Tag Archives: Troy Polamalu

Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl Preview

Nothing is more daunting than a lifetime Bears fan and franchise-long Ravens fan attending the carving up of Super Bowl assignments at GASB headquarters.

In short: which No. 1 hated division rival would you like to analyze and assess more? Thankfully, GASB will always love the game much more than we hate our mortal enemies, so let’s take a hard look at the Pittsburgh Steelers, inarguably one of the greatest franchises in NFL history.

Pittsburgh comes into this game as the only franchise with six previous Super Bowl victories and the only franchise to have won eight AFC Championship Games. This means that in seven prior Super Bowl appearances, the team has only been defeated once.


If it weren’t for loyalties elsewhere, the Pittsburgh Steelers are precisely the type of organization that GASB loves and they certainly run the type of system that other teams around the league should certainly aspire toward both on the field and in the front offices.

Consider that this particular team is still owned and run by the Rooney Family (since 1933) and has tenured a mere THREE head coaches in the modern Super Bowl era.

Rather than take impulsive mulligans or “adapt” to the more corporate Snyder/Jones one-and-done style of modern front office and personal changes, the Steelers get their men and stand by their men.

They consistently build immense teams via the draft and grow their players in a uniquely Steelers system from the ground up. The loyalty pays off: Chuck Noll delivered four rings, Bill Cowher delivered one and Mike Tomlin matched it a mere three years later and is sitting on the doorstep yet again.

One would be hard pressed to find a team with as much talent in the office as on the field, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are unquestionably that team. And as with every Sunday, it will ultimately come down to the men standing on the field executing what they’ve been drilled on since OTA’s and mini camp the preceding summer.

Let’s examine who’s coming charging out of the tunnel.

Quarterback: Love him or hate him, “Big” Ben Roethlisberger is unquestionably in the top three realm of modern quarterbacks.

If we’re talking about one game for all the marbles, Big Ben is right up there with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. All three have demonstrated what it is to be clutch when it counts the absolute most. What makes the Steelers’ quarterback position so terrifying for Green Bay and Packer fans everywhere in this matchup is that they are facing an especially dangerous Roethlisberger coming out of the story arc that was the 2010 season.


Forced to sit for four games (reduced from six) at the front end of the schedule for particularly a scandalous and alarming pattern of offseason misconduct, Ben was faced with a simple choice: shape up now or suffer the fate of former teammate Santonio Holmes (traded to the Jets after a nightclub incident).

Accordingly, Roethlisberger focused in on the difficult road to redemption before him and made massive strides. He recommitted himself to the game and, upon reinstatement, went out to light it up like a man literally playing for his life.

Roethlisberger 3.0 was an absolute monster during the remaining 2010 regular season and playoffs.

His mental and physical toughness were unparalleled while stacked AFC defenses tried to simply break him in all facets from week to week. They smashed and broke his nose across his face. He stayed in. They nearly snapped his ankle. He put a boot on and ran right back out onto the field.

He threw for over 3,000 yards in 12 games, he lowered his head and picked up first downs and touchdowns at will and, while unquantifiable on a stat sheet, he seemed much wiser in his trademark gambling methodology of navigating the pocket.

Yes, Ben Roethlisberger holds onto the ball longer than any QB in the league. This has not changed. What has changed is that he’s seeing the peripheral landscape better and creating many more offensive opportunities than ever in doing so.

Nobody wants this game more than Big Ben. You could argue that nobody needs this game more than Big Ben.

This is an entirely frightening premise if you’re Dom Capers on the Packers sideline.

Offensive Line: Of note and of great significance: reports have emerged that starting rookie center Maurkice Pouncey will not play in Sunday’s showdown due to an ankle injury suffered in the AFC Championship Game.

He remains listed as “questionable” as of press time. This is a massive blow to the Steelers and will absolutely be a major factor heading in. Pouncey put forth a Pro Bowl effort in 2010 and certainly demonstrated what a modern center in the league CAN be. Doug Legursky has been tapped to step in.

His reward? BJ Raji staring him down from across the line. To quote a legendary canine cartoon, “ZOINKS!”


