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Improved line paving way for Steelers Le'Veon Bell
2014-12-10

Le'Veon Bell to the left. Heath Miller, David DeCastro and Will Johnson leading the way. Again. And again. And again. At least, until the Cincinnati Bengals found out a way to stop the blossoming second-year running back.

''The offensive line was like, 'Man, we feel good about it,''' Bell said. ''As a runner, I'm running whatever the offensive linemen want to run.''

It showed. Time and again Bell dashed and darted through increasingly large holes late in Sunday's 42-21 victory over the tired, lethargic Bengals. When he was done, 26 carries, 185 yards and two touchdowns later, so was Cincinnati.

''We ran the same play two, three, four times in a row, consecutively,'' Bell said. ''Those guys just couldn't stop it. So we continued to run with it.''

Funny how often Pittsburgh victories follow suit. The Steelers (8-5) are 5-1 when the NFL's second leading rusher runs the ball at least 20 times a game. Considering his production spike in recent weeks, due in large part to the cohesive play in front of him, don't expect Bell's workload to lessen anytime soon
Pressed on if he ever saw Bell winded on a day he had 32 touches in all - including six receptions for 50 yards and a score - and left tackle Kelvin Beachum just smiled.

''Not at all, not at all, not at all,'' Beachum said.

Consider it a testament to Bell's growing reputation as one of the league's most durable backs and the fact he's not taking a lot of abuse. It helps that he's often past the really big guys on the defensive line before getting hit.

''The offensive line has done a great job of opening holes for me,'' Bell said. ''On check downs, Ben (Roethlisberger) is doing a good job of getting me the ball and allowing me to run with some space. So you've got to give a lot of credit to the offense and the offensive coaching staff.''

One that is committing to the run even with Roethlisberger in the midst of the best season of his career, even with no tested depth behind Bell after the team cut LeGarrette Blount last month. Needing a victory against the Bengals to have any chance of tracking them down in the AFC North, offensive coordinator Todd Haley put the bulk of the load on Bell's increasingly broad shoulders.
It was also a vote of confidence for a talented but erratic line that has taken its share of criticism over the last three seasons amid injuries and inconsistent play. Those issues have largely disappeared. The Steelers have only started three different line combinations this season, giving the group littered with high draft picks time to gel.

''Those guys physically and mentally are in the prime of their career,'' coach Mike Tomlin said. ''A lot of three, four, five-year guys. Guys have grown and grown up together.''

And they will be tested together as a three-game stretch looms that will define Pittsburgh's season. As potent as the Steelers have looked at times, they've also had trouble finishing off weaker teams. Pittsburgh squeaked out victories against Jacksonville and Tennessee and fell to Tampa Bay and the New York Jets. It can't happen again, not with the four teams in the AFC North separated by 1.5 games.

The Steelers are hoping to return to the playoffs for the first time in three years.

Beachum understands the line doesn't have to be great all the time, just good enough to give Bell the sliver of light he needs to turn an ordinary run into something else entirely.

''We know what's at stake,'' Beachum said. ''It's that time of the year, its AFC North football and we got playoff hopes on the line so I think everybody sucking it up and just trying to find a way to push through.''

NOTES: Tomlin said linebacker James Harrison (knee), cornerback Ike Taylor (knee) and right tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) will have a chance to play on Sunday against Atlanta (5-8).




