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Steelers Stock Report: See whose stock is rising, and falling, after the win over Jacksonville

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 10:45am

Time to check in on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Stock Report heading into Week 12.

There is nothing quite like the satisfaction that comes along with lambasting your favorite team in the wake of a crappy loss. Stewing in the vitriol is pure, cathartic bliss. I know this feeling, because I was fully prepared to write a scathing rebuke of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wake of their contemptible effort against the Jacksonsville Jaguars on Sunday.

The first two and a half quarters of that game represented the nadir of Steelers football in 2018, and maybe of the Ben Roethlisberger/Mike Tomlin era. Roethlisberger’s performance for the first 40 or so minutes was an affront to professional quarterbacking; he was truly atrocious, throwing three horrific interceptions (he threw four, but he was bailed out by yet another controversial roughing the pass call) and was sitting on a gruesome 10.1 QB rating at the half. Moreover, Pittsburgh’s defense—which is statistically among the stingiest run defenses in the NFL—was gutted by Jacksonville’s rushing attack. When bearded refrigerator Leonard Fournette blasted through a wall of Steelers defenders to give the Jaguars a 16-0 lead with 2:09 remaining in the third quarter, I considered getting a head start on this column. Road Ben is back, and he is trash, I would opine furiously.

That...obviously did not happen. Now I’m stuck reformatting this blog thanks to the Steelers’ furious fourth quarter comeback. Shame on my defeatism and negativity. My stock is down. Let’s check on everyone else.

Stock up: Adjustments

I’d like to begin this week’s proceedings with a semi-rhetorical question that I suppose probably doubles as a medium-well take: Was Pittsburgh’s 20-16 come-from-behind victory the result of grit and tenacity and relentless moxie, or were the Steelers merely beneficiaries of Jacksonville’s grisly end-of-game management? Probably it’s both things, but I think it’s slightly more the latter thing.

Here are the results of Jacksonville’s four offensive series following the above-mentioned Fournette touchdown: three plays, six yards, 2:03 seconds taken off the clock; three plays, -14 yards, 2:22 taken off the clock; three plays, -1 yard, 1:41 taken off the clock; three plays, six yards, 46 seconds taken off the clock. Every play resulted in Fournette or Carlos Hyde diving right into the center’s buttcheeks for no gain, Bortles being sacked, or Bortles dumping the ball off to T.J. Yeldon or a tight end. It was textbook Playing Not To Lose.

There is also the matter of the Blake Bortles Paradox, which asks: Can a player be held responsible for a loss in which they did not make any tangible contributions to the losing effort? Bortles did not play particularly well or singlehandedly put the Jaguars in a position to win Sunday’s game, but there were no singular moments that one could reasonably pinpoint as the backbreaker. That said, it is...surprising...that, despite gashing the Steelers for nearly 180 rushing yards and despite the Steelers completely overloading the tackle box to prevent further gashings, Jacksonville didn’t even attempt a play-action pass—a play that, if you’ll recall, allowed the Jaguars to hang 45 points on the Steelers in the playoffs last season—to essentially seal that game. Them utilizing the game plan they did is an absolutely damning indictment not only of Blake Bortles’s quarterbacking acumen, but also the team’s faith in Blake Bortles’s leadership. As I sit here and write this, I can’t even say with certainty that Doug Marrone and his staff made the wrong decision by taking the ball out of Bortles’s hands. This is an unnecessarily circuitous way of saying that, had the Jaguars been playing with a quarterback that allowed for the seamless implementation of an aggressive game plan (or anyone except for Blake Bortles), they probably would’ve Sunday’s game.

Still, that’s all highly speculative and thus I won’t waste another second sullying a classic victory with conjecture; let’s discuss the particulars of the comeback.

The most obvious adjustments were the defensive ones made by the Steelers near the end of the third quarter, which immediately followed a 10-play (eight of which were running plays), 80-yard scoring drive by the Jaguars. On that drive and for much of the game to that point, the Jaguars seemed to gain five, six, or seven yards on every run, which enabled them to dictate time of possession (which, by extension, probably negatively impacted Roethlisberger’s flow and the offense’s continuity). I do not claim to be a strong knower of X’s and O’s, but it didn’t require an astute observer to realize that, hey, the Jaguars sure are interested in running the ball, especially with that very large football boy (Fournette played 34 snaps Sunday but logged 28 rushing attempts—like, it was pretty evident what was gonna happen when he lined up behind or next to Bortles). It took a while, but the Steelers defense eventually took steps to reduce the large football boy’s impact on the game, which put the offense in a position to win the game. Speaking of...

Stock....up? Even? Maybe slightly down since he was literally perfect a week ago?: Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger had as many interceptions Sunday as he did incompletions in last week’s destruction of the Carolina Panthers—which, honest to God, is pretty much right in line with recent trends; in three games against Jacksonville dating back to last season, he’s somehow thrown nine (nine!) interceptions. The Jaguars do have a marvelous secondary, one comprised of the league’s topmost cornerback twosome in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, but it is baffling to me that, despite having played the Jaguars twice in the past 13 months and presumably having hours of gamefilm to analyze, Roethlisberger was so stunningly inept for most of Sunday’s proceedings. Now, it is absolutely true that Ramsey made remarkable, borderline inhuman plays on the ball to secure two of the aforementioned picks, but it also true that the league’s best cornerbacks generally do not intercept many passes, which is largely the result of quarterbacks rightly avoiding their half of the field. That Roethlisberger managed to throw two interceptions to Ramsey indicates that he was either careless or trying entirely too hard to get the ball to Antonio Brown.

He figured things out eventually, of course. On the series following Fournette’s touchdown run, Roethlisberger uncorked a massive, tremendously wet bomb in the direction of Brown, who had managed to slip behind the secondary. The 78-yard scoring strike—the longest scoring reception of Brown’s career—trimmed Jacksonville’s lead to 16-6, but a failed two-point conversion still left the Steelers two possessions behind. The Steelers turned the ball over on downs on their next offensive possession, but scored touchdowns on each of their next two drives, the latter of which featured Roethlisberger dragging his meaty corpse into the end-zone to score the go-ahead touchdown with five seconds on the clock on what was a broken play or quite possibly a poorly-designed run-pass option. Behold, in all its glory:

Screw the end of that game, by the way. On the play right before this, Roethlisberger threw what appeared to be a game-ending interception (fortunately, D.J. Hayden’s attempt to remove Ryan Switzer’s tiny head from his tiny body was spotted by the line judge and the requisite flag was issued). On the play before that, Brown caught an extremely clutch 25-yard pass on 3rd and 10; on the play before that, James Conner dropped what should have been the game-winning touchdown. I’m 27 years old and I legitimately thought I was having a heart attack. I hereby dub the Roethlisberger touchdown the Immaculate Hypertension.

Stock up: The pass rush

T.J. Watt picked up a pair of sacks (and forced a pair of fumbles), thereby extending his team lead to 10 and becoming the first Steelers linebacker since James Harrison to register 10 or more sacks in a single season. It’s kinda fortuitous that the Steelers have moved on from Le’Veon Bell, because they’re gonna need that money to pay Watt.

For most of Sunday’s game, the only effective defender on the field was Javon Hargrave, who, much like Watt, sacked Bortles twice and spent most of his afternoon toiling about Jacksonville’s backfield.

Stock up: Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster

With his 78-yard catch and run Sunday, Brown leads the league with 11 touchdowns and can break the record for most consecutive games with one or more receiving touchdowns this weekend against Denver. As per usual, he was great.

