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Why Did the Steelers Waste $26 Million on Cortez Allen?

Cortez Allen will be an awfully expensive nickel back Monday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Houston Texans at Heinz Field.

The Steelers agreed to pay Allen 520 million nickels, or $26 million, over the next five years. But because of his lackluster performance this season, Allen has lost his starting job to Brice McCain.

Pro Football Focus ranks Allen dead last among the 175 cornerbacks who have taken the field in the NFL this season. He’s missed seven tackles (Will Blackmon of Jacksonville is the only cornerback who has missed more) and committed seven penalties (Blidi Wreh-Wilson of Tennessee is the only other cornerback to be flagged seven times).

Allen had an interception in two straight games, then regressed in Sunday’s 31-10 loss at Cleveland. Brian Hoyer’s quarterback rating was 149.3 on the passes he threw into Allen’s coverage, according to PFF.

Throwing the big bucks at Allen before the season seems like a mistake now. The Steelers would never admit this, but the reason they gave Allen the big contract is because they were haunted by their decision to let Keenan Lewis become a free agent two years ago.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Must Suppress Browns 2014 Uprising

Since the Cleveland Browns were reincarnated in 1999, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been able to count on two Ws almost every year just like “Wheel of Fortune” contestants can count on getting the R, S, T, L, N and E turned for them before they try to solve the final puzzle.

Wins over the Browns can’t be taken for granted this season.

In Week 1 at Heinz Field, the Browns fought back from a 27-3 halftime deficit to tie it, but Shaun Suisham’s last-second field goal won it for the Steelers.

The Browns (2-2) came back from an even bigger deficit last week. They were down 28-3 in the second quarter at Tennessee and rallied for a 29-28 win. Brian Hoyer threw three touchdown passes to lead the Browns to the biggest road comeback win in NFL history.

History would have been made if the Browns had completed their comeback at Pittsburgh. They’d have won there for the first time since 2003. That unfinished business still haunts them and makes Sunday’s rematch a must-win for Cleveland from a psychological standpoint.

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Can the Steelers Still Count on Beating Rookie Quarterbacks?

Just when it seems the Pittsburgh Steelers hit rock bottom, a rookie quarterback awaits on their schedule.

Losing to inferior competition has become a habit in recent years, but the Steelers seemed to dip to a new low last week.

Not only was that a winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that beat them with a last-minute touchdown at Heinz Field, it was a team that was used and abused 56-14 by a very ordinary Atlanta Falcons team 10 days earlier.

Blake Bortles appears to be the perfect prescription for what ails the Steelers (2-2) when they visit the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) Sunday.

Perhaps you’ve heard that Dick LeBeau is 17-2 against rookie quarterbacks since he became the Steelers’ defensive coordinator in 2004. That statistical nugget is one of the few buoys the Steelers can cling to during this water-treading phase of .500 football that has lasted for almost three years.

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5 of the Most Disappointing Players So Far This Season for the Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are not having a terrible season to this point in 2014 even with the embarrassing loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Going into the second quarter of the season, it’s now time for the Steelers to either improve or carve out another 8-8 campaign. There have been a myriad of reasons for the inconsistency of this particular Steelers team. Here are five players, or groups of players, who have had the most disappointing first quarter of the 2014 season.
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Pittsburgh Steelers Will Be OK With William Gay at Cornerback

In the coming weeks, a veteran defensive back with long hair and a nose for the ball will make game-changing plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It’s not like William Gay hasn’t done it before

Sure, the Steelers will miss Ike Taylor for the next couple of months as he recovers from a broken forearm. But Gay will be starting in his place, and that’s not a bad thing for the Steelers.

Gay isn’t the shutdown corner that Taylor has been throughout his career. Without Taylor, the Steelers’ quest for One for the Thumb still would be unfulfilled.

However, there are games in recent years the Steelers wouldn’t have won without Gay.

If it wasn’t for the 29-year-old Gay in Week 1, the Steelers would have gulped the bitter cocktail of the biggest blown lead in franchise history mixed with the first loss at home to the Cleveland Browns in 11 years.

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Pittsburgh Steelers: Panthers Defense Inflated Mike Mitchell’s Free Agent Value

It’s homecoming weekend for new Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell.

