Skip to content

Sherman changes his tune about Crabtree rant

Sherman AP

In the aftermath of Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s on-field tirade against 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree after the NFC title game, Sherman vowed to stop belittling other players.

Now, Sherman is singing a different tune.

In January, in an item that he wrote for, Sherman suggested that he’d be turning a new leaf when it comes to verbally tearing opponents a new orifice.

“No one has ever made himself great by showing how small someone else is,” Sherman wrote at the time.  “That’s not mine.  It belongs to Irvin Himmel.  Somebody tweeted it at me after the NFC Championship Game.  If I could pass a lesson on to the kids it would be this:  Don’t attack anybody.  I shouldn’t have attacked Michael Crabtree the way I did.  You don’t have to put anybody else down to make yourself bigger.”

On Wednesday, Sherman expressed no remorse for his verbal assault on Crabtree.

I don’t regret anything,” Sherman said during a panel discussion at Harvard Business School, via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.  “People said I had no class.  What is class in sports?  What exactly is it?  Do I say great game and go cookie cutter?  No.  I don’t think he played a great game. . . .  If it was Larry [Fitzgerald], and the same situation happened, I wouldn’t have said a thing.  Because I respect Larry.”

So which is it, Richard?  Have you learned not to put someone else down?  Or would you — and will you — do it again, to Crabtree and others whom you deem to be unworthy of your respect?

Often inappropriately, Sherman has been called many things in recent months.  One thing he can’t currently be called is consistent.

Permalink 134 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Rumor Mill, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Top Stories

Anquan Boldin on officials: The crap cost us another game

Jim Harbaugh AP

The 49ers melted down in the second half again on Sunday, allowing the Cardinals to outscore them 17-0 on the way to a 23-14 loss that left San Francisco with a 1-2 record after three weeks.

The team has now been outscored 52-3 in the second halves of games this season, a problem that needs to be addressed if they are going to turn things around and return to the playoffs. One good place to start would be penalties, which played a major role in both of their losses.

One of the costliest on Sunday was a head butt delivered by wide receiver Anquan Boldin to Cardinals cornerback Tony Jefferson late in the third quarter that took the Niners from first-and-goal on the six to first-and-10 on the 21-yard line. They had to settle for a field goal try, which was blocked, and the Niners wouldn’t come close to scoring again. Boldin acknowledged his error after the game, but said it came after officials missed several infractions by the Cardinals before throwing flags on his side.

“For me, it’s been obvious the last two weeks: The amount of calls that have gone against us and the amount of calls that we’ve gotten hasn’t been close,” Boldin said, via the Sacramento Bee. “Every week, it’s the same thing — send the tape in, the NFL just reports back, ‘We made a mistake.’ But at the same time, the crap cost us another game. At some point, they need to be held accountable.”

On some calls, like the one on linebacker Patrick Willis for an unambiguously clean hit on Drew Stanton, Boldin is absolutely right about the officials making blunders that need to be corrected on the field and not during the week. On others, though, the 49ers have only themselves to blame. Whether it was Boldin’s head butt or Chris Culliver’s taunting wiping out a Cardinals holding penalty, the 49ers’ inability to keep their emotions under wraps was their fault alone.

Those latter issues are the only penalty-related ones that the 49ers can control by themselves and they’ll need to against the Eagles in Week Four if they want to avoid another disappointing result.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Russell Wilson was quietly rooting for overtime

Wilson AP

Sure, the Seahawks squandered a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, showing a vulnerability at home that most believe didn’t exist.  But not everyone on the sideline was dismayed by the outcome.

“I know I shouldn’t say this,” Wilson told Peter King of, “but I actually wanted overtime.  Of course I want to win in regulation, but overtime is so much fun.  I live for those moments.”

That’s essentially what he told his teammates before the game-winning opening drive of the extra session.

“This is what we live for, fellas: championship moments,” Wilson said.  “Let’s go out and embrace it.”

