Steelers Vs. Bills: James Harrison Fined Again After Hitting Ryan Fitzpatrick

The Steelers (7-3) head to Buffalo to take the Bills (2-8), winners of their past two games. Stay tuned here and at Behind the Steel Curtain for more previews and updates about the Steelers and Bills Week 12 matchup.

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Steelers Vs. Bills: James Harrison Fined Again, For Hit On Ryan Fitzpatrick

James Harrison has been fined yet again for hitting Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick with his helmet. This is just the latest for Harrison, and it brings the total of his fines for the year to $125,000, including $5,000 for his hit against Vince Young, $75,000 for Mohamed Massaquoi, and $20,000 against Drew Brees. Pete pointed out today that $25,000 is the amount Richard Seymour got for hitting Ben Roethlsiberger after the whistle, as well as the amount Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan each got for beating the crap out of each other. I don’t think the penalty Harrison took for the hit against Fitzpatrick was off-base, but I do agree with Pete that the NFL is sending a bizarre message by making fines for non-malicious football hits the same as fines for sucker-punches and flat-out brawls. Come on, NFL. You can do better.

Here’s the video of Harrison’s hit on Fitzpatrick. He does pretty clearly go into Fitzpatrick helmet-first. That’s something he needs to learn to stop doing. But I don’t think it’s anywhere near the same as some of the ugly things we’ve seen from the likes of Seymour, Johnson and Finnegan in the past few weeks.

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Steelers Vs. Bills: Steve Johnson Blames God For Dropping Catch

Bills receiver Steve Johnson wins the award for stupidest tweet of the year after dropping a potentially game-winning touchdown pass in the Bills’ overtime loss to the Steelers on Sunday. This is some pretty staggering hubris, actually.

I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS? HOW?!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THOless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad

 

That’s just classic. Johnson doesn’t blame himself for his mistake – he blames God. Chris Chase at Yahoo! Sports does point out, though, that there’s a weird sort of consistency here: players give God credit for their successes all the time, so it makes sense, on some twisted level, that Johnson would also blame Him for his failure. One would hope that God, or whatever your idea of god is, couldn’t care less about the outcome of a football game, given the percentage of the world’s population that doesn’t have enough to eat. And I certainly hope He isn’t spiteful enough to still be dumping on the Bills after all those years. If God really did involve himself with football games, one would think he’d still be feeling bad about the whole Scott Norwood thing and let Johnson make that catch. Then again, maybe Johnson just choked.

The “THX THO…” at the end of Johnson’s tweet is the funniest thing about it, incidentally. It’s as if, after 130 characters of narcissism, he suddenly remembered he was supposed to be humble. One would think three years with the Bills would drill humility into even the thickest of skulls, but apparently not.

Here’s the video of the dropped catch.

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Week 12 NFL Scores: Steelers In Line For Playoff Berth

Given that the Patriots and Jets already won their matchups on Thursday, and that the Steelers themselves played badly and picked up a 19-16 win against the Bills that they didn’t particularly deserve, the results throughout the AFC were favorable to the Steelers on Sunday.

True, the Ravens beat the Bucs 17-10, with Joe Flacco passing for 289 yards. Baltimore’s win kept the Steelers tied with the Ravens atop the AFC North, both with 8-3 records. But the messy AFC South and West races only got messier Sunday. The Chargers intercepted Peyton Manning four times en route to a 36-14 win in the night game, and the Colts fell to 6-5. And before that, the Jaguars lost 24-20 to the Giants and also fell to 6-5. The only team from the South or West that even has a 7-4 record right now is the Chiefs, who beat the Seahawks 42-24 behind 173 yards rushing from Jamaal Charles.

Basically, the power in the AFC is very heavily concentrated in the East and North, with two teams in the East at 9-2 and two in the North at 8-3. What this means is that even if the Steelers can’t beat the Ravens in the standings (and next week’s game against their rivals will be critical in determining whether they can), they’ll have a very, very clear shot at a wild-card berth. It feels tough to be optimistic about the Steelers’ chances after what we saw today, but the eight wins they already have plus a rather weak remaining schedule are two very good reasons to have hope.

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Steelers Vs. Bills: Unlikely Heroes Emerge In Pittsburgh's 19-16 Overtime Win Over Buffalo

While it wasn't always easy to watch, Pittsburgh's 19-16 overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills still counts in the Steelers' win column. Let's take a look at some of the (in some cases unlikely) heroes that emerged late in this Sunday's win.

New place kicker Clutchy McClutcherton Shaun Suisham.

