September 18, 2017

Bradford-less Vikings fall to Steelers, 26-9

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

After being the toast of the NFL last week, Minnesota’s starting quarterback Sam Bradford missed several team practices with knee inflammation and was eventually declared unable to play in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This meant number two quarterback Case Keenum was the starter and freshly promoted-from-the-practice-squad Ryan Sloter was the backup. The oddsmakers were quick to drop the Vikings’ chances from being 5.5 point underdogs to 11 points, and as the game unfolded, you could certainly understand why.

Despite the final score, this game could have been much more competitive, except for Viking penalties (14, but only 12 accepted for 136 yards), particularly defensive pass interference and holding: both Steelers touchdowns were made possible by Viking infractions.

While it’s undeniable that the Vikings’ offensive line has been much improved from last season, they are still not good enough to keep the pocket clean for as long as Keenum needed (Bradford appears to have a faster release than Keenum, so some of the pressure that got to Keenum might not have gotten to Bradford on the same play call). Names that got called far too often by the TV crew were Nick Easton and Mike Remmers — good offensive linemen almost never get mentioned in the course of a game, but linemen who get beat or get penalized get their names called.


April 20, 2017

STEEL MILL RAILROAD RELICS Still found in Pittsburgh, Pa

Filed under: History, Railways, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 27 Nov 2016


Although it is 2016, and most mills closed in the 80’s, there are still many items still preserved in and around the Pittsburgh area. Here is just a small sampling.

November 30, 2015

The Pennsylvania Steagles

Filed under: Economics, Football, History, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Megan McArdle talks about the plight of Pennsylvania’s two NFL teams during World War Two … oh, and some boring stuff about financial regulation:

Fun fact: During the 1943 professional football season, the World War II draft had so depleted the ranks of football players that the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles were forced to unite their teams into a joint production that became colloquially known as “the Steagles.” In a heartwarming turn, this plucky band of men went on to one of the winningest seasons in the history of Pennsylvania football. That was, alas, their only season; the next year each city fielded its own team, and the proud name of the Steagles retreated into history.

I’m beginning to think that we should revive it, however, not for football players, but for those intrepid souls who continue to fiercely agitate for the return of the Glass-Steagall financial regulations. Like the Steagles, these people are not daunted by the many obstacles in their path. Like the Steagles, they are passionate in their determination. Probably also like the Steagles, they mostly don’t know much about Glass-Steagall.

And we desperately need a name for Team Steagles, because they seem to have become a powerful force in the Democratic Party. Last night’s Democratic debate, like the first one, featured lengthy paeans to the joys, and urgency, of a modern Glass-Steagall act. Somehow, an obscure Depression-era banking regulation has turned into a banal political talking point. Or worse — a distraction.

You, like the Steagles, may not know much about Glass-Steagall. That’s all right. There is no particular reason that most of us should know about Glass-Steagall, and many people manage to live perfectly happy and fulfilling lives anyway.

August 10, 2015

Vikings beat Steelers 14-3 in 2015 Hall of Fame game

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:37

The NFL preseason is finally underway with last night’s Hall of Fame game played in Canton, Ohio between the Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers rested many of their starters (Ben Roethlisberger was not even in uniform for the game), while the Vikings’ starters only played brief stints before handing over to backups. At 1500ESPN, Andrew Krammer rounds up the action:

Bobbled interceptions, special teams gaffes, whiffed tackles and an injured kicker.

The NFL’s exhibition slate opened in mid-preseason form as the Vikings and Steelers played to a 14-3 final in Canton, Ohio on Sunday night — and it came with a little bit of everything.

Pittsburgh kicker Shaun Suisham broke the ice with a 36-yard field goal to give the Steelers a 3-0 lead, just before Suisham left the game with a knee injury after attempting a tackle along the sideline. Rookie tight end MyCole Pruitt’s 34-yard catch-and-run on a crossing route put the Vikings up for good at 7-3. Running back Joe Banyard converted rookie Stefon Diggs’ big punt return into a one-yard touchdown run for the 14-3 lead that stood as final.

