Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Good News and Bad News: Rams at Steelers

I have to admit that I didn't watch the game.  I was out of town, visiting family.  If the game was on TV where I was (it wasn't, but even if it was), I wouldn't have been able to watch it.  I was visiting with people that wouldn't understand why it was more important to me to watch the Steelers play the hapless Rams in an essentially meaningless late season game instead of spending quality time with them and I only get to see them a couple times a year and when, for the love of God, are they going to see some grand kids? 

I figured it was better that I just check my phone for updates and then look at the box scores and analysis of the game afterwards.

Here's what I have for the Good News:
  1. They won and winning is better than losing.  And a win's a win.
  2. Ben Roethlisberger didn't need to start for the Steelers to win by 27.  A big reason for this was not the stellar play of Charlie Batch -- though it doesn't look like he played horribly -- but the fact that they were able to average six yards a carry against the league's worst run defense.  Hey, I'll take it where I can get it.
  3. From what I've heard, Trai Essex did a more-than-serviceable job at center.  Since Pouncey may not be back for the Cleveland game and Legursky definitely won't, that's at least comforting news.
  4. Also comforting is the fact that the Browns have the league's 30th ranked run defense, but I guess that's something better left to the preview for this week's game.
  5. According to Mike Tomlin, Woodley, Pouncey, and Sanders all have a "decent shot" of playing against Cleveland on Sunday.  Even if they don't play, it's a good sign that they're getting closer (especially Woodley and Pouncey).
  6. Brandon Lloyd was targeted 12 times for three receptions and 29 yards.  That's an ugly stat line for Lloyd, but another outstanding performance by Ike Taylor.
  7. I know that Kellen Clemens isn't exactly Aaron Rodgers, but the fact that he was held to 91 yards on 24 attempts -- 3.8 yards per pass attempt is pretty crazy -- is a good sign that the pass defense can be trusted.  They're not going to hold Rodgers or Flacco to that kind of horrid production, but it's likely that they won't get lit up, either.
Bad News is, for the most part, not related to the game.
  1. They committed a turnover and forced zero turnovers.  Since the opener against the hated Ravens, they've committed only 13 turnovers in 14 games.  Take out the four against the 49ers and that's nine in 13 games, which is excellent.  The issue is that they're still minus-12 in turnover differential.  Maybe they're saving all their lucky bounces for the postseason?  I sure hope so.
  2. Batch was 3-for-4 in the red zone, but he was also 1-for-7 on third down.  That... that's a pretty horrific conversion rate against one of the worst defenses in the league.  In theory, the conversion rate on third down will improve when Roethlisberger comes back, but I'd sure like to see it stay much closer to 50 percent while he's out.
  3. Tomlin said that Roethlisberger had a shot to play.  That means he could be out there, slinging passes and not-quite fully healed against a team that hates him.  Against a team that lost their quarterback on an illegal hit the last time these two played.  I'm not saying that the Browns players will intentionally try to aggravate Roethlisberger's injury, but they're definitely not going to be pulling any punches.  If Ben plays on Sunday, that's bad news.
  4. The hated Ravens also won.  If the Steelers and hated Ravens win on Sunday, then we'll have a 12-4 wild card team and an eight or nine win team hosting them.  It's good news that the Steelers will play either Denver or Oakland in the Wild Card round, but it's bad news that they honked away that game against Baltimore in November (which was partially my fault).
  5. Hines Ward caught four passes, but he needs five more.  That's gonna be a stretch unless the starters get pulled early (probably won't happen).  The Cincinnati-Baltimore game also got flexed to 4:15, so neither team will know their fate until their game is over.  That means lots and lots of quick screens to Hines until he either breaks the record or the Steelers jump out to a big lead.  Honestly, I think it's important to get Hines to 1,000 receptions.  I think the Steelers can safely cut him with a clear conscience if they get him there.  I think he deserves it for all his hard work, determination, and quality play over the last 14 seasons.  I also think the Rooneys are crazy if they keep him around in 2012.
  6. Something about winning three road games to get to the Super Bowl makes me awfully nervous.  I know it's been done in the past, but it's been not done more frequently.
We're almost to the playoffs, kids.  Only the might Cleveland Browns stand in our way.  Ya know what?  I can't even type that ironically.  Let's just get Cleveland out of the way and get to the real games.

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