Monday, September 27, 2010

Jolly good fun

Steelers 38, Buccaneers 13

By Mike Batista

The Steelers' September Sweatfest Tour took them from the heat of Tennessee last week to the heat of Tampa Bay on Sunday.

If Tennessee had been a House of Horrors for the Steelers before they punched the Titans in the mouth last week, Raymond James Stadium has been a Fun House for the franchise over the past decade.

The Steelers' last two visits to the home of the Jolly Roger included a Super Bowl victory two years ago and an electrifying Monday-night mugging of the Super Bowl-champions-to-be Buccaneers in 2002.

On Sunday, the Steelers returned to their favorite Florida getaway and came back with more cherished memories for the scrapbook.

Charlie Batch will be able to tell his grandkids (and I wouldn't be surprised if he actually was a grandfather) about the game he had Sunday. In his first start since the meaningless regular-season finale in 2007, Batch completed 12 of 17 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns. It was one of the best games of his workmanlike, 13-year career.

Batch overcame an interception on his first throw with TD passes to Mike Wallace for 46 and 41 yards.

In between those touchdowns, Batch highlighted a drive by scrambling 24 yards to the Bucs' 24. Then, as if to prove he didn't need an oxygen mask after the longest run of his career, the 35-year-old Batch threw 21 yards to Heath Miller on the next play, setting up Rashard Mendenhall's 3-yard touchdown run and a 14-6 Steelers lead.

Playing behind an offensive line that had Max Starks back at left tackle and Doug (The Big) Legursky replacing injured Trai Essex at right guard, Batch wasn't sacked. It was the Steelers' first sack-free game since their Week 12 loss in Baltimore last season. Of course, they were protecting lightning-quick Dennis Dixon in that game. While Batch obviously doesn't have the mobility of Dixon, "slippery" might be a good word to describe his presence in the pocket.

Batch's third TD pass came with 19 seconds left in the first half, a 9-yard connection with Hines Ward to give the Steelers a 28-6 lead.

When watching the game at Public House, a Steelers bar in Manhattan, I saw Batch going into the locker room before the end of the half. I thought maybe he was hurt, but was relieved to find out he apparently just wanted to get an extra minute or two out of the brutal Florida sun.

You know things are going well for the Steelers when you worry about Charlie Batch going into the locker room.

Batch isn't the only Steeler who had a once-in-a-lifetime game.

Brett Keisel, a 285-pound defensive end, 315 pounds if you count the beard, opened the fourth quarter by intercepting a tipped pass and returning it 79 yards for a touchdown and a 38-6 Steelers lead.

The Steelers entered the game with an NFL-high eight forced turnovers and added two on Sunday. This is what was missing last season. Turnovers aren't just window dressing for a defense, they are a necessary element of winning. In the vast majority of NFL victories, the winning offense gets to work with a short field at least once or twice. Making teams punt the ball away is nice, but it's too passive of an approach for a championship defense.

Ryan Clark grabbed the Steelers' other turnover Sunday, recovering a fumble that was forced by James Farrior. It set up Wallace's second touchdown.

Troy Polamalu, who had an interception in each of the first two games, had an interception Sunday, too. It just didn't count.

Polamalu got off work early in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand when Bucs' quarterback Josh Freeman threw the ball out of bounds. Polamalu, with his helmet off and the Head & Shoulders locks in full regalia, caught the ball.

Not that the Steelers needed to provide any other form of entertainment for their fans on this afternoon, but Polamalu's off-duty catch added a few laughs to the show.

Along with the surprises of a clean game by the O-Line, Old Man Batch's scramble and Diesel Keisel's ramble, there was also the standard fare of Dancing With Rashard, and for once Mendenhall's steps were not just fancy but also functional.

Three plays before Batch's run, another 35-year-old figured prominently when Bucs' cornerback Ronde Barber tried to close in on Mendenhall. The running back spun his way into a different route, avoiding any contact with Barber, and completed a 15-yard run.

Mendenhall ran for 143 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown, a big reason why the Steelers finally found a way to put some real points on the board without Ben Roethlisberger, who will be back in the locker room a week from today.

More games like that will be expected from Mendenhall long after Roethlisberger comes back. Batch's body of work in Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is nearly complete. After almost being cut before the start of the season, Sunday's performance was an Abe Vigoda-like resurrection of his distinguished seven-year career as the Steelers' backup quarterback.

