On Wednesday, Ben Roethlisberger was named the AFC’s Offensive Player-of-the-Week after his incredible record-breaking performance against the Indianapolis Colts. But Ben says he’s putting that behind him, “It’s not hard to do. I told ya monday morning I got up and started changing diapers. Cleaned up the kitchen, moving on. I mean life goes on and that’s the realistic part of it. You have to put it behind you.” Ben’s focus now is the Baltimore Ravens and their outstanding linebacker, Terrell Suggs, who has sacked Roethlisberger 16 times over the course of their careers. He’s the one guy Ben singled out when talking about the Ravens, “He’s one of the best that plays the game. And he rushes the passer and gets after it and high motor so a lot of respect for him and just try to keep him off of me.” Keeping Suggs off Ben is a key to the Steelers making it three consecutive wins.

There’s not a more legendary Steeler than Joe Greene. He was Chuck Noll’s first draft pick, the cornerstone of the Steelers 1970s Super Bowl teams, the leader, and the heart and soul of the NFL’s greatest dynasty. But Mean Joe has a soft side, and today on a conference call, Greene told me he expects to be very emotional on Sunday night…The same way he was when he got the news from the Rooneys last spring, “making the decision to ah, to retire the jersey, Dan and Art II, that, that is just a tremendous honor. As i said, I was so happy that I was sitting down when Art told me that was their intentions.” Greene said he’ll have a large group of family members with him at Heinz Field on Sunday, including his wife and their children, and his mom. Greene will be honored in a private ceremony and reception before the game, and then the official jersey retirement at halftime as the Steelers host the Ravens on WPXI.

The Steelers have won consecutive games for the first time this season, and on Sunday night, they’ll try to make it three in a row when they host the Ravens. The offense put up big numbers in the win over Indianapolis, but the defense still has some questions—and the biggest is cornerback Cortez Allen, who signed a five-year, $5 million contract on the day before the season opener. Allen lost his starting job after the loss to the Browns. Allen also played poorly last week. He was in coverage for two of Andrew Luck’s TD passes, and was replaced by in the 4th quarter. Today at his weekly news conference, I asked Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin if he still had confidence in Allen, “I do. I not only reiterated that to Cortez after the game, but I reiterated that to him within the game. I was doing what I felt was necessary for us to win the football game, but it has no bearing on what I think he is capable of…he has to lick his wounds, roll up his sleeves and come back to work this week…we’ll watch him close and expect him to do it and answer the bell with what comes with putting bad stuff on tape. I would imagine that Baltimore will work to attack him and he better work to defend himself. Such is life in the NFL. Such is life at the cornerback position.”

Olli Maatta will have surgery next week to remove a tumor from his thyroid. Stunning news to be sure, but Maatta is showing wisdom and maturity beyond his 20 years. Maatta is being praised for his calm under pressure, his perspective, and his courage for the way he’s handled himself through this medical issue. Doctors told us today that there’s about an 85 percent chance that the tumor is cancerous, but even if it is, they don’t expect that Maatta will need chemotherapy or radiation, and they anticipate a full recovery. That said, Maatta has played for about 3 weeks with this on his mind. And he’ll play the three home games coming up before next week’s surgery. It’s an amazing story. Here’s Maatta’s take, “And i don’t think I right now feel any different than I did a year ago or anything. I feel healthy and feel fine. The only thing that’s different is that I know I maybe have cancer, and you know what, that’s tough news, but I don’t think that has affected me much.”

Anybody who tells you they know what will happen week-to-week in the NFL is lying. That includes Yours Truly. There may have been someone who picked the Steelers to beat the Colts (I just don’t know anyone). But seriously, who really thought this game would play out like it did??? The answer is NOBODY! This win doesn’t guarantee anything, but it changes everything. The Steelers are now in good position with a manageable schedule in their final eight games. They could still lose any game down the stretch, but as we found out today, they could also win any game. Suddenly, football in the first week of January is looking like a realistic possibility.

The steelers are starting to get some players back on the field on defense.Ike taylor was limited at practice on Thursday as he recovers from a broken forearm. Taylor had an unusual response to the question about when he would be back, saying he’d like to be like the character ‘Wolverine’ from X-Men. “I don’t know if you’re a fan of the X-Men, but I’m a fan of the Wolverine. The Wolverine kinda bounce back ASAP depending on what the injury is…(reporter question)…What do the doctors say? The doctors telling me you can think like a Wolverine. Ain’t nothing wrong with thinking like that, take your time so that’s why I say they got the governor on me.”

We live with a sports world filled with rhetoric and cliche. All week and every week, in news conferences and locker rooms, we hear how it was, is and will be. Well, i think we all know that it’s a lot easier to say the right things than it is to do the right things. It all sounds right until a game goes terribly wrong. The Steelers were on the wrong end of a rout in Cleveland. It’s a loss that could stick with them. It may even define them. We’ll find out. The steelers are 3-3 with 10 regular-season games to go. Make no mistake. For the Steelers, the easy part is in the rear view mirror. If you think there are any breathers left on the schedule, think again.

I think i know what some Steelers fans are thinking tonight. There’s no such thing as a bad win. I know. I’ve heard that many times, and on the surface, and in the standings, that might be true. But deeper down, in the core that makes or breaks a team, let’s just say this was a troubling win. The Steelers are short on swagger (after the last two games, that’s not a surprise). I could be wrong (it wouldn’t be the first time), but the Steelers appear to be a team waiting to unravel. The Steelers are 3-and-2, but the schedule will get tougher, and not easier. Cleveland’s next on the road. And the Steelers can’t afford a mistake by the lake. Beware the Browns!

 http://shultsford.com

The NFL is once again making money off of a Pittsburgh Steelers player. The league fined lineman Cam Heyward $22,050 this week. Heyward was fined for unsportsmanlike conduct and using abusive language to a game official in the third quarter of last Sunday’s loss to Tampa. The Steelers brought in referees to practice this week to help sort out the Steelers penalty problems. Heyward didn’t address the fine, but did talk about the impact having the refs at practice might have, “You know it’ll help us to be more aware. You know more detailed in our work and hopefully we can take advantage of it and take it into the games this week.”

 http://shultsford.com

A wise baseball man once told me that it’s tough to make the playoffs, but even tougher to make it back. I thought of that when the Pirates clinched a spot last week. We’ve all heard the criticism of owner Bob Nutting, and constant questions surrounding roster moves by General Manager Neal Huntington. Well, just making the playoffs won’t put an end to those negative opinions—only a World Series title would. But if you’re one of the naysayers, then before the start of the playoffs, throw some credit instead of criticism. Because even if it ends on Wednesday night, the Pirates have already done something that many said would never happen.
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