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Steelers vs. Falcons, Week 13: 1st quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/04/2022 - 12:34pm
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the gridiron! See what is happening during the team’s late game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers entered their Week 13 game vs. the Atlanta Falcons hoping to do something they hadn’t done all season — win back-to-back games. Coming off a Monday night win over the Indianapolis Colts, the Steelers entered the game as a banged up unit, dealing with several bumps and bruises heading to Atlanta.

Banged up or not, the Falcons won the opening coin toss and elected to defer their possession to the second half. It meant Kenny Pickett and the Steelers offense would take the field to start the game, and the offense did what they do most, drive the field. The time-consuming drive featured plenty of third down conversions and tough running by Najee Harris, but the drive ended with a 46-yard Matthew Wright field goal which banked off the right upright, his second bank in the last two games, to make the score 3-0 with 7:32 left in the opening quarter.

Trying to answer the Steelers’ opening drive points, the Falcons moved the ball, but stalled after penalties saw them facing a 3rd and 20. The result was a punt, giving the ball back to Pittsburgh with 4:23 remaining in the first quarter.

Pittsburgh’s second drive started out very much like their first, and it had the offense in Atlanta territory at the end of the quarter.

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/04/2022 - 11:45am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2022 season continues with the Steelers and Falcons locking horns in Week 13. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field for the twelfth time in the 2022 regular season as they prepare to face off against the Atlanta Falcons.

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.

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!

If you have time, and want to check out any of our podcasts, listen in the player below:

Who is the Steelers’ X-Factor in Week 13 vs. the Falcons?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/04/2022 - 11:00am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Who is the X-Factor for the Steelers in their Week 13 game vs. the Falcons?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13. It is the Steelers’ latest road game, and, hopefully their fifth victory.

When looking at the matchup between AFC vs. NFC foes, there are players who can be viewed as ‘X-Factors’.

What is an ‘X-Factor’?

I would describe an ‘X-Factor’ as a player who can truly alter the outcome of the game, single-handedly. Not just a plug and play type player, but a player who always has to be accounted for, no matter what.

As a clear-cut example of what an ‘X-Factor’ player would look like, think Troy Polamalu. Polamalu’s skill set made him a force to be reckoned with on every play. So, who are the ‘X-Factors’ for the Steelers Week 13 game vs. the Falcons?

Let’s take a look...

Jeff Hartman

X-Factor: Kenny Pickett

Why: I’ve said before, Pickett could be the offensive X-Factor every week for the rest of the season, if I wanted to go that route. However, in this game, I believe Pickett will be the decisive factor in this game.

The Steelers’ offense has been leaning on the running game since the bye week, and I hope this continues, but injuries to Najee Harris (abdominal), Jaylen Warren (hamstring) and Benny Snell (knee) gives me pause. In other words, this could be a game where Pickett needs to do a little more than just “don’t kill us”, as Mike Tomlin would say.

This could be a game where we learn a lot about Pickett. Could the running game continue to carry the offense? It absolutely could, but at the same time, Pickett’s play will likely determine the offense’s overall success.

Dave Schofield

X-Factor: Cam Heyward

Why: When it comes to the biggest strength of each of these teams in regards to the rankings in the NFL, it’s the Falcons rushing offense and the Steelers rushing defense which stand out. Therefore, it’s important the Steelers win this battle of strength on strength. Last week, Cam Heyward had a down week as he had another epic battle with Colts offensive lineman Quenton Nelson. With Nelson getting the better of Heyward this time, although the Steelers ultimately got the win, I look for Cam to have a bounce-back week against the Falcons. If the Steelers captain can help lead the charge in slowing down the Falcons’ run game, it would go a long way towards a victory.

Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 13 game Sunday? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

T.J. Watt, Jaylen Warren both active for the Steelers in Week 13 vs. Falcons

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/04/2022 - 10:32am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Both players were questionable for Sunday’s game but ultimately will be available.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have released their inactives for their Week 13 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. Although there was a player previously ruled out due to injury, Ahkello Witherspoon was placed on IR on Saturday.

As for other injured players, two more were questionable on Friday in Jaylen Warren and T.J. Watt, but Malik Reed was added to the injury report Saturday with a questionable status with a back injury. Despite these designations, they are all active and the list is therefore made up of five healthy scratches. With new roster rules which began in 2020, teams will only need to have five players inactive each game unless they elevate any players from the practice squad. This week, the Steelers did not call up anyone. For this reason, the inactive list is only five players and comes courtesy of Steelers.com.

Steelers Inactives

No. 2 QB Mason Rudolph
No. 16 CB Josh Jackson
No. 53 G Kendrick Green
No. 92 DT Isaiahh Loudermilk
No. 93 LB Mark Robinson

The biggest takeaway from the list is the absence of players with a questionable status. When the Steelers did not elevate any players from the practice squad on Saturday, the likelihood of players such as T.J. Watt and Jaylen Warren being active increased greatly. Exactly how much either player will see the field remains to be seen, but they are in uniform.

When it comes to the healthy scratches, quarterback Mason Rudolph and guard/center Kendrick Green are both inactive for the twelfth-straight game to start the 2022 season. Another player on the list, Mark Robinson, was active in Week 6 due to so many injuries to players who missed the game where he received a helmet and played five special teams snaps. With Robert Spillane out in Week 12, Robinson once again got a helmet but did not see the field. With all the linebackers healthy this week, Robinson is back on the inactive list for the tenth time this season.

Another player who has spent the last three weeks on the inactive list is cornerback Josh Jackson. Originally on the Steelers practice squad, Jackson was elevated in Week 4 and Week 5 before being signed to the active roster and starting the game in Week 6 against the Buccaneers. Jackson missed the Steelers Week 8 game due to injury but returned following the bye week. Despite being active, Jackson did not see the field in Week 10 and was inactive in Week 11 and Week 12.

The final player on the inactive list is defensive tackle Isaiahh Loudermilk. Inactive the first five weeks of the season, Loudermilk received a helmet all six weeks DeMarvin Leal spent on the Reserve/Inured List (IR). With Leal coming off IR on Saturday, along with the fact Loudermilk missed practice on Thursday and Friday for personal reasons, he is back on the inactive list.

As for the Falcons’ inactives, they can be seen below courtesy of Steelers.com.

Falcons Inactives

No. 20 S Jovante Moffatt
No. 21 CB Rashad Fenton
No. 47 OLB Arnold Ebiketie
No. 55 ILB Nate Landman
No. 71 OL Chuma Edoga
No. 88 WR Frank Darby
No. 94 DL Jalen Dalton

Bold and Bizarre predictions for Steelers vs. Falcons

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/04/2022 - 9:37am
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Much to the chagrin of most, BTSC’s Nostradumbass predicts the Steelers’ matchup vs. the Atlanta Falcons

The Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Atlanta to take on the equally disappointing Falcons. The home team will surely be a good test for the hopefully resurgent visitors, so this should be a good one. With inquiries, story lines, and more, I’ve compiled a list of predictions (some basic, and some utterly idiotic) to look for in this challenging home contest.

For those new to the article I sometimes come close, but ultimately whiff on most of my predictions. Let’s see if I can get lucky this week.

  • The Falcons attempt to beat the Men of Steel for the first time in 16 years and attempt to bring back TE Alge Crumpler who had three touchdowns that fateful day in 2006. The 44-year-old Crumpler, declines citing. He is only in shape to get two touchdowns against the paltry Pittsburgh secondary.
  • Art Rooney II corners Falcons owner Arthur Blank and joshes him because Chick-fil-A, albeit located in Mercedes, Benz Stadium, becomes a Fries Up on Sundays because the Georgia-based chain always takes this day off every week. The two owners make a sandwich bet for the loser to provide the winner either a lifetime supply of Pittsburghers from Primantis or Chik-Fil-A waffle fries.
  • Speaking of sandwiches, Ben Roethlisberger calls a press conference to remind Kenny Pickett that he had a sandwich named after him.
  • Pickett goes 22 for 34 and 220 yards. The Steelers QB1 throws three touchdowns and stretches his interception-free streak to four games.
  • Pat Freiermuth catches 9 balls and a touchdown.
  • George Pickens catches a touchdown and to celebrate the score and 49th birthday of Michael Jackson, Pickens grabs his crotch, and does a moonwalk in the touchdown zone. Upon learning that it is merely the birthday of English footballer and manager Mike Jackson, No. 14 builds a time machine and comes back to this very moment to throw fish and chips into the crowd.
  • Jaylen Warren scores his first NFL touchdown and uneducated fans rush to add him in fantasy leagues and drop Bennie Snell.
  • The Steelers get called for only one “illegal man down field” penalty.
  • Najee Harris gains 90 yards on the ground and scores a touchdown.
  • The Steelers get three sacks, one by T.J. Watt, one by Larry Ogunjobi and another by Arthur Maulet.
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick, Damontae Kazee and Cam Sutton intercept Marcus Mariota, but the Steelers defense still surrenders three touchdown passes.
  • Sutton with the pick-six.
  • The Steelers rushing defense falters as the Falcons run for over 150 yards on the ground.
  • The Steelers get five touchdowns on the day, and two field goals from Matthew Wright, but Wright misses a field goal and an extra point. The Steelers do win 39-36.

