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Podcast: Would the Steelers have scored more than the Pats in SB LIII?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 5:27am

Discuss all things Steelers and beyond after the Super Bowl. BTSC’s Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo discuss that and more.

The Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t in the Super Bowl, but it doesn’t take much to wonder if Randy Fichtner’s unit could have put up more than one TD on the Rams in the Super Bowl. Join Bryan Davis and Anthony Defeo from BTSC for the extravaganza known as “Steelers Hangover”. The Steelers arent gearing up for the Super Bowl, but Tony and Bryan have plenty to discuss with help from Steeler Nation.

Check out a rundown of the show:

-- Fact or Fiction

- How would have a Big Ben and the O fared against the Rams defense?

- Latest Steeler Drama

- Looking ahead

- 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

You can listen to it in the player below:

Black and Gold Links: Is Antonio Brown having a change of heart?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 4:31am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at whether Antonio Brown’s sporadic behavior on social media has him thinking about a change of heart. You know, coming back to the Steelers next season rather than requesting/demanding a trade away from the team who drafted him into the league.

Let’s get to the news:

Tim Benz: Has Antonio Brown changed his mind about Pittsburgh?

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Has Antonio Brown changed his mind about wanting to stay in Pittsburgh?

The Steelers wide receiver continues to show that he is not bipolar. He’s tripolar. Maybe quadpolar — if that’s a thing.

If it isn’t yet, it will be as soon as Brown is diagnosed.

Now — after weeks of turning his nose up at the Steelers and pandering to the Packers and 49ers fan bases — Brown is pleading for acceptance from Steelers fans again.

I’m going to assume A.B. meant “SteelerNation RT (retweet) if u WANT AB in Pittsburgh.” But perhaps he was too busy grooming his blonde mustache to pay attention to his syntax.

Regardless of his insubordination at the end of the 2018 season, that tweet still got 31,000 retweets and 20,000 likes at the time of this post.

(To read more, click the link in the headline above...)

Steelers’ ‘perfect catch’ turns 10: When Santonio Holmes won a Super Bowl

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

After Larry Fitzgerald split a sea of Pittsburgh Steelers defenders to give the Arizona Cardinals the lead with 2:37 left in Super Bowl XLIII, Santonio Holmes told himself he wouldn’t be denied again.

He thought of missed opportunities in his football career, from underwhelming performances in meaningful high school games to redshirting during Ohio State’s 2002 national championship season.

He had to be the difference this time, so he walked up to his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, who was positioned close to offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, and tapped him on the hip.

”I said, ‘[No.] 7, I want the ball right now,’” Holmes, 34, recalled of his words before the game-winning drive. “‘No disrespect to the other guys. I want the ball.’ He never said anything. He just threw it to me.”

Ten years ago Friday, Holmes made a play that will forever live in black-and-gold folklore. The freeze frame says it all: Holmes tapping his two feet on the Cardinal-painted end zone as three defenders closed in, securing the ball while bracing for the fall out of bounds from the far corner.

Roethlisberger delivered the kind of throw that inspires shoe ads. The brilliant 6-yard touchdown with 42 seconds left gave the Steelers a 27-23 lead, secured their sixth world championship and changed Holmes’ life forever.

”Millions are watching you. What are you going to do now?” Holmes said about his mentality before the play. “You didn’t ask God to put you in this place for you not to do what you were supposed to do.

”This won’t break me. This will make me. Legends never die.”

(To read more, click the link in the headline above...)

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tops NFLPA’s merchandise sales list

By: Associated Press

Who’s No. 1 in football?

When it comes to merchandise sales, who else but Tom Brady?

According to the NFL Players Association Top 50 Player Sales List, based on total sales of all officially licensed NFL player merchandise from March-November 2018 -- the most updated survey available -- the quarterback ranks ahead of Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott. Brady leads New England into a Super Bowl for the ninth time on Sunday.

The list includes NFL player-branded merchandise sold from online and traditional retail outlets as reported by more than 70 NFLPA licensees. Licensed product categories include men’s, women’s and youth game jerseys and T-shirts; player murals; collectible figures; matted and framed photos; bobbleheads; drinkware; calendars; puzzles; and holiday ornaments.

The next two players on the list are Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley and Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, followed by three quarterbacks: Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz, and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes.

Rounding out the top 10 are Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, Texans QB Deshaun Watson and Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack, the only defensive player on the list.

Counting Down the days to key 2019 dates for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 12:43pm

The offseason has officially begun, so the anticipation for the 2019 NFL season is on the clock.

Let the countdown begin!

Although the Steelers off-season began weeks ago, the 2018 NFL season has now officially concluded. Unfortunately, this means we now have no meaningful football to look forward to for more than half a year. With various off-season events sprinkled over the next several months, we can officially count down the number of days to key off-season dates.

0 days: Waivers

Today is the first day of the implementation of the waiver system for 2019. Players can now be waived in order to enter free agency for next year.

15 days: Franchise/Transition Tag

Beginning on February 19, 2019 teams are able to designate a player with the franchise or transition tag. Teams have two weeks (until 4 PM on March 5, 2019) until the deadline for designation.

22 days: Scouting Combine

The NFL scouting combine begins on February 26, 2019 in Indianapolis. It runs for a week until March 4.

35 days: Free Agent Negotiation

For the three days leading up to when free agency officially begins, teams may begin negotiating with players and agents for free-agent signings on March 11, 2019.

37 days: Free Agency

At 4 PM on March 13, 2019, teams may officially sign free-agent players to contracts for the upcoming season. This is also the deadline for teams to exercise options on players, submit restricted free agent and exclusive rights tenders, and for teams to be under the 2019 salary cap. Teams may also trade players once the 4 PM deadline has passed.

70 days: Offseason Workouts

April 15, 2019 is the first day teams with returning head coaches can begin their offseason workout program.

~73 days: NFL Schedule Release

It isn’t usually announced until just before it occurs, but the general release date for the NFL schedule is about a week before the draft.

80 days: NFL Draft

The 2019 NFL draft will be held in Nashville, Tennessee beginning on April 25.

161 days: Franchise Tag Signing

Any player who was designated with a franchise tag must have a signed contract by 4 PM on July 15, 2019. After this date, the player can only play under the tag for the season.

168 days: Transition Tag Signing

Any player who is designated with the transition tag must have a signed contract from another club by 4 PM on July 22, 2019. After this date, only the team who issued the tag has exclusive negotiating rights.

~170 days: Training Camp

Although with the Steelers will not officially announce the official start date of training camp until the preseason schedule is set, they generally report the middle of the final week of July.

178 days: Hall of Fame Game

Hopefully this date is insignificant to the Steelers and they are not forced to play a fifth preseason game. But the next time NFL players face off on the field will be in the Hall of Fame game on August 1, 2019.

185-188 days: First Preseason Game

Assuming the Steelers are not stuck playing in the Hall of Fame game, their first preseason game will lie somewhere between Thursday, August 8 and Sunday, August 11, 2019.

206 days: Last Preseason Game

If the NFL follows their typical schedule, the final preseason games for all teams will be on Thursday, August 29, 2019.

208 days: 53-man Rosters

By 4 PM on Saturday, August 31, teams will have to make their final cuts in order to determine the 53-man roster.

213 days: NFL Kickoff Game

Thursday, September 5, 2019 will be the first game of the NFL season. Barring a horrendous scheduling conflict much like that in 2013, the game will be played in New England. The most likely opponent for the game will either be Pittsburgh, Dallas, Kansas City, or possibly even Cleveland being an up-and-coming team.

363 days: Super Bowl LIV

Super Bowl LIV is scheduled to be played on February 2, 2020 in Miami, Florida. Get your reservations booked now Steelers fans!

Mock Draft Monday: The Steelers complete their move to a sub-package defense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 11:24am

The Steelers make up for the Morgan Burnett whiff with a safety selection in Round 1.

Well, another week, another mock draft, and since I have seemingly mocked every cliche Steelers pick, including Mack Wilson, DeAndre Baker, and Byron Murphy, so out of the box craziness does lie ahead for the sake of repetition. Last week, I went full blown crazy and gave the Steelers a TE....and not even the best TE in the draft at that. Regardless, I am trying to keep these rational still, so here it goes, a mock up to 20.

