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Monday, December 15, 2008

Post-game thoughts-Baltimore

Was it a touchdown or not?

I didn't think so when Santonio Holmes first caught the pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 43 seconds remaining.

But after seeing the overhead replay and the side view, I thought the ball did reach Holmes hands just across the goal line.

People in Baltimore will obviously think otherwise, but that's water over the bridge as Bill Cowher once said.

© Ben Roethlisberger will go down as this generation's John Elway.

That's five times this season he's led the Steelers to game-winning or tying drives in the fourth quarter.

The crazy thing is that he can look awful at times, but when the game is on the line, he becomes a totally different quarterback.

The players and coaching staff believe in him and that's perhaps the biggest thing.

© We heard all week that Joe Flacco hasn't looked like a rookie of late.

He certainly looked like one Sunday.

Maybe that's the difference between playing the Bengals and Browns or playing the Steelers.

© Then again, the Ravens coaching staff didn't allow Flacco to try much downfield until they needed to.

They played not to lose instead of playing to win.

© That was one excited locker room after the game.

Most of the players on this team had never before won in Baltimore.

To get that monkey off their backs while also winning the division and locking up a first-round bye in the playoffs was a pretty good day for the Steelers.

© I said Saturday night when another writer asked me why I liked Pittsburgh to win this one that I felt if the Steelers could keep things close, the more veteran quarterback would win it. That proved to be the case.

That won't be the case next week in Tennessee. I don't think Kerry Collins can beat the Steelers. I just don't see it happening.

© Holmes was fortunate the Steelers came back and won this one – and he had the game-winning score - or he may have gone down as one of the biggest goats in Pittsburgh sports history.


adamg said...

Holmes feet were clearly in the end zone when he caught the pass. He kept them planted there as he fell forward back onto the field, too. Someone on message board posted the rule, the last paragraph of which, says if a receiver comes down in the end zone with the ball, it's a TD no matter of the ball breaks the plane of the goal or not.

Holmes might be lucky he caught the game-winning TD, but the refs are luckier the Steelers won. They called one terrible game with several ticky tack holding calls on Pgh while ignoring the blatant holding Adam Terry was doing right in front of them on James Harrison.
And that call on Jeff Reed after the PAT was laughable. A PF for a little shove that only managed to make the Balt player take a small hop?

Your point about Harbaugh playing not to lose is excellent. I kept thinking that in the second half - a coach who coaches not to lose usually does.

Stigmata said...

I read somewhere that Ed Reed spit in Reed's face causing the PF penalty. Any word on that?

Anonymous said...

Awesome game and big win.

adamg said...

The game stories said it was Frank Walker and that he spit on Mitch Berger's face. Apparently what kicked off the episode was that Walker tried to take out Jeff Reed's leg/knee by rolling into him after the kick. Berger stepped between the two and got spit on for his trouble. That's when Reed gave Walker a shove.

Dale Lolley said...

I was told after the game by Vic Carrucci that exact thing about catches in the end zone. But I think that's more a a ruling for catches along the side or back of the end zone - like the Randy Moss one a couple of weeks ago. The ball still has to break the plane. And when the ball first reaches Holmes' hands, he nose is above the goal line.
I didn't hear about the spitting until today. But I didn't get a chance to talk to Reed.
That's the way it is when you have one guy - me - and the PG or Trib have five each. Can't be everywhere at once.

Ben said...

Dale, I think we all can agree that James Harrison deserves the DPY award. Tremendous stats, unparalleled intensity - an absolute game changer. I'd even go further and nominate him for MVP of the league. I'd rather have him than Kurt Warner or Drew Brees any day.

But, somehow, I know they're going to steal it from him. I know the flashier DeMarcus Ware, a glorified, one dimensional DE, on "America's Team" will bring it home. He may lead in sacks right now, but he just doesn't dominate a game like Harrison does. No one does.

I have to wonder if Harrison's comments about the referees have come back to bite him. Has there been one, single, holding call against the LT that is responsible for blocking Harrison? I don't think I've seen it happen this year.