Will any of this actually happen? I’ll bet at least one or two. Heck, maybe every one of them. Be sure to post your predictions — basic or bizarre — below.

Even if it has ways to go, the Steelers’ offense is showing growth

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/04/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Progress from the youngsters at last.

For a significant portion of the last two seasons, one person affiliated with the Steelers has been singled out more than others, the black sheep in a sea of black and gold: Matt Canada.

Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator, who assumed the position before the 2021 season, has rightfully drawn perpetual criticism. The Steelers’ offense has consistently sputtered during his tenure: from failing to generate explosive plays to poor designs to a lack of discipline, the unit has been anything but well-coached.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

For the last three weeks, the Steelers have strung together much more holistically sound offensive performances. No, you’re not dreaming.

Let’s begin with maybe the biggest demarcation of an offense’s success, at the end of the day: scoring.

Pittsburgh had not outdone 20 points scored in a game for the first nine contests of 2022 but finally broke through against the Bengals in Week 11, notching 30 points (albeit seven came in garbage time). Then, the Steelers aggregated 24 points against a Colts defense allowing 20.3 points per game — an encouraging output. The Steelers’ latest three-game stretch marks the first time the team has posited 20+ points in three or more consecutive matchups in over two years.

There have been predominantly two catalysts behind this offensive turnaround: taking care of the ball and running well.

Pittsburgh has zero turnovers in its each of its prior three games, a feat it has not accomplished since Weeks 10-12, 2016. A major reason behind better ball security is the play of quarterback Kenny Pickett, who had nine giveaways in his first five appearances but has been in better rhythm and command.

While the Steelers’ passing attack has not exactly been prolific — more on that in a bit — its ground game has hit unforeseen strides, at least in recent history. Pittsburgh has accumulated 95 or more rushing yards in its last five games, eclipsing the century mark in the past four. It felt as though second-year rusher Najee Harris had unlocked something with a more north-south approach, but the efforts of Jaylen Warren, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland Jr. and the entire offensive line cannot be overstated.

Would you believe it if I told you the Steelers rank sixth in the league in rushing expected points added, and 13th in rushing success rate? Given Pittsburgh’s inability to establish a legitimate run game since, effectively, 2017, this accomplishment has added contextual value.

All in all, the Steelers’ offense slots in at 21st in Football Outsiders DVOA, up from 22nd a week ago, and 22nd in Pro Football Focus grade. Given that Pittsburgh ranked 25th and 29th in those figures in 2021, respectively, better offense has indeed occurred, even if marginal.

Sure, there may finally be some form of sustained offensive momentum for Canada’s unit. But, this article is not just to bask in a unit that has been in the bottom quadrant for much of the season; rather, it’s to recognize areas for metered growth.

A focal point should be Pittsburgh’s aerial attack, which has been lackluster this season. As I mentioned earlier, the group has appeared much more in sync with improved play from Pickett, who is making quick reads and throwing relatively accurately.

At the same time, the rookie is not pushing the ball down the field: per Next Gen Stats, 22 of Pickett’s 28 attempts were under 10 air yards on Monday night. The Pitt product has just one start with north of 300 passing yards and is yet to toss multiple touchdowns in a game.

Such statistics can be viewed as more trivial compared to film assessment and advanced metrics — e.g., that Pittsburgh’s drop back EPA/play ranks 28th — but the point stands that Canada’s O is not doing measured damage through the air.

One way to possibly ameliorate any passing struggles is with better and more deliberate play calling. Although it appears that Canada has better tailored and diversified his selections in the past three games, the Steelers ranked 19th in early-down passing rate in that span, per RBSDM; likewise, for all of 2022, the team is 15th in that statistic. Comparatively, the Chiefs, Bengals and Bills sit atop the rankings, while the Seahawks, Eagles and Dolphins are also in the top 10. It’s not just coincidence that the NFL’s best offenses pass early and often to great success.

Aside from early-down pass frequency, the Steelers’ second-half offense has been extremely stagnant.

In the team’s past three games, Pittsburgh has scored 10, 10 and eight points in the third and fourth quarters compared to 10, 20 and 16 points in the first and second. This lack of scoring has been fueled by an inability to sustain drives. The Steelers have gone three-and-out to open the third quarter in their last two games; this dearth of possessing the ball has left the team’s defense susceptible to defensive lapses and tiring sequences.

With only six games remaining in 2022, the Steelers have an ever-so-faint heartbeat left to qualify for the postseason. Regardless of whether or not that goal is attainable, Mike Tomlin and Canada must utilize matchups against subpar defenses — particularly the Falcons, Panthers, Raiders and Browns — to not only maintain Pittsburgh’s bettered rushing attack, but to also obtain chunk plays through the air and in the second half.

STAFF PICKS: Predicting the winner of Steelers vs. Falcons

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/04/2022 - 8:17am
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The staff at BTSC share their thoughts and predict the outcome of the Steelers game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13.

The 2022 regular season is full swing, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13. While the Steelers get ready for their latest road game of the season, it is time for the BTSC staff to put on their prognostication hats and guess the winner of the contest.

Who will get closest? We will be keeping tabs, so let’s get the picks. Check out the staff picks below:

Jeff Hartman

The Pittsburgh Steelers were a team searching for an identity heading into the bye week. Coming out of the bye week they’ve identified a few areas where they can hang their hat. Running the ball, and stopping the run. Both will be critical, but I foresee this game being a bit higher scoring than most are predicting. I like the Steelers to win back-to-back for the first time this season.

Pick: Steelers 27, Falcons 20

Dave Schofield

After losing to the AFC representative in last year’s Super Bowl, the Steelers came out and had a come back win on Monday Night Football on the road. As they continue to improve as the season goes on, it’s important that this trend is the standard. If the Steelers play better than they did last week, they should beat this Falcons team on the road. Not only that, they can do it by more than one score. The big question is if they continue to improve. I’m going to believe that they can and they get their first double-digit win of the season.

Pick: Steelers 27, Falcons 17

Bryan Anthony Davis

I think the breakout happens now. Sorry draft tankers, black and gold are not getting a top 10 pick.

Pick: Steelers 39, Falcons 33

K.T. Smith

This is a huge game for the Steelers. Not for the standings, necessarily, but for their maturation. Are they good enough to win in back-to-back weeks, on the road, against mediocre but respectable opponents? Or will it be another case of one step forward, one (perhaps two) back again?

Winning in Indy and Atlanta in consecutive weeks isn’t the highest bar to clear, but it would demonstrate significant growth for a team that feels like it’s about to turn a corner. Will they do it? Your guess is as good as mine. Probably better, actually, given how bad I’ve been picking games this season. For what it’s worth, I say Kenny Pickett continues his ascension and the defense befuddles Marcus Mariota just enough to get the win.

Pick: Steelers 23, Falcons 20

Geoffrey Benedict

The Steelers get a team that doesn’t do much well, but run the ball. Steelers are set up for success here, and that has me worried. I still think they win, but a far closer and uglier game than people expect.

Pick: Steelers 21, Falcons 17

Rich Schofield (Big Bro Scho)

I don’t know how to pick Steeler games this season, as one week I see the team looking one way only to have them look nothing like that the next. The thing playing in the Steelers favor this week is that they play the Falcons, and after seeing some of their games this season I think they are even tougher to figure out than the Steelers. Dave and I said the Steelers need a short stack, and I will go ahead and say they do just enough to get that.

Pick: Steelers 23, Falcons 20

Shannon White

The Falcons are a one dimensional team on offense, and don't do anything particularly well on defense. The Steelers have an obvious talent advantage across the board, and are improving as a collected group by the week. If the Steelers play fundamentally sound across the board, protect the football, and avoid giving up splash plays; this could be an opportunity to put together their first complete game of the season. I will be focusing on the continued growth and maturation of the Steelers young core, and if the Steelers can avoid their troublesome third quarter issues. I will stick by my Know Your Enemy podcast prediction.

Pick: Steelers 27, Falcons 17

Jeremy Betz

This feels like the week we see the stat production start to match the better play we’re seeing from Kenny Pickett in recent weeks. I’m 3-0 in predictions since the bye so I’m leaning into my roll here with a bold prediction for a monster Kenny game with 250 yards and 3 TDs in a Steelers win!

Pick: Steelers 34, Falcons 24

Bradley Locker

I was quite surprised to see the Steelers listed as underdogs in Atlanta given that the team has looked better in the last three weeks; plus, Pittsburgh is 2-0 against the woeful NFC South this year. Atlanta’s offense could pose problems for a defense that remains inconsistent, but without Kyle Pitts, it’s mainly about keying in on Drake London and Cordarrelle Patterson (which means a Damiere Byrd breakout will certainly occur). However, I think the Steelers’ offense maintains momentum against a poor Falcons defense, and the defense — led by T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, of course — makes enough plays for a victory.

Pick: Steelers 28, Falcons 24

Kyle Chrise (What Yinz Talkin’ Bout)

It’s hell-unleashing season, nuff said. Despite what has so far been the Steelers’ worst season in a generation, Mike Tomlin will not have this team going gently into the night. The Steelers won’t go back in the shell. They will be in attack mode, because that is what is required. And if the offensive line continues to look like hell hounds in the running game, the Falcons won’t need splash plays, they’ll need holy water.

