Tag:Pittsburgh Steelers
Posted on: December 15, 2011 9:00 am
Edited on: December 15, 2011 2:06 pm
 

Browns Taylor fined $15K for hit on Big Ben

"Man!! ... After while the NFL will be 2 hand touch," Taylor tweeted Wednesday. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

James Harrison and Colt McCoy were the storylines from last Thursday's Browns-Steelers game. The Steelers linebacker blasted the Browns quarterback; the former was eventually suspended while the latter was immediately concussed. But Harrison wasn't the only player to be fined in that game. Browns rookie defensive tackle Phil Taylor is now $15,000 lighter in the wallet for his hit to Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

The penalty took place late in the first quarter with the Steelers leading the Browns, 7-3, and facing a 3rd and 9 from their own 11-yard line. Taylor drove Pittsburgh left guard Doug Legursky into the backfield and just as Roethlisberger released the ball, Taylor hit him in the helmet with his left arm.

Clearly, Taylor was trying to bat down the pass, and clearly, Taylor missed. The blow to Roethlisberger's head knocked him to the ground, and referee Ed Hochuli promptly flagged Taylor for roughing the passer.

"Really no question on that one," NFL Network color commentator Mike Mayock said at the time.

"That one might be a paycheck," play-by-play man Brad Nessler added.

And that's exactly what happened. According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot, Taylor, who will appeal, said he "only put [his] hands up," and that he "doesn't deserve [the] fine."

In general, we think that the NFL has embraced the "throw the flag first, ask questions later" enforcement strategy and it's led to some bad officiating. And the league's fining schedule appears to be written in pencil. But it's hard to argue that Taylor clubbing Roethlisberger in his head wasn't a) a personal foul and b) fine-worthy.

It's hard to argue that Taylor didn't deserve to be flagged and a fined.

This was the second time Taylor had been fined this season. He was docked $7,500 for a hit on Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne back in Week 3. On Wednesday, Taylor tweeted, "Man!! All these fines is crazy! After while the NFL will be 2 hand touch."

Colt McCoy sure wishes that was the case.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:57 pm
 

Holmgren: Colt McCoy never checked for concussion

By Will Brinson


The controversy surrounding the Browns handling of Colt McCoy on Thursday against Pittsburgh -- he re-entered the game after sustaining a concussion -- received a lot of scrutiny, and it will probably get worse, as the Browns said on Wednesday that McCoy was never checked for a concussion during the game.


Team president Mike Holmgren said, via our Browns Rapid Reporter Marty Gitlin, that there was "no indication" that McCoy suffered a concussion and so McCoy was never checked out prior to being sent back into the huddle.

Additionally, Holmgren said the medical staff never saw the hit James Harrison laid on McCoy (one that eventually led to a one-game suspension), which "would have alerted them to a possible concussion."

James Harrison suspended

The fact that the coaching and medical staff missed the hit on Harrison is both disturbing and hard to believe -- Harrison was flagged on the play and McCoy didn't exactly pop right up and walk off on his own power immediately.

If the team has a process for reviewing plays (in replay instances), that same process should have caught the distinct possibility that McCoy suffered a concussion and someone should have alerted the coaching staff.

Holmgren added that it wasn't "business as usual" for the Browns to handle the concussion this way, and reports are that Cleveland was concerned with other players who were also dealing with concussions. He also called the Browns medical staff "the best in the NFL," and said they felt that McCoy was "lucid and talking" when they met with him on the sidelines.

It's fantastic that the Browns are being honest about the process now, but figuring out how they missed a potential diagnosis of a concussed quarterback that was obvious to anyone sitting at home is still hard to grasp.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Film Room: 49ers vs. Steelers preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


At 10-3, the San Francisco 49ers are fighting for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. With two losses in their last three outings, questions are starting to lurk. Are the Niners indeed a top-tier club with a powerhouse defense and limited-but-fundamentally sound offense? Or are they, like the ’08 Dolphins or 08 Titans, just another middle-tier team that happened to rack up a lot of wins thanks to the good fortunes of turnover differential? (The Niners are currently first in the league at +21).

San Fran’s recent two losses have been to quality 3-4 defenses (Baltimore and Arizona). The Monday night matchup against Pittsburgh could provide the “moment of truth” for Jim Harbaugh’s club.