Wilson has a habit of embracing it against the game’s best quarterbacks.  In his two seasons and three games, Wilson has a 7-0 career record against Peyton Manning (2-0), Aaron Rodgers (2-0), Drew Brees (2-0), and Tom Brady (1-0).  As King points out, Brady has thrown 14 touchdowns and only one interception — a turnover coming Sunday on a tipped ball.

So maybe Wilson deserves more credit than he gets.  Viewed as a game manager who is blessed with a great defense, the truth is that Wilson does whatever he needs to do to win.  Over the course of his career, as players come and go on both sides of the ball, it’s likely that Wilson’s presence will continue to ensure that the Seahawks will be competing for more championship moments.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Dolphins defenders “beyond furious” with defensive scheme

Joe McKnight, Jason Trusnik AP

The Dolphins were shellacked for the second straight week on Sunday, losing 34-15 at home to a previously winless Chiefs team.

According to a report from Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, the way things turned out left players on the defensive side of the ball “beyond furious” and “irate” with the defensive scheme cooked up by defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. Among their complaints was the team’s decision to use players like Cameron Wake and Jason Trusnik to cover running back Joe McKnight, who scored twice on passing plays in the second half to help the Chiefs break the game open.

The coaches probably have some of their own issues with the players. The Dolphins did not tackle well on Sunday as Knile Davis shrugged off attempts to bring him down several times on his way to 132 rushing yards and a touchdown.

With plenty of issues to sort out on offense as well, the Dolphins won’t be headed to London on a pleasure trip this week. Should things get even worse against the Raiders, the bye week won’t wind up being a particularly restful one either.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Monday morning one-liners

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Short passes worked out better than deeper shots for the Bills.

Dolphins RB Lamar Miller had a big day against the Chiefs.

The Patriots’ problems on the offensive line haven’t shown signs of subsiding.

Penalties have been an issue for the Jets in the first two weeks of the season.

RB Lorenzo Taliaferro took advantage of the opening in the Ravens backfield.

The Bengals kept QB Andy Dalton from being sacked for a third straight week.

Browns PR Travis Benjamin’s choice not to field a late punt came back to hurt the team.

The Steelers had two backs with 100 rushing yards for the first time in almost 30 years.

Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins played well in a losing cause.

Said Colts QB Andrew Luck, “There definitely was a sense of urgency and you don’t want to start 0-2 but you definitely don’t want to start 0-3. We realize we control that and we go out and play this game. I think guys took it to heart and it was a divisional game on the road. This counts big time and we managed to put two decent halves together and get the win.”

The Jaguars defense is moving in the wrong direction.

RB Bishop Sankey provided a rare spark to the Titans on Sunday.

There were no moral victories for the Broncos in Seattle.

Chiefs CB Sean Smith was a big part of Sunday’s win against his former team.

The Raiders stood behind G Gabe Jackson after his costly holding penalty.

Defensive plays stood out in the aftermath of the Chargers win.

The Cowboys pulled off the biggest comeback in franchise history.

Giants RB Rashad Jennings dedicated his 176-yard performance to his father.

Said Eagles QB Nick Foles, “My teammates are fighting for me, so I’m not going to stay down. I’m going to get up for those guys. That’s my mindset. It’s not a pride thing where I have to be a tough guy. I know those guys are depending on me so I’m going to get up and keep fighting for them.”

The Redskins head into a short week with some injury concerns.

The Bears expect to see a lot of blitzing on Monday night.

Sunday’s win showed what the Lions offense can be this season.

Packers WR Randall Cobb wasn’t happy with his performance on Sunday.

The Vikings defense was caught off guard early in Sunday’s loss to the Saints.

S Kemal Ishmael’s interception return for a touchdown got the Falcons rolling last Thursday.

Sunday night was not a good one for Panthers returner Philly Brown.

The Saints got their first win, but they didn’t solve all their problems.

The Buccaneers spent Sunday watching the rest of the league.

Cardinals WR John Brown was too much for the 49ers to handle.

There were bright spots for the Rams on Sunday, but too many mistakes for them to get a win.