Pick: Steelers 20, Falcons 10

Anthony Defeo

Will the third time be the charm for the Steelers winning a second game in a row and giving themselves and their fans the false hope of being in the playoff race? I'd like to think so.

Pick: Steelers 24, Falcons 21

What is your prediction? Let us know in the comment section below, and feel free to tell the contributors above why they are dead wrong, or spot on!

Steelers fan confidence sky rockets as indecision on rest of 2022 continues

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/04/2022 - 7:00am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base is gaining confidence, but how they handle the rest of the regular season is anything but certain.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had their fans feeling good this past offseason. The free agent moves made and the 2022 NFL Draft class had the black-and-gold faithful feeling good. Then you throw in the fact the team went 3-0 in the preseason, and you’d believe confidence was brimming with the fan base. But throughout the preseason, several issues popped up with the team in all facets. Nonetheless, the hope was they’d fix it while they won football games.

As you can imagine, Steelers fans weren’t brimming with confidence heading into their Week 1 game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals in Ohio. Nonetheless, the team found a way to upset the Bengals 23-20 in overtime and move their record to 1-0.

Such a crazy game, and victory, you’d think this would create a big bump in fan confidence, right?

Not so much.

What started next was a skid to forget. The Week 2 loss to the New England Patriots, one where the offense essentially failed to show up, caused the Steelers fan base to lose faith, and in a hurry. Following the Steelers Week 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football, confidence in the team remained low.

But, have no fear, hope was on the way! Everyone assumed it would come via a win over the Jets in Week 4, but that didn’t happen. However, hope, as it turns out, was found in the second half of the Steelers loss to the New York Jets. When Kenny Pickett entered the game as the starting quarterback it caused a rise in fan confidence throughout the fan base. Yes, even in a losing effort.

How long did the Pickett surge in confidence last? Well, after the 38-3 shellacking against the Buffalo Bills in Week 5...not very long. However, the roller coaster ride which is Steelers fan confidence continued after the team upset the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6 at Acrisure Stadium.

What has been the going trend with the team’s up-and-down season, the Steelers followed up the win at home with a dude against the Miami Dolphins in prime time in Week 7. While the team’s loss in Week 8 to the Philadelphia Eagles was disheartening, the fan base received an injection of hope when the team traded Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears for a 2nd Round 2023 NFL Draft pick. After the Week 9 bye, the Steelers did something they hadn’t done much, and that’s win. A dominating Week 10 win, combined with the return of T.J. Watt to the lineup, has fans feeling good about the direction of the organization.

In Week 11 a 37-30 loss to the Bengals has the roller coaster ride of fan confidence moving once again. What the team needed was a bounce back game, and they got it on Monday Night Football with a 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

As a part of SB Nation’s Reacts poll, sponsored by DraftKings Sportsbook, every fan who takes the poll, which equates to a lot of fans, were asked a simple question:

Are you confident in the direction of the team?

How far did confidence fall after the Week 12 win? Well, it sky rocketed. Take a look at where the confidence was, and where it is now, below:

Preseason Confidence: 91%
Pre-Regular Season Confidence: 81%
Week 1 Confidence: 80%
Week 2 Confidence: 20%
Week 3 Confidence: 21%
Week 4 Confidence: 52%
Week 5 Confidence: 22%
Week 6 Confidence: 54%
Week 7 Confidence: 36%
Week 8 Confidence: 35%
Week 9 Confidence: 21%
Week 10 Confidence: 57%
Week 11 Confidence: 23%
Wee 12 Confidence: 70%

With confidence on the rise, it felt obvious to ask a follow-up question. This follow-up question was all about how the fans think the Steelers should handle the rest of the 2022 regular season. The question pertained to what was more important for the ream down the stretch. The options were the following:

  • Success
  • Higher Draft Pick(s)

Here are the results:

55% of the fan base believes the best course of action is for the team to win, but that percentage is far from a run-away winner in this debate. There is still a large contingent of the fan base who want the team to get the highest pick possible. Ultimately, everyone wants the team to succeed, but how they do it is up for debate.

A lot can change throughout the course of a regular season, and we’ll be sure to keep you up-to-speed on the fan base’s feelings of the team. But what say you? Do you have confidence in the direction of the team?

Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13 of the regular season.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

The BTSC Delorean: Looking back at the most memorable Steelers vs. Falcons contests

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/04/2022 - 6:30am
Photo by Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

The most memorable games in history played between Atlanta and Pittsburgh

Do the Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers have a long and storied history? They do not. But the rivalry dates back to 1966, and the series only includes 17 games. No matter the record of either team, they both always seem to put on a fantastic show with great storylines attached. Between 2002-2010, these teams went to overtime on three occasions.

Here’s a brief tale of the tape:

Points: Steelers 520, Falcons 320

Wins: Steelers 14, Falcons 2, Ties 1

Home Record: Steelers 7-0-1, Falcons 2-7-0

Shutouts: 0

Biggest Win Margin: 09/27/1993 - Steelers 45, Falcons 17

Closest Game: Falcons 34, Steelers 34 (11/10/2002)

Overtime Games: 3 - Steelers 1-1-1, Falcons 1-1-1

Postseason Record: None

December 18, 1966 - Steelers 57, Falcons 33

The very first meeting between the Steelers and Falcons came on the very last weekend of the 1966 season with the 4-8-1 Steelers visiting 3-10 Atlanta and an expansion club looking for a fourth win in a row to become the winningest first-year team in NFL history. The Steelers were merely just looking to end another dismal season on a high note.

Bill Nelsen, who missed a good bit of the year out with injury, was back starting at quarterback for Pittsburgh. After a punt and a Bill Saul fumble recovery of an Ernie Wheelright fumble, the Steelers struck first with two Mike Clark field goals of 22. Late In the opening quarter, a John Campbell interception of Falcons QB Randy Johnson gives the Steelers excellent field position for Gary Ballman to catch a pass in the end zone for a 13-0 lead for the visitors form the North. The Steelers would extend that lead after a Brady Keys interception of a long pass by Johnson gains another Pittsburgh possession at the Falcons 48. Amos Bullocks ground out a 13-yard run to glory, and the score was 20-0.

The Falcons would see their side lit up on the scoreboard though. Junior Coffey’s one-yard rush capped off a lengthy drive to make the score 20-7. But the Steelers had a sustained drive of their own on the next series and Cannonball Butler’s push from a yard away put six more points on the board, as problems on the hold affected the point after. Bill Saul’s interception next would help the Steelers get more points, as Clark hit from 21 with time running low. The halftime scoreboard read 29-7.

The Falcons would strike first after intermission. Avoiding an intense rush, Johnson launched one for an all-alone Preston Ridlehuber, who strolls in for a 53-yard score and only a 29-14 deficit. But the Steelers will score three straight times after that with Cannonball Butler’s one yard dive, Roy Jefferson hauling in of a 68-yard pass from and Clendon Thomas’ 23-yard fumble return of a Junior Coffey miscue to make the score 50-14. The Falcons do try to scratch back though as the Steelers ignore Ridlehuber again in the end zone for his second score.

In the fourth, the Steelers add a Willie Asbury run from two-yards out to close out their scoring, as the Falcons replace Johnson Dennis Claridge. Claridge locates Taz Anderson for a 62-yard score. The duo will do it again from 12 yards away after the Falcs recover a fumbled punt return by Brady Keys. But the Steelers triumph and had back home for the holidays on a winning note of 57-33.

October 4, 1987 - Steelers 28, Falcons 12

Supposedly not wanting a repeat of 1982 when the NFL lost seven games due to a players’ strike, the owners hedged their bets and brought in replacement players and welcomed those who decide to cross the picket line. After only having the third week of the season wiped out, the Steelers held their camp at the Point Stadium in Johnstown and fielded a team of virtual unknowns to don the hypocycloids. Week 4 was the first installment of these such “scab” games around the NFL and the sort-of Steelers traveling to Atlanta to play the fairly-false Falcons was what fans got. Starting for the Steelers was Steve Bono (12/22 for 164 yards) who would carve a pretty decent career for himself in the league. but the 25-year old from UCLA was ineffective during the first quarter. Atlanta took a 3-0 lead when rookie Greg Davis (12-year NFL career) kicked a 27-yard field goal and the Falcons were threatening to score again after recovering a Russell Hairston fumble. However, former Oilers cornerback Larry Griffin, who came into Johnstown late and would have a seven-year career with the Steelers, nabbed his first of two interceptions of quarterback Erik Kramer. Yeah that Kramer, who was in replacement camp for the Steelers and led the Detroit Lions to the 1991 NFC Championship Game. Griffin’s second-quarter pick set up Earnest Jackson’s run behind Mike Webster (the only Steelers regulars to cross the picket line) for a one-yard touchdown run and a 7-3 lead. The Steelers increased that Steelers lead when Russell Hairston, late of the Arena League’s Pittsburgh Gladiators, caught a 5-yard completion from Bono for the score. The Steelers took a 14-3 lead into the locker room at halftime. In the third, Bono was penalized for intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety but made up for it with a 5-yard touchdown through a hole created by Mike Webster. With Pittsburgh leading 21-5, Noll gave his QB2, Reggie Collier, some game action and the former USFL and Dallas Cowboy, found Joey Clinkscales for an 11-yard touchdown completion in the end zone to increase the Steelers lead to increase the lead to an insurmountable 28-5 lead. Atlanta scored on a garbage time pass from Jeff Van Raaphorst to Milton Barney, but the game was too far out of reach and the Steelers prevailed 28-12. It was a masterful job by Head Coach Chuck Noll to have these guys ready and the Steelers were fortunate to have the services of All-Pros Jackson (104 yards and a TD) and Webster and great performances by Griffin (two INT, three pass defenses and seven tackles) and the ninth-rounder Clinkscales (six receptions for 150 yards). The Steelers upped their record to 3-1 and when a reporter asked Noll if it was an NFL-caliber game, the legendary coach boldly retorted, “It was today.”

