Tag:Indianapolis Colts
Posted on: November 10, 2008 5:49 am

No Divine Grace This Game

On a wing and a prayer.  Isn’t that what most Hail Mary passes are, throw it up there and hope for divine intervention to come your way and get it in the hands of your receiver in the end zone?  Make no mistake, there were two receivers there, there were more defenders there though.  So here was the prayer, that there would be a tip, another one of several that would go in favor of the offense, just one more and the results would have been different.  If there was divine intervention, it wasn’t going to be on the behalf of the Steelers this game.

We could play the “if” game all day.  If Ben hadn’t thrown two interceptions giving the Colts offense great field position, then the Colts would probably have not been able to drive down the field to get the scores on the turnovers.  If Moore hadn’t been stopped at the goal line by Eric Foster, then it would have been a tie game.  If Leftwich had played instead of Ben.  So many ifs.  However, if’s are fantasies, questions that will never be answered, because that’s not the way that it happened.  If’s don’t win or lose football games, only what occurs at the moment.

At the moment it was two interceptions on Ben Roethlisberger that ultimately cost the Steelers the game.  A third and two deep pass to Holmes that should have never been called, let alone thrown.  Then another to Holmes, which could have gone either way, given that they were second and thirteen.  However, against an offense like the Colts, you cannot lose the turnover battle and expect to walk away unscathed.  Especially since the Colts have one of the top five passing defenses in the league at the moment.    No matter how poorly one thought the Colts were performing during the season, one could not deny they still had the weapons in place to light it up.  And when given the opportunity, Peyton Manning showed that the “old” Colts offense still existed.  We were still waiting for the “old” Steelers offense to emerge.  Somehow, it never seemed to completely happen.

Yet the Steelers defense continued to be the strong defense we know it to be.  Despite two tipped passes to Reggie Wayne, it could have been worse, much, much, worse.  Yeah, they got lucky on two deep passes to Marvin Harrison that didn’t pan out.  However, they disrupted Manning enough to only allow him to complete a little over half of his passes.  Sadly, for Steelers fans, it’s the completed ones that hurt. 

In the end though, it would be the Colts defense that made the difference in this game.  It was the interceptions by Ratliff and Jennings that would take away the Steelers momentum and the final one by Bullitt, drove the nail in their coffin.  It would be the pressure that the defense was bringing that would force Ben to make some bad, quick decisions.  And somehow, the Colts suspect run defense became less suspect to stop the Steelers running game.
Posted on: November 9, 2008 5:21 am

My Game of the Year

It's finally here, the Sunday I waited two years to watch.  It was the one game that I had contemplated getting tickets and driving to Pittsburgh to see.  It's the game that I got all excited about when I saw the Colts on the Steelers schedule, and at Heinz Field, no less.  I talked about it in pre-season, I mentioned it during the regular season and at 2 am this morning I was talking about this game.  I could say that I was excited because I wanted to see how the Steelers running game would excel against a questionable rush defense, or how the Steelers corners would react to the offensive weapons of Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.  I could say it's about matchups, but to be honest, this is the game of the year because...well, my husband is a Colts fan. 

So this morning, in the darkness, while we were watching the NFL Network and various shows talking about the Colts/Steelers matchup, my husband muttered "this is going to be ugly" and "I'm going to have to hear about it for the next two years".   Of course my response was filled with humility...not...instead of being sympathetic, I couldn't resist coming back with "yeah, with Marlin Jackson being out, Moore's going to run all over your butt".  Only a heavy sigh in response.  But was there an inaudible mumble about how he was waiting to see Ike Taylor eating Marvin Harrison's dust?  Okay, so it tends to be fun in our household. 

Alright, I'd really believe that the Steelers would have the ability to run the ball up and down the field against a run-suspect defense, if Bob Sanders were out.  Unfortunately for the Steelers, Sanders is playing so it's not going to be as easy as one might think.  In eight games the Colts have given up 1149 yards on the ground, however, Sanders  

Not only will the Steelers offense have to deal with Sanders, but there's the Freeney/Mathis factors.  Two defensive ends that have made their careers in their ability to get off the line quickly and get to the quarterback.  Given Ben's propensity for holding the ball too long and the questionable oline, the Steelers offense will have to hide that bullseye on the chest of whoever the Steelers deem to be their quarterback, whether it's Roethlisberger or Leftwich.

Steelers defense doesn't exactly have an easy job in front of them either.  Peyton Manning just has too many weapons in the form of Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez and Marvin Harrison, not to mention Dallas Clark, and still has the ability to be lethal in the air.  Add Rhodes and Addai and well, it could be a long day for the Steelers defense, but I see the number one defense in the NFL being disruptive against the high powered offense of the Colts.  An added plus is the return of Safety Ryan Clark to the Steelers defense.  The combination of Clark and Polamalu have helped disrupt, or at least keep in check offenses this season.

Pittsburgh is not a kind place for the Colts to play, whether they were in Baltimore or in Indianapolis.  Steelers lead the series 10-1 against the Colts for games played in Pittsburgh.  I don't see this game being kind to them either, especially since the Steelers are looking to maintain their lead in the AFC North, trying to keep the Ravens off their heels.  It also doesn't help the Colts that the Steelers are 5-0 against AFC teams this year either. 

