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Turnovers, not the overall competence of the team, doomed the Steelers in Denver

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 10:43am

While some fans might think the Steelers aren’t as good as we thought they were, you can chalk this loss up to one thing — turnovers.

Mike Tomlin summed up the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 21-14 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 12 at the start of his post-game press conference:

“We didn’t do a good enough job of taking care of the ball, and we also didn’t do a good enough job of getting the football, and I think, I just finished telling the team that, you gotta look at it at from that perspective. It is a dual responsibility. We didn’t take care of the ball well enough, and we didn’t balance that out by getting the ball, so when you are minus-whatever we were in the game it is going to be tough to win. We have some work to do.”

Yep.

The tale of the game for the Steelers was, by far, the turnover ratio.

Steelers turnovers - 4
Broncos turnovers - 0

Of those four Pittsburgh turnovers, several took points off the board, and 14 Denver points were scored off those turnovers. Talk about significant plays.

When you look deeper, the Steelers’ turnover margin is curious to say the least. Pittsburgh entered the Week 12 AFC showdown with a -3 in the turnover/takeaway stat line, and when you add the -4 on Sunday in Denver, the whopping -7 puts them well into the bottom third of the league.

In fact, based on the statistics heading into Week 12, their negative turnover ratio is joined by the Baltimore Ravens (-3) and Tennessee Titans (-3) as the only teams with a negative ratio, yet still having a record of .500 or better.

The turnovers can be pin-pointed when it comes to assigning blame. Ben Roethlisberger’s final pass of the game, which was intercepted at the goal line, is inexcusable — on a play that looked “off” from the start. James Conner’s ball security is certainly an issue and Xavier Grimble’s fumble was about as bad as they come.

Speaking of takeaways, it’s more difficult to diagnose why the Steelers can’t take away the ball away more often. Maybe the Steelers stopping the run better and putting offenses in predictable down-and-distance situations is the key to pinning their ears back and forcing quarterbacks to throw into tight windows. Maybe the defensive backs on the field simply aren’t of the caliber to be ball hawks capable of making splash plays. Maybe the team isn’t forcing enough fumbles due to the rules in place for those jarring hits which often take the ball away from the opponent?

Whatever the case may be, the biggest factor, as was on display in Denver, is the turnovers. You can survive without taking the ball away, but rarely while giving it up. With much bigger fish to fry coming down the stretch, the Steelers might want to get a grasp on the turnovers, and quickly.

The Steelers’ banged up OLBs mean it should be Ola Adeniyi time

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 9:45am

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been rolling with 3 OLBs on their roster all season, and that needs to change moving forward.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been playing with fire throughout the 2018 regular season. No, I’m not talking about their propensity to want to give the football to the opposition at inopportune times, but by just carrying three outside linebackers on their roster.

The plan they had in place with T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree as the starters, and Anthony Chickillo being able to rotate from both sides to spell one or the other had worked for 11 weeks of the regular season.

Then Week 12 against the Denver Broncos happened.

But I might be getting ahead of myself slightly. In the waning minutes of the Week 11 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Chickillo suffered an ankle injury which put him on the injury report for the majority of the week. The injury was enough to have the Steelers move rookie Ola Adeniyi form the Injured Reserve (IR) list to the designated to return list. This means the Steelers have a couple weeks before deciding on putting the rookie pass rusher on the roster.

With Adeniyi waiting in the wings, the loss to the Broncos brought forth more injuries to the position in the form of a wrist injury to Watt, and a shoulder injury to Dupree. Yes, both players re-entered the game, but combine that with Chickillo’s bum ankle and the Steelers are in dire straits at the position.

Am I suggesting Adeniyi is some kind of savior at the position? No. Not a chance. But I am suggesting he is a healthy player who could help the Steelers down the stretch in specific situations.

Adeniyi showed very good pass rushing technique throughout the preseason, and looked to be a lock to make the roster before a hamstring injury landed him on IR. While his promotion would be more out of necessity than novelty, the team would have to let someone go to make room for him on the 53-man roster. A player like Justin Hunter or Brian Allen certainly could be on the chopping block to make room, but at this point the team doesn’t have much of a choice.

The Steelers host the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 13 at Heinz Field, and it very well might be Adeniyi’s first NFL action of his young career. If not, then the Steelers must be very confident in the health of the aforementioned OLB corps moving forward.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they prepare for Philip Rivers and company in prime time next week.

AFC Playoff Picture: Steelers fall in standings, but are still in good shape

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 8:46am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a disappointing loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 12, and with the rest of the AFC wrapping up their games this week, it is time to put things in perspective as it relates to the AFC Playoff Picture.

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

After Pittsburgh’s horrid start to the season, they have rebounded to the tune of a 7-3-1 record, and thanks to some losses to other AFC competitors, find themselves in a Top 4 spot in the AFC Playoff Picture. This week’s loss hurts, though, dropping the team out of the coveted 2 slot.

So, before we go any further, time to update the Playoff Picture heading into Week 11.

