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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: The eternal darkness

SAN FRANCISCO — Some sporting thoughts very close to sunrise …

>> My extra Tuesday column tracks a lot of the stupid things that happened here at Candlestick last night and well into the morning.

>> My position before this game was that, if Ben Roethlisberger was healthy enough to play, he should play. So, unlike a lot of people who are going to second-guess Mike Tomlin based primarily on the outcome, I’m going to base my view on this: Roethlisberger looked well enough to play, at least by the second half. Moved a lot better. Showed patience. A little more accuracy.

What I didn’t like — and don’t understand — is allowing him to start winging it after a disciplined first half. He had been working out of a tight pocket, firing quickly. After halftime, he was scrambling, waiting forever for bombs to Mike Wallace and, of course, getting hammered. Whether that falls on Bruce Arians or Tomlin, it shouldn’t have happened. That jeopardized the quarterback more than simply putting him on the field.

>> With that column up there, my weekly game balls include only one Steeler this week: Jerricho Cotchery. He did some really good things, so good that you didn’t even see Hines Ward after a couple early series. Expect that to remain the case.

>> Be sure to check Scott Brown’s coverage of Roethlisberger, the angry trainer and Steve Young.

>> I snapped this right after the second blackout …

This has nothing to do with anything, but the NFL has no business allowing the 49ers to operate one of the league’s 31 stadiums this way. The place is farcical.

>> I’ll be flying home Tuesday, but I will have a Wednesday column for you, also off this circus.


  1. Dan1283 says:

    This game was such a comedy top to bottom I was waiting for someone to throw a pie.

    DK: You’re welcome.

  2. pghboyinca says:

    Starting Ben was one thing but having him getting hammered with less than 5 minutes left down by 17 was idiotic. Combined with the the disgrace of the clock management at the end of the first half makes you wonder about Tomlin and or Arians. PATHETIC………

  3. Curt says:

    They need to let Big Ben rest the last two weeks and get him and that ankle as close to 100% as possible. You could tell he couldn’t do the things he normally likes to do! I also believe those interceptions were from not being able to plant that foot in the ground.

  4. stan capper says:

    “At least it sounds that way to those tuning in ESPN’s Chris Berman hyperbolically comparing a blown transformer to the 1989 World Series earthquake here that, you know, collapsed the Bay Bridge.”

    That line from today’s column is perfect. I’d rather sit between Lee Corso and Dick Vitale on a cross-country flight than listen to 30 seconds of Mr. Overrated. Well done!

  5. Naje says:

    They did not play to win the game last night; they played to prove a point. A selfish one at that. They played to prove that Roethlisberger could play… and play… and play… the few productive plays clouding the coaches’ judgements when it was clear that Roethlisberger was unable to produce points, only turnovers. Selfish, really. And not smart.

    When this team loses, Roethlisberger generally plays poorly… turnovers being the biggest problem… it’s a consistent theme during his tenure. Last night was no different.

    DK, I now you’ve mentioned Timmons’ decline vis-a-vis your training camp piece on him after he signed his big contract, but my goodness he’s regressed into a below-average player on defense. A guy who hurts his team more than he helps them. I don’t care about the tackles at the line or for two yard gains, he is constantly out of position and flailing at opposing tight ends, backs and receivers.

    The defensive game plan… hmmm… not much to it. No pass rush… Corners giving cushion to receivers who are not very good and a qb who is pretty bad…??? What was THAT about?

    Again, they played to prove a point….seemed like everyone stood around waiting for the miracle play rather than trying to win a game.

    Selfish decisions all the way around… especially after the third turnover of the game.

    One thing/person Ben is not: Tom Brady. He can’t stand in the pocket and zip balls to his receivers in rhythm play after play. He looked like the six-game-losing-streak version of Phillip Rivers last night.

