Pitt Falls Short to Notre Dame 78-77 in OT

I’m sure you’re heard the expression ‘It’s the little things that count,’ right? Well, those little things are so critical that it can determine the outcome of a situation, good or bad. Such is the case in sports when it can result in victory or defeat for a team, and it’s truly the case of the Pitt Panthers basketball team as they let one slip away in a 78-77 loss to #24 Notre Dame in overtime.

To be honest, the game shouldn’t have gone to overtime, but it happened because of the same things that the Panthers continue to struggle with: Playing defense, turnovers and making the key basket to put away the opponent, but the one they that hurt the Panthers was their inability to make free throws, especially in the second half. But the ‘little things’ that I’m referring to were the free throws, which failed them when they needed them in the second half, despite shooting a strong 78% from the line.

I will give the Panthers credit for not just hanging with the Fighting Irish but outplaying them as well. They had them on the ropes a couple of times because of using what’s essential for them to win: Scoring, especially from leading scorers Mike Young and Jamel Artis, who both had another set of stellar games. Young carried the team on his back most the game as he finished with 25 points and four three-pointers (which honestly surprised me), and Artis shook off his first-half struggles and caught fire in the second half to also finish with 25 points. But what also stood out with Artis’ performance was the fact that he had five three-pointers, including 3 in the second half. The Panthers needed Artis when they couldn’t buy a basket, and he came through. He gets no complaints from me.

But my issues are with their inability to put away teams, which we know have been plaguing them all season. What’s interesting is that during non-conference games, even though they failed to close out opponents, they still won the game (see Pitt 112, Marshall 106, Pitt 84, Buffalo 79 for examples), but it’s not so easy with teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) whom the Panthers will now play the rest of the season. The talent is stronger, and the teams are better than who we’ve seen Pitt play so far this year. The bottom line is that the Panthers can’t afford to make those same mistakes if they are trying to make a splash in the ACC, where 7 of those teams are ranked in the AP Top 24, including Notre Dame.

The Panthers punched the Fighting Irish in the mouth after the opening tip, getting 3-pointers from Young and Artis. And eventually had a 19-9 lead with over 13 minutes to play. Then Notre Dame stormed back with baskets from F VJ Beachum and F Bonzie Colson, who would be a thorn in the Panthers side all game as he dominated the paint and finished with 21 points.

Pitt maintained their first-half lead thanks to G Cameron Johnson, who hit two three-pointers and finished the half with 11 points, which were crucial because Artis was still going through his struggles. It was honestly easy to think that Pitt was about to blow Notre Dame out when they led 27-19, but on the flip side, we knew better than to think that, because we are aware this year’s Panthers, and apparently so did Notre Dame as they would eventually tie Pitt 29-29 and then 34-34 late in the first-half. But with seconds left on the clock, F Sheldon Jeter would help Pitt save face in the first-half as his jumper at the buzzer gave Pitt a 36-34 halftime lead.

But that was the first half. In the second half, the Panthers would maintain their lead, but they could only get as far as 5 points as the Fighting Irish kept well, fighting and then the Panthers started struggling like, the Panthers. First came the scoring efforts as it seemed like there was a transparent lid on the basket as they tried everything from jumpers and drives through the lane, and it would just clang off the rim and eventually into the hands of the Fighting Irish. Then it was the defense, in which they continued to get abused by Colson, F Steve Vasturia and G Matt Farrell, who truly capitalized off the Panthers miscues. Pitt started beating themselves and then Notre Dame started beating Pitt as they went on an 11-0 run and took a 60-52 lead with 7:43 left in the game.

After Pitt HC Kevin Stallings had called a timeout, Artis put on his cape and became a much-needed Superman for Pitt as he helped the Panthers storm back and eventually take a 67-62 lead with over 2 minutes to play. But the Fighting Irish once again stormed back and closed Pitt’s lead to 67-66. Then Johnson began to struggle as his hot shooting was missing in the second half. He missed a crucial free throw and made the other, giving the Panthers a 68-66 lead, which eventually Notre Dame would tie, and then he also missed several shots to help get the lead back. Young tried a jumper at the buzzer that fails short sending this game into overtime.

They call it ‘Free Basketball,’ but I call it Unnecessary Basketball, because all Johnson had to do was make one more free throw, and the Panthers win, but that wasn’t the case as OT began. Notre Dame would take the early lead before Johnson would finally wake up and give Pitt a 73-70 lead and then Jeter’s layup extended Pitt’s lead to 75-70, which gave me optimism that they would pull this one out.

But Notre Dame had other ideas as they would eventually tie the game on a 3-pointer by Vasturia. But then Artis would give the Panthers a 77-75 lead, but I felt that it wasn’t enough. A 3-pointer would’ve given them a nice cushion, especially when Vasturia slid across the floor (no ‘traveling’ call refs?) and hit an another 3-pointer to give his Fighting Irish a 78-77 lead. With over 2 seconds left to play. The Panthers had one more chance, but F Ryan Luther’s inbound pass was intercepted by the Fighting Irish who held onto to win the game 78-77. Pitt would fall to 11-3(0-1 ACC), and Notre Dame would improve to 12-2 (1-0 ACC).

“I thought was a great college basketball game. Unfortunately, they made one more play than we did.”-Said Stallings. “We need some more offense from people.” Young and Artis can’t do it alone, no matter how hard they try. It’s going to take a team effort to make a splash in conference play and hope to get an invite to the NCAA Tournament.

“There are 17 more games that are going to come flying at us like that one, and none of them are going to be easy,” said Stallings. So, true, but when Pitt focuses on the ‘little things,’ they will see some W’s in those 17 games. If not, they will see what they saw in this game.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmedia.com

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Young & Artis score 30 as Pitt holds off Marshall 112-106

If you missed the Pitt Panthers basketball team’s game vs. the Marshall Thundering Herd and saw the final score of 112-106 and wonder “How in the world did Pitt give up 106 points???” My answer would be “I’m wondering that too, and I was there.” But seriously, I’m not as shocked as most, because this has been a trend with this basketball team so far this year. Scoring big on offense, but struggling big on defense. And this game pretty much took the cake.

 

This game reminds me of the Pitt football vs. Syracuse game in which they scored an incredible 76 points, but gave up an incredible 61 points. Something’s wrong there, and it’s painfully obvious what it is: Lack of defense.

 

But before I get into that part of the story, let’s focus on the good news: The Panthers did get their 4th  straight win and are now 11-2 and will prepare for Atlantic Coast Conference play which begins Saturday vs. Notre Dame. Pitt started off strong and went wire-to-wire vs. Marshall and got the job done.

