Week 15 Game Thread: Steelers vs. Bengals

Technically, the Steelers are still in the playoff mix but let’s be honest: There are 120 minutes left in the season.

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  • EasyLikeSundayMorning
    • Randy Steele

      I’m truly proud of the amount of talent on this little site, Easy. Congratulations again not only on your hard word, but also your indefatigable enthusiasm and good nature.

  • David

    Well, whatever chance we had at the playoffs IF we won out just took a big hit with MIA winning. But the smirk on Brady’s face at the end is priceless.

  • Rob D

    Miami..a smattering of talent in the right places..LB, QB, WR..nothing overwhelming for the most part but they play hard every week. Just as likely to lose by a FG as win it by same. I wish we had NE’s o-line..smart, mobile and more physical than you realize. That team is completely devoid of receivers. If I’m a NE fan, I’m asking why ..with Brady near the end etc. With all the draft picks they accumulated over the years, it didn’t really pay off in terms of having All Pro talent scattered around> I liked the early 2000 Pats D and the balance they had. (OK, I hated their guts too..but) Now they just put it all on Brady but fail to find him decent WR’s. Their D looks a little better but its slow.

  • Rob D
  • David

    Actually, looks like we’re officially eliminated, so maybe we’ll come out with nothing to lose and play spoiler?

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      We are still alive. Miami winning made things more difficult. We now need to win out, have the Dolphins lose @BUF and vs. NYJ, Jets beat Browns, Ravens win 2 of 3 (@Lions tomorrow, Pats, at Bengals), and for the Chargers to lose 1 (vs. Raiders or KC). The odds are probably less than 1%, but at least we can keep hope alive for another week.

      • David

        So you’re saying there’s a chance?!!

  • David

    Wow, didn’t see this coming.

  • David

    This is “all” that needs to happen for us to go to the playoffs:

    1. Us: win at GB & home vs. CLE (may happen IF Rodgers is out)

    2. Raisins: lose two out of @DET, NE at home, @CIN (likely to happen)

    3. MIA: lose both @BUF, NYJ at home (not likely)

    4. SD: lose to OAK or KC, both at home (not likely as KC probably won’t play starters)

    5. NYJ: beat CLE at home, @MIA (not likely)

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      With Denver’s loss, KC may still be in it next week. So SD losing to them could happen. Other than our winning in GB, the hardest part is the Fins losing to the Bills and the Jets winning twice.

  • Randy Steele

    I gotta say, that remark made during the game last night by Al Michaels or Chris Collinsworth about Cody Wallace getting fined for “going after a loose ball” during last week’s game was hog-hoppin’ funny.

    • Rob D

      INdeed..very funny! I also liked Collinsworth remark after Al mocked the Bengals for trash talking whilst being down by 20 pts…”That’s the Bengals” said in a rueful, knowing tone.. It was a fun night.

      • David

        Yep, SNF is the best. I’m not too high on Al Michaels, but he’s gotten better. They had a good piece on Tomlin’s sideline antics and defended him. They even showed him 20 ft from the sideline on a kickoff, lol.

        • Rob D

          I think they are both pretty good..sometimes Collinsworth gets on my nerves but he’s got a lot of self deprecating humour with his commentary which helps.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Jeebus I hate the effing Ravens. Watching that FG sneak through was painful. Now our odds are are under 1%.

    • ThereIsNoSpoon

      Couldn’t agree more. How lucky can one team get? They go up against Stafford on a night where he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Poor Calvin Johnson–how many catches did he make that completely opened him up to a shot from a Ravens DB? Maybe Stafford was paying him back for the early drops :)

      • David

        Watching this painful game, I’m wondering: did Megatron throw this game? I mean, his drops at critical times…did Ozzie Newsome kidnap his kids or something?

        But all kidding aside, look for the Raisins to beat NE but lose to the Bungles and sneak in with the 6 seed, as painful as that is to say.

        But Santa, please bring me two Raisins losses.

    • David

      Easy, just to explain my lost hope, even before the Raisins game, for the playoffs, I’m going against my financial advisor’s advice and buying a Mega Millions ticket. I have a better shot at winning that than us going to the playoffs.

  • Randy Steele

    Good article today in the Wall Street Journal (yes, they write about sports) concerning the crushing effect of high-priced quarterbacks on their teams’ payroll cap. Bottom line: a good, cheap quarterback may be better than a great one when it comes to building an all-around, competitive team.