Here are five takeaways main takeaways from the first exhibition action:

• CB Trae Waynes with work to do: Reminds you a little of Xavier Rhodes doesn’t it? Rookie Trae Waynes drew three defensive contact penalties as he played the entire game. It wasn’t a pretty debut, but perhaps necessary as coach Mike Zimmer and his defensive staff work to mold the former Michigan State cornerback into a NFL-caliber player. He played a lot of off coverage, something relatively new to him in the NFL, and showed his room for improvement, including on a 35-yard one-handed grab by Shakim Phillips, who flew past Waynes, playing off, and shook Waynes’ arm bar for the impressive grab. Waynes was flagged for illegal contact on the play. It’s really no cause for concern. Rhodes went from penalty magnet to tough assignment in one year under Zimmer and this is just the beginning of Waynes’ education.

• Starters play one series apiece: Teddy Bridgewater returned from Florida after dealing with a personal matter to play one series for the Vikings. He went 5-for-6 for 44 yards on seven passing plays, adding a six-yard scramble. He went 1-for-2 on third-down attempts, converting a 3rd-and-5 with a completion to tight end Kyle Rudolph. The drive ended after undrafted rookie fullback Blake Renaud’s lead block was blown up on Jerick McKinnon’s 4th-and-1 attempt. Eight different Vikings caught the first nine completions. (We discuss those impressive fifth-round picks below)

Save for Gerald Hodges, Audie Cole and Waynes, the defensive starters saw just three plays in one series. The starters forced a three-and-out against mainly Steelers’ backups, including quarterback Landry Jones. Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Maurkice Pouncey did not play for the Steelers. Hodges got the start at strong-side linebacker for Anthony Barr, who didn’t travel as he recovers from inflammation in his surgically-repaired left knee. Cole got the start in the middle, tipping a 3rd-and-13 pass that was completed anyway to rookie Sammie Coates for 12 yards. Hodges took advantage of his opportunities with solid open-field tackles.

At the Daily Norseman, Christopher Gates discusses the game:

Pittsburgh put up the first points of the game nearly halfway through the second quarter on a 36-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham, taking a 3-0 lead. The Vikings answered on the ensuing drive, with Mike Kafka matriculating the ball down the field and finding a wide open MyCole Pruitt for a 34-yard touchdown pass to make the score 7-3 in favor of Minnesota.

That’s how they went into the locker room, and neither team could get much going in the second half … until rookie Stefon Diggs got an opportunity to do some damage. Diggs took a punt from Brad Wing and, after a couple of nifty moves, took the ball all the way down to the Pittsburgh 1-yard line. (The Vikings threw a challenge flag, thinking that Diggs had gotten the ball into the end zone, but the call was upheld.) Joe Banyard took the ball into the end zone on the next play, extending the Minnesota lead to 14-3.

That ended the scoring for the evening. The two teams exchanged turnovers later on in the third quarter, both thanks to bobbles by tight ends. First, rookie Taylor Heinicke threw a pass to Chase Ford that Ford was unable to handle and resulted in an interception by cornerback Kevin Fogg. On the next play, however, Landry Jones hit tight end Jesse James, but he fumbled the ball and Vikings’ linebacker Brian Peters wound up falling on it. That pretty much ended the excitement, such as it was, for the evening.

Kafka wound up leading the Vikings in passing, completing 7-of-10 for 66 yards and a touchdown. Heinicke also went 7-for-10 passing, but had just 51 yards and the one interception. Bridgewater, as we mentioned, went 5-for-6 for 44 yards.

Matt Asiata led the Vikings in rushing with six carries for 30 yards. Joe Banyard had the most carries for Minnesota with seven, and wound up with 22 yards and his 1-yard touchdown run. MyCole Pruitt led the Vikings in both receptions and yardage on the evening, snagging four passes for 51 yards and the long touchdown.

The Vikings’ defense asserted themselves fairly well on the evening, allowing Jones. . .who played the entire game for the Steelers. . .to complete just 50 percent of his passes, as Jones went 16-of-32 for 135 yards. The Vikings also held the Steelers to just 68 yards rushing on 25 carries.

Minnesota will be back in action on Saturday, 15 August, as they will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at TCF Bank Stadium. The Steelers play again on Friday, as they’ll make a trip to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars.

September 30, 2013

Vikings beat Steelers 34-27 in London for first win of the season

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:34

London fans of American-style football must have been worried that the NFL had dumped their worst possible combination of teams into Wembley Stadium for yesterday’s game. Both the Vikings and the Steelers were sporting 0-3 records and their respective fanbases were setting off distress flares and starting to man the lifeboats. On the day, however, both teams put in a very creditable performance and the London fans got one of the best games in the international series as the Vikings ran up a scoring lead and (just barely) managed to hang on to it for the full 60 minutes of play.