 

Top scorers Mike Young and Jamel Artis both had 30 points, Sheldon Jeter had 21, which marked the first time that the Panthers had two players with 20-plus points and Cam Johnson came close as he added 16 before fouling out. The Panthers are continuing to reap benefits from Head Coach Kevin Stallings system, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more of this type of performance. The Panthers were an incredible 41.8% from 3-point range with Artis & Johnson each hitting 3, Young hitting 2 and Jeter hitting 1. They were also excellent from the court, shooting 52% and 70% from the free-throw line.

 

The Panthers used the 3-pointer to start the game with a 6-0 lead and eventually stormed to a 20-8 lead. They eventually led 31-18 and 51-31, and when the first half ended, they went into the locker room leading 58-38. That kind of performance had Pitt looking like Paul Westhead’s 1990’s Loyola Marymount run-and-shoot teams, who averaged almost 120 points a year.

 

Let’s be honest, if you’re up by 30 at halftime, you can pretty much put it in cruise control in the second half because the game’s in the bag, right?

 

Wrong. We’re talking about the Pitt Panthers.

 

Which leads to the not-so-good part of the story. When the second half began, apparently the Thundering Herd lived up to its name because they started thundering back. Yes, the Panthers have still had a large lead, but you can tell that Marshall wasn’t giving up. Once again, my theory holds true: Opposing teams suddenly become good shooters once they step onto the Petersen Events Center court. The Force was obviously ‘Strong’ with them in the second half.

 

G Stevie Browning and F Ryan Taylor each had 22 points for Marshall as they drove through the lanes and passed some of the Pitt players like they were in EZ pass. But the real star for Marshall was G CJ Burks who led his team with 25 points and had an astonishing five three-pointers. Since he went 5-7, he was pretty much perfect from beyond the arc. G Jon Elmore had 19, which almost gave Marshall a chance to eclipse Pitt with four 20-point scorers. They continued to fight and eventually found themselves back in this game.

 

Do you want proof? Observe. When the second half started, the score was 62-38. With 12:08 left, the score was 81-59. With 8 minutes left, it was 90-69. And then you see the shift: It turned to 94-80 (6:03), 96-86(4:49), 105-98 (1:07) and finally, 112-106. Unless you saw David Copperfield out there performing illusions, there’s only one reason why the Panthers saw their huge lead disappear.

 

They thought the game was over and they got complacent and lazy.

 

The Panthers have problems putting teams away, and it’s because they’re not playing consistent on the defensive side of the court. Sure, they out-rebounded Marshall 43-39 with Jeter leading with 10, followed by eight from Artis, six from Young and five from Rozelle Nix who by the way, got more playing time., But the Panthers are struggling to keep teams out of the paint and are opening the door for easy layups, over and over again.

 

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: If the Panthers are having problems shutting down the non-conference opponent, when what will happen when they play conference play. No matter if it’s Duke or Wake Forest, they will cause problems for this team if they don’t get their defensive issues together, and most of it is just hustling on the other side of the court and acting as they care about keeping the opponent from scoring.

 

Coach Stallings had this to say: “Sometimes it’s hard to play with a big lead.  If we don’t stay locked in for 40 minutes from now on, we all know what awaits us.” Yeah, no kidding Coach. A loss is inevitable when things like this continue to happen.

 

But since the Panthers won, I won’t focus on the bad news. I’m glad that they were able to hold Marshall off and it took all 112 of those points to do so. That is what they will need to succeed in the ACC. The defense, not so much.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on Twitter

Buying Groceries Like A Pro – Tips and Advice

With the cost of groceries constantly on the rise, most shoppers have taken notice of their increasingly high grocery bills. They’ve also noticed how time-consuming grocery shopping can be and that poor buying choice is being made when they are in a hurry. Because of such problems, people are looking for a better way to shop. Luckily, the answer is simple. By following some advice and changing a few shopping habits, anyone can start buying groceries like a professional.

 

 

#1 – Create a Shopping List

 

Creating a shopping list can shorten the time spent buying groceries. No longer will last-minute meal decisions need to be made as you wander up and down the aisles, because you’ll know exactly what you need to buy before you even enter the store. Having a grocery list also prevents the type of aimless shopping which can lead to filling your cart with additional food, just because you were unsure of what to buy. Impulsive purchases are what send grocery bills through the roof.

 

For those wondering how to create a detailed list of groceries, start with a comprehensive meal plan. Decide how long the groceries should last and plan out in detail each meal during that time frame. Once you know which meals you will be preparing, you’ll know exactly what foods should be added to the list. Be sure to add specific quantities where required, so you don’t end up buying the wrong amount of food as you are shopping.

 

 

#2 – Search for Flyers and Coupons

 

Before throwing your junk mail into the recycle bin, set aside the grocery store flyers. If you are one of the lucky few who doesn’t receive junk mail, rest assured, most flyers can be found on the Internet. Though grocery stores often post their latest flyer on their website, there are other sites that link to several of the most recent brochures that can save you the trouble of searching for each one separately. A quick search for “online flyers” should point you in the right direction.

 

By reading the brochures, you’ll know which sales you’ll benefit most from. You should visit the stores advertising several of the items you plan to buy. It isn’t worth saving a few pennies on salad if it requires extra time and gas to run across town to buy just the one item.

 

Though coupons are no longer required for most sale items, it can still be beneficial to do a quick search. You will find that many coupons provide excellent savings. Don’t be tempted to use them all, however, as it doesn’t save anyone money to buy unnecessary things.

 

 

#3 – Never Shop Hungry

 

Though it might sound strange, a common mistake for grocery buyers is shopping on an empty stomach. People often buy unnecessary things when they are hungry, so it’s best to leave the shopping for later if you haven’t eaten.

 

Shortly after a meal is one of best times to shop for groceries. Before leaving, however, you should give your stomach some time to settle. This is often the perfect time to check your local flyers and search for coupons.

 

 

#4 – Buy “In Season” Produce

 

For nutritious foods that don’t break the bank, the produce section is the best place to look. In fact, some of the cheapest foods for sale are fruits and vegetables. This becomes especially true for any produce that is currently in season. Better yet, seasonal foods will also reach their peak freshness during this time.

 

With worldwide food delivery, most kinds of produce are available year-round. Certain foods, however, will be at their peak during different seasons. This include:

 

Spring: apricots, carrots, pineapple, snow peas, spinach, and strawberries.