1. Niners’ protection woes
The Cardinals defense, led by former Steelers assistant Ray Horton, came after Alex Smith & Co. with fervidity and dimension. Horton’s panoply of blitzes brought rushers from all four linebacking spots and, on a few occasions, the secondary. San Francisco’s offensive line, particularly inside with LG Mike Iupati, C Jonathan Goodwin and RG Adam Snyder, floundered in their identification and reaction speed. Two weeks before, those three linemen, along with backup guard Chilo Rachal, were physically manhandled by Haloti Ngata and the tough Ravens front three.

The Niners spend most of their time in base offensive personnel, which has them line up against base defensive personnel. The Steelers are less aggressive than the Cardinals when it comes to blitzing out of base personnel (most of Dick LeBeau’s blitzes come from nickel and dime packages). And, physically, the Steelers defensive front three is not as powerful as the Ravens’.

That said, the trenches mismatch will still be glaring and hard for the Niners to avoid (see items 2 and 3).

2. Niners run game
Jim Harbaugh’s is a run-oriented offense in the purist form. On first and second downs, the 49ers align almost exclusively in 21 or 22 personnel (i.e. two backs and one or two tight ends). The Steelers, at times, even in their base defense with vociferous nose tackle Casey Hampton, have uncharacteristically struggled in run defense this season. But those struggles have come against zone-blocking teams like the Texans, Ravens or Bengals.

The 49ers are a power-blocking team. Their ground game is predicated on size and force, double-teams and interior pulls (Iupati is very mobile; Snyder is often ineffective off movement but can at least physically execute the plays). Power-blocking is not a good formula when facing the Steelers. Their defensive line cannot be consistently driven, and inside linebackers Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior play too fast for slow developing pull blocks to work.

3. Niners pass game
If the Niners do try to stick with their power ground game, they’ll inevitably face a handful of third-and-long situations. That will compel Harbaugh to spread into three-receiver sets. That’s when LeBeau will take advantage of San Francisco’s interior pass protection issues.

One of the hallmark blitzes in LeBeau’s portfolio is the Fire-X, which is when both inside linebackers crisscross and attack the A-gaps. The Steelers execute Fire-X’s better than any team in football. James Farrior is brilliant in timing his blitzes and setting up pass-rushing lanes for teammates. Lawrence Timmons is more explosive than Acetone Peroxide when firing downhill.

What’s more, Troy Polamalu’s versatility becomes more pronounced in passing situations. That’s problematic given how much trouble Adrian Wilson (a poor man’s Polamalu) gave the Niners last week.

Because rushing yards could be tough to come by, it’s very likely that the Niners will throw on early downs out of base personnel (they had success with this formula against the Giants a few weeks ago). To help Alex Smith thrive in these scenarios, Harbaugh has implemented several changes this season – such as using play-action and specific route designs that allow for one-read throws, eliminating sight adjustment routes to ensure that the receivers and quarterback are always on the same page and being very judicious in calling “shot plays” downfield.

But in most games, there are points when a quarterback and his receivers simply have to make things happen. Smith doesn’t have the dynamic tools to consistently do that against a D like Pittsburgh’s. His primary wide receivers don’t have the speed and quickness to regularly separate outside (especially against a star cornerback like Ike Taylor). And, most concerning, his offensive tackles, particularly lackluster second-year pro Anthony Davis, are not formidable enough in pass protection to stave off LaMarr Woodley or even Jason Worilds.

4. Niners defensive line vs. Steelers O-line
The good news for Harbaugh is his defense is capable of posing nearly just as many problems for the Steelers offense. Obviously, Ben Roethlisberger’s health will have a significant impact on this game. You already know the advantages Big Ben gives the Steelers.

Almost as important is the health of center Maurkice Pouncey. Like Roethlisberger, he’s battling a Grade 1 high ankle sprain. Pouncey could not finish the game against Cleveland but says he’ll play Monday night. That’s huge. Without Pouncey, the Steelers would have to slide Doug Legursky from left guard to center, which poses a substantial drop-off in mobility and strength (even if Legursky has been somewhat of an overachiever the last year).

What’s more, Chris Kemoeatu would be forced back into the lineup at left guard. Kemoeatu has been a top ten player at his position the past few years. But for whatever reason, he’s fallen flat on his face this season – mainly in pass protection, where he’s shown poor lateral agility and a proclivity for holding.