Being "clutch" is a totally tired, completely unfalsifiable claim, but the fact is that the Steelers counted on this guy all afternoon, as Suisham connected on all four of his four field goal attempts, all of which were from at least 41 yards. I don't care if it's an overreaction, I love this guy. Totally, totally, totally dropping some mad flow on a stitched Suisham jersey, and you should, too. Although it has yet to be approved by Urban Dictionary's extremely discerning, Gordon Lish-ish editorial staff, I've taken the liberty of creating a flattering definition of "suisham" on their site:

suisham - v. to produce prolifically and accurately, esp. in the context of field goal kicking, helping your team to a win they probably didn't completely deserve, but hey.

Example: My friend Shaun totally suishamed at work today by landing the big account for his crappy employer.

Bills wideout Steve Johnson.

Sorry, fantasy owners. While this guy has been an unlikely stud for you all year (72.8 ypg, 9 TDs going into Sunday's game), he really let you - and Buffalo fans - down this afternoon. Johnson did his best Limas Sweed impression, dropping a jaw-dropping five passes in Ryan Fitzpatrick's spread attack. The last and most eggregious whiff took place in overtime on a beautiful bomb that should've resulted in another touchdown for his fantasy owners and a rare win for a struggling Buffalo squad. I don't want to dump on the guy - he seems like a really fun player - but Steelers fans should be grateful for Johnson's butterfingers.

The power rushing of Rashard Mendenhall and (to a much, much lesser degree) Issac Redman.

Mendenhall was an absolute terror this afternoon. Granted, his performance was far from explosive - if you discount his longest run (22 yards), his ypc is a mere 3.7 - but he toted the rock a career-high 36 times, putting the offense on his back. Despite occasionally suspect run blocking, Mendenhall displayed some truly beastly running, pushing the pile and falling forward. With the help of Redman (25 yards, 5 ypc), the Steelers rushing attack account for 12 of their 28 first downs. (Sidenote: I'd like to preemptively squelch any talk of Mendenhall being an f-word: fumbler. Yes, he lost one against the Bills, but this is a running back who had put the ball on the ground once every 127 touches going into today's overtime win. Ahman Green, he ain't.)

After squeaking out a narrow overtime victory this Sunday, Pittsburgh (now 8-3) will travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in an all-important divisional brawl.

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Steelers Vs. Bills: Buffalo Forces Overtime In A Tale Of Two Halves

It's been a tale of two halves in Buffalo. Despite early dominance by the Steelers, the Bills were able to move the ball through the air - and occasionally on the ground - against Pittsburgh. Of course, the Steelers weren't helped by some dubious penalty calls. Another personal foul on outside linebacker James Harrison maintained a late Buffalo drive, then a ticky-tack pass interference call on cornerback Keenan Lewis gave Buffalo the ball near the goal line. Fortunately, the Pittsburgh defense tightened up and kept Ryan Fitzpatrick and company out of the end zone.

Pittsburgh's next scoring drive was characterized by big plays - a long completion to tight end Heath Miller, a 21-yard scamper by Rashard Mendenhall - but wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders made a rookie mistake on 3rd & 9, dropping a pass that Ben Roethlisberger placed right in his hands, forcing the team to settle for a Shaun Suisham field goal. The silver lining is that Suisham was clutch in regulation, connecting on all three of his attempts.

Later, a Troy Polamalu interception off of a deflected pass looked like it would seal the win for the Steelers, but Pittsburgh couldn't maintain the following drive. While they were able to weather the two-minute warning and consume all three of Buffalo's time outs, bonehead penalties on Chris Kemoeatu (holding), who was outclassed all afternoon by Buffalo's defensive linemen, and Jonathan Scott (false start) gave the Bills new life.

Kicker Rian Lindell eventually made Pittsburgh pay, drilling a 49-yard field goal and sending the contest into overtime. Buffalo won the coin toss and will receive in extra innings.

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Steelers Vs. Bills: Pittsburgh Struggling Through Second Half, But Leads 16-13

The Bills just finished piling up 13 unanswered points with two field goals by Rian Lindell. The last came after the Bills stripped the ball from Rashard Mendenhall, setting them up with the ball deep in Steelers territory. The Steelers then managed to stall the Bills’ drive after stuffing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s sneak attempt on 3rd-and-1. Fitzpatrick, though, has really piled up yards in the second half and now has 206. It’s disappointing watching this – the Steelers haven’t been able to do much of anything in the second half, and they shouldn’t be playing a close game against a team like the Bills. The Steelers also continue to have holding penalties, and just had a 42-yard Mendenhall run called back on a penalty by Chris Kemoeatu.

Also, Ben Roethlisberger continues to hang onto the ball way too long, and was just sacked on a play in which he had lots of time. The Bills have sacked Roethlisberger four times today. He finally broke a run for a first down after failing to find an open receiver – it would have been nice if he had started doing this earlier in the game.

Mendenhall just broke an 18-yard run, and the Steelers are driving.

