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Greene: 'I missed the boat on that'

Steelers.com News - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 10:10am
Joe Greene recalls the day the Steelers drafted him.

As NFL Draft approaches, Steelers positional needs won’t allow for any mistakes

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 8:33am

Drafting NFL players is not an exact science. It’s mostly one big crapshoot. For the Steelers who draft 28th, making each of their seven picks count with so many needs creates a tall task for GM Kevin Colbert & staff to get it right.

With the NFL Draft just a few weeks away, all 32 teams are in a mad scramble to be ready and prepared to make decisions on players they hope will have a positive impact on their club. In reality, most of these picks won’t do that. Some will become stars in the league, but even if you go in the 1st round, or even in the top five selected, there is no guarantee for success.

For Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin and the entire Steelers’ staff, making seven solid picks will be hard. Given their needs, it will be harder. Mix their position in the draft order and you have a Molotov cocktail in hand, poised to be thrown.

I’ve stopped looking at the roughly 1 billion mock drafts put out. They don’t mean squat until the actual draft begins. You can project all you want. You can guess who’s going to make a draft day trade to move up or gain more picks. In the end, all you can really do is interview as many kids you think could be available and hope for the best.

With such a low spot in the drafting order, and only seven picks, the Steelers find themselves handcuffed. They can’t really package up picks to try and move up. And for what? I think many would agree that ILB and safety are the key areas that need addressed the most. Unless you can move into one of the top 12 spots, guys like Tremaine Edmunds (the stud LB from VA Tech) or Derwin James (Florida State safety) will be long gone. Even good middle 1st round prospects like Rashaan Evans (Alabama LB) and Leighton Vander Esch (Boise St LB) most likely won’t be around when the time comes for the Steelers to pick.

The catch is if the Steelers don’t trade up, you go with the ‘best available’ athlete on the board. There has been some speculation that if he was there at 28, Lamar Jackson could be wearing black-and- gold to start his NFL career.

I think we can all agree that Landry Jones probably isn’t the future long-term starter for this team. Would taking Jackson, who I think has upside at that spot in the draft, be such a bad pick? He would have time to develop under the future hall of famer in Ben Roethlisberger, and given Ben’s durability, he could provide 2-3 years of mentorship before he hangs it up.

To be honest, if that scenario played out I could live with it. Despite the real needs of an inside linebacker and secondary help, if a ‘can’t miss’ guy isn’t available, taking a player like Jackson could benefit you down the road. The Steelers still have plenty of time to work the free agent market for help and the draft, once complete, will help clear the path to do just that.

This is a 13-3 team with much of it’s key talent coming back. Whatever the Steelers do in terms of player selection, lets hope it’s with the idea that whoever they bring in will have some sort of impact that gets this team where it needs to be.

John Phillips is the author of this article and a secret member of the galactic empire. When he’s not chasing down Jedi scum along East Carson Street, he can be found writing articles for BTSC.

Reviewing some of the worst Steelers NFL Draft ‘Hot Takes’ of all-time

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 6:45am

Join me in recounting your worst Steelers predictions.

It’s nearly draft time, which means it’s currently open season for superlatives and thermonuclear hot takes. My hottest pre-draft take—an admittedly brazen and sanguine notion that I’m clinging to for dear life—is that Louisville’s Lamar Jackson will be a franchise quarterback, and that, for this reason, the Steelers should absolutely draft him in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. But, for now, that’s neither here nor there; Jackson could emerge as a bust, or a career backup, or a just okay starter, and this spicy draft take will look ridiculous in retrospect. In that spirit, I’m really, legitimately curious to hear some of your worst Steelers takes. Please leave them in the comments. This is a safe space, I promise. To prove this, here is a random collection of some of my worst Steelers takes (these are all things that I actually said and/or wrote):

-If the Steelers needed a running back, they should’ve taken Eddie Lacy instead of Le’Veon Bell (said during the 2013 NFL Draft, moments after the Steelers announced Bell as their second round pick).

