Category Archives: Pittsburgh Steelers

Keys To The Game On Defense For The New England Patriots

via zimbio.com
via zimbio.com

The New England Patriots are in full game preparation mode for their Thursday night opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium. The Steelers were an 11-5 team last season and won their division with the third spot in the AFC playoffs. However, an injury to Le’Veon Bell in week seventeen lead to the Steelers falling short to the Ravens in the wild card round. Don’t let their early round exit fool you, the Steelers were a dominant team at times in 2014, mainly offensively.

The Ben Roethlisberger lead offense finished the season second overall in total offense, behind the New Orleans Saints. Pittsburgh will have one of the most dangerous offensive players in the game on Thursday night with Antonio Brown. The young inexperienced secondary, and defense as a whole will certainly have their hands full Thursday night. Here are my keys to the game defensively for the Patriots on Thursday night.

186737022-ben-roethlisberger-of-the-pittsburgh-gettyimages

Contain Ben Roethlisberger: One of the main reasons for the Steelers being one of the most consistent teams in the league over the past ten years is Ben Roethlisberger. His uncanny size for a quarterback at 6-5, 241 pounds makes him very difficult to knock off balance and sack. He can shake off defensive lineman and roll out of the pocket and make big throws. As Bill Belichick said in his press conference this week he touched upon Roethlisberger’s size.

“Very hard to take down, very difficult to get down. On top of that he’s got great vision, very good accuracy downfield. He doesn’t have to step into the throw, or have a clean pocket. Guys hanging all over him, falling down. He’s as good as anyone we play at that.”

The Patriots will need to contain him and keep him inside the pocket, because when he gets outside and finds open receivers down field he unleashes it. Players such as Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard, and Jamie Collins will be essential in keeping Roethlisberger contained. He won’t take off and run like an Andrew Luck, but he still needs to be kept in tact. Jamie Collins played a key role in keeping Andrew Luck inside the pocket twice last season.

186902879-new-england-patriots-player-kyle-arrington-gettyimages

Bracket Brown: Antonio Brown is without a doubt one of the top three wide receivers in the National Football League. He is extremely fast and is lethal when he gets into the open field. Pittsburgh uses him in the slot as well as on the outside. All Patriots fans should be expecting the Steelers to target Antonio Brown early and often, given the very unproven Patriots secondary.

Last season the Bill Belichick had the pleasure of having two very solid cornerbacks, and they were able to double cover elite wide receivers with ease, with Devin McCourty or Duron Harmon shading over the top. This season, and on Thursday night it will be very different. The team can still double team Antonio Brown, but they will be more vulnerable when matching up with Marcus Wheaton one on one. However, Malcolm Butler and Tarell Brown should be able to get the job done this week because the Steelers only have one dangerous wide receiver.

Bend And Don’t Break: The Patriots defense does not have much talent at the cornerback position leaving them vulnerable against a pass happy offense like Pittsburgh’s. With Le’Veon Bell suspended, the Steelers will be chucking the ball all over the gridiron. The Patriots may play a bit of zone coverage as well, because the first few weeks are a feeling out period.

That means yards will be given up. The main point for the Patriots is they need to get off the field, particularly past the fifty yard line, and when they are in the red zone. Make Pittsburgh settle for field goals not touchdowns, because the Patriots offense should be able to answer.

Be Afraid NFL, Brady’s Back and he’s pissed

With the NFL season about to start we can all finally focus on football and not any faulty or biased news going against the Patriots. The man happiest about all of this, Tom Brady. Brady and the whole “DeflateGate” BS scandal has been the news headline for the past seven and a half months and is all that has been talked about. The NFL and ESPN have set out to ruin Brady’s name and his legacy with all of the false information that has been put out and I guarantee that Brady is pissed, and I love it. This is not the guy you want to make mad, when he’s angry he is unstoppable, and on a whole different level and there in no one who can beat him. Now with the season about to be underway Brady can focus on one thing, getting ring number five. I’d like to thank the league in advance for creating this monster who is going to be on the field in 2015 and who is going to lead the Patriots to back to back Super Bowls. (Again)

via gillettesgallerygods.wordpress.com
via gillettesgallerygods.wordpress.com

When the world doubts Brady he pretty much gives them the middle finger, goes out drops 50 points and just dominates and teams should learn this by now and be scared to play Brady and the Patriots. Last years Patriots team struggled out the gate going 2-2 to start the season and suffered an embarrassing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. In the first four games Brady passed for only 791 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Critics started coming for Brady saying that he and the Patriots were done and in the words of Trent Dilfer “just not good anymore”. Brady made them eat their words and think twice about what they said going 4-0 over the next four games passing for 1,268 yards and 14 touchdowns with no interceptions. Against the Bears alone Brady looked like he was going to pass for 10 touchdowns passing for five touchdowns and 354 yards only a little into the third quarter before being taken out of the game. Brady finished the year with over 4,100 yards, 33 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in the regular season and his fourth Super Bowl championship.