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303949504579262533034273384

    • David

      Great article indeed! But one glaring postulate they proposed was that, instead of paying Wilson and Kaepernick when the time comes, they would let them go. True only if they don’t pan out (eg. win a SB).

      I mean, look at us in the 90′s. We had everything on O and D, except a QB. It wasn’t until we found Ben that we won our 2 SB’s since then.

  • Cols714

    Woodley is gone on IR. Man I miss the Woodley who lead us to the Super Bowl in 2008 and 2010.

    • David

      Looks like he played his last down for us.

      • Randy Steele

        Not true. It doesn’t make $ense to cut him, at least in terms of the cap.

        • Randy Steele

          David,

          I stand… er, sit corrected. Actually I’m shocked. Here’s Dale Lolley’s take on the situation in his latest blog:

          “The Steelers on Tuesday placed linebacker LaMarr Woodley on injured reserve with a calf injury, his second calf injury in the past month and a half – to different legs.The move, in effect, will end Woodley’s career with the Steelers. Expect him to be released with a designation for the move to be made after June 1.

          “They will move forward with Jason Worilds at left outside linebacker and do whatever they need to keep Worilds, a free agent at season’s end, in Pittsburgh.”

          • Eric

            Ian Whestone disagrees:

            .@SteelRadio Also, consider that they've already paid the biggest money on the deal ($36M for 3yrs). Discard the relatively cheap yrs, now?— Ian Whetstone (@IanWhetstone) December 17, 2013

            @Steel_By_Design @SteelRadio A post-June release would leave $8.58M in dead money in 2015.— Ian Whetstone (@IanWhetstone) December 17, 2013

          • Randy Steele

            Eric,

            I initially thought the same thing, but Ed Bouchette wrote this in his blog today and, unfortunately perhaps, it makes a great deal of sense:

            “What some still do not understand when it comes to LaMarr Woodley is that the Steelers can save real money AND salary cap space by releasing him. That’s $8 million. Yes, they would have to wait until June to realize a savings on their salary cap in 2014, but they can use that money after June too. They could use it to extend the contract of Maurkice Pouncey for one, and maybe Cortez Allen, and maybe someone else.

            “And if they do not use that $8 million in 2014, with the new cap rules in the CBA, they can carry it over to 2015 to virtually offset the $8.5 million in dead cap money he would count against them if they do cut him in June 2014.

            “The argument should be whether the Steelers want the services of LaMarr Woodley so much in 2014 that they are willing to pay him $8 million in salary. Because arguing that it would cost them too much to release him just isn’t so because they would save a whole lot of money AND salary cap room any way it’s cut.”

        • Rob D

          It will be interesting ..if he IS cut, then maybe we can believe some of those never confirmed rumours about him being out of shape too much etc. I’d like to think he’d bounce back. ..but he carries a lot of upper body weight (a la Levon Kirkland) and seems to be prone to hamstring injuries. I don’t think he’s ever been the same player we saw in 08 and 10 (as Cols said above) Don`t let Worilds go in any case..it’s a short amount of time since he’s emerged, but the horizontal lean he gets pass rushing is reminiscent of Harrison in his prime. I can’t believe how GOOD he looks on the left side. Totally different player..If JJ emerges next year (did you like that bull rush he showed on Sunday night? So did I) we might be in good shape there. Find a NT, maybe McC can play end with Heyward..et voila..lol..

  • Cols714

    In other news, with the emergence of Worilds, Heyward, DeCastro, and to a lesser extent, Hood, can the calls for Colbert’s head go away?

    • Rob D

      God, I hope so Cols..I’m sick of all the “fire him now” memes out there.

  • David

    EB from the Post-Gazette said it most logically, and in a sense, contradicted his colleague GD (who said Woodley is gone on June 1):

    If we cannot sign Worilds, then Woodley isn’t going anywhere.
    We cannot afford to lose two starting OLBs.

  • Canadian Steeler

    On the discussion of cutting players, what would you guys do with the secondary? It’s a little sad to say, but I think most of us will be happy to see Clark go. Polamalu is a different case I think. He’s actually been effective (using my untrained eye), and even though he’s missed some tackles in big spots, he’s done more good than bad. I don’t think it’s enough good to justify his contract next year, but changing both safeties in one offseason is a dangerous proposition. I’d like to see more Golden and Shamarko over these last couple games, although I really doubt we do.

