2005 AFC Divisional Playoff: Steelers vs. Colts

I watched this game last night. Here are some thoughts and observations:

  • The Steelers defense dominated the Colts, especially in the first half. In much of the first half, the Colts didn’t run much, and when they did, they were ineffective. The Steelers got good pressure on Manning, and had a few sacks on him by the end of the game. But the combination of good coverage and some poor throws by Manning also played a role. It wasn’t until the end of the half that the Colts had a long drive. The run game (especially running to the left) helped the offense get going, but they still ended up with only 3 points for the entire half. (Marvin Harrison had only one catch for about 30 yards.)
  • The announcers said the Steelers ran the ball 59% of the time in the regular season, which surprised me. I knew they were more run-oriented, but that number seems really high. In any event, they came out passing the ball and Roethlisberger had some nice throws. In my view, the Colts were caught off guard. Having said that, Roethlisberger threw a pick while being tackled, and almost threw another pick later in the game.
  • In the second half, the Steelers went to the run game–a lot. Roethlisberger might have sustained an injury on a big hit, which may have been a reason for this. At the end of the 3rd, after the Steelers pinned the Colts on the Colts’ one yard line (nearly getting a safety), the Steelers ran the ball about for six plays and scored a TD. The Colts defense looked like a 4th quarter defense that was worn down and broken.
  • A huge play occurred in the 4th when the officials overturned a Manning INT to Polamalu. This occurred with about 5 minutes in the game with the score 21-10, Steelers. The Steelers would have had the ball in good field position. My sense was that the Steelers thought they won the game–as it really did look like an INT. When the game resumed, the Steelers defense looked shell-shocked, as the Colts fairly easily went down the field. (The Steelers D played a more conservative style, too–rushing only 3 or 4.)
  • The Steelers converted twice on 4th down in the 4th quarter to eat up the clock. These were big plays. The Steelers also got lucky because a false-start wasn’t called on one of these plays.
  • On the Colts final possession, the Steelers defense went back to being aggressive, and they sacked Manning to basically end the game.

One final note. In 2005, NFL offenses, utilizing spread offenses, hadn’t yet learned how to neutralizing blitzing, particularly from 3-4 defenses. In the last 10 years, I would say the 3-4 aggressive blitzing style has largely become obsolete, with some exceptions (e.g., Todd Bowles and I’ve seen Belichick and Flores use it effectively against some teams). To me, the Steelers defense has never adapted well to these changes. Their defenses from the 2010s have generally been mediocre or worse, although some of this has to do with their shift to a more aggressive passing offense. (During the last decade, even if the Steelers had a great regular season, my sense is that they had very little chance to win the Super Bowl–because they likely would have to face the Patriots. And the Patriots seemed to carve up their defense. In my view, Tomlin should have found a DC that could switch to the 4-3 or a 3-4 defense that could a more bend but don’t break style–defending the pass with coverage rather than relying on blitzing.)

NFL Quarterbacks Thread

Thread for topics relating to NFL QBs. The first topic is on the QBs with the strongest arm. Do you agree with the QBs chosen by NFL Throwback?

I think Cam Newton should be on this list. In terms of driving the ball downfield, in terms of line drives, I feel like he had one of the strongest arms. And this raises a related issue–namely, the difference between throwing the ball for distance versus throwing the ball on a rope (i.e., distance with a flat trajectory). A QB can throw it far without necessarily throwing it driving the ball with a flat trajectory. To me, this requires a lot of power. To me, Newton was up there with the best I’ve seen–e.g., Favre, Elway, maybe Marino.

I have a problem with Brady being in there. He didn’t have a weak arm, but he doesn’t seem like he belongs in this group. (I would put Newton above him.) Do you think Brady had a stronger arm than Troy Aikman, Phil Simms, Steve Bartkowski, Neil Lomax, Ken Anderson, Dan Fouts, or what about Jay Cutler?

NFL Running Backs Thread

Thread for NFL RBs. First up: NFL Throwback has a video on the best power backs. Do you agree with their picks?

I question the Herschel Walker, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, and Marion Barber picks. I think Walker had power, but I feel like he wasn’t good enough of a RB to be on this list. Ironhead was maybe a better power runner than Walker, but I feel like he, too, wasn’t that good–not for a long enough time. I liked Barber as a RB, but was he good enough? Was he a better RB and better power RB than someone Natrone Means or someone like Stephen Davis or Marion Butts? Or what about OJ Anderson? (Or maybe people don’t think of him as a power back? Is Roger Craig not considered a power back?) I will say this: If I were building a roster, I’d take Barber over Walker and Heyward. (By the way, watching Barber’s highlights–the way he runs reminds me of Marshawn Lynch.) I question whether Jamal Lewis should be in there as well, for the same reasons I question Walker and Heyward. Is Barber better than Ricky Williams or someone like George Rodgers (I barely remember George Rodgers.)?

I really like runners like Brandon Jacobs, Jonathan Stewart, and Eddie George. Leonard Fournette is in that mold (but he’s been a disappointment).

UH Volleyball

I started watching some UH volleyball, both the men and wahine. I haven’t watched a game for a long, long time. Two guys stand out for me on the men’s side: Rado Parapunov, who seems like Uv, part 2, and Colton Cowell. Cowell is listed as 6′ 1″, but he looks like a libero when he’s standing by his teammates–but the guy is explosive, both in terms of jumping and hitting. He can crank. I feel like I’m watching Karch Kiraly out there.

Regarding the wahine–why aren’t they playing? I wanted to see the frosh setter from Texas. My understanding is that Robin Ah Mow, when she first saw the setter said, “She’s the one I want to see run the offense for the next four years,” or something to that effect. It seems like Ah Mow (and Ljungquist) are doing well as coaches, which is totally awesome to see.

2021 NCAA Final Four (Men/Women)

Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to watch highlights. The highlights from the Arizona-UConn (women’s) game stood out to me. First, Aari MacDonald looked like Steph Curry, with some quick release and long-range shots. Second, the highlights don’t show Arizona’s defense, but I’m guessing it must have been good–or UConn was missing a lot of open shots or taking a lot of bad ones. I hope I can watch some of the remaining games.

Basketball Officiating

This is a thread to discuss basketball officiating. I recently watched a training video, and I was surprised by some of the correct calls. I wanted to get some feedback from Don and anyone else. (I’ll post the clip in the first post.)