via titletownsoundoff.com
via titletownsoundoff.com

Brady’s anger, determination and leadership is what lead his team throughout the season and ultimately to the Super Bowl they ended up winning in February. And this anger was only due to people saying that he was no longer an elite quarterback and not at the top of his game, nowhere near what people were saying about him this offseason. He was made out to be a cheater in the public eye and that he was tarnishing the game of football when he did nothing wrong and Judge Richard Berman ultimately agreed with Brady and his team, that he did nothing wrong with no evidence from the league and the Wells Report. The last time something like this happened was in 2007 with the “SpyGate” scandal and Brady played with a vengeance setting many records.

In 2007 Brady passed for over 4,800 yards and set the record for most passing touchdowns in a season in NFL history with 50. Brady played with a vengeance and anger this season that I think will be even worse this season. During this season Steelers safety Anthony Smith made the idiotic claim of guaranteeing a victory against the Patriots. This surely made Brady mad because he threw at Smith time and time again and made him look foolish on the field.

via nydailynews.com
via nydailynews.com

Brady was never referenced as having a role in “SpyGate”, unlike “DeflateGate” has been referenced solely as Brady being involved. During the preseason you could tell Brady didn’t look like himself on or off the field and I think it had a lot to do with everything that was going on. Though the NFL is appealing Judge Berman’s decision to lift Brady’s suspension, this is all pretty much behind Brady and he can focus on doing the thing he loves most playing football. He doesn’t have to worry about having to go to court hearings and having to fight the league he has been apart of the past 16 years about something he had no involvement with. He can go out and focus on playing football each and every week and being the best he can and dominating his opponent, because even though he no longer has to think about “DeflateGate” he is going to take all the anger and emotions he has had about it over the past several months out on the football field and it all starts against Pittsburgh. The Banner is going to be raised, Gillette Stadium will be electric and Tom Brady will be under center playing quarterback and would not surprise me if he goes out there and throws for 400-500 yards and four or five touchdowns. He is going to show no mercy on Pittsburgh or any other opponent this season and the rest of the 31 teams in the NFL should be worried.

Stopping Gronk? Good luck with that Pittsburgh

The Steelers were ranked 27th in pass defense last season and they plan on improving that this season, and according to two Steelers players they plan on doing that in week one by stopping Rob Gronkowski. Yes they seriously think they are going to stop Rob Gronkowski.

via fansided.com
via fansided.com

Steelers’ linebacker Ryan Shazier and safety Mike Mitchell said that the Steelers have a game plan to stop Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in Thursday’s opening game. The two said that they are going to be physical with Gronkowski and not give him an easy welcoming into the 2015 season. The fact that these two could even say this is just foolish. Gronkowski is the best tight end in the league without question, and when healthy might be the most dominating player in the league at any position. You’re going to be physical with Gronkowski? Gronk is 6’6 and 265 pounds of all muscle while Shazier stands 6’2 229 pounds and Mitchell is 6’ 210 pounds, so if you think you’re going to be able to be physical and stop Gronkowski you can have fun with that because it won’t happen.

via zimbio.com
via zimbio.com

Gronkowski has played well against every team he’s played against; one team in particular he has dominated against has been the Steelers. In three games against Pittsburgh, Gronkowski has 309 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. Saying you are going to stop Rob Gronkowski is a lot easier said than done. Last season Gronk showed his dominance throughout the whole season by staying healthy and not missing anytime. In 2014 he recorded 82 receptions, 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is a defensive nightmare for opposing teams with his size, strength, speed, catching ability and his ability to block and be physical. Not many in the league are able to match up against Gronk defensively and he has shown time and time again that he just cannot be stopped. Gronkowski will have a great game against Pittsburgh, like he always does, and will go on to have another fantastic and possibly his best season yet in New England.

via sportsofboston.com
via sportsofboston.com

These guys should think next time before they want to make claims like this and talk before playing against the Patriots. Back in 2007 Steelers safety Anthony Smith guaranteed a victory against the undefeated Patriots. It didn’t work out too well for Smith whose Steelers were badly beaten 34-13, and Smith was embarrassed multiple times during the game by having Brady just constantly throw at him, constantly beating him. Like the Patriots and Tom Brady didn’t have enough fire and anger entering the 2015 season these two are just adding more fuel to the fire. I’m looking to see Brady and Gronk dominate once again and beat the Steelers, and also hope to see Gronk “throw someone out the club” like he did last year to Colts safety Sergio Brown, quite frankly just because its fun to see.