  1. Arizona Cardinals — EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
  2. San Francisco 49ers — EDGE Josh Allen, Kentucky
  3. New York Jets — OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
  4. Oakland Raiders — EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — IDL Quinnen Williams, Alabama
  6. New York Giants — ILB Devin White, LSU
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars — QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
  8. Detrioit Lions — IDL Ed Oliver, Houston
  9. Buffalo Bills — OT Cody Ford, Oklahoma
  10. Denver Broncos — QB Drew Lock, Missouri
  11. Cincinnati Bengals — ILB Mack Wilson, Alabama
  12. Green Bay Packers — EDGE Jachai Polite, Florida
  13. Miami Dolphins — QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
  14. Atlanta Falcons — EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
  15. Washington Redskins — S Deionte Thompson, Alabama
  16. Carolina Panthers — OT Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia
  17. Cleveland Browns — CB Greedy Williams, LSU
  18. Minnesota Vikings — OT Dalton Risner, Kansas State
  19. Tennessee Titans — CB Byron Murphy, Washington
20. Pittsburgh Steelers — S Nasir Adderley, Delaware

The Steelers are stuck here. Devin Bush is certainly an option, but he feels like a reach. WR is an option, but in this case, Antonio Brown is still on the team, and it does not make that much sense to waste all that draft capital there. DeAndre Baker and Amani Oruwariye are options as well, but Baker’s long speed deters the Steelers away and Oruwariye’s run support woes do not scream ‘Steelers CB!’.

So, even if the Steelers selected a safety last year in Round 1, why not add that elusive third safety so we can undo the wrong of Morgan Burnett. Meet Nasir Adderley, who can play in the Nickel, at Strong Safety, at dimebacker, moneybacker, and even in his preferred spot, single-high. This guy has insane instincts, ball skills, and most importantly, an alpha male mentality that spreads to the rest of the defense.

Nasir Adderley plays a ferocious temperament and it is awesome to watch. Dude wants all the smoke and is never afraid to lay the boom. pic.twitter.com/ohEL7rVteV

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) February 3, 2019

Adderley has the instincts to be around the ball and make splash plays all the time. The play above is only a microcosm of what he does. He has an endless motor and with the versatility he possesses, is an incredibly alluring prospect to have on the team at the very least.

Great interception by Nasir Adderley. Reads the trip side, but then transitions deep to pick off the quarterback pic.twitter.com/sdGZNK6bXs

— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) January 18, 2019

I was not kidding about the range and ability to process and read the QB. He can simply see the field and make a big play on it. His ability to convert turnovers with his ball skills, though is the big game changer. Overall, not only would he add flexibility in the sub-packages, but this is a player who can produce turnovers.

Antonio Brown asks fans if they want him to stay with the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 10:00am

And some of the responses were far from encouraging.

With the eyes of the football world focused on Atlanta for the kickoff of Super Bowl LIII at 6.30 p.m ET on Sunday night, Antonio Brown figured that exact moment was the perfect time to reach out to Pittsburgh Steelers fans via social media in an effort to gauge how much they wanted him back with the team in 2019.

SteelerNation RT if u AB in Pittsburgh

— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 3, 2019

Assuming that Brown’s tweet was simply missing the word want, there can be little question that AB intentionally dropped this provocative post just as the Super Bowl began for maximum attention. And unsurprisingly, not all of the answers he received were as encouraging as he might have liked.

Ranging from obscene to indifferent, there were plenty of negative responses for Brown to sift through among the more positive replies.

Don’t want @AB84 in Pittsburgh!!!! Not ever again!!!!

— Joe Moe (@joemoe79) February 4, 2019

You should want to be in Pittsburgh. Not the other way around.

— Brandon Einstein (@BrandonEMC2) February 3, 2019

Nah. You quit on your team & teammates. You gave up & walked out the final week of the season. You want the spotlight & to be mentioned in every breath, but then you complain about it. It’s time to start anew. May you play many more years, but not in black & gold.

— Jeffrey Seals (@theUNLVBigGuy) February 4, 2019

But based on the 30K retweets his post had received at the time of writing, it would seem most fans still want him back in Pittsburgh, despite all the recent drama.

AB! Plz plz stay!! You are an incredibly dynamic receiver, and have a whole supporting cast hacking you up! Plz stay my dude! You’re the man!

— Liam Botos (@kmrshaliach) February 3, 2019

@AB84 Brotha. You the goat. Stay in the Burgh forever! Get that ring!

— jake (@STACYs_mommm) February 4, 2019

Yes we want you please come back

— Logan (@Beyond_626) February 4, 2019

There were also a number of responses from fans confused as to what Brown was actually asking in the first place.

I can't RT because I am not AB in Pittsburgh.

— Steeler Chick ⚾️☠️ (@SteelerChickPGH) February 4, 2019

U high?

— Will Dzombak (@RealTaylorGang) February 4, 2019

I have no idea what you mean but yes I agree

— Riggsy (@t_riggsy) February 3, 2019

It is difficult at times to understand how Brown believes his use of social media helps his public profile and it often feels that AB subscribes to the theory that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Beyond the ego boost of seeing his phone light up with notifications when he posts, it is hard to see how his use of social media has helped his image recently.

Le’Veon Bell managed to alienate many of his fans in much the same way and it appears Brown is intent on following the same destructive path, one that is likely to end with Brown playing for another team in 2019, just like Bell.

Pittsburgh Steelers Fact or Fiction: Post-Super Bowl edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 8:15am

BTSC determines whether five statements regarding the Steelers are fact or fiction.

There is so much uncertainty surrounding the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers and fans of Steeler Nation have queries and opinions every single day of what might happen. Debates have begun on what will and should occur. With that being said, BTSC examines bold statements surrounding the team and determines them factual or completely fictitious. The Steelers would have scored more points in the Super Bowl than the Patriots. Fact

Truthfully, we will never know. Yes, the Rams played a stifling brand of defense. But Ben and the Steelers have way more firepower. The Pats were fourth in 2018 in scoring with 28.6, the Steelers were fifth at 26.8. In my head, they would have scored more than 13. But that’s me.

KDKA erred in firing their producer for the “known cheater” chyron. Fiction

As cute as we all thought it was, Mike Telek compromised KDKA’s journalistic integrity and their standards. I hate the Pats like he does, but that was poor judgement on his behalf and it made his employers look bad. I hope he scores another job quickly and I commend him for refusing a Go Fund Me page. But Telek’s actions merited his dismissal.

The Steelers should stay away from Terrelle Pryor in free agency. Fiction

I would definitely bring him in and let the area native compete with a prove-it deal. The WR stable needs strengthened and Pryor is better than Justin Hunter and Darius Heyward-Bey. Sure, he had only 252 yards last year and two TDs, but Pryor is not too far removed from his 1,000-yard season in 2016. If he can prove to be a solid fourth or fifth option in camp, He’s worth a flyer.

Kevin Colbert could get players or picks out of both Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Fact

The Steelers control where Antonio Brown goes, At this juncture, AB still maintains that he wants to go. Who knows what return they will get out of the superstar WR, but Colbert can make sure he gets the best deal he can. As for Bell, the possibility is still there to transitional tag No. 26 and then trade him. That would at least give the Steelers a chance to get something out of the running back.

Renewing Ryan Shazier’s contract is the right thing to do? Fact

The Steelers stuck with Rocky Bleier after Vietnam and it paid off for them. While I don’t think that the Steelers actually expect that Shazier will return to the field after that devestating injury suffered to his spine on December 4, 2017, they are taking care of one of their own and that’s first class in my book.

.........

Feel free to refute my opinions in the comment section. I could be right or way off base. But the glory of freedom is that we all have an opinion. Have fun and always think outside the bun.

Alan Faneca is a Hall of Fame guard — I know it, you know it, and some day, the voters will know it

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 6:59am

Former Steelers guard Alan Faneca missed out on the Hall of Fame for the fourth time since retiring from the NFL in 2010. Fortunately for him, it’s just a matter of time until he makes it. Fortunately for the fans, his being left out yet again doesn’t change what we already know. He’s one of the best guards in NFL history.

I remember when Alan Faneca was drafted out of LSU.

Just months after another great year for the Steelers in 1997, Faneca was a now familiar late first-round pick (26th, overall) in the 1998 NFL Draft. There usually isn’t a whole lot to get excited about when it comes to late first-round picks, especially when your team is a perennial Super Bowl contender, and especially when the pick is a guard.

Unbeknownst to me and thousands of other Steelers fans at that time, Pittsburgh’s run as a perennial contender in the 1990s had already come to an end months prior in a 24-21 loss to the Broncos in the AFC Championship game at Three Rivers Stadium.

But while the next few years would be tough and playoff-less, the Steelers were building (or rebuilding) a foundation for their next Super Bowl run—one that would ultimately lead to the franchise’s first championship in 26 years.

Youngsters named Hines Ward, Joey Porter, Marvel Smith, Aaron Smith and Casey Hampton were some of the new building blocks, players who would make the Steelers relevant again by the turn of the century.

Faneca was the first building block.

Faneca, who was up for Hall of Fame induction on Saturday—his fourth year of eligibility since retiring following the 2010 season—missed out yet again. I know this because cries of “bullbleep!” filled my Twitter feed immediately after the results of the voting were announced.

Why didn’t Faneca make it this year? Were there players more deserving? Were there offensive linemen more deserving? (Kevin Mawae made it in.) Too many Steelers already in Canton, as it is?

