Thursday, August 18, 2011

Live Blog: PreSeason Style

For the second straight week, Thursday is not just about fist pumping with the kids from Jersey and watching another poor soul leave the Big Brother house without a chance at winning the $500,000 prize. For the second straight week, Thursday is also about pre-season football. This week, Fox has blessed us with a game that many will predicts is just the first of two match-ups between cross state rivals Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Since, Big Brother doesn't start until 9:00 and the Jersey Shore isn't until 10:00, I figured tonight would be the perfect night for an abbreviated live blog. Live bloggers need pre-season too. So here we go...

8:00 PMEST: A few observations and thoughts off of the top:
  • Joe Buck sounds terrible. It is painful to listen to a thing he says. Terry Bradshaw is in the booth with Joe and Troy Aikman. I hope that its just a pre-season thing. 
  • I feel sorry for the kid that just sang the National Anthem. He is a little boy that can't be any older than 12. Miss Caster walked into the room while he was singing, looked at the television, looked again, and said, "Is that a boy?" I will leave it at that. 
  • Watching football on Thursday has me very excited for the full-season Thursday night package that is part of the new CBA. It will be interesting to see what network ends up with the 8-game package that will lead into the NFL Network's package that will close the season. 
8:11: The opening kickoff sails into the end zone and continues a disturbing pre-season trend. During the first week of games, over 73% of the kickoffs were fielded in the end zone. The league has moved the kickoff from the 30 to the 35 for the sake of players safety. The idea behind the rule is that more kicks would reach the end zone thus resulting in more touchbacks and less injuries on kickoffs. Kickoffs have been the most dangerous play in football for years and this rule is clearly going to work to eliminate injuries on kickoffs. The downside is that we will have less returns and a tad less excitement.

8:13: On the first  play from scrimmage, Jonathan Scott the stating left tackle for the Steelers goes down with a right knee injury that should end his night. The Steelers have been thin on the offensive line and I would guess that Mike Tomlin will be holding his breath waiting for the news on the severity of the injury.

8:15: Big Ben Roethilisberger completes a pass on third down to Heath Miller. On the play, Ben is knocked down late but it didn't draw a flag.

8:17: Two things:
  1. The Eagles seem to stall the Steelers opening drive but are flagged for a face mask. 
  2. Joe Buck offers use of the teleprompter to Terry Bradshaw who says, "How the hell do you turn it on?" Its pre-season for everyone. 
8:20: Bradshaw says that in his day players had to get second jobs after the season to make ends meet. Terry claims he was a used-car salesman. 

8:23: Ben has all day in the pocket to complete a third-down pass to Arnaz Battle. Have you ever been to the Battlezone? I hope so because it doesn't seem to exist anymore. 

8:26: On what looks like a coverage breakdown, Antonio Brown is about ten-yards passed Asante Samuel for what ends up being an easy pitch and catch for a Steelers touchdown. 7-0 Steelers after a 10 play 80-yard drive that lasted 7:36.

8:30: I switched over to ESPN.COM to check the spelling of a name and noticed that the Patriots are up 21-0 on the Buccaneers early in the second quarter. I am a little worried that the Patriots are set to play this season in FU mode and blow teams out the way they did in 2007. 

8:31: The Steelers kick the ball well into the end zone for the second touchback of the night. 

8:32: On his first play of the night, Michael Vick scrambles to the left and throws deep past everyone and the ball falls harmlessly at the 10-yard line. 

8:32: I just heard Joe Buck's voice crack. I took my first look at my twitter timeline after typing the last sentence to find that its full of tweets about Buck's voice.

8:36: The Eagles punt, and its a beauty. The ball is downed at the 5-yard line. I hope we get at least one more drive from the Steelers starting offense.

8:38: Ben leads the Steelers onto the field for at least a second drive.

8:40: Ben shows his athleticism and makes a great play to scramble out of coverage and drop a short pass of to R. Mendenhall who makes an equally impressive play to gain a first down.

8:44: With the Steelers driving just past mid-field the clock runs out on the first quarter. After one, Steelers 7 Eagles 0

8:46: Marcus Gilbert, the tackle that took over for the injured Jonathan Scott also has left the game with a knee injury.

8:47: Mendenhall busts off a 7-yard run on first down. He has looked vert impressive and athletic so far.

