The Pittsburgh Steelers are a very inconsistent team, and nothing showed this more than the team rebounding from losses to the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders with a huge home win vs. the New England Patriots in Week 15. However, the inconsistencies continued with an absolutely heart-breaking defeat to the Saints in Week 16. Now, the Steelers don’t control their own destiny, but are relying on the help of the Browns — the Cleveland Browns.
Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the Steelers’ upcoming opponent in Week 17, the Cincinnati Bengals, could be without ILB Vontaze Burfict due to him suffering a concussion in their Week 16 game.
This is Burfict’s 7th reported concussion since joining the NFL, and his second this month, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. There isn’t just talk of Burfict being shut down for the season, but how his career could be in jeopardy due to head trauma.
Let’s get to the news:
Bengals’ Vontaze Burfict might miss Steelers game with concussion. Is his career over?
By: Frank Carnevale, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The Pittsburgh Steelers are facing Cincinnati on Sunday at Heinz Field with a playoff spot on the line, and it is looking like Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict will not play.
Burfict is listed on the team’s injury report with a concussion . He was taken out of Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns in the first half and did not return.
It was the seventh concussion of his career and second in December. The previous concussion came on Dec. 2 against the Denver Broncos. He went into concussion protocol during the game and missed the next two games.
Some are reporting that the concussions may put an end to his career.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter commented on Twitter : “Bengals’ LB Vontaze Burfict sustained a seventh career concussion Sunday, and second in a month, which could put his career in jeopardy, per @Kat_Terrell.”
And ESPN Bengals reporter Kat Terrell added: “Those are only the seven we know about as well. I always wonder how many players have concussions that don’t end up in protocol.”
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis didn’t speak much after his team’ loss to the Browns — his presser lasted less then 2 minutes — and only offered a few words on Burfict .
“You’re not a doctor and I’m not a doctor either,” Lewis answered when asked about the linebackers injury.
Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster hit historic milestone
By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN
Bill Belichick summarized exactly why teams would not want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs, should they make it.
“You’re not going to get anybody better than these two guys [Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster], plus the quarterback [Ben Roethlisberger],” Belichick said two weeks ago as the New England Patriots prepared for Pittsburgh’s offense. “They have a lot of other guys, too, but these two receivers are elite. Elite, elite.”
But while Belichick prepares his Patriots for what looks like yet another first-round playoff bye, the Steelers are losers of four of five games, with shaky playoff prospects despite fielding a receiving duo for the ages.
Smith-Schuster (106 catches for 1,389 yards) and Brown (104 catches for 1,297 yards) have become the NFL’s fifth teammate combination to have 100 catches and 1,200 receiving yards in the same season, and they still have a game to play.
A monster finale against the Cincinnati Bengals will get them closer to the 1995 Detroit Lions tandem of Herman Moore and Brett Perriman, who combined for 231 catches for 3,174 yards. The last pair to hit the 100-1,200 club was Denver’s Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2014.
None of these duos made a Super Bowl in those seasons, but it’s impressive nonetheless. John Stallworth and Lynn Swann will forever live in Steelers folklore for their Super Bowl pedigree at receiver, but the Smith-Schuster/Brown combo might fight for franchise-duo supremacy soon enough.
Brown and Smith-Schuster accounted for 300 of Steelers’ 380 receiving yards (78.9 percent) and 64.5 percent of the team’s overall offense in a 31-28 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
War Room: Why Butler’s defense fails at big times
By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports
The Steelers’ 31-28 loss to the Saints was a tough battle between two strong teams with Hall of Fame quarterbacks, both of whom showed out with huge performances. But Drew Brees struck at weaknesses Keith Butler‘s defense had shown, even before this season.
Let’s dig deep …
• Where scheme beat team: An elite quarterback can exploit the slightest flaws. Brees threw one touchdown pass, but he made several plays to keep drives alive, and the key was his recognition of the disguised packages Butler schemed for the game.
Butler’s plans were effective the previous week against Tom Brady, and the Saints were blanked on half of their first 10 drives. The secondary-heavy formations, which the Steelers have used more often this season, were part of the success, but eventually Brees found weaknesses.
He was able to pick out that Sean Davis was assigned to cover Alvin Kamara, and that Davis was backed off Kamara to give the look the Steelers are in zone defense. But when Kamara hit his wheel route, Davis was unable to get to his spot and gave up a huge gain.
Those are moments where the subtle attention to detail can win games.
(For more, click on the link in the headline)