All the reasons seem arbitrary if a player is truly a Hall of Famer. Obviously, Faneca had a Hall of Fame career. Nine-straight Pro Bowls and being named a First Team All-Pro six times? Those are Canton credentials.

As I’ve said many times before, either a player is a Hall of Famer or he’s not. If he is, it seems silly to make him wait. But, then again, it would probably be silly to see dozens of players get in all at once.

Faneca will get in. It’s just a matter of time at this point, and whether his induction happens in 2020, 2021 or 2022, fortunately for him, he’ll still be young and healthy and able to enjoy it for many, many years.

I wish I was an offensive line expert and could break down technical reasons why Faneca was the best guard of his era. I can’t do that--I just know that he was.

What I remember about Faneca was his consistency and athleticism. I remember the many times people I watched games with laughing with delight as they said, “Look at Faneca running all the way down the field!” This was typical of many long running plays involving Jerome Bettis, Willie Parker, etc.

When I think of Faneca, I remember the time he knelt on the turf of the New Orleans Superdome as trainers tried to stop the blood that was gushing from his forehead. I remember his flippant remarks when reporters asked him if he was excited to have rookie Ben Roethlisberger start his very first game at quarterback early in the 2004 season. I remember the 2005 season and attending the weekly taping of the Joey Porter Show late in the year right as the team began its magical run to Super Bowl XL (the most fun I’ve ever had as a sports fan took place over the course of those two months). Peezy and his co-host, Chris Hope, swapped many stories during these tapings. One that stood out was about Faneca, and how they knew when he and the rest of the offense were feeling it. “Get us the ball back, they can’t stop us!” Faneca was known to say as he came off the field in those days. “If Big Red is telling us we have to get the ball back, I guess we have to get the ball back,” was the general sentiment of the defense, according to Porter and Hope. I remember the usually intense and serious Faneca pumping his fist in joy on the sideline in the final moments of the AFC title game against the Broncos when it was certain that the Steelers would be making their first trip to the Super Bowl in a decade. Speaking of Porter, one of my favorite sports images of all-time is from the final moments of Super Bowl XL, when he and Faneca, two players that couldn’t have seemed more opposite, jumped into each other’s arms to celebrate that One For The Thumb.

But, most of all, when I think of Faneca, I remember the magnificent block he threw early in the second half of Super Bowl XL that helped spring Fast Willie Parker on a 75-yard touchdown run.

Again, Faneca will have his day at Canton, and when his likeness is finally immortalized there, it will join many other Steeler greats—including centers Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson (Dawson didn’t get inducted into the HOF until 2012 which kind of seems absurd since he was regarded as the greatest center of his time—sound familiar)?

But no matter when Faneca does get enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it won’t change the memories, and it won't change what we have known all along—he’s one of the best guards to have ever played in the National Football League.

Setting froth a complete offseason plan for the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 5:57am

Diving into how the Steelers can improve in 2019

With the 2018 season over in disappointment, the Steelers are sitting at home and are left to wonder what could have been. With an epic second half of the season collapse, the Steelers missed the playoffs and the drama that has pervaded throughout the locker room has been nothing short of toxic. It very well may cause them to move on from key elements of their super bowl hopes, and with it, this team fades further from their goal of a super bowl. With Ben Roethlisberger nearing the end of his career, how can they maximize their window? Here it is, a full offseason plan.

Re-signing Phase

There are lots of tough decisions here of who to let go and who to actually keep, so this was probably my toughest section to do, honestly.

RB Le’Veon Bell

I just don’t know how you can bring him back at this point unless it is on some type of super discounted deal. Bell will test the market and get paid far outside of what the Steelers would want to pay him overall. He is as good as gone.

OG Ramon Foster

If he can be got at a reasonable price, I still believe Foster is more than worth it to bring back. Foster is one of the better guards in the NFL and still keeps the core in tact together. His locker room presence alone is a big reason to keep him around.

OL Matt Feiler

Feiler was a rock star as he filled in for Marcus GIlbert and likely earned a multi-year extension by doing so. He can play inside or at RT, but regardless, he is incredibly valuable as depth.

OL BJ Finney

Finney is the heir to the Ramon Foster throne, and if he does happen to leave, Finney would be a fantastic replacement. He is straight up solid and would start for most teams in this league. Re-sign, obviously.

LS Kameron Canaday

Canaday was solid, and his name was never said, bring him back.

DL L.T. Walton

Walton didn’t get a hat for most of the season, and it is really murky as to what his role on this team is at this point. When he did play, he did nothing of note, so there is little to no incentive to bring him back.

ILB L.J. Fort

Fort was a key cog on the defense this year and deserves a multi-year extension. So, he should be extended, as he proved to be the best ILB on this team as the season progressed. With Fort giving the Steelers more security in the middle of the field, it should be a premium to keep him.

DL Tyson Alualu

The Steelers will need defensive lineman depth, and will likely have to address it through the draft, but Alualu is a great depth piece and spot starter. This is a pretty easy bring back.

P Jordan Berry

He is extremely mediocre, but got better towards the end of the year. Bring in competition and let him compete.

OLB Anthony Chickillo

Incredibly meh and nothing special, but the Steelers are so needy at OLB depth wise that Chickillo almost has to be brought back. I wouldn’t bring him back otherwise, but it is certainly somewhat essential to bring him back.

CB Coty Sensabaugh

Sensabaugh was a fantastic fill-in after the woes of CB2 in the early season with the collapse of Artie Burns, and he should be brought back as a fantastic depth piece. Sensabaugh graded out incredibly well for PFF, and is a valuable piece to have there.

S Nat Berhe

He is coming off of a torn pectoral and is nothing more than a special teams guy, there is no reason to bring him back here.

TE Xavier Grimble

A solid 3rd TE who needs to learn how to carry a football, but regardless, he is a really, really good blocker and that is extremely desirable as a third TE.

TE Jesse James

The obvious answer to bring back the Outlaw. He is the peak of solid and can catch and block extremely well. The question is did he price himself out of Pittsburgh? I would bring him back at the right price, but I am not overpaying.

CB Mike Hilton

Hilton is probably priority #1 in the offseason. With this team being bare at CB outside of him and Joe Haden, Hilton getting an extension is a natural step. He didn’t have a great end to the season, but he has more than earned that extension.

WR Justin Hunter

Coming off of a season-ending injury and I just do not see the reason to bring him back. He is mediocre at best and this is a deep WR draft. He can be replaced.

WR Eli Rogers

Rogers was fantastic in the limited games he played this year, and the Steelers, if they have the opportunity, should keep him in Pittsburgh as well. He adds another weapon to the dynamic offense and really opened up the playbook.

OLB Keion Adams

Adams is still developing and a solid depth guy, he should be brought back to see what he can be in Year 3.

RB Stevan Ridley

Fumbleitis alert, Ridley is nothing special and honestly was meh most of the year. If it was up to me, he wouldn’t be back.

ILB Ryan Shazier

No idea here. But his locker room presence and positive influence is enough for me. Bring him back.

WR Derrius Heyward-Bey

Great veteran presence, but honestly, kinda useless otherwise. He was not even that good of a gunner this year. I would let him walk, but if he wants to be a coach, he can come right on aboard.

Other Contracts and Moves

Sean Davis

Davis has straight up earned this extension, man. He had a few lackadaisical plays, but with another offseason at single-high under his belt, I anticipate that Davis will begin to really come into his own and become even more of a contributor, especially with ball skills starting to show up more.

Javon Hargrave

Hargrave finally broke out this year and when he saw snaps, he made more than the most of them. Hargrave is naturally a 4-3 3 technique, but he has embraced his role and has begun to get 5 technique reps and has wrecked the line with them. He is integral on the line and is a great player to have going forward. Get him an extension.

Morgan Burnett and Jon Bostic

These two guys were brought in but, honestly, as the rest of the plan unfolds, they just do not have a place on the team. Releasing them would give us some much needed cap space, and thus, they are natural moves.

Ben Roethlisberger

Negotiations are already underway with Big Ben to come back for beyond 2019, and we will take that into account as well. Roethlisberger’s extension would free up some more cap space as well.

Trade Antonio Brown

I can’t believe I have to type this out, but we have to do this. So, the Steelers trade him to the 49ers for the 49ers’ 2nd, 4th, and a future 4th. This is a realistic looking deal, as there is no way the 2nd overall is actually in play, but in a deep class, this is a super nice haul.

Bud Dupree

Rescind the 5th year option and re-negotiate to a cheaper deal.

Free Agency

The Steelers, facing a closing window, should theoretically take a bit more of a proactive approach here in free agency, just for logic sake.

Sign ILB Jordan Hicks

You wanted a big play, well, here it is. Hicks has unfortunately dealt with some injuries, but he is an elite talent at ILB and likely won’t command all that much because of his injuries. Hicks is that low key type of signing the Steelers will make. This has high upside and low risk, so it is a natural fit.