Even at full strength, the Steelers offensive line is average and, thus, incapable of completely neutralizing the 49ers front line over four quarters. Left end Justin Smith is as good as they get. Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga has blossomed into a plugger who’s mobile enough to make plays anywhere in the box.

Right end Ray McDonald is healthy again and flashing uncommon initial quickness. And on passing downs, Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith are lightning fast, supple edge-rushers with versatile short-area explosiveness. It’s highly doubtful the Steeler tackles can contain them one-on-one.

5. San Francisco’s defensive back seven
Even if Patrick Willis’ hamstring keeps him out a third-straight game, the Niners have enough speed and burst with NaVorro Bowman and strong safety Donte Whitner to answer Pittsburgh’s methodical rushing attack. The key will be whether San Francisco can hold up in pass defense. The Niners like to play zone in base D and man in nickel or dime.

Without Willis, San Francisco’s zones become somewhat vulnerable inside (we saw this on Early Doucet’s 60-yard touchdown last week). In man, Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver are all capable of hanging with Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace, but not if Roethlisberger is able to extend the play (Brown is simply too good at making late adjustments to his route, Sanders is similar and Wallace obviously has lethal speed if he can get downfield).

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 15 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 8:54 pm
 

NFL to hand out 'substantial' bans to violators?

By Will Brinson

Harrison's physical style finally caught up to him. (Getty Images)

Roger Goodell's handed out just a few on-field suspensions during his tenure as NFL Commissioner, but two of those came in the last three weeks, as both Ndamukong Suh and James Harrison were suspended. And if either of those gentlemen cross the line again, they could reportedly face "substantial suspensions."

James Harrison suspended

That's according to NFL.com's Steve Wyche, who reported Tuesday night that "there might not be much latitude" for guys like Harrison and Suh who have already been suspended once by the league.

"Three games, four games, five games, six games? It could happen depending on the circumstance," Wyche's source said. "They are repeat offenders, which mean suspensions are more likely."

Wyche's source also indicated that had Harrison not hit Browns quarterback Colt McCoy in the head, Harrison "probably have been fine" and avoided a suspension from the league.

Suh finished serving his two-game suspension on Sunday and will return to the field this week. Harrison was suspended on Tuesday morning and is waiting on an expedited appeal to determine his status for Monday night's game against the 49ers.


There's no mention of a specific timeline that encapsulates the not-quite-official warning for Harrison and Suh in Wyche's article, but as we talked about on Tuesday's podcast, Harrison actually played fine-free for quite some time, one has to assume it's permanent.

Additionally, the headline on the league's homepage at NFL.com -- "Harrison facing lengthy ban for next hit" -- doesn't leave much to the imagination when it comes to what will happen to the Steelers linebacker (or the Lions defensive tackle or any other player who's suspended) with continued violations of on-field policy.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:46 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 2:16 pm
 

Harrison could appeal, Tomlin 'disappointed'

If history is any guide, the league is unlikely to overturn Harrison's appeal. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

On Tuesday, the NFL suspended Steelers linebacker James Harrison for one game after his hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy. It was Harrison's first personal-foul penalty of the season, but he was fined $100,000 a year ago for three illegal hits.

James Harrison suspended
Pittsburgh faces San Francisco on Monday night in a game that could determine whether they enter the playoffs with a first-round bye or as a wild-card team. (If the Ravens lose to the Chargers on Sunday, and the Steelers wins its three remaining games -- against San Francisco, St. Louis and Cleveland -- then they would win the AFC North.) 

Harrison can appeal the NFL's ruling, but based on head coach Mike Tomlin's comments Tuesday afternoon, the team is planning to be without him in San Francisco.

"We have to prepare as if he is not going to play, of course," Tomlin said, according to the Steelers.com Twitter feed. "We will move forward, James will move forward."

More Tomlin, via the CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder: "We're disappointed. We're disappointed for James because we know how hard he's worked to play within the rules, [but] he has to be accountable for that so we accept the judgment rendered by the league office."

Harrison missed four games earlier this season with an eye injury. Pittsburgh went 4-0 over that stretch with some combination of LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds and Chris Carter taking snaps at the two outside linebacker positions.

Woodley, who suffered a hamstring injury against the Patriots on October 30 and has been on the field for just a few series since, is set to return against the 49ers.

While the Steelers are planning to be without their Pro Bowl linebacker, Harrison's agent says he will appeal.