8:49: Ben beats a blitz and dumps the ball off to a wide open Mewelde Moore. Moore takes the ball into the redzone.

8:50: After an Eagles sack forces a 3rd-18, Big Ben scrambles to buy time and finds Hines Ward in the end zone for a touchdown. 14 Steelers 0 Eagles 11:06 2nd Quarter

8:53: Another touchback...Another commercial...

8:55: The Eagles try a bubble screen to DeSean Jackson that is sniffed out by the Steelers. Roethlisberger has been fantastic tonight on third down.

8:57: Right after Bradshaw goes wax poetic on the snap and authority behind Michael Vick's passes, Vick floats one down the sideline and is picked off by Ryan Clark

9:00: Byron Leftwich has relieved Roethlisberger and that is the two-minute warning for this blog.

9:01: Terry Bradshaw has been a disaster in the booth so far. If he isn't interrupting Buck, then he is interrupting Aikman. On the night, Roethlisberger is 8-12 125 yards 2TD 0INT. ESPN has yet to release his Total QBR. I bet it was pretty good.

9:02: The Steelers fail to capitalize on the turnover as the Eagles swarm Swayze Waters and block his field goal attempt. Swayze Waters? That name sounds made up to me. His mother must have been a huge fan of Dirty Dancing. Samuel looked like he was the Eagle that got the block.

9:05: LeSean McCoy starts the drive with a nice change of direction run for about 11-yards.

9:06: Troy Polamalu jumps in front of a Vick pass and drops it. He should still be running.

9:07: On the next pass, Vick throws the ball into a crowd of Steelers and is picked off by Keenan Lewis. Somewhere, Matthew Berry is sweating his balls off. Vick has been a disaster tonight and Berry has screamed from the top of a mountain that Vick should be the first pick in any fantasy draft. Vick is 3-8 24 yards 0TD 2INT. ESPN has yet to release his Total QBR but I would bet it isn't very good.

9:09: Pam Oliver is in preseason mode as well. She totally botches a sideline report that left me wondering what she was talking about.

9:11: A great play by Leftwich on third down is called back on a holding penalty. On the next play, Leftwich throws a beauty down the seam for 29-yards to complete a 3rd and long to Jericho Cotchery.

9:14: The Steelers are killing the Eagles on third down.

9:16: It is the 2:00 warning in Pittsburgh. Terry has left the booth to take his spot on the halftime set. If this was an experiment to see if Terry would gel with Joe and Troy the Fox executives have gotten a clear answer tonight. Terry is pretty lousy and Joe and Troy don't want him around.

9:18: Former Saint, Anthony Hargrove sacks Leftwich and the Eagles finally get a stop on third down.

9:20: Vick is going to get a chance to run the 2-minute drill at the end of the half. I would think this is the last drive for starters on both sides. Next week, the third week of the preseason, is usually the "dress rehearsal" and starters usually see action into the third quarter.

9:23: I have to admit, Vick can really zing the ball when he wants to. He can run too, but on this night he isn't interested in being hit and kind of jogs out of bounds on a second down play.

9:24: On the next play, the football gods punish Vick for jogging out of bounds and he is crushed by James Harrison and a blitzer. Aikman scolds Vick for not getting rid of the ball sooner.

9:26: Vick makes some athletic plays to avoid another sack but then throws his third interception of the night. McCoy missed a blitz pickup and then threw the ball into coverage. Troy Polamalu was the recipient of that arrant pass by Vick.

9:30: This time the Steelers make Vick pay as Leftwich throws another beauty down the seem to Cotchery. Steelers 21-0 over the Dream Team with :18 seconds left in the first half.

9:31: That is it for the first pre-season live blog of the season. Looking back quickly I am glad to get the practice. I wasn't as bad as Michael Vick but not as good as the Steelers. The blog could have used some more pictures and a few links. I think the content was good but not quite mid-season form. If I had a backup I would demand him into the game. Since I don't, that will have to be it for now. Its time for Miss Caster and I to relax and enjoy Big Brother and the Jersey Shore.

Don't forget to check out Episode 36 of The Sports-Casters with Dave Dameshek from NFL.COM and Todd Fritz from the Dan Patrick Show.

Say goodnight fist pumpers...


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