Forming a plan for success

Commentary

PITTSBURGH — Getting to the AFC Championship game is as easy as 1-2-3 for the Steelers as they play the Jacksonville Jaguars this afternoon.

1. Contain Blake Bortles. He’s the kind of quarterback whose legs are more dangerous than his arm.

2. No big plays. The Steelers defense has been allowing too many plays of 30 yards or more. They breathe life into a struggling offense.

3. No turnovers. Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions in the regular season game against Jacksonville. He shouldn’t have that many in a month, much less one game.

Take care of those elements, and the Steelers will be on their way to New England — where the formula for success is a lot more complex.

OK to worry

Steelers fans wouldn’t be Steelers fans without worrying about something. So…

Worry about Antonio Brown. He’s trying to return after injuring his calf in the next-to-last regular season game. Then he got sent home early from Friday’s practice because of an illness.

The Steelers can win without Brown, but things run a lot smoother with him.

Running around on a bad leg isn’t easy, even tougher when the temperature isn’t above 20 degrees.

Bad scoop

It wasn’t a distinguished week for sports journalism with a couple of stories that had local impact.

Jon Paul Morosi of mlb.com ran with a story about Gerrit Cole being traded to Houston. He had the framework of agreement, but didn’t identify what players the Pirates might be getting.

No need. The story blew up in a couple of hours. As this is typed, Cole was finally traded to the Astros in a deal that was announced just after 7 p.m. on Saturday.

That errant story is a prime example of what happens in a Twitter world, where there’s a premium on getting the story before anyone else, even if the facts haven’t been fully vetted.

Over at Steelers headquarters, ESPN was busy nailing down Le’Veon Bell’s contract negotiations for next season even as the team was preparing for a playoff game.

That one was Bell’s fault. He took the bait and sounded off. He said if the Steelers put the franchise player tag on him again, he might sit out the season or retire.

In deference to his teammates, Bell should have deflected the question. He did that hours later, issuing a Tweet that said his focus was entirely on this week’s playoff game, not on this offseason’s negotiations.

Ultimately Bell made himself look bad by answering an irrelevant question.

‘Tis the season

Three of this weekend’s four NFL playoff games are being played in outdoor stadiums in cold weather environments.

Doesn’t get any better. There’s nothing more fun than watching others suffer in the elements while the furnace and/or fireplace are roaring.

Keith Jackson

Keith Jackson, who died at 89, was the voice of college football on ABC for so many years.

His “Whoa, Nellie” and “fum…..BLE!’ and the calls about the exploits of he “big uglies” cemented his relationship with Saturday college games.

But Jackson worked a full roster of sports during his long association with ABC. He was the original play-by-play voice of “Monday Night Football” before Frank Gifford took over.

He also called four games in the 1979 World Series, the Pirates’ last participation. Jackson missed the middle games for football assignments (Al Michaels filled in), but Jackson was at the microphone for Game 7 when Omar Moreno caught Pat Kelly’s fly ball to win the Series for the Pirates.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com.

COMMENTS