Wednesday Apple Pie

<b>Some Thoughts Assisted By Yuengling</b> <p>I know I've been critical of Jerame Tuman all year. I've always said he's paid to do one thing and that is catch footballs. Typically, he drops more than he catches. But on Sunday he caught everything thrown to him - Including a touchdown pass that was tipped at the line. He may just now be coming around. Too bad we'll lose him to free agency this off-season.</p>

  • Chad Scott needs to take off the panties and play this Sunday. Cowher said, "He doesn't feel good about playing." Hey Chad, I don't feel good about having to get up at 5:30 in the morning to stand outside in line hoping to get into a Broadway audition, but I still have to get up because I act. That's what I do. You play football. Get out on the field and stop being a whiney punk. Besides, don't you realize your teammates need you?
  • How scary was that 2-point conversion formation? So scary that, although he had help, Robert Griffith hesitated when he came out and challenged Antwaan Randle El. The play is meant to go to Hines Ward on the line, but on ARE's roll-out, Ward was doubled by Griffith and Corey Fuller. Jerame Tuman is covered by Lewis Sanders. Realizing he's got a full corps of blockers closing in, Griffith comes out to take away ARE's ability to run it in, but hesitates at leaving Hines Ward in single coverage. That moment of hesitation allowed Tuman to stop and change direction in the back of the end zone.
  • The interesting thing about that play is that Hines Ward was doubled because the Browns and every Steelers fan realized from watching tape that Ward can't be tackled easily in single coverage. He has twice this season caught passes on the goal line and allowed his strength to get the nose of the ball to touch the line. If Griffith commits to Randle El, he'd have forced Fuller to take Ward on one-on-one.
  • That 2-point conversion was run so well that ARE could've stopped and changed course against the grain and walked in.
  • Hidden Stat: The Steelers led the league this year with 5 2-point conversions. Sunday they gained their sixth of the year. That also makes them 6 for 7 this year when attempting the 2-point conversions.
  • Kendrell Bell played the game of his short career on Sunday. Ankle injury or no ankle injury, the country got to see how his explosiveness gives the Steelers their first true difference-maker on defense since Greg Lloyd, who also single-handedly beat the Browns in the final game of 1993.
  • That was not a prevent defense the Browns were in during the late going. They hadn't blitzed all day, the Steeler receivers just had their best day of the season. Maddox threw caution to the wind on a few of the passes.
  • In case anyone wondered about Jason Gildon, Gildon pressured Holcomb on the final play. He hit Holcomb a split second after the ball was released, which probably made the throw lead Andre King a little too far in the middle of the field.
  • Greg Gumble and Phil Simms were fun to listen too, but Gumble still needs to get more inflection in his voice.
  • Regardless if the play got off a half-second after the play clock went dead, something needs to be done about plays getting off in time. How about the ref booth upstairs buzzing the referee on the field when it's timed out.
  • Amos Zereoue still needs to learn that sometimes it's better to plunge forward than to stutter and hesitate at the line. Even on his breakout scamper, he would have gained an extra 3-4 yards had he just plunged forward.
  • Pittsburgh didn't blitz a whole lot and Cowher mentioned in his press conference that when they blitzed, Cleveland scored touchdowns. Read this great article from Tuesday Morning Quarterbackand you'll learn a little something about the success of blitzing.
  • The AFC North is bound to be the most competitive division next year with the Ravens, Browns, and Bengals (with a new coach). Add the AFC West and NFC West to the schedule, a visit to NY Jets, and hosting the Titans, and the Steelers have what looks to be a heavily-covered schedule by the national media.
  • The Steelers secondary gets a slight break because Kevin Dyson is out for the season. He torched the Steelers early in the year and the Titans lose their outright deep-threat.

Missed Prime Opportunity (MPO) Score

Pittsburgh 8 Cleveland 9

An MPO is when a team fails to score while in scoring range or doesn't take advantage of major swings in momentum (i.e. major penalties/turnovers/settling for field goals in successive series/inability to seal a game with first downs). These are killers because a team only gets so many opportunities.

An MPO Score is like golf: It's best to score low. When a team score's low, it usually wins the game. It's remarkable how accurate it can be.

Pittsburgh's 2002 - 03 Final Regular Season MPO Record: 9 - 6 - 1

Playoff Record: 1 – 0

--The Steel Apple


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