AFC Playoff Picture Week 13

(Note: The Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans play on Monday Night Football)

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Raiders (2-9), vs. Ravens (6-5), vs. Chargers (8-3), at Seahawks (6-5), vs. Raiders (2-9)
2. New England Patriots (8-3)REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Vikings (5-4-1), at Dolphins (5-6), at Steelers (7-3-1), vs. Bills (4-7), vs. Jets (3-8)
3. Houston Texans (6-3)REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Titans (5-5), vs. Browns (4-6-1), vs. Colts (6-5), at Jets (3-8), at Eagles (5-6), vs. Jaguars (3-8)
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1)REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Chargers (8-3), at Raiders (2-9), vs. Patriots (8-3), at Saints (10-1), vs. Bengals (5-6)
5. Los Angeles Chargers (8-2)REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Steelers (7-3-1), vs. Bengals (5-6), at Chiefs (9-2), vs. Ravens (6-5), at Broncos (5-6)
6. Baltimore Ravens (6-5)REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Falcons (4-7), at Chiefs (9-2), vs. Buccaneers (4-7), at Chargers (8-3), vs. Browns (4-6-1)

____

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

For those who don’t know, the reason the Chargers, who have a better record than the Steelers, are behind in the standings is due to Pittsburgh leading their division and the Chargers being behind the Chiefs in the AFC West.

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

The fun is just beginning...

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

9 Takeaways after the Steelers’ crushing defeat against the Broncos

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 7:38am

The Steelers cost themselves a victory in Denver.

The Steelers came out and shot themselves in the foot a number of times in their loss to the Broncos. The Steelers clearly left about twenty points on the field, and that’s unacceptable. Is this game an anomaly? Yes, it very likely is, but the Steelers have to do everything they can to prevent this from happening again.

The Broncos were an opportunistic defense and they deserve credit for capitalizing on the Steelers’ miscues. The Black-and-gold have work to do, but at least we have positive things to reflect on before the Steelers face the Chargers next week at home, which I fully expect them to win.

Regardless, with this crushing defeat, here are my nine takeaways from this game:

Javon Hargrave is a monster

Hargrave and Heyward are monsters, both had great games today, hopefully it continues. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/5khTxJVCuj

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 26, 2018

Hargrave had yet another fantastic game this week. He and Cam Heyward were the two best members of this defense today and, even when Stephon Tuitt returns, Hargrave deserves more reps.

The guy has had a fantastic last two games and, in his limited reps on the year, has six sacks. He’s becoming a top NT and truly is showing that he is breaking out. He might want a contract and, the more I watch, the more I’m inclined to give him that contract.

He keeps playing fantastic.

Terrell Edmunds is lost

Not lost in the sense that he’s a lost cause, but lost in terms of not knowing what’s going on. He’s constantly lost, and it wasn’t only in this game either. Edmunds has a real lack of awareness that makes me worry about how good he’ll turn out in the future. He looked rather abysmal today, and I would play Morgan Burnett more in the future.

Rough day for Edmunds. He looked lost all day. This was one of the rather bad plays by him today. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/FYwUFtOIib

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 26, 2018

I don’t know why he plays so far off here and then doesn’t even allow himself a way back in. This dude’s hips are tighter than a war drum. He changes direction so slowly and that trait really worries me overall. He’s progressed in his learning curve, there’s no doubt. But I don’t think he needs to be getting as much playing time as he is now.

He simply needs the game to be slowed down for him so he can read it better. That’s his main issue right now, processing.

Chukwuma Okorafor had himself a day

Did he have help? Yes, he did, but I was thoroughly impressed by our third-round rookie Chuks today. He faced a future Hall of Famer in Von Miller and held him in check for all but one play.

Lost in all of this frenzy will be the impressive showing by Chuks. Matt Feiler was active, but Okorafor sure handled the speed rush of Von Miller much better. I loved his footwork and hands, it looks like Munchak has honed those skills.

Okorafor has legitimate Pro Bowl potential and, as it stands now, it sure looks like he’s well on his way to possibly being the best member of the 2018 draft class.

I kinda wanna see him again, as crazy as that sounds.

Time to redshirt James Washington

Brutal. Just brutal.

That’s how I’d describe James Washington this season. Listen, Washington isn’t exactly a glove fit for the Steelers’ offense. His style of play doesn’t fit the quick, efficient routes that he needs to run in order to be great in the system. He lacks a wide route tree, and when coming into the NFL, only had about 4 routes.

He clearly has expanded that, and it takes time for a guy like him to learn it. The guy just needs to stop playing and learn. And no, I would not play Justin Hunter.

Washington cooked Yiadom on that double move, but I don't know why he dives. That should've been a TD all day. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/qWejld4BCr

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 26, 2018

Still will never know why he dove, this should be a TD all day. Rookie mistake by Washington.

Eli Rogers has more value than you think, and so does Jaylen Samuels

Maybe I am crazy to say this, but I would get Rogers back as soon as possible so I can say deuces to Justin Hunter.