Week 1 Preview: Patriots vs. Steelers Positional Breakdown


186902875-new-england-patriots-player-julian-edelman-gettyimages

By Sam Pericolo

Ahhh it is finally that time. Football is back and the New England Patriots are ready to defend their title. Let’s see how they match up against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Quarterback

Do I really need to say anything here? Ben Roetlisberger is a very good quarterback. However, Tom Brady is the best ever. He’s coming off another Super Bowl MVP and is looking to stick it to the NFL.

Advantage Patriots

Running Back

The Steelers have one of the best running backs in the game. However, he will not suit up. Le’Veon Bell is suspended. As if the Patriots’ starting back, LeGarrette Blount. Jonas Gray has been cut so the Patriots have absolutely nothing in the backfield as of right now. While Bell is suspended, Deangelo Williams runs circles around any back the Patriots have on their roster.

Advantage Steelers

Wide Receiver

If Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman were both healthy, they it MIGHT be CLOSE. However, we could be looking at Danny Amendola as the top receiver for Brady on Thursday night. That makes it a pretty easy decision, as Antonio Brown is arguably the best in football.

Advantage Steelers

Tight End

As easy as it was to pick the Steelers in the receiver position, it is equally as easy to pick the Patriots at tight end. Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in football and Scott Chandler is a matchup nightmare with his size. Look for Gronk to have a huge game as he is one of fes targets Brady will have, and he cannot be covered.

Advantage Patriots

Offensive Line

Both teams have solid lines; however, the Steelers are missing their best lineman with Maurkice Pouncey out until week 9. David DeCastro is still a great lineman, though. I am going to give the Patriots the slight edge, but if Bryan Stork does not play, then I believe the Steelers have the edge. Stork totally transforms that offensive line. The Patriots need to have him in there.

Advantage Patriots

Defensive Line

The Steelers do not have much of a defense. The Patriots, while it was totally changed in the offseason, still have some talent. Most of it is in the front seven. Their defensive line could be one of the best in football this year. Malcom Brown will be the big body in the middle that Vince Wilfork was, Dominique Easley looks healthy and ready to go, and Trey Flowers has looked great in preseason

Advantage Patriots

Linebackers

The Pats already have one of the best linebacking corps in football. When healthy, Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, and Jerod Mayo are some of the best. Add Jabaal Sheard to that list and you have the ability to have a great rotation to keep everybody healthy.

Advantage Patriots

Secondary

Yes, the Patriots lost Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Kyle Arrington. However, Malcolm Butler looks to take the next step, Devin McCourty is still around, and the Steelers cannot defense the passing game to save themselves.

Advantage Patriots

Special Teams

Bill Belichick prides himself on special teams. Jonas Gray was probably cut because he does not play special teams and Brandon Bolden does. Matt Slater is still the best as is Steven Gostkowski.

Advantage Patriots

Coaching

Bill Belichick went 11-5 with Matt Cassel.

Advantage Patriots

While it may seem that the Patriots should run away with the game based on the positional breakdown, I would not look at it like that. Many of them are close calls. The Steelers are a very good team who can make up for their defensive struggles with a high powered offense. Plus, what the hell does any of this actually mean come Thursday night? We just have to see how it is all played out.

You can follow Sam on twitter @SamPericolo

Generated by IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library

New England Patriots: Thoughts going into the Steelers Game

Image: Rantsports.com
Image: Rantsports.com

Dion Lewis’ steady play caused the Pats to make a tough decision in cutting second year RB Jonas Gray. Although Gray showed flashes, he was never consistent enough as a runner or pass catcher this pre-season. Although it feels like a waste to cut him after a year, it shows that Belichick and McDaniels can ill afford to be prideful when it comes to owning up to a mistake quickly. Lewis will take the Vereen role, which might be the most overlooked and important part of this offense. It doesn’t hurt that Lewis is donning Kevin Faulk’s old number, who is probably the best 3rd down back of all time.

With FB James Develin going on season ending IR, it often comes back to the question: Will the Pats go get a fullback or stick with what they have? With the decision to keep 4 TE’s (Gronk, Chandler, Hooman and Williams), it shows that the Pats will go to more 2 TE sets to emphasize more of a 7 man blocking front. Hooman can go in the backfield as he has done in the past, but I wouldn’t be so sure that if a good FB appeared on the market, the Pats wouldn’t swoop him up (Note: Henry Hynoski of the Giants was just cut, couldn’t be a better fit)

The idea to keep Dobson is the smart decision when it comes down to the numbers. Dobson showed flashes of what made him a second round pick in 2013 this pre-season, but still missed some time due to his chronic injury issues. Even though Chris Harper clearly out played him, they already have quick route runners on their team with Edelman and Amendola. Dobson is the only legitimate deep threat the Patriots had on their roster and even if he isn’t someone that can play every game. He could be the way the Pats stretch the field this year and is someone who teams will have to keep an eye on.