JuJu Smith-Schuster was also great, but his greatness was a little more pronounced than Brown’s. Look at this play!

Big time players make big time plays in big time games! Part 1 pic.twitter.com/afBqupCLE2

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) November 18, 2018

To assign due credit, Roethlisberger could not have thrown a more perfect ball; but look at how Smith-Schuster uses his butt to shield Ramsey and spins clockwise toward the sideline to ensure that no one but him has a chance to catch this football. Ramsey had him blanketed, too, which makes this play all the more impressive. On Pittsburgh’s final drive of the game, Smith-Schuster went ahead and did almost the exact same thing, only this time victimizing Bouye.

Juju Smith-Schuster is a human highlight reel.

( : @NFL) pic.twitter.com/MqlhNuVqEy

— theScore (@theScore) November 18, 2018

The Chiefs, Rams, and Saints all boast exceptional offensive arsenals, but it’s difficult to find a receiving duo comparable to Brown and Smith-Schuster.

AFC Playoff Picture: Steelers stay put as the No. 2 seed heading into Week 12

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 9:37am

It is time to start tracking where the Steelers stand in the AFC Playoff Picture, and it is so-far-so-good for the black-and-gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a come from behind win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 11, and with the rest of the AFC wrapping up their games this week, it is time to put things in perspective as it relates to the AFC Playoff Picture.

Sure, there is still a lot of football left to be played, but at the same time it doesn’t hurt to look ahead and see just where every resides, and who they have coming up, to get a grip on the Conference Playoff scenarios.

After Pittsburgh’s horrid start to the season, they have rebounded to the tune of 6 straight wins and, thanks to some losses to other AFC competitors, and have catapulted themselves up into the No. 2 spot in the AFC Playoff Picture.

So, before we go any further, time to update the Playoff Picture heading into Week 12.

AFC Playoff Picture Week 12

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Raiders (2-8), vs. Ravens (5-5), vs. Chargers (7-3), at Seahawks (5-5), vs. Raiders (2-8)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1)REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Broncos (4-6), vs. Chargers (7-3), at Raiders (2-8), vs. Patriots (7-3), at Saints (9-1), vs. Bengals (5-5)
3. New England Patriots (7-3)REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Jets (3-7), vs. Vikings (5-4-1), at Dolphins (5-5), at Steelers (7-2-1), vs. Bills (3-7), vs. Jets (3-7)
4. Houston Texans (7-3)REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Titans (5-5), vs. Browns (3-6-1), vs. Colts (5-5), at Jets (3-7), at Eagles (4-6), vs. Jaguars (3-7)
5. Los Angeles Chargers (7-3)REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Cardinals (2-8), at Steelers (7-2-1), vs. Bengals (5-5), at Chiefs (9-1), vs. Ravens (5-5), at Broncos (4-6)
6. Baltimore Ravens (5-5)REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Raiders (2-8), at Falcons (4-6), at Chiefs (9-1), vs. Buccaneers (3-7), at Chargers (7-3), vs. Browns (3-6-1)
_________

In the hunt:

7. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5) — REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Browns (3-6-1), vs. Broncos (4-6), at Chargers (7-3), vs. Raiders (2-8), at Browns (3-6-1), at Steelers (7-2-1)
8. Miami Dolphins (5-5)REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Colts (5-5), vs. Bills (3-7), vs. Patriots (7-3), at Vikings (5-4-1), vs. Jaguars (3-7), at Bills (3-7)
9. Indianapolis Colts (5-5) — REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Dolphins (5-5), at Jaguars (3-7), at Texans (7-3), vs. Cowboys (5-5), vs. Giants (3-7), at Titans (5-5)
10. Tennessee Titans (5-5) — REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Texans (7-3), vs. Jets (3-7), vs. Jaguars (3-7), at Giants (3-7), vs. Redskins (6-4), vs. Colts (5-5)
11. Denver Broncos (4-6)REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Steelers (7-2-1), at Bengals (5-5), at 49ers (2-8), vs. Browns (3-6-1), at Raiders (2-8), vs. Chargers (7-3)

There has been no change between in the Top 5 teams in the AFC, with a big jumbled mess all vying for the 6th, and final, spot in the playoff picture.

As for Pittsburgh, their remaining schedule is riddled with teams who are at, or near, the top of the playoff race. The Chargers, Bengals and Patriots will all come to Heinz Field in the coming weeks as the regular season winds down.

The fun is just beginning...

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!

If the Steelers wanted revenge on the Jaguars, they got it in the best possible way

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 8:33am

The Steelers got revenge on the Jaguars in the most improbable fashion.

I wrote over the weekend that the Steelers should have been concentrating on winning and not revenge as they prepared for a Week 11 match-up with the Jaguars and TIAA Bank Field.

It’s tough to say what the Steelers had on their minds for the majority of Sunday’s action under the Florida sun, but the one thing that seemed absolutely clear was the continued mastery Jacksonville had over Pittsburgh dating back to October 8 of last season.

Much like the two match-ups in 2017, the Jaguars ran all over Pittsburgh’s defense to the tune of 179 yards total.

As for the performance of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, it was so bad for most of the day—he was intercepted three times by the 8:02 mark of the third quarter—people were speculating on Twitter about whether or not he should have been pulled from the game.

Speaking of Pittsburgh’s offense, its first nine possessions ended in either a punt or those three aforementioned interceptions by Roethlisberger, with the third one occurring in the end zone, just when it looked like the Steelers would cut into Jacksonville’s 9-0 lead.

Instead, the Jaguars seemed to put the final nail in Pittsburgh’s five-game winning-streak with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by a two-yard touchdown dive by, who else, Leonard Fournette, the second-year running back who tortured the Steelers’ defense in both losses a year ago.

The Jaguars were up 16-0, and even though a victory would only improve their record to 4-6, they surely had to be feeling good that one part of their program as a young and talented team—dominance over the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers—was still alive and well.

Unfortunately for the Jaguars, their dominance over Pittsburgh evidently has an expiration date, and the milk seemed to spoil very late in the third quarter.

From that moment on, the Steelers out-gained Jacksonville 249 to minus-three in yards and and out-scored them 20-0 in points.

The Steelers final yard was gained by Roethlisberger, who capped off the game-winning drive with a touchdown dive of his own with five seconds left.

Despite one of the most ineffective days of his career, Roethlisberger wound up with 314 yards through the air and two passing touchdowns to go along with the game-winner he scored with his legs.

Despite frustrating the holy heck out of Antonio Brown and terrorizing Roethlisberger with two of his three interceptions, Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey was torched when it mattered the most, on a 25-yard hookup from Roethlisberger to Brown down to the two-yard line in the final minute.

As for a Steelers defense that was effectively gashed by the Jaguars running game yet again, it may have bent a lot, but it only broke once. Meanwhile, Blake Bortles, the quarterback who managed to defeat Pittsburgh last October despite passing for less than 100 yards, couldn’t come through when his team needed him to, managing a measly 104 yards through the air, while getting sacked six times.

The Jaguars do seem to have a knack for making the Steelers look bad and unprepared. That was on display again for all to see on Sunday.

Yet, the Steelers not only walked away with a victory, they did so in improbable fashion, right when it looked like they would— at least temporarily—save Jacksonville’s season.

Turns out the Steelers really did exact their revenge on the Jaguars—and they stole their souls in the process.