-Ryan Shazier is a terrible pick (texted to a good friend—a rabid Ohio State fan—the night of the 2014 NFL Draft).

-As the obvious heir apparent to Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison, Jarvis Jones is going to get 15 sacks this season (said to person next to me at Heinz Field during Pittsburgh’s Week 1 game against Cleveland in 2014).

-Cortez Allen has the makings of a shutdown corner (said shortly after Allen inked a five-year contract extension in 2014). (2014 was apparently a rough year for bad takes.)

-The Steelers should sign Darrelle Revis! (said in 2015, roughly three days before the Jets signed him to a $70 million contract; said again in 2017, this time in article form).

-If keeping Antonio Brown means losing Mike Wallace, the Steelers should part ways with Brown (said in the summer of 2012, and it remains my single worst sports take of all time).

-Ten years from now, we’re going to say Limas Sweed was the most productive and most talented wide receiver in the 2008 NFL Draft class (this was not said by me, but by ESPN’s resident draft wizard Todd McShay).

Let’s actually grab that last one, because Sweed represents something of a persona non grata in Pittsburgh’s history books, a rare miss in Kevin Colbert’s impressive portfolio of successful draft picks. Before this—and long before his name became a verb to be evoked following some sort of calamitous on-field mishap from a butter-fingered pass catcher—Sweed was arguably the most highly-acclaimed receiving prospect in a draft that featured Jordy Nelson, Desean Jackson, and Pierre Garcon. Here is Sweed, then a sophomore, keeping the University of Texas in the National Title hunt with a cold-blooded, game-winning, grab-your-nuts-and-flex touchdown against Ohio State:

(Possibly NSFW, as I selected the version with the Rick Ross overlay, so maybe play this with the volume off if you aren’t interested in hearing the Hustin’ remix featuring Young Jeezy and Jay-Z—though I have no clue why you wouldn’t be.)

The above play in particular is kind of emblematic of why Sweed was so highly regarded by scouting departments in the first place. He’s obviously an enormous red-zone body (he was 6-foot-4, 215 pounds), but he’s also nimble enough to run a precise, crafty route and savvy enough to shield the defenders in a way that doesn’t tangibly increase the difficulty of the catch. After guiding the Longhorns to a National Championship in 2005, Sweed entered his junior season as a Biletnikoff candidate. Though he failed to amass the kinds of gaudy statistics one can expect from a top-tier Big 12 receiver, Sweed did manage to score 12 touchdowns and, critically, average over 17 yards per reception. The fact that Sweed limped his way through an injury-plagued senior campaign did little to abate his draftworthiness—his stock tumbled, certainly, but plenty of NFL coaches were, are, and will continue to be willing to pull the trigger on a lengthy, athletic receiver who is equal parts raw and refined, Mike Tomlin chief among them, who used the 53rd pick in the 2008 iteration of the draft to bring Sweed to Pittsburgh.

I was still pretty young in 2008, so it’s difficult for me to say whether the Steelers had the long game in mind when they drafted Sweed. It sure seems that way in retrospect, as exemplified by the fact that the Sweed’s rookie season was spent buried beneath Pittsburgh’s productive triumvirate of receivers (Hines Ward, Nate Washington, and Santanio Holmes), duo of beefy tight ends (Matt Spaeth and Health Miller), and resident backfield pass catcher Mewelde Moore on the depth chart. He had an opportunity to redeem himself in the 2008-09 postseason, but infamously dropped a wide-open 50-yard touchdown against Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game. (While this is the play that defined Sweed’s Steelers tenure, it should be noted that later in this game, Sweed sent an unsuspecting Corey Ivy back to the mesozoic era with an organ-liquifying (and then-legal!) blind-side block).

(As an aside to this aside, the Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl, so Sweed’s drop had literally no impact on the outcome of the game).