All he has to do is mind the store on offense for another week. If the Steelers can beat the Ravens at home on Sunday, it will give them their first 4-0 start since 1979. Regardless of the outcome, another game as the starter (and I think we'll be spared any hemming and hawing this week about who will start) will enhance Batch's role as sideline counselor to Roethlisberger.

If Roethlisberger hadn't already learned his lesson, hopefully he learned it Sunday. Like the one kid who couldn't go on the class trip, he missed out on a fun day for the Steelers.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tomlin much nicer to old buddies in postgame handshakes than a certain old crab up in chowdah country. Steelers win 38-13
Keisel Engine! 38-6 Steelers
Is there still a shadow of a doubt in the Steelers' ability to hold leads in 4th quarter?
Redman's the skunk at the lawn party. He's no Bus.
Batch can tell his grandkids about this game. He's probably got grandkids in college by now. 28-6 Steelers at halftime.
C'mon. Let's get more points before halftime. Make this an official bitchslapping. 21-6 Steelers
Bucs got punked by Old Man Batch! 14-6 Steelers.
Ike Taylor's hands are so bad he couldn't catch a cold if he slept naked on a frozen lake. And the Steelers' tackling sucks. 7-6 Steelers.
There's your points, Steelers D. You can give up a field goal, but that's it. 7-3 Steelers
Someone tell Batch and Wallace the game has started. 3-0 Bucs
Steel Tweets coming to you today LIVE from the Public House, a Steelers bar in Manhattan.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy place

Steelers 19, Titans 11

By Mike Batista

This is exactly how the Steelers need to win games without Ben Roethlisberger.

Don't expect much from the offense, hope you get a little help from special teams and let your defense carry you.

Boy, did the Steelers' defense carry them Sunday in their 19-11 win over the Titans.

Chris Johnson, a.k.a. Mr. 2,500, was limited to 34 yards on 16 carries, snapping his streak of 12 straight 100-yard games, and the Steelers were without Casey Hampton. The Steelers induced seven turnovers, the most they've forced since 1997, and the most the Titans have committed since 2000.

The Steelers' defense seized the Titans' offense like a python around a helpless rabbit.

Still, you didn't think the Steelers would escape without a little bit of peril, did you?

After all, this is Tennessee.

This is the place where Joe Nedney infamously deemed himself a master thespian after kicking the winning field goal in overtime of a 2002 playoff game.

This is the place where Tommy Maddox was taken off the field in an ambulance after a paralysis scare earlier in the 2002 season.

This is the place where, on that same day, a Titans assistant coach furtively threw coffee on Joey Porter when a play took Porter to the Titans' sideline.

The Steelers entered Sunday's game with just one win in the "Take Me to Another Place" state since the franchise moved there in 1997.

And so it was that the Steelers' transcendent defensive performance Sunday was merely just enough to let those ghosts out of their skull.

Cool draft

It looked like only pride would be on the line when the Titans moved into the red zone with two minutes left in the game and the Steelers leading 19-3.

When the Titans got to the Steelers' 1, Troy Polamalu hurdled the line of scrimmage like only he can and tackled Kerry Collins for a 1-yard loss. It seemed like the perfect way for the Steelers' defense to put a dramatic bow on two touchdown-free games to start the season.

Two plays later, however, formerly butterfingered Steeler Nate Washington caught a touchdown pass from Collins and the Titans made the 2-point conversion to narrow the Steelers' lead to 19-11.

The Titans then recovered the onsides kick and with no timeouts got to the Steelers' 31 with 20 seconds left.

Prodigal son Bryant McFadden offered a flashback to the final drive of the Steelers' 2005 playoff win over the Colts when he broke up a pass intended for Washington in the end zone. Then the Titans' last-ditch effort petered out with back-to-back false start penalties.

Even though Mike Tomlin says Steelers football is 60 minutes, I am unfazed by the last two minutes considering what happened in the first 58.

The Titans tried to make the Steelers roast by having them wear their black jerseys with the temperature 87 degrees at kickoff, the hottest in the 90 games played at LP Field.

They'd have been better off throwing coffee on them.