T.J. Watt becomes first Steelers’ linebacker to record 10 sacks in a season since 2010

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 7:29am

Pittsburgh had not seen an outside linebacker record double-digit sacks in 7 seasons until T.J. Watt passed that milestone on Sunday.

For a team that earned its Blitzburgh nickname on back of the pass-rushing talents of their outside linebackers, the team’s sack numbers have not always been deserving of that moniker as of late. The 2017 season may have seen a rebirth in production, breaking the Pittsburgh Steelers all-time record for sacks with 56, but it was the efforts of players like Cameron Heyward (12 sacks) and Vince Williams (8) that truly made the difference last year.

While some might fairly argue that the style of Keith Butler’s defense requires his edge-rushers to drop in to coverage more than ever before, it would seem that T.J. Watt is bringing the sacks back to the outside linebacker position in 2018. With two more sacks against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Watt has now recorded 10 quarterback takedowns on the season, the first time a Pittsburgh outside linebacker has managed that feat since James Harrison finished the year with 10.5 in 2010.

Double-team? Not stopping @_TJWatt. pic.twitter.com/dm9iWOQ0yg

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 18, 2018

Currently in a fourth place tie for the league lead in sacks behind Aaron Donald (14.5), Danielle Hunter (11.5) and Chandler Jones (10.5), T.J. recorded both back-to-back sacks and back-to-back forced fumbles in a game for the first time in his career on Sunday. His 17 sacks in barely two seasons of football is now the most by any Steelers’ defender through their first two years in the league, surpassing a record of 15.5 set by LaMarr Woodley in 2007 and 2008.

Those hoping that T.J. might have some of the qualities of his older brother should be pleased to see how his production has mirror J.J.’s so far in 2018.

JJ’s #Texans have won seven in a row, TJ’s #Steelers have won six in a row. And after checking his girlfriend’s Sweet Sixteen soccer score, the first thing TJ wanted to know was if big brother JJ had won. #family pic.twitter.com/32uqyx1cQU

— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) November 19, 2018

The 2010 season was also the last time Pittsburgh ended the year with two players showing double-digit sacks, but that milestone might be a step too far this season. Heyward currently sits second on the team with 5.5 sacks and Javon Hargrave is third with five. However, we would be remiss if we did not also point out that Hargrave deserves some credit for more than doubling his career totals with his first two sack game as a professional on Sunday.

Javon Hargrave gets to the QB for his 4th sack of the 2018 season

This extends his single-season career high #HereWeGo #Steelers pic.twitter.com/sNRwsLU2UD

— Steelers on MWSN (@SteelersMWSN) November 18, 2018

Steelers open as 3.5-point favorites over Broncos in Week 12

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 6:26am

Pittsburgh are just over a field goal favorites for a tough matchup with the Broncos in Denver next Sunday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are doing whatever it takes to win in 2018, be it blow out victories or last second comebacks and they will face another strong challenge in Week 12. At 4-6, the Denver Broncos might not be the toughest team the Steelers’ have left on their schedule, but they can be hard to beat at Mile High Stadium.

Coming off their own last minute win over an impressive Chargers team in Los Angeles on Sunday, the Broncos proved they are not a team to be taken lightly. They may only have won twice in their last eight outings, but it would appear the bookmakers are all too aware of the challenge the Broncos represent.

Pittsburgh has opened as 3.5-point favorites for the matchup in Denver, a venue they have not won at since 2009. Losers of their last three at Mile High, the Broncos currently enjoy a 19-11-1 record over the Steelers dating back to 1970. As of Tuesday this spread had fallen to 3-points with most online bookmakers, but was still at its opening position with most of the Las Vegas sportsbooks.

An early totals position of 47.5-points looks like a reasonable starting point for this contest, while an initial money line price of -192 has fallen somewhat since Sunday, with -170 now the more common offering from most online providers. Pittsburgh is 6-3-1 against the spread on the season and Denver is 4-5-1.

Podcast: Did Jaguars give away the game, or did the Steelers take it?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 5:38am

Time to check in on all things black-and-gold after the Steelers late win over the Jags on the podcast ‘Steelers Hangover’.

Once again, the Steelers won a game on the road. But they looked far from dominant doing it. Was the 20-16 win over Jacksonville proof that Pittsburgh can win while playing subpar football most of the game or will it eventually catch up? BTSC’s Bryan Anthony Davis and Anthony Defeo took a day to recover and asked your opinion of the terrain ahead in the latest edition of Steelers Hangover.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the call-in extravaganza. On this show, the fellas discussed the good, the bad and the ugly, plus the path ahead.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Reactions
  • Grades/Valedictorian/Honor Roll
  • Calls
  • Did Jacksonville give away the game or did the Steelers take it?
  • Closing Time/Looking forward to Denver
  • and MUCH MORE!

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: Steelers learned some very valuable lessons in the narrow win over the Jaguars

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 4:34am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers have now won six straight games and continue to “stack wins.” After their 20-16 come from behind win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 11, the team now has to turn the page quickly before they travel again, this time to Denver to play the Broncos in Week 12.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article, we talk about how despite the win in Week 11, the Pittsburgh Steelers should have learned some very valuable lessons throughout the 20-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

These lessons are more than the typical “don’t play down to your opponents” type talk, but a focus on details which turned the tide against a very good defense, and stopped a very good running game, when it mattered the most.

Let’s get to the news:

Kevin Gorman: Steelers should learn lessons from Jaguars game

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Mike Tomlin talked about the lessons to be learned for the Pittsburgh Steelers, not just from their comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars but the failures that required the fourth-quarter rally.

Where Tomlin couldn’t overlook the deep hole the Steelers dug for themselves, he also was impressed with the character his team showed in the 20-16 victory over the Jaguars Sunday at TIAA Bank Field.

“That’s football, man. That’s team,” Tomlin said. “We weren’t perfect today but we did the job, rising up to support their brother. There was a lot of that because there was a lot of failure. But that failure has got something to do with the execution of the Jacksonville Jaguars and their plan and their coaching and their play. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that.”

These weren’t the Jaguars that beat the Steelers twice at Heinz Field last season, ending their season in the AFC divisional playoff round. This was a Jacksonville team that had lost five consecutive games, and Jaguars coach Doug Marrone was trying not to lose his locker room.

The Steelers were riding a five-game winning streak, coming off an impressive 52-21 Thursday night victory over Carolina. Tomlin gave his players a five-day break as a reward for their short-week success. It was as if the Steelers went into a time warp, reverting back to the way they played through the first four games of the season.

What should have served the Steelers well proved instead to be disruptive to their rhythm. The offense had none in the first half, accounting for 66 yards total offense and two turnovers. Ben Roethlisberger had a 10.1 passer rating at halftime, and that was only after completing 5 of 6 passes in a late second-quarter drive.

The Jaguars were surprised to see the Steelers abandon the run game so quickly, as James Conner had five carries for 13 yards in the first half and Roethlisberger came up short on a quarterback sneak.

But the Steelers defense didn’t allow the Jaguars to turn Roethlisberger’s two first-half interceptions into touchdowns, a key after he had a pair of pick-sixes against the Jaguars in the 30-9 regular season loss last year and two turnovers that led to touchdowns in the 45-42 playoff loss. Instead, Jacksonville settled for three field goals and a 9-0 halftime lead.

When the Jaguars did just that in the third quarter, answering Jalen Ramsey’s end-zone interception with a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ended with Leonard Fournette’s 2-yard touchdown dive, the Steelers could have fallen apart. Instead, they showed character.