The good news? The Steelers are absolutely stacked with grizzled and energized veterans on the left and right sides.

Jonathan Scott, Chris Kemoeatu, and Flozell Adams are household names for a reason. Second-year right guard Ramon Foster is quickly proving himself and earning his keep with the big boys. So while Legursky has his work cut out for him, expect more than a little help from his not-so-little friends.

Anticipate a showdown of epic proportions as the Packers send Cullen Jenkins and Clay Matthews slamming into these Steeler workhorses.

Running Backs: Now in his third season, Rashard Mendenhall has proven yet again that the Steelers know how to draft. Plucked straight from the Big Ten and thrust immediately into the Super Bowl season of 2008, No. 34 was forced to learn the system immediately and be ready when his number was called.

He responded with a 2009 that saw him break 1,000 yards on the ground while stepping into that every-QBs-best-friend role of hovering just outside of the pocket on pass plays for the last option dump off pass. In 2010, he showed improvement across the board — making a case for elite status.

Look for entirely solid and potentially game-breaking plays from Mendenhall under the big lights. Do not count on costly mistakes: Mendenhall only put the ball on the ground twice this season.


Fullback David Johnson will have his work cut out for him alternating between trying to shore up the Pouncey-free line and creating lanes for Mendenhall to bust through.

As he’s proven in the last two seasons, he is ready, willing, and able to do just that when called upon.

Other than that, look for Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman to see some snaps and give Big Ben some options if Matthews and Jenkins manage to get past the O-Line quicker than anticipated.

Tight End: Simply put, Heath Miller is your prototypical AFC North tight end.

Deftly skilled at both blocking and receiving, look for the Steelers to call upon No. 83 in any scenario where the chips are down. His field vision will enable him to pick up and thwart oncoming defenders and, if Charles Woodson plugs up the deep threat, Miller is not afraid to run a route across the middle on any third-down situation.

With a weakened line, Heath will absolutely need to be on point on every down he plays. Count on it. Beyond No. 83, the Steelers could not ask for a better number two guy than Matt Spaeth.

Set your watch to both men executing their assignments with ferocity.

Wide Receivers: Once again, the Steelers prove that they are top-tier genius status when it comes to drafting correctly.

Hines Ward is now in his thirteenth year with the team and is still one of the most explosive and game-breaking receivers in big game situations. He simply grins in the face of opposing defenses as he’s breaking their backs with clutch catch after catch.


Those unfamiliar with the Steelers’ 2010 season might look at the stat line and surmise that No. 86 had a down year. That’s not the case when you factor in Roethlisberger’s newest toy at the No. 2 spot: another draft pick turned gold in second-year man Mike Wallace.

Accounting for over 1,250 yards and 10 TD’s in year two? Welcome to prime time, youngster.

After the monster season Wallace enjoyed, look for him to shine and truly make a name for himself in front of the biggest viewing audience of the year (perhaps all-time).

The Steelers are as balanced as ever at this position and the war chest runs deep receiver-wise. If Hines gets stymied, Monday morning water cooler talk could be all about the rise of the “Young Money Fellas” (more later).

Defensive Line: The Steelers continue to run a 3-4 defense, so look for the 920-pound three-headed dog-from-hell also known as Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, and Casey Hampton to put constant pressure on the Packers and Rodgers.

Ziggy’s had a bit of a breakout year in only his second year in the league, so definitely keep your eye on him with each snap. It looks like Aaron Smith will not be available for the game, so the Steelers will have to count on Chris Hoke and Nick Eason for support behind the starting three.

GASB expects some major disruptions at the hands of the D line versus the Pack. The timing of these disruptions and how Rodgers adjusts and handles pressure from all sides will be a huge determining factor in this game. Rodgers has seen some exotic blitzes during the course of the season. On Sunday, he will literally see the best the league has to offer.

Linebackers: As we take a peak over the front three, we’re beginning to become a little terrified for Aaron Rodgers and James Starks. Let’s say the Pack pitches a perfect game versus Keisel, Hood, and Hampton. Okay, then what the hell do you do with “LIGHTS OUT. NO SERIOUSLY, LIGHTS OUT” James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, James Farrior, and LeMarr Woodley wanting to decapitate any and every man attempting to advance the football past them?