The heat forced many Steelers players to double over in exhaustion and take frequent breaks during the game. The most coveted seats on the Steelers' sideline were under a makeshift canopy.

Two members of the Steelers' most recent draft class provided another cooling effect. Sixth-rounder Antonio Brown returned the game's opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown on a play that started on a reverse from Mewelde Moore.

Then on the ensuing kickoff, fifth-rounder Stevenson Sylvester forced a fumble that was picked up by Keyaron Fox.

The Steelers coughed up the ball themselves three plays later, but when the defense first walked into the 100-yard sauna, it had a seven-point cushion.

Scratching and surviving

The closest the Titans came to taking the lead was midway through the first quarter when they got to the Steelers' 16 trailing 7-3. Vince Young, who was pulled for Collins in the second half, was then picked off in the end zone by Polamalu. The Steelers turned that into a field goal, and maintained at least a one-touchdown lead for the rest of the afternoon.

Unlike last season, Polamalu got through the game against the Titans injury-free. After condensing a Pro Bowl-caliber season into the first quarter and a half of last season only to get hurt, Polamalu has waited two games this season to amass his Pro Bowl credentials.

The flowing locks don't have to fly on every play for Polamalu to have an impact. It's a whole different game if the Titans take the lead in the first quarter. And if he doesn't vault a snarl of 300-pound bodies to tackle Collins near the end of the game, the Titans would have had a few more precious seconds to mount a game-tying drive.

This likely would have been a vintage 2009 choke without Polamalu.

Another player the Steelers need to have any championship hopes is Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers' win on Sunday harks back to many of their wins in the pre-Roethlisberger era, when they were good enough to get into the playoffs, but fell short of the Super Bowl because their offense wasn't quite powerful enough. With a special teams touchdown and four field goals Sunday, they built their lead like "Survivor" contestants constructing a thatched hut.

The Steelers need to get through two more games without Roethlisberger. They just don't know who the babysitter will be at quarterback. Dennis Dixon's demeanor in the pocket Sunday often looked like that of a McDonald's customer perusing the menu not knowing what he wants. He was sacked twice in the first quarter before hurting his knee (he was scheduled for an MRI) and giving way to Charlie Batch.

While Batch completed only five passes for 25 yards, his movement in the pocket and zip on the ball made him look about 10 years younger, which means he looked about 45. But seriously, he looked competent enough to man the steering wheel until Oct. 4.

Then again, Byron Leftwich was scheduled to return from his furlough on Monday.

So who starts at quarterback for the Steelers Sunday at Tampa Bay is anybody's guess.

Regardless of who it is, if the Steelers come close to replicating Sunday's performance, Roethlisberger will be stepping into a good situation.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Greetings yinzers and non-yinzers alike. Welcome to another Steelers Sunday!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A nemesis no more

Steelers 15, Falcons 9, OT

By Mike Batista

At Heinz Field on Sunday, the Steelers rescued themselves, as well as their PNC Park neighbors, from the Curse of Atlanta.

In my column previewing the Steelers' season opener, I took a look at Atlanta's torment of Pittsburgh in baseball and football over the past two decades.

The Curse of Atlanta was cast in 1992, when the Pirates were three outs away from the World Series, only to squander a 2-0 lead against the Braves in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

Since David Justice and Sid Bream (even though he was out) scored on Francisco Cabrera's single, the Pirates have not had a winning season.

While the Curse of Atlanta has meant doom for the Pirates, it's been more of a nuisance for the Steelers.

The last three times these quadrennial opponents have played, they have gone to overtime. The Steelers had to settle for a tie in 2002, and lost in 2006.

You think this curse thing is hogwash? You think this comes from the mind of some paranoid guy who talks to himself in the park?

The parallels were just too eerie for it not to be a curse. The last time the Falcons came to Heinz Field, the Steelers had a chance to win on a Todd Peterson field goal in overtime. But it was blocked.

Peterson lost his job that season when the Steelers signed a guy named Jeff Reed. That same guy could have prevented overtime Sunday with a 40-yard field goal with 39 seconds left. But he missed.

Reed also missed a 55-yard attempt when he hit the right upright late in the first half.

With all of the game's scoring to that point coming on field goals, those misses hurt.