Summer: beans, blueberries, broccoli, corn, cucumber, peaches, peppers, raspberries, and tomatoes.

Fall: apples, cauliflower, grapes, mushrooms, pears, squash, and sweet potatoes.

Winter: citrus fruits, leeks, radishes, and turnips.

 

 

#5 – Avoid Ready-Made Foods

 

Pre-prepared foods may offer convenience, but are more expensive to buy and are often anything but nutritious. This is because they tend to be filled with ingredients like sugar, salt, and fat – all things a healthy diet should not include. Instead, cooking from scratch can save you money and allow for meals that contain more of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. It also allows you to substitute for ingredients you like while leaving out the foods you’d rather not eat.

 

 

#6 – Sample Different Brands

 

It’s a myth that only leading brand manufacturers sell the best food. In fact, many of the products sold under the store brand label are made and packaged by the same factories that produce the famous name brands that you have come to know and love. Some store brand foods even taste better than the leading brand but cost much less.

 

If you find a product that doesn’t meet your standards, only try another brand until you do. There’s no harm in testing different brands, just avoid bulk purchases until you know if the product is right for you. If later on you still prefer the leading brand, you can always switch back.

 

 

By following some simple advice and changing a few of your shopping habits, it’s easy to avoid the common mistakes shoppers make when buying groceries. In doing so, you will save time and money, while benefiting from eating healthier foods at home. There has never been a better time to start shopping more efficiently, so what are you waiting for? Start buying your groceries like a professional!

Improving Your Life With A More Nutritious Diet

Eating nutritious foods and living a healthy lifestyle is critical to your body. You will feel and look better. You will also be living a healthy lifestyle too. Below, you’ll find tips to get you started in the right direction.

Chromium is an essential mineral which should be a part of a healthy diet. It works to maintain a healthy blood sugar level by increasing the effectiveness of insulin. You can get chromium in foods such as whole grains, cheese, peas, meat (especially liver), beans, red wine and brewer’s yeast.

If you’re worried whether your kids are getting good enough nutrition, you are not alone. Your child may be one of those who only eats a few foods. But rest assured because as long as the choices available to your child are healthy ones, they will select from them and eat well. If you don’t bring junk into the house, it won’t be around for them to eat and they will have no choice but to eat well.

To lose weight, you should try eating more pineapple. Fresh pineapple contains enough sugar to give you all the energy that you need. It also helps you burn fat quicker. Pineapple is the perfect desert after a rather rich meal. Avoid canned pineapple or pies and cakes containing pineapple as it will not have the same effect.

Eat until you are satisfied, not until you are full. Most people eat because food tastes good, not because their body needs more nutrients. Pay attention to your body’s signals. Put down your fork between bites and assess how you are feeling. Stop when you feel satisfied. You should not feel any hunger, but you should also not feel stuffed or uncomfortable.

Limit your consumption of red meat to no more than two to three times a week. Research has shown that a diet high in red meat can clog arteries and potentially lead to high blood pressure. Red meat is also high in saturated fat and cholesterol. This can lead to heart disease.

Making spaghetti sauce for your family is easy, and with a few extra ingredients, it can be more nutritious. The next time you make spaghetti sauce, try adding minced carrots or stirring in pureed baby-food carrots. These ingredients will enhance the flavor. Your family will never notice the extra veggies but will benefit from the extra nutrition.

You want to set a good example for your child. If you try and tell your kid to eat healthily and not to eat junk food while you’re sitting there eating a bag of chips and drinking a can of soda, they’re not likely to listen. But if you eat healthily, your child will want to mimic you and eat healthy as well.

Instead of planting pretty flowers in your yard, consider planting useful vegetables and fruit bushes, instead. Tomatoes, carrots, radishes and berry bushes, are all relatively low maintenance. They can be expensive to buy at supermarkets, freshly picked. Within a year, you can harvest your crops. These vegetables are a great alternative to cute pansies or daffodils that require a lot of care and only provide nice color to your yard.

To prevent and relieve joint inflammation, eat a diet that’s high in selenium. Selenium fights against oxidative stress near the joints and helps to keep your body balanced. Selenium deficiency has been linked to several health problems, including rheumatoid arthritis and Kashin-Beck’s disease. Foods rich in selenium include tuna, liver, and sunflower seeds.

Instead of using additives that are very high in sugar, turn to honey. Honey is one of the best ingredients to use and is rich in minerals that support your body. Also, honey is low in fat and provides you with natural sugar, which is much better for success in your diet regime.

Starting a new diet does not necessarily mean that you have to deprive yourself of your favorite foods. Instead, consume your guilty pleasures in small portion sizes and much less frequently. This makes them innocent pleasures! Rather than rewarding yourself for sticking with a diet by eating a normal-sized treat, linger over a smaller, healthier portion.

Instead of eating junk food when you get a craving, turn to delicious, nutritious pumpkin seeds. These snacks are incredibly delicious and can help curb your appetite as well. Change your diet and the snacks that you choose if you want to improve the way that you feel and look.

Don’t go to the store when you are hungry. If you are hungry then your blood sugar is probably low. If your blood sugar is low, then your body will crave sweets, fats, and carbohydrates to give it the quick boost in insulin and sugar it wants. Avoid the temptation by having a healthy meal or snack before you shop.

If one likes salad that is no problem but they should be wary of putting on too much salad dressing. These dressings can often be high in nutritionally harmful elements. Fats for one are often common in various salad dressings. Salad can be great for one’s nutrition. However, one should go light with the dressing.

To get the maximum health effects, try to consume as many raw foods as you possibly can. Studies have shown that many essential nutrients in foods, when cooked, are lost due to their inability to survive temperatures of around or higher than 120 degrees. Therefore, make it a point to incorporate as many raw foods as you can in your daily meals, so your body can benefit from the increased nutrient value.

If your child is allergic to peanuts or attends a peanut-free daycare or school, try alternative sandwich spreads made from soybeans, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews or other tasty pulses. These butter are not only good for sandwiches but make a great substitute for peanut butter in recipes for candies, cookies and more.

The above article gave you plenty of beneficial tips about nutrition. You need to take these and begin making changes to better care for yourself. You can’t regret putting your health as your top priority, and you’ll feel much better each day.

Big Ben Certifies His Greatness in Steelers Division-Clinching win

Wow! What a game, right? This latest matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens was a throwback to the classic games that both these teams used to play from 2008-2010, when the final score would be no greater than 3 points, regardless who won. Not only were both teams AFC North Division rivals, but they were also contenders. But then the rivalry died down a bit with the Cincinnati Bengals taking the Ravens place for a few years.