November 4, 1990 - Steelers 21, Falcons 9

Chuck Noll and Jerry Glanville had a very contentious relationship dating back to their bitter AFC Central rivalry. In fact, the meeting between the Houston Oilers and Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1989 AFC Wildcard Game ended with Noll’s club shocking the football world and “the Man in Black” getting his walking papers out of Space City and finding himself in Hot-lanta. And lo and behold, Glanville’s old rival was next on the dance card, as the 4-4 Steelers welcomed Jerry and his 3-4 Falcons to Three Rivers Stadium.

After a 1-3 first quarter of the season, Noll’s Steelers were riding high in the second four contests to flip that record to 4-4. With the AFC Player of the Month in Bubby Brister, the Steelers offense had certainly come alive, but not in the first half as three Greg Davis field goals (41, 43, and gave the Falcons a 9-0 lead at intermission. The first score was due to Larry Griffin, an up man, fumbling away the opening kickoff, while a punt, a Merrill Hoge miscue, and an egregious 40-yard penalty on Rod Woodson for pass interference led to the second and third, respectively. Atlanta looked to have the right stuff to score again before halftime, but Dwayne Woodruff halted that talk with a 69-yard interception return on the last play of the first half.

In the second half, the Steelers seized control as Bubby Brister passed for two second-half touchdowns. After Davis missed his second field goal attempt of the afternoon, No. 6 hit Louis Lipps for 11 yards with 7:17 to go in the third quarter. His other scoring pass came on a 19 yarder to Mike Mularkey early in the fourth after a Larry Griffin interception of QB Chris Miller. Glanville’s Red Gun offense was attempting to fire themselves back in the game, but Bryan Hinkle forced and recovered a Mike Rozier fumble at the Pittsburgh 21 with 3:06 left. To follow, Warren Williams would put the game out of reach when he raced for a 70-yard touchdown to make the score 21-9. Craig Veasey erased all doubt when he would recover a fumble by Rozier, the former Pittsburgh Mauler No. 1 overall pick in 1984, after a catch on the very next possession. The win would propel Pittsburgh to 5-4, and a tie with Cincinnati for first place in the division. But although he would never admit it, one could only imagine the satisfaction of Chuck Noll after vanquishing his hated rival once again.

November 10, 2002 - Steelers 34, Falcons 34 (OT)

Both the Steelers and the Falcons started off their 2002 seasons poorly at 1-3, but four-game winning streaks had both franchises staring the second half of the NFL season off in a positive manner at 5-3 and a postseason berth possibly on the horizon. For the Steelers, Tommy Maddox continued his career revival with a comeback story that got more Hollywood feel-good every week.

On a beautiful Autumn Sunday with the temperature 64 degrees at Heinz Field, the two teams exchanged fumbles and punts in the first four series of the game. When Maddox’ efforts on the third drive stalled at the Atlanta 16, struggling Todd Peterson (10 for 15 on field goal attempts in 8 games) put the first points on the board with a good kick from 34 yards away with :09 seconds remaining in the first. Vick worked quick to hook up with Shaun Jefferson on the next series with a 43-yard pass play, that was not to be outdone by Maddox countering with a 33-yard, circus catch by Plaxico Burress in the end zone and a scoring toss from the 5 to Hines Ward for a 17-7 lead.The Steelers did get a break when Plex spiked the ball without being touched, but he was ruled down, instead of turning the ball over to Atlanta, something that he did as a rookie two years before against Jacksonville. The Steelers had a chance to add on to their advantage, but Peterson missed a 40-yard field goal attempt with no time left on the clock,

In Half No. 2, Atlanta and Pittsburgh traded off big pays with a 59-yard sideline dash by Warrick Dunn, and a 62-yard catch-and-run by Burress but Peterson’s point-after was blocked. The score was now 23-14, Steelers. After a Jay Feely field goal from 36, Maddox would throw his fourth touchdown of the day for 18 yards to Jerame Tuman, which was followed up by a Hines Ward catch for the two-pointer. It was a comfy 31-17 with 2:31 left in the third. Then Dwayne Washington nailed Brian Finneran and he coughed up the ball and it was recovered by James Farrior at the Atlanta 41. Playing conservatively on the drive, Amos Zeroue (123 yards on 37 Carrie’s) starting for the injured Jerome Bettis, ran the ball seven straight plays to the 16. The Steelers would get another Peterson field goal out of it and a comfortable 34-17 score. But it was far from comfy and safe with 12:58 remaining on the game clock.

When Jason Gildon sacked Vick for a three-and-out, it looked like victory was exit straight ahead. But instead, No. 7 in white Vick rallied Atlanta from 17 points down in the fourth quarter. How? Antwaan Randle-El fumbled the ensuing punt to be recovered by Mark Simoneau. With the new life, Dan Reeve’s team moved to the doorstep, and Bob Christian plowed in for a 1-yard TD. Then Tommy Maddox and the Steelers offense couldn’t work the clock down and went stone cold, as Feeley hit another field goal. After a second-straight three-and-out, Josh Miller boomed a 57-yard punt, but Allen Rossum returned the offering 34 yards to set the Falcons up at the 50 with less than two-minutes left. Vick engineered another scoring drive and finished it when he rolled in from 11-yards out in only a mere one minute and four seconds. Maddox couldn’t get the Steelers close enough with :42 ticks left, so the game went into an extra quarter.

Overtime was insane for a full 15 minutes. Tommy Maddox drove the Steelers close enough to attempt a Todd Peterson redemption field goal from 48, but it was blocked and gave Atlanta great field position, only to go three-and-out. From there Maddox drove the Steelers down to the enemy 33 but decided to punt on fourth down instead of trying a 50-yard field goal with Peterson. With a chance to win it, the Falcons couldn’t move past their own 23 and had to punt again. This is where Maddox stumbled, throwing a ball to Plaxico that was picked by Kevin Mathis with 1:48 remaining on the clock and the white-black-and-red on the Steelers 44. The Steelers forced a fourth down situation, but Atlanta expertly drained the clock and brought in Feely for a 56-yarder and the win. It was James Farrior coming up huge again with the block and the Steelers had one more shot with one second remaining in a crazy 74:49 minutes of play on their own 49. Maddox launched a pass towards the end zone and it was miraculously caught by Plaxico at the one. No. 80 was immediately tackled by Finneran with half of his body in the end zone but not the ball. Bill Cowher argued that it was in. to no avail, and his offense didn’t have enough time to run another play. It was the Men of Steel’s first tie since a 35-35 game against Denver in 1974. But to some it felt like a loss due to the circumstances. Maddox was 28 of 41 for 473 yards, breaking Bobby Layne’s 1958 mark of 409 yards, while Burress made nine catches to beat Buddy Dial’s franchise record with 253 yards to go with his two touchdowns, but to some it felt like a loss due to the circumstances. “We didn’t win but, we didn’t lose,’’ Burress said as reported by ESPN. “It’s so disappointing. You have this uneasy feeling that you lost, but you know you really didn’t.’’

As somebody in the stands that day, I wholeheartedly agree.

October 22, 2006 - Falcons 41, Steelers 38 (OT)

The Falcons and Steelers don’t get together that often, but the action is pretty good when they do. But this 2006 meeting in the Peach State was an absolute thriller. The Falcons got on the board first after a punt on their first series was fumbled by Santonio Holmes at the 22 and recovered by Adam Jennings. Immediately, Michael Vick teamed up with TE Alge Crumpler for a 22-yard touchdown and a 7-0 advantage. But the Steelers roared back to take a 17-7 lead behind a Jeff Reed field goal, a gorgeous Troy Polamalu interception of Vick that set up a Hines Ward 11-yard scoring catch, and a Ben Roethlisberger to Heath Miller pass play of a yard for the TD and a 17-7 lead. But then it would be The Falcons’ turn again with the flurry of points continuing. Atlanta would capitalize on a Big Ben fumbled snap recovered by Michael Boley and a surprise onsides kick for two touchdown passes, a second to Crumpler and another to Michael Jenkins for 17 yards. The Steelers would counter though, as the lead would eventually change hands six times in the dome on this day, with Big Ben locating Nate Washington for a 10-yard scoring play to put the visitors back up in the final minute.

