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The Browns come from behind efforts fall short, ending the Steelers’ playoff hopes

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/30/2018 - 6:42pm

The Browns couldn’t come through when it mattered most.

The Pittsburgh Steelers did their job in Week 17. Their ugly, but successful 16-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals put them in position to sit back and watch the Cleveland Browns to see if they can somehow do the unthinkable and go into Baltimore and beat the Ravens.

Baker Mayfield made a name for himself in this game by making several huge plays down the stretch, including two on the game-winning drive. One to former Raven Brashad Perriman, and another to Jarvis Landry to put the Browns on the edge of field goal range.

However, with one timeout remaining, and 1:07 left in the game, facing a fourth and ten, Mayfield faced serious pressure and his pass was thrown into the hands of C.J. Mosley. The pick ended the game, and also the Steelers’ playoff hopes and dreams.

The Ravens won 6 of their last 7 games to get into the playoffs as the AFC Norht division champions, and the Steelers have nothing left but to sit back and wonder what could have been.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as their 9-6-1 season ends and the offseason officially begins.

Powered by Matt McCrane, Steelers outlast the Bengals 16-13

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/30/2018 - 6:27pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers have done their part, but are they going to get lucky enough to get into the playoffs?

The Pittsburgh Steelers entered their Week 17 matchup with a simple, yet unfavorable, playoff scenario. Beat Cincinnati at Heinz Field, and hope the Cleveland Browns beat the Baltimore Ravens in Maryland — you’re in. Anything else happens, and the Steelers will be on the outside looking in when the playoffs start next week.

With the focus on just taking care of the business they control, the Steelers started the game with the football, but were unable to do any damage on their first drive of the game. When Jeff Driskel took over the the Bengals’ first drive, it was Pittsburgh’s defense which stood tall and forced a three-and-out.

After a series of punts, the Steelers put together a drive which looked promising to start the second quarter, but on a second down play it looked as if Geno Atkins jumped offsides, but wasn’t called. What resulted was a Ben Roethlisberger pick-six, handing the Bengals an easy 7-0 lead.

Pittsburgh’s offense continued to remain on cruise control, and the team’s defense was not picking up the slack. What ensued after another Jordan Berry punt was a Driskel drive which resulted in a 49-yard Randy Bullock field goal to make the score 10-0 with just over 2 minutes left in the half.

Desperately needing an answer, Pittsburgh was able to move the ball deep into Cincinnati territory for the first time of the game, but with time remaining they had to settle for a Matt McCrane, who was recently signed, field goal. The 39-yard kick was good, making the score 10-3, in favor of Cincinnati, at halftime.

Cincinnati took the first possession of the second half, but a T.J. Watt strip sack on third down ended any thoughts of the Bengals extending their lead to start the third quarter. Both teams exchanged possessions before Ben Roethlisberger finally was able to take a shot downfield with time to throw. His 49 yard pass was completed to rookie James Washington and set up a JuJu Smith-Schuster touchdown.

Really #GoodJuJu. pic.twitter.com/oTrqXOYmtz

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 30, 2018

The score, and point-after, tied the game 10-10 with 3:50 left in the third quarter.

Pittsburgh possessed the ball to start the fourth quarter, and although Roethlisberger moved the team into scoring range, they were forced to settle for another Matt McCrane field goal attempt. The 47-yard kick is good, giving Pittsburgh a 13-10 lead with 8:35 left in the fourth quarter.

With “Renegade” blaring at Heinz Field to get the defense fired up, Keith Butler’s unit responded by allowing Bengals’ running back Joe Mixon to rip off a 51 yard run on the first play from scrimmage for Cincinnati. However, when things looked bleak for Pittsburgh, the defense stood tall and forced another Bullock field goal to tie the game 13-13 with just over 6 minutes remaining in regulation.

Now seemingly awake, the Steelers’ offense continued to move the ball with relative ease against the NFL’s worst statistical defense. Roethlisberger methodically drove the Steelers down the field, but on a critical 3rd and 5, a swing pass to Ryan Switzer came up short of the yard to gain. Matt McCrane was called upon to give the Steelers the lead, and make his third field goal of the game, and he was able to drive the 35 yard kick through the uprights to make the score 16-13 with 1:56 left in the quarter.

Driskel, now having to put the ball into the air to make plays, was unable to do so, and with no timeouts turned the ball over on downs. All that was left was the victory formation and hoping for a Browns win over the Ravens.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers’ playoff hopes and dreams.

