This is why you can’t have nice things…
The Pittsburgh Steelers laid a 35-3 beatdown on the outclassed Oakland Raiders yesterday afternoon. However, instead of talking about the Black and Gold’s finest effort of the season, we’ll probably spend the week discussing the pathetic events which occurred between plays. This game was a travesty, a sham, a complete mockery of what we as NFL fans expect. And I hold Roger Goodell, the NFL, and the Raiders responsible for this utter travashamockery of football.
We should probably begin with Raiders DT and lead thug Richard Seymour, who sucker punched Ben Roethlisberger after a 22 yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders. Seymour was ejected for his Rampage Jackson-style right cross but that is not enough. This was a criminal act the likes of which I have never seen on an NFL field. The Ginger Dictator loves fining players for legal yet vicious hits in the name of protecting their safety. How safe is it when you have goons like Seymour physically assaulting defenseless men after a play?
Seymour should not only face the stiffest fine ever levied but suspended for 2 to 3 games for his reprehensible actions. In fact, I DEMAND IT.
As if the lousy sportsmanship wasn’t bad enough, the officials did everything in their power to ruin the game. The Steelers set a team record with 14 penalties for 163 yards. The Raiders as a team only had 182 yards TOTAL. Ordinarily, I’d lay blame for this fiasco on the players and Mike Tomlin. But I really have nothing to admonish them for since only about half those calls were legitimate fouls.
There’s a phenomenon known locally as Pittsburgh Paranoia. It’s a feeling Pittsburgh sports fans have where they constantly feel leagues, networks, and especially the media either ignore or attempt to diminish our teams. Usually I laugh at these conspiracy nuts even though there is a kernel of truth to their argument. However, after yesterday, I’m fully on board with anybody who wants to argue the NFL is attempting to sabotage the Steelers.
Even now, some 12 hours later, I can feel myself slipping into a boiling rage over the grossly inept display of officiating. The Steelers were called for two personal fouls on absolutely clean sacks, one of which negated a pick-six. James Harrison, after clocking Jason Campbell, was flagged for coming down “with his full weight on the QB.” So that’s a penalty now? What about 3/4 body weight? Or 1/5? How much weight is permitted to touch a precious QB before a flag is thrown in this increasingly pussified game of football? It was a form-perfect hit. What’s he supposed to do?
The Ginger Dictator should just issue a press release saying, “James Harrison is no longer permitted to touch any quarterbacks under penalty of fine and/or personal foul. Sorry, I just don’t like him or the Steelers. In fact, if he scowls at the QB in a threatening manner, I may penalize that, too.” It’s pathetic.
When the Steelers weren’t being called for phantom personal fouls, they were getting flagged for phantom pass interferences. Ike Taylor, who was the man denied his pick-six, got flagged for PI on a ball that overshot the receiver by about 20 yards. I could go on and on and on but I don’t know what to say. This was the most atrociously refereed football game I’ve ever seen. The league should be embarrassed.
Let’s talk some positives. Sean Kugler continues to work miracles with the offensive line. The starting group of Flo-Foster (starting for a benched Trai Essex)-Pouncey-Kemo-Scott was fairly impressive, keeping Ben clean and providing a nice pocket. Meanwhile, the vaunted run D the mouthbreathers from Oakland who invaded my blog raved about was getting gashed until injuries to our already banged up O-line started piling up. If this group can get healthy come playoff time, we might have something. That’s a big IF, though, as Scott and Kemo were both hobbled leading to super-sub Essex entering at various points. Then there was Pouncey, who was replaced by Legursky after re-injuring his gimpy knee early in the second half.
Big Ben was brilliant. Of course, a late scratch of Raiders star CB Nnamdi Asomugha helped. But this was the Ben we expected once he returned from his unfair uncalled for suspension. Quick, decisive, and pinpoint accurate, the offense was firing on all cylinders after a few rough drives to start the game. Ben completed 18/29 for 275 with 3 passing TDs and one 16 yard TD scramble. I particularly enjoyed the 16 yard FU touchdown to Issac Redman with a little over a minute left in the game.
What was most impressive about the passing game was the variety of targets utilized in the attack. Ben hit eight different receivers, six of whom had multiple catches. Naturally, Mike Wallace had the big game (3 catches but 116 yards! 52 of which came on his lone TD.) but rookies Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders (whose leaping 22 yard TD catch was sweet) finally made some plays. Hines and Heath were dependable safety valves, as usual.
On the flip side, the run defense was fantastic. They held the Raiders to only 61 total yards on the ground, lowering their yearly yards against average yet again. At the rate they’re going, this may end up being statistically the best rush defense in NFL HISTORY. Harrison, when he wasn’t being unfairly persecuted, had a monster game, posting five tackles, two sacks, picking off a pass and forcing a fumble. Ike Taylor also forced a fumble in addition to the pick-six he was denied.
Shaun Suisham made all his extra points so I have nothing to comment on in that regard. Got a good laugh at the crowd roaring on his first PAT. Enjoy the love while you can, Suissy. We’ll be ready to run you out of town as soon as you shank a 35 yarder with the Steelers up by 20 in the fourth quarter.
I’m torn on what to take from this game. There is the positive of our team playing tremendously on both sides of the ball which is negated by the fact the Raiders are a pathetic team. I’m sorry, I truly gave them too much credit in my preview as it’s clear they beat up on a bunch of bottom-feeders and in reality aren’t in the same class as the league’s top tier teams. Then we have the positive of being able to wash the taste from last week’s debacle out of our mouths. Which is countered by this game being a debacle of a different sort, albeit one which ended well. I guess at the end of the day that’s all that matters.
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