Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Week 2: A look at the Beavs around the league

usatsi_13365605.jpg
USA Today

NFL Week 2: A look at the Beavs around the league

It was another fun Sunday of football in Week 2 of the NFL, and just like last week the Beavers represented well. Let's take a look around the league and see how the Pro Beavs did. 


Jordan Poyer - Bills: Poyer had two tackles and a pass deflection. It was another solid game from the Bills star defender. He put the defense on his back and down the stretch and laid out to grab the game-sealing interception.

Brandin Cooks and Johnny Hekker - Rams: Johnny Hekker did what Johnny Hekker does - He punts the ball, and he punts it well. Hekker punted four times with a long punt of 66 yards, and a 49.8 yard average on the day. His teammate Brandin Cooks played well, too. He was targeted just four times but turned that into three catches for 74 yards and a score. 

Steven Nelson - Steelers: - Nelson was one of the best players on the defensive side of the ball for the Steelers in their 28-26 loss to the Seahawks. Nelson had six tackles, five solos, and a pass deflection. 

Social media reacts as Seahawks take down Steelers for first 2-0 start since 2013

Social media reacts as Seahawks take down Steelers for first 2-0 start since 2013

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had never been to Pittsburgh prior to Sunday’s Week 2 meeting with the Steelers, but he knew he was in for something else.

“We’re going to their home, their first home game,” Wilson said last Thursday. “It’s going to be loud. It’s going to be intense. It’s just football. We’ve got to be ready to play and be on our stuff and be clear and play sharp.”

Wilson was right about two things: the stories about the roaring fans known as Steelers Nation are 100 percent accurate. And two, the Seahawks needed to be on their game to get a win at Pittsburgh for the first time in 20 years.

Both happened on Sunday, as the Seahawks defeated the Steelers 28-26 in a hard-fought showdown at Heinz Field.

Here’s a look at how fans and media reacted to the Seahawks victory. You can also read Seahawks Insider Joe Fann’s three takeaways from the game here.

The Seahawks trailed by 7 to start the game, but Russell Wilson soon found tight end Will Dissly for a 14-yard touchdown to tie up the game.

The Will Dissly show wasn’t over in the first quarter. The second-year tight end connected with Wilson once again for his second touchdown catch of the night.

Following halftime, running back Rashaad Penny stepped around the tackle and broke into open space for a 37-yard run for the touchdown.

The Seahawks led by just two points with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, but that all changed when Wilson found rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf in the end zone for the first time of Metcalf’s NFL career.

The Seahawks are headed back to Seattle in Week 3. They’ll take on the New Orleans Saints next Sunday at 1:25 p.m. at CenturyLink Field.

Ducks and Beavs in the NFL

usatsi_13329880.jpg
USA Today

Ducks and Beavs in the NFL

The Ducks and Beavers both took to the gridiron on Saturday. On Sunday, a handful of former Ducks and Beavers showed off their talents at the NFL level. 

Here is how some of them did:

OREGON STATE BEAVERS:

Jordan Poyer: Buffalo Bills

Poyer put on a show in the Bills' 17-16 season-opening victory over the New York Jets. He led both teams with nine total tackles, six solo, and a sack. 

Brandin Cooks and Johnny Hekker: Los Angeles Rams

The Rams came out victorious on Sunday in Carolina. Johnny Hekker only had to punt three times, but when he was called upon he averaged 46 yards per punt. As for Brandin Cooks, he had just two catches on the night for 36 total yards, but his 24-yard reception was the longest passing play of the game.

Steven Nelson: Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh had a rough go in Week 1, losing to the Patriots 33-3. Steven Nelson ended the game with three tackles, one solo.

OREGON DUCKS

Marcus Mariota: Tennessee Titans

Mariota was on point in the Titans' 43-13 victory over the Browns. Mariota was 14 of 24 for 248 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed three times for 24 yards. 