A tradeoff of three-and-outs started the new half, but the second possession for the Steelers saw disaster strike. Ben was hit by a flock of Falcons three different ways, including a helmet-to- helmet blow that rendered the third-year man laid-out and motionless for more than five minutes on the hard Georgia Dome surface. Roethlisberger’s tremendous 15/20 passing, 235-yard, three touchdown day came to an end as he was ushered out on a stretcher. Charlie Batch came in, but the drive halted with a Willie Parker fumble after a catch that was forced and recovered by Johnathan Babineaux put the ball in Vick’s mitts on the Steelers 26. The Falcons QB found Crumpler again over the middle for 23 and Warrick Dunn waltzed in from the 1 to give Atlanta the lead again, 28-24. Put the pinball effect was not nearly over. Batch went deep to Hines for a 70-yard touchdown connection in which No. 86 ran out of his shoe, and yet a third Vick to Crumpler hookup to make the scoreboard light up to read Atlanta 35, Pittsburgh 31 with 1:18 to go in the third. Vick had never enjoyed anything more than a two-touchdown game, and on this day No. 7 had a career day and threw for four.

A couple of punts highlighted the beginning of the fourth quarter, but Atlanta ended that with a Morten Andersen 25-yarder with 6:28 to go. But a determined Batch would take very little time in finding Nate Washington for a gain of 49, and then to Ward for 17 day (8 catches, 171 yds, 3 TDs) and the reigning Super Bowl MVP’s third score of the day. With the score dead-locked at 34 and 3:21 left on the clock, the defense of the Steelers had to clamp down on the dynamic and fruitful, future Steeler. Vick drove his team down to the Steelers 38 before the drive stalled. Falcon’s Head Coach Jim Mora called upon his punter Michael Koenen to attempt the 56 -yarder instead of his 46-year-old Hall of Famer Andersen. The kick sailed through the uprights, but Bill Cowher called a timeout right before the ball was snapped. Koenen’s second attempt was wide right, but Polamalu was called for running into the kicker. For some reason, Cowher called his final timeout here, and the Falcons made a switch. Andersen was reinserted to attempt the kick from 52, his kick looked like it was perfect but fell just short. Immediately after that, Batch launched one to Ward for 25 yards to get close to Jeff Reed’s range with :17 seconds remaining but Washington was called for a false start on the next play and the game went into extras.

In overtime, Atlanta won the toss and Vick avoided a fierce rush by Polamalu on 3rd and 9 to hit a long pass play to (of course) Crumpler to put the Falcons in business. Morten Andersen then finished it with a 32-yd game-winning kick, and the Steelers lost a thriller to fall to a debilitating 2-4.

September 12, 2010 - Steelers 15, Falcons 9 (OT)

With Ben Roethlisberger serving a six-game suspension, Dennis Dixon was the quarterback of choice to start the 2010 regular season at home against the Atlanta Falcons. Jeff Reed got the Steelers on the board first on the game’s first position with a 52-yard field goal, at the time it was the longest field goal in Heinz Field history. Then the drought hit both teams and a dust storm of punts followed. Then Dennis Dixon had enough of the seven-straight combined punts and ended that streak and a nearly five-minute drive by throwing an interception in field goal range to Atlanta’s Mike Peterson. More ineptitude followed as both teams traded missed field goals, But Matt Ryan engineered a drive to tie the score at three-all with a field goal as the gun sounded. In the second half, the Falcons drove down and kicked another field goal to take a 6-3 lead. But the Steelers would match it on the next possession and then take the lead with another Reed field goal in the fourth. It got interesting on the next possession as Ryan was dropped by Lawrence Timmons and the ball squirted loose to be snapped up by James Harrison who returned it for a scoop-six. But Mike Smith challenged, and the Falcons had new life. Seven plays later, Ryan completed to Roddy White, but Ike Taylor made a huge stop of the Falcons star at the Steelers five to force a field goal with 3:24 remaining to tie things up at 9-9. Dixon had plenty of time to get the home team in position for the win, but a sack by Kroy Biermann forced another punt and gave Mike Smith’s team a shot at closing things out. Troy Polamalu would have none of that though, intercepting Matt Ryan with 1:41 left on the clock at the Steelers 29. Perfect opportunity for Jeff Reed, right? Put in what would be his final year for the Steelers do too having an ineffective year, Skippy pulled the 40-yard attempt wide right. In OT, the Falcons were forced to punt the ball away and a few plays later, Rashard Mendenhall added 50 yards to his total that reached 120 on the afternoon, and his run to glory would put a bow on a 15-9 victory. The Steelers would use this game as a launching pad for confidence without Ben for a while, and upon his return, No. 7 would lead the team to their third AFC Title in six years.

Distribution Map: Check out if you will get to see the Steelers vs. Falcons game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/04/2022 - 6:00am

The Steelers are playing the Falcons in Week 13. Will you get to see it?

If you were like me, before I decided to sign up for the DirecTV Sunday Ticket package every week I was wondering whether I’d be able to watch my beloved Steelers in the comfort of my own home, or if I’d have to go elsewhere to watch the game.

Before there were websites devoted to this, it meant a lengthy trip on the television guide screen to see which game was scheduled to air, but now it’s just a click away.

So, will you get to see the Steelers and the Falcons go head-to-head in Week 13? Check out which games you’ll see in your local viewing area.

For those who want to know which game they’ll see, check the map below, courtesy of 506 Sports:

RED: Jets at Vikings
BLUE: Broncos at Ravens
GREEN: Steelers at Falcons
YELLOW: Browns at Texans

So, are you lucky enough to be able to watch the game live in your own home, or are you one of many who will have to find other means to view the game? Either way, today is the day to get pumped!!

HERE WE GO!!

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 12/04/2022 - 5:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

Steelers 2022 is ongoing and we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest two podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said or typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

We Run the North: A Steelers winning streak?, Ravens fall, and what DeSean playing means

Join BTSC’s Kevin Tate and his AFC North Crew featuring Brandon Herriott and Pay Saunders as they break down the division before Week 13 for the Browns, Bengals, Ravens and Steelers.

Rundown:

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • B-Dirt & Pay
  • Pick’em
  • Can the Steelers go on a streak?
  • Deshaun Watson will play, will it make a difference?
  • AFC North Happenings

Listen to the show on the player below:

Last Minute Thoughts before the Steelers Week 13 fight with the Falcons

There’s always a lot of material rolling through a Steelers fan’s cranium on game day. What’s the injury report telling us? Did something happen that I missed? Am I going to even see the game in my broadcast area? What’s the line if I want to bet my mortgage on the game? At BTSC, we’re no different. Join BTSC with our last-minute thoughts as you prepare to wave that Terrible Towel. This week, Dave Schofield gives his last-minute thoughts right before the Steelers Week 13 contest against the Falcons.

Rundown:

  • Last Minute Thoughts before Steelers at Atlanta
  • Injury Report
  • Lines
  • How to watch

Listen to the show on the player below:

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Saturday Night Open Thread: ‘Just wait ‘til next year’

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 12/03/2022 - 6:00pm
Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Come and join this merry band of Steelers’ faithful for some lively debate about our Steelers, good food, music, and the merits of the odd cold beverage.

A cold, rainy, windy and otherwise miserable day here, south of Detroit. Yes, a perfect day to binge, college football, habs hockey, and nurse the equally miserable cold I have been dealing with.

Mrs. Canuck, the kids and I have been slowly getting the Christmas decorations up over the last two weeks or so. We should be done this weekend. I realize that sounds like we have a lot of stuff but it has been more a case of timing, well a ‘lack of time’.

  1. The Falcons have what I would say is the greatest “BiG gAmE” choke of all time. They had no business losing that game. That being said, many feel that the Steelers defense has no business performing the way it has this year. On paper, we are reported to have excellent coaching and all star talent at all three levels, so what gives?
  2. All things considered, Kenny performed rather well on Monday night. How happy are you with his progression to date?
  3. With all the injuries to our RBs we have become a running back by committee team. Is there A) any chance that our philosophy we stay that way once everyone is healthy? or B) what about a 65, 30, 5 percent type of split?
  4. What Christmas gift would you give the Steelers before the end of the year?
  5. What is your favorite Christmas decoration?

Have a BAD Week: A look back at the Steelers week from a black-and-gold mind

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 12/03/2022 - 4:30pm
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

BTSC’s random-thought renegade is back with his bizarre look at the Steelers week that was.

The Steelers are 4-7 and lots of things are going on with the Men of Steel coming off of a Kenny Pickett’s most-complete game yet. Let’s all take a look at the week in the ‘burgh together.

Saturday 11/26

Good news on Mason Cole, but I doubt the running game will flourish without Jaylen Warren teaming with Najee Harris.

Sunday 11/27

Steelers rookie WR George Pickens was not fined by the league for his ejection last week after this play at the end of the Bengals game, per source. He said Thursday there was nothing really his coaches had to tell him because it didn’t impact the result. https://t.co/OEMMXxQhWV

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) November 26, 2022

I thought the ejection was a bit ticky-tacky, but I actually don’t think it’s a bad thing. George could get a bit ornery.

Monday 11/28

Lamar was pissed https://t.co/FfX1yl9T7I

— Daily Snark (@DailySnark) November 28, 2022

I am not a fan of Lamar whatsoever, but I get the rant. Social Media can break you. It’s broken me many a time. But if you gotta go off, keep it classy.

Wonday Night Football @UnibetUS | #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/RyRpoj90iA

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 29, 2022

Half of Steeler Nation is elated, half is deflated. For me, I’m feeling good.

Tuesday 11/29

We signed DT Renell Wren to the practice squad and released WR Josh Malone from the practice squad. @BordasLaw https://t.co/PryVwW09wF

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 29, 2022

Say Renell Wren five times fast. Go ahead and try it.