The Steelers are clearly best suited using AB, JuJu, and Switzer in 3 WR sets, but Rogers, and right now Samuels, give them more looks to do it out of. Eli Rogers would certainly be a great fourth receiver to have as a chain mover. Switzer can do that, but with no exclusive deep threat (meaning no Washington), having two slot guys is actually incredibly useful.

I would use Samuels more as a chain mover and in the red zone. He has made some plays recently, and I think his third down conversion is a case in point of how they should use him.

If Randy Fichtner wants to make this offense more high-percentage on short downs and in the red zone, I would use Jaylen Samuels. Dude was a chain mover at NC State all day. He and Switzer on the field together is pretty lethal. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/URWC01LTlQ

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 26, 2018

The versatility Rogers and Samuels could bring is far more than one might think. If you’re going to red-shirt Washington, bring Rogers back to provide a legitimate fourth receiving option.

The Steelers are their own worst enemies

No team played better defense against the Steelers than...the Steelers. Six miscues that cost them a win Sunday. #Steelershttps://t.co/vx7AQHQjH9 pic.twitter.com/7XTEvvNE0L

— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) November 26, 2018

I like to think of this game as the encapsulation of Artie Burns. The guy was great last year, but this year, had no confidence and has killed himself. I think that’s what the Steelers did today.

I’ve never seen a team hand the game away more than the Steelers did today. 25 first downs, over 500 yards of offense, and only 17 points because of 4 turnovers. The Grimble fumble was the worst of them all and really caused the team to tumble. Ben forcing passes was no better, and you have to question if these issues will recur.

This game cannot be repeated ever again. The Steelers have a lot to learn from and — maybe, just maybe — it was better to lose before the tough stretch of their season than at any other time. This can be the game you sulk about, or the game you use to propel your season to new heights.

James Conner is so valuable

56 passes. 56. 11 rushes. 11.

Friends, this might be a passing league, but for a team like the Steelers, you still have to run the ball. In their three losses this season, here’s James Conner’s stat line:

KC: Conner 8 carries. 17 yards.

BAL: Conner 9 carries. 19 yds.

DEN: Conner 11 carries. 53 yds.

Why didn’t they feed him more when he was running well this game? I don’t know the answer, but it was their game plan. When Ben has to throw too many times, it usually comes back to burn the Steelers. When Conner is going, this team plays much, much better.

He’s had critical mistakes the past two weeks, but make no mistake, this guy is about as valuable as they come. To win against the higher caliber of teams they’ll be facing, the Steelers are going to need to get Conner going. That’s a fact and a trend.

Coty Sensabaugh...gotta get better

Sensabaugh and Watt going at it. Sensabaugh tells Cam don’t touch him! #Steelers pic.twitter.com/ZgZiE1x0Vx

— SteelVideos (@SteelVideos) November 26, 2018

A lot of you commented last week that I was preemptive to give Coty Sensabaugh praise, and I am starting to agree with you guys more on that. This is a terrible display by Sensabaugh. He gets burnt on the rushing TD, and he was bad in run defense all day, and he goes and has an attitude like that due to Watt calling him out?

That isn’t okay. He allowed the first Denver touchdown as well. When things are going wrong, you just gotta listen to your guys and go back to pick yourself up. It appears Sensabaugh wasn’t doing that.

Artie Burns might be bad, but at least he has supported his team. If this keeps up, I would give Sutton and Burns another chance. Sensabaugh can’t let this happen.

Don’t worry, they’ll be fine

This team will bounce back just fine. I’m telling you they will win next week, they’ll go to Oakland and win, and maybe they’ll even beat the Patriots.

This game is a learning experience that every good team needs. The Steelers learned from their loss against Baltimore, coming back to rattle off six straight wins.

Mike Tomlin uses these losses to make a statement and learn from it. The Steelers will bounce back and be stronger. The sky isn’t falling yet, trust me on that.

Steelers open as 3.5-point favorites over the Chargers in Week 13

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 6:36am

The bookmakers believe the Steelers are only marginal favorites to return to winning ways when they take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night,

The Pittsburgh Steelers are not the only team to have seen their six-game winning streak snapped by the Broncos this season and they will take on the other team who had their run ended by Denver in Week 11 when they host the Los Angeles Chargers at Heinz Field on Sunday night.

With both teams failing to impress against this common opponent after extended periods of success, the bookmakers are not convinced either team will have a big advantage over the other when they meet in Pittsburgh and the Steelers have opened as marginal 3.5-point favorites for the game.

Although Los Angeles rebounded strongly from their defeat at the hands of the Broncos in Arizona with a 45-10 win over the Cardinals, their win did not come without cost after Melvin Gordon was forced from the game early in the third quarter with a suspected MCL injury. If he is unable to play in Week 13, it should be expected the spread will see some significant movement as the week progresses.