Can anyone deny that Harrison is held on nearly every single play? Not just held, but flagrantly held. I'm talking an arm around his throat, dragging him to the ground. Not one call.

I've just got a bad feeling about this.

Anonymous said...

The last play of the game will keep people from focusing on the obvious hold that was shown on national tv when Mr. Simms was bragging about the great block on Harrison then had to admit it was a hold, an obvious one. Simms never said they should have been called. The NFL needs to improve its officiating. The Moore call on instant replay was a joke, we didn't get there on that one.
It is time for a professional system much akin to baseball. Find a better way to train these guys quick.

Patrick said...

I'm suprised we're still talking about the ball "crossing the plane". Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't it been settled by the rules that the ball crossing the plane is besides the point and as long as the receiver has his feet in the end zone, it is a TD?

Otherwise from the game:

I thought Ben played really well. But the spike on 1st down with 50 seconds left AND a timeout left? Made no sense to me, you have 3 plays, maybe 4 if you aren't planning on going for the FG, and you should be able to get those off in 50 seconds. No need to leave the Ravens time and waste a down.

The Steelers offense was pathetic in the first quarter and got little better until the end. But it wasn't due to being over powered, over played or out coached. It was stupid mistakes, dropped balls, WR's and RB's not being ready for the ball, insanely blatant missed blitz pick ups, and small little mental mistakes. The offense has all the physical talent it needs, the mental part needs to come along and put it all together.

Santonio Holmes is a lucky guy.

Parker is not having the best year, but I like his efforts. He is due to break one sooner or later. He is starting to look healthy and charging forward on his runs. He's going to have big game soon.

Junior3 said...

Hey Dale, have you or any other of the beat reporters ever asked Tomlin or Arians why the offense seemingly ALWAYS waits until the play clock is down to zero to snap the ball? It really looks like they do so deliberately and it is maddening. Not only are they always flirting with a delay of game penalty, but as Phil Simms pointed out during yesterday's telecast, it also gives the defense an advantage in timing the snap.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why we have a problem with the spike on first down, I think it was exactly what he should have done. The spike gives the team 2 shots at the end zone AND still keeps the option of running the ball on the table. Let's assume that Holmes didn't score a TD....wouldn't you still want the Time out just to get Reed onto the field for the tying FG?

Dale Lolley said...

I didn't have the problem with the spike that some did/do. As he explained after the game, he wanted to settle things down and get a good play called. And, if there's a sack or something, you want to have that timeout ready and not have to scramble the kicker onto the field.
I didn't think the offense was pathetic in the first quarter or half at all. They had 140 yards in the first half - far more than Baltimore until its final drive of the half - but their field position was terrible throughout the half.
They would get a couple of first downs and then bog down. When you're starting from the 20 or 30, that's OK. When you're starting inside your own 10, it makes a big difference in field position.

As for running the clock down, I think that's Ben. They take their time identifying the mike linebacker and defenses change it. They're trying to go to the last possible second to make the defense tip its hand. That's important, especially against the Ravens, who move all over the place.

The ball has to break the plane even if the receiver's feet are in the end zone. Otherwise, a running back could back his butt into the end zone on goal line and get a TD, even if the ball doesn't make it. And the NFL changed the rule on the pylon that the ball has to cross. The runner can't just get his feet inside the pylon without the ball crossing too or it's not a score.

Patrick said...

Dale, I wasn't talking about the ball crossing the plane on a running play, thats apples and oranges.

Basically, if a receiver catches a ball with his body and feet in the endzone (no question about that), but the ball is not in the endzone, its not a Touchdown because the ball never broke the plane?

From Mike Florio's SportingNews Article in saying it is not a Touchdown:

It's spelled out unequivocally in Rule 11, Section 2, Article 1(c), which states that a touchdown occurs when a player legally inbounds catches a ball "on or behind the opponent's goal line."

Somehow, he thinks that language clearly says it is not a TD, which I don't understand. I think it clearly says that it IS a TD because he catches the ball "behind the opponent's goal line"

I suppose he is saying "behind" means the ball, if you read it as "catch" as in , he had possesion and his body is behind the line, then it is different. We'll see which way the NFL interprets it.