Mitchell goes up against his old team when the Steelers play the Carolina Panthers Sunday night at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Panthers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery will have a chance to catch up with his former teammates. Carolina signed him as a free agent during the offseason.

It might look like the Steelers and Panthers made a trade, but they just happened to sign each other’s free agents.

If it were an actual trade, it’s worked out better for the Panthers so far.

Through two games, Cotchery has caught eight passes. Meanwhile, Mitchell’s stat sheet has been bare except for 12 tackles.

The Panthers defense was second only to the Seahawks last season. It helped them go 12-4 and make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. It also helped Mitchell look better than he really is.

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens: Steelers Have Rare Chance to Bury Ravens Early in Season

The last two times the NFL has played games on Sept. 11, the Pittsburgh Steelers have played at Baltimore.

In 2011, they lost the season opener to the Ravens 35-7. They again play at Baltimore on the anniversary of 9/11 on Thursday night. The Steelers’ all-time record on Thursdays?

9-11

That record doesn’t begin to tell the tale of Thursday calamity that has haunted this franchise throughout its history.

Last year’s Footgate incident on Thanksgiving was just the latest installment in that saga.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 for having his toe on the field and interfering with Ravens’ kick returner Jacoby Jones. The Steelers lost the game 22-20 and Tomlin was lampooned all the over Internet.

For some reason, the Steelers play at Baltimore on a Thursday night for the second straight year. The schedule makers must hate the Steelers. Every NFL team is obligated to play at least one Thursday game, but just like last year, the Steelers’ brutal Sunday-Thursday turnaround involves a trip to their most hostile road environment.

The Steelers (1-0) will try to win on Thursday for the first time since 2011 (but that was a hollow victory, more on that later). More importantly, they have an opportunity to push the Ravens (0-1) into an early-season sand trap that would be tough to shoot their way out of.

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Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios and Predictions for 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers

Spoiler alert.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will not start the 2014 season with an 0-4 record.

Even in the worst-case scenario, the Steelers will win at least one game in September, something they couldn’t do last season. Of course that still leaves plenty of room for doom and gloom for those who look at two straight 8-8 seasons and see the glass as half empty.

Before we get to that, we’ll look at the Steelers’ 2014 season through the eyes of those who see the glass as half full.

In both cases, we’ll provide win-loss predictions for each game. Then we’ll reveal our actual prediction for the season, with win-loss prognostications and explanations for each game.

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Do the Steelers Have Kelvin Beachum 2.0 on the Roster?

The Pittsburgh Steelers seemingly grabbed one of the steals of the 2012 NFL Draft by selecting Kelvin Beachum in the seventh round. I’ve admitted it before that I thought Beachum had no shot at making this team when he was drafted. Then Beachum proceeded to have a terrible Preseason which made him making the final roster even more surprising. Beachum was billed as the guy who could do anything on the offensive line and since being drafted, he’s done just that.
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Ryan Shazier Gives Pittsburgh Steelers High Hopes for 2014 Season

How impressive was Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Ryan Shazier in his pro debut Saturday night?

Well, he might have increased the Steelers’ chances of making the playoffs.

How can that be? How can a rookie boost the Steelers’ playoff stock by playing 37 snaps in a preseason game?

Because it seems that the more a Steelers’ first-round draft pick contributes as a rookie, the better the Steelers do that season.

Shazier made nine tackles in the Steelers’ 19-16 win over the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field. That’s five more than anyone else in the game, according to NFL.com. He also intercepted a pass.

The rookie inside linebacker is likely to start in Week 1. He’d be the first Steelers rookie to start an opener since Maurkice Pouncey in 2010. That’s also the last time the Steelers reached a Super Bowl.

The Steelers’ first-round picks in 2011, 2012 and 2013 combined for 11 starts as rookies. The Steelers were one-and-done in the playoffs in 2011 and missed the playoffs in 2012 and 2013.

A first-round pick is just one cog in the machine. A team’s success rides on a lot more than one player. However, every time the Steelers’ top pick has started at least 10 games since 2001, the Steelers have won at least one playoff game.

If Shazier continues to play the way he did Saturday, that bodes well for the Steelers’ 2014 season.

So let’s test this theory by taking a look at all the Steelers’ first-round draft picks since the turn of the century as well as how the Steelers did the year they were drafted. This will cover all of Kevin Colbert’s drafts, since he became the team’s director of football operations in 2000.

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