The much maligned secondary is shaping up to be a liability but has some promise. Basically, they kept 2 zone CBs (Ryan, and Brown) and 2 man/press CB’s (Butler and Fletcher). This shows that they will be team specific when it comes to what they will do with their lineup weekly, but it looks like Butler and Ryan will start with Brown taking Kyle Arrington’s old spot at Nickle. The fact that they kept S Tavon Wilson over special teamer Nate Ebner was the smart decision overall. The former second rounder in 2012 looked much approved this preseason and has the ability to play both safety positions and corner and be a contributor on special teams. Belichick loves versatility with guys like Wilson, and that is why he got the nod.

Even though the team looks set going into the Pittsburgh game, there is still a chance that there will be some big contributors on this squad that isn’t on the team yet. They already brought in 8 players for workouts (none of note) and can still sign someone before Thursday. Also, the practice squad will be set and will make a difference who they will sign from other squads. Watching what positions they will sign will show what positions are issues and need depth beyond the 53 roster. For instance, if they sign 2 CB’s, that might mean that a man on the current roster is on the bubble and is trying to bring along someone throughout the year in their system that can replace him if he doesn’t play well enough initially. It’s something to keep in mind as the team sets up their practice squad. It can show more about the state of the team and what they want to do than you would think.

2015 AFC Regular Season And Playoff Predictions

With the preseason now in the rear view mirror, as well as deflate gate and the seven month circus that it was, we can now shift our focus from courtrooms and un-drafted players, to what really matters. Regular season games, and the road to Santa Clara for Super Bowl 50. Many are under the impression that there is no clear favorite in the AFC right now. There are a few teams that look to be contenders, but not one sure fire team like in years past. Here is my full prediction for each division and playoff matchup.

AFC East:                                                                                                                                                                                             New England Patriots (12-4): Overall I have been underwhelmed by the Patriots this preseason. With the entire team and region ready to run through a brick wall for Tom Brady on Thursday, I believe they will take that game. After that they have two tough games in Buffalo and in Dallas two weeks later. With the secondary and offensive line going through significant changes, don’t be surprised if they get off to another two and two start, like they did last year. Nevertheless, the Patriots under Bill Belichick have always been dominant in the second half of the season, so expect them to bounce back and win the division.

Buffalo Bills (10-6): The Buffalo defense was already stacked as it was, and now add a defensive guru such as Rex Ryan to the mix, they can give any quarterback major headaches. Also, the Buffalo offense is full of offensive fire power and speed. Lesean McCoy in the backfield, Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin at receiver, and a speedy quarterback like Tyrod Taylor will keep any defense on their heels. However, Rex Ryan has never been a quarterback whisperer and starting an unproven player such as Taylor could be risky.

New York Jets (7-9): On paper, the Jets have an outstandingly talented roster. Their cornerback depth chart headed by Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie may be the best in the league. Brandon Marshall is also a big addition on offense. The Jets have a very similar problem as the Bills, they don’t have a quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been average to sub par in his career, and Geno Smith put himself out for the first ten weeks by getting himself punched in the face. With a first year head coach in Todd Bowles, the personalities on that roster could take over and not allow the team to capitalize on their potential.

Miami Dolphins (7-9): The Miami Dolphins were not shy in spending money this offseason, giving out mega contracts to Ryan Tannehill and Ndamukong Suh. It is great to sustain and add talent, however when you give out those deals it can leave you vulnerable at other positions. For example, their offensive line has been below average for the past few seasons, and how good is a twenty-million dollar quarterback when you can’t protect him. In addition, Joe Philipin may be on his last leg with the team.

cbssports.com
cbssports.com

AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens (11-5): If there is one team in the National Football League, besides the Patriots, that you can always count on being in at least the divisional round, it would be the Ravens. Say what you want about John Harbaugh’s personality, he is a great coach and his team fears no opponent. They will continue to have a stout defensive front and a run heavy offense, along with the always postseason reliable Joe Flacco. Count on them playing late in January.

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7): The Steelers have been a very difficult team to predict the past couple of seasons. It looked as if they finally turned the corner last season when they won the division with a fantastic offensive year. However, they came out flat and lost in the wild card round at home against arch rival Baltimore. This season, they are facing a lot of turnaround on defense with long-time veterans in the secondary, Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu retiring. Also, key pieces on offense Le’veon Bell and Martavius Bryant are suspended early on. It will be a bit of a set back year in Pittsburgh.