GASB would prefer to go to any California State Penitentiary wearing nothing but assless chaps for a day than be asked to stave off the homicidal maniacs that comprise the modern day Steel Curtain for even a single down.

Put it down: all four of these men are going to put their mark on this game. There is not an offensive scheme on the planet that can keep these four from feasting at will. They are going to get to you and they are going to make your internal organs scream. The only way to address the linebacking corps of the Steelers is to attempt to keep their big plays manageable within the context of the entire offensive attack.

In this regard, The Packers will need to hone in on a perfectly balanced attack of both the run and the pass, as we now enter into the third and near-inpenatrable component of the Steelers D.

Secondary: With such a formidable front line and linebacking corps, sometimes the only possible solution is to take your chances on the secondary. Not with the Steelers, man.

You know you’re in deep, deep trouble when the STRONG SAFETY for the other team has more national endorsements than your starting franchise quarterback.

Simply put, you can try testing Troy Polamalu, but he’s going to eat your lunch more often than not. It’s not a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of “how many times?”
How many times are you going to issue a death sentence to your own tight end or receiver by trying to pick up yardage in the middle?


How many times is one of those 300-pound giants going to bat a ball up into the air only to see it come down into the hands and fleet-footed blur of hair and black and gold?

And that’s just Polamalu’s impact.
Have you SEEN Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor give interviews lately? Could there be a more cold-blooded, Secret Service-level of assuredness and confidence coming from two men?

GASB thinks not. We’re talking about two men in their athletic primes (nine years in the league for Clark, eight for Taylor) realizing that the window is closing on another ring and wanting absolutely nothing more in present tense. Expect athletic brilliance from both, with Clark making savant-like freelancing decisions and Taylor blanketing all assignments.

If all else fails and Rodgers looks left for intermediate, manageable gains, expect no mercy. Bryant McFadden will be watching. Waiting. Studying. He’s already looked over every tape of every tendency Rodgers has shown in his entire career. He knows how to tackle in the open field (2010 marked a career high 74 solo tackles). He’s absolutely going to get there and, if he sees something he recognizes, it’s going to make for a long day for the men in yellow and green.

Special Teams: This is the one area where the Steelers aren’t exactly as superhuman as the other facets of the game.

Punter Jeremy Kapinos, in spite of being a Penn Stater, hasn’t exactly had the most solid NFL career to date. Four different teams in as many years, and just not many reps. He came over to the Steelers in week eight of the 2010 season and didn’t see consistent action until week fourteen, where he slid into the starter role.

With the exception of a rough game versus the Jets in week fifteen, he’s been “okay” for the Steelers. If SB XLV turns out to be the defensive war it has all the potential to be, field position will be at a premium and Mr. Kapinos will need to back up his Nittany Lion pedigree by putting it back long and in the corner.

Placekicker Shaun Suisham scares the bejeezus out of GASB if this game indeed comes down to defense and field goals. GASB spends a lot of time in the greater Washington, DC metro area, where Suisham was run out of town at the behest of a rather angry pitchfork and torch-wielding mob of Redskins faithful.

While he’s shown decent acumen in his seven-game run this season with the Steelers, history dictates that at some point Shaun Suisham will become Shaun Suisham. For the sake of the biggest game of the year, we sincerely hope it’s not this Sunday.

Finally, in the latter half of the season, the Steelers discovered big-play ability in a young rookie named Antonio Brown. It began with a game-winning dagger of a catch versus GASB’s beloved Ravens and simply did not end there. Accordingly, the Steelers have put 1/3 of the “Young Money Fellas” (the other two being fellow WR’s Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders) back for both kick and punt returns on top of what is quickly becoming his “late-game heroic” status in the offense.

The hope is that his explosiveness and excitement-raising style of play will energize the offense and Terrible Towel-wavers alike heading into each and every series.  We anticipate Brown to deliver at some point, likely when it matters most (think Santonio Holmes in their last SB appearance).