When Kenny Pickett starts and throws 30 or fewer passes, the Steelers are 3-0.

More than 30 passes? 0-4

Ben Roethlisberger's first three seasons he was 1-8 when throwing 31+ times.

33-4 with a Super Bowl win when he threw 30 or fewer times.

That's how football works.

— Geoffrey Benedict (@phantaskippy) November 29, 2022

I’m hoping for a new nickname Kenny Pitch Count.

Wednesday 11/30

#Steelers RB Najee Harris, who was ruled out of Monday night's game with an abdominal injury, did not suffer a major injury, sources say. His status this week is up in the air, and he'll be reevaluated as the practice week goes on. But no significant injury is good news.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 30, 2022

Long-term bullet dodged, but the Steelers need November Najee in December.

Back at practice today in the backfield is…… No. 30 pic.twitter.com/vJDBp2SEhz

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 30, 2022

He’s back ladies and gents. Let’s hope he’s as valuable as Steelers fans believe him to be.

Kyle Pitts ruled out for rest of 2022 season. https://t.co/sPICIaWl1z

— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) November 30, 2022

No Pitts for the Pittsburgh game is a shame. We’re being deprived of a matchup of two of the best young tight ends in the league.

Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr. announces that he will forego the teams bowl game and declare for the NFL Draft. A strong candidate to be the first player drafted at the position.

— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) November 30, 2022

Another Peezy in Pittsburgh? Yes, please.

Thursday 12/1

BREAKING: Former #Steelers star WR Antonio Brown has a Warrant for his arrest in Hillsborough County, FL that was issued earlier tonight for Domestic Violence.

— MLFootball (@_MLFootball) December 1, 2022

This is so sad. One of the biggest wastes of talent. I’m hoping the light comes on before tragedy strikes for AB.

RT‼️ RT‼️ RT‼️ #ProBowlVote @minkfitz_21@_TJWatt@kennypickett10@Nunless2@Juiceup__3@bigg_dan65@_Dbush11@kdd7696@ArthurMaulet2@pharvin27@rell_island6@jamsdans#MontraviusAdams@MBoykin814 pic.twitter.com/A0r4Csxj0P

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 1, 2022

Minkah is the top voted-for at his position. Get out there and vote. Hell, throw a bunch Dan Moore Jr.’s direction too. Somebody has to.

Friday 12/2

Steelers DL DeMarvin Leal said his knee feels great and that he’s ready to return this week. He has 100% confidence in his knee.

Steelers DL might be at full strength.

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 2, 2022

This could be a big “acquisition” for the home stretch of 2022. Maybe not for Sir Loudermilk though.

Najee Harris said he is good and will play against the Falcons

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) December 2, 2022

Yay!!!!!!!!

#Steelers RB Najee Harris (oblique) is off the injury report and good to go against the #Falcons, while OLB T.J. Watt (ribs) is questionable.

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 2, 2022

Wait! What????? 22 steps forward, 90 steps back.

This was the significant week that was for the Steelers, mixed-in with my black-and-gold loving life. I’m sure next week will be full of Steelers happenings as well, so we’ll have to do this again. Have a great week, but better yet, have a BAD one.

Steelers activate DeMarvin Leal, place Ahkello Witherspoon on IR

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 12/03/2022 - 2:17pm
Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The rookie defensive lineman returns after missing six games.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have announced a roster move ahead of their Week 13 matchup against the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday. The Steelers announced they have activated rookie defensive end DeMarvin Leal from the Reserve/Injured List (IR). In a corresponding move, the Steelers have placed cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon on IR.

This per the Steelers official Twitter account:

We have activated DE DeMarvin Leal from the Reserve/Injured List to the active roster and placed CB Ahkello Witherspoon on the Reserve/Injured List. @BordasLawhttps://t.co/ngqGpTW88r

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 3, 2022

DeMarvin Leal was abruptly placed on IR ahead of the Steelers Week 6 matchup vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In not showing up on the injury report the first two days, Leal landed on the practice report Friday as not participating and was immediately ruled out for the game. It was later reported Leal had a procedure done on the meniscus in his knee and was placed on IR.

The Steelers opened Leal’s practice window after the mandatory four games, but did not activate him from IR in Week 11 or Week 12. In the five games Leal has played this season, he has three passes defensed and nine tackles.

To make room on the roster, the Steelers have finally placed cornerback of Ahkello Witherspoon on IR. Already missing seven games this season, Witherspoon did return for half of the game in Week 8 prior to the Steelers bye week. But being ruled out this week for what would have been a fourth-straight game, the Steelers have finally made the move. Witherspoon would be eligible to return to the lineup in Week 17.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13 of the 2022 regular season.

Steelers vs. Falcons is more than just a football game for the Betz Family

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 12/03/2022 - 2:00pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The rare times Pittsburgh faces the Dirty Birds from Atlanta are fun times for me and my family.

As is probably the case with many of you, I can attribute most of my sports allegiances to my family. That group of weird, loveable people shaped me more than I can ever express, and I am learning to appreciate them more every day, even as a nearly 30-year-old adult with my own small family to properly influence.

I grew up in quite the blend of a household. My dad is a born and raised Yinzer from the heart of Pittsburgh. My mom, however, is a southern girl through and through, spending most of her life in small-town Georgia. Both grew up fans of their own local sports entities, and I suppose I was destined to fall hard into sports fandom myself. Black and Gold infiltrated my heart early in life, and with my mom adopting Dad’s Steelers as her own quickly after their marriage, it was absolutely no contest where my loyalties would lie.

Although the Pittsburgh roots originate with my dad, it was Mom who was the real sports enthusiast, along with her dad, my Granddaddy, who has been a stout Atlanta Falcons fan his whole life as well. This being the case, Atlanta’s Black and Red has a special place in my football-loving heart as well, although they still place a fairly distant 2nd behind my Pittsburgh Steelers.

So when the AFC North and NFC South schedules line up every 4th year, the ensuing Steelers/Falcons matchup is one we circle on our calendars. It doesn’t matter the records or what’s at stake for each team, this rare matchup is always a special one.

My first recollection of the matchup was the 2002 doozy of a game where a red-hot Tommy Maddox threw for nearly 500 yards and a big Pittsburgh lead going into the 4th quarter before 2nd year sensation Mike Vick led the Falcons to 17 unanswered points to force Overtime. The game ended in a tie after each team had a FG attempt blocked and a final Maddox to Plaxico Burress heave was ruled short of the goal line and time expired. Quite a start for an 8-year-old kid just getting into football!

Then I think about two years later in 2004, when Rookie sensation Ben Roethlisberger took a 15-1 Steelers squad to the AFC Championship against Tom Brady’s Patriots, while Mike Vick led his high-flying Falcons to the NFC title game against the Eagles and Donovan McNabb. I was rooting so hard for a Steelers vs Falcons Super Bowl, but alas both teams fell short of their title bids in excruciating fashion.

Then there’s 2016. Again, both team’s appearing in their conference championships, only this time, the Falcons prevailed in a romp over Green Bay to head to only their 2nd Super Bowl ever. Meanwhile, my dream of Steelers vs Falcons in the Big Dance was thwarted again by #12 and his Boston cronies as they felt the need to remove my Steelers from the picture. From there, it’s 28-3 and you know the revolting remainder of that story for Atlanta.

In between the near Super Bowl matchups came some actual memorable faceoffs. A narrow OT victory for Atlanta in a 2006 shootout before Big Ben got revenge in a 3rd straight OT game in 2010. Troy Polamalu swiping an incredible sideline INT from a young Matt Ryan. Memories of my granddad and me tossing light-hearted jabs back and forth on the phone after a tough Falcons loss to my beloved Steelers, or Mom rooting for Pittsburgh but then feeling so bad for those “poor old Falcons” when they just couldn’t get it done during another rough season.

We’ve always said, “We’re all going to have to get together and go to a Steelers/Falcons game one of these years.” Unfortunately, we won’t have the opportunity to make it for the 2022 rendition in Atlanta, as the game arrives sandwiched between two out-of-state weddings, one for my younger brother, who tied the knot in October, and the other for my younger sister in January.

That’s okay, though. One day that dream will become reality. For now, come Sunday at approximately 4:30 eastern time, I’ll pick up my phone and trade some more good-natured jabs with my granddad, and rant and rave with Mom and Dad over the good, the bad, and the ugly from the previous three hours. I’ll even get to watch the game with that now married brother of mine who lives about 30 minutes away.

In a way, it feels like childhood reaching out a slightly faded hand to tap me on the shoulder and remind me why I love this game, and these teams, so much.

It’s more than just a football affair. It’s a family affair.

What are some teams that you have an affinity for other than the Steelers? Any family influences that shape your fan experiences? Let me know in the comments section below. Go Steelers!

Steelers add another linebacker to the Week 13 injury report

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 12/03/2022 - 12:28pm
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have added another pass rusher to their injury report for Week 13.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a Monday night win in Week 12, beating the Indianapolis Colts 24-17 on the road, but the short week hasn’t been kind to the team. As they prepare for the Atlanta Falcons, the injuries continue to roll in as the Week 13 game in Atlanta approaches.