Matt Cassel, starting in place of injured starter Christian Ponder, had a very strong game with only a few glitches, but he was bailed out a couple of times by his wide receivers. He ended up with a 123.4 passer rating: 16 of 25 for 248 yards and 2 TDs. Jerome Simpson had 124 yards receiving and Adrian Peterson notched 140 yards rushing on the day with two touchdowns. Greg Jennings had a highlight reel catch-and-run 70-yard touchdown. Blair Walsh started the scoring with a 54-yard field goal, but missed on a shorter kick later in the game (his first miss of the season). He’s now 12-for-12 on field goal attempts longer than 50 yards in his career — a new team record.

The Vikings secondary hadn’t stellar up to this point in the season, but on Sunday they were missing two starting players (CB Chris Cook and S Jamarca Sanford). For the first defensive series, The Daily Norseman suggested that the most appropriate music for them taking the field was Yakkity Sax (the Benny Hill Show theme). It wasn’t as bad as that, but every quarterback the Vikings will face for the rest of the season will be throwing as often as they can to wherever Josh Robinson is on the field … Roethlisberger made him look really bad. To be fair, Robinson is an outside corner and he’s having to play the slot this year, but you’d hope he would be better than he’s showing so far.

Late in the game, Big Ben appeared to suffer an injury to his throwing hand. The CBS announcers made a remarkably dumb comment about it somehow being worse to hit another player’s arm/hand than a helmet. Chris Kluwe’s twitter comment sums up the science behind that:

After giving up the last two games on last-minute scores, the Vikings defence finally managed to close out a game, sacking Roethlisberger close to the goal line and forcing a fumble.

A much-needed win going into the bye week … and the beginnings of a quarterback controversy. Should be a fun two weeks until the next game.

September 27, 2013

Matt Cassel to start London game against the Steelers

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 07:58

The Vikings announced earlier today that quarterback Christian Ponder’s rib injury is severe enough that he won’t be playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend. In his place, backup Matt Cassel will get the start:

Cassel, who is replacing an injured Christian Ponder (ribs), will try to steer the Vikings towards their first win of the season, and comes into a situation that few expected a month ago. The Vikings are 0-3 and on the verge of their season imploding, if it already hasn’t. With issues at QB, offensive line, and all over the defense, the Vikings have stumbled badly out of the gate, and they really need a spark.

Will Cassel provide that? It remains to be seen. This is the reason Cassel was signed in the off season. Last year, the Vikings had serious deficiencies at the backup position, as was evidenced by the tire fire that was Joe Webb in the Wild Card playoff game against Green Bay. As a starter, Cassel 29-33. In his career, he has a completion percentage of just over 58%, with 82 TD passes and 57 interceptions.

There’s already fan speculation that this is a “designed” play:

Update: The cynics are already hard at work:

July 21, 2013

Sad tale of whiskey theft

Filed under: Law, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 13:46

It puzzles me why the alleged thief didn’t just sell the stuff and buy (far cheaper) modern booze with the proceeds.

The owner of an historic inn in Pittsburgh has brought charges against a former tenant she says was supposed safeguard 50 bottles of vintage whiskey valued at more than $100,000 but drank it all instead.

The owner of the South Broadway Manor Bed and Breakfast, Patricia Hill, found 104 bottles of Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey when she bought the historic mansion and converted it into a bed and breakfast. It had originally belonged to Pittsburgh businessman J.P. Brennan.

The whiskey had been distilled in 1912 and given to Brennan in 1918, she told ABC News affiliate WTAE.

“There were four cases, 52 bottles, manufactured by an old distillery here in the Township that went out of business many years ago,” Barry Pritts, chief of police in Scottdale, Pa., said today.

He said the bottles had been made and sold before Prohibition and then passed down.

H/T to Doug Mataconis for the link.

February 4, 2011

Superbowl XLV storyline: sportscasters in the frigid cold

Filed under: Football, Humour, Media — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:03

The Two Scotts spend a bit of time talking about the teams, but most of their column talking about how the brave network sports guys are bearing up under the unexpectedly cold weather:

Reid: Top three undeniable facts about Super Bowl XLV:

1. Sports Reporters Are Pussies. So far the most reportable item from the 2011 Super Bowl appears to be that it’s very coldy woldy. We had to spend days listening to ESPN’s Mike and Mike wussy aloud about how cold it was broadcasting outside until they finally moved their show indoors. And it seems every other reporter in Dallas assumes what the football-loving public wants to learn first is how they’re all holding up in the frigid air of north Texas. Yo candy apples, it’s barely dropped below freezing. Grow a pair!