 

Suffice to say this Christmas Day matchup between the two teams renewed this rivalry as both teams were fighting for the Division title. Like a boxing match, it was truly a question of who wanted it most. The Steelers objective was simple: Win and they’re in. They would clinch the AFC North and earn a spot in the playoffs as the #3 seed. If they lost, then the Ravens would complete the sweep for the second straight season, which would give them the tiebreaker over the Steelers going into Week 17 in which the Steelers would’ve had to beat the Cleveland Browns and then rely on the Bengals to beat the Ravens. Nah, that wasn’t going to happen as the Bengals are a mess of a team that can only beat themselves.

 

The Steelers decided to handle their own business as they beat the Ravens 31-27 in front of a sold-out Heinz Field and a national audience on NFL Network. The Steelers are now in the playoffs for the 3rd straight season and won their 2nd division in 3 years. They’ve also won their 10th game and 6th in a row after losing four straight. It’s hard to believe that this team was once 4-5 after losing a crushing game to the Dallas Cowboys, who have the NFL’s best record. Fans and media alike said this team was done and that they should fire Head Coach Mike Tomlin, but six wins later there’s nothing but praise.

 

Nothing in 2016 has gone easy for the Steelers, and this game was no exception. The Steelers had to overcome being down 20-10 after leading the Ravens 7-6. The Ravens were in the Red Zone frequently, and it was evident they were gaining steam, but it amazes me that they were only able to score two touchdowns the whole game. But the Steelers had to overcome turnovers and missed tackles and eventually they would score 21 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to get the victory.

 

The key to this victory was the dramatic final drive in which the Steelers drove 75 yards on ten plays to score the winning TD. QB Ben Roethlisberger found WR Antonio Brown on a 4-yard pass in which Brown fought through 2 Raven defender and used his left hand to extend the ball over the goal line for the winning score. I have never seen anything like it, and if you missed it, you need to watch the replays. Brown made a veteran move that proved that he, like his teammates, wanted this win and the division title. Brown would finish the game with ten catches for 96 yards and the huge TD. He would also become the second player in NFL history to record four straight 100-reception seasons.

 

RB Le’Veon Bell would also have an awesome game as he rushed 20 times for 122 yards against the Ravens, something that a Steeler RB hardly has done since the days of Jerome Bettis. He scored two huge 4th quarter touchdowns which helped the Steelers rebound from that 20-10 deficit.

 

But if there were a Steelers player that deserved a game ball for this victory, it would go to Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger who overcame his mistakes to lead his team to victory. Big Ben had two costly interceptions that resulted in 10 Ravens points, but he shook those off to lead the offense to those 21-unanswered points, including that 16-play, 75-yard drive with 1:18 left in the game. Big Ben was flawless on that drive as he was able to find Brown, TE Jesse James, Eli Rogers, and Bell. It was a reminder of how the great quarterbacks get it done when the game is on the line.

 

During my years of watching football, I have seen Hall of Famers Joe Montana, John Elway, Dan Marino, Brett Farve and future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning get it done in clutch situations and I have to say that Big Ben also deserves to be on this list. At 34, he’s proven to be an elite NFL QB after being named to his 5th Pro Bowl. He also has 46,535 career yards and is two touchdowns away from 300 for his career, good for 10th on the all-time list. Plus, he’s won 2 Super Bowls and been to 3. That sounds like a future Hall of Famer to me.

 

Big Ben lead a Steelers offense that was missing 3 of it’s Wide Receivers (Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, and Sammie Coates), a tight end (La Darius Green) and still got it done with what he had you know like a real leader does.

 

I felt like for the Steelers to win this game; they would need Big Ben to lead the way, and he did just that. As he goes, so does the Steelers. After he had led the Steelers to a 7-0 lead when he found TE Xavier Grimble for a 20-yard TD, he cooled off, and so did the Steelers. When he threw the two interceptions, the Steelers fell behind.

 

After being down 20-10, Big Ben led the Steelers on a drive that ended with a 7-yard TD run by Bell, and on the next drive, he led them down the field and found Bell for a 7-yard TD pass. And on that final drive, he found Brown for that impressive TD with 9 seconds left. That’s how leaders do it. For the game, Big Ben finished with 279 yards, three touchdowns, and those two interceptions.

 

For the Ravens, they saw their playoff hopes come to an end as they were mathematically eliminated with the loss. They did what they could to win this game as QB Joe Flacco led his team to scores on several drives. He found WR Steve Smith Sr. for one score and led his team to a drive that ended with a 10-yard TD by FB Kyle Juszcyk for what looked like the winning touchdown as the Ravens lead 27-24.

But that was before Big Ben, and the Steelers took over, and the rest was history.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @UrbanmediaRay on Twitter