Cincinnati Bengals (9-7): Over the past four seasons, the Bengals have been almost identical to the team the year before. They are a tough team up front on defense, with an average offense with a fragile superstar in AJ Green, and an inconsistent quarterback with Andy Dalton. Nevertheless, in the playoffs they never cease to amaze when they upset fans in the wild card round with their lack luster performance. I find it hard to believe that they will make it to the playoffs this season due to the increase in talent around them.

Cleveland Browns (6-10): Last year at this time I was all in on the Browns. Now they are just viewed as a bottom dweller once again. The Johnny Manziel hype has died out very quickly, and besides him there isn’t much on that team that is interesting. The defense has some young talent in Barkevious Mingo and Joe Haden along with others, but it has yet to translate to the field.

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 21: at Heinz Field on December 21, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

AFC South:

Indianapolis Colts (12-4): The Colts have been the talk of the town in the AFC over this past offseason. With the additions of veterans such as Andre Johnson and Frank Gore, many are claiming them as Super Bowl favorites in the AFC. Although, not much has been made about their lack of defense. Their past two seasons have ended in Foxborough in January because they can’t stop the run. They did not address that need this offseason, and one of their best run stoppers, Arthur Jones, is out for the season with a torn ligament in his ankle. The offense will be among the tops in the league, but it will be tough for their defense to hold up in the key situations in the playoffs.

Houston Texans (10-6): The Texans flew under the radar last season going 9-7 and just barely missing the playoffs. This year Bill O’Brien will have them as one of the forces in the AFC, and defensive coordinator Romeo Crenell may have the best unit in the league. JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Vince Wilfork, and Brian Cushing are just a few names on a defense that will be a force to be reckoned with. They certainly will give Andrew Luck headaches. The quarterback position is a question mark with Brian Hoyer as the starter, but Bill O’Brien is a very good offensive mind and can put things together.

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): Blake Bortles is a promising young quarterback, however he does not have much if not anything around him. The team added tight end Julius Thomas in the offseason, but he will be out for the first few weeks of the season due to injury. Also, his numbers may have been inflated because of the offense he was on in Denver. Jacksonville has a good young roster, they might just be a year or two away.

Tennessee Titans (4-12): The Tennessee Titans selected Marcus Mariota with the second pick in the 2015 draft, and they want him to be the quarterback that will take them to the top. Well, they need to begin to add pieces around him before they can truly be a relevant team in the AFC. His character and toughness will be tested early in his career as his team will struggle.

484047210-marcus-mariota-of-the-tennessee-titans-drops-gettyimages

AFC West: 

Denver Broncos (11-5): Most media members are counting the Denver Broncos out of the AFC championship race. That is the wrong move. Peyton Manning may be a terrible postseason quarterback, but he is more than likely the best ever when it comes to the regular season. Manning has a plethora of targets that include elite receivers such as Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. Also, Peyton has help in the running game now with CJ Anderson and Montee Ball. In addition, the defense is stacked and should be in the top five overall. It won’t be like the late 90’s Broncos with Elway, Sharper, and Davis, but it will be enough to get them a home playoff game.

Kansas City Chiefs (9-7): The Chiefs are a sleeper team right now in the AFC. The addition of Jeremy Maclin will compliment the speed of Jamaal Charles very nicely. Their defense is also very good up front lead by Justin Houston and Dontarie Poe. Also, Eric Berry returning will be an emotional lift and on field. He is one of, if not the best safety in the game. The Chiefs also have one of the best coaches in the game with Andy Reid, that can never go unmentioned.

San Diego Chargers (9-7): When you have an elite quarterback such as Philip Rivers as your starter, you will be able to compete for a playoff chance almost every season. The Chargers drafted Melvin Gordon in the first round of this year’s draft and many believe that he can be the next Jamaal Charles. The defense does not have a ton of talent, but they played very hard and physical last season. That will be essential when going up against divisional opponents such as Kansas City and Denver.

Oakland Raiders (6-10): Last season, the Raiders lost their first ten games of the season. They finished with three wins, and fought hard against almost every team they faced in the last half of the season. They now have Jack Del Rio as a head coach. He has always been known to be able to put together a solid defense. The Oakland defense is swimming with young talent. Offensively, the Derek Carr to Amari Cooper connection is one to keep an eye on in the coming years. Again, another team that may be just a year away.

bradymanning_crop_north

AFC Playoffs:

Wild Card Round: 6. Houston over 3. Denver, 4. Baltimore over 5. Buffalo

Divisional Round: 1. New England over 6. Houston, 4. Baltimore over 2. Indianapolis.