Though Sweed was expected to assume a bigger role in 2009, he was ultimately supplanted by rookie receiver Mike Wallace on the depth chart, and in 2010 Sweed blew out his Achilles tendon during minicamp, an injury from which he never fully recovered. He was released by the Steelers without ceremony shortly after the 2011 regular season began, and while Sweed did manage to secure tryouts with a handful of other NFL teams, he never latched on elsewhere. For all intents and purposes, Sweed’s final NFL game occurred on September 27, 2009. In that game, a 23-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Sweed was targeted twice, catching one pass for five yards and, fittingly, dropping a sure touchdown in the third quarter.

Here we are, almost exactly 10 years after McShay delivered what was perhaps the most painfully gelid take of his praiseworthy scouting career. Sweed is out of football, coaching football at some middle school in Texas as of four years ago, and is debatably the worst receiver in a class that featured such esteemed ballers as Chaz Schilens, Brett Swain, and Arman Shields. So I ask again: what is your worst Steelers take?

Labriola on why 2018 isn't a repeat of 1983

Steelers.com News - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 5:51am
What happened to a guy going by 'Thomas Brady' changed the course of Steelers draft history.

Vontaze Burfict’s PED suspension appeal denied; will miss first 4 weeks of 2018

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 5:32am

Mr. Burfict will be missing the first 4-games of the 2018 regular season.

It wouldn’t be an NFL season without a Vontaze Burfict suspension, right?

Well, good news is the new league year has officially commenced with the troubled Cincinnati Bengals linebacker’s 4-game Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) being upheld after his appeal.

#Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2018 regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 12, 2018

Burfict, who claimed he took a banned substance from a team physician after JuJu Smith-Schuster’s hit gave him a concussion, was adamant of his innocence in this situation. Nonetheless, the league office clearly didn’t see it the same way.

Burfict has now been suspended in a number of ways throughout his career. He has been suspended for his play on the field several times, but this is his first incident off the field which has him on the wrong side of the NFL law.

What should come to the forefront of Pittsburgh Steelers fans’ minds is whether or not the team will be scheduled to play the Bengals within the first four games of the regular season. The last time Burfict missed the first four games of the regular season the league had the two heated rivals play in the first quarter of the season — likely to avoid the ugliness which seems to follow when Burfict ever faces off against the Steelers.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on this story, and others involving the black-and-gold.

Sutton attacking all fronts this offseason

Steelers.com News - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 5:15pm
Cameron Sutton isn't limiting what he is working as he prepares for 2018.

Preseason schedule announced

Steelers.com Videos - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 3:42pm
Missi and Bob discuss the newly released Steelers' preseason schedule.

Pre-draft visits

Steelers.com Videos - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 3:41pm
We talk about pre-draft visits and their significance on Steelers Live.

NFL Draft Profile: Would Derrius Guice be the next great RB for the Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 2:28pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been extremely interested in Darrius Guice. Could he be the next great RB for Pittsburgh if the stars align?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back situation is anything but certain heading into the 2018 NFL Draft. Le’Veon Bell has been given the exclusive rights franchise tag for a second straight year, and Kevin Colbert said himself the draft can change everything, in regards to the ongoing contract talks between the two sides.

With that out of the way, it should be noted the Steelers have shown a tremendous amount of interest in LSU running back Derrius Guice. The team met with him prior to LSU’s Pro Day, and other reports show other meetings at the NFL Scouting Combine. The interest is there, and the debate on whether Guice will, or won’t, be available when the Steelers pick at No. 28 continues, but let’s put that small, yet huge, factor aside.

As a prospect, would Guice be the next great Steelers running back?

Purely as a runner, he certainly brings a different set of skills to the table compared to Le’Veon Bell. Bell is known for his patience, while Guice is known for his downhill style and punishing would-be tacklers. The thought of Guice and James Conner as a 1-2 punch in the backfield would be enough to make defensive backs think twice about coming into the box to make a tackle in the open field.