Ray Jr. on Sports

  1. Breaking news: Pitt Panthers Athletic Director Scott Barnes has officially accepted the same position at Oregon State the school announced Thursday. I’m not surprised. That talk about the speculation not being true by Barnes last week was a crock. He could’ve just stayed quiet instead of telling a flat-out lie. Oh well, Pitt’s been this way before. They just must find another one.
  2. Just like when Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada departed for LSU last week, such as the life of sports. Everyone wants a better job opportunity and when comes along, they will take it. I don’t agree with Barnes leaving as he was only at Pitt for one year. But he did some good things while he was at Pitt, like restore the Pitt vs. West Virginia series and return the Pitt script for all the sports teams. I wish him the best.
  3. As for College Football, it’s Bowl season where there’s at least a bowl or two each day. I’m noticing a trend of certain key NFL-bound players choosing to sit out of these bowl games, just do they can get themselves ready for the NFL Draft.
  4. Excuse me, but that makes no sense. These players have played for 3 or 4 years with their teams to get to a bowl and they choose to sit out, because of the NFL?? Come on man. That’s contradictory and dumb. That’s a selfish act, period.
  5. I’m so glad that Pitt RB James Conner hasn’t chosen to go this route. He will play in the Pinstripe Bowl when his Panthers will take on Northwestern Dec 28th. If he rumbles all over the opponent, he might win MVP honors, that will increase his draft stock. Plus, he’s too classy to miss this game, since it’s his final one on the college level.
  6. Five Pittsburgh Steelers make the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl. QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown, C Maurkise Pouncey, RB Le’Veon Bell and G David DeCastro will represent the Steelers in Orlando (not Hawaii) Florida late January. Of course, it would be their desire to not play this game, which means that they will have made the Super Bowl, but the selection to this All-Star Game still counts.
  7. I’m not surprised that any of these players made it as they’ve had superb seasons. It’s Big Ben, Brown and Pouncey’s 5th time, Bell and DeCastro’s 2nd. To not surprise, it’s all offensive players that will represent. Although I felt like LB Ryan Shazier would have an outside shot and if LB James Harrison can rack up the sacks, he could be an injury replacement. Quite an honor for a 38-year old.
  8. I remember when Pouncey was hurt last season, folks thought he should be cut, because of his injuries. First, the Steelers would never do anything so foolish and second, we all know when he is healthy, Pouncey is one of the best centers in the NFL and his 5th Pro Bowl selection confirms it.
  9. As for the rest of the Pro Bowl selections, the playoff-bound Oakland Raiders lead with 7 selections, including MVP candidate Derek Carr, and the Atlanta Falcons lead the NFC with 6 selections including WR Julio Jones. The playoff-bound Dallas Cowboys have rookie QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliot making it the first time a rookie QB and RB from the same team will get the nod. Impressive.
  10. Like most all-star games, it’s not supposed to be serious and most times they’re boring, but I’m so glad that they returned the game to the AFC vs. NFC format, that other format where teams are selected was ridiculous in my opinion.
  11. Speaking of those Steelers, they have a huge game Christmas Day when they take on the Baltimore Ravens for the rights to the AFC North Division. As we know, the Ravens beat the Steelers 21-14 in their previous game in Baltimore. They basically won that game because of some splash plays by the Ravens offense and the rustiness of Big Ben, who played his first game since being injured 2 weeks before.
  12. There are many folks who feel like Ravens QB Joe Flacco isn’t too good, but I think you need to give him some credit. He knows how to get that ball downfield and it doesn’t help that he has veteran WRs Steve Smith Sr. and former Steeler Mike Wallace, who burned them for a 95-yard TD in the previous encounter.
  13. It’s no secret that the Steelers need to win this game if they want to win the division, but they need to bring their ‘A’ game vs. the Ravens. They cannot rely on Chris Boswell’s foot to solely get it done for them this time. They need several touchdowns and they need to punch the Ravens in their mouths early.
  14. I also feel like Big Ben needs to win this game for them. He lit them up for 6 TDs 2 years ago, and he needs that type of performance again. The Steelers have never been able to run against the Ravens since the days of Jerome Bettis, and I don’t think Bell and DeAngelo Williams will be able to in this game as well.
  15. If all goes well, I can see the Steelers winning 24-14 and wrapping up the division. They will also be wearing all-black for the first time in their history as part of the NFL’s color rush
  16. The NFL has also announced that they will be forming a Spring Development league with the purpose of working with NFL players who do not have contracts. They will be playing real games (6 total) and coached by experienced NFL coaches. This will take place from April 5th to April 26th. Should be interesting.
  17. As for Major League Baseball, I’m shocked that the Pittsburgh Pirates made a significant free agent signing as they signed P Ivan Nova to a 3 year-$26 million-dollar deal. Wow…just when you have this team figured out, they pull something like this.
  18. But let’s be real: It’s apparent that Nova really wanted to stay in Pgh. He knows as well as anyone that he could’ve made big bucks with another team, but he stays with the team that traded for him at the Trade Deadline. Nova was 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA with the Pirates last season. Imagine that for a whole season if Nova can keep it up.
  19. In College basketball, Duke announced that they have suspended F Grayson Allen for his tripping incident in Wednesday, his 3rd in the last 10 months. Good for Coach K for putting his foot down, because Allen’s actions are inexcusable.
  20. As for the NBA, not much happening except for the LA Lakers announcing that they will unveil a huge statue of HOF C Shaquille O’Neal soon. I think he deserves it. Congrats to him.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on Twitter

Say Goodbye To Dieting And Hello To Eating Right

Having proper nutrition can improve your health, your mood, and even your appearance. However, creating a diet that provides you with optimal nutrition can be difficult, especially in this modern world surrounded by processed treats and fast food. Read this article for some advice to help you maintain proper nutrition despite the challenges.

Be aware of how many nutrients are lost in the processing of your food. A whole-grain wheat bread is a much better choice than a multi-grain processed bread, for example. Even items that seem to be high on right foods, such as a bowl of vegetable soup, are not as healthy as an unprocessed counterpart.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This applies especially to those of us who are attempting to lose weight. Go light on the carbohydrates at breakfast for they can cause a blood sugar spike that results in a mid-morning slump. Eat mostly protein and fat at breakfast for lasting energy.

Learn different ways to cook some of your favorite foods in a healthier manner. You may love the taste of deep fried chicken or fries, but your body doesn’t. There are always alternatives to cooking methods for foods to still provide you the taste you love without all the calories. Try baking, roasting, steaming and broiling as alternatives to frying.

To improve your health, try skipping the sweet tea and drink green tea instead. Green tea has been shown to boost your metabolism and protect against many forms of cancer. It can also lower your cholesterol levels. Don’t drink green tea from a box, though. Brew it yourself with a tea bag or use loose leaves.

When you are trying to stay healthy, you should look at the possibility of taking vitamin B12. This vitamin can help your nerve cells, as well as, blood cells. Vitamin B12 is primarily found in meat and fish, or you can go to your local pharmacy and pick up the vitamin in pill form.

If you are hosting a luncheon, and you desire to keep the food as healthy as possible, consider serving a healthy version of tuna salad. Tuna is low in calories, rich in protein, and is an excellent choice for getting omega-3 fatty acids. Purchase a few cans of white beans, and puree the beans in a blender. Once pureed, mix the beans with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and combine both mixtures with the tuna. Instantly, you have made a healthier version of tuna salad that will go a long way in serving a large gathering.

In addition to eating healthy foods regularly, you should try taking vitamin supplements. Vitamin supplements provide you with all the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function and to maintain itself and its immune system. You can find vitamin supplements at any local drug store.

Using ground turkey instead of ground beef brings many health benefits; however, people often dislike the dryness. Adding a dash of olive oil can help to enhance the turkey’s flavor. It contains far less fat, and it packs wonderful flavor.

Forget the chips when you are craving salt. Grab a handful of nutrition packed, lightly salted edamame instead. Edamame is green soybeans that have been cooked and are rich in folic acid, calcium, and protein. They can also be added to soup or tossed into your favorite stir-fry.