AFC Championship: 4. Baltimore over 1. New England

As a diehard New Englander, this pains me to write. The Patriots somehow managed to stay very healthy, (with the exception of Jerod Mayo) last season. No serious injuries were suffered to Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, or a defensive stars such as Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, or Devin McCourty. It is hard to think that nothing will happen to any of those players this upcoming season. Furthermore, the losses of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington, and Vince Wilfork will be greatly missed in the postseason. In addition, the Ravens have no fear going into Gillette, and this rivalry tends to be back and forth. I hope I am wrong, but as of right now I see the Baltimore Ravens representing the AFC in Super Bowl 50.

FANTASY ALERT: Martavis Bryant to Miss First Four Games

at EverBank Field on August 14, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Gather ‘round kids, it’s story time. Let me tell you a story about a guy who loved to play fantasy football. This guy was in a very high-stakes league, with a lot of money involved. His league-mates were impatient, and loved to have their draft extremely early. So, at the end of July, they drafted. This guy was a very-well prepared fantasy player, and was very happy with his draft. His quarterback was Ben Roethlisberger. Many mocked this selection. He defended it adamantly, believing the Steelers to have the most dynamic offense in the league. The Steelers boast possibly the top back in the league, Le’Veon Bell, who is a dynamic runner who is also arguably the best receiving running back in the NFL. They have Antonio Brown, perhaps the best receiver in the league, who while undersized, is an extremely versatile receiver who can play against all types of coverage. He has the perfect compliment in Martavis Bryant. Bryant was a rookie a year ago, but is the ultimate deep threat, catching eight touchdowns as a rookie and averaging well over 20 yards a catch. This guy also had Bryant on his team, believing he got a steal to put in his flex spot. He sat and laughed as Kelvin Benjamin and Jordy Nelson both suffered season-long injuries. While he felt sorry for the players, he felt it was what his league-mates deserved for rushing the draft. Now karma has struck, and Martavis Bryant will miss the first four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

If you haven’t guessed by now, that guy is me, and I’m still a little sour about it. For a long time now, we knew Le’Veon Bell would not be on the field to start the season. His three game suspension has been reduced to two, however, and it looks like it shouldn’t by too big of a deal for anyone. Now Bryant is out for the same amount of time as Tom Brady, the first quarter of the season. Think about this: on opening night in New England, Le’Veon Bell, Tom Brady, and Martavis Bryant will all be on the sideline. The NFL might think they’re doing what’s best for them, but what they’re really doing is self-inflicting themselves with wounds that will probably drop viewership, and therefore cost them money.

The Bryant suspension is not definite at this point. He is appealing, and as we all know, appeals of NFL suspensions can take forever. Tom Brady appealed in the middle of May, had his appeal hearing at the end of June, and still


it wasn’t ruled on until the end of July. Oh yeah, and the “crime” he’s being punished for occurred in January.

In 2014, there were a multitude of rookie receivers that burst on to the scene. Amidst the rise of Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, and Sammy Watkins, among many others, Bryant kind of got lost in the shuffle. All he did was catch 26 passes for 549 yards, 8 touchdowns, and his deep threat helped open up even more for the already dynamic Antonio Brown. As it stands right now, Bryant will miss games against the Patriots, 49ers, Rams, and Ravens.

Quarterback Michael Vick signs with Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Quarterback Michael Vick last played for the New York Jets.

After a brief stint with the New York Jets, free agent quarterback Michael Vick has signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The deal is for one year, and only worth roughly $1 million.

Vick had was drafted first overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2001 draft, and became a franchise quarterback, leading the team to a conference championship game in 2004. He was released from the team when he was arrested for dogfighting in 2007, and served 21 months in prison followed by 2 months house arrest. He made his return by playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. Vick did lead the Eagles to a playoff spot in 2009 and again in 2010, but never was able to lead them into deep playoff runs or stay healthy and consistent. In 2013 the Eagles chose not to resign Vick, who had been replaced by Nick Foles as starting QB.

Looking like his career may end, Vick was given the gift of a 1 year 5 million dollar contract by the New York Jets in 2014 to mentor the struggling Geno Smith. It proved to be an effort in futility for the Jets, in week 10 Vick was named their starter over Smith, and he pulled off their second win of the season. He had only started three games, and only competed 52.9% of his passes for 604 yards, throwing only for three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Michael Vick’s role with the Steelers is unknown, but it is a given that he is going to be a veteran backup to franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The signing could make sense as the other quarterbacks on the Steelers roster, Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones, are either injured or have yet to prove their worth. Other than being a backup, Vick could provide more versatility when it comes to the possibility of more attempts at two-point conversions, especially with the extra point distance being pushed back.

