Monday, October 19, 2015

Romancing the Jones

Quite a big football weekend here in Pittsburgh, but let's start out with what might have been the biggest surprise of the season thus far.


That the Steelers defeated the Cardinals yesterday was surprise enough.  That they did it behind the quarterbacking of Landry Jones was downright amazing.  You know the story by now: an ineffective Mike Vick was injured in the third quarter, replaced by Jones, playing in his very first regular season action after three years as the third team QB, who then proceeded to lead the Steelers on two field goal and two touchdown drives, and a 25-13 win over the favored Arizona Cardinals.  To say that this was shocking is an understatement, but the Ben-less Steelers now sit at 4-2.  Amazing.

Some observations:
  • It was thought by many, including Yours Truly, that the defense of the Steelers would be its undoing in 2015, but, amazingly, the defense has played surprisingly well.  True, they did surrender about a zillion yards to Carson Palmer and the Cardinals offense, but all that the Cards could do with those zillion yards was score one TD and two FG's.
  • And it needs to be noted that coming into this game, the Cardinal's 38 ppg scoring average was the highest in the NFL.
  • Forcing four turnovers can have that effect on a team.
  • Speaking of turnovers, the Steelers have forced eleven of them in six games thus far.  In all of 2014, they only produced 21 of them.
  • Antonio Brown needs to shut up, stop hectoring his QB on the sidelines, and be more concerned with how his team can win a ballgame, as opposed to how he can pad his stats.
  • The Steelers threw only seven passes in the first half with Vick at quarterback.  Have Vick's skills as a QB eroded to such a degree that the Steelers cannot trust him to open it up and pass freely?  If so, why did they sign him as a back-up QB in the first place?
  • I didn't listen to any of the post-game call-in shows, but tell me, how long did it take for some Yinzer to call in and suggest that the Steelers now trade Ben Roethlisberger, while his value is high, and install Jones as the #1 QB?  I'll bet it didn't take more than thirty minutes.
  • Kuddos to Facebook friend Dave Glass for being the first to observe that we might have seen the "Wally Pipp-ing" of Michael Vick yesterday by Landry Jones.
  • While legions of Steelers loyalists probably hated it, I kind of got a kick out of Troy Aikman verbally slipping and referring to the Steelers QB as "Tom Landry".  Perfectly understandable mistake.
  • Speaking of Aikman, that Miller Lite commercial of him buying beer at the convenience store is quite good.
But let's not allow that Steelers win to overshadow this one...


In the excitement of an unexpected Steelers win, let's not lose sight of what I feel to be a really, really nice win for the Pitt Panthers on the road against Georgia Tech on Saturday.  It was wildly entertaining game, that was eventually decided by Chris Blewitt's 56 yard field goal, the longest field goal in Pitt history (that that, Freddy Cox!).  Memories of the beatdown that Tech put on Pitt at Heinz field last year (and really, the beat down that Pitt put on itself in that game with those six fumbles), made this one especially sweet.

What I liked best about this game was this.  With the score 21-21 at the half, and Tech scoring on and making big plays against Pitt, Pat Narduzzi gave the usual coach-speak blather to the on field reporter about how "we need to make some adjustments on defense", and guess what?  Pitt really DID make those adjustments, and held Tech to only seven points in the second half.  Seeing something like that really happening before your eyes is really encouraging if you are  a PItt fan.

So, Pitt now sits at 5-1 and has cracked the Top 25 for the first time since 2010.  The schedule is going to start to get tougher with Syracuse on the road, and then North Carolina and Notre Dame at Heinz Field in the next there weeks, but it is hard not to start getting excited about we are seeing out of Pat Narduzzi and his Panthers this season.

As I said, a nice weekend for Pittsburgh football fans, although the Penn State and West Virginia fans in the tri-state area can't be real pleased about how their favorite teams fared this weekend.  I'll just let it go at that.

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