An initial totals position of 52.5-points looks relatively high for this matchup and this figure is likely to fall if Gordon is set to miss the game. An opening money line price of -179 seems to be a fair starting point for Pittsburgh

Podcast: Steelers squander golden opportunity, winning streak snapped

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 5:31am

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

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

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Post-Game Show. On this show Jeff Hartman and co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers from the game that was!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Injuries
  • What is up with the turnovers this season?
  • What does this tell us about the Steelers?
  • Talking what’s ahead
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Report: Knee injury to Chargers’ Melvin Gordon could have him miss Week 13

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 4:32am

The Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled to stop the run the past two weeks, but they may have caught a break in their upcoming game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled to stop the run the past two weeks against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos. In Week 12, Philip Lindsey of the Broncos was the first back to have over 100 yards on the ground against the Pittsburgh defense, but it looks as if the Steelers might be catching a break in the very near future.

With the red-hot Los Angeles Chargers set to invade Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football next week, they might be doing so without star running back Melvin Gordon. Gordon was injured during the team’s Week 12 win over the Arizona Cardinals, and reports state it might be an injury to his MCL ligament.

This per Eric Williams, who covers the Chargers for ESPN:

I’m told initial diagnosis is an MCL knee injury for RB Melvin Gordon. He will have further evaluation on Monday, but real possibility Gordon misses next week’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

— Eric Williams (@eric_d_williams) November 26, 2018

The loss of Gordon could also be combined with the Steelers getting Stephon Tuitt back in the lineup. Tuitt has missed the past two games with an elbow injury suffered in the Week 11 win over the Carolina Panthers, and his presence has been sorely missed in the run-stopping department.

However, with Gordon out it could mean more passing for Philip Rivers and company on a very shaky and suspect Pittsburgh secondary.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they turn the page from their Mile High loss and prepare to host the Chargers in prime time next week.

Steelers see a number of players temporarily sidelined due to injury in loss to Broncos

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 7:39pm

The Steelers saw several players forced from the field in Denver on Sunday and there is a chance one or two names could be limited in practice at the start of the week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers may have seen their six-game winning streak snapped in a matchup full of errors against the Denver Broncos in Week 12, but the final scoreline might have been even worse had any of the players temporarily forced from the field with injuries during the contest not been able to return.

Short-handed from the start with Chukwuma Okorafor pressed into a starting role after the coaching staff opted to sit Matt Feiler due to a pectoral injury, Pittsburgh would see a number of players needing medical attention at various points in the game. T.J. Watt was the first to head into the locker room to be evaluated for a possible wrist injury early in the second quarter, but was back on the field before the end of the half.

While Vance McDonald would need some attention for a possible hip injury that saw him miss parts of the third quarter, he would return in time for the Steelers’ final few drives. Seen receiving treatment on the sidelines for a left shoulder issue in the second half, Bud Dupree was also able to return to action later in the contest.

When speaking to reporters after the game, Mike Tomlin had little to offer in the way of updates for his injured players, but it would not be a surprise if one or two of them were limited in practice in the early stages of the week.

“We had several guys, I think, that went down at different points in the game with injury. They all were able to come back in. T.J. Watt came back in with a wrist injury, Vance McDonald came back in and I think Bud Dupree came back in as well. So, we’ll have more on the injury front as we push into next week.”

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following today’s game in Denver in the @IronCityBeer Postgame Press Conference https://t.co/GZSPCef727

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 26, 2018

Knee jerk reactions to the Steelers 24-17 Week 12 loss to the Broncos

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 7:10pm

One BTSC writer shares his real-time, initial thoughts of the Steelers’ Rocky Mountain High

The Steelers win over Jacksonville was easily the craziest comeback in eons. But following up an emotional win like that is most difficult, especially against a team that owns a 19-11-1 record against you and has triumphed seven times in the past ten games. While all games are crucial this time of year, beating the Broncos in Denver means something to the Steelers.

