thirty picks, for a spectacular 8.8 QB rating as a team.) Anyway, Bill Tanguay would throw an 11 yard TD to Paul Moss in the fourth quarter for the game winner, making the first offensive touchdown in franchise history also the completion of their first fourth quarter comeback. It was Tanguay’s only career touchdown pass.

Most Recent game: October 18, 2015

Pittsburgh – 25
Cardinals – 13

Landry Jones vs Carson Palmer. Michael Vick actually started the game, but went down early after completing three passes in eight attempts, for six yards (giving him one yard of net passing, after a sack). Jones, never a big arm, wound up throwing two touchdowns to Martavis Bryant, including an 88 yarder in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Palmer passed for 421 yards, but committed three turnovers, and the Steelers won their second straight without Ben Roethlisberger.

Fun side note: all three quarterbacks who took a snap that day, plus the player of the game (Bryant) are currently out of the NFL, just four years later. Yikes.

Biggest Game in the Series: February 1, 2009 (Super Bowl 43)

Pittsburgh – 27
Cardinals – 23

You can have your “helmet catch” or the “Philly Special,” but I maintain this was the best Super Bowl in history. Both offenses played inspired; both defenses rose up when it mattered. The coaching on both sides was brilliant, and the drama (on-field and off) was worthy of John Facenda. Given the stakes, this was the best overall football game I think I’ve ever seen.

Reasonable people can disagree with the above claim, but let’s admit right away, this was a terrific contest, with two fourth quarter comebacks and at least three plays that were all-time highlights (Santonio Holmes game winning touchdown catch; Larry Fitzgerald’s go-ahead 64 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, and of course James Harrison’s 100 yard interception return before halftime—perhaps the greatest play in championship history). The teams were thrillingly mismatched, with the 9-7 Cardinals in their first title appearance in 61 years, while the 12-4 Steelers were in their second Super Bowl in four years, and were shooting for their record sixth Lombardi. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who became the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl, squared up against the two men who almost got his job, Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm. Both quarterbacks played the best versions of their Hall of Fame careers (Kurt Warner’s surgical deep balls; Ben Roethlisberger’s precision sandlot game). Both defenses created thrilling chaos as well, with the Cardinals recording an interception, a safety, and a goal line stand and the Steelers led by James Harrison’s historic pick-6 and Lamarr Woodley’s game-sealing sacks. This contest could have had five different players win MVP (Holmes, Harrison, Roethlisberger, Warner, or Fitzgerald). How often has that ever been true?

I think the reason this game feels so perfect is that neither team “lost” this game. There was no Jackie Smith or Scott Norwood or Neil O’Donnell in this one — it was won by spectacular play. Harrison’s interception, for example, was simply brilliant, first intellectually, then physically. Meanwhile, there’s also no shame in getting burned by Larry Fitzgerald and Kurt Warner, especially during the the greatest playoff run for a wide receiver in NFL history. And of course, the touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Holmes was borderline indefensible. As the Cardinals astonished color man put it, “I can’t even believe Roethlisberger threw that ball.” It was greatness against greatness. I don’t know how you beat that.

Memorable Games: September 2007

Pittsburgh – 14
Cardinals – 21

Mike Tomlin loses his first ever game, and it comes against Ken Whisenhunt/Russ Grimm’s Cardinals. It wasn’t a particularly meaningful game in any other way, but that’s a pretty big angle already. Tomlin, always clever and full of big-picture perspective, opened his post-game press conference saying, “I hate to tell you guys, but I’m probably gonna lose a few more before this thing is said and done.”

November 30, 1969

Pittsburgh – 10
Cardinals – 47

The last game before Steelers jump to AFC, and the final loss in Chuck Noll’s inaugural 1-13 season. The 1969 St. Louis Cardinals were not world-beaters, but this was a bad Steelers team.

November 10, 1968

Pittsburgh – 28
St. Louis – 28

November 12, 1967

Pittsburgh – 14
St. Louis – 14

Despite being a year apart, these were consecutive games. I’ve never heard of division rivals who tied twice in a row (both games were in St. Louis – the Cardinals won the games in Pittsburgh both years). These were lousy Steelers teams—their collective record over 1967-68 was 6-20-2—but the Cardinals were not terrible (their record for the same stretch was 15-11-2). There’s something to be said for knowing the opponent, I guess. But this is bizarre stuff.

December 22, 1957

Pittsburgh – 27
Chicago – 2

I pulled out this game just because 27-2 is such a strange score. (FYI, the Cardinals safety was recorded when a punt snap sailed over the punter’s head in the 3rd quarter.) But this Steeler team is a mystery.

Two years removed from discarding Johnny Unitas, the Steelers quarterback room included 2nd year Pro Bowler Earl Morrall (the best backup QB in league history) and rookies Jack Kemp (who later starred with the AFL Bills, before serving as a U.S. Senator and Vice Presidential nominee) and Len Dawson (who would go on to the Hall of Fame as a Kansas City Chief). The next year, they would jettison Kemp and Morrall to bring in Hall of Famer Bobby Layne, who would guide the team to winning records for the next two years (the only time the Steelers were at .500 or above for three consecutive years in team history until 1972). That defense also featured Hall of Famers Jack Butler and Ernie Stautner, and was coached by two-time NFL champion, Buddy Parker, who’d taken Layne and the Lions to titles in 1952 and 1953, and was the only Steelers coach to retire over .500 before Chuck Noll.

I don’t get it. Why weren’t these guys better?

September 24, 1939

Pittsburgh – 0
Chicago – 10

Hall of Famer and all-time great, Ernie Nevers (who’d once scored still-record 40 points in a single game as Cardinals tailback and kicker), had been coaching college football since 1932. He returned to the NFL to coach the Cardinals for one year, finishing 1-10 before quitting to settle in San Francisco. Guess what his only win was. Meanwhile, the then-Pittsburgh Pirates had lost their best player from the previous year when Byron “Whizzer” White quit football to accept a Rhodes scholarship on his way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The team responded by going 1-9-1 in 1939. Two teams with a combined record of 2-19-1, battling to a 10-0 final score? This game must have been a barn-burner. Good god.

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