“I think we always play better when we’re behind,” Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said. “We stuck together. There was nobody doubting each other. We’re one team, one unity and we kept that faith.”

Steelers wide receivers win war of words with Jaguars corners

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Jacksonville Jaguars boasted the NFL’s top-ranked pass defense, and they let the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers hear about it all game.

“There was a lot of talking with them, in my ear talking a lot of stuff,” Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said, self-censoring their comments by making a beeping sound. “But that’s what they do. I give it up to them. They played really great.”

Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown played even better in the Steelers’ 20-16 victory Sunday over the Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field, as both eclipsed the 100-yard mark and made catches that propelled a comeback.

Brown finished with five receptions for 117 yards, none bigger than his 78-yard touchdown catch on a broken play late in the third quarter to put the Steelers on the scoreboard. Ben Roethlisberger’s pass appeared to be intended for Smith-Schuster, who drew a pass-interference penalty on free safety Jarrod Wilson, but Brown was all alone and ran under it.

Brown wouldn’t divulge what happened on the play.

“I’ve got to go back,” Brown said, smiling. “It’s a long day. I kind of don’t remember.”

Smith-Schuster had a game-high eight catches for 104 yards, and made some memorable plays to spark the second scoring drive. He caught three consecutive passes, for gains of 9, 21 and 9 yards, to set up tight end Vance McDonald’s touchdown catch that cut it to 16-13.

Smith-Schuster’s first two catches came against Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye; the next two came on back-shoulder throws against All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey, who had two interceptions.

Bouye warned Ramsey not to take the fourth-quarter letdown personally despite their sixth consecutive loss.

“I told him it’s more of a mental thing,” Bouye said. “We threw our egos to the side and we knew that we weren’t doing what we needed to do as a defense, especially in the back end where we’re the No. 1 pass defense. But we’re busting plays, but we play as a group. We did a lot of good things out there but we can’t just let that last drive hurt our confidence.”

‘We can use this’: Steelers get ultimate win-win in Jax

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

A voice boomed through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ postgame locker room scene, letting everyone know his team was supposed to get buried Sunday.

”But not us,” coach Mike Tomlin said after the 20-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Not only does a six-game win streak stay alive, but the Steelers also got the ultimate win-win by playing poorly enough to learn from an ugly victory.

The Steelers showed that they can find creative ways to win amid a collapsing game plan by exhausting every second of the 60-minute game clock, being the more physical team on defense and believing that their bevy of playmakers will prevail most weeks.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger used the words “terrible” and “horrible” to describe the offense and his three-interception performance, but he almost wore those words proudly because of what the win represents.

While the fourth-quarter offense racked up 179 yards and two touchdowns, the Steelers’ defense held Jacksonville to minus-3 yards.

Through it all, defensive players were encouraging Roethlisberger from the sideline, telling him, “All right, Ben, you’ve got this.”

”They never stopped believing in us. We believe in them and thank them,” Roethlisberger said. “I hope if we get in a situation again toward the end of the season where one of us isn’t playing well, we can show that, ‘Hey, remember that game in Jacksonville when it didn’t look good until the final eight seconds and we found way?’ Hopefully we can use this.”

Most importantly, the Steelers’ offense learned that it has a defense that can bail it out on occasion. That didn’t look like a possibility when the Steelers were giving up six touchdowns to Patrick Mahomes in Week 2. Things have settled down, and so has a defense that has adequately handled pure passers, read-option passers and run-heavy sets the past six weeks.

This defense might just be built for January.

“Those are the ones you want to win -- when it’s ugly,” Cam Heyward said. “It shows a lot of character, lot of maturity.”

Podcast: ‘Steelers Hangover’ returns tonight at 9:30 p.m. EST

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 8:08pm

BTSC recaps the Steelers last second win in Jacksonville and opens the phones to you, the listener, to join in.

Join Bryan Davis and Anthony Defeo from BTSC for the day after extravaganza known as “Steelers Hangover”. The Steelers improved their record to 7-2-1 in a non-dominant fashion and a second half comeback not seen since 2007 with their 20-16 victory over Jacksonville. Tony and Bryan will discuss the game and look to hear from you.

Check out a rundown of the show:

- Reactions

- Grades/Valedictorian and Honor Roll

- Calls

- Did Jacksonville give away the game or did the Steelers take it?

- Looking ahead to Denver

- and MUCH MORE!

You can listen to the show live by logging onto our BlogTalkRadio page at 9:30 p.m. EST but WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! What did you think about the game, the upcoming regular season or whatever you want to talk about Steelers related. Simply dial (347) 850-8581 anytime during the show to make your voice heard!

Roosevelt Nix is a “Glue Guy” for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 2:52pm

Every successful football team has a player or two that is universally respected by the other players and can be counted on to help hold things together when the proverbial crap hits the fan. Roosevelt Nix fits that description for the Steelers.

There is one in every kindergarten class. That one kid who would rather eat paste than use it to glue the pieces of macaroni to the paper in the shape of a turkey so his parents could stick it on the fridge proudly for the whole family to admire for Thanksgiving. "Little Timmy is so talented the other kids call him Elmer", his parents joyously proclaim, not realizing the nickname was short for Elmer's Glue. I always wondered if that nickname stuck with him his whole life.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have their own glue guy, and his name is Roosevelt 'Rosie' Nix. As the starting fullback for the Steelers powerful offense, Nix is often left standing on the sidelines for large portions of the Steelers offensive snaps, but he always finds a way to make his presence felt.

A fullback gets paid to have violent, full speed collisions with other individuals. Not a job for the faint of heart. Rosie does his job better than most, seeing how he represented the AFC in the Pro Bowl last season. He displays a certain zest for his job. He understands the leverage required to move an opponent, many larger than himself, in a direction against their will. His high school wrestling background undoubtedly proves invaluable in this endeavor. The running backs for whom he has lead the way may have changed, but their production has not, in no small way the result of his blocking prowess.

A exceptional fullback has to display incredible versatility, and that description fits Rosie Nix quite well. He is, all at the same time, a mini offensive lineman, a short yardage back, a QB protector, and a H back out of the backfield. He is also outstanding on special teams because of his all out effort and determination. It would be impossible to tell Nix's story without mentioning his unbelievable determination and perseverance.

Rosie doesn't even stand six feet tall but he was an all conference player for Kent State as a defensive lineman. Realizing the need for undersized defensive lineman in the NFL is miniscule, Rosie lost almost twenty pounds after graduation and worked out as a linebacker at his pro day. After predictably going undrafted in the 2014 NFL draft, Nix signed as a UDFA with the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons asked him to switch positions yet again, this time to fullback. Nix agreed, hoping it would give him a better chance to make the team. Sadly, he was released before the start of the season.

Undeterred, Nix even looked into the Arena League in hopes of keeping his professional football dreams alive. Then in January 2015 his persistence finally paid off and fate intervened. He signed a reserve/futures contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a inside linebacker, but was quickly moved to fullback again. He didn't care, he was determined to take advantage of this opportunity. He initially excelled on special teams, before earning the starting fullback position. Now he is performing at a Pro Bowl level at both.

While Rosie Nix is no where near the most talented player on the Steelers offense, he is no doubt one of the most well respected by his teammates. They all know his story and realize how he sacrifices his body on the field each week so they can revel in the glory. You will see them acknowledge his contributions with a pat on the back or a slap of the helmet, and it seems extra special for all involved when they get to celebrate a touchdown or big play with him. In a league were most of the participants were being told how great they were by the eighth grade, Rosie Nix refused to take no for an answer.