If you are trying to encourage your child to have better nutrition, one of the most efficient things you can do is to lead by example. Children mimic their parents. The wider the variety of foods you eat, the more foods your child will be willing to try a taste.

One of the essential fatty acids in your diet are the omega-3 fatty acids. They are imperative in preventing inflammation, which is a contributor to the constellation of disorders that result in heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. They can be found in cold water oily fish.

Vitamins and health supplements are just that; supplements. They are made to be taken in conjunction with a healthy diet, not in place of it. If you are taking too many pills and supplements, you risk doing more damage to your health than good. Have your doctor test your blood to see what vitamins you are deficient in, and focus on taking just these.

The world of nutrition has unfortunately become incredibly over-saturated recently. This has led to hundreds of diets and books being released. The best thing to do with this is to ignore them completely. The fads change week by week, so it is essential just to stick to the basics of healthy food.

Most bad habits are psychological, and this is equally true for nutrition. All of the battles are actually inside your mind. One example of this is removing the reward system that you have set up with yourself. You want to try to eliminate the associations between food and happiness. Food is fuel, not pleasure.

A great nutrition tip is to keep in mind, is that fat is an essential part of every diet and it is not something that should be completely avoided. The key is to focus on eating beneficial fats, such as those found in fish, nuts, and avocados. Incorporating these types of foods is a smart way to get needed facts into one’s daily menu.

Reducing the amount of fish you eat or eliminating it entirely can help you avoid dangerous chemical contaminants in your diet. Fish are near the top of the food chain, so pollutants tend to build up in their tissues. Many fish contain dangerous levels of mercury and other toxic chemicals in their flesh.

As mentioned above, providing your body with the nutrients it needs can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Having read this article, you now have more information about the ways to improve your diet. Use this information wisely, and you will likely see an improvement in your health and your life ingeneral. EDITOR@URBANMEDIATODAY.COM

 

Pitt’s 94-75 demolition of Omaha reminds us how they used to beat non-conference foes

 

In case you didn’t notice, it was ‘Throwback Day’ at the Petersen Events Center as the Pitt Panthers took on the Nebraska, Omaha Mavericks. But unlike your average Throwback Day, it wasn’t about the uniforms (although I wish the Panthers would don the 80’s uniforms of Charles Smith, Jerome Lane and Sean Miller) but it was about the outcome of the game. It’s really no surprise that Pitt beat Omaha, but they destroyed them 94-75.

 

If you still don’t get my point, then please just look at the score. This is the first game this year’s non-conference schedule that the Panthers totally dominated an opponent. They weren’t sweating bullets and fearing that they would lose their first game in front of the sparse crowd (I know, it’s Christmas Break for the students, which explains why there was hardly an ‘Oakland Zoo.’) and they experienced what it’s like to put away an opponent.

 

You know, like the old days.

 

Remember the days when Pitt treated their non-conference schedule was like a glorified sparring session? Better yet, you remember when Pitt treated that non-conference schedule like the Harlem Globe Trotters basketball games? I sure do. You didn’t have to think twice about if the Panthers would beat their non-conference opponents by at least 25-30 points. Pitt would beat some of those teams so bad that I think some of the starters would probably sneak out and watch the rest of the game from their dorms if they had the chance.

 

Like the Globetrotters scripted wins vs. the poor Washington Generals, you could always expect the Panthers to get a huge win in these type of games as they would use them as a tune up for Conference play in the old Big East Conference and then the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) I remember former HC Jaime Dixon getting criticized for not scheduling better non-conference opponents, which he finally did in his last season before leaving for TCU. Some of those Pitt wins were so boring, that I felt like the real challenge of the night was what I was going to eat for dinner when I got home.

 

Wednesday night’s game was a throwback to those games for Pitt. They totally shut down Omaha despite what they tried to do. Like the other non-conference teams, the Mavericks shot well against Pitt, but they weren’t consistent enough to keep it going. Meanwhile the Panthers took over the game and made a statement that they were just more talented than Omaha, plain and simple.

 

But before you go putting the Panthers in the NCAA Tournament, it didn’t start off easy for them. In fact, they gave us a heavy reminder of how today’s Pitt Panthers were when they struggle: Sloppy, missing shots, lackluster defense and playing like their heads weren’t in the game. Harsh statements huh? Well, I get paid to tell the truth.

 

Omaha stated the game with a 4-0 lead, because they stole the ball from Pitt on offense. To no surprise, the Panthers stormed back, because of their talent level and their ability to ‘turn it on’ when they need to. They had 9-6 and 11-10 leads before Omaha showed what they could really do. Baskets by F Tre’Shawn Thurman, G JT Gibson and G Tra-Deon Hollins gave the Mavericks an 18-14 lead.  And once again, the Panthers had that look like they did in their loss to Duquesne in the City Game: Lost.

 

It was during that time, when last week’s 31-point scorer, Jamel Artis emerged to get his Panthers back in the game. He hit 2 free throws, a layup and a jumper to give the Panthers a 21-20 lead with over 8 minutes left in the first half. F Ryan Luther, fresh off his 20-point game vs. Rice then help add to their lead, as did F Mike Young, but then Artis hit a huge 3-pointer to extend their lead to 27-21. At that point you might have thought that the Panthers were ready to ‘book’ another win in their 2016-17 basketball season.

 

But then you knew better.

 

Not sure where Young’s head went, but he got the ball stolen from him twice in the span of 10 seconds by G Marcus Tyus, who hit two 3-pointers and suddenly the Mavericks tied the game at 27. But Tyus wasn’t done as he made another basket to give his team a 29-27 lead. After Thurman gave his team a 31-28 lead, it seemed like the Panthers were about as fed up as Popeye the Sailor Man when he would get beat up by Bluto. It almost seemed like they uttered Popeye’s famous words “That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stand n’more.” now I’m sure the Panthers had no time to eat any spinach, but how they responded after that was how Popeye responded after he ate his souped-up vegetables.

 

The Panthers had had enough and stormed to an 18-2 run to close out the first half and when Young would hit a 3-pointer right before the first half ended, the Panthers had a 46-33 lead. I will be honest with you, if you blinked or went out of the room, you would’ve missed it.

 

In the second half, the Panthers kept it going. No matter what the Mavericks tried, they didn’t have a chance. They used a collective effort to put away Omaha and when Young hit a jumper to extend the Panthers lead to 85-65, Head Coach Kevin Stallings decided to give the starters the rest of the night off and brought in the reserves. You know just like the old days.