Steelers vs. Bengals, Week 17: 3rd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/30/2018 - 5:39pm

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

1st Quarter In-Game Update

2nd Quarter In-Game Update

Cincinnati took the first possession of the second half, but a T.J. Watt strip sack on third down ended any thoughts of the Bengals extending their lead to start the third quarter. Both teams exchanged possessions before Ben Roethlisberger finally was able to take a shot downfield with time to throw. His 49 yard pass was completed to rookie James Washington and set up a JuJu Smith-Schuster touchdown.

Really #GoodJuJu. pic.twitter.com/oTrqXOYmtz

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 30, 2018

The score, and point-after, tied the game 10-10 with 3:50 left in the third quarter.

The Steelers’ defense made a stop, giving the offense the ball to end the third quarter.

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/30/2018 - 4:50pm

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2018 regular season is coming to an end with the Steelers and Bengals locking horns in Week 17. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field in the 2018 regular season as they prepare to face off against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17.

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

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

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

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Steelers vs. Bengals, Week 17: 2nd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/30/2018 - 4:44pm

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

1st Quarter In-Game Update

Looking for the first points of the game, the Steelers took the ball to start the second quarter, but on a second down play it looked as if Geno Atkins jumped offsides, but wasn’t called. What resulted was a Ben Roethlisberger pick-six, handing the Bengals an easy 7-0 lead.

Pittsburgh’s offense continued to remain on cruise control, and the team’s defense was not picking up the slack. What ensued after another Jordan Berry punt was a Driskel drive which resulted in a 49-yard Randy Bullock field goal to make the score 10-0 with just over 2 minutes left in the half.

Desperately needing an answer, Pittsburgh was able to move the ball deep into Cincinnati territory for the first time of the game, but with time remaining they had to settle for a Matt McCrane, who was recently signed, field goal. The 39-yard kick was good, making the score 10-3, in favor of Cincinnati, at halftime.

Steelers vs. Bengals, Week 17: 1st quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/30/2018 - 4:02pm

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers entered their Week 17 matchup with a simple, yet unfavorable, playoff scenario. Beat Cincinnati at Heinz Field, and hope the Cleveland Browns beat the Baltimore Ravens in Maryland — you’re in. Anything else happens, and the Steelers will be on the outside looking in when the playoffs start next week.

With the focus on just taking care of the business they control, the Steelers started the game with the football, but were unable to do any damage on their first drive of the game. When Jeff Driskel took over the the Bengals’ first drive, it was Pittsburgh’s defense which stood tall and forced a three-and-out.

After a series of punts, the first quarter ended 0-0 with the Steelers possessing the ball when time expired on the first frame.

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/30/2018 - 3:12pm

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2018 regular season is coming to an end with the Steelers and Bengals locking horns in Week 17. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field in the 2018 regular season as they prepare to face off against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17.

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

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

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

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Antonio Brown and Sean Davis among the inactives for Steelers in Week 17 vs. Bengals

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/30/2018 - 2:08pm

The Steelers will be without three of the four names listed on their injury report from Friday, with James Conner the only one medically cleared to play against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Cincinnati Bengals without all but one of the names listed on their final injury report after Vince Williams, Antonio Brown and Sean Davis were all included among the inactives in Week 17. James Conner is the only player listed as questionable on Friday who will play this Sunday.

Although Williams was always expected to sit out having been designated as doubtful on the final injury report of the week, it had been hoped that Brown and Davis would both still be able to play, despite being listed as questionable. Conner will suit up for the first time since injuring his ankle against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 13,

For the remaining names on the inactives report, it is another day on the sidelines as a healthy scratch once again for Mason Rudolph, Zach Banner, Ola Adeniyi and L.T. Walton. By sitting in Week 17, Rudolph becomes the only player on the roster who has not dressed for a single game this season.

Predicting the Steelers’ Week 17 inactive list vs. the Bengals

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/30/2018 - 1:12pm

It’s wouldn’t be unheard of for the Steelers to do a few unexpected things with the 46-man active roster to end the season.

This was supposed to be the most difficult inactive list to predict this season. All seven spots should have been filled with players being rested for the playoffs. Instead, the regulars will be in the lineup. But will some guys toward the bottom get shuffled around just for the sake of getting a look at someone else?

Game Status

Doubtful:

LB Vince Williams(toe)

Questionable:

WR Antonio Brown (knee)

S Sean Davis (quad)

RB James Conner (ankle)

Roster Move

K Chris Boswell placed on IR

K Matt McCrane signed to active roster

Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for Week 17:

Definitely:

None

Most Likely:

LB Vince Williams- every player who was listed as doubtful for the Steelers in 2018 has been inactive. With that said, Vince misses the finale.

QB Mason Rudolph- this was supposed to be the week Rudolph got to be dressed on the sidelines. It’s yet another reminder of what this week should have been.

OT Zach Banner- it could be the last time Banner is on the sidelines depending on the return of players from IR and anyone drafted for next season.