It is a blessing to have so many superstar players like the Steelers possess, but it takes a well respected glue guy to help mesh all the eccentric personalities together and keep everyone focused and humble. That is the kind of young man we can all be happy to root for, and young people can look up to as a role model.

Rosie Nix is the definition of a glue guy.

Before or After? When to use timeouts with the 2-minute warning?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 12:53pm

Are valuable seconds ticking away the only concern?

For the second straight game against the Jaguars, Steeler fans are wondering why Mike Tomlin elected to use his timeouts after the 2-minute warning rather than before. In this case, it’s much more forgivable because the Steelers walked away with a victory. But there are definitely pros and cons to either way a coach plays it. Is one way better than the other? Perhaps. It depends on several factors within the game, so the use of timeouts before or after the 2-minute warning could vary from game to game.

To break down the numbers, we’ll look specifically at the example from Sunday’s game in Jacksonville. The Jaguars received the ball on a touchback with 2:23 remaining in the game. An average running play of less than five yards takes about five seconds. The Jags began their drive by running the ball for four yards on first down. If the Steelers called an immediate timeout, the most time remaining on the clock could have been 2:18. A second-down run would have resulted in a second timeout with 2:13 at the very best. After a third-down run, the Steeler’s could have used their last timeout to save eight seconds or keep the timeout for their final drive by using the 2-minute warning to stop the clock.

Of the 15 punts in Sunday’s game, three of them were plays which only lasted seven seconds, while nine of the punts took ten seconds or more. This number is important for two reasons. One of which shows how it would have been very unlikely the Steelers could run a play on offense before the two minute warning. Therefore the Steelers would have been better off keeping their timeout. The other reason will be addressed shortly.

So if the Steelers chose to use two timeouts before the 2-minute warning, they would have began their drive with 1:52 and one timeout. Since their actual drive began with 1:42 remaining, it would have saved the Steelers 10 seconds on the clock. Inside of two minutes, 10 seconds is a significant enough amount of time to matter. If a head coach were to let 10 seconds run off the clock at the end of the game before calling a timeout, they wouldn’t be keeping their job too long.

So is there a benefit to waiting to call the timeouts after the 2-minute warning? Absolutely. If we were to retrace those plays with the Steelers using their timeouts immediately, notice the third-down snap would have occurred with about 2:13 on the clock. At this point, the Jaguars could have passed the ball on third down with minimal consequences. Even with an incompletion, it would have only cost them, and most, eight seconds. The fourth-down punt on next play would have absorbed enough time to get to the 2-minute warning.

So using two timeouts before the 2-minute warning could have saved 10 seconds on the clock. But waiting until after the 2-minute warning forced the Jaguars to run the ball every play. If not, they ran the risk of giving the Steelers a chance to have an additional timeout. So when Jacksonville faced a 3rd & 5 from their own 30 yard line, the Steelers kept their run-heavy personnel on defense because an incompletion by Jacksonville was too risky of a move, especially with how ineffective their passing game was throughout the game.

So there is a rationale with using the timeouts either way. Could those 10 seconds have come back to haunt to Steelers? Maybe. Could the Jaguars have decided to throw on third down anyway and convert? Maybe. It’s all a calculated risk. This is why NFL head coaches get paid millions of dollars to make these decisions, while the average Steeler fan doesn’t get paid a dime to question these decision after-the-fact.

AFC North Roundup: The Steelers’ lead in the division continues to grow entering Week 12

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 11:51am

Taking a look around the AFC North heading into Week 12.

With Week 11 of the NFL schedule officially in the books, it’s time to take a look back at those teams who call the AFC North home to see how they fared and what the standings look like after this week’s action.

The first goal for each team in the NFL is to win its division. Doing so guarantees both a playoff spot and a home playoff game, so even these early-season games are important when it comes to divisional rankings.

Let’s take a spin around the AFC North to check on the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Week 11 Results

Baltimore Ravens - 24
Cincinnati Bengals - 21

The Ravens win a game they just had to have, and with Lamar Jackson at quarterback. I will say this, if they think Jackson will survive in the NFL running the ball 20+ times, they might want to re-consider this approach. They could always just ask Robert Griffen III what it feels like to literally have the wheels run off him. Nonetheless, the Ravens’ win moves both teams to 5-5, and in a race for the final spot in the AFC Playoff Picture.

Pittsburgh Steelers - 20
Jacksonville Jaguars - 16

It seemed improbable. Even when trailing by 10 points, it seemed like a hill to steep for the Steelers to climb. Yet here we are, Pittsburgh winners of the last 6 games and sporting an overall record of 7-2-1 heading into Week 12. It was ugly, but I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day of the week.

Week 12 Schedule

Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens - 1:00 p.m. ET
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals - 1:00 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos - 4:25 p.m. ET

AFC North Standings

Pittsburgh Steelers - 7-2-1
Baltimore Ravens - 5-5
Cincinnati Bengals - 5-5
Cleveland Browns - 3-6-1

...

Let us know what you think about the division after Week 11 in the comment section below. Do you see this being a powerhouse division? Which teams are contenders and which ones are nothing more than pretenders?

Winners and Losers after the Steelers’ 20-16 win over the Jaguars

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 10:47am

After a game, we take note of certain players who performed well and others who didn’t. This is where the Winners and Losers column comes in.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars took part in a big prime time game in Florida in Week 11, and the Steelers presented their loyal fan base their sixth straight with after a 20-16 win over the Jaguars.

During the game, some perform well, while others fall short of the standard. This is where the Winners and Losers column comes in. After the game, when the dust settles, we decipher who falls into which category.

As always, feel free to comment on the list in the comment section below. Be part of the conversation!

Winners

Ben Roethlisberger
Stat Line: 27/47, 314 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 1 Rushing TD, 2 sacks

It wasn’t pretty, but Big Ben showed up when he was needed. Did anyone wonder how in the world he ended up throwing for over 300 yards like I did? Nonetheless, Roethlisberger’s 4th quarter heroics earn him a spot with the winners this week.

JuJu Smith-Schuster
Stat Line: 8 receptions, 104 yards, 10 targets, 13.0 average

There might be some hiccups with Smith-Schuster, like the drop he had vs. the Ravens, but he is as clutch as they come. The back shoulder catches against both stellar Jaguars’ cornerbacks showed just how good he is, and can be. He might not have gotten into the end zone, but JuJu earned this spot in Week 11.

Vance McDonald
Stat Line: 3 receptions, 27 yards, 1 TD, 6 targets

The legend of the Vanimal lives on as McDonald had another impressive performance, capped by his second straight game with a receiving touchdown. McDonald is a unique type of tight end. He isn’t the fastest, but he can essentially do it all. Block, catch and run over helpless defensive backs in the process.

T.J. Watt
Stat Line: 6 total tackles, 6 solo, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QB Hits, 2 forced fumbles

Watt did something in Week 11 many wondered if it would ever happen in the near future. He hit the double-digit sack total (10) for 2018. The last OLB to do that? James Harrison in 2010. Yeah, it’s been that long. Watt played a great game, and regardless of how it looks, he gets the job done.

Javon Hargrave
Stat Line: 4 tackles, 4 solo, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 PD, 2 QB Hits

He might not be Casey Hampton, but Hargrave made a strong case for him to see the field more down the stretch. He filled in for Stephon Tuitt on occasion, and took advantage of his opportunities with a two sack day. Hargrave had the best game of his young NFL career on Sunday in Jacksonville.