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

Quarter 1
  • Really like the throwback helmets for the Broncos. Darker than the older ones, but awesome. They should return to those.
  • They are moving it. But I’m surprised that they’re staying away from the run.
  • Blocked field goal. Can’t miss opportunities in this city against this team.
  • The pass rush is just missing him though.
  • That kick just eeked through.
  • That’s a deep safety. They are doing everything they can to shut AB down.
  • Switzer is so valuable completing third downs. He’s quickly becoming a fan favorite. I can’t wait till that guy gets in the end zone.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
  • Seven receptions to seven different receivers. That’s a loaded gun cabinet.
Quarter 2
  • Conner needs to get going. But remember, they haven’t been utilizing him as a rusher.
  • Just utilized him on a great play fake.
  • Grimble....Yes!
  • Wait what? Might want to take a look at that.
  • That’s a shame. But it’s clearly a turnover.
  • Watt needs to catch hang-time balls like that.
  • Joe needs to tackle better than that.
  • Can’t lose Watt. This is bad.
  • Nice coverage by Joe, but what’s the deal with the flag?
  • OPI. Nice! That’s a no call to me though. But I’ll take it.
  • Good stop.
  • Gotta get on the board here.
  • Denver is soft on the middle. I would keep going for the belly on those Conner runs.
  • Ben looks more on target this week. I couldn’t complete these last week.
  • Helmet opening? That’s a new one.
  • Romo is using my phrase...ticky-tack. I agree with him. Cheap call on Vanimal.
  • That was a WWE-quality clothes line by Wolfe. That could’ve been flagged.
  • Nice job, Boz.
  • Crappy camera angle by CBS though.
  • That’s the danger of Lindsay. At least Edmunds got him.
  • Glad Watt is back.
  • LaCosse is annoying. But he dominated the end of that drive.
  • They’re getting nothing deep.
  • Switzer is becoming more valuable by the play.
  • Vanimal dropped six. Inexcusable.
  • Another missed opportunity.
  • Love that call. Sweet TD for Alejandro..
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images Quarter 3
  • Too bad that pass was off. You can’t get more open than JuJu on that play.
  • Dumb penalty. Can’t kill drives like that.
  • Not getting the pressure on Keenum.
  • Lindsay can kill this team.
  • Got pressure on Case there. Vinny Vidi Vici crushed him.
  • Lindsay rushed right past Hargrave on that one.
  • Huge play by Morgan Burnett on third down.
  • 97 yards to JuJu. That was epic.
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
  • Did Ben get hurt on that play? Oh no.
  • Yes that was definitely a hold. Bud got mugged.
  • Game plan needs to be Conner-heavy right now.
  • Okorafor is playing big time RT right now.
  • That was an ugly pass by Ben. Defense will need a big stop here.
  • That was fast. Damn.
  • That Sanders play wasn’t getting overturned.
  • Washington left his feet there. Needed to catch this ball desperately.
  • One TO left is dangerous.
  • Switzer got lucky. That could have been disastrous.
  • Ben is limping, but nice gain on that broken play.
  • Vance ailing. Trust in the Outlaw Jesse James.
  • First bad thing Chuks has done all day.
  • Ben has got to be hurting.
  • Another great RAC ruined by a turnover.
Quarter 4
  • The Steelers can lose this game here if they don’t stop the run.
  • Hargrave with a nice run-stop there.
  • Defense is slipping.
  • Somebody tipped that ball. LT Walton.
  • Lindsay is taking over.
  • Can’t stop the TE.
  • Defense needs a stop. I don’t see it happening though.
  • Watt is giving Sensabaugh an ear full.
  • Big time sack by Hargrave and Heyward.
  • Crunch time. Got to get seven here.
  • You knew Miller wasn’t going to get shut out.
  • That’s a big time first down after the sack.
  • You are definitely in four-down territory. Keep going after the middle.
  • Ben to JuJu is $$$$$$$.
  • You can’t win when you turn the ball over four times.
  • That was an awful play.
  • No magic this week.

...

So...now as I replay the game more and more in my head, my perceptions and maybe my prescriptions will alter. But for now, you just got a glimpse of the first thoughts that popped in my mind while I was watching this game. Feel free to get your knee jerks on in the comments section.

Steelers give Broncos gift by way of 24-17 loss

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 6:29pm

The Steelers sucked it up in Week 12, and didn’t deserve to win the game in Mile High.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos entered Week 12 with very different AFC Playoff potential swirling around them. With a 7-2-1 record, the Steelers had won six games in a row and were hoping to keep pace with the Kansas City Chiefs and secure a first round bye in the playoffs. With a 4-6 record, the Broncos desperately needed to win to stay relevant in the playoff hunt with several other teams hanging around the .500 mark.

The two AFC teams went head-to-head at Mile High in Denver, the Steelers’ second straight road game, and it was the Broncos who started with the football after Pittsburgh deferred their possession to the start of the third quarter.

Denver’s offense failed to gain a first down to open the game, and had to punt the ball to the always lethal Pittsburgh offense. Ben Roethlisberger and company wasted little time moving the ball into Denver territory. Passes to Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jaylen Samuels set up the offense for a 48 yard Chris Boswell field goal, but Justin Simmons blocked the kick, giving the ball back to Denver with good field position.

The Broncos’ offense took over at the 38 yard line, and was able to turn the turnover into three points by way of a Brandon McManus field goal to give Denver an early 3-0 lead.

With the Steelers in need of an answer they got just that when Roethlisberger and company, again, methodically moved the ball into Denver territory. On a 3rd and 1, Roethlisberger pulled off a beautiful play fake to James Conner and hit a wide open Xavier Grimble who was hit at the one yard line, and fumbled the football into the endzone. By rule, it is a turnover, and a touchback for the Broncos.

The Steelers’ defense kept Denver from adding to their lead, and Pittsburgh continued to move the ball well against the Broncos’ defense, but as well as they had played they had little to show for it. On their third drive the offense was finally able to put up points, by way of a Chris Boswell field goal, to tie the game 3-3 with 6:29 left in the first half.

Pittsburgh’s defense certainly loosened on the next drive as Keenum hit several big pass plays, and back-to-back throws to Matt LaCosse, the latter resulting in a 10 yard touchdown. The point-after was good, and gave Denver a 10-3 lead with 3:27 left in the second quarter.

