LFW 9/28: Steelers Missed Playoffs After Last 1-2 Start

Plus the Patriots run the ball, a QB controversy in Cleveland and grading Flacco.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, September 28th, 2009 at 8:42 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Steelers shocked: Bengals top Super Bowl champions 23-20

USAToday says the Steelers are shocked, losing in the final seconds to division rival Cincinnati. Well, they’re not the only ones who are shocked. What is happening in the AFC North? Are the Bengals that good or are the Steelers that bad? Neither of these teams are playing the way most predicted.

The defending Super Bowl champs have a losing record and are in third place in the AFC North, only ahead of a team that is on the verge of collapse in the Browns. And the Bengals are quickly gaining respect and legitimacy in the AFC North and around the league.

Joe Kay, an AP sports writer, came up with an interesting note about the black and gold: The Steelers hadn’t started 1-2 since 2006, the last time they were coming off a Super Bowl win. They opened 1-3 that season and finished 8-8, missing out on the playoffs. With two straight last-minute losses, the Steelers are again finding out how tough it is to be a defending champ.

Change of pace, Patriots rely on the run to beat Falcons

In their 26-10 victory, the New England Patriots ran the ball seven more times against the Falcons than they did against the Jets in Week 2, says Albert Breer of SportingNews.com

Don’t expect the Patriots to execute that many rushing plays against Baltimore next week, even though that would be nice considering the foundation of the Ravens’ defense is its ability to stop the run.

The Patriots’ strength is not running the ball; they simply adjusted their approach in a way that would attack the Falcons’ weakness and win the game. Bill Belichick will game plan for the Ravens with that same principle – attacking weaknesses – in mind. There are zero cracks in the Ravens’ run-stopping foundation, so I would bet the Patriots will try to beat the purple and black in the air.

QB Controversy in Cleveland

Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the loss to Baltimore pushed the Browns neck-deep in quarterback controversy. Coach Eric Mangini won’t say who will start next Sunday against Cincinnati.

Doesn’t this all sound familiar? Didn’t the Ravens “D” create a quarterback controversy (at least for one week) in Philadelphia last year when head coach Andy Reid pulled Donovan McNabb after turning in a career-low 13.2 QB ranking in one half of play? I guess Ray Lewis and Co. have that affect on opponents.

There’s no place like home

Clark Judge of CBSSports.com believes that Willis McGahee’s decision to spend the offseason training at the Castle in Owings Mills instead of at his alma mater, the University of Miami, has contributed to his league-leading six touchdowns.

Flacco flexes his muscles

In “Let’s Go Primetime,” Deion Sanders counts down the Top 10 performances from Week 3 in the NFL. Joe Flacco’s 347-yard career performance in the Ravens’ 34-3 rout of the Cleveland Browns makes the list at No. 9. 

Flacco gets a “B” for his performance from Preston

In a 34-3 victory like yesterday, it’s difficult to find areas of improvement. That may be why in his weekly Ravens report card, the lowest grade Mike Preston could give out was a B – handed to both the quarterback and linebacker positions.

Preston believes Joe Flacco’s career-high 342-yard day was misleading. He notes that a number of Flacco’s passes sailed and two should have been picked off. Preston believes, “This is the kind of game in which players develop bad habits. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen to Flacco.”

King ready for the Ravens-Patriots showdown

In his Monday Morning QB, Peter King noted that he hadn’t been to bed following yesterday’s football action and still couldn’t wait for next Sunday’s Baltimore (3-0) at New England (2-1) contest.

King listed Baltimore atop his “Fine Fifteen” list and recorded Joe Flacco at No. 4 on his “MVP Watch.” King also gave some love to Ravens tackle Michael Oher saying, “[he] would get some consideration from me for offensive rookie of the year if I had to fill out my ballot this morning.”

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