However, for as great as Guice is as a runner, he struggles in both pass blocking and pass catching. Two skills which are required to be a full-time running back in the NFL, especially with the Steelers. While Guice’s style might be a change-up to what Bell brings to the table, Bell’s overall ability to pass block, as well as run routes and catch the football are nearly unparalleled.

This is where the thought of a rookie coming in and making fans forget about Bell is nearly laughable. Could the Steelers win without Bell and a combination of Guice and Conner? Sure, but that has a lot to do with the franchise quarterback, a stout offensive line and a ridiculously deep wide receiving corps. This isn’t taking anything away from Bell or Guice, but merely stating actual facts.

Take a look at the overview of Guice, per his NFL Draft Profile:

Evaluating Guice requires settling in for two full seasons of tape study as he was only healthy a fraction of the 2017 season. While Guice has some elusiveness and long speed, much of his success comes from his furious running style and ability to create yardage after contact. Guice’s yards per touch was two yards higher over his first two seasons compared to last year. Like Leonard Fournette the year before, teams may be willing to lock in on his sophomore tape to create their evaluations and grades. Guice’s running style could lead to a shorter career, but he has a chance to make a big splash early.

The Steelers are certainly interested in Guice, and if available at No. 28 it would make for some compelling television as the team would have to decide what to do with the available players, and positions, remaining.

If you haven’t already, check the awesome ‘Draft Crush’ Draft Profile above on Guice, and answer the following questions in the comment section below:

1. If Guice is available at No. 28, regardless of other prospects, do the Steelers take him?

2. Would drafting Guice spell the end of the road for Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh?

3. Is Guice the type of player the Steelers should consider trading up to get?

Mel Kiper Jr. ‘Grade A’ 3-round mock draft has Steelers ignoring two biggest needs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 12:15pm

One half of the ESPN expert analyst team has produced his own 3-round mock draft, and the Steelers’ picks are certainly random.

With the 2018 NFL Draft on the horizon, experts across the nation are putting in their two cents/predictions on how they feel the upcoming draft will shake out. What might be the most amusing aspect of this practice is how every year the NFL Draft is absolutely crazy.

Trades, surprise picks and players plummeting down the board make it one of the best weekends, and absolutely zero football is actually played.

Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN put out his own 3-round mock draft recently to mirror what his counterpart, Todd McShay, did on Monday.

Kiper’s ‘Grade A’ mock draft has some ground rules which are worth going over:

  1. At each slot, I make a pick in the best interest of only the team with the pick
  2. No trades. I try to address team needs, but as with the actual draft, value can supersede need.
  3. I’m not projecting picks. This is more of a look at where I see value up and down the board, based on my rankings.

So, with that said, it is time to check in and see who Kiper has mocked to be a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018, and beyond.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Round 1 (28): Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College

Round 2 (60): Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

Round 3 (92): Chris Campbell, CB, Penn State

Pittsburgh’s top need is linebacker -- inside and outside. Ryan Shazier’s football future is in doubt, which leaves a hole in the middle of the Steelers’ 3-4. Maybe Jon Bostic can be a good one-year stopgap while the Steelers use a later pick on competition. In this mock, though, I thought Landry was too talented to pass up. He’s an edge rusher who had 16.5 sacks in 2016 but struggled with injuries in 2017 and wasn’t as productive. He came back from his injury at the combine and put up outstanding testing numbers.

Penny is more insurance in case the Steelers decide to not pay Le’Veon Bell. They took James Conner on Day 3 last year, but he barely played as a rookie. Penny is more of a big-play threat than Conner. Campbell is a bigger corner whom I’ve heard teams like as a late Day 2, early Day 3 flier.

The pick of Landry is surprising, just based on the fact the team would be taking an outside linebacker, again, in the first round. If this were to happen, you could probably go ahead and tell Bud Dupree his 5th year option will not be picked up and he should prepare to hit the free agent market at season’s end.