Sign IDL Henry Anderson

The Jets did not use Anderson all that much this season, but he logged an impressive 48 pressures out of that defense. He is an underrated player and will not command all that much money and can be an excellent player on that interior line, and it frees up a draft pick, too.

Sign CB Pierre Desir

Desir broke out finally in 2018 and was used heavily in the cover 2 and press man heavy scheme of Indianapolis, which meshes about as well as you could wish for it to do in Pittsburgh. This is a fantastic signing either as a starter or a great depth piece.

Sign RB Mike Davis

This move is so underappreciated, but just go check out a short highlight film of Davis’ from this season and you will see an underrated back who can be an excellent rotational piece and do it all. Davis is a huge upgrade from Ridley and creates a great trio of RBs.

The Draft

A whole 7-Round mock draft that is streamlined with the AB picks. Let’s go.

Round 1: CB Byron Murphy, Washington

The Steelers get a scheme versatile player and probably the best CB in the draft. Murphy, Desir, and Hilton create a great trio of future CBs after Joe Haden is gone, but for now, they are a lethal core of CBs that any team would die to have. Murphy has physicality and ball skills, and likely starts from Day 1.

Round 2 (SF): WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

The best player in Mobile becomes a Steeler. Samuel has legitimate pro bowl potential and would take all the pressure you could ever want off of JuJu Smith-Schuster. As a dynamic receiver, Samuel would be a big play machine. And this is highly beneficial to James Washington.

Round 2: EDGE Christian Miller, Alabama

The Steelers can focus on getting a pass rusher and dealing with some depth there with ILB more shored up than before. Miller has an incredible ceiling but is still polished enough to start from Day 1. He likely won’t, but by midseason, Bud Dupree should see the bench.

Round 3: ILB Terrill Hanks, New Mexico State

Vince Williams is great, but his deal is not too friendly and he likely will be a cap causality shortly. L.J. Fort is already 29 and could be on the decline anytime for all we know. Hanks is a young, athletic former safety that has insane coverage skills and speed for the ILB position. He can develop for a few years and make a lethal duo with Hicks down the line.

Round 4 (SF): TE Keenan Brown, Texas State

We assume here that Jesse James simply gets outpriced and we cannot retain him. Even if we are able to keep him, Brown is a dual-threat TE that can move and block really well. He is TE2 now with future TE1 potential. If Vance McDonald ever gets hurt, Brown can fill in extremely well.

Round 4: S Malik Gant, Marshall

Gant can play anywhere a DB could want to play but outside CB. He is technically raw, but he has more than enough instincts to be a dimebacker from Day 1, and as he fills his frame out into Year 2, he can become a legit do it all Box safety or even a fluid single-high.

Round 5: WR Penny Hart, Georgia State

What is the issue with fully filling out this WR room? Hart is a little stick of dynamite that could make the roster due to his ability to play slot and contribute. He is an ideal 6th WR as he can take over for DHB’s gunner abilities too, as he was that at Georgia State. In the future, he can become more than just that.

Round 6: IOL Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas

Mike Munchak might be gone, but Shaun Sarrett is still here! So, we give him a chance to really develop the interior of this line with a project in Froholdt. If he sits for a few years, Froholdt can become a pro bowl level OG if he pans out completely. He is a high-upside pick all day.

Round 7: P Tyler Newsome, Notre Dame

You know this is such a Steelers move, it just might happen. With just about every other position filled out, the Steelers draft Jordan Berry’s replacement, because Newsome is a stud.

Podcast: The destruction of the Steelers’ Super Bowl record

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 5:08am

In the latest episode of “The Standard is the Standard” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-gold from the week that was.

The Pittsburgh Steelers season is over, but the news is just starting to heat up. With a surge of Steelers news, it was 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 flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and special co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers, including a fun game of “True or False!”

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Recapping Super Bowl 53
  • How the Steelers can learn from this Super Bowl
  • Where do the Steelers go from here?
  • 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.

Knee Jerk Reactions from Super Bowl LIII

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 9:23pm

One BTSC writer shares his real-time, initial thoughts of the Super Bowl.

The New England Patriots are looking to tie the Steelers with six Lombardi trophies and Steeler Nation will be watching intently. With their hatred for the Pats, Sixburgh pride and local-favorite Aaron Donald...It’s L.A. all the way. But can the Rams stop Super Bowl legends? We’ll see.

Nonetheless, a simple reminder, a knee jerk reaction is an immediate and unthinking, emotional reaction. It’s basically shooting first and apologizing later. I can safely say that’s a true definition of your’s truly and a good lot of Steeler Nation. Here’s my real-time reactions during the Steeler-less Super Bowl.

First Quarter
  • Nice job on the National Anthem by Gladys Knight. I thought I knew music, but I wasn’t aware of her title as “The Empress of Soul”.
  • I think that’s probably a towel, but part of me thinks Aquib Talib is trying to make a bold, fashion statement and is wearing a scarf.
  • Not sure about the Rams decision to defer. It’s usually my choice, but Brady has been golden lately on initial drives.
  • Cordarrele Patterson is a guy I Considered starting on FanDuel. I see him being an absolute X-factor here today. I’m going to regret that decision.
  • Sony Michel could shred these guys.
  • Wow! Brady’s first pass is a pick. He’s never done that in the postseason.
  • Littleton is a free agent after the season. Just sayin’.
  • Thought Rams would capitalize.
  • Edelman is money. I hate saying that.
  • The Rams defense is dialed-in.
  • That’s a helmet-to-helmet I’ve never seen before.
  • Nobody takes advantage of new life like New England.
  • Gronk could be huge in his last game tonight.
  • Doritos, that was terrible use of the Backstreet Boys. C’mon.
  • Gostkowski never misses.
  • I think Romo and I both jinxed him.
  • Bud Light’s corn syrup commercial was kind of clever.
  • Rams are finding their feet on this drive.
  • Gurley is anonymous in this game so far.
  • Great hit by Chung.
  • The Rams are harassing Tom Brady like crazy. If they’ve got a chance, it is here.
  • Scoreless first. Would’ve never guessed that.
Second Quarter
  • Wise got lucky on that false start. Would’ve been called for that clothesline.
  • Jared Goff might not be ready for this moment.
  • The Rams are cracking people. But they are going to start getting roughing calls against them.
  • Finally...a score. But if you took the over, you’re freaking out right about now.
  • That was a nice catch. Can the Rams capitalize?
  • Do you think Le’Veon Bell is watching Gurley’s disappearing act and smiling?
  • The Rams aren’t going to score this half.
  • The L.A. defense is keeping them in this game. Offense needs to contribute.
  • The Pats will get in before Adam Levine takes the stage,
  • Robo Child is free freaking me the hell out. It will haunt my dreams.
  • That too-many penalty could really hurt the Rams.
  • Wow! The Pats turned it over on downs. That may come back to haunt them.
  • Maybe not.
  • My nine-year old just called Brady stupid.
  • Wierd half.
Halftime
  • JuJu, Bradshaw, Mean Joe, Franco. This is awesome.
  • My wife and her friends are hoping for a wardrobe malfunction.
  • Adam Levine is a great showman.
  • Too many bleeps from Travis Scott. Makes it hard to listen too.
  • Now I remember who Big Boi is. Needed an a Outkast reunion.
  • Critics will bash it. But I enjoyed it.
Third Quarter
  • That first half was the second-lowest scoring half in history. Super Bowl IX and L.C. Greenwood’s safety marks the lowest at 2-0.
  • It would behoove the Rams to score here.
  • Wow. I thought that was a quick pick by Hightower.
  • Gurley is awake.
  • The Pats can’t lose Chung.
  • Goff is horrendous, especially on third down. Name less effective SB QBs.
  • The Rams Defense may have to scoreboards save this team.
  • Pats were offsides. Not called. Edelman rolls.
  • Edelman is going to break the catch record of 14 by James White. He’s your MVP if he scores.
  • The Rams have a chance. But it’s not good this deep in their own territory.
  • Nothing.
  • The Pats will get great field position.
  • Not when Johnny Hekker punts for a record 65 yards.
  • Marcus Peters is playing shutdown,
  • Two Ram first-downs. What is happening?
  • Lucky that incompletion to Anderson’s back wasn’t behind the line. Coul’ve been a turnover.
  • Goff showed moxie with that huge pass to Woods.
  • Burning time-outs early is not advised. But they had to.
  • Great defense by one of the McCourtys.
  • Can’t get sacked here. Got to at least get three.
  • And they did.
  • Didn't think Greg ““the leg” would make that one.
  • Sony Michel was bound to break out.
Fourth Quarter
  • A defense might to have to score to break this stalemate.
  • Goff is so shaky. This moment is way too big.
  • Boy, Anderson and the Rams are really lucky.
  • Super Bowl VII is the lowest scoring of all the big games. Miami beat Washington 14-7. That record is going down most likely.
  • That hold on the Patriots could be huge.
  • The one on the Rams is big too.
  • Would have liked a late hit there. But it wasn’t.
  • A run on third-and-22. Is this the Steelers?
  • This is where Brady turns it on.
  • Great catch by Gronk.
  • Finally a TD.
  • Cooks has to catch that ball in the end zone.
  • Knew that pick was coming. Game pretty much over.
  • I disagree with Romo and the Rams. Wouldn’t the penalties knock them further back and more out of FG range? I’m sure I’m wrong, but that argument has a little merit.
  • Nantz supported my claim. But Romo is right, because of time.
  • Thats short. Pats should kick. Too much of a risk.
  • Of course. 13-3. It’s over.
  • Romo is right. Never going to work.
  • Especially with Zeurlein missing it.
  • I hate the Patriots. But dammit, they know how to win.
  • Edelman deserves the MVP. But Brady will get it.
  • I love football. But I can’t watch this celebration.