"James and I will have a discussion and figure out our next step," agent Bill Parise told the Post-Gazette. "The procedure would be to appeal. James and I will work through that and ask for an expedited hearing because we're dealing with a suspension.

"My job right now is to continue to read this and talk to my client and he and I together will make an intelligent decision and we'll move expediently."


CBS' NFL insider Charley Casserly beaks down James Harrison's hard hit on Colt McCoy.

Shortly after the NFL's ruling, Harrison tweeted: "Thank you to all my fans and supporters, I'm just going to move on from here and get ready for my next game."

In all likelhood, that next game will be on December 24 when the Steelers host the Rams.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 5:27 pm
 

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Harrison's physical style finally caught up to him. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The NFL announced Tuesday that Steelers linebacker James Harrison has been suspended one game for his hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy last Thursday night, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman confirms.

Harrison can appeal the NFL's ruling, but based on head coach Mike Tomlin's comments Tuesday afternoon, the team is planning to be without him in San Francisco. 

James Harrison suspended
"We have to prepare as if he is not going to play, of course," Tomlin said, according to the Steelers.com Twitter feed. "We will move forward, James will move forward." 

More Tomlin, via the CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder: "We're disappointed. We're disappointed for James because we know how hard he's worked to play within the rules, [but] he has to be accountable for that so we accept the judgment rendered by the league office." 

While the Steelers are planning to be without their Pro Bowl linebacker, Harrison's agent says he will appeal. 

"James and I will have a discussion and figure out our next step," agent Bill Parise told the Post-Gazette. "The procedure would be to appeal. James and I will work through that and ask for an expedited hearing because we're dealing with a suspension. 

"My job right now is to continue to read this and talk to my client and he and I together will make an intelligent decision and we'll move expediently." 

It was Harrison's first roughing-the-passer penalty of the season. A year ago, he was fined $100,000 for flagrant hits on then-Titans quarterback Vince Young ($5K), Browns' receiver Mohamed Massaquoi ($75K), and Saints quarterback Drew Brees ($20K).

At the time, Harrison said "I don't know. I guess try and be more aware about the placement of my face mask. I don't know how you tackle someone and not use any part of your head, especially if you're trying to see what you're hitting. I mean, your face mask is going to touch them."

On Monday, Harrison said he shouldn't be suspended.

"I don't think it's suspension-worthy," he said after practice, according to Finder. "I don't think it's worthy of anything, but that's just my own personal thoughts."


CBS' NFL insider Charley Casserly beaks down James Harrison's hard hit on Colt McCoy.

The NFL determined that the hit was illegal because even though McCoy had tucked the ball to run, and had taken five steps before deciding at the last second to throw the ball, he's still considered a quarterback and afforded the rules that protect them. At no time during the play was McCoy, in the league's eyes (and according to the rules), considered a runner.

"They didn't even call helmet-to-helmet; they called roughing the passer," Harrison said. "He took off running with it and, at the last second, he like chuck-and-ducked. He tucked the ball and made like he was about to run. So I was going to tackle him."

CBS Sports' Charley Casserly said Sunday that ignorance of the rules wasn't an excuse.

"The league office told [Harrison]: next infraction, escalating discipline, including a possible suspension," Casserly said on The NFL Today. "Head coach Mike Tomlin went to the league office this year to do what I call 'a review of the rules.' From the league's point of view, there's no excuse for any Steeler not knowing the rules."

Sports Illustrated's Peter King thought there might be a chance Harrison would avoid suspension:

“A league source tells me there will be one major mitigating factor in deciding whether to suspend or fine Harrison and that is this: Colt McCoy took five full strides with the ball as a runner, leading Harrison to believe that he could hit him as if he were a running back. I believe he should be only fined and not suspended.”

So would Harrison change anything on the play that left McCoy with a concussion?

"Knowing I got a penalty, yeah I would have did it differently," he said.

Harrison missed four games earlier this season with an eye injury. Pittsburgh went 4-0 over that stretch with some combination of LaMarr WoodleyLawrence TimmonsJason Worilds and Chris Carter taking snaps at the two outside linebacker positions.  Woodley, who suffered a hamstring injury against the Patriots on October 30 and has been on the field for just a few series since, is set to return against the 49ers

Shortly after the NFL's ruling, Harrison tweeted: "Thank you to all my fans and supporters, I'm just going to move on from here and get ready for my next game." 