I expect to see some great defense coming out for the Steelers (what can I say, I'm a Steelers homer).  The only question I'm going to really have...Bruce, what do you have plan to ensure that you actually do open up the ground game and keep Mathis and Freeney off of Ben?
Posted on: September 3, 2008 5:48 pm

2008-09 NFL Projections - AFC South - No Surprise

Okay, so this can be addictive.  I can understand why Judge Clark and Pete Prisco do this, despite all the garbage they get from the readers.  But, in truth, it's fun.  Of course, I think I can get away with it because I don't get paid. 

So I've projected the New England Patriots to be the division leader of the AFC East.  I know, a no-brainer there right?  So as I go through the AFC South, I know, I'll have another no-brainer in chosing the Indianapolis Colts as the AFC South's division leader.

Well onto my projection for the AFC South.

#4 - Houston Texans - Although I see them progressing to having a winning season (though they're first lost will come in their season opener), I still see the Texans sitting at last place in the AFC South.  Only because this is one tough division and the Tennessee Titans will have just a tad better season. 

#3 - Tennessee Titans - Vince Young has yet to convince me with his accuracy.  Having been playing for a few years, teams are going to be able to stop a running quarterback and his aerial attack is questionable.  Sorry, before I see the Titans advancing up in the division, Young is going to have to convince me he can throw the ball better.

#2 - Jacksonville Jaguars - Jags are going to be neck and neck with the Colts, and seriously, I see the division going based on a tie breaker, which the Colts will hold.  Garrard shows he will be as consistent as he was last year and has some young weapons to throw to and the beefing up of their defense makes this call a difficult one.  I do see the Jaguars once again holding a wild card slot.

#1 - Indianapolis Colts - No, I didn't say this because my husband is a Colts fan.  Trust me, in this household during football season, gloves are off and the fun begins.  I see the Colts taking the division with a tie breaker against the Jaguars.  Despite Peyton Mannings injury and lack of practice time, it's not going to take anytime for him to get back into the swing.  Even with Jeff Saturday being down for the first few weeks of the season, Manning has the capability of the quick release to make up for the missing center.  Given a healthy Wide Receiver corp and the duo of Joseph Addai and Dominick Rhodes, the offense will be fine.  Colts have also  a beefed up defense and a healthy Bob Sanders, Dwight Freeney and Marlin Jackson

AFC South Division Champions - Indianapolis Colts
Posted on: August 15, 2008 3:58 am
Edited on: August 15, 2008 4:01 am

If You Could Have One Wish, What Would It Be?

It's a classic question, you're walking along a beach and find a bottle with a genie in it. As you pick it up and before you rub it, you start thinking of all the things you can get from it. Unlimited wealth, living forever, a harem of beautiful women for your pleasure. Excited, you begin to rub and the jinn appears, offering you a reward for setting him free from his bottle. That reward is not three, but just one wish, but he cautions you before you wish for unlimited numbers of wishes, that there are conditions. You have one wish, but cannot wish for more wishes or unlimited wealth. You have one wish, what will that wish be?

I've pondered this question from time to time, thinking about what I would wish for. Like many, a million things come to mind. Of course the genie didn't say I couldn't wish for a specific amount of money, so I could wish for 35 million dollars or to be the owner of the winning Powerball ticket. But would I wish for this? Maybe, if it happened on the day I was writing out checks to pay bills, but probably not. I could ask for what I ask for every morning, that I didn't have to go to work, but then I figured, the Jinn would probably age me to 72 so that I would be of age to retire, that would be my luck after all. I could wish for that grass hut on a beach in the Caribbean, but the chances would be I'd be placed there right before a category five hurricane goes through. Of course, I could wish for health and happiness of my family, but that would more then likely be a fleeting wish, since it would be transient.

I could also wish, like this morning, not to be plagued with nightmares or the ability to sleep past 3 or 4 am. Of course, I could wish to take in a Steelers game once in my life or to meet my favorite athlete (of course, I already had the pleasure of having this one granted). However, each time I think of this, what my one wish would be, I always come back to the same answer.

In our closet, four jerseys hang. Two are mine, a Jerome Bettis jersey and a white, number 7, Ben Roethlisberger jersey. The 36 jersey will hang there forever, not to be worn again. The other two belong to my husband. One is a Colt's blue, number 18 jersey and the other, a teal and white number 13 jersey with the name Marino on the back. My wish hinges on one of these jerseys. I look at the 36 jersey and think how nice it would be to have it autographed and placed in a frame, along with a picture I have of a younger me, with a younger Jerome Bettis. Yet, my eyes go back to the teal jersey and I think, this would be my wish, to have Dan Marino sign it, so I can have it framed for my husband. Simple wish, maybe, unless you realize what something like this would mean to my husband.

Brian Burghduf had a simple wish, to talk to Peyton Manning, and with the help of "Life is Precious" in St. Joseph, Michigan and Peyton Manning himself, was able to have his wish fulfilled. According to IndyStar.com, Manning had called Burghduf on July 24th and spent ten minutes talking, not only to him, but to two of Burghduf's sons also. A simple gesture for a simple wish, which left a lifetime of memories.

