In terms of margin of defeat, Sunday’s loss to the Eagles was the worst for the Steelers in 27 years. In 1989, the Steelers lost to the Bengals in week two 41-10. On Sunday, they lost 34-3, and despite being down by so many points, Mike Tomlin decided to keep his starters in the game. Mike Tomlin was asked why, “I’ll always be one who is slow to acknowledge defeat, and acceptance of defeat. I take responsibility for those guys remaining in the game, and I always do and will, this is something that we do. We play and we play to win. We understand that injuries are part of football, but we don’t let that fear be our guide in terms of decisions making.”
It was a somber Sunday night with the news that Arnold Palmer had passed away. Now, sadness has turned to celebration of a life well-lived. He was a sports superstar, a golf legend and a world icon. But I remember Arnold Palmer as my childhood sports idol. The first time I ever played golf, I entertained my foursome by imitating Palmer’s swing. 15 years later, as a young sports reporter, I stood numb as Mr. Palmer hit balls at the practice range before my first interview with him. My eyes were fixed on him for the better part of 30 minutes, in disbelief that it was actually Arnold Palmer. That interview was the first of many with Palmer over the next three decades, but the thrill never went away. The novelty never wore off. The excitement peaked in the early spring of 2005, when I had the honor of playing golf with The King. As bad luck would have it, on that dream-of-a-lifetime day, I was dealing with the throbbing pain of a torn muscle in my right forearm (and could barely lift a golf club), but the sheer thrill of being with Palmer wiped out any discomfort. The pain in my arm was replaced by raw adrenaline, and I enjoyed some of the best shots of my so-so golf life. I even felt comfortable enough to show Mr. Palmer my imitation of his swing. He doubled over with laughter, and then gave me a lesson. He praised my “powerful swing” (his words), but told me I was leaving too much of my weight on my back foot “You have to realize,” I said, “that I’m as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” For the second time that day, I had my hero in stitches. They don’t come any bigger than Arnold Palmer. They don’t come any better either. I used to be in awe of a legend I didn’t know, but after nearly 30 years of getting to know Arnold Palmer, I found myself in awe of his class and humility. I’ll be forever in awe of golf’s greatest ambassador, famous the world over, but a gentleman, and a Latrobe guy to the end.
The Steelers will be facing a confident rookie quarterback on Sunday. The bad news for Carson Wentz is that the Steelers have a stellar record against rookie QBs. Since 2000, only two rookie quarterbacks have beaten the Steelers. I asked Lawrence Timmons about stopping Wentz, and why they do so well against rookies, “I feel like just jamming the receivers, getting pressure on him, like I said, stopping the run will be huge because he does have some weapons, Sproles…nice receivers, so we’re gonna have our hands full.”
Any game against a division opponent comes with a great deal of emotion, but because of what happened in last January’s playoff game over the Bengals, there was a lot of talk going into Sunday’s game about that raw emotion carrying over. The Steelers insisted that wouldn’t happen. They were right. As it turns out, there were no issues on Sunday. The Steelers and Bengals were all business, and on their best behavior. Steelers LB Arthur Moats put it into perspective, “We’re both professional teams. We understand you’re not gonna win games if you just go out there and fight all the time. If that’s the case, join the UFC or become a boxer. For us, we understood the importance of keeping our composure. I feel they did it too, and both teams did a great job at that.”
Steelers TE Xavier Grimble is celebrating two milestones, and helping to forge a new path for the Steelers offense. In Sunday’s win over the Bengals, Grimble caught his first NFL pass for his first NFL touchdown, “I wanted to score so bad, so I was like, don’t go down. Do what you gotta do to get in the end zone. I was so close. I needed that, so I just wanted to get it in. First career catch. First touchdown.”
The Steelers are tied with the Ravens for the division lead and ready for a trip to Philadelphia. A big reason for their 2-0 start is RB DeAngelo Williams, the league’s top rusher after two games. Yesterday, Williams ran for 92 yards and added another 38 yards receiving, including a TD. It was a great performance and a solid early-season win against a bitter rival, “look at the field conditions and look what we were able to do over the course of the game. We knew it was going to be a two-chinstrap game. We knew also that it was going to be a high running game as well, because of the field conditions and the weather conditions period.”
The Pro Football HOF has released its 94 modern day nominees, and six Steelers are on the list. This is Hines Ward’s first year of eligibility for the Hall. Ward caught 1000 passes throughout his 14 seasons, and was such a good blocker that rules were changed because of him. Ward also had 85 touchdowns in his career as well as two Super Bowl bowl rings. One of last year’s finalists, Alan Faneca is also on the list, as well as Bill Cowher, Buddy Parker, Levon Kirkland and Gary Anderson. Aliquippa’s Ty Law is also nominated. The list will be trimmed to 25 semifinalists in November and to 15 finalists in January.
Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden on Antonio Brown, “he’s someone who will alter your game plan he’s that type of receiver and that type of talent. we’re gonna be aware of where he is all the time whoever’s on him, it doesn’t matter he’s gonna be a great challenge for all of them and hopefully they’ll be up to it.”
Clint Hurdle after Sunday’s discouraging loss to the Reds at PNC Park, “we have had very good success at home, but that doesn’t mean you’re just going to have success at home. You’ve gotta earn it and that means going out there every day, and it takes all three parts of the game. You get that good start the bullpen working, you play defense and you find some offense, and that really hasn’t shown up with any consistency in the homestand here…last two times.”
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown says he’ll be sticking to what he does best when the Steelers start the season in Washington DC Monday night. Brown is coming off his best year as a pro, and in the last 3 seasons, he has 375 receptions for over 5000 receiving yards and 31 receiving touchdowns. On Monday night, Brown will be up against new Redskins CB Josh Norman, the same player who got into an embarrassing series of on-field confrontations with Giants receiver Odell Beckham. Don’t expect Brown to fall into that trap. He’s ready, but only to play football, “I’m a professional football player, I’m not a fighter, you know I wear equipment…my job is to score touchdowns and catch footballs. I don’t line up looking who a guy is, I line up reading schemes and trying to execute the plays that Coach Haley puts in to the best of my ability.”