Kenjon Barner: Atlanta Falcons

Barner didn't see any touches on offense, but he was a standout on special teams. He had four punt returns for 46 yards, and two kick returns for 44 yards. 

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner: San Francisco 49ers

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner helped anchor a defensive line the held the Buccaneers to 295 yards of offense in the 49ers' 21-17 victory. Armstead had five tackles, two solo, and a sack. Buckner had two solo tackles, one of them for a loss. 

 

DB Steven Nelson ready for new challenges with Pittsburgh Steelers

usatsi_12052618.jpg
USA Today

DB Steven Nelson ready for new challenges with Pittsburgh Steelers

Former Oregon State defensive back Steven Nelson just got paid, big time, by the Pittsburgh Steelers after spending the first four years of his career with Kansas City. 

Nelsen signed a three-year, $25.5 million deal with the Steelers last week to provide a stabilizing force opposite cornerback Joe Haden. 

"It's been amazing, it's been awesome," Nelson told reporters after signing with Pittsburgh. "It's been kinda sporadic if you would say. A lot of phone calls, a lot of happy people, a lot of emotions. It's been all over the place, but I'm happy to be here with you guys."

The Chiefs drafted Nelsen in the third round of the 2015 draft. He made 38 starts for Kansas City including 16 last year when he intercepted a career-high four passes. 

Nelson recounted how he had visited Pittsburgh during the predraft process in 2015 and felt that the Steelers liked him enough to draft him but it just didn't fall that way. He pointed to his "toughness and relentlessness," as traits he believes the Steelers see in him.

Playing opposite of Haden, Nelson will likely see a lot of balls thrown his way, a reality he said he would embrace. 

"Absolutely," he said. "That means more opportunities for me, so I love that challenge."

Could the Seahawks land Le'Veon Bell for Earl Thomas?

usatsi_10552278_147386290_lowres.jpg
USATI

Could the Seahawks land Le'Veon Bell for Earl Thomas?

Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports reports that the Pittsburgh Steelers are open to moving disgruntled RB Le'Veon Bell in exchange for a package that would include Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas. LaCanfora also notes that Philadelphia is interested in Bell. 

Thomas held out during Seahawks training camp, has skipped multiple practices, and is looking for a new contract, but nothing has come yet. 

Bell would be an obvious upgrade for the Seahawks at the running back position where the team has struggled to find a consistant back since the departure of Marshawn Lynch. 

Giving up Earl Thomas could prove to be too costly for a Seattle defense that has relied heavily on the Pro Browler thus far in the season, despite all the drama. 

Stay tuned for more as the Earl Thomas situation develops. 

Dear Kickers: You have one job!

usatsi_11262802_147386290_lowres.jpg
USATI

Dear Kickers: You have one job!

Just like in any workplace, if you don’t do your job, you get fired. Whether all of the blame falls on you or not becomes irrelevant. If you do your job poorly, chances are, you will be looking for a new one.

That was the case for Daniel Carlson and Zane Gonzalez this past week. The two kickers were cut from their respective teams after failing to do their job: kick the ball between the uprights.

While these two are the only players – so far – to actually lose their duties, missing field goals and extra point attempts seem to be a trend in the first two weeks of the NFL season. I’m extremely perplexed as to how this could possibly be an ongoing issue. As a kicker, you have one job. In my opinion, long field goals are excusable but missing anything closer than 40 yards and missing extra points are both inexcusable. You’re a professional athlete, it is expected of you to make those kicks.

While I do agree that there are a multitude of other plays that can add up in a game that could cause a team to lose, I also believe that what separates a college kicker from a professional kicker is the ability to perform under the pressure of game-changing situations. There were 19 missed kicks on Sunday including 12 field goals and seven extra points. Several of those kicks were potential game-winners.