Super Bowl 53: Updates, news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 5:03pm

The Steelers’ season is over, but we all will be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday to see how things shake out.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 season is over, but despite them being left out of the AFC Playoffs, we all know the Steelers Nation fan base will be watching the Super Bowl rooting hard against the New England Patriots.

With that said, join others like me in the open thread to talk about the big game!

Here is the schedule of events for today:

Patriots vs. Rams — 6:30 p.m. ET

Who do you like to win today?

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

GO STEELERS!

This Week in Steelers Stats: Various numbers and rankings from the 2018 season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 2:08pm

A compilation of Steelers statistics from various Tweets over the past week.

Compiling statistics can take hours upon hours in order to find the proper numbers. To save you the trouble, here are some of the best statistics about the Steelers published during this past week.

I will begin with a few statistics of my own before going on to other various Steeler sources. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @STLRSuperFanDad in order to get some of BTSC’s geekiest stats.

With his Week-12 touchdown catch in Denver, Alejandro Villanueva was the tallest player (6’ 9”) to score an NFL TD since Morris Stroud (6’ 10”) of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1974.

— SteelersSuperFanDad (@STLRSuperFanDad) February 3, 2019

In 2018, the Steelers had 2 tight ends who had over 14 yards/reception (minimum 5 receptions): Xavier Grimble (14.33) and Jesse James (14.10). It was the first time since 1979 with Randy Grossman (18.08) and Bennie Cunningham (14.22).

— SteelersSuperFanDad (@STLRSuperFanDad) February 2, 2019

2018 was the first NFL season where 2 different sets of teammates had 100+ receptions: @steelers (Brown & Smith-Schuster) and @Vikings (Thielen & Diggs). Both teams finished 0.5 games out of the playoffs.

— SteelersSuperFanDad (@STLRSuperFanDad) February 1, 2019

The Steelers 20-16 win in Jacksonville during Week 11 of 2018 marked only the 9th time in NFL history where a team was victorious with 11 rushing attempts or less.

— SteelersSuperFanDad (@STLRSuperFanDad) January 29, 2019

Four players in @steelers history were named All-Pro a franchise high 6 times while wearing the black and gold.

Three are in the @ProFootballHOF:
* Dermontti Dawson
* Jack Ham
* Jack Lambert

The 4th is Alan Faneca (@afan66), a 2019 HOF finalist.

This should be Faneca's year. pic.twitter.com/GwMuRUXcoJ

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) February 1, 2019

Ben Roethlisberger just put up the best fantasy season of his career. pic.twitter.com/M9uXYuRjr2

— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) January 31, 2019

Positional ranks for the starters from the top OL in the league in 2018:

LT Villanueva - 9th out of 38
LG Foster - 6th out of 37
C Pouncey - 12th out of 38
RG DeCastro - 8th out of 41
RT Feiler - 14th out of 38

Consistent above average play across the board for the #Steelers.

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) January 31, 2019

Tyler Lockett's performance on go routes this season was the best in the NFL.

For the best WR on every route: https://t.co/zVZGkFkx9K pic.twitter.com/uOQ4RBvVVP

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 30, 2019

Santonio Holmes owns the second-highest graded game from a receiver in the Super Bowl since 2006 – against Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII pic.twitter.com/qomH1HlnKk

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 28, 2019

An alternative Super Bowl Sunday for Steelers fans

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 12:06pm

For those looking to enjoy the Super Bowl Sunday while somehow avoiding the Patriots, we have a suggestion.

The 2018 season appeared to be full of promise for the Pittsburgh Steelers back in September and few could have envisaged a year that would end without the playoffs. Now faced with the prospect of watching the New England Patriots play the Los Angeles Rams in a Super Bowl that many hoped to see the Steelers in, it would be understandable if there were a number of Pittsburgh fans opting to sit out the season finale on Sunday.

For those looking to take part in the spirit of the festivities this weekend, but without being subjected to the Patriots, we have an alternative selection of games for consideration that should make much better viewing instead when Super Bowl LIII kicks off.

With a link to all six Pittsburgh Super Bowl victories, barring the first half of Super Bowl XL for some reason, we can offer you a far more enjoyable viewing experience for Sunday night.

Super Bowl IX:

Super Bowl X:

Super Bowl XIII:

Super Bowl XIV:

Super Bowl XL (Second half only plus America Game for 2005):

Super Bowl XLIII:

If a halftime show featuring Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi does not have you suitably inspired, we have a selection of some of the greatest halftime shows in Super Bowl history to pick from.

Such as Beyonce (great show):

U2 (one of my favorites and I don’t really like them):

Prince (one of the best):

Diana Ross (insane staging):

Madonna (meh, it’s ok):

or Bruce Springsteen (if you want to recreate the full Super XLIII experience):

For those who were going to watch the game just for the adverts, we have a preview of some of the commercials that will be airing this year:

Or some of the best in Super Bowl history:

And two of the best of all-time:

So now if you end up watching Super Bowl LIII and finish the night frustrated that you saw the Patriots tie the Steelers record with their sixth victory, you really only have yourself to blame.

NFL Picks: Who will win Super Bowl 53 between the Rams and Patriots?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 10:39am

The big game is here, and it is time to put down some predictions!

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t playing in Super Bowl 53, and fans are forced to deal with the stark reality of having to watch the New England Patriots in the big game — again.

Nonetheless, the vast majority of the fan base aren’t just Steelers fans, but football fans. So, picking the winner for games is almost a necessary endeavor for the NFL Playoffs.

So, here we are, and we have to figure out who to pick in the game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Sunday evening. Let’s get the logistics out of the way before we get to the picks...

The Patriots are giving 2.5 points in this game, with an OVER/UNDER of 56.5 points.

This is the time when myself and my counterpart Simon Chester put our pigskin brains together and make our predictions. We weren’t very good at this during the season and so far the postseason has not been that much better. While still a mediocre 4-6 against the spread, Simon was a respectable 9-1 versus the totals, with my picks against the spread doing slightly better at 6-5 and a less than convincing 4-6 versus the totals.

Time to get to the picks...and don’t forget to vote on your pick in the poll below, as well as leave your own prediction for the big game in the comment section below.

Jeff Hartman’s Pick:

Trust me, I do not want to pick the Patriots. Every ounce of my being can’t stand New England and all they stand for. However, I also realize when you give Bill Belichick an extra week to prepare...it doesn’t normally end well for the opponent. Nonetheless, I can’t get the fact the Patriots have lost a lot of Super Bowl games throughout the incredible stretch. My hope is this game will be close, but I like the Patriots to win their 6th Super Bowl on Sunday.

I’ll take the Patriots straight up, and to cover. And I’ll take the UNDER in this contest.

New England — 27
Los Angeles — 24

Simon Chester’s Pick:

The Patriots are 3-3 in Super Bowls where they have been favorites and 5-5 all-time and I will be looking them to go under .500 against each on Sunday. In light of the struggles that Tom Brady has often shown when faced with a strong defensive front and cornerbacks capable of man coverage, there is a lot to like in the matchup the Rams present the Patriots on defense. If Todd Gurley is healthy and able to add another dimension to the backfield with C.J. Anderson, Los Angeles should have more than enough on offense to move the ball consistently.

I’ll take the Rams outright and with +2.5-points and the under in a contest that could see points at a premium early in the game.

New England — 24
Los Angeles — 30

Reminiscing of Super Bowls days gone by

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 9:20am

Remembering the Super Bowl during simpler times...

I was 1 when Super Bowl I took place. I, of course, have no memory of it. The first Super Bowl I remember was VII. The Dolphins had brought us our first, but by no means last loss in the AFC Championship game, on their way to theirs, and the only perfect season. I had a loose tie to earlier Super Bowls, having watched players that played in them. That is, guys like Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Earl Morrall who played in some of the earliest Super Bowls were still in the league when I tuned in. Now it is 52 years later. Super Bowl I did not sell out. It was broadcast on two networks. Today the Super Bowl, as measured by money spent on food and drink, is the third largest party of the year in America, after Christmas and Halloween.