"Brian was so thrilled. My sons mean the world to me and my husband and for Peyton to take time to make my husband's day and my kids' day, knowing what was coming, we'll always have that memory. It was just an awesome memory to have and that's what my husband would want.'' stated Sherri Burghduf, Brian's wife.

Brian would succumbed to his battle with leukemia on July 29, 2008.

Often, we've seen where teams and sports figures participate in fulfilling the wishes of individuals who are either terminally ill or facing life-threatening illnesses through programs like "Life is Precious" and he "Make A Wish" Foundation. Often times, these wishes are something we take for granted, a phone call, the opportunity to attend a day with a sports team, or, as in the first wish of the Make A Wish Foundation, the opportunity to become a police officer.

Foundations like these succeed because of the efforts of volunteers, charitable donations and the genuine desire to create memories for those who are facing the toughest battle of their very lives.

So if you had one wish, what would that be?

Note: If anyone has a link or contact information to the Life is Precious program, it would be appreciated.
Posted on: April 29, 2008 5:39 am
Edited on: April 29, 2008 5:55 am

Changes in Attitude

Once upon a time, a family of Bears played host to a little girl with blonde curls.  The bears, always the gracious host, tried to do what they could to answer the little girls needs while she was there.  Unfortunately for them, the girl was a bit finicky and despite trying to be a good guest and take things as they were, by mid-week found herself totally uncomfortable and plagued with back pains.  Papa Bear had been nice and offered up his chair and bed, but the little girl found them too hard.  Momma Bear then offered the little girl her bed and chair but they were just too soft for the little body.  Finally it dawned on them and they decided to bite the bullet.  See Baby Bear didn't like change (or sharing, for that matter), but when the adult bears realized that Baby Bears chair and bed would be a perfect fit for her, they made the littlest of the bear share his things with the darling little girl. 

No, this is not about how we can distort bad fairy tales into worse ones.  It's actually an analogy of how things may have to change to fit the current situation.

When Ben Roethlisberger joined the Pittsburgh Steelers and had the rookie year he did, we had heard that you could put any Quarterback behind that offensive line and be successful.  All we had to do is look at Tommy Maddox to show that wasn't true.  Not that Tommy Gun wasn't a good quarterback, but the Steeler oline was not one you wanted to be behind if you're a pure pocket passer.  The Russ Grimm oline was one built primarily to open up lanes for the rush, and more times then naught, broke down quickly when it came to pass protection, leaving Tommy scrambling outside the pocket, something that was apparently obvious that he was not comfortable with.  What made Ben successful behind that oline was that he was able to get outside the pocket and buy time to extend plays when pass protection broke down. 

Prior to last season, there had been three top olines for the past 5 to 7 years in the AFC.  Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Each different for their system.  The Colts oline, built primarily for pass protection, along with their weapons on WR and a QB with an arm, helped build that team to a consistent playoff ready, high powered offense team.  The Patriots oline not only were able to buy their QB time but were also able to open up holes for their running back to get through.  The Steelers oline could open up holes and give the running backs enough time just to get through in a lane.

Indeed, the Steelers oline was known to be one of the best rushing olines in the NFL.  One of the reasons Alan Faneca was a pro-bowl player was his contribution to opening and keeping open that lane for the running backs to get through.  It was never an oline built to provide consistent pass protection.  Last season, we saw a glaring issue with the oline in the high number of sacks that Roethlisberger took.  We, as fans, looked to the offseason to get help to return that oline back to it's former glory.  Question is, should we?

It's no secret that the oline that the Steelers once had was developed by Russ Grimm.  However, Grimm is no longer on the team and the teams strength is no longer predominantly rushing.  The Steelers now have the capabilities to have a balanced offense.  They have a quarterback in Roethlisberger who improves each year, with his arm and his accuracy.  (If anyone wants to dispute that, he ranked 3d in the NFL and had less interceptions then Peyton Manning).  He now has quite a few good weapons to go to in the air with Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Nate Washington and, now, Limas Sweed (remember Brady's check downs last season?).  Not to mention Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth (who will have gotten over his rookie jitters).  The rushing offense now has both an outside fast runner in Willie Parker and an inside powerback in Rashard Mendenhall, along with the Najeh Davenport to work in as a receiving running back.  There is no doubt that this can become an all around complete offense.  So why keep the Steeler oline predominantly a rushing oline?

I guess the argument could be used that it will take Pittsburgh away from who they are, but not really.  The last two seasons, teams were stacking the box to prevent the run.  The run was opened up with the air game, along with Ben's ability to escape tackles and convert on 3d and longs and 4th and longs through the air.  Despite Roethlisberger ending the season with 32 TDs for over 3,000 yds, Willie Parker was on course to being the leading rusher in the NFL until his injury. 

Perhaps, instead of wishing we picked up draft picks and talent in free agency to shore up the oline, we should be hoping that the coaches in the Steelers organization see the need to change the style of play that the offensive line is use to, to fit the needs of this offense. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com