In case you were living under a rock this past weekend, let me catch you up on the missed kicks I am alluding to:

  • Zane Gonzalez was the kicker for the Cleveland Browns. Please keep in mind that the Browns have not won a game in 21 months. This past weekend, Gonzalez missed two of his four field goal attempts and both of his extra point attempts. The Browns lost to the Saints 21-18.
  • The Minnesota Vikings tied the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. While that is not a loss, they still had chances to win. Vikings kicker, Daniel Carlson, missed three (THREE!) field goal attempts, two of which were in overtime. This is the same Carlson that the Vikings traded up to snag in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He is no longer with the team.
  • Steelers’ kicker, Chris Boswell, missed a field goal and an extra point in their 42-37 loss to the Chiefs.
  • The Raiders lost by one point in their game and their kicker, Mike Nugent, had an extra point blocked.
  • Texans kicker, Ka’imi Fairbairn, missed a field goal and the Texans lost to the Titans by 3.

These are just a handful of the misses across the league. Interestingly enough, the Los Angeles Rams had their punter, Johnny Hekker, take over kicking duties due to an injured Greg Zuerlein. The Oregon State University alum had never kicked a field goal in his career and he nailed it. Hekker also added an extra point for the Rams. If the punter can come in and make a kick, a professional kicker should be able to successfully put the pigskin through the uprights simply because they have one job.

 

 

 

Steelers: That wasn't a catch -- in football or baseball

Steelers: That wasn't a catch -- in football or baseball

There is a lot of angst over that ruling in the Pittsburgh-New England game Sunday -- the one that disallowed a touchdown catch by Jesse James of the Steelers.

And I may be the only person around who has no problem with the NFL rule that if you're going to the ground as you make a catch, you must hold onto the ball during your fall. Whether you're in the end zone or not. Most people think that when you're crossing the goal line with the ball in control, it should be a TD -- whether you're a receiver or a runner.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” premium-game Blazers streaming package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest – $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

I disagree. I think there must be a standard for deciding whether a pass is caught or not. Touchdown or not. Just catch the ball and don't worry about trying to reach the ball over the goal line. Just catch it.

I had no dog in the hunt Sunday, didn't care which team won. But I will say I'm predisposed to accepting the NFL rule because it's so similar to the rules of baseball about catching a fly ball. If you catch a fly and fall down, run into a wall or bang into another player, you must hold onto the ball:

A catch is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; providing he does not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession. It is not a catch, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his contact with the ball, he collides with a player, or with a wall, or if he falls down, and as a result of such collision or falling, drops the ball.

'It's pretty much the same rule. You can catch a ball and have it securely in your glove, but if you run into a wall or are diving, you better hold onto the ball all the way through the process.This whole process is a product of instant replay, of course. Without it, you'd never be able to see the ball hit the ground.And when it comes to replay, you have to take the good with the bad. And live with it.I'

Breaking Vegas with Garrett Thornton – Wild Card Round

usatsi_9783174.jpg
USA Today

Breaking Vegas with Garrett Thornton – Wild Card Round

BY 

Last year I was better than 53% in my Breaking Vegas picks and I aimed for 60% this year. As the regular season comes to a close I finish slightly over 50%.

While this might not be the best way to “Break Vegas”, I look to the Playoffs to keep up my late-season momentum.

I will pick all 11 games of the Playoffs and also have prop bet picks before the Super Bowl.

This Wild Card Round is completely bi-polar. The games are either must-watch television or they are matchups that fans of the teams don’t even have interest in.

Let’s see who I pick this week…

Oakland Raiders +4 @ Houston Texans

Let me start with one of the most lackluster Playoff matchups in NFL history. If you polled the 100+ players on these two teams, I doubt 50 of them would even watch this game if they weren’t in it.

The Texans are a bad team that won the worst division in the AFC. Even though they won the division, I would much rather watch Andrew Luck and the Colts or Marcus Mariota and the Titans. This Texans team has underwhelmed all year but is hosting a game in the Wild Card Round. The worst investment in the NFL was the contract given to Brock Osweiler. He can earn some of that contract with a home Playoff win.