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick had career highs in both rushes and completions as the team slumped to defeat.

Said Seahawks QB Russell Wilson of the game-wininng drive, “The key to taking advantage of those moments is still playing smart football, but also playing with an edge. Playing to the edge, but not falling off the edge. Playing with great poise and great composure.”

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Frank Gore at a loss for words about loss, and his role

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

The 49ers were without tight end Vernon Davis because of injury. But they were apparently without running back Frank Gore by decision.

Gore carried the ball just six times for 10 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals, as the 49ers went to more and more multiple-receiver formations.

“We did what the defense gave us,” Gore said, via Matt Maiocco of, saying he didn’t know that would be the plan.

Then after less than a minute of answering questions, Gore said: “I’m sorry, I can’t talk right now.”

The 49ers have been outscored 52-3 in the second halves of games this season, the time when they’d normally feed the ball to Gore and he’d keep chains and clocks moving. Part of the problem was the lack of tight ends Davis and Vance McDonald, which kept them out their preferred personnel packages.

But after drafting young backs to eventually replace him for years, the 49ers showed what could be a sign that Gore’s role might not be what it used to be.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Le’Veon Bell’s 81-yard run was a rare feat

belldecoud AP

With the Steelers deep in their own territory in the third quarter on Sunday night, running back Le’Veon Bell took a handoff at the 8-yard line and raced up the middle, running all the way to the Panthers’ 11-yard line before he was finally caught by Carolina’s Thomas DeCoud, for a run of 81 yards. That was a rare feat.

Bell’s 81-yard run was the longest in the NFL this year and the longest since then-Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor ran 93 yards against the Steelers on October 27, 2013. Even more unusual, however, is that Bell ran 81 yards but didn’t reach the end zone. That hasn’t happened in the NFL in 20 years.

The last time an NFL player ran for more than 80 yards but didn’t score a touchdown was in 1994. The runner was Lions Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, and the guy who ran him down on an 85-yard run before he reached the end zone was then-Buccaneers cornerback Martin Mayhew, who is now the Lions’ general manager.

The 81-yarder contributed to a 21-carry, 147-yard day for Bell, who is off to a huge start this season for the Steelers. Bell has 315 rushing yards and 146 receiving yards this season, giving him a league-leading 461 scrimmage yards. (He’s also leading the league in all-purpose yards, even though he doesn’t return kicks.)

Sunday night was the best game yet in a big month for Bell.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ron Rivera pulled Cam Newton “to protect him”

Cam Newton, Steve McLendon AP

Cam Newton didn’t play poorly last night, he just didn’t have much of a chance.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he pulled his hobbling quarterback for his own good during last night’s loss to the Steelers.

“I just took Cam out mostly because I was trying to protect him,” Rivera said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. I just didn’t want to see him get hit anymore.”

Prior to that, in case you weren’t clear about the cause of their problems, Rivera answered a question about rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin by steering it back up front.

“But, we can’t do anything unless we protect the quarterback,” Rivera said. “That’s the first thing we have to do.”

The Panthers allowed three sacks, but many more pressures. Some of that was on the Steelers who were getting there on three-man pressures throughout the game.

Part of it was on Newton, forced to hold the ball too long because receivers weren’t getting open.

But most of it was on a patchwork and inexperienced line, which is one of the problems they knew about this offseason, but were able to mask in a 2-0 start.

“No, I was not pleased at all by no stretch of the imagination,” Rivera said of the protection. ” We missed opportunities. There are some things that we have to do as coaches to make sure we put these guys in the best positions to have success. We have to take a good long evaluation of ourselves first and foremost and then we will watch the tape and evaluate the players.

“This is a team game and we have to make sure we are giving the players the best opportunity to succeed. At the same time we have to make sure the players are executing.”

The Panthers don’t have a lot of personnel buttons to push on their offensive line, as they’re already rotating guards and trying tackles at new positions. Maybe the simple shaming of showing them the tape of the game, and Newton limping back and forth, will be enough.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NFL morning after: Even in defeat, Cousins was Sunday’s star

cousins AP

He’s a backup quarterback whose team lost, and yet Kirk Cousins was the player who made the biggest impact on the NFL on Sunday.

