Click the Play button to watch JB’s postgame blog from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. He talks about the Steelers’ loss to the Ravens and looks ahead to the playoff game against Jacksonville.

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Parker Will Be Missed…

December 22, 2007

He may not say much, but make no mistake about it: Willie Parker is a leader for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Parker leads by example. He works hard both on and off the field and he’s the true definition of teammate. Parker is now gone for the year after breaking his leg against the Rams. It’s a loss that will severely hurt the Steelers’ chances of making a deep run in the postseason. In a span of three weeks, the Steelers have lost one of their best defensive players (Aaron Smith) and one of their top offensive weapons (Parker). That’s a lot for any team to overcome, let alone the Steelers. Najeh Davenport, Carey Davis and maybe Verron Haynes will all do their best to pick up the slack, but come playoff time, without Parker, I don’t think the Steelers have enough to get past the second round. Of course, if Ben Roethlisberger can stay protected, he might be able to carry them to the promised land. But, that’s a big “if!”

There’s been a lot of talk lately from Steelers fans who believe that we (i.e., Me) goaded Anthony Smith into making his guarantee of a win over the New England Patriots.

If you want to believe that that is the case, and that it fired up the Pats, then go right ahead. I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Anthony Smith had plenty of chances to back down from his statement. He chose not to.

As journalists, it’s our job to follow up on potential stories. I got wind that he had made the statement. When I followed up by asking him, not only did he confirm what he said, he also said he’s made bold statements like that his entire career.

What would I have to gain by goading Anthony Smith? He’s a solid player, and a fine young man. He made a bold guarantee and came up short. It happens.

Again, blame the media if you want, but the Patriots came in with a 12-0 record and a shot at history. They didn’t need a guarantee from a Steelers safety to pump them up.

Bottom line: Right now, the New England Patriots are better than the Pittsburgh Steelers. That may change, but don’t blame the media for the Steelers’ loss — and for that matter, don’t blame Smith. Blame the Patriots. They’re that good.

Click the play button to watch JB’s postgame videoblog from Gillette Stadium.
(The video is posted on WTAE’s YouTube channel. If you want to go there and check out the rest of our YouTube videos, just click here!)

Foxborough Fiasco

December 10, 2007

The guarantee on my transmission didn’t work out so well either. Although if you are not Anthony Smith and still thought the Steelers were going to beat the Patriots, then you haven’t been paying attention.

The Steelers have not been able to win outside of their division or on the road. They are 5-0 against the AFC North and 7-0 at home. That means they are 4-4 outside the division and 2-4 on the road. So why did anyone think that going on the road, outside the division, against the best team in football this year, and maybe in any year, would bring different results?

The only surprising thing was that the number one defense in football played so poorly. When they held New England to 3-and-outs on 3 of the Patriots first five possessions, it looked like they had a chance and certainly did, trailing by just 4 at the half. But when the dust cleared at Gillette Stadium, it was anything but a close shave. The Steelers as always shut down the run and by the second quarter, the Patriots just gave up on it. With a one dimesnional offense, they put up three dimensional numbers. Tom Brady and company amassed 421 total yards, 399 through the air. That’s a torching. Maybe things would have been different had Troy Polamalu been healthy. But maybe they wouldn’t.

Jacksonville comes to town Sunday and that won’t be a picnic. The Jags always seem to give the Steelers fits and they are one of the few teams that can match the Steelers physically. But it is at Heinz Field and the Steelers are the only team in the league besides the Patriots to be undfeated at home. How they rebound will go a long way toward determining their playoff outlook. Right now, an optimist would point out that regular season results don’t mean that much. In 2005, the Steelers beat the Patriots badly in the regular season but lost the AFC Championship game to them at home. A year later they lost badly in Indianapolis in the regular season but returned there to eliminate them in the playoffs. Make what you will of that. But those Steelers could win on the road. And those Steelers didn’t lose to the Jets.

Everyone’s talking about how the Patriots have played back to back close games and they’re beginning to show signs of weakness. I’m not buying it. Every week, the Patriots hit the field knowing they are the new Yankees, the new Cowboys. In other words: The Team Everyone Loves To Hate and Root Against. Every week, the Patriots know that for the team that’s facing them, it’s their playoff game, the Superbowl for some. Teams sock them in the mouth, and give them their best game week in and week out. And guess what: The Patriots keep winning. This is a team with a coach and quarterback that never panics, and they take your best shot and always land the last punch. It’s been a strange week here in Pittsburgh. Steeler fans actually have sympathy for the Ravens. THE RAVENS! This team whined and cried and claimed the refs were out to get them after they lost to the Patriots on Monday Night Football. And many Steeler fans who wanted to see the Pats lose a game agreed. Hogwash! Bottom line, as Dennis Green once said: “You let ’em off the hook!” You had them off the ropes, and you couldn’t land the knockout blow! Take your loss, realize you played a great game, but YOU LOST! Now, the Steelers appear to be the team with the best chance to beat the Pats, but if they don’t, I hope I don’t hear fans whining about refs, TD catches that shouldn’t have counted, NFL agendas, and lack of respect. You win or you lose, period! I think the Steelers are good enough to beat the Patriots. Will they? Let’s see what happens.

Click the play button to watch JB’s postgame videoblog from Heinz Field.

(The video is posted on WTAE’s YouTube channel. If you want to go there and check out the rest of our YouTube videos, just click here!)