Many of you missed the in-between. The first Super Bowl I actually watched, was, of course, IX. Our TV was a 19 inch console in the corner of the family room, pulling in a signal from WIIC, channel 11 from an antenna in the attic. Logs crackled in the fireplace that I sat beside, my father in his recliner. That console TV, however, looked like a Steeler shrine. Every bit of Steeler swag in the house rested on it, sending good juju down to New Orleans. My Steeler winter hat, my Steeler mittens, my Steeler helmet, my Steeler pj’s, my Steeler hoodie, my Steeler cap were all there. Every black and gold towel in the house was there. (Unless you’ve been around a while you may not know that Terrible Towels used to be strictly playoff paraphernalia.) One year my father had recently had knee surgery. When we needed a big play he would point his “Terrible Crutch” at the TV. I tell you, the power in that crutch made Renegade seem like a 97 pound weakling.

There was no spread to speak of. We might get to break out a bag of chips. My dad might be served a bowl of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and a braunshweiger sandwich. There was no daylong pregame show, much less 24/7 coverage leading up to the game. Kickoff was, I know you’ll find this hard to believe, in the afternoon, just like a regular season game.

There was no party. Watching was just my dad and me, and occasionally one of my dad’s friends. The halftime show was just like any other game- a college marching band. No one worried about how good the commercials would be. A 30 second slot would cost you $100,000. But of course, back then $100,000 would get you fourteen games from a pretty good football player.

Super Bowl IX also introduced me to an amazing invention that most of my friends never heard of. A friend of the family made training videos for GE aircraft mechanics. That friend cobbled together some equipment, and managed to get the game on what was called “videotape.” I was probably the only kid in the world besides Steve Sabol who could watch Super Bowl IX at will.

Yes, a great deal has changed. It is still, however, football. And the difference between now and then is far less than the difference between a Super Bowl with the Steelers and one without. Here’s hoping a whole new set of kids next year get to see their first Steeler Super Bowl.

Alan Faneca misses out on Hall of Fame selection once again

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 8:07am

The former Steelers offensive lineman failed to win selection to the Hall of Fame for the fourth year in a row as a finalist.

The NFL officially announced the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019 on Saturday night and once again former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Alan Faneca failed to make the final list.

BREAKING: Eight "Heroes of the Game" have been elected to the Hall of Fame's Class of 2019. #PFHOF19 pic.twitter.com/uD2FLRJoKa

— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) February 2, 2019

A finalist for induction for the fourth year in a row, Faneca has lost out to a group that includes first ballot selections Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed and Champ Bailey along with Ty Law, Kevin Mawae, Pat Bowlen, Gil Brandt and Johnny Robinson.

With Mawae winning his place in the hall this year, it is no surprise to see that the voting committee did not put through a second offensive lineman in the same class, but there will be many who question the choice of the Seattle Seahawks center over Faneca. Although Mawae played three more season, he received less Pro Bowl selections, the same number of All-Pro honors and never played in a Super Bowl.

Alan Faneca was a MAULER

Will the @steelers legend get into the @ProFootballHOF tonight? #NFLHonors @afan66 pic.twitter.com/qXuIeMRujq

— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) February 2, 2019

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette presented the case for Faneca’s enshrinement and it would be fair to say that the parts of his speech that were made public were far from inspiring. Hopefully, the voters are not overly swayed by the quality and passion of the candidates presenters, or lack thereof.

.@afan66 presented by ​Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette #PFHOF19 pic.twitter.com/u1W4StDTe5

— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) February 2, 2019

Considering Troy Polamalu is eligible for induction in 2020, there is a good chance that there will be better news for Pittsburgh fans around this time next year, with the iconic safety a good bet to be a first ballot selection. Hopefully, it will be a double celebration along with Faneca.

Super Bowl Etiquette and the worst parts of the greatest day of the year

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 6:46am

Updated for 2019, the lunatic that shares his random thoughts every so often, sheds light on what can ruin the greatest day of the year.

I love the Super Bowl more than Rams fans love leaving a good game in the third quarter — more than Bill Belichick loves to suck the air out of a room at a press conference and more than Gronk gets way too excited about doing math.

It's a national holiday for me. I love old highlights, Roman numerals (You sucked 2016 for their elimination), somebody going to Disney World and the trophy procession at the end. At my count (42), I’ve been mentally cognizant of every Super Bowl since Dallas crushed the orange out of Denver in Super Bowl XII. For every Bradshaw bomb, Montana rally, Manning miracle, Brady drive and Emmitt Smith scamper, I could tell you tales of Jack Squirek’s pick-six, Tim Krumrie’s ankle, Eugene Robinson’s hooker, David Tyree’s helmet-hallelujah, Timmy Smith’s big day and The Philly Soecial

Yesiree, the Super Bowl is my special day. But, like everything that’s awesome, there are things which ruin my bliss. Back in the nineties, I knew a serial clubber. This woman knew nightclubs like Antonio Cromartie knows paternity suits, but she stayed home on New Year’s Eve because she called it “amateur night”. To me, that’s what the Super Bowl has become. The people that never watch a down of football invade gatherings that reduce Super Bowl fever to a touchdown tummy-ache, and that’s what sucks the summer out of my sausage.

With this in mind, I've compiled a list of things that I hate about the greatest day of my year.

Commercials

It’s not the actual advertisements that I abhor—I actually enjoy some of them. Plus, the fact that morons shell out more than $5 million for a 30-second comedy bit is pretty amazing. But if there’s one boner that bothers me more than sand in a condom, it’s those "I only watch it for the commercials” people.

If that’s you, and you’ve ever said that in your lifetime, you need to grab a bucket of wings and apologize to the fan to whom you said it. It's as offensive as a thong at a funeral. I’ll say it again...OFFENSIVE!

Plus my dad and my friend Darrin actually critique the advertisements like they’re actually on the Clio committe. Then there are the media outlets that

These guys are playing their hearts out for a championship, and there are people that want to absorb every throw, catch and tackle. To diminish that by saying you don't care about the game is disheartening. Even if it's true, please keep it to yourself.

Media Day

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Idiots from other countries and media outlets asking the most absurd questions or dredging up unnecessary or imaginary controversy to advance their careers truly grates on me. I cringe when I hear some of these queries and feel the pain of the players who have to put up with it. A woman reporter asked Rob Gronkowski to spike her purse. Then there's the player who says something absurd — Jeramy Stevens in 2006, for example — just to hijack publicity. Then there’s Gronk who wore a sombrero and explained lewd math with a female reporter. To quote Leah Remini in Old School

Uncoordinated food at Super Bowl parties

If you’re going to a Super Bowl party, find out what other people are bringing. We don't need four crock pots of Li’l Smokies, or some weird dip that Guy Fieri dreamed up on a coke binge. Also, buying a bag of Tostitos and tossing it on the counter is unimaginable and shows little respect for the game.

Healthy Choices at a Super Bowl

For the love of Casey Hampton, Stop it!! Tofurkey and three-bean salads have no place on my pigskin table. I know my colon needs cleansing, but let's talk about that later. It’s the Super Bowl, you need a seven layer dip that will help clear out the room at the night’s end.

Dogs

I love dogs. There’s nothing like the companionship of a furry buddy—and I'm not talking about your sister-in-law with the moustache, or your neighbor that really needs to shave his back. But whoever decided it's okay to not only televise a dog show on Thanksgiving, but

this the most sacred sports day of the year should be spayed and neutered themselves.

Also, what the freak is the Puppy Bowl? Somebody please explain this one to me. The idea of a schnauzer throwing a pick-six, or a Pomeranian punting inside the 20 is, to quote Wallace Shawn from The Princess Bride, ”Inconceivable!”. If I want to watch anything doggy style...I’ll put on some old school MTV and watch me some “Gin and Juice”.

Extended Halftime and the subsequent entertainment that follows

Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

I hate to badmouth the Super Bowl that allowed me to actually see Janet Jackson like never before, a bizarre Indian Jones stunt show and Katie Perry’s terribly-uncoordinated “Left Shark”, but this is becoming crappy. Whether it's the outrageously geriatric Who or Rolling Stones making me do nothing but curse the depressing effect of Father Time on once-cool bad-asses, or Beyoncé attempting to make a political statement, it runs far too long and numbs my brain. This year has become even more political with Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi being criticized for agreeing to perform.

For the love of John Facenda and everything that’s holy, can we please bring back Up With People?