Cousins, starting for Washington against Philadelphia because Robert Griffin III suffered a dislocated ankle last week, was excellent: He completed 30 of his 48 passes, threw three touchdowns, showed off a great arm on deep balls and nice touch on short passes, only had one interception and — maybe most importantly — felt the pressure so well and got the ball away so quickly that he was never sacked. Cousins totaled 427 yards on the day, topping Griffin’s career high by 98 yards.

Yes, Washington lost. But blaming Cousins for that would be silly. Washington lost because its defense allowed Nick Foles to throw for 325 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Not because of anything Cousins did, or failed to do.

What Cousins did was make a real case that he’s a better quarterback than RGIII.

Cousins is nowhere near as talented a quarterback as Griffin. Cousins doesn’t have Griffin’s athleticism (for that matter, no quarterback in NFL history is as good an athlete as Griffin, who was an Olympic-caliber hurdler before he left track behind to focus on football), and Cousins probably doesn’t have as good a natural arm as Griffin does, either. In their first two seasons together in Washington, Griffin was better than Cousins, and it wasn’t close. Anyone calling for Cousins to be the starter in the last two years was probably more interested in stirring up a quarterback controversy than in accurately assessing the state of the quarterback position in Washington.

But things have changed. Griffin suffering yet another injury last week has only solidified the feeling that he’s simply too fragile to last in the NFL. And in the new offense run by new coach Jay Gruden, Cousins just looks like a better fit. In Week One, Griffin’s only full game in Gruden’s offense, Griffin looked overly cautious and never got much of anything going. Cousins has looked comfortable taking shots downfield.

I loved RGIII when he was at Baylor, and loved watching him in his rookie year. But I’m getting a sinking feeling that his career will go one of two ways: Either he’ll keep getting hurt, or he and his coaches will be so worried about him getting hurt that he’ll be put in bubble wrap by a stifling offense that doesn’t make use of his talents.

Cousins doesn’t have the same talent as Griffin. But Cousins may have a longer and more successful NFL career than Griffin. He certainly did enough on Sunday to make the case that he — not Griffin — is the quarterback of the future in Washington.

Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s action:

What a game in Seattle. The Super Bowl rematch was everything we could have hoped for, with the Seahawks jumping out to an early lead and the Broncos storming back to force overtime. The Seahawks got the 26-20 win, the Broncos got at least some satisfaction from knowing they can play a competitive game with the team that blew them out in February, and football fans got a treat. With what the NFL has dragged the game through over the last couple weeks, we deserved it.

Protection of the quarterback going too far. In theory, I support the NFL’s desire to make the game of football safer by taking out hits on defenseless players, particularly hits to the heads of quarterbacks who are in postures where they can’t defend themselves. In practice, NFL officials often go way too far in protecting the quarterback, at the expense of preventing defensive players from doing their jobs. That happened on Sunday in Arizona, where the Cardinals were handed 30 yards on back-to-back plays when 49ers players were flagged for hits on Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton. Former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira said on the FOX broadcast that he disagreed with the calls, and so did I. The first was a hit from San Francisco’s Dan Skuta to the head of Stanton while Stanton was beginning to slide, but it’s important to note that he was just beginning to slide — he hadn’t actually touched the ground yet. And on the second, 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis used his shoulder to hit Stanton in the chest — exactly the way players are told to hit — and yet he was called for roughing the passer anyway. Those 30 yards helped the Cardinals march down the field for a touchdown. A raw deal for the 49ers’ defense.

A big screwup in Seattle. While the Broncos had the ball in the third quarter, they successfully drew Seattle’s K.J. Wright offside. An official saw it and threw his penalty flag. And then something strange happened: Another official came in and claimed that Wright hadn’t been offside, and the head referee — who has the final call when two officials disagree — went with the official who got it wrong. The TV replays made it clear that Wright had been offside, but that didn’t matter because offside calls aren’t reviewable on replay. The NFL needs its officials to get better at communicating on the field, or make more calls reviewable on replay to get those mistakes right. Or both.