Ben Roethlisberger looked to Ryan Switzer early and often throughout the ensuing drive, and it got the offense inside the 10 yard line with under a minute remaining in the first half. When Smith-Schuster was stopped short on 3rd and goal, Chris Boswell was sent onto the field to kick the field goal, but the team faked the field goal and Boswell threw a strike to Alejandro Villanueva for the game-tying touchdown.

CHRIS BOSWELL

TO

ALEJANDRO VILLANUEVA

(Yes, you read that correctly.) pic.twitter.com/0FtvWfCkCO

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 25, 2018

Both teams headed into halftime with a 10-10 score.

To start the second half, both teams exchanged punts on their opening drives, but on their second possession, starting at their own 3 yard line, Ben Roethlisberger hit JuJu Smith-Schuster in stride for a 97 yard catch and run for a touchdown. The score gave the Steelers a 17-10 lead.

9
7

Y
A
R
D
S

T
O

T
H
E

H
O
U
S
E
‼️ pic.twitter.com/bFQ8ZFV5ix

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 25, 2018

After a Denver three-and-out, it looked as if the Steelers were going to add to their lead, instead on 3rd and 3, coming off a timeout, Roethlisberger was intercepted by Chris Harris Jr. — giving the Broncos renewed life.

Two plays later, both from Keenum to Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos tied the game 10-10. The final play was a 5 yard pass to Sanders as Keenum scrambled to his right and hit his favorite target in the back of the endzone.

All knotted at 17, the Steelers looked to be threatening to add to their point total, but another turnover came back and bit them when it mattered most. This time, it was James Conner who was running after a beautiful screen pass who coughed up the ball and watched it be recovered by the Broncos at their 21 yard line.

Patrick Lindsey and the Denver offense moved the ball with efficiency down the field, and turned yet another Steelers’ turnover into a touchdown. Lindsey walked into the endzone for the go-ahead score, and marked 14 points Broncos gained off Pittsburgh turnovers.

Both teams exchanged punts before the Steelers received the ball with just over 4 minutes left in the game, desperately needing the tying score, Roethlisberger hit Smith-Schuster two big plays to move the team inside the 5 yard line in a first-and-goal situation. On 3rd down, Roethlisberger throws a game-clinching interception to a defensive linemen to end the game.

The loss moves the Steelers’ record to 7-3-1, and ends their winning streak at six games. Pittsburgh will host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football in Heinz Field in Week 13.

Steelers vs. Broncos, Week 12: 3rd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 5:47pm

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

To start the second half, both teams exchanged punts on their opening drives, but on their second possession, starting at their own 3 yard line, Ben Roethlisberger hit JuJu Smith-Schuster in stride for a 97 yard catch and run for a touchdown. The score gave the Steelers a 17-10 lead.

9
7

Y
A
R
D
S

T
O

T
H
E

H
O
U
S
E
‼️ pic.twitter.com/bFQ8ZFV5ix

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 25, 2018

After a Denver three-and-out, it looked as if the Steelers were going to add to their lead, instead on 3rd and 3, coming off a timeout, Roethlisberger was intercepted by Chris Harris Jr. — giving the Broncos renewed life.

Two plays later, both from Keenum to Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos tied the game 10-10. The final play was a 5 yard pass to Sanders as Keenum scrambled to his right and hit his favorite target in the back of the endzone.

After several punts between both teams, the quarter would end with James Conner fumbling the football deep in Denver territory.

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 4:50pm

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2018 regular season is here with the Steelers and Broncos locking horns in Week 12. 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 Denver Broncos in Week 12.

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. Broncos, Week 12: 2nd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 4:47pm

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

To start the second quarter, the Steelers were in need of an answer they got just that when Roethlisberger and company, again, methodically moved the ball into Denver territory. On a 3rd and 1, Roethlisberger pulled off a beautiful play fake to James Conner and hit a wide open Xavier Grimble who was hit at the one yard line, and fumbled the football into the endzone. By rule, it is a turnover, and a touchback for the Broncos.

The Steelers’ defense kept Denver from adding to their lead, and Pittsburgh continued to move the ball well against the Broncos’ defense, but as well as they had played they had little to show for it. On their third drive the offense was finally able to put up points, by way of a Chris Boswell field goal, to tie the game 3-3 with 6:29 left in the first half.

Pittsburgh’s defense certainly loosened on the next drive as Keenum hit several big pass plays, and back-to-back throws to Matt LaCosse, the latter resulting in a 10 yard touchdown. The point-after was good, and gave Denver a 10-3 lead with 3:27 left in the second quarter.

Ben Roethlisberger looked to Ryan Switzer early and often throughout the ensuing drive, and it got the offense inside the 10 yard line with under a minute remaining in the first half. When Smith-Schuster was stopped short on 3rd and goal, Chris Boswell was sent onto the field to kick the field goal, but the team faked the field goal and Boswell threw a strike to Alejandro Villanueva for the game-tying touchdown.