Saturday afternoon the Steelers announced another player has been added to the team’s injury report, and it is at a position they cannot afford to lose any depth. The player is Malik Reed, and the injury has been labeled as a back injury.

This from the Steelers official Twitter page:

We have added LB Malik Reed (back) to the injury report. He is questionable for Sunday’s game.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 3, 2022

The fact Reed is listed as questionable makes both Reed and T.J. Watt both questionable heading into the game Sunday. Less than ideal when you are talking about defending an Atlanta Falcons team who uses Marcus Mariota’s mobility to run the football.

With the addition of Reed, check out the new Injury Report for the Steelers, as well as the Friday practice report below:

Game Status

  • CB Ahkello Witherspoon (Hamstring) - Out
  • RB Jaylen Warren (Hamstring) - Questionable
  • LB T.J. Watt (Ribs) - Questionable
  • LB Malik Reed (Back) - Questionable

Friday, December 2

RB Najee Harris (Oblique) - LP
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (Hamstring) - DNP
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk (Personal) - DNP
DL Larry Ogunjobi (Toe) - FP
DT Cameron Heyward (Not Injury Related - Coaches Decision) - FP
RB Benny Snell (Knee) - FP
LB Robert Spillane (Oblique) - FP
LB Myles Jack (Knee) - FP
LB T.J. Watt (Ribs) - LP
WR Miles Boykin (Oblique) - FP
RB Jaylen Warren (Hamstring) - FP
OL Mason Cole (Foot) - FP
S Minkah Fitzpatrick (Ribs) - FP

The Steelers will be traveling to Atlanta Saturday in hopes of winning back-to-back games for the first time this season, and the hope is some, if not all, of the players who are listed as questionable will be available to play.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Falcons this Sunday in Week 13 of the 2022 regular season.

The Steelers talented youngsters are establishing their identities on offense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 12/03/2022 - 12:00pm
IndyStar Staff-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers young offensive standouts are just starting to settle into the roles they were drafted to fill.

The Pittsburgh Steelers hierarchy definitely formulated an intricate plan for the 2022 offseason, and we are beginning to see the fruits of their labor come to fruition.

The Steelers wanted to get younger and more explosive on offense, so they focused an abnormal amount of salary cap and draft capital on that side of the football. It was quickly apparent that the Steelers were determined to find their next starting quarterback, after their franchise QB of the previous 18 seasons; Ben Roethlisberger, retired. The Steelers free agency and pre-draft scouting focus was quarterback centric. Those efforts resulted in the Steelers signing veteran QB Mitchell Trubisky in free agency, and drafting former Pittsburgh Panther star Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Steelers other primarily offseason focus was strengthening the worst offensive line in the NFL in 2021. Sometimes, when you hit rock bottom, you just got to blow the whole thing up and start again. It was a tall task, but the Steelers knew they had to start somewhere, and it turned out to be on the interior. The Steelers utilized free agency to sign Mason Cole and James Daniels; two young, versatile, and proven professionals. Although there were chemistry and communication issues during training camp and the preseason, the interior of the Steelers offensive line has consistently improved exponentially in season.

As is so commonly the case in any rebuilding situation, the influx of talent didn't translate into immediate production on the field. Quite the contrary actually. New players resulted in no chemistry or rhythm as an offense. The Steelers struggled mightily to move the ball during the first half of the season, much less put acceptable point totals on the scoreboard. As Steelers fans, we were faced with an unfamiliar reality, a franchise often unable to be competitive enough to be relevant.

The truth is, seasons change. What goes up must eventually come down, and for every peak there must be a valley. The rest of the NFL, particularly the AFC North division, had better make the most of this extremely rare valley for the Steelers, because we are beginning to see signs of a potential offensive revival in the Steel City. The Steelers young collection of talented newcomers are starting to learn and improve at their roles.

Any hope for a rapid rebuild begins and ends with Kenny Pickett. The NFL is a quarterback driven league. If you have a good to great one, you do whatever is necessary to keep them. If you don't have one, you better find one, because you won't be a serious contender without one. Teams lacking a potential franchise QB have fan bases that spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the next draft cycle in the middle of the current season. Obviously, that's not optimal.

Kenny Pickett represents hope for the legions of Steelers faithful. He continues to show consistent growth and improvement as a professional with each game. The accuracy, anticipation, and poise are obvious, but there are more subtle improvements that may have gone unnoticed by many.

Pickett's decision making has improved as he has gained experience within the offense, starting with his risk assessment. He has started to manipulate the pocket better, instinctively knowing when to step up in the pocket, instead of being flushed out the back. That maneuver is seldom successful.

Pickett's ball placement has also improved. I believe this is a direct byproduct of his focus on ball security. He is utilizing his elite level accuracy to place throws where if his target can't bring it in, nobody does. Far fewer 50/50 balls, hence zero interceptions since the bye week.

Pickett's comfort level is also positively impacting the weapons he has at his disposal, starting with WR George Pickens and TE Pat Freiermuth in particular.

Pickens is still a talented but raw rookie, but he looks like a WR1 in the making. He is easily the Steelers best splash play target already. The sky's the limit for the ultratalented 21 year old rookie phenom. His intense desire to be great is unmistakable.

While I envision the Pickett to Pickens connection becoming something special in the near future, I believe that Freiermuth has the potential to form a special bond with his young QB also, as a type of security blanket if you will. The type of reliable outlet that your franchise QB looks for in the biggest moments or when under duress, kind of like Heath Miller was always there for Ben Roethlisberger. This feels almost like sacrilege to write, but I firmly believe that Freiermuth has more potential than Miller ever did to become a dynamic weapon in the Steelers passing attack.

The importance of Pickens and Freiermuth settling into these roles is imperative for Diontae Johnson's future production. Johnson is not a true number one wide receiver, but he has been forced to try to fill that role in recent seasons due to circumstances out of his control. He should be much more effective as a WR2, where he can focus on his elite level route running, and no longer be the main focus of the opposition's coverage schemes.

As these Steelers youngsters continue to improve, and fully comprehend their roles within the offense, the results will speak for themselves, both on the scoreboard, and in the standings.

NFL Draft Preview: Prospects to watch in Conference Championship Week

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 12/03/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

It’s Conference Championship Weekend in College Football! Here are some NFL Draft prospects to keep an eye on.

The 2023 NFL Draft is still months in the distance, but with college football having arrived, the beginning stages of the 2023 draft process has begun. With that in mind, it is time to dive into this week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at potential Steelers draft targets to pay attention to during their respective games.

Offensive line is definitely an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for the solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and linebacker also loom large over the Pittsburgh’s head. Although we will certainly break down prospects at other positions this season as well, these will be the primary positions of emphasis.

Nearly every week during the season, there are several highlight games that steal the headlines, but even when these games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we will not be negligent of the other games and prospects in action. Every week during the season, we will recap the previous week’s action and determine whose stock rose the most as it pertains to the NFL Draft.

As always, be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, but without further adieu, here are the top prospects and games to keep an eye on this Saturday.

#10 Kansas State vs. #3 TCU — Noon ET on ABC

Kansas State Spotlight: Julius Brents — CB (6’3”, 202 lbs); Malik Knowles — WR (6’2”, 200 lbs)
TCU Spotlight: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson — CB (5’8”, 180 lbs); Steve Avila — C/G (6’3”, 330 lbs)

Julius Brents is an unknown prospect to many, but his combination of size and speed on the boundary will give NFL teams a desire to dive into his tape. Brents has shown great development this season, but he is still pretty raw overall. Flipping his hips and remaining fluid in coverage is one of the rougher areas of his game, but he will have a chance to prove himself Saturday, matching up against TCU standout Quentin Johnson.

If TCU takes care of business on Saturday, they will give the Big 12 a representative in the College Football Playoff. A big part of their success has come from strong play in their defensive secondary, and Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson has been the leading force for that unit. Size is definitely a concern, but he is quick, and he displays good ball skills. A team in need of a nickel cornerback may find value with Hodges-Tomlinson in the middle rounds.

#14 LSU vs. #1 Georgia — 3:30 ET on CBS

LSU Spotlight: Jaquelin Roy — DT (6’3”, 315 lbs); John Emery, Jr. (5’11”, 220 lbs)
Georgia Spotlight: Kelee Ringo — CB (6’2”, 210 lbs); Darnell Washington — TE (6’6”, 270 lbs)

Jaquelin Roy is not likely to be a three-down defender at the next level, but he is a solid run defender who can occasionally push the pocket on passing downs. He does not consistently get great penetration, but he maintains a low pad level and displays good overall awareness. Emery, Jr. is not a well-known prospect, but he has the combination of speed and power that teams are looking for in a modern-day running back. He could be a late-round gem.

If the Steelers win any more games, the chances of landing Kelee Ringo become highly unlikely, but in the event the Steelers are picking inside the top ten, Ringo, along with Cam Smith and Joey Porter, Jr., have to be considered. As for Darnell Washington, the production has not been excellent, but he has grown tremendously as a blocker during his time at Georgia. He could realistically be one of the top three tight ends off the board this April.