On the other hand, the Raiders were one of the feel-good stories of the NFL season. A late-season injury to Derek Carr brought that to a screeching halt. Carr is one of the good guys of the NFL and was really developing into the franchise quarterback that the Raiders so desperately needed for so long. All of that is in the past and not the Raiders are starting fourth round pick Conner Cook under center. It will be the first time ever that a rookie quarterback made his first start in a Playoff game. Not a lot of precedence here, but let me give you a hint, it won’t go well.

Neither team can score enough points to run away with it, but the Texans find a way to win.

Texans 16 – Raiders 14

Detroit Lions +8 @ Seattle Seahawks

Seattle is one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. That only gets intensified entering the Playoffs. Home field advantage is absolutely crucial for the Seahawks this year because this is not the team that people are accustomed to. Without Earl Thomas, this defense is missing their captain. The passing game has been hot and cold. The offensive line and running game have been abysmal at points. If the Seahawks want to make a run, they need major efforts from Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham.

The Lions are a sleeper in my opinion. If Matthew Stafford can adjust to his finger injury on his throwing hand, this team has the offensive firepower to play with anybody. The last two weeks of the regular season the Lions lost to the Cowboys and the Packers. Those two teams just so happen to be two of the best teams in the league. There isn’t a lot of belief in this Detroit team right now and that has driven this line. Bet the Lions in this one.

Seahawks 24 – Lions 20

Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers -10

This is the line that I have the least faith in. This is also the first time that the Steelers will play a Playoff game with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and LeVeon Bell on the field at the same time. That will be the difference.

Pittsburgh can score 50 any given night. In the Playoffs, with a little bit more motivation, I expect their best performance of the year.

Steelers 38 – Dolphins 27

New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers -4.5

I fully admit that I am a Cowboys fan and I am hoping they can go to and win the Super Bowl this year. If I take my biased lenses off, I don’t know that there is a hotter team in the NFL than the Green Bay Packers.

Despite several flaws, the Packers have won 7 games in a row and have a healthy Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is, arguably, the most talented quarterback to play the game. He is playing at the top of his abilities and has the team around him believing in him. He is the rare quarterback and leader that has every other person on that team bought in. This is a dangerous Packers team heading into January.

Although the Giants have some very quality victories this season, and have a track record of success in the Playoffs, I just don’t see this team a legitimate contender. This team is not a great offensive team, despite having Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants only scored 310 points this season, good for only 26th in the NFL. The other NFC Playoff teams…

Atlanta Falcons scored 540 (1st)

Green Bay Packers scored 432 (4th)

Dallas Cowboys scored 421 (5th)

Seattle Seahawks scored 354 (18th)

Detroit Lions scored 346 (20th)

While you can make the case that defense wins championships, you still have to score points to win games. This Giants team just hasn’t scored enough points for anyone to have much faith in them. The stakes get bigger and the opponents tighten down their defenses come January. Giants just won’t have enough to make a dent in the NFC Playoffs.

Packers 28 – Giants 21

  Wins Losses Push Percentage
Week One 1 3 1 30%
Week Two 1 4 0 20%
Week Three 2 3 0 40%
Week Four 2 3 0 40%
Week Five 3 2 0 60%
Week Six 2 2 1 50%
Week Seven 3 2 0 60%
Week Eight 2 3 0 40%
Week Nine 3 1 1 70%
Week Ten 3 2 0 60%
Week Eleven 3 2 0 60%
Week Twelve 2 2 1 50%
Week Thirteen 1 4 0 20%
Week Fourteen 3 2 0 60%
Week Fifteen 4 1 0 80%
Week Sixteen 3 2 0 60%
Week Seventeen 3 2 0 60%
OVERALL 41 40 4 50.6%

*All betting lines provided by Bovada.LV on the Thursday preceding particular NFL week.