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Tag:James Harrison
Posted on: January 15, 2011 8:15 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2011 8:18 pm
 

Did Ravens lose it or did Steelers win it?

Posted by Andy Benoit

All season long, T.J. Houshmandzadeh has been carping for more balls to come his way. On fourth-and-18 on Baltimore’s final drive at Pittsburgh, it was Housh who let the pigskin bounce off his mitts. It was one of a handful of mistakes made by the Ravens during a second half that included three turnovers, J. Harrison (US Presswire)a holding penalty to negate Lardarius Webb’s punt return score and, on the series before Housh’s drop, an equally egregious drop by Anquan Boldin in the end zone.

But before we declare that Baltimore lost the game Saturday night, let’s acknowledge everything Pittsburgh did to win it. On the final touchdown drive, Ben Roethlisberger, who had a few accuracy issues on the night, completed a chains-moving strike to Hines Ward on third-and-10. A few plays later, on third and forever, he launched a bomb to Antonio Brown, who “David Tyree’d” the ball against his helmet inside the five. It was a brilliant play-call by offensive coordinator Bruce Arians; Roethlisberger’s pass would either fall incomplete or be picked off for what would amount to a really good punt. Or, it would be caught near the goal-line to set up Rashard Mendenhall's go-ahead touchdown.

As many plays as the Steelers offense made late in the game, it was the defense that carried the night. The Steelers sacked Joe Flacco five times. James Harrison was overshadowed by Terrell Suggs’ monstrous performance (three sacks, two tackles for a loss and the forced fumble in the second quarter on the play where Cory Redding was the only player who realized that the whistle hadn’t blown). But it was Harrison who exploited the one-on-one mismatch against left tackle Michael Oher (a bright young player but one whom raised some serious questions down the stretch) and took over in the fourth. Harrison finished with three sacks and a host of quarterback hurries.

Harrison was complemented by a multitude of unsung defensive heroes wearing black and gold. Up-and-coming defensive end Ziggy Hood was stout against the run. Ryan Clark was the most dominant safety on the field, registering a handful of openfield tackles in the first half and picking off Joe Flacco during the momentum swing in the third quarter. And, finally, maligned nickelback William Gay was brilliant stepping in on the outside role for injured Bryant McFadden.

The Ravens, with all their mistakes, didn’t do themselves any favors in the second half. But isn’t it funny how mistakes seem to occur more when you’re facing a great team?

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Posted on: January 13, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: January 13, 2011 12:32 pm
 

Steelers vs. Ravens: 7-Point Divisional Preview

Posted by Josh Katzowitz



CBSSports.com's patented and award-winning 7-point preview gets you ready for each and every playoff game. As an added bonus, check out our playoff podcast preview:



1. Baltimore Ravens (No. 5, AFC, 13-4) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 2, AFC, 12-4)

This is perhaps the best rivalry in the NFL today. No, strike the “perhaps.” It is the No. 1 rivalry for toughness, defensive struggles, bloody and broken noses and grit. We’re lucky enough to see these two AFC North squads play twice a year, but it’s always an extra treat to watch them face off in the playoffs.

These two had the same regular-season record, and when they met in Week 4 and Week 13, both contests were decided by three points – one win for the Ravens and one for the Steelers. LB Terrell Suggs said earlier this week that the winner of this game will triumph in the Super Bowl. He might very well be right.

2. PLAYOFFS?! Watchability Ranking



I hate going five out of five, but in the Divisional Playoffs, to get this matchup, there’s really no other choice.

3. Key Matchup to Watch: Ravens offensive line vs. Steelers linebackers

For the second straight week, Baltimore’s tackles will have to figure out how to slow down the opponent’s 3-4 defense linebacking corps. Last week, the Chiefs sacked Ravens QB Joe Flacco four times and put pressure on him throughout the game, and Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali made life very difficult for the Ravens offensive line.

Baltimore LT Michael Oher had a particularly tough time protecting his quarterback, and if he continues to struggle, Steelers LBs James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons will be happy to take shots at Flacco.

But it’s not just about pass protection. The offensive line also has to open holes for RB Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, and if they can’t get into the second level of the Pittsburgh defense, the Ravens are going to have big problems. The Steelers allow only 62.8 rushing yards per game – by far, the best number in the league – and the two times these two teams played this year, Rice combined for 17 carries and 52 yards.

If the offensive line can’t help him improve on those numbers, it’s going to be very tough for Baltimore’s offense to find enough balance to beat the Steelers.

4. Potentially Relevant Video

Those Troy Polamalu Head & Shoulders commercials are pretty hit or miss. Some are fairly funny; some are disastrous. But what I like best about them is that Polamalu is actually a pretty effective comedy actor. “You asked with your eyes, Trent. You asked with your eyes."