Montana vs. North Dakota State — 3:30 ET on ESPN+

Montana Spotlight: Patrick O’Connell — LB (6’1”, 230 lbs)
North Dakota Spotlight: Cody Mauch — OT (6’6”, 303 lbs)

O’Connell is no Troy Andersen, but he is a rangy linebacker with outstanding blitzing ability. The real prospect to pay attention to in this game, though, is North Dakota State tackle Cody Mauch. Mauch will have many eyes on him at the Senior Bowl, as he has dominated FCS competition. Despite not having the thickest frame, Mauch has been outstanding as a run blocker, displaying the ability to fend off any EDGE defender as well as the ability to get to the second level and overpower any linebacker. He could emerge as a top tackle in this class with a strong pre-draft process.

#9 Clemson vs. #23 North Carolina — 8:00 ET on ABC

Clemson Spotlight: Joseph Ngata — WR (6’3”, 215 lbs); Trenton Simpson — LB (6’3”, 240 lbs)
North Carolina Spotlight: Josh Downs — WR (5’10”, 175 lbs); Storm Duck — CB (6’0”, 200 lbs)

Ngata has struggled to produce this season, but there is enough physical upside to warrant a draft selection. Part of his struggles have been the quarterback play, but his inability to separate downfield has been extremely detrimental to his game. Trenton Simpson is a guy I love athletically, but I have not been impressed with his overall body of work. I am really hoping he makes a statement Saturday night.

For the Heels, it has to start with Josh Downs. Downs has been a menace this season and has been the go-to guy for breakout quarterback Drake Maye. The slight frame will scare some people off, and adding weight will definitely need to be a priority when entering the NFL, but his quickness is on another level. If all goes well during the pre-draft process, expect Downs to be a top-50 selection come April.

Which names and games do you have circled this Championship Saturday? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and feel free to chime in throughout the day as we soak in some great competition!

Predicting the Steelers’ inactive list for Week 13 vs. the Falcons

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 12/03/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The players who are questionable for Sunday’s games will be a huge factor.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading to Atlanta for the second of back-to-back road matchups. As the season rolls on, the true nature of the depth chart has come much more into focus, but injuries are still a driving force when it comes to the inactive list every week. For Week 13, the Steelers have three players with an injury status so it’s not out of the realm that a roster move or practice squad elevations could be coming by Saturday’s 4 PM deadline.

The rules in the 2022 season when it comes to the players active on game day have been carried over from the last two seasons. As long as a team has eight offensive lineman who will be dressing for the game, they could have 48 players on their active roster rather than the 46 in previous seasons. If the Steelers elevate any players from their practice squad, their inactive list would increase by the same number of players. The Steelers may need another running back or outside linebacker for the game based on who is questionable, so any elevations would be telling.

Game Status

OUT:
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE:
OLB T.J. Watt (ribs)
RB Jaylen Warren (hamstring)

Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Falcons on Sunday:

Definitely:

CB Ahkello Witherspoon- This will be four games in a row after a previous four-game streak. Maybe he eventually lands on the Reserve/Injured List (IR), but at this point why bother?

Most Likely:

QB Mason Rudolph- Healthy quarterbacks. It’s what we want to hear. This will make it 12 in a row for Rudolph.

G Kendrick Green- Healthy offensive lineman. It’s also what we want to hear. So it’s 12 in a row for Green as well.

CB Josh Jackson- Now that the Steelers seem set at the other cornerback positions even with Witherspoon and William Jackson III, Josh Jackson may be the most expendable healthy player on the 53-man roster should they need to make a move.

LB Mark Robinson- He got a helmet last week like many were clamoring for. But not only did he fail to see the field on defense, Robinson didn’t even get any special team snaps.

Possibly:

RB Jaylen Warren- Despite being a full participant at every practice this week, Jaylen Warren is still listed as questionable. I don’t get it.

OLB T.J. Watt- Although he practiced every day, T.J. Watt was only limited. I seem to recall him not practicing much prior to Week 1 of 2021 and it turned out well, so I don’t think the practice is the issue. The only thing this comes down to is Watt’s health.

DL Isaiahh Loudermilk- It has been reported that DeMarvin Leal is healthy and ready to go. The only question is if the Steelers activate in this game or at the end of his 21-day window this coming week. If he does and is back on the 53, I think Loudermilk goes back to inactive like he was earlier in the season.

Unlikely:

RB Najee Harris- Despite not practicing for two days and being limited on Friday, Najee Harris has no injury status. And Jaylen Warren is questionable after doing everything. It just doesn’t make sense. But with no designation, there’s no reason to have Harris inactive.

Projected Inactive List:
  1. Ahkello Witherspoon
  2. Mason Rudolph
  3. Kendrick Green
  4. Josh Jackson
  5. Mark Robinson

This list is very straightforward. The only thing that changes would be roster moves later today. If either Jaylen Warren or T.J. Watt looks like they won’t be able to go, I look for an elevation from the practice squad with the likely candidates being Anthony McFarland and David Anenih. One other option is if DeMarvin Leal could take snaps at outside linebacker, but he would have to be activated from IR to the 53-man roster. If he is, I look for either Whitherspoon goes on IR or Josh Jackson is the unlucky release. But until those moves happen, this is the list.

I’m thinking both T.J. Watt and Jalen Warren play on Sunday. I wouldn’t be shocked if there are no elevations. The big wildcard comes down to DeMarvin Leal and if he is back this week or next.

As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.

Steelers fans need to stop calling for Ben Roethlisberger to be the OC

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 12/03/2022 - 7:30am
Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Just stop calling for Ben Roethlisberger to be the Steelers next offensive coordinator. You’re better than that.

I know what you’re going to say, “This article is clickbait.”

Actually, it would be clickbait if any Steelers writer suggested that Ben Roethlisberger, the team’s former starting quarterback of 18 years and a future Hall of Famer, should take the reins as offensive coordinator in place of Matt Canada.

I guess this is why no Steelers writer has ever been dumb enough to pen something so ludicrous (if you have, well, no offense).

A lot of fans have been “silly” enough to call for such a thing, however, and if you think I’m crafting some sort of strawman argument out of one or two comments from the Steelers universe, click on this link to the Freak Show, a popular Pittsburgh morning radio show where hosts Mikey and Big Bob read Facebook comments about a lot of things, but especially about recent Steelers games. Did you catch the part where someone called for Roethlisberger to be hired onto the coaching staff? Yeah, that happens every week during that segment.

If that’s not enough evidence for you, check out a recent episode of Roethlisberger’s Footbahlin Podcast. Roethlisberger’s guest for that week’s show, legendary Pittsburgh sports journalist and personality, Bob Pompeani, asked the two-time Super Bowl champion if he had any interest in coaching. When Roethlisberger said he did not, Pompeani looked straight into the camera and pleaded with people to stop calling into his own shows and suggesting that Roethlisberger should be the Steelers' next offensive coordinator.

Don’t you see how silly and, quite frankly, kindergarten that is when you see it in text? Ben Roethlisberger as the Steelers' next offensive coordinator? This man earned hundreds of millions of dollars during his playing career. Furthermore, he played the quarterback position better than few ever had before or after him.

Name any former NFL quarterbacks of Roethlisberger’s status who went into coaching after their careers were over. I’ll save you the trouble because I can only think of two off the top of my head: Norm Van Brocklin, who coached both the Vikings and Falcons between 1961-1974, and Bart Starr, who coached the Packers from 1975-1983.

I don’t know why Van Brocklin and Starr decided to get into coaching, other than it was a different time and maybe even NFL superstars and future Hall of Famers often had to consider their life’s work after football.

If there are other examples, they likely happened around the time that Van Brocklin and Starr tried it or many years before that.

Just picture Tom Brady becoming a head coach after he finally retires. Impossible, right? How about Peyton or Eli Manning if one or both ever get tired of doing television? Heck, try and imagine Tony Romo, a player who certainly will never be in the Hall of Fame, leaving the broadcast headsets behind in favor of a pair on an NFL sideline.

It simply isn’t going to happen...and at least three of those aforementioned quarterbacks are/were considered to be students of the game.

When did you ever hear that about Roethlisberger? Never. In fact, you often heard the exact opposite sentiments being expressed about his approach to and his preparation for his chosen profession.

Remember the days when fans used to complain about never witnessing Roethlisberger studying those old Polaroid pictures in between series?

Remember Roethlisberger’s gunslinger and schoolyard reputation?

In addition to quarterbacks, few former superstar athletes choose to get into coaching. Why? Money. They made too much as a player and wouldn’t want to take the pay cut as a coach. Why else? The major time commitment that is required in order to be in the coaching profession. It’s actually much more of a time commitment to coach than it is to play. What else? Oh yeah, most all-time superstars have gifts and talents that they can tap into which elevates them one or several levels above their peers. Yes, most also have a work ethic and drive, but they are also blessed with skills that simply can’t be taught or coached to far-less-talented players.

Finally, since I’ve asked you to picture a lot of things, picture Roethlisberger, who just retired after nearly two decades and has three young children, going to his wife and explaining to her that he wants to get back into football and commit way more time to it than he ever did as a player.

Now, I want you to imagine Roethlisberger spending 12-18 hours a day at the Steelers’ facilities breaking down offensive film and devising schemes and game plans that, not only play to his offense’s strengths, but also prey on his opponent's weaknesses.

I also want you to imagine Roethlisberger trying to deal with critical reporters and fans each and every week as the Steelers offensive coordinator.

All that is impossible to picture, right?

Absolutely. So, stop trying to speak it into existence.

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