Jordan Berry
Stat Line: 6 punts, 306 yards, 1 TB, 1 inside the 20, 63 yard long, 51 average

I have beaten up on Berry’s play this season a lot in the weekly feature, and I will give him praise when it is due. On Sunday, when the Steelers’ offense was stalling left and right throughout the first three quarters, Berry had a tremendous game to help flip the field and bail out the struggling offense. Kudos to Berry for his performance, now if we all can see some consistency on his part...

Losers

Ben Roethlisberger
Stat Line: 27/47, 314 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 1 Rushing TD, 2 sacks

It is rare, but every now and then a player will be on both the Winner and Loser list. Big Ben finds himself in rarefied air after Week 11. Roethlisberger’s play early in the game was atrocious. His passes were off, he was seeing ghosts due to a good pass rush and was turning the ball over. He definitely righted the ship, but lets not forget just how bad he played early in the game.

James Conner
Stat Line: 9 rushes, 25 yards, 6 catches 24 yards, 9 targets

I love James Conner, but today wasn’t his day. While the Steelers abandoned the run, and rightfully so, early, Conner finds his way on the loser list for his play as a receiver. Dropping a critical 4th down conversion, and a would-be game winning touchdown were back breaking plays. The hope is the young back learns from it, and improves down the stretch. I bet he will bounce back in a big way next week.

Matt Feiler
Stat Line: Roethlisberger sacked twice, 6 QB hits surrendered

The fill-in for Marcus Gilbert has been tremendous the past two games, but the Jaguars’ defensive front was a different beast for the man they call “The Anchor”. Feiler learned a few things on Sunday in Jacksonville, and his play looked like a backup. The standard was set high for Feiler, but I think we all saw the team needs Gilbert healthy when they face Von Miller next week in Denver.

1st Half Rush Defense
Stat Line: Over 100 yards surrendered in 1st half

The Steelers allowed just over 90 yards on the ground, on average, entering Week 11, and they surrendered more than that in the first half to Leonard Fournette, Carlos Hyde and T.J. Yeldon. They buttoned things up in the second half, but the first half was dreadful. I know they missed Stephon Tuitt, but that much? Not so sure. The hope is teams haven’t found the blueprint for success against the Pittsburgh defense.

3rd Down Offense:
Stat Line: 3-for-11 on the day

The Steelers came into Week 11 sporting the top ranked red-zone offense, and third in the league when it came to third down efficiency. After the Jaguars game this ranking could drop. The Steelers’ offense never got into anything resembling a rhythm on those key conversion

Report Card: Grading the Steelers’ epic 20-16 win over the Jaguars

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 9:46am

BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers after their road trip against a familiar foe.

The Steelers and the Jaguars 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. Before the Steelers traveled to Northern Florida, I found myself noticing just how equal the two teams actually are despite the disparity in records. And then I realized that these teams both usually battle in tight contests. Then the game happened and the judgements followed.

Grading games is an extremely difficult and somewhat thankless task. While the coaches’ grades, of course, are what count the most, the media and fans can’t help but evaluate as well.

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

Offense:

I find it hard to fault James Conner for his mere 25 yards on nine carries, because the early deficit made the run game obsolete. But his two key drops at crucial junctures almost cost the Steelers dearly. The receivers can’t be blamed either. Antonio Brown would’ve been gone on the first pick by Ben, but No. 7 couldn’t get the wide-open AB the Ball. He missed Vance McDonald a few times too. The offenses main issues were due to Ben Roethlisberger, but one it came down to the comeback...the legendary Steeler led the way. It was ugly girl prom date pretty, The nice thing for Ben was his chaperones down the stretch (JuJu, AB, Vance and Switz) were clutch.

Overall Offense Grade: C-

Defense

The defense was definitely impressive and won the game for the Steelers. While the run defense was getting shredded early and gave up 4.2 ypc, they held Leonard Fournette to just 20 of his 95 yards for an average of 1.43 ypc.Blake Bortlesonly completed ten passes, four more than the six times he fell victim to sacks, two each by T.J. Watt and Javon Hargrave and one each by Vinny Williams and Cam Heyward. The secondary didn’t let one deep ball get completed as well.

Overall Defense Grade: A-

Special Teams

Missed tackles, unnecessary and way too many penalties and very little return on returns...Danny Smith Jr.’s unit was subpar. But Jordan Berry averaged 51 ypp, his best performance of the season.

Overall Special Teams Grade: C

Overall Team Grade: C-

They did what it took to get the job done. The ending was awesome and gives Steeler Nation great hope, but the first 45 minutes were rough.

Valedictorian: Trent Jordan Watt

Honor Roll: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Antonio Brown, Vance McDonald. Comeback Ben, Jordan Berry, Ryan Switzer, Cam Heyward, the secondary, Vince Williams, Tyson Alualu, Javon Hargrave

Detention: James Conner, 1st Quarter Ben, 2nd Quarter Ben, 3rd Quarter Ben, Matt Feiler

Steelers rally to beat Jaguars despite their worst effort of the season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 8:36am

By almost every index of football excellence, the Steelers fell down in Jacksonville, yet still somehow managed to come home with their sixth-straight win.

While plenty of excuses can be cited for the performance we witnessed by the Steelers on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, the harsh truth is that this undoubtedly was their worst overall effort of the season, despite escaping with a 20-16 victory. Todd Haley might be gone, but the Steelers’ offense wasn’t any more creative — and even less effective — against the Jaguars’ offense on Sunday than they had been during their two costly defeats by Jacksonville last season. In fact, if not for the absolutely abysmal Jaguars’ offense led by Blake Bortles (10/18, 104 yards, 28.3 QBR), Jacksonville would have won this game handily.

As he sometimes appeared last season, Ben Roethlisberger looked totally rattled by the Jaguars’ defense. He misfired on a number of easy throws to his receivers and nearly matched his five-interception debacle during the 2017 regular season at Heinz Field — throwing three interceptions, while having two more nullified by Jacksonville penalties. Ben also missed some wide-open receivers, throwing instead into heavy coverage. After notching a perfect quarterback rating last week versus the Carolina Panthers, Ben finished the game in Jacksonville with a pathetic 37.7 QBR, along with taking two sacks and averaging only 6.7 yards per completion.

While Ben’s play during the closing minutes of the fourth quarter — plus his game-winning lunge over the goal line with only three seconds remaining — was somewhat redeeming, it hardly washed away the smell of what we had witnessed through nearly three quarters of the game. How bad was the Steelers’ offense? They converted only three of 11 third-down situations and were 0-2 on fourth-down attempts. James Conner finished the day with only 9 carries for 25 yards (2.8-yard average). Conner also dropped a couple of passes that Ben tossed right into his hands, including one that looked like a sure touchdown and a second one that stalled a drive and forced a punt. While both Antonio Brown (117 yards) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (104 yards) broke the century mark in receiving yardage, they generally had lots of difficulty getting open during the game — with the exception of some deep passes which padded their totals.

The Steelers’ defense looked a bit suspect during the first half, but they kept the game close and still had enough left in the tank to stuff the Jaguars on crucial possessions late in the final quarter. They sacked Bortles six times and pressured him continually throughout the game. Vince Williams had another solid game, leading the defense with 10 tackles including six solo stops, one sack and one tackle for loss. T.J. Watt and Javon Hargrave chipped in two sacks apiece.