The Bengals are really, really good. Of all the NFL’s 3-0 teams, the one that has impressed me most is in Cincinnati. The Bengals, who just destroyed the Titans on Sunday, have a stifling pass defense and an offense that revolves around receiver A.J. Green, who in my view is the best receiver in football not named Megatron. The Bengals have their bye this week and then visit New England. The Bengals are already the only unbeaten team in the AFC, and a win over the Patriots would be a huge statement that the road to the Super Bowl will go through Cincinnati.

Tulloch pulls a Gramatica. Please, NFL players, take it easy with the celebrations. Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch hurt his knee jumping up to celebrate a sack, in a move reminiscent of former NFL kicker Bill Gramatica blowing out his knee. After watching that I paid closer attention to the way players celebrated for the rest of the day, and honestly, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often. Guys are jumping up and down, jumping on each other, smacking each other and generally doing things that can only lead to pain when they involve multiple adrenaline-fueled 250-pound men. Be smart, guys. A simple high-five is sufficient.

NFL should improve the broadcast rules. In the final moments of the Washington-Philadelphia game, FOX’s Joe Buck announced that some viewers would not be able to see the end of the game “because of NFL broadcast rules.” Those rules are dumb. It didn’t affect me personally because I have the NFL Sunday Ticket package, but for fans who only see NFL games through their local network affiliates, it’s ridiculous to have to miss the end of that game. A great game like Washington-Philadelphia should be exactly the kind of game the NFL wants as many fans as possible to see.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ken Whisenhunt sticking with Jake Locker

Tennessee Titans v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

Quarterback Jake Locker played poorly for the second straight week as the Titans fell to the Bengals, leading to postgame questions for coach Ken Whisenhunt about whether or not he contemplated making a move to Charlie Whitehurst in an attempt to rally a struggling offense.

Locker was 17-of-34 for 185 yards and two interceptions. He also fumbled twice, although the Titans didn’t lose either of them, and has generally displayed little growth over the early part of this season.

Whisenhunt said after the game that such a move was never on the table. He also cited his own history running a quarterback carousel in Arizona as part of the reason why his focus is on fixing things rather than finding a new starter.

“Jake is still our quarterback. … One of the things that you asked me when I first go here was what would I do differently,” Whisenhunt said, via “One of the things was patience with the quarterback. Jake has to play better. Once again, we all have to play better.”

Patience is better than blindly picking between the likes of Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, Max Hall and John Skelton, but it can’t be endless. Locker’s set to be a free agent after this season and the Titans owe it to themselves to find out about rookie Zach Mettenberger if they know Locker’s not going to be back next season. Three weeks into the season is probably too early to contemplate such a move, but it can get late early in the NFL when you don’t have good quarterback play and the Titans don’t have it right now.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Drew Brees gets fired up after being taken down

Drew Brees AP

Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is one of the smallest players in the NFL.

But Saints quarterback Drew Brees was comparing him to Hulk Hogan after the game.

Munnerlyn caught the Saints’ attention by suplexing Brees at the end of a sack in the third quarter, and perhaps unnecessarily firing up the quarterback.

It created some fire, some momentum,” Brees said, via Evan Woodberry of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “Obviously I wasn’t too happy about getting suplexed. The guys up front, they don’t like seeing that either.”

The guys who look more like wrestlers noticed, for sure.

“If you want to fire this team up, that’s the guy to go after,” tackle Zach Strief said. “We’re going to defend him.”

The penalty was a killer for the Vikings, because it woke the Saints offense after two sluggish quarters and led to the game-clinching touchdown.

“I talked to [Brees] after the play,” Munnerlyn said. “I told him the play wasn’t what you think it was. I mean, I told him, ‘One guy threw you down and then I piled on top of you and that’s what happened.’ I told him, ‘I inadvertently hit your head and hit your back.’ I mean, he got the call. At the end of the day, we’ve got to learn from this and just stop making mistakes.”