Kiper taking running back and cornerback in Rounds 2-3 isn’t a huge shock, considering the Le’Veon Bell situation and the fact Joe Haden likely only has one year left before he prices himself out of Pittsburgh.

When looking back at his selections, the one thing I can’t wrap my head around, and don’t see happening in the real-life draft, is the organization completely ignoring both inside linebacker AND safety on Days 1 and 2. I’m not suggesting the team has to pick up both an ILB and S in the first three rounds, but it is safe to assume one of those two positions one will be addressed early in the process.

This shouldn’t surprise fans who follow Kiper’s work. He has long overlooked glaring team needs to pick players which make fans say, “What?!” more than, “Oh yeah!”

What do you think about the selections? Let us know in the comment section below!

Analysis: Steelers will look at linebackers in draft regardless of Bud Dupree's future

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 11:02am

The Steelers have put a lot of emphasis on finding outside linebackers in the draft, using three of their past five No. 1 picks on that position.

Steelers 2017 Draft Retrospective: Was T.J. just Watt the doctor ordered?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 10:16am

When the Steelers made their opening pick of the 2017 NFL Draft by selecting linebacker T.J. Watt, many were excited at what the younger brother of uber defender J.J. Watt would bring to the table. But how right were we?

When it comes to first-round picks in the NFL Draft, few teams have had the success enjoyed by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite the occasional Jarvis Jones, it generally looks like pure genius when reviewing the Steelers’ first-round selections in retrospect.

In 2017, Pittsburgh selected T.J. Watt our of Wisconsin. Watt, the younger brother of Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt and Chargers fullback Derek Watt, can hardly be viewed as anything other than a success after his first season.

But that’s not what this retrospective is all about. Instead of looking at how well he performed, this is my chance to either gloat or eat crow, as we look back at how his season compared to my own expectations. And to reassure you, I’m never one to shy away from my own bad predictions — like when I predicted Jarvis Jones would have at least eight sacks in 2015, or that their 2016 run defense would be a top-three unit.

And then there was last season, when I predicted quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would have a “career year” before he spent the first six weeks stinking like a dirty diaper.

This time? No crow for me today, thank you.

What I said

Watt [has] a great first step, and his acceleration to the quarterback is probably only exceeded in this draft class by Takkarist McKinley. ... It also gives him the ability to drop into coverage, which he did a good bit at Wisconsin. In fact, he lined up all over the field: one play at left outside linebacker, the next on the right; now he’s dropping into coverage from the inside linebacker position, and then he’s head to head with a slot receiver.

What happened

Watt’s greatest asset in 2017 was his athleticism, which saw him line up all over the field. His first career interception came on a play in which he lined up in his normal position, then split wide on the slot receiver before falling into an intermediate zone along the seam. He read Cleveland quarterback Deshone Kizer’s eyes and made a leaping grab. In that game, he also tallied six tackles and two sacks.

It was his first career game.

One of those two sacks was partly the result of good coverage downfield, partly because it was also Kizer’s first game and he held the ball too long, and partly because of Watt’s relentless motor that saw him fight through three blockers and two complete changes in direction.

What I said

It also shows up in heaping helpings when he is in backside pursuit.

What happened

This is one of my favorite parts of Watt’s game. As he somewhat hit the proverbial “rookie wall” late in the season, it got a little sloppy at times, but Watt spent the better part of the season tracking down running backs and quarterbacks alike in backside pursuit. His read-and-react times were downright phenomenal for a rookie, no doubt helped by the tutelage of brother J.J. through the years.

What I said

And the best part of it all is that he is probably still a long, long way from reaching his ceiling. He’s good at what he does, and has the tools to be great.

What happened

Despite a wealth of great first-round picks, Watt may rank among the best for the Steelers because of how much room he still has for improvement. The game has yet to fully slow down for him, and yet he was a playmaker all season. There is little reason to think he won’t make a significant leap forward in 2018.

Holmes: 'It was tears of joy'

Steelers.com News - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 10:00am
Santonio Holmes talks about what his NFL Draft day was like.