5. The Ravens will win if ...

QB Joe Flacco continues to hit TE Todd Heap every chance he gets. Flacco targeted Heap 13 times last week in Kansas City, and Heap caught 10 of those passes for 108 yards. If he finds the end zone a couple times vs. the Steelers, Baltimore could pull off its second-straight road playoff win.

6. The Steelers will win if ...

QB Ben Roethlisberger can pick apart the Ravens secondary. Which he should do. Aside from Reed, who’s still world class, and Chris Carr, Baltimore’s defensive backs corps is awfully mediocre.

7. Prediction: Steelers 16, Ravens 10



Posted on: December 30, 2010 6:57 pm
 

NFL reduces fines for 'Big 3' concussion hits

Posted by Will Brinson

Way back in the middle of October, Brandon Meriweather, James Harrison and Dunta Robinson were all fined a lot of money because of big helmet-to-helmet hits that sparked a national debate about the safety of the NFL.

Those fines, according to Judy Battista of the New York Times, have all been reduced.

Harrison (originally fined $75,000, which nearly "forced" him into retirement) had his fine reduced from $75,000 to $50,000, Meriweather (the headbutt on Todd Heap) had his reduced from $50,000 to $40,000 and Dunta Robinson (who collided with DeSean Jackson) had his reduced from $50,000 to $25,000.

The NFL has since confirmed the reductions.

"We can confirm the outcome of those appeals," the NFL said in a statement. "The appeals officer, Ted Cottrell, reduced Robinson’s fine from $50,000 to $25,000 and Meriweather’s fine from $50,000 to $40,000. Following these decisions, Cottrell took the additional step of reviewing the appeal of James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Harrison was fined $75,000 earlier this season for a similar flagrant hit. Cottrell consulted with Commissioner Goodell about reducing Harrison’s fine to $50,000 and the commissioner fully supported the decision."

Cottrell also said, according to the league's statement, that he reduced the fines because of an increased effort by the players to work within the confines of the rules and adjusting their techniques.

Additionally, those fine amounts just make more sense in the scheme of things, especially when you consider how knee-jerk the reaction from the league was to three big hits within a short time span at the time.

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, and no major incidents with any of the players during the rest of the regular season, a reduction in fines seems like a smart move.

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Posted on: December 29, 2010 10:48 am
 

Favre decision coming soon

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Expect the NFL finally to rule on the Brett Favre/Jenn Sterger incident within the next 48 hours, and according to various media reports – some of which have been out there for a few weeks now – he won’t be suspended.

NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora, though, has determined a ceiling for how much Favre could be fined. According to La Canfora, the fine from the league won’t exceed $50,000 and, in fact, could be less.

So, a decision that won’t be noted for its swiftness could be remembered for its unremarkable penalty.

Somewhere, James Harrison is seething.

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Posted on: December 9, 2010 12:43 am
 

Top Ten With a Twist: Non-Brady MVP votes

M. Ryan would be the top MVP candidate in the league right now if it wasn't for a guy named T. Brady (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

This week, seemingly everybody is proclaiming Patriots QB Tom Brady as the player who should be named MVP – including his former teammate, Troy Brown, who I talked to for this week’s Five Questions (or more) segment. After watching Brady dissect the Jets on Monday, that’s hard to argue.

But we’ve still got four weeks of regular-season NFL football, so Brady can’t be named the Most Valuable Players quite yet (I think that’s actually in the rules). That said, there are a number of players who have done quite a bit to help their respective teams this season that also must be in the conversation for MVP. What happens, after all, if Brady throws 10 interceptions in the final four games and the Patriots go 0-4 in that stretch?

Thus, this Top Ten With a Twist pays homage to those who are having hellaciously good years for teams good and bad and could creep into a voter’s conscience (assuming he/she doesn’t simply write Brady’s name in every possible space on the ballot). I’m not saying most of these guys should win; I’m just saying they should be considered.

10. Julius Peppers, DE, Bears: In his first season in Chicago, the defense, ranked as the third-best in the NFL, is a huge reason why the Bears are 9-3, lead the NFC North and own the second-best record in the conference (tied with the Saints). He’s recorded seven sacks and a very strong six passes defended and he’s forced three fumbles. You could also make a case for Brian Urlacher in this spot.

9. Drew Brees, QB, Saints: So many other quarterbacks have made big headlines this season – some for good reasons (we’ll get into those candidates later) and some for bad reasons (ahem, Brett Favre) – and it seems like Brees has been slightly ignored. That’s also because he isn’t the top quarterback in his division at this point and because the Saints are in danger of not winning the NFC South (more on the Falcons below). But the fact is that Brees is statistically the most-accurate quarterback in the league, and the Saints are 9-3 with a chance to return to the Super Bowl. That’s not too shabby.