Both teams headed into halftime with a 10-10 score.

T.J. Watt returns to the field against Broncos after being evaluated for a wrist injury in the 2nd quarter

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 4:29pm

The linebacker left the game early in the second quarter after seemingly taking a blow to his right wrist.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers struggling to get going against the Denver Broncos after a blocked field goal and a fumble through the endzone, they may now be forced to play the rest of the game without linebacker T.J. Watt.

UPDATE: Watt has returned to the field after a quick evaluation by the medical staff following the Pittsburgh’s successful scoring drive that ended with a field goal to make the score 3-3.

#Steelers LB TJ Watt sustained a wrist injury and has been taken to the locker room for further evaluation. His return is questionable to today’s game.

— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) November 25, 2018

The Steelers’ leader in sacks was forced from the field early in the second quarter after seemingly taking a blow to his right wrist. Last seen jogging to the locker room to be evaluated, the team’s PR staff were surprisingly quick to update his status and he is officially questionable to return to the game.

As more news becomes available, we will be sure to update this post.

UPDATE: #90 T.J. Watt has returned to the game. https://t.co/2Jt1p2CesO

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 25, 2018

Steelers vs. Broncos, Week 12: 1st quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 3:59pm

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 and Denver Broncos entered Week 12 with very different AFC Playoff potential swirling around them. With a 7-2-1 record, the Steelers had won six games in a row and were hoping to keep pace with the Kansas City Chiefs and secure a first round bye in the playoffs. With a 4-6 record, the Broncos desperately needed to win to stay relevant in the playoff hunt with several other teams hanging around the .500 mark.

The two AFC teams went head-to-head at Mile High in Denver, the Steelers’ second straight road game, and it was the Broncos who started with the football after Pittsburgh deferred their possession to the start of the third quarter.

Denver’s offense failed to gain a first down to open the game, and had to punt the ball to the always lethal Pittsburgh offense. Ben Roethlisberger and company wasted little time moving the ball into Denver territory. Passes to Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jaylen Samuels set up the offense for a 48 yard Chris Boswell field goal, but Justin Simmons blocked the kick, giving the ball back to Denver with good field position.

The Broncos’ offense took over at the 38 yard line, and was able to turn the turnover into three points by way of a Brandon McManus field goal to give Denver an early 3-0 lead.

Pittsburgh had the football inside Denver territory at the end of the quarter.

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 3:15pm

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2018 regular season is here with the Steelers and Broncos locking horns in Week 12. 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 Denver Broncos in Week 12.

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!

LB Matthew Thomas among the inactives for Steelers in Week 12 vs. Broncos

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 2:17pm

The rookie linebacker will sit in favor of cornerback Brian Allen this Sunday and will be joined on the sidelines by Marcus Gilbert and Stephon Tuitt

The Pittsburgh Steelers list of inactive players for Week 12 looks rather familiar again this week with Marcus Gilbert and Stephon Tuitt missing their sixth and second games of the season respectively due to injury. However, there is one slight change to the usual group of names who have become regular features on the weekly inactives report this season after the coaching staff opted to have Matthew Thomas sit for the first time this season, replaced on the game day roster by Brian Allen.

Matt Feiler will once again start in place of Gilbert, despite his questionable designation on the injury report on Friday, while Tyson Alualu and Javon Hargrave will see an increase in their snaps without Tuitt in the lineup. L.T. Walton will also get another opportunity to suit up on game day and should see some playing time as their backup.

For Mason Rudolph, Zach Banner, Marcus Allen and Justin Hunter, it is business as usual this Sunday watching from the sidelines. Barring injury, their best chances of seeing any real game action this year might be in Week 17 if the Steelers are far enough ahead in the standings to be able to rest their starters ahead of the playoffs.

Predicting the Steelers’ Week 12 inactive list vs. the Broncos

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 1:03pm

One questionable player makes a big difference in who will dress against Denver.

The same two players have been ruled out two weeks in a row. The good news is Anthony Chickillo appears to be completely healthy, therefore no roster move was necessary. The bad news is two players at the exact same position are on the game status report which is quite concerning.

Game Status

Out:

OT Marcus Gilbert (knee)

DT Stephon Tuitt (elbow)

Questionable:

OT Matt Feiler (pectoral)

Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for Week 12:

Definitely:

OT Marcus Gilbert- I’m surprised Mike Tomlin hasn’t been asked if Gilbert had surgery on his knee. Since the Steelers aren’t required to disclose medical procedures, I doubt Tomlin would answer the question if it were the case.

DT Stephon Tuitt- although I was hopeful Tuitt would return this week, my hopes faded each day from Wednesday on as the “DNP” continued to be his designation.

Most Likely:

QB Mason Rudolph- as much as it would be nice to see what Rudolph can do in 2018, it’s even nicer the Steelers haven’t been forced to call on him.

S Marcus Allen- with Chickillo practicing fully every day, Allen’s roster spot is safe for at least one more week.