Steelers host versatile wide receiver for official pre-draft visit

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 8:32am

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to host late round prospects.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are certainly doing their homework on prospects, just not players who are expected to be in contention for the team’s top pick in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft.

No, the team has been doing their diligence on players who are expected to be mid-to-late round draft picks, or, in some cases, priority free agents when the draft concludes.

The latest player to visit the team’s headquarters was none other than wide receiver Russell Gage from LSU.

Draft visitors 4/11: WR Russell Gage Jr., from LSU

— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) April 11, 2018

For those who don’t know anything about Gage, he is considered a 7th round pick, or a priority free agent, and has been lauded for his play on special teams. However, don’t think for a second he isn’t a player who can’t contribute something on offense too.

Take a look at this play he made vs. Auburn this past season:

Russell Gage, my goodness!
That's an @LSUFootball touchdown. pic.twitter.com/3n4n0SNgt0

— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 14, 2017

In fact, on his NFL Draft Profile the following was given as an overview of Gage as a potential prospect:

While Gage may lack the elite size or production of a draftable wide receiver, he does possess the athletic ability and competitive nature to be considered as a diamond in the rough on Day 3. Gage has the speed, toughness, and instincts on both punt and kick coverage to create some buzz in the buildings from special teams coaches during the run-up process to the draft. Gage’s special teams talent could land him on the roster, but he has some raw natural ability as a slot receiver that may bear fruit at some point.

Sounds like a player the Steelers could, and probably, will target in the draft process. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on this news, and all news surrounding the black-and-gold.

Steelers Throwback Thursday: Besting the Brownies in the snow

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 6:48am

BTSC goes back in time to one of the greatest comebacks in Pittsburgh Steeler history.

After going way back to the 1974 playoffs last week, I decided to save on plutonium and only travel back 15 years to one of the craziest Steeler playoff games ever. So join me as we head back to a time when Gollum impressions were in full gear as movie-goers flocked to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in droves, listeners had no problem finding Eminem’s Lose Yourself pulsing through their speakers of choice, President George W. Bush was nearing the second half of his first term in office and calling for healthcare reform and Ohio State shocked Miami at the Fiesta Bowl 31-24 to win the National Title.

Meanwhile, another pigskin team from the Buckeye State was exceeding expectations as well. On January 5, 2003, the Cleveland Browns were making their first playoff appearance in eight seasons since their first ever playoff matchup with their longtime turnpike rivals, a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. This time around, Bill Belichick and Vinny Testeverde were long gone and Butch Davis and Kelly Holcomb were leading the charge against Pittsburgh in a snowy first round clash.

After shutting down the veteran Holcomb, starting in his fifth game as a pro, the Steelers took over on offense in their first drive with a 50-yard run by Amos Zeroue. But on the very next play, Tommy Maddox was intercepted by Daylon McCutcheon on the Browns 22. Holcomb struck quickly by hitting a streaking Kevin Johnson for 21. The rookie William Green took the ball in from the one for a 7-0 lead just 1:16 into the game.

16 seconds into the second quarter, future Steeler Chris Gardocki punted and Louis Sanders blinded Antwan Randle-El, forcing him to cough it up at the Steelers 32. On the very next play, Dennis Northcutt beat Hank Poteat for the touchdown. 14-0 Cleveland. Potent was playing for starter Chad Scott, who was out with an injured hand.

The Steelers took over and started moving the ball well. But on the Browns 25, Maddox was intercepted again by McCutcheon after his ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Dwayne Rudd. However the Browns were forced to punt. Antwaan Randle El, who Cowher told that he “owed him one” after the turnover, paid his debt quickly by going down the right sideline for a 66-yard touchdown

It was the first ever punt return for a touchdown in the playoffs in Pittsburgh history. 14-7 Browns.