8. Clay Matthews, LB, Packers: Remember how amazingly fast Matthews started the season, recording six sacks in the first two games? Well, he’s slowed considerably since then, and even Miami’s Cameron Wake has surpassed him for the league lead (Wake has 12 sack to Matthews’ 11.5). Matthews only has one sack in the past three games, but he’s still got a good shot at defensive player of the year (along with Julius Peppers, Steelers LB James Harrison, Eagles DE Trent Cole and Bills NT Kyle Williams), and he’s still having one heck of a year. 

7. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Coming off a sophomore season in which he averaged 5.9 yards per rush and finished 2009 with 1,120 yards and seven TDs, Kansas City rewarded him by going out and getting (gulp!) a legitimate RB in Thomas Jones. In his first two games of the season, Charles averaged 11 carries and 70.5 yards per contest, leaving some of us to wonder what was going on in Kansas City. But Charles has been awesome for the resurgent 8-4 Chiefs, averaging a ridiculous 6.2 yards per carry while gaining 1,137 yards.

6. James Harrison, LB, Steelers: You’d be forgiven if, the other day when Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin was defending Harrison in another laborious discussion about fines, you would have scoffed when Tomlin said Harrison was having an MVP-type season. But look at the plays he’s made and the numbers he’s produced. Harrison is third among linebackers with 10 sacks, he’s defended six passes and produced two interceptions, and he’s forced six fumbles, best among LBs. And he does it for a top-five defense which could help the Steelers to a deep postseason run. He's the MVP of NFL fines, but he might be the MVP overall as well.

5. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: You’ve got Matthews on defense, and now you’ve got Rodgers as the catalyst for an offense ranked in the top-10, despite a dreadful running game. Rodgers has been so impressive (a 65.4 completion percentage, 3,243 yards, 23 TDs and nine INTs) without the benefit of Ryan Grant and having to play with very little support in Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn (they rank 30th and 50th in rushing in the league, respectively). His MVP candidacy obviously will ride on whether he can get Green Bay into the playoffs.

4. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: A week ago, I might have picked Rivers a little bit higher, but he’s coming off a bad, bad home loss to the Raiders that dropped San Diego two games behind the Chiefs in the AFC West. Not that Rivers played poorly, because he wasn’t bad. But it’s tough to get excited about a QB leading a 6-6 squad who very well could miss the playoffs, even if he is the guy who’s led his team to all six of those wins.

M. Jones-Drew has made himself a strong MVP candidate in the past five weeks (US Presswire). 3. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: What would you say if I told you that Jones-Drew has rushed for at least 100 yards in his past five games and helped Jacksonville win four of its past five to take over first place in the AFC South? Would you say that man would be an MVP candidate? I would.

2. Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: Yes, he’s missed three games because of injury, but other than that, Vick is, bar none, one of the best quarterbacks in the league and he’s having a career season in a year in which he wasn’t supposed to be the starter (you might have forgotten about a guy named Kevin Kolb). He could, throughout his career, always change the game’s dynamic with his running ability (and he’s got 467 rushing yards, a 6.3 average and six scores this season), but he’s showcased his arm this year as well (63.8 completion percentage, 2,243 yards, 15 TDs, two INTs). He is absolutely a complete quarterback and absolutely an MVP candidate.

1. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: The “Matty Ice” moniker has already worn thin – unlike the “Pocket Hercules” nickname for Jones-Drew – but there’s no question that it’s reflective of his playing ability. Even when he doesn’t play altogether well – an example would be last week in Tampa Bay – he still somehow finds a way to lead Atlanta to a win. At this point, the Falcons are the best team in the NFC, and Ryan is the biggest reason for that. If Brady falls off in the last month of the year, my vote at this point would go to Ryan.

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Posted on: December 8, 2010 6:42 pm
 

Harrison thinks he was victim of cheap-shot

J. Harrison feels like he was cheap-shooted during last Sunday's game with Baltimore (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

For once, Steelers LB James Harrison is playing the victim card, and he might have a point.

As the Pittsburgh Post Gazette writes, his teammates think Ravens G Chris Chester – a guy not known as an especially dirty player – tried to cheap-shot Harrison during last Sunday’s Baltimore win.

During an extra point attempt, the Ravens were flagged for a false start, but Chester fired on Harrison anyway, leading to both teams pushing and shoving each other (Harrison wisely backed away from the tussle).

From the story:

"Of course it was deliberate," Harrison said today in the Steelers locker room. "There's no way that happens on an extra point because [offensive linemen] don't shoot out. It's obvious it was blatant. It was on purpose."

Asked if it was a cheap shot, Harrison said, "Yeah it's cheap, but when it comes down to it, it's only a 5-yard penalty, they move back to the 7 and re-kick. It's not going to hurt them."

"It was a dirty play," said inside linebacker James Farrior.