    Ike’s another interesting one. No way he’s back on his current deal, but I wonder if he’s a candidate for restructure. He’s said it’s Steelers or nothing for him, and I bet he means it. He loves the Rooneys, and I don’t really see any better options for us, especially because after Willie Gay we have no nickel guy. I’m sure that would change in the offseason, but with better safety play I think Ike can still be a good player (on a far more reasonable salary).

    Obviously this depends on the organizational direction the Steelers choose to go, because it’s completely justifiable to let Troy go to see what we have in Golden and Shamarko.

    • Cols714

      Clark should be let go, he’s not been good this year. Polamalu keep. Ike keep but at reduced salary. Willie Gay has been fantastic.

      • ThereIsNoSpoon

        How does ‘keep at reduced salary’ work? I have heard many people say this about various players but it was my understanding that the CBA forbids an existing contract to be re-worked for less $$. ‘Restructuring’ contracts, of course, is different: it means converting a player’s current salary into a signing bonus, which effectively pro-rates the cap hit for the current year over the remaining years of the contract. Could we cut someone like Taylor, then try to re-sign him to a smaller deal? Sure. But he is free to take a larger offer from another team if he chooses, and then we are out a starting corner.

        • Canadian Steeler

          I could stand corrected, but I always thought there were two types of restructuring. The first is the type you mentioned. The second is more of an ultimatum to the player where the team says ‘take this lower amount of money, but we’ll guarantee you a spot on the team’. I’m not sure exactly how that works, like if the existing deal is more or less torn up, but I remember guys like Ross Tucker talking about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ restructuring for players. I think the latter restructuring situation is what’s facing Ike this year, like it was Harrison last year. This may be entirely personal opinion/blind hope, but I think Ike is more likely to take the reduced salary.

          • ThereIsNoSpoon

            I wonder if you can extend the deal, years-wise, for the same amount as the money remaining on the deal (I keep thinking the CBA allows that but not the take-it-or-leave-it scenario you are talking about); for example, convert Ike’s last year at $7M to two years at $3.5M. I may have to do some research…it would be nice to know for sure.

          • Eric

            I don’t think there is any such provision in the CBA. One reason that NFL is so financially profitable is that they are the lone league without guaranteed contracts. I have a hard time believing the owners would ever concede a hair on that. I could be wrong but what your describing would be a game changer in terms of how the league does business and I haven’t heard anything about it before you brought it up.

          • ThereIsNoSpoon

            I did some research but couldn’t find anything definitive one way or another. Two examples: Mason Crosby reworked his contract, lowering his base salary from $2.4M to just over $600K, with the difference made up in roster bonuses and incentives (so the same amount of $$ would be paid in the event he remained the kicker for the year.) Johnathan Vilma reworked from $11M to $3M, but there was no word on any sort of additional compensation or likely-to-be-earned incentives (so it sounds like he is getting a pay cut.) Not sure how the Crosby rework actually helps the team, unless incentives/roster bonuses get counted in the next year? Anyway, I don’t know anything, I was vaguely recalling some random nugget I heard somewhere, I’m probably wrong, but I am still really curious about this, so if anyone has the scoop please let me know!

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Btw, Neal Coolong said that the piece I wrote was, in its first 48 hours, probably one of the top 20 most-read BTSC articles of the year.

    • Randy Steele

      That’s great, Easy. By the way, if you have another Steeler-related story idea, you should pitch it to him now while you’re hot.

    • Eric

      Ryan and co better watch out…

    • Canadian Steeler

      Forgot to mention it earlier, but congrats on that from my end too, Easy. Completely agreed with the article, I think that sums up quite nicely why I will never leave/turn off a Steelers game early.
      On a related note, I think people forget about how quickly ‘tanking to get a higher draft pick’ can turn into a losing mentality through the organization. I agree with trying some young players for development purposes, but only if they are replacing guys that aren’t here for next year or the long haul. Play Golden or Shamarko over Clark, but don’t bench Ben to see if we can recoup a pick for Landry Jones.

  • Cols714

    This Bruce Arians guy sounds really fantastic.

    http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/66049120/