Steelers chairman Dan Rooney came all the way from Ireland to watch the game. If he wanted to see a tie, he could have stayed in Europe and watched soccer.

Fortunately, Rashard Mendenhall ended the field goal slap fight with a 50-yard touchdown run 3:24 into overtime.

It was the Steelers' first win over the Falcons since 1999, when they beat them at Three Rivers Stadium. Even then, the Steelers were spooked by the Curse of Atlanta. The Falcons also scored nine points that day. The Steelers? Unlucky 13.

Not only does the breaking of the curse pretty much guarantee a winning season for the Pirates in 2011 (I just don't see how they CAN'T have a winning season, right?), it skews my prediction for the Steelers' season. When predicting the Steelers' 1-3 start without Ben Roethlisberger, I had this game tabbed as a loss.

If Roethlisberger takes over a 2-2 team, 10-6 might be within reach. Of course, I'll stick to my original 9-7 prediction, but I don't mind being wrong in this case.

In a city full of bridges, Dennis Dixon showed he's capable of building an adequate one to keep the Steelers' 2010 season above water until Roethlisberger gets back. He completed 18 of 26 passes for 236 yards, showed poise in the pocket and made a couple of tough throws.

Dixon did, however, throw an interception and the Falcons dropped one or two other picks. I'm concerned about how he'll respond next week at Tennessee, where the Steelers haven't won since 2001, and against Baltimore.

His job won't be any easier if the Steelers are without Max Starks, who left the game with a high ankle sprain. As the left tackle, Starks is responsible for protecting Dixon's blind side.

While Starks' status is a concern, everything else around Dixon looked like 2008 on Sunday. The Steelers' defense stifled a highly touted Falcons' offense, with sacks by James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley and an interception by Troy Polamalu, all major contributors to the Steelers' championship two years ago.

Unfortunately, the 2008 reminders include the offensive line, which allowed three sacks in the final quarter and a half, including two sandwiched around the two-minute warning, which scuttled a potential game-winning drive.

If the Steelers are to recapture the magic of 2008, Dixon and Mendenhall, two guys who watched from the sidelines that year, will need to make contributions.

At least until Roethlisberger gets back.

Even if the Steelers don't win their seventh Super Bowl this season, at least Atlanta can't hurt Pittsburgh anymore.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Steelers win! The curse of Atlanta has been lifted!
Day 1 (of hopefully 147) of Steelers football. I'll be checking in from my cell (phone, I mean) throughout the game.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dirty birds

By Mike Batista

Pittsburgh opens its 2010 NFL season Sunday against its biggest nemesis.

Say what?

The Falcons are the Steelers' biggest nemesis? Really?

What about the Patriots? The Ravens? Hell, even the Browns?

Sure, when the schedule came out in April, at home against Atlanta might have seemed like a blah opener. It's tough to get charged up about an interconference opponent who the Steelers play once every presidential term. One who has beaten the Steelers just twice in their 14 meetings.

But over the past 20 years, Atlanta has been Pittsburgh's biggest foil when it comes to sports in general.

No one needs to be reminded of Francisco Cabrera and Sid Bream in 1992. Or of the Braves' victory over the Pirates in the National League Championship Series the previous year. The Pirates were so close to the cushy executive suite that is the World Series, only to be turned away and sent to baseball's basement for the last 17 years like Milton in "Office Space."

It's a good thing for Pittsburgh that Bill Cowher came around at about that time.

Atlanta's torment of Pittsburgh isn't limited to baseball. Although the Steelers are 11-2-1 against the Falcons all-time, they haven't beaten them since 1999. Since then there's been a 34-34 tie in Pittsburgh in 2002 and a 41-38 overtime loss at Atlanta in 2006.

In the 2002 game, the Steelers blew a 34-17 lead in the fourth quarter. Michael Vick tied it with an 11-yard touchdown run with 51 seconds left (any chance Dennis Dixon can use his legs to pay back that karma Sunday?). The Steelers finished 10-5-1 that season and infamously lost to the Titans in overtime in the AFC divisional playoffs.

Even if the Steelers had beaten the Falcons, it wouldn't have improved their playoff seeding. Nonetheless, playing an extra quarter of football couldn't have helped a week later when they lost 31-23 at Tennessee.