CB Brian Allen- it was speculated by some that Brian would be the Allen who would be cut if another OLB was needed for Sunday. We may never know how the Steeler’s would have handled the roster move.

WR Justin Hunter- even though James Washington isn’t lighting the world on fire, he needs the game reps more than Hunter if both of their services were needed at a later date.

Possibly:

OT Matt Feiler or LB Matthew Thomas- after sitting out practice on Wednesday, Feiler was limited the other two practices this week. If he can play, the Steelers could choose to sit Thomas who has averaged only 8.75 special-teams snaps per game since the bye week.

Unlikely:

OT Zach Banner- I’m going out on a limb and saying Banner gets the helmet regardless of Matt Feiler’s status. If Feiler gives it a go at all, having the extra lineman in case of a re-aggravation would be the wise move.

Projected Inactive List:
  1. Mason Rudolph
  2. Marcus Allen
  3. Brian Allen
  4. Marcus Gilbert
  5. Stephon Tuitt
  6. Justin Hunter
  7. Matthew Thomas

I’ve got so many of these right this season, it’s time to do something crazy just to see what happens. Under normal circumstances, I would think that Feiler would be inactive. But when the alternative is starting the third string tackle, the Steelers might want to see if he can go by getting some in-game action. By doing so, it would be the smart move to carry the extra lineman with Banner. Thomas just seems to be the most expendable player left.

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

The Steelers match-up with the Broncos is hardly a trap game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 12:18pm

No matter what happens, the Steelers contest against the Broncos in Denver this Sunday afternoon is anything but a trap game.

The Steelers (7-2-1) are set to take on the Broncos (4-6) Sunday afternoon at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado.

Since the Steelers have a superior record, there is no way they’re going into the 4:25 kickoff thinking there’s even a remote possibility they will lose. In other words, mere hours before deer hunting season begins in Western, Pa., the big game that are the Steelers’ players could fall prey to the trap the Broncos have set for them in the mountains of Colorado.

That’s right, Sunday’s contest is one of those infamous road trap games head coach Mike Tomlin’s teams always succumb to this time of year.

But to quote Dwight Schrute: “False.” The Steelers do not fall prey to trap games in November. No, Steelers players usually roam around visiting stadiums without a compass and without a clue in September, a time of year when they’re most vulnerable to attacks from Eagles, Dolphins and Bears (yes, THAT game). Fact: Bears eat beets (and Steelers). Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.

This isn’t to say the Broncos aren’t a formidable animal capable of bucking the Steelers right off of their six-game winning-streak. Tomlin said as much at his press conference on Tuesday, a time of the week when he makes upcoming opponents seem like a combination of the ‘78 Steelers and ‘07 Patriots (Super Bowl extra not included). But Tomlin wasn’t off-base with his praise for Denver.

This really is one battle-tested team, a team whose six losses have come against opponents with a combined record of 34-18. The Broncos have lost to the Chiefs (twice), Rams, Texans, and the Ravens back when everyone thought they were good.

The Broncos defense includes linebacker Von Miller, who has 10 sacks on the season. It also has Bradley Chubb, a rookie linebacker with nine sacks.

Did you see what Miller did last Sunday to Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers, when he hopped up at the line of scrimmage to intercept one of those quick little receiver screen-type passes? How many times has Terrell Suggs done that to Ben Roethlisberger? How much does Roethlisberger love to throw those kinds of passes? If you said “a lot” in both cases, you would be correct.

Case Keenum is a quarterback capable of taking his team to a conference title game, which he did last season as a member of the Vikings. Phillip Lindsay is a young running back cut from the same cloth as the Panthers Christian McCaffrey, a player who kind of had his way with Pittsburgh’s defense back on November 8. And, obviously, Emmanuel Sanders is a really good wide receiver, who would like nothing better than to stick it to his old team.

Also, there’s Denver’s altitude that, in-case you weren’t aware, is really, really high (yes, even higher than Pittsburgh’s Mt. Washington neighborhood). Then there’s the Steelers history of playing in Denver, a history that doesn’t include a whole lot of victories—Tim Tebow beat them there.

Fortunately, these aren’t your September Steelers. These are your October, November and December Steelers, complete with a thick and hardened shell, one durable enough to survive one or two falls off of a really angry and bucking Bronco.

Maybe the Steelers win ugly like they did against the Jaguars last Sunday. Maybe they lose. But no matter what happens, it won’t happen against a helplessly inferior opponent (the trap game narrative is more suitable for the Raiders in Oakland two weeks later—a whole other thing, yikes), and it won’t be because the Steelers traveled to Denver without their compass and without their armor.

Week 12 Early Games: Updates, news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/25/2018 - 11:49am

The Steelers don’t play until later in Week 12, but we all will be watching on Sunday to see how things shake out.

The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t play until 4:25 p.m. ET in Week 12, and with the Steelers not slated to play until they travel to the Denver Broncos, the Steelers Nation fan base will be watching games today to see how things shake out.

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

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

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

GO STEELERS!

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