Chester Chester might have been upset, because Harrison ran him over earlier in the game. though it sounds like the Steelers think this was planned-out on the Ravens side. After the near brouhaha, Harrison said he later ran over Chester again.

One interesting part of this equation is the fundamentals involved. Offensive lineman are taught not to fire out on extra points and field goals, because it leaves gaps in the blocking wall that could allow a defender to sneak through and block the kick.

So, maybe Chester forgot that he wasn’t supposed to do that. Or he wanted to teach Harrison a lesson. Or he’s got a nasty twitch.

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Posted on: December 6, 2010 12:13 am
Edited on: December 6, 2010 12:15 am
 

NFL needs consistency with illegal hits

H. Miller suffered a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet hit by Baltimore's J. McClain (Getty).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Despite the detailed instructions and the diagrams and the variety of explanations and the tutorials, many of us still don’t understand the newly-reinforced helmet-to-helmet and defenseless receiver rules.

Why are some hits called and not others? What about the helmet-to-chest hits on a quarterback who just threw the ball? Is he defenseless? Can the defender led with his facemask? With the crown of his helmet? What if it’s below the waist?

I suppose some people have a handle on the rules, but there are times when I’m not sure if anybody knows what the hell is supposed to be called. Like, um, the dudes wearing the stripes during tonight’s Ravens-Steelers game.

Last Sunday, I got into a discussion with a Steelers fan on Twitter about why James Harrison was penalized for his illegal hit on Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

He claimed Harrison hit Fitzpatrick in the upper chest, and his helmet slid into Fitzpatrick’s chin. I countered that it was head-to-chin all the way.

He claimed there was a bias against the Steelers. I countered that the officials were giving Harrison more scrutiny – based on his reputation, why wouldn’t they? – but that ultimately Pittsburgh was treated the same as everybody else.

We went back and forth probably 10 or 12 times.

This week, owner Art Rooney II got into the act, saying he thought the NFL looked at the Steelers differently. I still vehemently disagree, even after tonight’s 13-10 Pittsburgh win against the Ravens when Roethlisberger was hit in the helmet twice with no flag thrown.

But what I’ll continue to question is why every game is called differently. And I believe this: if Harrison had destroyed the Ravens TE, instead of Baltimore’s Jameel McClain leveling Steelers TE Heath Miller on what was CLEARLY a helmet-to-helmet hit, Harrison would have been ejected, fined and suspended.

But with McClain, a yellow flag was not thrown. I’ll repeat that: when McClain gave us an absolute clinic on what is an illegal hit – there’s very little doubt this play will show up on the video that officials present to teams during next year’s training camps – and what should be penalized.

Instead, Miller crumpled to the turf in a frightening manner, and he later walked off the field with a concussion. And a 15-yard penalty was not called.

Minutes afterward, while the game was still in the third quarter, word began to leak out. NFL officials made sure to let everyone know that a penalty should have been called and that a mistake had been made. But the flag wasn’t thrown. And frankly, it wasn’t fair.

I understand the argument that players move at warp speed, and they can’t always control how they’re hitting an opponent. Mistakes happen. I get that. But the rule is the rule, and the penalties need to be enforced equally across the board.

I’m sure Harrison would agree.

“It was a hit that should have been penalized,” Harrison told NBC after the game. “Nine times out of 10, if you put me on that hit, a flag goes up and I’m fined.”

At the very least.



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Posted on: December 5, 2010 12:30 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2010 2:00 pm
 

Casserly: Harrison flagrant away from suspension

Posted by Will Brinson

We mentioned yesterday that the NFL claims they're not targeting James Harrison for personal fouls and/or illegal hits. People, judging by the comments, didn't really agree. (Or maybe they hate bully analogies.)

Well, expect the conspiracy chatter to heat up even more if Harrison picks up another personal foul penalty during this week's game -- CBS Sports Charley Casserly reported on The NFL Today that Harrison is one flagrant foul away from picking up a suspension from the league.

"First of all, I can tell you if [the Week 12 hit on Ryan Fitzpatrick] were helmet-to-helmet, I guarantee you he'd be suspended and not playing this weekend," Casserly said. "Next, this is a correct call, because when you hit with the forehead to the quarterback after he's released and is defenseless and therefore should be fined.

"Another flagrant foul and this guy is going to be suspended. He's also in the position as Roy Williams, who got suspended for horsecollar tackles -- multiple penalties eventually add up to a suspension. He's close to that right now."



Harrison obviously walks a fine line in terms of making some aggressive hits; it's why he's been fined $125,000 this year.

And if anyone were a candidate for the NFL's first illegal hit suspension since they ramped up the fines this year, it's the Steelers linebacker.

People shouldn't necessarily be okay with the fact that Harrison could be suspended if he picks up a 15-yard flag this week for hitting a defenseless player, but they (meaning fans and the Steelers) should at least be prepared. Don't say we didn't warn you.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com