The 2006 loss came during the Steelers' maddening 2-6 start that year. OK, so one more win wouldn't have been enough to get the Steelers into the playoffs that year, either. But Ben Roethlisberger did get a concussion in that game and played the following week, not knowing whether he was in Oakland or Oahu when he threw four interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) in a 20-13 loss to the Raiders.

The Steelers haven't lost a season opener since 2002, when they lost to the Patriots on a Monday night. This isn't a cupcake opener like the Browns in 2007 or the Texans in 2008. This one makes me nervous.

Speaking of season openers, here's an observation from Thursday night's Vikings-Saints game. If you're a man in your 60s, you are too old to be wearing an NFL game jersey ... oh wait, that was Brett Favre.


Expect the Steelers to go 9-7 this season. Instead of committing a W or an L to each individual game, I'm going to break the season into parts. I've already predicted a 1-3 start pre-Roethlisberger. I hate to say this, but I see a 2-6 start in the first half. In Roethlisberger's first four games back, they host the Browns, play at Miami, at New Orleans and at Cincinnati on Monday night. I see only one win in those games. You probably can guess which one.

The second half of the season begins against the Patriots at home. I actually can see the Steelers winning that game as well as the rest of their games. But no way are they going to win eight in a row. They're going to slip up somewhere and get that seventh loss.

With the Ravens in the division, 9-7 isn't going to be enough to win the AFC North. Maybe a wild card.

Thanks, Roethlisberger.

Around the division

Yes, the Ravens concern me. But let's not make them out to be the '85 Bears just yet. One of these years, Ray Lewis is going to start getting old (he HAS to, doesn't he?), and injuries to Domonique Foxworth and Ed Reed weaken an already suspect secondary.

As far as the Bengals go, with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens both on the team, I wonder what the organization's policy is on dating in the workplace.

Now for the Browns. They don't worry me so much this year, but let's keep an eye on what's going on up there. I swear Mike Holmgren took the job as team president of an AFC North franchise because he has a vendetta against the Steelers stemming from the officiating in Super Bowl XL. Christ, I think Holmgren felt worse about the Steelers winning Super Bowl XLIII than Ken Whisenhunt did.

Holmgren's walrus-like mug should be on the Steelers Nation Watch List.

16 is enough

I love how the NFL labels the potential 18-game regular-season schedule as an "enhanced season." It makes it sound like there's some kind of product tie-in with Cialis.

I am against an 18-game season. I already have 16 days on the calendar in which I hope no one schedules a birthday party or calls me into work. I normally have Sundays off, but my job is not a 9-5, Monday-Friday job, and my place of business is not closed on Sundays.

Because there are only 16 games a year, if you're really a fan of an NFL team, you don't want to miss a game. There will be a lot more urgency to the Steelers' game at Tampa Bay on Sept. 26 than there is to, say, a Red Sox game against the Pirates in June.

Steelers Sundays usually involve going to a sports bar, drinking beer, eating pizza and chicken wings. Then, of course, I write a column on the game for this blog. Being a Catholic who doesn't attend church regularly, that is my church (a black sedan just pulled up in front of my house. God's getting out. St. Peter's with him and he's wearing a black leather jacket and holding a baseball bat).

For that reason, my mentality about Sundays is much different during the fall and early winter than it is the rest of the year. There's something to be said for Sundays during the spring or summer where I can enjoy the outdoors, take a nap, maybe go on a date or watch a baseball game if I want.

I don't like the idea of that way of life ending before Labor Day.

For four decades, the NFL has been a cultural phenomenon that changed the way many families plan their Sunday afternoons in the fall. They should leave the summer alone.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Batch or Dixon?

By Mike Batista

It's official. Principal Goodell will only make Ben Roethlisberger stand in the corner for four games instead of six. Now it's time to debate who should start in place of Roethlisberger for the first four games of the regular season, Charlie Batch or Dennis Dixon.

Here's my opinion: It doesn't matter.

Without Roethlisberger, I'm predicting a 1-3 start for the Steelers. Let's look at their schedule.

They open at home against Atlanta, a team with high expectations this year. If the Steelers' defense is, in fact, getting old, the Falcons have a powerful offense that will expose that aging process.

In Week 2, the Steelers are at Tennessee, never an easy place for them to win.

