Sunday, September 26, 2004

Pittsburgh vs. Miami: live from my living room

Since CBS and the NFL aren't televising this game unless you live in either Pittsburgh or Miami, I thought that since I'd be listening to the game (for free -- you can go here and sign up for a free 7-day pass and then cancel after the game) on the internet, I figure I might as well post my comments as the action unfolds. This should prove to be an interesting experiment since I tend to get pretty worked up during games, and I wouldn't be surprised if I write something even more ridiculous than your normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill post. Either way, here goes:

Deshea's INT (

11:40 PM EST
I just saw the replay of the Hines Ward TD catch on ESPN and it might be one of the best catches I've ever seen him make. Amazingly, Cope is talking about getting drunk at a bar. Again, riveting. Meanwhile, the Steelers are running the clock. Pittsburgh, on 4th and 7 run the ball from the Miami 11. There's 28 seconds to go.

I'm pretty sure the Steelers are going to win this. And it's official, Pittsburgh wins 13-3.

Good stuff. The Steelers return home for two AFC North games (Cincy and the Browns) before the bye week. This is definitely a big win. Yikes, I'm exhausted.

11:34 PM EST
Expect a lot of Duce as the Dolphins can't stop the clock. Duce breaks it on second down and he's down to the Miami 26-yd line -- a 38-yd run by Duce. Man, pardon the pun, but when it rains it pours as Miami sounds like an absolutely awful team.\

Duce breaks another one of first down for an 11-yard gain. Duce has 22 carries for 101 yards and promptly heads to the bench and here comes the Bus.

Wolf is on the sidelines and he says that Hampton is explaining to his peeps how he almost got a 330 lb. enima as he tried to recover that fumble. That's an image I can do without.

It's the two-minute warning.

11:30 PM EST
James Harrison causes the kick returner, Welker, to fumble, but the Dolphins recover. They'll start at their own 29-yd line. Big sack by Deshea Townsend in the muck. It sounds like Feeley is about a foot deep in the mud. That's followed by McIntosh false-starting for the third time this game. It's 2nd and 21 from the Dolphins 16 and Feeley throws a pass to Thompson for 36-yd gain. Another first down at the Steelers 29-yd line.

Fumble and Steelers recover! Farrior and Porter leveled Feeley and when he fumbles Casey Hampton tries to pick up the fumble and "take it to the house." Tunch points out that he wasn't able to pick up the ball because someone hit him in the butt with their helmet. Yikes. Big play by Porter -- it's good to see him bounce back.

Of course Miami is challenging the play and if they lose this they're (a) out of challenges, and (b) out of timeouts. The officals rule a fumble!

11:22 PM EST
Hold on. The Dolphins are challenging the play. Cope thinks it's incomplete which again leads me to believe that it's a TD. Hilgrove and Tunch think it's a catch and they both point out that the official was right there on the catch. And the officials agree -- Touchdown!

Reed converts the PAT -- it's a 10-point lead with 6:16 to go and the Dolphins have one timeout.

Hines has 9 catches for 93 yards in possibly the worst conditions imaginable.

11:18 PM EST
Dan Kreider gets a big block as Duce gets 4-yds on 2nd down. Hines Ward makes a big catch on third down to the Dolphins 19-yd line. Ben "sounds" good. Hilgrove points out these are two really big third down completions.

There's a flag down after Ben throws incomplete into the endzone. Sam Madison is guilty of defensive holding. First down at the 14-yd line. Now Madison gets an unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing and now it's half the distance to the goal.

Apparently Hines was the instigator and that's why Madison was so vehement in his arguing. From the Dolphins 7-yd line, Ben throws a TD to Hines in the endzone!

11:14 PM EST
For some reason the Steelers insist on throwing the ball and Roethlisberger just escaped another INT. Tunch says that the safety shied away from the pass as Randle El laid a hit on him. On third down, Ben makes a big completion to Plax (I take back my previous sentence). That's a big first down to the Miami 45-yd line.