The person who never watches sports but complains that athletes get paid too much

I know we should be paying teachers better, helping to feed the homeless instead of paying Michael Brockers $11,083,333 per year. I get it. But I can't control the spending habits of Robert Kraft, Stan Kroenke and company, and frankly, I don't want to discuss it during the game. When the Red Zone’s a rockin’, don’t come a squawkin’.

Talking about real life

Buddy...I’m sorry that Uncle Stan lost his spleen, your wife left you for the barista at Starbucks with the man-bun and that Jim from Accounting just stole your promotion That really sucks. But can we not bring up when Todd Gurley is in the open field? Real life sucks sometimes and I know we don’t see one another that often, but Ndamukong Suh just ripped out somebody’s larynx. We can instagram, tweet or do lunch...let’s just not sap my will to live. Tom Brady is slated to do that in just a few hours.

Also, I should probably mention the Cliff Clavin in the room that brings up little-known facts and stupid bits of trivia that nobody cares about. But I’m that guy and I’m really trying to get that under control.

When somebody puts their kid’s name on a gambling square...and the kid wins

I’m usually the guy pushing the squares and I get where that could be annoying sometimes. But nothing helps a one-sided game more than hoping Gostkowski misses an extra-point so you can win back some frog-skins. Still, there’s always that couple who puts little Cody’s name on a square and that little ‘effer’ wins three quarters in a row, while you go home to heat up some Ramen for your work Thermos.

The MVP getting a car

Look, I’m not even sure if this is still a thing and I know I just bashed amateurs that complain about player salaries. But watching an athlete win a car and having to fake his gratitude for a car he doesn't want or need, while the president of the car manufacturer undeservingly is standing on the podium sporting the grin of the Joker and a clammy handshake...really stinks — especially when you have to sign the cross and pray that your Ford Festiva will actually make the three-mile trek home without stranding you on Skid Row.

Interviewing the losing coach

This is almost as painful to watch as Robert Kraft claiming Patriot persecution and passive-aggressively bashing the suddenly petrified and ass-kissing Robert Goodell. The guy just had his heart ripped out. Give him some time. The answers will be more genuine in la mañana.

...

So take my advice and avoid these situations and people. That way you have a fighting chance to enjoy the game.

A Letter From the Editor: For this Steelers fan, hope springs eternal

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 5:45am

Growing up striving for the ‘one for the thumb’, hope is never an issue with this black-and-gold blooded fan.

As I sit here on the day of the Super Bowl, I prepare myself for the depression which is about to set in. Sure, the depression of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ending has been there for weeks, but life without NFL football is certainly a dark cloud which hangs over most fans.

At this point, fans of 30 of 32 franchises have already turned the page to next year. Talking about potential free agents and prepping for the craziness of the 2019 NFL Draft leave fans with hope for the future.

Except for a lot of Steelers fans.

There is a contingent who don’t see any hope in the future. Le’Veon Bell is all but gone, Ben Roethlisberger is in the waning years of his career and Antonio Brown is likely to be traded away. Throw in the gaping hole which still remains at the inside linebacker position, a dire need at cornerback with Artie Burns’ failure and coaching issues across the board.

Doesn’t leave much to be excited about, right?

But when times are tough, and I would call these drama-filled days to be tough times, I remember the days of my youth when the Steelers were just struggling to win the ‘one for the thumb’. After each disappointing playoff loss, and dreadful season, I always had hope in the future. Call it youthful exuberance, but no matter who was the quarterback, who they drafted or who they picked up in free agency, I always had hope for the upcoming season.

I didn’t care what my dad, other family members or friends said.

Hope was always there.

As I get older, reality certainly clouds some of the hope, but I am a fan who never counts the Steelers out. While some are already predicting another mediocre season, I tend to be the optimist who always sees the Steelers’ glass as half full...not the other way around.

The Steelers have to go to Foxborough next year to play the Patriots. Most will predict a loss, but not me. I have seen this team shock the world before, and will almost always prepare for this to happen. They play the lowly Arizona Cardinals next season, and while most will suggest the team will drop another game to a losing team, I always foresee this trend going away, even though it hasn’t seem to as of late.

The offseason is just beginning, and regardless of who the Steelers take in the draft, or add in free agency, I will always, and I mean always, have faith in the team. While I might not agree with everything the organization/team/coaching staff/scouting department do, I choose to have the same faith as I did when I was a child.

With the Steelers watching the Super Bowl like their loyal fan base, I look ahead to 2019 with hope. Not for any specific reason other than I always look forward to seeing what the Steelers bring to the table — even when it leaves me broken and disappointed.

Enjoy the Super Bowl everyone! The dog days are on the doorstep.

Black and Gold Links: How the Steelers offense could thrive, even without Antonio Brown

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 4:39am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at whether or not the Steelers’ offense could be better, possibly thrive even, without Antonio Brown. Some may shake their head in disapproval, but there might actually be something to this...

Let’s get to the news:

Joe Starkey: Steelers offense would survive, maybe thrive, without Antonio Brown

By: Joe Starkey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Apologies for starting like a “30 for 30” episode here, but what if I told you there was an NFL offense with an elite quarterback, a legit No. 1 running back, a top-15 receiver, a good tight end and a very good line?

You’d say it had the basic ingredients for success, no?

There is an offense like that. More than one, actually. But the one I’m referring to is the Steelers’ offense — without Antonio Brown.

To deny Brown’s greatness would be silly. He helped this team win a ton of games. Trading him would create significant challenges. But to pronounce the offense dead without him would be equally silly.

Have you seen the New England Patriots lately? Tom Brady wins with lacrosse players, Colts castoffs, Julian Edelman and a 103-year-old tight end (Rob Gronkowski’s only 29; he just runs like he’s 103).

That isn’t new. I just watched one of those addictive NFL Network Super Bowl shows, on the Patriots beating Carolina with Deion Branch and David Givens catching the ball and Antowain Smith running it.

Did you see last year’s Super Bowl? The Patriots got beat by Nick Foles, LeGarrette Blount and Nelson Agholor. So don’t tell me the Steelers cannot win a Super Bowl without “Tony Tap Out.”

Did they win one with him?

I heard Bill Cowher the other day, marveling at how the Patriots keep winning despite a dearth of game-breakers. Cowher told 93.7 The Fan the Patriots utilize a team approach, smart schemes and in-game adjustments.

You cannot convince me an offense with Ben Roethlisberger, James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Vance McDonald and a relatively intact line would die. That does not include what the Steelers would add via the draft, free agency or trade (and they would need a No. 2 receiver, though James Washington showed promise late).

Is Conner as good as Le’Veon Bell? Probably not, but before he got injured he replicated just about everything Bell did. Conner outperformed Bell in some areas, too, and they weren’t minor ones. They were average yards per run, average yards per catch, long runs and touchdowns.

And you better believe JuJu is a top-15 receiver. I’m getting real tired of people attributing all of his success to Brown. They make it sound like 11 guys were chasing A.B. while JuJu ran free.

Go back and watch JuJu rise like Lynn Swann along the sidelines to make that catch against Jalen Ramsey late in the Jacksonville game. Watch him turn an errant Roethlisberger throw into a spectacular touchdown in Oakland. Watch him turn all kinds of contested catches into something much bigger.

(To read more, click the link in the headline...)

Ron Cook: Roger Goodell has somehow put the NFL on solid ground

By: Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Six questions relating to the officiating fiasco at the end of the Ram-Saints game. Two questions about Colin Kaepernick. One question about the Rooney Rule. One question about a Donald Trump tweet, although not one that you would expect. One question about the cancellation of the Maroon 5 pre-Super Bowl press conference, which was one more than about the national anthem, concussions, players leading with their head, roughing-the-passer penalties or television ratings.

There’s a good reason Roger Goodell had it easy Wednesday as he delivered his annual State of the NFL address.

“I think this season has demonstrated that there’s never been a better time to be a part of the NFL. As a fan, as a player, as a team and as a partner,” Goodell said in his opening remarks.

I can’t argue.

I can’t believe the NFL’s ability to not just bounce back from major controversy, but thrive.

Goodell’s goal of making the NFL a $25 billion-a-year industry by 2027 seems back on track.

Think about where the NFL was two years ago. Goodell had to answer for his mishandling of the Ray Rice domestic-abuse case with many suggesting Goodell be fired. There were fresh questions about Kaepernick and the anthem controversy. Deflategate was a topic. Concussions were very much in the news.

Look where the NFL is now as it prepares for the Super Bowl on Sunday. Television ratings were up 5 percent this season from 2017. More than 180 million fans tuned in each week to watch the games. Concussions were down nearly 24 percent from the year before. Early-season complaints about the game becoming too soft with too many helmet-related and roughing-the-passer penalties — as Trump suggested in a tweet — turned out to be much ado about nothing. Perhaps most significantly, there wasn’t one Trump tweet after early September criticizing Goodell for his and the league’s handling of the anthem protests. Trump had been relentless with that criticism for the better part of a year.