Towards the end of the first half the Browns drove down the field to the Steeler one. But Holcomb get sacked by Joey Porter for a 15-yard loss. After a 31-yarder by Phil Dawson to widen the Cleveland lead, Jeff Reed lined up for a 46-yarder to tighten up the game, but he missed to end the half. 17-7 Brownies.

To start the third, the Steelers Tom Rouen punted to Northcutt, who returned the ball 59 yards to the Steelers 15. Three plays later, Northcutt’s second touchdown of the day made the score 24-7 with 12:11 to play in the third. Steeler fans were starting to pack their gear.

Safety Mike Logan owed Cowher one too. After getting nailed for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Holcomb to extend a drive, alogan intercepted the former Colt backup quarterback a few plays later with 7:35 remaining in the third. On the ensuing drive, Maddox conjured up the magic that was so indicative of his 2002 season and drove the Steelers down the field. “Tommy Gun” hit a jumping and balletic Plaxico Burress for the six-yard score. It was now 24-14 with 3:50 to go in the third.

After a Browns drive down to the Steeler seven stalled, the Browns settled for 24-yard Dawson field goal, a mere eight seconds into the third. At 27-14, more than a few fans started to file out. Something you should never, ever do.

In a nervous moment for Pittsburgh, Randle El (who was on fire the entire drive) caught his third pass of the drive and fumbled on the two-yard line and it looked like the Browns had recovered. However the call was reversed on the field when No. 82 was ruled down by contact. Moments later with 12:28 left in the fourth, Maddox had another ball tipped at the line of scrimmage by Dwayne Rudd, but he had enough on it to find Jerame Tuman in the back of the Endzone for the touchdown. It was now 27-21 Cleveland. Fans in the parking lot circled back to try and re-enter to no avail.

With 10:17 to play, the Browns extended their lead when the red-hot Holcomb threw another touchdown pass, this time to André Davis from 22 out. The Browns went for two, but Holcomb’s pass to Quincy Morgan was well-defended be Deshea Townsend. 33-21 Cleveland. It was looking bleak again.

With 5:30 left, the Steelers get the ball back at their own 23 and frantically moved down the white-speckled Heinz Field turf. A couple of minutes later, Maddox threw incomplete on third down, but Robert Griffith hit Hines Ward helmet-to-helmet and was penalized. It was the third first-down due to penalties on the drive. 33-28 Cleveland.

With 3:11 to play, Maddox threw into traffic on the goal line on third and goal from the five, but Hines Ward came up with the clutch grab for the touchdown. After a quick three-and-out the Steelers got the ball back 46 ticks later, just inside their own 40 after a punt.

Maddox (30-48 for 367 yards and 3 TDs) drove the Steelers down the field and with 54 seconds remaining, Chris Fuamatu -Ma’afala took the ball in from the three for a 34-33 lead. The 2PC attempt was interesting as Hines Ward lined up at QB, but Randle El took the direct snap, rolled right and found Tuman for a 36-33 lead. The Steelers played over 59 minutes of football before finally taking your first lead of the game.

Holcomb (26/43 for 429 yards and 3 scores) got down to the Steeler 30 as time expired, denying Dawson a chance at a tie.

The Steelers won one of the most exciting games in their history and the remaining fans rejoiced. With Jerome Bettis on the bench and behind Maddox, Randle El, Ward, Burress, Zeroue, Kendrell Bell, Jason Gildon and James Farrior...the Steelers pulled it out. They would lose in dramatic fashion the next week in Tennessee, but this remains a joyous Steeler classic.

I was at West Virginia Steeler Central with my buddy Gene at my friend Tom Regan’s house. Tom’s house was the gathering place every season for Steeler games and about ten to fifteen people gathered in a small space to watch the game...except Tom who was at Heinz Field. We laughed as one of Tom’s buddies, a Browns fan, called in the fourth quarter proclaiming victory. That call inspired my motto, “You never celebrate until there are zeroes on the clock”.