I guees its the bias in me, but the way I read it, its definitely a TD and I thought that before the game yesterday too.

Chris Hein said...

Hey Dale, any thoughts on how the league could justify the lack of holding calls against the opponents offenses? Keeping track it's been 23 quarters since an opponent last got called for holding one of our defenders. Last time I checked our pass rushers are pretty good, so there's a good chance they've been held at least once in that time span.

adamg said...

Mike Piera(sp?), the NFL head honcho for rules interpretation said the call was correct. In that Peira admits when the officials get it wrong, that's good enough for me.

BTW, didn't Hines Ward have a very similar catch right on the goal line earlier this season that was called a TD? I don't even think he was as far inside the end zone as Holmes was yesterday.

schnifin said...


The other guys may have 5 reporters at the game, but your blog has by far the most informative and insightful content.

On a non-Ravens note, is Martin Nance still around and if so do you think he fits into their future plans at all?

Dale Lolley said...

Nance is still on the practice squad. A lot with him will depend on what happens in the offseason. If Washington leaves, they'll obviously have an open spot on the roster. They could keep go with another WR than what they have now. They're only carrying four at this point.

I think the whole rules interpretation thing is moot since I feel that the ball crossed the plane when it intially hits his hands.

As for the lack of holding calls, I don't think there is a jusification for it other than the fact holding penalties are down across the league.

Anonymous said...

Look, I am a Steelers fan like everyone else who posts here, but comparing Ben to Elway I think is a bit of a stretch. Elway tended to play great all 4 quarters. Ben plays great in the last half of the 4th quarter, when he has to. The defense is what has won us alot of the close games (Dallas, Baltimore). Yes, yes, Ben is the QB and he is going to get the credit. Ben does not take what the defense is giving him, part of the blame I lay at Arians' poor play short passes, etc. That is the difference between him and Elway and even the modern greats like P. Manning and Brady. They take what the defense gives them. What I saw was a QB who kept going for the big play every time he touched the ball. You can not do that. You also have to score more than 13 points to win in the post season. If we don't fix some of these problems and I realize this is not all Ben's fault, but if we do not fix some of our offensive problems, we are gonna be one and done in the playoffs again. JMO

Ben said...

Actually, if this defense holds up, we'll be able to score 13 points and win the Super Bowl.

Not that I wouldn't like to see the offense put more points on the board, but the D really IS that good.

Patrick said...

I tend to agree with bradyandben, but not in the Baltimore game.

If guys catch passes and Ben and some of the receivers are on the same page, Ben has a monster of a game. This offense outplays itself, not the comeptition. You can't tell me at 11-3 with this schedule that the offense is THAT bad. But the mental mistakes are killer and a lot of that naturally goes on Tomlin/Arians and sometimes Ben.

If the Parker/Moore combo get rolling (that depends a lot on the line), the Steelers should win it all. They just don't have the pass protection and the system to get into a shootout or a game where they need 30 points.

The identity of this team has become to control the clock as best as possible, try not to turn the ball over (they managed to do it twice sunday somehow), rest an incredibly opportunistic D and then take their shots when they absolutely have to. Polamalu basically said that last week. Will that win a sixth SB? We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Quick question. Do we want home field through the playoff's? The grass at Heinz field will be terrible during this time of year and I just don't see any benefit being at home with the type of running game we are producing right now. If we had a big back I would say yes but not as it stands right now. Just a thought.

Dale Lolley said...

You don't think that grass will slow down Indianapolis? Absolutely you want home field. Nobody can run on them and the grass slows the passing game.

James said...

Hello Dale,
Just joined the blog today after just reading for a long time. Thanks for all of your inside information, keep up the great work!
best regards

Zeke said...

Thanks dale,
You pick the only team I thought would be good to have home field against. geez I think Indy has a better running game than us. I think most the teams do.. to this point. If we can't ound the ball with our backfield I thought it would be better to give BR a chance to win the game for us on some decent turf. Like I said.. It was just a question