UPDATE: And after a horrible drive-killing drop by Emmanuel Sanders, Shaun Suisham just kicked his third field goal of 45 yards or more. The Steelers lead, 16-13.

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Steelers Vs. Bills: Buffalo Scores At End Of Third Quarter, Steelers Lead 13-7

With five minutes left in the third quarter, there hadn’t yet been any scoring in the second half. The Steelers’ most recent drive ended with a Ben Roethlisberger punt attempt – Pittsburgh’s field position would have left it with a very long field goal, so the Steelers had Roethlisberger set up in shotgun on 4th-and-4, and he made a surprise punt, hoping to pin the Bills near their own goal line. Unfortunately, Emmanuel Sanders couldn’t get to the ball before it landed in the end zone.

One of the best stories today has been the very welcome big game by Hines Ward, who now has seven receptions for 107 yards. Rashard Mendenhall currently has 21 rushes for 83 yards against the Bills’ weak rush defense. Roethlisberger has good numbers but, as Pete says below, he’s waiting too long and has made several dubious passes, including a strange one into coverage to Mewelde Moore on the Steelers’ last drive. The Bills might have held Moore, but it was a dangerous pass nonetheless.

As I was typing this post, Fred Jackson caught a screen pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick for a long touchdown pass, putting the Bills on the board. It’s now 13-7.

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Steelers Vs. Bills: Pittsburgh Dominant In First Half, Leads Buffalo, 13-0

Despite a few missteps - a Ben Roethlisberger misfire here, a Jonathan Scott holding penalty there - the Pittsburgh Steelers have totally dominated the Buffalo Bills through one half of action. Take a look at the statistical discrepancies:

Steelers Bills
Total Yards 225 51
Rushing Yards 74 6
Third Down Conversions 8-10 0-3
Time of Possession 23:55 6:05

 

Dominance aside, one facet of Pittsburgh's game that could definitely improve is Roethlisberger's pocket presence. He's hanging in there way too long, which has resulted in numerous coverage sacks and holding penalties, as his offensive linemen struggle to protect him for extended periods. This isn't anything new; Roethlisberger's been doing this all season. While I admire his patience, and this occasionally results in a big play, I wish he would check down to his hot read or scramble up the field for a short gain on the ground more often.

It's nice to see the Steelers feeding Rashard Mendenhall (65 yards, 3.6 ypc) against the worst rushing defense in the league (163 ypg going into today's contest). However, I hope Issac Redman will get more involved in the second half, since Mendenhall has already recorded 18 carries in one half of football. Pittsburgh needs their young star running back to stay healthy for the postseason.

The Steelers will kick off to the Bills after halftime and attempt to protect their 13-0 lead.

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Steelers Vs. Bills: Offense Stalls, But Steelers Lead 10-0

The Steelers have sustained their offense this afternoon with third-down conversions, and they stayed alive in their most recent drive after a fumble by Hines Ward was called back due to a penalty. Even though they scored on their first two drives, though, Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t played that well. He has thrown weak balls on a couple of passes that should have been completed, and in the Steelers’ third drive, the Bills’ pass rush got to him, getting his face regularly and sacking him on the third down that ended the drive. The Steelers might have ended up scoring anyway if a rather nit-picky holding call against Jonathan Scott hadn’t nullified a long completion to Ward, but overall it wasn’t a great drive anyway. The Bills’ offense continues to do very little, though, and the Steelers lead 10-0 with three minutes left before half. The Bills are driving now for the first time in the game.

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Steelers Vs. Bills: Ben Roethlisberger Leads Steelers' Second Drive, Shaun Suisham Kicks First 2010 Field Goal

The Steelers’ second drive of the game wasn’t as successful as their first, but they still managed a score on Shaun Suisham’s first field goal with the Steelers, a 45-yarder. Pittsburgh’s drive to that point had been led by Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game, and the Steelers managed to sustain it thanks to big plays by Mewelde Moore and Heath Miller. On the Moore play, Roethlisberger was about to be sacked on third down, but he flipped the ball to Moore just before the Bills defense got to him, and Moore managed to scramble to find his way past the first-down marker. Miller’s play was just a plain old good catch for a first down on a ball that Roethlisberger threw a bit wide. Miller hasn’t been much of a factor as a pass target this year, but he’s still very capable when the Steelers throw the ball his way. The Steelers lead, 10-0.

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Steelers Vs. Bills: Rashard Mendenhall Leads Pittsburgh Rushing Attack As Steelers Score On Opening Drive

On their opening drive, the Steelers took advantage of the Bills’ league-worst run defense, pounding away with Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman. Redman picked up a nine-yard up-the-middle power run that looked a lot like vintage Jerome Bettis. Mendenhall had eight carries for 35 yards, including a short touchdown run in which he went through the Bills’ offensive line untouched. Ben Roethlisberger completed three passes, including two to Hines Ward – it would be nice to see Ward have a big game today after several weeks in which it looked like his age was catching up to him.

