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Raiders-Steelers wrapup...

November 21, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode

The headline:


Steelers overcome referees’ mistakes and their own in rout

It was over when:

+ Ben Roethlisberger hit Mike Wallace on a seemingly innocent crossing pattern before Wallace turned on the jets and turned it into a 52-yard touchdown that put to rest any concerns about another fourth-quarter collapse against Oakland.

Play of the day:

+ The Steelers actually put the game away about 10 minutes earlier when James Harrison pressured doe-eyed Jason Campbell into a bad throw that Ike Taylor turned into a Pick 6. Incompetent white hat Tony Corrente took the touchdown off the board when he called Harrison for “falling on the quarterback with his full weight.” Mr. Corrente meet Isaac Newton, Mr. Newton, slap that guy silly.

Zebra hunting:

+ Roger Goodell’s short-sighted and disingenuous campaign against violent hits has found a poster team in the Steelers and the NFL’s referees and finemasters clearly have Pittsburgh in their crosshairs to the point of absurdity. When Merton “Chicken Neck” Hanks chose to fine LaMarr Woodley last week and not the Patriots’ James Sanders for his clear helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver, the message to the league’s referees was clear and, as we saw Sunday, clearly received. There were four, and possibly five, totally made up violent hit or roughing penalties against the Steelers in that game. It was so ludicrous that Goodell and the NFL can respond in only one way if they want to salvage any amount of integrity: Corrente must be suspended or publicly disciplined in some fashion. If players are going to be held accountable with fine amounts nearing six figures, officials must be held accountable, as well, for such obvious incompetence. We won’t be holding our breath on that, though.

+ A promising Steelers drive in the second quarter was short-circuited when everyone in the stadium saw a Raiders defender hold Emmanuel Sanders’ jersey on a third-down pass – everyone except the back judge.

+ The Raiders were given life late in the second quarter on a questionable pass interference call on Ike Taylor for an arm bar. If that was called uniformly in the league, it would be called 25 or more times each Sunday.

Hot topics:

+ Again, a plethora of Steelers offensive linemen limped off the field with a variety of injuries. It seems obvious that Mike Tomlin is going to have to start dressing eight OL on game day and one of the starters is going to have to play special teams. Hopefully, it seems obvious to Mr. Tomlin because if it doesn’t we’re going to see Matt Spaeth at offensive tackle before the season ends.

+ We talked in our pregame blog about the importance of establishing rhythm in the passing game for the Steelers. To be clear, we’re not suggesting Ben Roethlisberger should be in rhythm (plant foot hits the ground, the ball comes out) every play or even the majority of plays. Yes, he makes his biggest plays when a play breaks down and he can, should and will continue doing that. But scramble-and-heave can’t be your strategy on every series. On Sunday, Roethlisberger threw in rhythm eight times in the first half, the last one being the touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders. In the second half of the game, he did not complete a single pass in rhythm until the screen pass that Isaac Redman took in for a touchdown in the game's final 90 seconds.

Paralysis by analysis:

+ Dan Fouts was fairly good, especially recognizing the individual bogus calls in the game, BUT he and Ian Eagle didn’t’ put those calls into a larger focus until late in the game. Eagle went on and on for three quarters with “Pittsburgh piling up the penalty yards” but never mentioned in that context that at least 60 of those yards came on phantom calls.

+ One of our beefs with the CBS coverage is they have to come up with a gimmick for the analyst segment (a la “The Wisdom of Solomon”) that tells the viewer nothing useful. This week, it was “Fouts Focus,” where we learned Troy Polamalu can cover a lot of ground.

And now a word from our sponsors :

+ The simply joy of obsession? C’mon McDonalds, it’s a greasy pork sandwich.

Sweet tweets:

@CdrEck: Maybe our #9 should use smelling salts before he punts.

@15MinuteBlog: Bubby Brister with the extra point for the Steelers!

@15 MinutesBlog: Shaun Suisham looks like he might lose a fight with a Sheetz paper towel dispenser.

@SportsGuy33 (Bill Simmons): Richard Seymour just decked a trash-talking White Mamba with an open-hand slap and got ejected. That was fantastic. 15 Minutes note: Keep in mind, Seymour will be seen as a hero with NFL fans outside Pittsburgh for decking the most-hated man in the NFL. @15MinutesBlog: Johnny Lee Higgins? Didn’t he shoot Reagan?

We were right:

+ Aside from our continuing correctness about the absurdity of the violent hits witch hunt, we were also correct this week about Steelers pressure being the key to a victory. We’re not sure how Jason Campbell looks when he doesn’t play against the Steelers, but every time he does play the Steelers he looks like he’s looking for the closest exit.

We were wrong:

+ We really thought the Raiders would make a better overall effort, but without Nnamdi Asomugha and Darius Heyward-Bay, they were just overmatched.

Next week:

Thanks god the Bills aren’t still winless, but even so, they are a very dangerous offensive team and Ryan Fitzpatrick can do a serviceable impression of the Tom Brady gameplan we saw last Sunday. The big difference is that Fitzpatrick will throw three of four INTs to go with three or four TDs. The Steelers must turn those turnovers into touchdowns and run the ball better to win a game they should win.

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