Ward: NFL rules forced me to tackle low
2013-12-09

It was a decision I made to make a tackle on a big man, Ward said.
So Ward hit Gronkowski low, and the timing of the play mean Apuestas NFL t that Wards shoulder drove into Gronkowskis right knee as Gronkowski planted to run.
Gronkowskis knee bent in a way it is not supposed to bend, and he flipped in the air before landing. It was evident immediately that Gronkowski had a serious knee injury, believed now to be a torn ACL.
Ward thought he hit Gronkowski in the quad and didnt realize the seriousness of the situation until 20 seconds later, when a teammate told him the tight end was down. Ward took a knee.
I honestly prayed for him, Ward said.
And when Gronkowski was carted off, Ward approached him to shake his hand.
My intention is never to hurt anyone, Ward said. Thats not what this game is about. Thats not how I play. I hate to see guys go down with any kind of injury. I just wanted him to know, whether he accepted it or not, it wasnt an intentional hit. We have to play this game. We have to play the way that they force us to.
Which means avoid a high hit. Browns defensive back Jordan Poyer can vouch for that fact. His hit to the shoulder of Julian Edelman after a late touchdown was flagged as unnecessary on a defenseless receiver. The resulting penalty helped New Englands field position when the Patriots recovered the onside kick.
Had Ward made a similar kind of hit, hed have risked being fined, especially if Gronkowski had ducked or flinched.
Its kind of being caught between a rock and a hard place, he said. Its a decision you have to make, but you have to follow the rules at the same time. Gronks a big dude. Hes not small by any means, so already he has that height. It just makes it difficult. I made a tackle. Unfortunately he got hurt. If he would have got up, there would have been no discussion about this right now.
There used to be an unwritten rule among players never to hit an opponent in the knee or from behind. But those unwritten rules have been trumped by the new ones from the league. Ward predicted last season that the emphasis on eliminating hits to the head would result in more low tackles and knee injuries. He repeated that position on Sunday.
When they set the rules, everyone knew what was going to happen, he said. This can happen if you have those type of situations. Its pretty much inevitable. And they force our hand with this.
Ward could have tried to hit Gronkowski at the waist, but hes giving up seven inches and 65 pounds to the tight end. If he tries to make a high tackle and misses it, he loses his job.
Ive been fined three times, he said. And I dont like playing for free. You can ask anybody in this league, would they like play for free? No. ... [And] I cant risk [suspension]. I wont risk that. Ive got to play within the rules.
And the way the rules are written, there seems to be nothing illegal about a hit like Wards.


2015 Kentucky Derby Odds
2015-04-15

Kentucky Derby week is one of the most thrilling times of the year. This race is known as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports online bingo " for its approximate time length.



Check 2015 KY Derby Schedule May 1 and 24 at Sportsbook.com



Odds to Win 2015 Kentucky Derby


NFLPS: Monday night football matches Cardinals, Titans
2010-08-23

The NFL preseason rolls on as a Monday night matchup between the Cardinals and Titans from Tennessee will wrap up the second full Botas Moto week of games. After tonightís ESPN contest, just two weeks remain until the games start meaning something. Of course, if you bet Arizona (+4), Tennessee (-4), or either side of the current total at Sportsbook.com, 37, this game will certainly be meaningful to you. Letís take a look at the game and see if we canít uncover any betting edges.

Tennessee will look to even its pre-season record as they return home to face the Cardinals. Tennesseeís late rally came up short against Seattle, as the Titans fell 20-18 after being down by 13 at one point. Vince Young saw some light work, going 5-6 for 78 yards with an interception. The majority of the reps were split between Chris Simms and rookie Rusty Smith. Chris Johnson had seven yards on five carries including a touchdown, but the Titans were led on the ground by second-year man Javon Ringer who had seven carries for 60 yards.

The Cardinals, on the other hand, completed their late rally from 16 down in the fourth to beat Houston 19-16 in their preseason opener. Matt Leinart got the start for Arizona, going 6-7 for 49 yards, but the Cardinals were rallied by Derek Anderson and John Skelton, a rookie out of Fordham. The Cardinals found a way to win despite being out-gained both in the air, and on the ground by the Texans. Tonightís game will be an important piece in the puzzle which will decide the eventual starting quarterback in Arizona come Week 1.

This FoxSheets system indicates to fade the Titans for Monday:

Play Against - Favorites of 3.5 to 10 points (TENNESSEE) - after 1 or more consecutive wins against the spread, in August games.

(50-23 over the last 10 seasons.) (68.5%, +24.7 units. Rating = 2*)

The straight up record of the team this system pertains to is : (35-38 over the last 10 seasons.)

The average line posted in these games was: Opponent favored by 4.8

The average score in these games was: Team 18.4, Opponent 19.6 (Average point differential = -1.3)

The number of games in which this system covered the spread by 7 or more points was 31 (41.9% of all games.)

The situation's record this season is: (1-1).

Over the last 3 seasons the situation's record is: (8-1).

Over the last 5 seasons the situation's record is: (19-9).

Since 1993 the situation's record is: (98-70).

The Cardinals could be aided tonight by the quarterback controversy, as both Leinart and Anderson will be looking for a good showing.

Regarding the total, the Titans have generally been an UNDER type of team under head coach Jeff Fisher historically, but that trend may be turning as they have gone OVER the total in six straight preseason contests.

Kickoff for Mondayís game is set for 8:05 PM ET and it can be seen on ESPN.