The Steelers did try one trick play, with Antwaan Randle El attempting a pass to Ward, but overall the drive was based around a very standard and brutal rushing offense. Shaun Suisham kicked the point after, and the Steelers lead, 7-0.

Brett Keisel is officially out for today, by the way, and Nick Eason is starting in his place.

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Week 12 NFL Injuries: Steelers' Brett Keisel Has Setback

Just a couple of quick injury updates before the game Sunday afternoon: Defensive end Brett Keisel has been downgraded and is now listed as “questionable.” He missed most of the last month with a hamstring injury, but this time it’s his calf that’s the problem. Scott Brown reports that Keisel “woke up with” the injury Saturday and that the Steelers may be cautious with him since he’s coming back from the hamstring issue anyway. If he’s unavailable, Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood will continue to play in his place.

There doesn’t seem to be any new news on Troy Polamalu’s injury. Polamalu practiced Friday despite an injured Achillies, but is listed as questionable. Antonio Brown (knee) is out, and Matt Spaeth (concussion) is doubtful.

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Week 12 NFL Injuries, Steelers: Troy Polamalu Questionable, Brett Keisel To Return

The Steelers’ injury report is out, and it appears the Steelers will be in pretty good shape to play the Bills on Sunday. The first order of business is whether Troy Polamalu will play – his Achilles continues to bother him, and he’s currently listed as questionable, but he participated in practice Friday. Rookie wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee) is out, but the Steelers will only really miss him on special teams. Tight end Matt Spaeth is listed as doubtful with a concussion.

The good news with regard to injuries, though, is that Brett Keisel will be ready to go after missing about a month with a hamstring injury. This should provide a boost for the Steelers defense – with the absence of Keisel and Aaron Smith (who will be out against this week), Pittsburgh has relied upon Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood, and the depth at defensive end has been thin. It doesn’t sound like Keisel will have any trouble coming back, either:

“I feel good. I got two zeros, man, and a one,” he said, referring to his 100 percent health. “I’m chomping at the bit to get back out there” …

“I think he’s ready to go, definitely,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “The training staff gave him the OK to practice and he’s practiced all week, I don’t think he missed a snap.”

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Bills Vs. Steelers: NFL Week 12 Previews

Ten games down, six to go in the 2010 NFL season. The Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) are in great shape to return to the playoffs after failing to qualify for the postseason for the first time since Mike Tomlin was named head coach in 2007. Their Week 12 road test against the Buffalo Bills won't be as easy as it might seem on paper. The Bills (2-8) have won their past two games, and sport a dangerous passing attack that will challenge the Steelers' secondary. 

More previews to come, but for now, here's a few facts, trends and figures about the Steelers and Bills series history, as well as up-to-date season stats for both squads.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (7-3) AT BUFFALO BILLS (2-8)

SERIES

 

STEELERS

BILLS

SERIES LEADER

11-8

STREAKS

6 of past 7

COACHES VS. OPP.

Tomlin: 1-0

Gailey: 0-0

LAST WEEK

W 35-3 vs. Raiders

W 49-31 at Bengals

LAST GAME

9/16/07: Bills 3 at Steelers 26.  Pittsburgh defense registers 4 sacks & allows just 223 total yards en route to victory.  Steelers K Jeff Reed kicks 4 FGs in 1st half.

LAST GAME AT SITE

1/2/05: Steelers 29, Bills 24.  Reed converts all 5 FG attempts (22, 21, 31, 37, 33) & Pittsburgh RB Willie Parker rushes for 102 yards as Steelers finish regular season 15-1.

BROADCAST

CBS (1:00 PM ET): Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots.  SIRIUS: 121 (Pit.), 127 (Buf.).  XM: 104 (Buf.).

 

STATS

PASSING

Roethlisberger: 117-187-1,579-12-4-101.9 (3L)

Fitzpatrick: 169-285-1,961-18-9-88.1

RUSHING

Mendenhall: 202-811-4.0-8 (T3L)

F. Jackson: 129-562-4.4-5

RECEIVING

Wallace: 33-759-23.0-8

St. Johnson: 52-728-14.0-9 (T3L)

OFFENSE

325.3

317.4

TAKE/GIVE

+10 (1C)

-6

DEFENSE

302.1 (2C)

372.4

SACKS

Harrison: 9 (T3L)

Scott: 3

INTs

Polamalu: 3

4 tied: 1

PUNTING

Sepulveda: 45.8 (3C)

Moorman: 43.0

KICKING

Reed: 64 (19/19 PAT; 15/22 FG)

Lindell: 51 (24/25 PAT; 9/14 FG)

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