Side note on Antonio Brown: If you’re looking for a Michael Oher Blind Side-esque backstory to get behind and really pull for for this weekend, GASB highly recommends looking into No. 84’s rise to the NFL. It’s the classic narrative of daunting, oppressively hard times failing to break a human spirit driven to compete at the highest level.

Super Bowl XLV has all of the makings of a game for the ages and this writer wishes a sincerely fantastic and fun-filled viewing experience to everyone in GASB-nation.

– Brent Eyestone


NFL Week 10 picks and predictions

Lots to get to this week, I’ll save you some time and cut the intro here. I turned it around last week, going 10-3 to push me to 84-45 on the season.

On with the show…

Chicago (4-4) @ San Francisco (3-5):

Most of the chatter for this game stems from Vernon Davis’ comments that the 49ers are going to “shred” the Chicago defense.

Swiss Cheese


With the miniatures on the Midway giving up over 24 points per game, it’s hard to argue against Davis’ braggadocio — Chicago looks toothless right now. Only two Bears — Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye — have registered more than one sack and the team has just eight total interceptions. Because Chicago isn’t winning the turnover battle and its not winning the line of scrimmage battle, it’s particularly susceptible to a run-first team like San Francisco.

Frank Gore is running for 5.6 yards per carry and with Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree giving the ‘Niners a vertical passing threat, the Bears can’t key in on either.

San Fran keeps its playoff aspirations alive with a big win at home.

JORDAN SAYS: 49ers 26, Bears 13


New Orleans (8-0) @ St. Louis (1-7):

GASB’s “St. Louis is a UFL team, right? Wait, they’re not?” game of the week!

JORDAN SAYS: Saints 44, Rams 3


Tampa Bay (1-7) @ Miami (3-5):

The Buccaneers provided the NFL’s feel-good win of the season b y channeling the ghost of creamsicles past to beat the Green Bay Packers, but it’s back to reality in Week 10 against a Miami Dolphins team that could easily be 6-2 instead of 3-5.

Rookie quarterback Josh Freeman had a remarkable day for Tampa under the circumstances — no wide receivers, no run game and no offensive line — but the test will be in his ability to repeat that performance. Miami ranks 26th in the league in points per game allowed, so he’ll have his chances.

As will Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown.



The wildcat has been stifled in consecutive weeks, but Tampa Bay has the third-worst run defense in the league. If Miami can neutralize the ever-present Barrett Ruud, it’ll pull one game closer to .500.

JORDAN SAYS: Dolphins 23, Buccaneers 10


Detroit (1-7) @ Minnesota (7-1):

There’s no way around it; Minnesota is too much for Detroit.

Too much speed, too much Adrian Peterson, too much Brett Favre, too much Jared Allen, too much Wall-o-Williams. Just too much.

And I’ll give the Lions even enough credit to say this would be a different conversation if they weren’t so damn banged-up, but without quarterback Matthew Stafford and linebackers Larry Foote and Ernie Sims (none of the three have practiced this week) the chance of this being so much as competitive is somewhere between an ice cube’s chance in hell and non-existent.

JORDAN SAYS: Vikings 30, Lions 9


Buffalo (3-5) @ Tennessee (2-6):

I could make a fairly long list of reasons that the Bills won’t win this game, including such gems as:

  • Jairus Byrd can (unfortunately) only play one position on the Bills’ defense.
  • Vince Young’s early returns are overwhelmingly positive; from his poise in the pocket to touch on passes, he looks like a new man.
  • Dick Jauron still coaches the Bills.
  • Haywood Jeffries could do a better job at wide receiver than Terrell Owens right now.
  • Dick Jauron still coaches the Bills.

But it comes down to two simple, indisputable truths: Chris Johnson is the league’s leading rusher through nine weeks and Buffalo has the league’s worst run defense.


JORDAN SAYS: Titans 28, Bills 12


Jacksonville (4-4) @ NY Jets (4-4):

I wonder if Las Vegas even bothers putting a line on Jaguars games anymore. Your odds are better at a roulette wheel than picking for or against Jacksonville — I don’t think I’ve done it correctly once this year.

This week’s matchup isn’t any more clear-cut than the previous eight.