11:10 PM EST
Fumble on 2nd down at the Dolphins 6-yd line. It's third and 10. Feeley is nailed by Haggans and almost throws an INT. I didn't hear who almost made the catch (I think it was Farrior). Randle El gets to the Miami 42-yd line but Stuvaints gets a personal foul that moves them back to the 39-yd line. Cowher was giving him an earful. That's another really big play.

11:04 PM EST
On first down, Roethlisberger goes deep to Plax. Hmmm, I don't know how I feel about that play-call. What's interesting is that on 2nd down, the Dolphins are in the nickel. The Steelers run a draw for 7 yards (Duce). On 3rd down, Ben gets sacked. The Steelers need to pin the Dolphins deep here.

Gardocki gets off a good kick (a 51-yarder) but there's a penalty and the Steelers have to rekick. Ugh. On the rekick, the Steelers down it at the Dolphins 5-yd line. Gardocki follows a 51-yarder with a 58-yarder. Nice stuff.

10:58 PM EST
Randle El gets a big kick return to the Steelers 35-yd line.

10:56 PM EST
The Dolphins now get out of the mud field and have only grass between them and the endzone. Of course this means that the Steelers will have to slog through the mud if they want to score this quarter. Third down and 7 at the Steelers 22. First down to Booker at the Steelers 14.

That's a big play -- especially this late in the game. Aaron Smith and Casey Hampton make a big stop on first down in the backfield. On 2nd down, Hampton again gets pressure in the backfield as he lays out Feeley on an incomplete pass. It's 3rd and 12 it's incomplete. That's a big, big stop. Farrior again was in Feeley's face on the incompletion.

Here comes Mare for a 34-yarder. It's good. That last defensive stand could be the difference in the game. It's time to try and run the ball effectively here.

10:50 PM EST
The Dolphins are moving the ball -- they've gotten two consecutive first downs and are in Steelers territory (down to the 40). On second down, Farrior rushed Feeley into an incomplete pass. On third down, Henry rushes for a first down to the Steelers 25. The Dolphins are down to the 22 as the 3rd qtr. ends.

10:43 PM EST
Steelers are three and out deep in their own end. They run the ball three consecutive times. This will be a tough punt. Gardocki gets it off and the Dolphins accidentally kick the ball out of bounds at their own 40-yd line.

10:39 PM EST
Joey Porter's in the backfield again. He laid out Feeley as he throws incomplete -- and amazingly he doesn't even give the boot. On third down, James Farrior lays out McMichael (Cope said his teeth fell out on that hit). Farrior's having a typical Farrior game. The Steelers get the ball back at their 16-yd line -- in the infield mud .

10:37 PM EST
And just like that, Jeff Reed puts the kickoff out of bounds.

10:34 PM EST
Fourth and 8 at the Dolphins 33 yard line and here comes Jeff Reed. This will be a 51-yd kick. Reed nails it! He ties a career record. You've got to be kidding me.

10:33 PM EST
Ben throws an 11-yard first down pass to Hines down to the Miami 34-yard line. On first down, there's a very late penalty flag for intentional grounding against Roethlisberger. Ugh. The Steelers are back where they started.

10:27 PM EST
Fourth and inches for the Dolphins from their own 47-yd line and out comes the punt team. The 14 Miami fans in the stands boo and Wannstadt promptly calls a timeout. Now they decide to go for it and it's a QB sneak. It looks close and the refs will measure. Steelers stop them!

Cope cites Schottenheimer here, "Coaches who listen to the crowd end up sitting in the crowd."

10:19 PM EST
Chad Scott gets an pass interference call on a third and three deep in Miami's territory. James Farrior on the very next play levels the RB Henry for a 2-yard loss. Apparently it was a "de-cleater" (Tunch's word). Cowher is challenging a questionable catch by the Dolphins. Tunch has to talk over Cope for no other reason than Cope doesn't quit talking. Cope says he can clearly see that the ball was skipped on the replay, which indicates to me that the officials will rule it a complete pass.