Munnerlyn’s a fiery player who is well known to Brees from his days with the Panthers, but he won’t win the belt making plays like that often.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ike Taylor’s broken arm among Steelers “significant injuries”

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

As we noted last night in the wrap-up, the Steelers’ depth is going to be tested the next few weeks because of some injuries on defense.

None were worse, or looked worse, than the broken forearm suffered by cornerback Ike Taylor, when he was hit by teammate Lawrence Timmons.

His arm was just hanging there,” cornerback Cortez Allen said, via Allen Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones left with a wrist injury, and rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier injured his right knee.

Shazier left the stadium wearing a knee brace.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin didn’t offer any specifics, but did refer to multiple “significant injuries.”

The Steelers turned to Arthur Moats and Sean Spence at linebacker, while William Gay and Antwon Blake shared the cornerback duties.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Danny Woodhead expected to miss rest of season

Danny Woodhead AP

The Chargers lost running back Danny Woodhead early in Sunday’s victory over the Bills and it may be some time before they get him back on the field.

San Diego announced that Woodhead, who left the game on crutches, suffered a right ankle injury that caused him to be carted off the field. It looks like it is more than your garden variety ankle injury, however.

Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports that Woodhead suffered both a severe high ankle sprain and a fractured fibula. He’s expected to have surgery that will bring his season to an end, although Woodhead will surely get another opinion or two before deciding to undergo such a serious operation.

“You hate it for him first,” quarterback Philip Rivers said, via U-T San Diego. “Obviously, it’s going to hurt us. But you hate it for him. He’ll get through it. It’s tough, I know, early like this to get hurt like that. We’ll miss him, but guys will step up. You don’t want anybody to get hurt. We’d be disappointed if anybody got hurt. But it just adds to the fact that you know a guy who loves it that much, cares about it that much, and goes down on his first snap.”

Ryan Mathews missed Sunday’s game with a knee injury, leaving Donald Brown to pick up a career-high 36 touches during the San Diego win. Mathews is expected to be out a few more weeks, which should mean Branden Oliver and/or Marion Grice get worked into the mix for the 2-1 Chargers.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cary Williams criticizes Eagles’ practice regimen

Cary Williams AP

In comments remarkable for their timing (after a win moving Philadelphia to 3-0), their audience (the media) and their directness, Eagles cornerback Cary Williams was reportedly critical of the team’s practice regimen following the club’s 37-34 victory vs. Washington on Sunday.

According to Andy Schwartz of, Williams said the club’s practices have left him worn down — and Williams indicated other players felt similarly.

“I’m not the only guy that feels burnt out. I’m just a guy that’s man enough to stand up for players and just say that we’re burnt out,” Williams said Sunday, per “My legs hurt. My legs were done in the fourth quarter. My legs were done in the third quarter. My legs were done before the game started.”

According to, Williams suggested “you can’t continue to run your team into the ground and expect great results.” He also noted the Eagles didn’t get a rest day after the win at Indianapolis on Monday night. Per, the Eagles ran last Tuesday.

Williams’ remarks are an unexpected controversy for coach Chip Kelly as Philadelphia turns its attention to next Sunday’s game at 1-2 San Francisco. However, Williams’ comments come with the Eagles atop the NFC East and having outscored opponents 74-24 in the second half.

Still, it’s possible Williams has made some valid points. Of course, it’s also possible his remarks were made in the heat of the moment after a long, demanding game. But Williams made the comments in the public forum in a robust media market, so there’s no getting away from them, and Kelly will surely be asked about them this week. Also, with Williams indicating other Eagles have similar feelings about the practices, it’s a given reporters will be asking his teammates what they think of the workouts. And Williams, surely, will be asked if he stands by his remarks. Here is a story that will spawn follow-up stories, for there are other questions to be asked now that wouldn’t have been pondered otherwise.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Sunday night wrap-up: Ben Roethlisberger wakes up

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The rumors of the demise of the Steelers offense were greatly exaggerated.