The Jets are coming off a bye after trouncing the Oakland Raiders, and the Jaguars are coming off a three-point win over the Chiefs.

You know what? Screw it. I don’t know. It’s the Jaguars, I have no idea. None.

JORDAN SAYS: Jets 21, Jaguars 16


Cincinnati (6-2) @ Pittsburgh (6-2):

Raise your hand if you thought a mid-season game between the Steelers and Bengals was going to decide the AFC North.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait.Ocho Cinco sign

That’s precisely the situation both teams find themselves in, though, with the Bengals already owning a sweep of the Ravens and a victory over the Steelers. So the question becomes, who is it more important to? Is it more important for the Steelers to stave off a sweep, or more important for the Bengals to make a statement?

The teams are strikingly similar — Cincinnati is fifth in points per game allowed, Pittsburgh sixth. Pittsburgh is 13th in points per game scored, Cincinnati 16th. Both teams boast franchise quarterbacks, receiving targets a-plenty and power run games. Both teams have ferocious defensive lines and hard-hitting linebackers.

The game breaker, as he often is, will be Troy Polamalu. The Bengals have no player to mirror the long-haired safety and nobody to match his leadership. In what will be a close game that could later decide the division, Polamalu is the difference-maker.

Or, in the immortal words of the always poignant Dan Dierdorf: “Troy Polamalu is a football player.”

JORDAN SAYS: Steelers 27, Bengals 23


Denver (6-2) @ Washington (2-6):

Some have been quick to write off the upstart Broncos in the wake of back-to-back losses.

But realistically, there’s no shame in dropping a pair of contests to the Ravens and Steelers, and they have all the chance in the world to regain their momentum against a Redskins team still looking for its first victory over a non-winless opponent.

A Redskins team that will be without the services of Clinton Portis, no less.

As I’ve said since the beginning of the year, the way to beat Denver — the way Baltimore and Pittsburgh did — is to get an early lead of two scores or more. A Kyle Orton-quarterbacked team is not a team that is built to play from behind. Orton is one of the best in the game at efficient, short-to-mid-range passes, it’s when he has to routinely go long that he’s picked off as the Steelers took advantage of last week.

It won’t be an issue in Washington; the Redskins have scored just 113 points all year.

JORDAN SAYS: Broncos 33, Redskins 14


Atlanta (5-3) @ Carolina (3-5):

Another thing I’ve been saying all year (god damn right I’ll toot my own horn) is that Carolina is plenty capable of being a 10 or 11-win team so long as it follows a simple formula — less than 20 pass attempts per game by Jake Delhomme and at least 20 rush attempts by DeAngelo Williams.

Surprise, surprise in their last two victories, Delhomme has thrown for less than 100 yards and Williams has run for over 150. In their last two losses, Delhomme has thrown for over 200. Not a coincidence.

DeAngelo Williams


And it should be a relatively easy game plan to stick to against a Falcons squad allowing just shy of 120 rush yards per game.

That still might not be enough to secure a win, though, because Atlanta is an offensively explosive team that has finally got Michael Turner running to 2008’s level. Both teams should be using their feature backs to open up play action down the field, with the Falcons getting the edge through the air because unlike his counterpart, Matt Ryan has more touchdown passes to his own team than the opposition.

JORDAN SAYS: Falcons 21, Panthers 19


Kansas City (1-7) @ Oakland (2-6):

The only reason this one isn’t called the Toilet Bowl is because of the Rams/Lions game last week that beat it to the punch. I think you’ll all forgive me for not wasting my time here.

JORDAN SAYS: Chiefs 17, Raiders 6


Seattle (3-5) @ Arizona (5-3):

You could pretty much copy and paste my paragraph about the Jacksonville Jagaurs and sub Kurt Warner’s name in a la Mad Libs.

Five interceptions one week, five touchdowns the next. Such is the life of a forty-something quarterback in the NFL. Jokes aside, that forty-something has the Cardinals playing damn good football lately — winners of four of their last five — and with only one winning team left on the schedule, the playoffs are well within reach again.