  6. JAL says:


    12 Boston Herald

    Trade talk doesn’t faze Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan

    13 Korea Herald

    No. 61 officially returns home

  7. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    Contingency Plan For Possible Postponement Would Include Playing In Oakland

    -Steelers Depot

    Steelers Overpowered by 49ers

    -Steelers Gab

    Lights Go Out In the Stadium and On the Steelers in 20-3 Loss to Niners

  8. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    Pitt Blather

    The Steelers Myth

    Cardiac Hill

    Pitt Basketball: Frontcourt Depth An Issue With Khem Birch Transfer

  9. JAL says:

    WVU Blogs

    Metro News

    WVU Overcomes Sluggish Start

    WV Illustrated

    Men’s Basketball: WVU vs. Tennessee Tech Game Recap

    Kilicli’s Words Upset Huggins Last Weekend



    How Are the Pens Doing? Games 24-33

  10. Dan says:

    Was it just me, or did Woodley look heavier & slower than normal? I guess it is hard to keep the weight down with a balky hamstring, but still…

    I agree with DK on the use of of Ben. The ankle affected him clearly, but still Ben. His throws weren’t perfect, but you’d hope for a little more help from the receivers given what Ben is going through. But oh well.

    Wow, how impressive was Aldon Smith? I know Starks isn’t exactly a pro bowler, but he is solid and HUGE… to throw him back like that was pretty amazing.

  11. Poz says:

    My problem with Woodley is saying he sat out because he was “a little fatigued.” I would have preferred if Woodley used some other excuse – like his hamstring started hurting. I wonder how many other players were a little bit fatigued but remained on the field because they knew the importance of this game. But maybe that little fatigue sets in sooner during a frustrating game and after the big contract is signed….

  12. Bizrow says:

    Its still not over, Stillers have to run the table and maybe the Bungles can surprise the Ravens the last game of the year. Bungles need the game to get into the playoffs, I think

  13. Milo Hamilton says:

    Problem now is, even if they somehow win the division, they won’t even get a bye unless Houston loses also.

  14. Steve says:

    I’ve about had it with ESPN. It was almost like Berman was hoping there was an earthquake. That stadium is deplorable.

  15. Sarcastic Sword says:

    I didnt see better mobility in 2nd half. My biggest gripe with Arians is he doenst gameplan to either conditions or game situations. Last night was a perfect night for screens to RB, short passes, bubble screens to WR, etc…No, the betetr gameplan was across the field by Harbaugh with screens and misdirection throws, etc..

    A 100% Charlie Batch would have been better than the Roethlisberger we saw last night. He had trouble throwing the ball in 2nd half vs Browns because he couldnt plant that left foot..same problem last night in addition to some poor decisions. Batch practices all week – at least he would have been mentally and physically ready..then you gameplan around his strenghts.

  16. Sarcastic Sword says:

    Forget to mention the lousy defensive game plan..No speed at WR but the CB’s were giving 10-12 yd cushion all night. Alex Smith is not an accurate passer when pressured but that wasnt happenng either….Its sad when a similar defense (Arizona, whose DC is Ray Horton who learned from LeBeau) pounded Smith into submisison last week with 5 sacks and only allowed 233 yards…

  17. Milo Hamilton says:

    @ Sword

    Your point on the defensive game plan is well stated. None of those WR’s are going to beat you deep, yet you play them like they’re Mike Wallace. I think LeBeau has called a less aggressive defense to cover for a weakness at DB. It’s worked in that they have the #1 defense against the pass. But in doing that, they pressure the QB less & make fewer splash plays, as Tomlin likes to say. No sacks or forced turnovers. They’ve turned into a bend but don’t break defense.

  18. JAL says:

    Steelers need to trust that their backup can be better than a hobbled Ben. If they don’t trust Batch then they need another backup QB

  19. Bizrow says:

    Hey, all is well with the Burgh world, PBC signs Jeff Clement to a minor league deal.

    Whew, and things were going so bad for the Burgh Nation

  20. CWalton_67 says:

    The Steelers were out-coached, outplayed, and humiliated on national television. They are barely above mediocre on every level, starting with the head coach and coordinators. Yes, they’ve won a bunch of games against bad teams, and even beaten two decent ones, but they are in line for nothing more than a first round playoff loss. Even with the understanding that injuries (and suspensions) to key players were going to make this a difficult game to win, it is clear that the 49ers are up and coming and the Steelers are down and soon to be out. Time to start over, especially on defense, and with a critical evaluation of this coaching staff.