In Week 3, the Steelers are at Tampa Bay. If the Steelers' one win without Roethlisberger doesn't come in the opener, it better come here. The Buccaneers are rebuilding, but they'll be at home for this one, and with no Roethlisberger, who knows what could happen?

In Week 4, the Steelers are home against the Ravens. Baltimore looks loaded this year. But they might be getting old on defense, too, and they won't have Ed Reed, who will miss the first six weeks of the season with a hip injury. Still, I'm not sure if Batch or Dixon will be able to exploit the Ravens' suspect secondary.

The last time the Steelers made the playoffs after a 1-3 start was 2002, when Tommy Maddox relieved Kordell Stewart and took the Steelers on a magic carpet ride.

It all comes down to the quarterback.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Office humor

By Mike Batista

Peter! What's happening?

We're going to need you to go ahead and not pick the Steelers to win Super Bowl XLV.

The Steelers do better when they fly under the radar and no one expects them to do well.

So if you could just go ahead and pick another team to win the Super Bowl, that would be terrific.


And we're going to need you to come in on Sunday, too.

The Peter we're talking to is Peter King of Sports Illustrated, who predicts the Steelers to beat the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

This prognostication assumes that Ben Roethlisberger's suspension will be reduced to four games, and that the Steelers will get off to a 3-1 start in those games.

Apparentely, like Peter Gibbons in "Office Space," Peter King didn't want to work on Sunday, either, because he could not possibly have seen the Steelers' 34-17 preseason loss to the Broncos.

Based on what I saw Sunday night, I'd be happy if the Steelers got off to a 2-2 start without Roethlisberger.

We were all obsessed with Dennis Dixon. He was like the hot new girl in school who everyone wanted to date. Then on Sunday, we finally got that date when he played with the first-team offense.

What happened was like taking the hot new girl out to a restaurant and finding out she burps really loudly.

Dixon completed just 9 of 16 passes, threw two interceptions and looked eerily like another Steelers quarterback who wore No. 10. The best of the backups in the Steelers' 34-17 loss was Charlie Batch, but since walkers aren't allowed on the field during regular-season games, he's not likely to start. He might not even make the team.

Cutting Batch would be a mistake. If the Bobs who decide on the Steelers' 53-man roster bring in Batch and ask him: "What would you say ... you do here?" He should tell them that he's the first person Roethlisberger goes to on the sideline when he gets off the field during games. He's sort of a mentor to Roethlisberger.


So right now Byron Leftwich looks like the winner by default in the Keep the Seat Warm for Ben Sweepstakes.

That means Park Avenue better be lined with Terrible Towels on Friday, because the fate of the Steelers' season rests on Principal Goodell's decision when he calls Roethlisberger into his office.

If Roethlisberger's suspension is any longer than four games, it's time to start analyzing the 2011 draft (if there even is one).

Now for the "Is it me ..." part of this column.

Is it me or did the Steelers' first-team defense look old Sunday night? I was not all that impressed with what I saw. James Farrior made an early exit because of the gash on his head, but he already looked old last year. Perhaps part of it is that Troy Polamalu still hasn't come out of his shell. Hopefully he's just decided to not start flying all over the field again until the games count.

Is it me or did the Steelers' offensive line not look half bad Sunday night? The first unit gave up two sacks, but one of them came when Dennis Dixon tried to get fancy on fourth-and-1. I saw a lot of solid pockets for Roethlisberger and Dixon to work in. I wonder how much of it has to do with Maurkice Pouncey. Considering how well he's handled the responsibilities of a position that has a standard set by greats like Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson, it's hard to believe Pouncey just turned 21. I don't think I even had to shave every day when I was 21.

Is it me or did Rashard Mendenhall's runs, five of them for 28 yards, look electric? Will Jonathan Dwyer be one of his backups? Dwyer tried to make up for a dreadful training camp by rushing for 89 yards on 13 carries Sunday night, including a 17-yard run in the fourth quarter where he looked like a burrowing gopher moving a pile of Broncos. It doesn't matter that they were "down-the-liners," as Steelers coach Mike Tomlin calls them, those were still NFL-size bodies that Dwyer moved. Yet Tomlin's still not impressed. Dwyer still might not make the team.

Maybe he'll end up knocking on Peter's door selling magazines.

Toe hits pigskin in 11 days.