Lost Momentum

After the Steelers’ huge win over Carolina at Heinz Field, it seemed that the team had finally hit its stride. And considering the two embarrassing defeats Pittsburgh had suffered at home to the Jaguars last season, the expectation was that the Black-and-gold would come out strong in Florida and take the game to Jacksonville. But through nearly three quarters of football, the Steelers were totally listless and never got untracked. Only the Jaguars’ utter incompetence in taking advantage of scoring opportunities spared the Steelers an embarrassing defeat.

It’s tempting — and probably wrong — to simply claim that Pittsburgh doesn’t match up well against Jacksonville. We might also use the excuse that we were playing a desperate team on the verge of losing any chance it had to reach the playoffs. But in reality, the Steelers were pretty darned awful in some key phases of their game — shortcomings which very well might haunt them later this season.

Perhaps most obvious is the offense’s lack of creativity in situations where the opposing defense takes away their preferred plays. For a large portion of the game in Jacksonville, Ben looked quite jumpy in the pocket because the Jaguars were covering the very same pass routes that had worked like a charm against Carolina’s depleted secondary in the previous week.

Even in victory, this game demonstrates quite plainly that the Steelers continue to suffer from a couple of negative tendencies that could really hurt them in the playoffs. First is their tendency to start games sluggishly and not find their offensive rhythm until late in the first half, or even the second half. This tendency is what cost them the playoff game in Pittsburgh last January and it also could be fatal when playing teams with high-powered offenses. Secondly, the aforementioned inability of the Steelers to adjust their offensive game plan when their primary weapons are taken away could be equally dangerous in January football. It was especially troubling to see Big Ben looking feverishly downfield throughout a large portion of Sunday’s game before he chucked the ball into heavy coverage. When Ben is having his better games, you generally don’t see that.

Of course, given the win, they say you’re never supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth. But at least Steelers Nation ought to realize it was largely the work of the football gods — not so much anything the Black-and-gold did on the gridiron — which enabled the Steelers to return from Florida riding a 6-game winning streak. And lest we forget, we were matched up against a 3-6 (now 3-7), last-place Jaguars team which these days is only a shadow of their 2017 selves. So while I’m as pleased as anyone with the fortuitous outcome on Sunday, this game represents a definite step backward for the Black-and-gold. The kind of collective lapse we witnessed throughout nearly three quarters in Jacksonville simply cannot be repeated when January rolls around, if this team is to have any hope for securing a Super Bowl berth. If there’s anything positive to be gleaned from this game (besides, of course, the win), maybe it will provide a much-needed dose of humility, plus a reminder that everyone in the organization needs to work harder to reach their ultimate goal.

7 Takeaways from the Steelers’ thrilling comeback win over the Jaguars

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 7:34am

The Steelers certainly had a rocky game, but still pulled off the comeback.

The Steelers played about three and one-half quarters of bad football, at least offensively. It might be slightly more accurate to say that Ben Roethlisberger played three and one-half quarters of bad football but, against all odds, the Steelers pulled out a huge win. Jacksonville has been one of their “kryptonites,” and overcoming them in this fashion really bolsters a team.

So, what can we take away from this game? Here are seven takeaways from the Steelers’ win over the Jaguars:

Vance McDonald is worth it, and more

Goodness, I can’t believe some of us wanted to release this guy before the season started. They weren’t unjustified at the time, because he just couldn’t stay healthy, but McDonald’s been fantastic this season. Multiple times, Vance McDonald has been a huge difference maker, including the difference between winning and losing.

Boy, was he ever today.

That TD catch was insane and he’s one of the most complete TEs in the NFL. It isn’t just the blocking, the stiff arms, or the contested catches, it’s everything he brings to the table. He embodies what a Steeler is, and he’s been the key to really unlocking this offense as an unstoppable force.

Colbert turns out another fantastic trade.

Matt Feiler is good, but he isn’t Marcus Gilbert

Matt Feiler is a starting-level right tackle — I have no doubt about that. But today against Yannick Ngakoue, Feiler was hung out to dry. This was the toughest test he’s faced since he stepped in for Gilbert, and he have some ugly reps. It doesn’t reflect too badly on Feiler, but he’s just not an elite RT.

I like Matt Feiler, but I do feel the #Steelers missed Marcus Gilbert today. Ugly rep here from Feiler. pic.twitter.com/jrI78uUsHz

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 18, 2018

This is just an ugly rep from Feiler. His base is wide and his punch timing is off — thus Ngaukoue can chop, rip, and spin right through to the inside. Gilbert doesn’t do this and, while Feiler has done a great job filling in, Gilbert will make this line even better.

Stephon Tuitt makes a difference

The Steelers locked down the running game after the first half, but Tuitt’s absence was notable. The middle wasn’t as chaotic, although it certainly was due to a man I will get to in a second, and Tuitt’s run-stuffing abilities were missed today.

For however many times Tuitt has gone invisible, his gap discipline was nevertheless incredibly strong. The running game was shut down thanks to Tuitt, and his absence showed a good deal today.

Still, Hargrave is very good

I’d say Javon Hargrave isn’t a one-technique NT — he’s way too athletic for that. He’s much better suited as a 3- or 5-technique in this defense, but Heyward and Tuitt hold those positions down nicely. Now, you also see the value of Dan McCullers. With one of the two pro bowlers on the DL out, McCullers can fill Hargrave’s role quite nicely.

Hargrave had a great day. He was getting sacks, run stops, and all that you could want from a guy who was filling in for Stephon Tuitt. Hopefully Hargrave gets more snaps, because he’s quite underrated.

Crown him King JuJu

JuJu caught back shoulder fades against both Ramsey and Bouye today. Guy is a STAR, period. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/WYUZm5z5L5

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 18, 2018

All hail king JuJu! The Ben TD was huge but this was the play of the game! Kid is a star and keeps coming up huge! #Steelers pic.twitter.com/dGYlS1YHhi

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 18, 2018

JuJu Smith-Schuster is a monster — and a clutch one at that. He really was kept quiet until the end of the game when he finally made two huge plays. His route-running and contested-catch skills are a sight to behold. JuJu likely won Pittsburgh the game to a large extent with his two huge catches. The guy continues to progress and show that he’s a genuine star.

Praise King JuJu!

It’s time to give praise to Coty Sensabaugh

I only heard Sensabaugh’s name one time today, and that was when he made a tackle in run defense. Sensabaugh was certainly active in that role and, quite frankly, he shut down his side of the field today. He has really stabilized the CB2 slot with some solid play. He might never be great, but he certainly has been good enough.

Who would have thought the unsung hero of the secondary would have been Coty Sensabuagh? Not me, but I’m okay with it. Against better teams, he might be exposed, but Keith Butler’s scheming has really helped him out a ton.

Give a ton of credit to Mike Tomlin

This team has been through some drama, with Antonio Brown’s antics, and especially that unnamed RB. But Tomlin has kept this team sharply focused on the games and that’s enabled them to persevere through it all.

They’ve won some tough games and have really been spectacular since the Atlanta game. Tomlin’s adjustments and impact in the locker room cannot be shortchanged. He’s in the conversation for Coach of the Year honors, and rightfully so. Coach T is worth it for all of us, and boy did I ever overreact earlier in the year for thinking about maybe moving on from him.

Ben Roethlisberger didn’t shy away from Jalen Ramsey, got burned, but got the last laugh

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 6:15am

Jalen Ramsey got the best of Ben Roethlisberger, but Big Ben got the last laugh.

One of the marquee matchups for the Pittsburgh Steelers coming into the Week-11 game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars was Antonio Brown vs. Jalen Ramsey.