And the ruling on the field stands. Nice job Myron.

10:16 PM EST
Three and out for the Steelers after a good kick return from Randle El. Gardocki's punt is down inside the Miami 10, downed by Chidi (who looked like he was on his last leg last week -- it's good to see him back).

10:14 PM EST
I just saw the ESPN halftime highlights and I take back everything I said about Jeff Reed. The game looks like it's taking place somewhere in the Amazon during the rainy season. To call it awful would be an injustice to how bad the conditions really are.

The 3rd qtr. just started.

10:07 PM EST
Myron Cope tells a ridiculous story about when he was a kid, he was at Forbes field and he saw the grounds crew try to dry the field by throwing kerosene on the infield and then lighting it (presumably to burn off the water). Cope incorrectly points out that Field Dry isn't intended for the infield (um, it is though).

The third quarter is being delayed while the grounds crew tries to dry off the field.

Halftime stats:
Steelers: 155 total yards
Roethlisberger: 6/12 for 97 yds
V. Haynes: 6 rushes for 35 yds
H. Ward: 4 rec for 48 yds
P. Burress: 1 rec for 42 yds

Dolphins: 54 total yards
Feeley: 3/8 for 25 yds
L. Henrey: 12 rushes for 25 yds
R. McMichael: 1 rec for 15 yds

9:52 PM EST
Thank God, it's halftime. The Steelers are up 3-0.

9:51 PM EST
Tunch notices that LT Marvel Smith has had a solid game -- even though DE Jason Taylor has been moving around. It's fourth and a yard and the Steelers called a timeout from the Dolphins 41 yard line. Fake handoff and a pass to Hines Ward down to the Dolphins 22 yard line (thanks to a great Plax block downfield). Eight seconds left and a 40-yd. attempt from Jeff Reed. Reed misses the kick but the Steelers had a deadball foul. Now he'll get a chance at a 45-yarder.

The Dolphins call a timeout to ice Reed. Apparently they don't know that Reed can't be iced -- primarily because he's so inconsistent. Tunch is pointing out that Miami is the toughest place to kick in the NFL. Reed misses again. Ugh.

9:43 PM EST
Hey, I just heard Joey Porter's name -- he made a play in the backfield! Feeley fumbles on 2nd down and "Mean Kimo Von GreenHoffen" makes the play in the backfield (to be fair, I must give chubby Mark Madden credit for that nickname. I think that's easily the funniest thing he's ever said). After the two minute warning, Tunch corrects Cope who thinks that Marino is in the stands (Tunch points out that he's probably still in NY from the pregame show this morning). Porter makes another play on third down.

The Dolphins have the punt blocked by Ike Taylor -- who was activated for the first time this season tonight. Nice.

9:38 PM EST
Tunch notes that the Steelers are starting from their own three -- which is the mud field. Verron Haynes is running pretty well apparently because he's "built low to the ground" (Tunch's words, not mine). Steelers fail to convert the third down. Scarily, I have to agree with Cope here, why not continue to run the ball -- especially so deep in your own end? Gardocki gets off a good punt -- a 51-yarder.

9:34 PM EST
The rain has subsided for now and Feeley promptly completes a 15-yard pass to McMichael down the sideline. On third down, Feeley hands off and the Dolphins lose three yards. Hmmm. Wanndstadt must not have a lot of confidence in Feeley if you're running the ball on third and 10 in your opponents half of the field. On fourth down Miami downs the ball inside the Steelers three yard line.

9:30 PM EST
It sounds like Casey Hampton is getting into the backfield, but the weather conditions are making it tough for him to make tackles. It's third and inches for the Dolphins -- and Feeley gets it with a QB sneak.

Cope just announces the Oakland - Tampa Bay score and then askes what quarter there in (even though that game also started at 8:30).