Vikings v Steelers: Minnesota Leads 7-3 at Half, Bridgewater Finishes 5-for-6 After Playing One Series

Refresh this page for the latest updates, with the most current update at the top of the page! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @PatsGazette!


With the starters long removed from the game, it’s time to wrap up the first Goalline Gazette live-blog. We weren’t able to gather much from the performances of either team tonight, but that’s not what the HOF Game is for. It’s to remind us that football is just around the corner.

With strong performances from Teddy Bridgewater and Dri Archer, both teams have some laurels to rest on.

Minnesota will play the Oakland Raiders on August 22nd in their 2nd preseason game, while Pittsburgh will next see the field against the Green Bay Packers on August 23rd.


9:19 PM – Another close fourth-and-goal, and another attempt. At least pre-season football is good for SOMETHING. Jesse James, no not THAT Jesse James with a dropped pass that would easily gone for a score. Minnesota takes over with less than a minute until half, still up 7-3.

9:18 PM – Trae Waynes with a big penalty, putting the Steelers on the 3-yard line with a 38-yard pass interference penalty. Those arm grabs might miss the eyes of the college officials, but the big dogs in the NFL are going to call those every time.

9:14 PM – Dri Archer seems to have had the best first half for Pittsburgh, flashing some great speed and decent vision. He’s one of those guys that feels thiiiiiiis close to breaking a big one every time he touches the ball. Two minute warning before halftime, with the Steelers looking to put some more digits on the board before half.

  • SCORE ALERT: 7-3 MINNESOTA.

9:06 PM – Less than five minutes until halftime, and we’ve finally got our first big play. Mike Kafka finds MyCole Pruitt for a 34 yd TD. With an 8-play, 81-yard drive that took four minutes off the clock, the Vikings take a 7-3 lead.

9:05 PM – Matt Asiata with a nice 18 yard run. It will be interesting to see how Norv Turner uses Asiata in the offense this year. He seems like he could definitely do some damage to some beat-down defenses in the fourth quarter.

9:02 PM – Patterson with his first catch of the night, off of a screen pass.

  • SCORE ALERT: 3-0 PITTSBURGH.

9:00 PM – It took almost an hour, but Pittsburgh has drawn first blood with a Shaun Suisham field goal. With about nine minutes until halftime, Minnesota has more than enough time to answer before halftime.

8:57 PM – Trae Waynes, the Vikings first round pick in April’s draft, gets toasted on a go-route. Pittsburgh is knocking on the door.

8:51 PM – Ryan Shazier with a nice drive for the Pittsburgh defense. This man can MOVE, people. Minnesota punting one away, the game remains scoreless.

8:46 PM – Gotta admit… Shocking we made it all the way until 12:00 remaining in the second quarter before our first mention of the dreaded Deflategate. It was good while it lasted.

8:45 PM – Looks like Blair Walsh will have to button up some loose ends before week one. Pushed a 48-yarder wide right. Still scoreless in Canton.

8:42 PM – RED ALERT: We have our first Cordarelle Patterson sighting of 2015. Incomplete pass, tipped by Brandon Boykin, but there’s no question the dread-headed receiver was the intended target. Patterson has a chance to haunt every fantasy owner this season (again), or maybe we we’re all a year too early calling his breakout.

8:41 PM – Looks like we might have our first turnover of the pre-season, as Pittsburgh puts one on the carpet. Mike Kafka, the former Eagle, will take over under center for Minnesota. Teddy Time hasn’t been this short since, well, ever.

  • END OF 1st QUARTER 

8:35 PM – After a TO, the black and gold did what Minny couldn’t – convert a 4th-and-1. First quarter will end scoreless.

8:29 PM – Dri Archer hitting some nice holes to pick up a 3rd-and-14 off of a draw play. Remember, Le’Veon Bell will be sitting for the first two games, so these preseason games carry some extra weight for the Pittsburgh backfield. Scampers like that will go a long way to help Archer solidify some footing in that backfield.

Dri Archer

8:26 PM – I just wanted to take a moment to send condolences to the Gifford family. The NFL, the Giants organization, and the sport of football itself lost a legend.

8:22 PM – Teddy with the first incompletion of the night, a little bit behind Mike Wallace there. You can believe dude wanted paydirt against PITT. Vikes turn it over on downs, going for it on fourth-and-1. #ItsPreseason

8:19 PM – Bridgewater sensed some good pressure on 2nd and 8, completing a dump pass for some easy yardage. Teddy needs to take some steps forward this year, but his rookie season was about as promising as it can get. Some more of those seven yard scrambles, with the clean slides, and this guy might be a regular Russell Wilson.