[. . .]

Feschuk: Reid is right — how can you people think about football at a time like the Super Bowl? Have you not read the stories of valour and bravery from north Texas? Are you not aware of the HARDSHIP and SUFFERING being endured by members of media, who have been subjected to horrible injustices such as wind and having their corporate golf junkets cancelled? Reading their harrowing dispatches from the front lines, it’s clear that these reporters are pretty much exactly like the pro-democracy protesters in Egypt, except even more courageous because some of them forgot to bring warm socks. WE STAND WITH YOU, HEROES!

Honestly, did the US networks hire all of their current crop of sportscasters from Toronto? It would explain the whining about the weather . . .

Then again, the reporters had to write about something, and there are only so many times you can go on about Aaron Rodgers’ talent or interview the family of gypsies that lives in Brett Keisel’s beard. One news outlet in New Hampshire was so desperate that it actually ran a story about a local man who has the same name as Packers coach Mike McCarthy. Think about that. Think about how hard-up for a remotely engaging Super Bowl story the editor must have been to say out loud, “There’s someone else on this planet with the name Mike McCarthy?? AND HE LIVES HERE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE???? To the newsmobile!!!

Aside from the terrible, terrible burden of the weather, the next biggest problem (according to Reid) is this:

There are Not Enough Slutty Women in Texas. In what would constitute a crisis in any circumstance, an embarrassing shortage of prostitutes in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area during the Super Bowl may irreparably damage the city’s reputation among hard-up pigs. It is estimated that 10,000 hookers are needed to satisfy the drunken demands of fat corporate slobs who, left to their own charms, couldn’t pick up a slice of pizza. Dallas currently has less than half this number of ladies of the evening (not mention ladies of the afternoon, the late morning, the early morning and the Warren Sapp). In response, the Dallas mayor has been forced to implement emergency measures: Free tickets for Charlie Sheen and ‘friends’.

October 20, 2010

NFL levies $75,000 fine for helmet-to-helmet hit

Filed under: Football, Health — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:57

The NFL is at least appearing to be serious about their new policies on helmet-to-helmet hits:

A day after saying it would consider suspending players for helmet-to-helmet hits, the N.F.L. decided Tuesday to fine three players involved in a string of injurious collisions last Sunday.

The N.F.L. wants to give players and teams fair warning that it plans to ratchet up discipline for violations of players’ safety rules, the league spokesman Greg Aiello said. Players, coaches and teams will be told Wednesday that future disciplinary actions will be harsher, setting the stage for possible suspensions.

James Harrison, the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker who knocked two Cleveland Browns out of their game with helmet-to-helmet hits — one was within the rules; the other was a penalty the officials missed, the league said — was fined the most, $75,000, because of previous trouble. Earlier this season, he was fined $5,000 for slamming Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young to the ground while sacking him.

Update, 22 October: For a lighter view of the issue, here’s Scott Reid:

My favourite part of this story is the way James Harrison declared he would retire rather than be told he couldn’t hit people in the head at excessive speeds with his helmet. He was already sore about that on-field crossbow ban and the legal talking-to he got after he tried to roofie Tom Brady. How many more humiliations is a defensive player supposed to endure? When it was pointed out to him that retiring meant not getting paid, Harrison quickly amended his view. Still, I wouldn’t set my cocktail down next to him if I was a certain long-haired New England pretty-boy quarterback.

August 23, 2009

On the road again . . .

Filed under: Administrivia — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 08:39

. . . in transit to just outside Pittsburgh, PA. If I can manage to reconnect when I arrive, blogging may resume. If not, it’ll have to wait until I return.

It’s been 19 years since I last visited Pittsburgh . . . I wonder if it’s improved since then. 1990 wasn’t a good year in the area, as most of the heavy industry had closed down, but nothing had moved in to replace it yet.

Update: Just arrived in the delightfully named “Cranberry, PA”. This particular area is looking much better than the last time I was in the area. I haven’t been into Pittsburgh proper yet.

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