9:23 PM EST
Verron Haynes gets a big 10-yard gain on 2nd and 20 deep in the Steelers end. Hilgrove says it's raining buckets. On third down, Haynes runs a draw and gets a first down. Cope now says he's going to shut up about Haynes being the third down back because he's playing well. Tunch is about to make Cope cry -- this should be good.

9:20 PM EST
Tunch makes an obvious but important point -- the team that can minimize turnovers will win this game. Hopefully Whisenhunt will keep this in mind as he calls the plays. The Bus gets his first carry -- a three yard game. I'd consider running Duce and the Bus a lot tonight.

Cope is now talking about all the drugs he has to take, even though he doesn't know what type of medication it is.

9:17 PM EST
Deshea just missed his second INT -- in and out of his hands! The rain sounds like it's definitely playing a part in this game. Unlucky. Paging Jay Fiedler, paging Jay Fiedler.

9:10 PM EST
It sounds like Ben wisely avoided the pass rush on third down and now Jeff Reed will have to kick off the infield dirt -- a 44-yd. attempt. Reed misses wide right by a ton according to Hilgrove. It's hard to fault Reed here. On another note, Cope is yelling that they should have faked a FG here.

Chris Hope just knocked the crap out of Lamar Gordon and he's down. You don't here much about Hope, which means he's probably doing his job.

9:05 PM EST
It looks like the Dolphins won't be able to run tonight either. Between penalties and getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage, they sound pretty awful. It's pouring now. This game could get very ugly. Tunch said the punt by Miami left a divot because the field's in such bad shape.

8:58 PM EST
The Steelers fail on another third down conversion. The Dolphins seem to be playing a lot of dime defenses. I think that Tunch may strangle Cope before the nights over because Cope keeps belly-aching about Duce not being in on third downs (amazingly, he's replaced by the third down back, Verron Haynes). It's starting to rain hard now.

8:54 PM EST
McIntosh, who's replacing Wade on the O-line for the Dolphins is having a horrendous first quarter. Feeley promptly throws another INT to Troy Polamalu.

8:47 PM EST
3rd down pass incomplete and here comes Jeff Reed for a 40-yard attempt. And amazingly Reed nails it. Apparently he plays better in advsers weather conditions (see the 2002 season).

8:44 PM EST
Steelers get their first first down -- Ben to Antwaan Randle El. Nice job of running first, passing second. Plax just caught a bomb somewhere near second base -- he fell and still made the catch (a 42 yd reception).

8:40 PM EST
The most underrated CB in the league -- Deshea Townsend gets an INT. Let's hope Whisenhunt takes off his Mularkey mask and starts calling some sensible plays (read: fewer passes).

8:36 PM EST
Big play by Farrior -- recovered fumble. Roethlisberger promptly throws an interception to Patrick Surtain. Ugh. Here's a question, why throw the ball?

8:33 PM EST
Dolphins get the ball first (I prefer the Steelers get the ball to start the 2nd half). Lamar Gordon has a fever? There are reports that he might not play (of course, this is coming from Cope). Jeff Reed kicks off and the Dolphins will start at the 30 yd. line.

8:30 PM EST
Bill Hilgrove and Tunch Ilkin talk about how important it is to have Tommy Maddox on the sidelines to help Roethlisberger. Tunch mentions that when he played for Chuck Noll, injured players weren't allowed on the sidelines, so Terry Bradshaw never got a chance to coach while injured. Hmmm.

The last time these two teams played was in 1998 and Marino beat the Steelers 21-0.

8:24 PM EST
Tunch says that the Dolphins cut former Raven Lamont Brightful after he dropped a couple of punts last week. Apparently his replacement doesn't look any better. There's a chance Miami implodes during the game. Tunch also notes that there seems to be more Steelers fans at the game than Dolphins fans. Also, Tommy Maddox indicated that the Steelers won't scale down the playbook for Roethlisberger primarily because he's been around everyday since minicamp and is pretty comfortable with the offense. We'll see about that shortly.