Obviously, Warner has his share of weapons in the passing game, but it’s the emergence of Tim “poor man’s Marshall Faulk” Hightower that’s helping this offense move. Despite not posting a single hundred-yard game, Hightower gets the tough yards in short-yardage situations and has been an enormous help in the passing game.

That’s a lot of what separates the Cardinals and Seahawks. Matt Hasselbeck has weapons with T.J. Houshmastyfsfefekjhekvsajb and Nate Burleson, but he lacks the check-down guy that can make things happen in open space. Julius Jones and Edgerrin James have been equally quiet in the run game, and that’ll cost the Seahawks against that stifling front seven.

JORDAN SAYS: Cardinals 29, Seahawks 10


Dallas (6-2) @ Green Bay (4-4):

The classic case of two teams headed in opposite directions.

The Cowboys have found themselves as of late, thanks to Tony Romo’s new-found intelligence in the pocket and the emergence of Miles Austin. Even Roy Williams got in on last week’s action with a handful of targets and solid runs after the catch.

Michael Jenkins Cowboys


The defense is quietly coming on just as strong.

As a unit, they’re seventh in points per game allowed, but its individual performers that are shining through. Cornerback Michael Jenkins has been a terror to opposing wideouts and Terrence Newman has been equally adept with one pick and a team-high nine passed defensed.

Here’s why that’s important: Aaron Rodgers is a glorified crash test dummy behind an offensive line missing both starting tackles. They can’t pass block, they can’t run block, they.. you know, I don’t know what that line can do. Collect paychecks they don’t deserve, maybe.

Rodgers has been sacked 37 times through eight games; the second most sacked QB, Matt Cassel, has only been dumped 27 times. So while Rodgers has one of the best receiving tandems in the league and a solid defense to get him the ball back, he simply doesn’t have time to do anything with it. With the Cowboys blanketing Greg Jennings and Donald Driver downfield, pencil Rodgers in for at least another four sacks.

Music to Demarcus Ware’s ears.

JORDAN SAYS: Cowboys 23, Packers 17


Philadelphia (5-3) @ San Diego (5-3):

I often wonder how the Philadelphia Eagles would look if somebody besides Andy Reid was coach.

If they had competent play calls on third-and-1, or in any sort of fourth-down situations. Alas, that’s not the case, and it’s cost the Eagles two games already this year.

Granted, Donovan McNabb’s piss-poor outing last week didn’t help matters.. but don’t expect him to have that kind of outing again, even against a much-improved San Diego pass defense. Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin have to get into the game early to open up the run game for LeSean McCoy since Westbrook’s status for Sunday is uncertain.

The Chargers’ game plan is simple — Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson. Again, and again, and again until Philadelphia can stop it, if at all.

JORDAN SAYS: Chargers 24, Eagles 23


New England (6-2) at Indianapolis (8-0):

I’ll just assume nobody cares about this matchup and move on.

Now with that bad joke out of the way, we can get down to what’s become the most anticipated regular-season matchup of each season. Conference power vs. Conference power. Brady vs. Manning. Offense vs. Offense.

Peyton Manning 3


I could rattle off every statistic or ranking in the book, but the simple truth is it usually comes down to who has the ball last and which defense comes up with the one big play to swing the momentum. Without usuals Bob Sanders, Rodney Harrison and Mike Vrabel for this go-round, it’s up to somebody new to make their mark in this historic series.

Its up to Manning and Brady to provide some last-minute heroics on the requisite two-minute drill.

And it’s up to the rest of us to sit back and enjoy watching two of the best to ever do it.

JORDAN SAYS: Colts 21, Patriots 20


Baltimore (4-4) @ Cleveland (1-7):

Baltimore is three plays away from 7-1 and it knows it. The NFL isn’t about could-be’s or maybe situations, though. It’s a results-oriented league and the Ravens aren’t delivering them.

That is until the Cleveland “wait, how did they win a game again?” Browns line up across the field.

Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, Tim Couch, Bernie Kosar — it doesn’t matter who’s at the helm for this team, they can’t move the football on the air or the ground and they can’t stop it either.

Sometimes, it’s that simple.

JORDAN SAYS: Ravens 32, Browns 0


BYE: New York Giants, Houston.

– Jordan Rogowski