 

Out went Young, Artis, Luther, Cameron Johnson and Sheldon Jeter and in went Justice Kithart, Jonathan Milligan, Damon Wilson, and the Big Guy, Rozelle Nix. And of course, Nix bought the crowd to its feet as soon as he hit the floor, but he also bought groans from that same crowd as he committed 2 fouls in 30 seconds. But he eventually shook those off and made quite the impression as he did his Shaquille O’Neal impression when he hit 1 of 2 free throws and then he did his Kareem Abdul-Jabarr impression when he his skyhook landed in the basket, bringing the crowd to his feet. He was also Dennis Rodman on the boards as he grabbed 4 rebounds. 3 points and 4 rebounds in 6 minutes. Not bad. Will he start the next game? He should get a chance, but I doubt it.

 

The reserves kept the scoring going as they eventually sealed the 94-75 win. As for the starters, Young got his ‘Groove’ back and led Pitt with 24 points and 11 rebounds while Artis resumed his role as the ‘sidekick’ with 19 points and tied Young with three 3-pointers. Johnson was also impressive as he added 16 points and Luther continues to make a statement as he added 11 points and set a school record with making 15 shots in a row.

 

For the Mavericks, Thurman led with 18 points and 9 rebounds and 4 other of his teammates also scored in double-figures, but it wasn’t clearly enough as the Panthers put them away.

 

“I’m proud of these guys.” Said Stallings on his team. “They’re buying what we’re selling.”

 

The Panthers will now close out their non-conference schedule vs. Marshall December 28th. It’ll be a final chance to put away a non-conference foe before starting ACC play vs. Notre Dame New Year’s Eve.

 

You know, like the old days.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

Enhance Your Physique With These Muscle Building Tips!

Building muscles don’t happen overnight, but with some hard work and dedication, you can create the toned, muscular body you dream of. To begin, you need some guidance as to exactly what to do. Read on for some tips to help you build the muscles you’ve always wanted.

Try to consume some carbohydrates and proteins before going to sleep. The calories that you obtain will cause your body to reduce the rate at which it breaks down proteins while you are sleeping. Eating a small portion of cheese and fruit is an excellent way to do this. You should also eat something soon after you wake up.

Genetics are one of the most important factors in building muscle mass. There is not much you can change about your interior genetics that shapes your body, but you can improve the way you look by becoming more tone. Some of us just do not have the bodies that will have large muscles, so accept that and strive for better tone.

As you are lifting weights, do your movements slowly. Moving too fast uses the body’s momentum instead of letting the muscles do the work. Likewise, don’t swing the weights, because this keeps the isolated muscle from doing the work. This is why going slow seems harder. The isolated muscle is doing its work!

If you cannot get to the gym for some reason, do not skip your workout altogether. You can simply do chin-ups, pushups, and dips in your home. Even with all of the fancy equipment at the gym, they remain the best forms of upper body building that you can do.

Train using many repetitions and sets as possible during your training session. Limit your breaks to less than one minute between each set of fifteen lifts or more. This can stimulate your lactic acids, which can help you build muscle. You will maximize your muscle building by committing to this several times during each of your sessions.

Change up your workouts. Research has proven that varying your reps, intensity, and exercises are the best combination for increasing muscle mass. Our bodies are superb at adapting to exercises, and they have to be shocked by changing up the exercises to achieve the most optimum growth.

Working out to build muscle is most efficient if you focus on large muscle groups. These include the back, legs, and chest. Implementing workouts that concentrate on these groups will do the most work in the shortest amount of time, meaning that you’ll grow muscle more quickly and easily than with other workouts.

Allow yourself to eat some ice cream. Studies have shown that eating one bowl of any ice cream that you like about two hours after a workout does some good. It will trigger the surge of insulin in your body better than many other foods will, and it will taste good too!

If you have decided to work on building up muscle mass, first talk to your doctor. While working out can improve almost any body type, there are a few conditions that require you to avoid certain types of exercise. Most of them are related to heart conditions and heavy lifting.

Try plyometric exercises. These sorts of exercises will help you enhance your fast twitch muscles, stimulating greater muscle development. Like ballistic financial years, plyometrics require explosive movements. For example, during plyometric push-ups, you would pull your hands off the floor and lift your body as high as possible.

If you wish to bulk up, try to focus on doing bench presses, squatting, and deadlifting. These three specific exercises yield maximum benefits fast and let you continue building healthy muscle. Try adding other exercises to a routine with these three at the core.

Good sleep will work well with your muscle-building efforts. Since muscle building and recovery go hand in hand, you need to make confident your body is getting all the rest it needs. No getting enough sleep or rest can interfere with muscle building results and may even lead to injuries.

Have a protein-rich snack before and after muscle-building workouts. A useful measure is taking 15 grams about thirty minutes before training, and then another 15 grams after training. 15 grams of protein is equal to about two cups of milk.

If you have enough time, consider breaking up workouts into two different sessions per day. For example, you could train your chest in the morning, and then once evening strikes, you can train your back. Resting your body in between lets your energy stores recover better than training both muscles during the same workout.

Make sure your deltoids are fully engaged. By having middle deltoids that are developed, your shoulders are wider and thicker. Make sure lateral raises are above the parallel point to get the most out of your deltoid exercises. Begin laterals several inches from the hips to decrease the involvement of supporting muscles, such as the supraspinatus.

Continue to challenge your body. When you start lifting weights, you will reach a point when the lifting becomes easy. When this happens, add more weight. By continuing to challenge your body, you will help to create the level of intensity that most effectively tears down muscle, so that your body continues to have the opportunity to build it back up.

If you are a beginner at building muscle, try to focus your lifting routine so that you can do between 8 and 12 repetitions of each exercise. If you can do more, then you probably are not lifting a heavy enough load. By giving yourself a goal, you will also help to ensure that you continue working out until you reach the point of fatigue.

Building muscles may not be easy, but knowing what to do makes it a lot easier. After reading this article, hopefully, you’ve got a better idea of how to get started. Choose your favorite tip and apply it today so that you can begin building the body that you want to have.

Steelers Become Great; Bengals Self-Destruct in 24-20 victory

As I was watching the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Cincinnati Bengals in the second of their 2-game Divisional matchup, three things came to mind as the game came to a close: 1. The Steelers and Bengals have been playing two times a year since 1970 2. The Bengals are eventually self-destructing 3. Consequences in disrespecting the Terrible Towel.