8:18 PM EST – Looks like we’ll get a few starters for Minny tonight, with Kyle Rudolph snagging Bridgewater’s first throw. Jerrick McKinnon, a fantasy darling from last year, takes one up the gut.

8:15 PM EST – It’s been so long since we’ve some football that even the referees are a welcome sight. Pittsburgh can’t do much on the opening possesion, but that means it’s… #TEDDYTIME!

8:11 PM EST – Looks like we’ll be seeing Pittsburgh take the ball first. No Big Ben tonight, so we’ll be seeing LOTS of Landry Jones, and as a Sooners fan, I’m A-OK seeing what the young kid’s got.

8:07 PM EST – The companionship of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth rivals that of peanut butter and jelly. It’s just… So perfect. The second I hear the NFL Network announcers for the first time this year, I will be reminded of this very fact.

8:04 PM EST – Hello! This should be a fun experience for all of us, with our first live blog, covering the HOF game! Let’s get the inductee’s out here, and kick this thing off!


It seems like virtually forever since live, NFL football graced our television screens. Well gather, my children of the desert, and drink from the pool that is… LIVE. NFL. ACTION.

Okay, okay, it is just the Hall of Fame game, but at this point, it’s a beacon of things to come, and another benchmark met on our way to what we all truly long for: week one of the 2015-2016 NFL season.

The Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers will kick off the action tonight, at Tom Benson Stadium, in picturesque Canton, OH at 8 p.m. on NBC. I’ll be right here, to update the action as it happens, with some Twitter chatter, some NFL talk, and hopefully a few big plays that can get us even more antsy for September.

Ya know, if that’s even possible.

But first, here are a few things to keep in mind before kick-off.

Pre Game Notes

Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin has let it out that almost anyone who could possibly do something exciting, wouldn’t be playing. Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell, Heath Miller and Antonio Brown will all hang out with the towel boys, and James Harrison will let the Martavis Bryantrest of the Pittsburgh defense take care of the Vikes, as he too will sit this one out.

Thankfully, this leaves second year wideout Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant to duke it out to see who might hold some fantasy football relevance going forward. Or, it would’ve, if Bryant wasn’t iffy too. Yeesh.

Ok, so, Landry Jones to Markus Wheaton all night? Could be worse, I suppose.`

On the Vikings side of the field, a lot less is known. Coach Mike Zimmer has yet to specify which of his starters will be playing, or how long they’ll see the field this evening. Well, Coach, thanks for the insight.

Regardless of Zimmer’s espionage attempt, I expect second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to see at least a drive, with his new weapon, and former Steeler, Mike Wallace in tow.

As for Adrian Peterson, don’t expect the polarizing running back to see the field tonight. Peterson hasn’t taken a preseason snap since 2010.

NFL News Dump: Bell’s Suspension Reduced at Same Time Brady’s is Not

Over the last hour, the NFL pulled off perhaps the most impressive news dump. As they announced they were upholding the four-game suspension of legendary quarterback Tom Brady, they slipped in another story about Steeler’s running back Le’Veon Bell.

461085224-leveon-bell-of-the-pittsburgh-steelers-plays-gettyimages

The third-year running back was charged with a DUI and marijuana possession in August of last year. The NFL suspended Bell for three games, and Bell appealed. The league finally ruled on Bell’s appeal today, reducing the suspension from three games to two. Bell’s attorneys argued that he was being suspended based on the new drug policy, when the infraction occurred during the old one.

The suspension ensures that Bell will miss opening night in New England and week 2 against San Francisco. Also absent week 1 will be Tom Brady, as it stands, making for an interesting opening night of the NFL season.

Bell will be a central part of what could be the best offense in the NFL this season. The running back burst onto the scene last year, amassing 1361 yards on the ground and another 854 as a receiver. Bell, along with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receivers Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, and tight end Heath Miller, make up perhaps the most impressive band of skill position players in the league.

With Bell’s suspension looming, the Steelers signed D’Angelo Williams to add depth to their backfield. Thank goodness the team had more time to come up with a backup plan this year, as they failed miserably last year. Le’Veon Bell was injured in the final regular season game a year ago, and that forced him to miss Pittsburgh’s playoff game against the Ravens. The Steelers panicked and signed free agent running back Ben Tate during the week leading up to the game. Tate combined with Josh Harris and Dri Archer to form a far from formidable Steelers backfield, and those three combined for a measly 43 yards on just 15 carries.

The St. Louis Rams are the big losers in this, as they face off against the Steelers in week 3. Bell goes into the season as arguably the best running back in the NFL, both as a runner and as a receiver out of the backfield.