The Steelers offense went through a drought since the first half of the opener, but did just enough at the right times to beat the Panthers 37-19, with Ben Roethlisberger looking like Ben Roethlisberger again.

The Steelers quarterback found something resembling a rhythm in the second quarter, and was rewarded for his patience in the second half. He threw a pair of touchdown passes to Antonio Brown, and finished the night 22-of-30 for 196 yards.

That was more than enough to beat the Panthers, but perhaps a sign that the Steelers have found the kind of balance they’ve been looking for under offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Roethlisberger had a couple of chunk plays, but mostly worked the intermediate spaces.

And he worked them well.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. The Panthers would love to be able to run the ball, but the way they’re built right now, it’s hard.

Their offensive line is both patchwork and young, as both tackles are new to their jobs (right tackle Nate Chandler was a defensive tackle two years ago). They’re rotating journeyman Fernando Velasco and rookie Trai Turner at right guard.

If not for having an anchor in center Ryan Kalil and a promising young player in left guard Amini Silatolu, it would be a total mess. And those two were beaten several times, which is a really bad sign.

At least they have the good sense to not beat their heads against the wall, with just five rush attempts in the first half (for 10 yards). It’s not what you’d expect against a leaky Steelers run defense (which came in allowing 174.0 yards per game on the ground), or from a team that has spent so heavily on backs over the years.

2. Oh, and by the way, Cam Newton’s not nearly right, from a physical standpoint.

The Panthers quarterback didn’t have much of an offseason because of ankle surgery, and then suffered a rib injury which kept him out of the opener. He’s wearing body armor just to be on the field, and was getting pinned in the pocket by three-man rushes.

Were he well, he’d have spun out of a few of those pressures and run, regardless the status of his line.

But he’s not, which makes him a bit of a sitting duck.

3. Now that he’s realized that you can’t smoke a bunch of weed on the way to the airport, Le’Veon Bell’s become a really good running back.

He was able to find holes in a good Panthers run defense, and looks better since losing some weight this offseason.

He’s a solid between-the-tackles runner, and has enough burst to make big plays out of small cracks, as he did on his 81-yard burst in the third quarter. He finished with 147 yards.

The Steelers gashed the Panthers for 264 on the ground, with LeGarrette Blount adding 118 and a touchdown late.

4. The Steelers haven’t drafted as well as they’re accustomed to in the past, and that will create depth problems eventually.

The depth was tested in the second half, when linebackers Ryan Shazier, Jarvis Jones and cornerback Ike Taylor left the game in the third quarter.

Taylor suffered a pretty grotesque-looking arm injury, and the fact they immediately applied an air cast made it apparent it was broken.

5. The Panthers made a conscious decision to part ways with Steve Smith, primarily because he didn’t play well with others.

They clearly miss having proven offensive targets, but the guy they could have used Sunday night was Ted Ginn.

Watching undrafted rookie Philly Brown bobble away the game in the fourth quarter by letting a punt bounce off his chest and into the end zone for a Steelers touchdown was sad.

Ginn split for Arizona in the mass evacuation of the receivers room, though wanted to keep the guy who emerged as an offensive threat and a trustworthy returner.

But they didn’t really have the money to make a competitive offer, since they used the franchise tag on defensive end Greg Hardy, which put more than 20 percent of their salary cap into Hardy and defensive end Charles Johnson.

That made them top-heavy, and susceptible to injury or the commissioner’s exempt list. So while it was nice to think about having a pass-rush secured, it left them thin in so many places.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ryan Shazier leaves with knee injury, won’t return

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

One of the bright spots of the Steelers defense had a short night.

Rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier has left the game with a knee injury, and won’t return.

Shazier was caught by one of his own teammates while trying to back away from a pile, and immediately limped to the sidelines, where trainers were looking at his right knee.

The first-round pick from Ohio State has been a revelation, the rare rookie who can start for Dick LeBeau. We’ll probably find out tomorrow whether he will again anytime soon.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top