 

Now mind you, it didn’t take place in that order, (well, at least after the first point) but the result was the same: The Bengals undoing became the Steelers doing as they overcame a 17-3 deficit and themselves to beat the Bengals 24-20. I have to admit, I have seen some great Steeler comebacks, and this one ranks right along with the others, especially the ones against the Bengals. You know the ones:

 

2005 AFC Wild Card Game: The Steelers trailed 17-7 and came back to beat the Bengals 31-17. Starter Carson Palmer gets knocked out of the game by gentlemanly DE Kimo Von Olhoffen, the ball snaps over the Bengals kicker’s head the Steelers recover, and then score 28 unanswered points for the victory. As you well know, that Steelers team would eventually win Super Bowl 40.

 

2014 season: The Steelers trail the Bengals 21-17 and were getting torched by WR AJ Green who had 194 yards on the defense, but they would come back to score 24 unanswered points to beat the Bengals 42-21. On the final game of the season with both teams tied for first place in the AFC North Division, the Steelers would beat the Bengals 27-22 to win the division and eliminate the Bengals.

 

2015 AFC Wild Card Game: The Steelers trailed 16-15 with over a minute left in the game, the Bengals had just intercepted backup QB Landry Jones (Starter Ben Roethlisberger was injured) and all they needed to do was run out the clock and win their first playoff game since 1991. But as Lee Corso says “Not so fast, my friend…” Steelers LB Ryan Shazier stripped Bengals RB Jeremy Hill of the ball, the Steelers recover, Roethlisberger returns to lead the Steelers down the field; he fires a ball intended for WR Antonio Brown which sails over his head, but Brown’s head was smacked hard by Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict resulting in a 15-yard penalty. Then CB Adam ‘Pac Man’ Jones gets a called for a penalty for bumping Steelers LB Coach Joey Porter, resulting in another 15-yard penalty, putting them deep into FG range. K Chris Boswell nails the game-winner, the Steelers advance to the Divisional Round.

 

And finally, this game in which the Steelers looked lost and out-of-sync, while the Bengals looked like they were interested in holding onto their slim playoff hopes as they showed up to Paul Brown Stadium ready to play the red-hot Steelers, winners of 4 in a row. The Bengals scored on their first four possessions while the Steelers were only able to generate 9 points to the Bengals 20 as the first half came to a close.

 

What mostly hurt the Steelers in that first half was the defense, which looked a lot like the unit that was responsible for their five losses. That unit missed a lot of tackles and caused two costly penalties, one by DE Stepheon Tuitt as he grabbed the facemask of Bengals QB Andy Dalton, which leads to their opening FG by former Steelers K Randy Bullock. And then the second one by Steelers rookie CB Artie Burns as he bumped a WR in the endzone, which eventually led to a 1-yard QB sneak by Dalton. They would eventually score another on a 4-yard run by Hill who celebrated, picked up a Terrible Towel, spat on it, and stomped on it. Uh-oh, that’s a big no-no.

 

You would think that the Bengals would learn a lesson about disrespecting the Terrible Towel, after all, former Bengal WR TJ Houshmandzadeh was the first Bengal to disrespect the Towel when he wiped his feet with it. After beating the Steelers in a regular-season game in 2005, and then Tennessee Titans RB LenDale White used the Towel as a bib after beating the Steelers in 2008.

 

But alas, Hill did disrespect the Towel while celebrating his TD, all was well in the world for the Bengals, and the Steelers looked as shell-shocked as they did when Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott ran over them to win several weeks before.

 

Steeler fans said that Hill’s disrespect would be the Bengals undoing. In fact CBS analyst (and former Steelers HC Bill Cowher said “That’s disrespectful” when watching what Hill did. I said to myself” That disrespect doesn’t matter because the Steelers were still down 20-9. But when the 3rd quarter began, the other thing happened: The Bengals began to self-destruct.

 

You would think that Burfict would learn his lesson after the playoff game, which warranted him a 4-game suspension to start this season. You would think that Pac-Man Jones would stay away from the late hits and the meltdowns, but no..both players apparently hadn’t learned how to behave, especially when their team was winning by that 20-9 margin.

 

Burfict head-butt Big Ben for a penalty, while Jones was part of a few more penalties which enabled the Steelers to put more points on the board, and then Dalton did his part in the self-destruction when he fired a pass that was intercepted by Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons, his second in 3 weeks. All of a sudden, the Bengals looked like the team that lost seven games, and the Steelers started looking like the team that won 4 straight.

 

The Problem was, the Steelers offense still had problems getting the ball into the endzone. To the Bengals credit, they weren’t trying to get away from the receivers and were close to intercepting 2 of Big Ben’s passes. But then on their first 4th quarter drive, the Steelers finally got the ball into the end zone as Big Ben started playing like Big Ben and getting the ball vertically down the field. He eventually hit paydirt when he fired a 24-yard pass to WR Jordan Rogers for a 24-20 lead, which was the final score.

 

Once again, history repeats itself. Bengals self-destruct, the Steelers capitalize and win the game. Boswell kept them in it, and Big Ben won it. Folks were expecting another repeat performance of Le’Veon Bell and his 236 yards, but it wasn’t that kind of game. He did rush for 93 yards, which wasn’t bad, but this game belonged to Big Ben, who got it done when they needed him to.

 

The defense got themselves together as well as they didn’t give up a single point in the second half. That was pretty impressive. A tale of two teams, that’s for sure.

 

As a result, the Steelers are now 9-5 and still have a one-game lead over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North after the Ravens beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-26. I knew it would come down to their Christmas Day matchup when the Ravens come to Pittsburgh. It will decide the division. To be honest, they should flex that game from 4:30 to 8:30 pm.

 

Boswell’s six field goals tied a Steelers record set by Gary Anderson and Jeff Reed. Big Ben passed for 286 yards and the TD, and Rogers led with 75 yards on five receptions and the TD. The Steelers 5th straight win eliminated the Bengals from playoff contention as they fell to 5-8-1. Sad to say, the Bengals latest self-destruction may lead to the end of HC Marvin Lewis’ job, which is a shame, because he’s been their best coach since Sam Wyche. Kudos to Steelers HC Mike Tomlin who secured another winning record in his ten-year coaching career.

 

The Steelers were fortunate to win this game because a slow start can prove to be their undoing, but they became great when they needed to be, thanks to the self-destruction of the Bengals, who will hopefully learn from this, but most folks sincerely doubt it.

 

Notes: Tomlin said that Steelers TE LaDarius Green is in concussion protocol after getting hit hard after catching a huge 4th quarter pass from Big Ben. Tuitt didn’t finish the game, but he had had no crutches or brace as he reportedly left the locker room.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on Twitter