Steelers “Sour 16” Bracket: 1999 Troy Edwards vs 2009 Evander “Ziggy” Hood

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 5:33am

BTSC’s celebration of the less favorable first-rounders in Steelers history continues with picks ten years apart.

BTSC continues to look at the Pittsburgh Steelers least successful first round selections since 1969 with a Cowher/Tomlin region matchup between a hard-luck corner from Colorado and a more recent LB pick from UGA. But first let’s conclude the first round with the final Noll region match from the first round.

1993 Deon Figures 7% (95 votes)

2013 Jarvis Jones 93% (1,263 votes)

1,358 votes total

As always, the criteria for selection is performance in a player’s Steeler career. There may be some players that you find not worthy of conclusion on this list. That is a good thing. That proves that the Steelers remain a very good drafting team, especially in the first round.

2009 Round 1 Pick 32

DE Evander “Ziggy” Hood-Missouri

Because of the Super Bowl XLIII victory, Pittsburgh picked last in the first round. Ziggy Hood was the result. No. 96 had 11 sacks and 144 tackles in five seasons as a Steeler. He moved on to Jacksonville in 2014, spent ‘15 in Chicago and reemerged as a starter Washington in 2016. Hood was a starter in Super Bowl XLV against Green Bay.

1999 Round 1 Pick 13

WR Troy Edwards

This was a very myopic pick. The Steelers thought they needed a receiver (even though Hines Ward was already in-house), so they took the best, although undersized receiver, still available. Fortunes started out well for Edwards with 61 catches as a rookie that netted him the Joe Greene Great Performance Award, but it soured from there. Edwards only started seven games for the black and gold. In his three years in Pittsburgh, Troy had 1,212 yards and six total TDs. Edwards was traded to St. Louis for one season and played with both Detroit and Jacksonville. He concluded his career with Grand Rapids in the Arena League. Edwards was infamous in Pittsburgh for running out-of-bounds and coming back in on punt defense in the 2001 AFC Title Game. The Patriots took advantage of the subsequent penalty and Troy Brown returned the re-punt for a TD.

The leading vote-getter moves on to the second round. Be sure to vote below and continue logging in to BTSC for plenty of offseason news, mocks, commentary and fun.

Asked and Answered: April 12

Steelers.com News - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 5:00am
Another installment of Bob Labriola answering your questions about the Steelers and the NFL.

Ryan Shazier pumps up Penguins crowd before Game 1 versus Flyers

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 6:43pm

“It’s a hockey night in Pittsburgh” is usually broadcaster Mike Lange’s line, but Ryan Shazier made it work. 

Steelers and UPMC tackling sports injuries

Steelers.com Videos - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 5:06pm
The Steelers and UPMC continue to break barriers in the treatment of sports related injuries.

Steelers official 2018 preseason schedule released

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 4:05pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers found out who they will play, and in which week as the 2018 NFL Preseason Schedule was released.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, and the rest of the NFL, have received their first taste of football since Super Bowl 52 by way of the 2018 NFL Preseason schedule release.

Yes, all those meaningless games which serve as tune ups for the regular season have been set in stone. Well, the league has announced who will play where in what week, but the official dates and times will be listed as To Be Determined (TBD).

Take a look at the Steelers’ 2018 Preseason Schedule:

Aug. 9-12 (Week 1) at Philadelphia Eagles

Aug. 16-19 (Week 2) at Green Bay Packers

Saturday, Aug. 25 (Week 3) vs. Tennessee Titans

Thursday, Aug. 30 (Week 4) vs. Carolina Panthers

As usual, the Steelers play four preseason games, several against teams who they have an ongoing familiarity with, in regards to preseason games. The Steelers almost always play the Carolina Panthers in Week 4 of the preseason, and they do again this year, but the game will be played at Heinz Field.

For the ‘Final Dress Rehearsal’, or the third preseason game, it should be noted the Steelers will host the Titans at Heinz Field.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on the preseason schedule, as well as the full NFL schedule which will be released later this month.

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