Somehow, Goodell made the anthem issue go away. The NFL looked foolish in May when it instituted, without input from the NFL Players Association, a new policy giving players the right to stay in the locker room for the anthem but requiring they stand if they are on the field. The league looked even worse in July when it tabled the policy and pledged to work with the union to come up with a viable solution.

Those must have been some meetings.

Suddenly, there no longer was a controversy. All but a handful of players stood for the anthem. Even Trump was appeased. You almost could hear NFL owners exhale.

(To read more, click the link in the headline...)

Steelers’ Antonio Brown does some confusing interviews at Super Bowl

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Antonio Brown is speaking again publicly. So that’s a recipe for disaster.

Forget the big interview reveal, Brown is starting to do a bunch of little ones.

Although Brown is not saying much. Mainly because I don’t know how capable he is of doing so.

I thought he came off like a space cadet. Then again, maybe I’m just too focused on the blonde mustache.

For instance, when Brown says all options are on the table, no they aren’t. Either the Steelers keep him, or they trade him where they want. That’s it. He’s not a free agent.

Also, at first Brown talks about “keeping things quiet” and about “moving forward with “positivity” with a “business” like approach.

That’s good.

But then he refuses to say that he wants to come back to Pittsburgh, thus making all those other things impossible.

And, again, THAT MUSTACHE! I ... can’t take ... my eyes ... off it!

My attention is so drawn to it I don’t really know what he is saying. Maybe he doesn’t either.

Most Epic Non-MVP Performances in Steelers Super Bowl History

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 02/02/2019 - 3:21pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a rich championship history. BTSC lists the best not to win MVP honors.

While they may have company around 10:00 p.m. on Sunday Evening, the Pittsburgh Steelers saw their reign as six-time Lombardi winners reach ten years on Friday. Nobody can forget the five men whose MVP performances made those victories possible. Guys with monikers like Franco, Swanny, TB, Hines and Tone have been immortalized in Steeler Nation for winning Best in Show honors. But many more men to don the hypocycloids on their domes besides Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Terry Bradshaw, Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes were responsible for those six rings. BTSC has prepared a ranking of the best-of-the-best not to be awarded the MVP trophies on those six championship teams.

Honorable Mention

Franco Harris - Super Bowl XIV

Franco, the MVP of Super Bowl IX, was paramount in every big game of the 70s. Two of Harris’ 46-yards on the grounds led No. 32 to paydirt, the first and last scores of the contest. Franco also added three receptions for 66-vital yards.

Lynn Swann Super Bowl XIV

Swanny was knocked out of the game in Pasadena by Pat Thomas in the third quarter of this game, but his contributions were considerable. No. 88 battled double coverage for an acrobatic 47-yard score and left with five grabs for 79 total yards.

Larry Anderson - Super Bowl XIV

The return specialist was far down the list of names of the Steelers’ Dynasty of the 1970s, but his performance in Super Bowl XIV was phenomenal. No. 30 had five kick returns for 162 yards and an average of 32.4 ypr.

Jack Lambert - Super Bowl XIV

With 5:24 remaining in the game, the Rams were trailing by five and drove all the way down to the Steeler 32. When a touchdown could have been lethal, “Jack Splat” went airborne to snag a Vince Ferragamo pass and essentially put the champagne on ice for the team’s fourth championship of the decade.

Ike Taylor - Super Bowl XL

Ike was never known to have the best hands, he only had 17 career picks in 12 NFL seasons. But one of those rare interceptions came with the Steelers clinging to a 14-10 lead in the fourth quarter. Matt Hasselbeck heaved a third-down pass towards Darrell Jackson near the Steelers’ end zone. Ike pulled the pigskin out of the air and raced 24 yards. Less than two minutes later, Antwaan Randle-El tossed the legendary TD pass to Hines Ward and the final score of the first Steeler SB victory in 26 years.

LaMarr Woodley - Super Bowl XLIII

Woodley was usually a force in the post season. His first sack of Kurt Warner in Tampa was big. But his second, a strip sack, was recovered by Brett Keisel to secure Lombardi #6.

The Top Ten

10) Willie Parker and Alan Faneca - Super Bowl XL

Typically a Steeler running play in 2005 consisted of FB Dan Kreider blasting a hole for Willie Parker to run through. But on second-and-ten at their own 25, the Steelers called for the 34 Counter Pike. This play was mostly a short-yardage, one-back set run used for Jerome Bettis on the goal line. But on the second play of the second half, Alan Faneca pulled and blasted Seattle LB Leroy Hill to free “Fast Willie”. Parker would sprint 75 (of his 93 yards on the day) to give Pittsburgh a 14-3 lead and own the longest TD run in the history of the Super Bowl. It was quite possibly the greatest combo of block and run in Steeler history.

9) Dwight White - Super Bowl IX

“Mad Dog” holds the distinction of being the first Pittsburgh Steeler to score in a Super Bowl. His safety, the result of tackling the ultra-mobile Fran Tarkenton in the end zone after a fumble, was impressive on it’s own. So was his batted-pass that resulted in a Joe Greene interception. But doing those things hours after losing 20 pounds and just having been released from the hospital shortly following a bout of viral pneumonia at a rainy Tulane Stadium in New Orleans is stuff of legend. No. 78 spent the week after the Super Bowl back in the hospital.

8) Lynn Swann - Super Bowl XIII

The balletic Swann loved playing the Cowboys. Three years after an MVP performance over Tom Landry’s club, No. 88 hauled-in seven passes for 124 yards and the decisive 18-yarder with 6:57 left to play.

7) Joe Greene - Super Bowl IX

On a rainy and muddy day in Louisiana, “Mean Joe” led a dominating defense that shut out the Minnesota offenses do held them to 17 yards rushing and 119 total. If it wasn’t for a blocked punt, the Vikings would have been the only team to be held scoreless with the Lombardi on the line. No. 75 had both a crucial interception and a fumble recovery on his stat line as well.

6) L.C. Greenwood - Super Bowl X

“Hollywood Bags” had a glamorous day in Miami in 1976. In a tight game that didn’t feature a lot of scoring, the man with the golden shoes set up a time share in Roger Staubach’s real estate. Although sacks were not an official stat, Greenwood taillied four that day.

5) John Stallworth - Super Bowl XIII

Had the Alabama A&M star not been injured to miss the second half of football, his stat line could have been legendary. Stallworth caught only three balls, but they garnered 115 yards and two scores - one 75 yards and another for 28.

4) Jack Lambert - Super Bowl X

Lambert had 14 tackles at the Orange Bowl that day, but his biggest one was the tone setter. Kicker Roy Gerela made a TD saving tackle on the opening kickoff that badly bruised his ribs and affected his kicking. With the Steelers down 10-7 in the third, Cliff Harris mocked Gerela for missing his second FG attempt by patting him on the head, Lambert reacted and threw Harris to the ground to show Dallas that the Steelers couldn’t and wouldn’t be intimidated. The action by No. 58 spearheaded the turnaround and the Steelers won 21-17.

3) Ben Roethlisberger - Super Bowl XLIII

Ben’s Super Bowl debut in February of 2006 wasn’t great at all, but it helped bring back Lombardi to Pittsburgh. His second foray could have netted him the last Cadillac Escalade to be awarded to an MVP, but the ride went to Santonio Holmes who caught Ben’s game-winning TD pass with :35 left. To get there, Big Ben engineered an 88-yard drive that culminated in one of the greatest plays in the history of the big game. On the day, Roethlisberger completed 21-of-30 for 256 yards and that one score for six yards to put the Steelers ahead for good.

2) James Harrison - Super Bowl XLIII

James Harrison had four tackles and two quarterback hits in Super Bowl 43, but the big story was his decision to drop into coverage at the end of the first half. The Steelers worked on this scenario in practice a few days before and it paid off. Kurt Warner had led the Cardinals to the two-yard line and was on the verge of taking a 14-10 lead into the half. With the Steelers on an all-out blitz, Warner looked for Anquan Boldin who should have been all alone. But Harrison started his blitz and then dropped back to intercept the ball. Thwarting the drive wasn’t good enough for Deebo as he followed a convoy of blockers for 100 swerve and lung-collapsing yards and a 17-7 lead at the half. It would become one of the greatest defensive plays and the longest score in Super Bowl lore.

1) John Stallworth - Super Bowl XIV

Terry Bradshaw was once again the MVP of the Super Bowl, but Stallworth very well could have won the distinction for his epic performance at the Rose Bowl in January of 1980. No. 82 only had three catches on the day, but they were huge. With 12:15 remaining in the game, the original TB12 found Stallworth for a 73-yard score on a third-and-eight on their own 27. This gave the Steelers the lead back. But on third-and-seven at their own 33, the duo put the game away with a 45-yard collaboration. Stallworth’s Non-MVP day ended with 121 yards and a fourth Lombardi for the Steel City.

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