NFL Total Access Slights Steelers

With 32 teams to cover, it’s not often the Steelers are talked about on NFL Network’s flagship program, NFL Total Access. Imagine my excitement when I came across the news that the AFC North would be profiled last night! I set my DVR (since I had yard work to tackle) and came back later in the evening to watch the recorded show.

If you haven’t seen the video, here’s a list of the video highlights shown for all four teams in the AFC North. I was very surprised at the Steelers’ coverage, but not for the reasons you would expect:

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Andy Dalton TD pass to Marvin Jones
  • Dalton TD pass to AJ Green
  • Dalton TD pass to Jermaine Gresham
  • Another Dalton TD pass to Jones
  • Dalton celebrating something or other on the field

Okay, now it’s time to talk about Pittsburgh, let’s see what we have to watch:

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Ben Roethlisberger throwing a pick
  • Ben getting sacked
  • Felix Jones fumbling
  • Ben getting sacked (again)

Nothing positive for the Steelers? Okay, let’s see about the other two teams in the division:

Baltimore Ravens

  • Flacco TD pass to Dallas Clark
  • Ray Rice rushing TD
  • Flacco TD pass to Torrey Smith
  • Another Rice rushing TD

Cleveland Browns

  • Brandon Weeden pick
  • Colt McCoy sack
  • Brady Quinn interception
  • Manziel running camp drills

After seeing the video, you may now realize my surprise was more like disappointment.

Of the “highlights” shown for Pittsburgh, NFL Network couldn’t find one positive clip to show? Even the Browns had a somewhat positive clip showcasing Manziel.

When every reporter is putting teams on a pedestal in the preseason, the analysts at NFL Network found a way to dwell on the Steelers’ shortcomings from the beginning of last season. Instead of highlighting Big Ben in the same way they show Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton throwing touchdowns, the Steeler clips focused on Roethlisberger throwing interceptions and getting sacked. All four clips concentrated on turnovers and sacks from the team’s first five games, of which the Steelers lost the first four.

Furthermore, the video reel and commentary by Shawne Merriman spotlighted Pittsburgh’s slow 2-6 start to last season. Merriman is quoted as saying he’d like to see how the team will start this season and if they will “hang onto the slump.”

A slump? Excuse me Mr. Merriman, but you completely blew off the 6-2 turn-around during the 2nd half of the season, where the Steelers improved all facets of their game. Here’s a reminder of how the first eight games played out versus the second eight:

Week Tm Opp TotYd PassY RushY TO TotYd PassY RushY TO
1 9 16 194 163 31 2 229 117 112
2 10 20 278 234 44 2 407 280 127
3 23 40 459 379 80 5 258 151 107
4 27 34 434 357 77 2 393 248 145
6 19 6 328 255 73 267 184 83 2
7 19 16 286 145 141 1 287 205 82
8 18 21 276 241 35 2 279 82 197 3
9 31 55 479 371 108 3 610 413 197 1
19.50 26.00 341.75 268.13 73.63 2.43 341.25 210.00 131.25 2.00
10 23 10 300 164 136 1 227 132 95 1
11 37 27 398 358 40 451 344 107 3
12 27 11 302 217 85 367 312 55 4
13 20 22 329 257 72 311 237 74
14 28 34 412 328 84 1 367 186 181 1
15 30 20 290 184 106 1 279 222 57 1
16 38 31 343 192 151 2 370 219 151 2
17 20 7 292 172 120 2 293 214 79 2
27.88 20.25 333.25 234.00 99.25 1.40 333.13 233.25 99.88 2.00

Over the 2nd half of the season, the Steelers improved offensive scoring, rushing yards and held teams to fewer points and rushing totals while protecting the football with one less turnover on average per game.

To contrast Merriman’s comments, this shows Pittsburgh as a team on the rise, and if not for a snafu in the San Diego-Kansas City Week 17 game, the Steelers would’ve made the playoffs as well. I feel that hardly qualifies as a “slump,” and NFL Network should take greater care in reporting all teams on a level playing field.

However, one positive can be taken from the analysis, as the Steelers’ footage is at least current game film: NFL Network is still digging up 2008 footage of Brady Quinn as a “preview” for the Cleveland Browns season!

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