8:18 PM EST
Verron Haynes will play but Kendrell Bell is still out. It makes you wonder when we'll see him again. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Steelers sign Plax before they even think about re-signing Bell.

Myron Cope is now ranting and raving about playing Duce Staley on every down. There's a good chance Cope has a heart attack at some point this evening.

8:10 PM EST
Jeff Reed says it's going to be an interesting night because of the swirling winds. Mike Logan says the defense will focus on the Dolphins center, who struggled mightily last week as he missed a lot of blocking assignments. Not surprisingly, there are few fans at the game.

8:02 PM EST
Bill Hilgrove is talking about how bad the field is. He talked to a local sports guy and he said he's never seen the field in such crappy condition -- and it's raining. This could be a mud bowl. Hilgrove, after talking about Hurricane Jeanne, then introduces Hurricane Cope -- who proceeds to tell four different stories at the same time. One of the worst is about how he ordered a Reuben in the hotel yesterday and the power went out. Riveting.

7:35 PM EST
I love listening to Myron Cope interview Bill Cowher. You get the impression that Cowher is talking to his crazy uncle at the family reunion -- except this reunion takes place 16 times a year. Cowher makes the good point that if the players around Roethlisberger do their jobs, Roethlisberger's job should be less of a focal point. Of course, Joey Porter having a big game would go a long way in making Ben's job a lot easier.

7:31 PM EST
Ellis Cannon can't stop talking about how crappy the Miami offense line is (they've replaced all five -- that's right -- five linemen this season). Cannon thinks the Steelers will follow the lead of the Bengals and blitz Feeley silly. Given that the Dolphins made one of the worst defenses in the league (the Bengals) look like the 1985 Chicago Bears last week, I wholeheartedly agree.

7:26 PM EST
Is it bad when your team (the Dolphins, if you're a Miami fan) is playing a QB (A.J. Feeley) who has 15 starts since high school? If you're Jay Fiedler, what does that say about you. For all the complaining Steelers fans do about Tommy Maddox, here's a team that would love to have the guy.

7:20 PM EST
Prisuta thinks the NFL should have canceled this game, moved it to Tuesday or played it in Pittsburgh. While I agree that the game didn't necessarily have to be played tonight, I don't think anyone in Miami would agree to play the game in Pittsburgh -- unless of course, the Rooneys are going to give the gate to the Dolphins.

I guess this really isn't surprising however, because this is the same NFL that mandated the Dolphins play the Saints during week 4 of the preseason despite the impending hurricane (the first one, I think) about to slam South Florida.

A local Miami sportswriter talks about how inept this Miami offense is. He maybe makes the understatement of the year when he says about the Dolphins, "This team just isn't fun to watch."

7:10 PM EST
Wolf and Tunch are talking about how windy it is on the field and how Sean Morey struggled to field punts during the pregame (although I'm not sure if he doesn't struggle to catch punts despite the weather conditions). They also point out that the baseball dirt mud should also pose some problems because even though it's currently covered, there's a lot of standing water in that area.

7:05 PM EST
Bob Labriola thinks tonights game is a huge turning point for the Steelers because (1)the Dolphins stink, and (2)Pittsburgh then goes home for consecutive games against the Bengals and the Browns -- and this game, coupled with two home wins, should give the Steelers some much needed momentum going into the bye week (Oct. 24). Oh yeah, he likes the Steelers 13-6.

6:55 PM EST
Jim Wexall makes the good point that if the Dolphins can't run against the Bengals, then they can't run against anyone. He then blows all credibility by saying that Kyle Boller had a good game today. I'm guessing that Wexall just saw his stats, which were impressive -- unless you actually saw the game. Boller had two big fumbles didn't complete a pass down the field and wasn't really asked to do much. But I digress...

6:45 PM EST
I just heard Hines Ward recommend that I quit smoking during a public service announcement. Duly noted.