In all likelhood, that next game will be on December 24 when the Steelers host the Rams

Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark was fined $40,000 earlier this season for a hit on Baltimore tight end Ed Dickson (head coach Mike Tomlin was said to be furious about the punishment). Troy Polamalu was also fined, once for a horse-collar tackle in Week 1, and again in late October for using a cell phone on the sidelines during a game.

                                                                                                                                                                                          (Getty Images)
This is only the third time NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has suspended a player since replacing Paul Tagliabue in 2006. Albert Haynesworth was suspended five games after stomping on the head of center Andre Gurode. Ndamukong Suh was suspended two games last month for stepping on the arm of a Packers player.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 4:31 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 9:25 am
 

Harrison doesn't think he should be suspended

Will Harrison's hit on McCoy lead to a suspension? (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Linebacker James Harrison, who was fined $100,000 for illegal hits a year ago, is again in the league's crosshairs after leveling Colt McCoy with a helmet-to-helmet hit during Thursday night's Browns-Steelers game. The play left McCoy with a concussion, and the NFL could consider suspending Harrison even though it was his first roughing-the-passer penalty of this season.

On Monday, Harrison said he shouldn't be suspended or fined.

"I don't think it's suspension-worthy," he said after practice, according to the CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder. "I don't think it's worthy of anything, but that's just my own personal thoughts."

On Monday evening, ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that the sense in Pittsburgh and around the league is that Harrison will be suspended. The ruling is expected Tuesday morning.


Charley Casserly beaks down James Harrison's hard hit on Colt McCoy on Thursday night, which may lead to a possible suspension.

The NFL considered the hit illegal because even though McCoy had tucked the ball to run, and taken five steps before deciding at the last second to throw the ball, he's still considered a quarterback and afforded the rules that protect them. At no time during the play in question was McCoy, in the league's eyes (and according to the rules), considered a runner.

"They didn't even call helmet-to-helmet; they called roughing the passer," Harrison said. "He took off running with it and, at the last second, he like chuck-and-ducked. He tucked the ball and made like he was about to run. So I was going to tackle him."

CBS Sports' Charley Casserly said Sunday that ignorance of the rules wasn't an excuse.

"The league office told [Harrison]: next infraction, escalating discipline, including a possible suspension," Casserly said on The NFL Today. "Head coach Mike Tomlin went to the league office this year to do what I call 'a review of the rules.' From the league's point of view, there's no excuse for any Steeler not knowing the rules."

And then there's this, from Sports Illustrated's Peter King:

“A league source tells me there will be one major mitigating factor in deciding whether to suspend or fine Harrison and that is this: Colt McCoy took five full strides with the ball as a runner, leading Harrison to believe that he could hit him as if he were a running back. I believe he should be only fined and not suspended.”

So would Harrison change anything on the play that left McCoy with a concussion?

"Knowing I got a penalty, yeah I would have did it differently," he said.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 11, 2011 12:42 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 2:35 pm
 

Report: James Harrison could face suspension

Will Harrison's hit on McCoy lead to a suspension? (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The big storyline from Thursday's Browns-Steelers game was that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returned after suffering a high-ankle sprain and led Pittsburgh to their 10th victory of the season. A subplot that has since taken center stage: James Harrison's fourth quarter helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy. CBS Sports NFL insider Charley Casserly said Sunday that "I would not be surprised at all if the league suspended [Harrison] for one game, the cost being $73,500 for one game check."

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the NFL is considering suspending Harrison for "one or two games" for the infraction.

Here are Casserly's full remarks on the Harrison situation from Sunday's The NFL Today.

"Let's take a look at the facts: last year he was fined four times with the largest fine being $75,000 which was reduced to $50,000," Casserly told James Brown. "This hit [against McCoy Thursday] is worse than the $75,000 (hit).

"The second thing is, the league office told [Harrison]: next infraction, escalating discipline, including a possible suspension. Head coach Mike Tomlin went to the league office this year to do what I call 'a review of the rules.' From the league's point of view, there's no excuse for any Steeler not knowing the rules.

"In my opinion," Casserly continued, "I would not be surprised at all if the league suspended him for one game, the cost being $73,500 for one game check. And, in my opinion, if I was doing this, I would absolutely suspend him. Either he doesn't know the rules, or doesn't understand the rules. A stronger message than a fine has to be sent in this situation."


Charley Casserly beaks down James Harrison's hard hit on Colt McCoy on Thursday night, which may lead to a possible suspension.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com