DT L.T. Walton- the regular guys will have to go this week, so L.T. will be looking to show what he can do in Latrobe in 2019.

Possibly:

S Marcus Allen, LB Ola Adeniyi, or CB Brian Allen- with Vince Williams being doubtful, one of these three guys should get a helmet since there are no other inside linebackers on the roster. If anybody else on the status report can’t go, other players from these three would probably fill-in.

RB Trey Edmunds or Stevan Ridley- if James Conner is able to return, one of these players will probably be inactive. Edmunds does bring special teams play on his resume, while Ridley had a game-changing fumble as his last time on the field.

S Sean Davis- after practicing fully on Friday, Davis said he would play.

WR Antonio Brown- although he didn’t practice all week with a knee issue, AB doesn’t need the reps at this point of the season to be ready to go. The fact he’s questionable shows the Steelers are hopeful he will be able to play.

Unlikely:

RB James Conner- being a full participant in practice all week, I’m surprised he carried a designation at all.

Projected Inactive List:
  1. Mason Rudolph
  2. Zach Banner
  3. L.T. Walton
  4. Marcus Allen
  5. Brian Allen
  6. Vince Williams
  7. Stevan Ridley

I must confess I fully expected another roster move on Saturday. I thought the Steelers would cut a running back and promote Matthew Thomas in order to have more depth at inside linebacker. Since no move was made, I’m going with Ola getting the helmet strictly to have a seventh linebacker who can play special teams. I also think Ridley finishes the season in the doghouse due to his costly fumble last week.

I’m optimistic all questionable players will be in uniform. The last time a questionable player didn’t play for the Steelers was Cam Sutton (personal) in Week 13. AB is the most questionable since he failed to practice, but he’s a competitor and will fight to get on the field if at all possible.

Feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.

Do not blame T.J. Watt’s Pro Football Focus ranking on the site’s analytics

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/30/2018 - 12:39pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers young, budding OLB is far better than PFF’s grade might offer.

Two weeks ago one of the BTSC faithful complained about T.J. Watt’s Pro Football Focus rankings being low. It is the same line that has been bandied about the BTSC boards for a long time. The controversial site does not list its proprietary analysis on grading plays and players or how it assigns grades to individual plays. The secrecy brings out the ire of BTSC fans when PFF is brought up in discussions of its usefulness. Also, the accuracy of how they judge players is also questioned even though the plays go through a four-tiered analysis, when necessary.

Who is to blame on certain plays? If PFF does not know the defensive or offensive scheme, how can they assign blame or kudos to a certain player?

The issue with Watt is not the PFF grading, but instead his usage in the Steelers defensive scheme.

On the season, Watt has a top-20 run defense and pass rush grade among all edge defenders.

His overall grade is being brought down by a 34.6 grade in coverage (2nd worst at the position). Only three edge defenders have more snaps in coverage than Watt's 113 this season.

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) December 26, 2018

The 2017 first rounder has been having a solid 2018 season with four forced fumbles, 12 sacks, 21 quarterback hits, to go along with 61 total tackles. Watt grades out as above average but comes in at 39 as the best edge defender. PFF grades out edge rushers in four categories, overall, run defense, pass rush and coverage.

According to a PFF PIT Steelers tweet, Watt has a top 20 grade in both pass rushing and run defense but grades out as the second worst at the position in coverage at 34.6. The tweet points out that only three other edge rushers have more coverage snaps than Watt at 113. Watt has had 856 total snaps this season. So every 7.58 snaps Watt is not getting after the quarterback. Instead, he is being asked to defend against running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers. It exemplifies this in the below clips from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game when Watt was expected to cover tight end, OJ Howard.

Steelers fans have been on defensive coordinator Keith Butler’s case all season and this has to be one of the biggest head-scratching moves of them all. Why take your best pass rusher out of the equation and expect him to cover move tight ends or wideouts? How many sacks could Watt have tallied if Pittsburgh left on the line of scrimmage to rush the quarterback?

Steelers fans can point out that Pittsburgh’s inside linebackers were poor in coverage but should Butler rush them and drop Watt into coverage as a band-aid or designed scheme? No denying that Watt is a turning into a special player but why put him into positions he is not best suited for?

With the chances of making the playoffs hanging on a Cleveland Browns upset at the Baltimore Ravens, this will be one of several “what ifs” that will be talked up around the BTSC boards in the offseason. Hopefully, in 2019 Watt will be utilized in coverage like he was in 2018 when his PFF cover grade was 67.5. Wether you see PFF for true evaluation or entertainment purposes and position rank or gameday grades, defensive players are not being graded on one aspect of their game but rather multiple aspects and being graded poorly in one category can have a big impact on the overall grade.

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