These two arguably are the best of the best in the NFL at their respective positions, but maybe the true matchup should have been Ben Roethlisberger vs. Ramsey.

Ramsey has gotten the best of Roethlisberger before, and prior to the game was asked if he might shy away from throwing Ramsey’s way.

“With respect. He’s, like I said, a great football player. He’s got all the tools. He’s a guy that you have to understand where he is and who he’s covering and be smart. I am not going to fear anybody. I don’t care who they are, but you respect it for sure.”

In the Week-11 showdown between the two teams and the two players, Ramsey got the best of Roethlisberger on more than one occasion — two interceptions to be exact. But it was Roethlisberger who would get the last laugh.

While Ramsey wasn’t burnt on multiple occasions as the Steelers put up 20 points in the final 17 minutes of the game, he was the closest defender when it mattered most.

Take a look at these statistics, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN:

Ben Roethlisberger struggled mightily targeting Jalen Ramsey through three quarters but went 5-of-6 passing in the fourth with Ramsey as the nearest defender, per NFL Next Gen Stats.

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) November 18, 2018

Again, Ramsey wasn’t the lone defender who was beat, but as the Jaguars went into their zone-defense schemes, trying to prevent the Steelers from putting points on the board, it was Ramsey’s zone/area which was exploited.

Say what you want about last year, but the Steelers were the team who walked off the Jaguars’ home field victorious, and they most likely got more than just a win — they also stole the Jaguars’ playoff hopes in the process.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they now turn their attention to the Denver Broncos in Week 12.

Podcast: A Steelers comeback for the ages vs. the Jaguars in Week 11

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 5:32am

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 game that was.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have now passed the midpoint of their 2018 season. With a surge of Steelers news, it’s time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

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 from the game that was!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Injuries
  • Most complete win of the season?
  • What does this tell us about the Steelers?
  • Talking what’s ahead
  • 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.

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 4:43am

Members of the Pittsburgh Steelers take to social media after their 20-16 win over the Jaguars in Week 11.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had won five games in a row heading into their Week 11 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars in Florida. With revenge on their minds, the Steelers stepped up big time against their conference rivals in come from behind fashion.

Following the Steelers’ 20-16 win, players took to social media to celebrate the big win over the NFC South 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.)

Gotta have it! Appreciate #SteelersNation pic.twitter.com/YCOfGDbo23

— Vance Coman McDonald (@VMcDonald89) November 18, 2018

unwavering faith #callgod pic.twitter.com/774YvtRCvW

— Antonio Brown (@AB84) November 18, 2018

BIG WIN ❗️ DON’T BLINK #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/urjtCA7foo

— L.J. Fort (@i_Serve24) November 18, 2018

How about them @steelers tho

— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) November 18, 2018

Week 11 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. What else would I pull up in? Have a good night ladies and gentlemen! pic.twitter.com/SspIJTitwt

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) November 18, 2018

6 in a ROW!! Keep stacking!!

— Joe Haden (@joehaden23) November 18, 2018

#Mood HATERS GONE SAY ITS PHOTOSHOPPED THOUGH pic.twitter.com/sbLfikhneA

— Ramon Foster (@RamonFoster) November 18, 2018

Lmao we crazy man for real ..... I love this shit and I love my team so glad to be a steeler ......

— 5⃣Roosevelt nix (@Dat_Dude_Nix) November 18, 2018

Keep stackinggggg ❗️

— Terrell Edmunds (@rell_island6) November 18, 2018

What. A. Win. Felt like Heinz today! #HereWeGo

— Ryan Switzer (@Switz) November 18, 2018

Big time players make big time plays in big time games! Part 2 LITTYYYY!!! pic.twitter.com/REv7BzwhLI

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) November 18, 2018

Big time players make big time plays in big time games! Part 1 pic.twitter.com/afBqupCLE2

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) November 18, 2018

This is the kind of game that launches you into playoffs! Ben overcame a tough start and still secured the W!

— Jerome Bettis (@JeromeBettis36) November 18, 2018

Is there a better ending to the game? Touchdown by @_BigBen7 and sack by @_TJWatt!!

— Jerome Bettis (@JeromeBettis36) November 18, 2018

Jaguars’ continual trash-talk inspires Ben Roethlisberger in Steelers comeback victory

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/18/2018 - 6:27pm

After hearing from the Jacksonville defense all game long, Big Ben has the last laugh when he leaves with the game ball.

If Ben Roethlisberger was motivated by the trash-talk coming from players like Jalen Ramsey since the last meeting between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars, it did not show through the first three quarters on Sunday afternoon. Indeed, the Pro Bowl cornerback seemed to be proving his point early in the game, recording two interceptions before the Steelers had even managed their first points of the day.

With Roethlisberger’s struggles obvious to everyone, it appears the Jacksonville defenders were not shy about piling on the beleaguered quarterback with a barrage of trash-talk. However, it seems their words may not have had their desired effect after all. Rather than get in his head, it turns out their smack-talk actually inspired him, as Roethlisberger told reporters after the game.

“They had a linebacker, number 50, we’ll just use numbers so we don’t say any names, that wanted to let me know every time I threw an interception. He found me and told me how many interceptions I threw. It’s a little motivation too, to try and win the game.”

Lighting a fire under any NFL quarterback is never really a good idea, let alone a future Hall of Farmer with an army of weapons at his disposal. Whatever was said somehow helped flick a switch heading into the fourth quarter and Steelers’ fans can ultimately thank linebacker Telvin Smith (#50) for he part he played in the win.

“They’re a really good defense. They like to talk a lot, before the game, during the game, but I’m carrying the game ball home.”

While the rest of his teammates are not adverse to some verbal-sparring of their own, Roethlisberger does not normally indulge in this type of banter. Preferring to do his talking on the scoreboard, Big Ben clearly had the last laugh this time.

#LIVE: Ben Roethlisberger addresses the media following today’s game in Jacksonville. https://t.co/0N3m3fSaW2

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 18, 2018

Steelers Injury Report: Anthony Chickillo ankle injury will make for some tough decisions

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/18/2018 - 5:22pm

The Steelers have only 3 OLBs on their roster, and one of them was listed with an ankle injury after their Week 11 win over the Jaguars.

The good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers is how they were able to get out of their physical Week 11 game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars without any huge injuries. In fact, after the game head coach Mike Tomlin had only one name to name in regards to injuries.

This would be the bad news. The injury was to outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo.

Chickillo is a special teams player, and backup pass rusher, but what complicates this injury is the Steelers’ decision to go into the season with only three outside linebackers on their roster. Tomlin didn’t know the severity of the injury, but said he will be evaluated leading up to the Week 12 game against the Denver Broncos.

Check out the post-game press conference here:

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following today’s win over Jacksonville in the @IronCityBeer Postgame Press Conference. https://t.co/B63yvhjKxZ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 18, 2018

If Chickillo isn’t able to play, the team would have to make some tough decisions, considering there are no other natural 3-4 outside linebackers on the roster. Asking T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree to play 100% of snaps would be a tall task for even the best book end pass rushers; however, it doesn’t mean the Steelers don’t have options.

Ola Adeniyi is currently on injured reserve, and could be brought off that list to help the team at the pass rusher position, but the Steelers would have to release someone to make room for him on the team’s roster.

This could turn out to be nothing, but Chickillo’s injury will be something to keep an eye on this week considering there could be a ripple effect within the roster if he is unable to play in Week 12.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they turn the page and try to win their 7th game in a row vs. the Broncos in Denver next Sunday.

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