    I am guessing that some players may have tuned out Tomlin’s BS. I know I certainly have.

  21. Milo Hamilton says:


    To quote the great John McEnroe – you can’t be serious.

  22. Milo Hamilton says:


    I’d hate to see what you’d say if they were 4-10.

    “They are barely above mediocre on every level.” Please.

  23. Jandy says:

    @Dan ~ I saw that about Colby…and another one bites the dust!

    @CWalton ~ To say the Steelers are mediocre is pushing it a bit…they’re good Not great, but good. As soon as Ben went down, I was wishing they’d start Charlie for the Niners game, but knew they wouldn’t. IMHO that’s what lost us this game.

  24. radio wave says:

    Listened to first half of the game on 49ers radio. Their announcers said Ben wasn’t moving well, but didn’t say his injury affected the first interception. I’m a pats fan, obviously happy with the outcome. But after reading your article, it sounds as though Ben gave a corageous performance, that this isn’t the usual sour grapes from the Steelers fans.
    And on a unrelated note, why should the 49ers be able to build a new stadium, when the baseball Giants are the roadblock to the A’s building theirs?

  25. CWalton_67 says:

    From Merriam Webster:

    Definition of MEDIOCRE; of moderate or low quality, value, ability, or performance : ordinary, so-so.

    This team is not among the NFL’s elite, it is merely ordinary. With the exception of the Patriots, who have a very suspect defense, they have beaten bad teams and lost to good ones. There is no commitment to running the football because they are incapable, and the offensive coordinator makes no in game adjustments. On defense, the coordinator is reduced to covering for poor cornerback/secondary play. Other teams easily adjust to the team’s inability to pressure the quarterback, especially when Harrison is out, and Woodley has been injured. Meanwhile, the head coach spouts off the same nonsense after every game, win or lose.


  26. Dan1283 says:

    Big Ben in a pitch black stadium. I felt for those poor cheerleaders.

  27. Bizrow says:

    @Milo – About the signing? Yes, serious, about my comment? No way

  28. mmd says:

    I consider a 53-25 record elite. I consider your post sub-mediorce.

  29. Milo Hamilton says:

    The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Pitt has or will interview 49ers D-line coach Jim Tomsula. He’s undefeated as an NFL head coach. 1-0. He coached SF’s last game in 2010 after Mike Singletary was fired.

    He’s a Steel Valley guy & best friends with TJ’s Bill Cherpak. This doesn’t sound like Steve Pederson at all. I wonder if this is a favor to boosters or something. I have no idea what kind of coach he’d make, but he’s a great guy with a great sense of humor. Down to earth, a real “Pittsburgh Guy”. The exact opposite of Kim Jong Graham.

  30. MarkV says:

    I would like someone to explain why, after handling Brady and the Patriots, we don’t use that style defense against the Ravens and 49ers? If it makes Brady less effective it surely should work the same against Flacco and Smith.

  31. DMac says:

    @Radio Wave…because the Giants have MLB territorial rights to San Jose, which is where the A’s want to build their new stadium, and are refusing to relinquish those rights for the A’s to get said stadium built.

    The 49’ers training facility is right across the street from where the new football-only facitily is going to go. And the Raides don’t care what the Niners do…of course they helped ruin the Coliseum for baseball, but that’s another topic altogether. :)

  32. 1buccofan says:

    Dejan: Writers have often been extremely critical of fans who would refer to athletic contest as battles, wars, conflicts and ect. and rightfully so for the analogy is extremely absurd. As a minister of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ I find the title of your column very offense because 1st of all thanks be unto God you are not able to comprehend what eternal darkness is and I pray that you never are able to. As one who has studied the Holy scriptures when someone tells somebody as we say “where to go” it is probably the worst thing one could say to another human being that has been created in the image and likeness of almight God! I understand your analogy and the Idea and it certainly was an eyecatcher which I suppose is the point but at the same time not a subject to look at lightly. As for the Steelers they as Dennis Green so elegantly stated “They are who we thought they were.” a slightly above average Football team.

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