MIKE PELAIACOURIER STEELERS CENTRAL James Conner leaps for a TD in the Oct. 7 victory vs. the Falcons. (Photo by Courier photographer Brian Cook)The Steelers have one of the best quarterbacks in football with Ben Roethlisberger. It’s undeniable.They also have the best wide receiver in football, with Antonio Brown. Another fact that can’t be argued.Yet, the key to their success comes from rushing the ball with James Conner and when he returns, Le’Veon Bell and playing defense with fury.When the Black and Gold do that, they win football games. Period. And that’s what they’ll need to do again this upcoming week, Oct. 14, against the Cincinnati Bengals if they want to win the game. I don’t see it any other way.I understand that Roethlisberger can put up gaudy numbers but those numbers don’t always translate to putting up the “W.” And that’s all that he, or anyone affiliated with the Pittsburgh Steelers, wants.Before I go further, let me be clear; I’m not suggesting the Steelers turn Roethlisberger into a game manager, far from it. I’m merely suggesting the Steelers reduce his throws, control the clock by utilizing the rushing attack and get their defense going.It’s their secret formula to winning ball games.In the Steelers games this season, this is how it broke down in their two wins and one tie.Week 1 at Cleveland, tied 21-21: 159 Rushing yards, 135 rushing yards by Conner. 41 Roethlisberger throws. Seven defensive sacks.Week 3 at Tampa Bay, won 30-27: 78 rushing yards, 61 rushing yards by Conner. 38 Roethlisberger throws. Three defensive sacks.Week 5 vs. Atlanta, won 41-17: 131 rushing yards, 110 rushing yards by Conner. 29 Roethlisberger throws. Six defensive sacks.Do you see the trend? Rushing yards higher, sacks up, Roethlisberger’s attempts were more limited (the Cleveland game was a bit high on the throws, but they didn’t win, they escaped with a tie)In their two losses this season so far, here’s what happened.Week 2 vs. Kansas City, loss 42-37: 33 rushing yards, 19 rushing yards by Conner. 60 Roethlisberger throws. One defensive sack.Week 4 vs. Baltimore, loss 26-14: 19 rushing yards, 19 rushing yards by Conner. 47 Roethlisberger throws. Two defensive sacks.Do you see the trend there? Far less rushing yards, far more Roethlisberger throws and a limitation on the defensive sacks.If the Steelers plan to go into Cincinnati this week, Oct. 14, and come out victorious, which they normally do when going into Ohio, they need to follow the formula above.They’ll need to allow Conner to rush the ball around 25 times, gaining 100 yards, or more. They’ll need to keep Roethlisberger’s pass attempts to around 35, allowing him to still distribute the ball to Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, still getting close to 300 yards and a couple of TDs, but not throwing it so often that the clock doesn’t move. You may love the passing yards in today’s NFL but I don’t believe Ben needs 450 yards for this team to win. I think Roethlisberger is more effective, and more dangerous for that matter, when he has the ability to run some play-action, which, if this team effectively runs the ball, he can do.Play-action will allow Brown more opportunities and this entire offense will run more smoothly.What they’ll also need to do is get after Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on Sunday afternoon and put him to the ground four or five times. When this Steelers defense is getting to the quarterback, they protect a weak secondary. The secondary didn’t look bad against Atlanta and when playing against guys like Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, good secondaries are made to look foolish, let alone ones that are down right bad (with the exception of Joe Haden).They’ll face a challenge in Bengals receiver AJ Green this week so once again, I believe, the best defense they can put out is one that rushes the quarterback frequently and doesn’t allow plays to extend. Keeping the ball away from AJ Green and the Bengals offense, via the pass rush as well as keeping the Steelers defense off the field through a ball control offense, is the way this team will find its way to the win column this coming Sunday and every other Sunday onwards.I believe this is the game plan that will be implemented and executed.Steelers 27, Bengals 23 Rushing the ball and defense, that’s what Pittsburgh does.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders have made it back to the Grey Cup next Sunday in Edmonton.However, the Roughriders know they’ll be constantly reminded of the 2009 heartbreak over the next few days, but they’re happy to be in a position to talk about it.The Roughriders upset the Calgary Stampeders 20-16 in a frigid West final Sunday at McMahon Stadium in Cowtown. The Riders meet the Montreal Alouettes at the 98th Grey Cup game.The Als earned a third straight trip to the Cup with a 48-17 win over the Toronto Argonauts in the East final Sunday.Saskatchewan is going back to the CFL championship game to try and exorcise the ghosts of last year’s debacle.Leading 27-25 in the final minute in Calgary, the Roughriders began celebrating a title when Alouettes kicker Damon Duval missed a 43-yard field goal attempt with no time remaining.But Saskatchewan was called for too many men on the field on that kick and Duval made good on his second chance from 33 yards for the 28-27 victory.The game is set for 3 p.m., PST on TSN (The Sports Network.)
Mission led 37-16 at the half and 55-24 after three quarters.Senior John Zak led the Bombers, the 16th seed, with 13 points while Erich Schepkowski added seven.LVR is missing starting guard Jack Sturrup, who injured his back during the Kootenay AA Boy’s tournament in Grand Forks.Sturrup had a hard fall during the semi final game against Golden.He played in the final but last week developed back pains and was not cleared by doctors to play in the tourament.LVR returns to the court Thursday against South Okanagan Hornets at 10 a.m.The Bombers must pay special attention to Hornet leading scorer Greet Gill, who dropped in 45 points in a losing cause to Duchess Park of Prince George.firstname.lastname@example.org The Mission Roadrunners ran all over the L.V. Rogers Bombers on day one of the B.C. High School AA Boy’s Basketball Championships Wednesday in Kamloops.The Roadrunners opened the 16-team tournament as the top seed.Mission jumped all over the Bombers in the first quarter and never looked back holding a 19-6 advantage at the break.”I was happy with our defence in the game,” said Bomber coach Ross Naka. “When you get into a 1 vs 16 game, things can get out of hand pretty easy but we held our own against a very good club.”
STELLAR WIND & BEHOLDER PREP FOR BC DISTAFFCAL-BRED MASOCHISTIC FIRES BULLET FOR SPRINTD’AMATO HAS TWO FOR THE MONEY SATURDAYUNUSUAL HEAT IS PENSIONED FROM STUD AT 26BREEDERS’ CUP NEXT FOR MISS SOUTHERN MISS STELLAR WIND GIRDS FOR ‘GREAT’ DISTAFF Stellar Wind, one of three champions scheduled to do battle in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita three weeks minus a day away, on Nov. 4, worked four furlongs early Friday morning in 48.40 under exercise rider Jose Contreras.The champion three-year-old filly of 2015 is slated to meet three-time Eclipse champion Beholder and undefeated two-year-old filly champion of 2015 Songbird in the $2 million Distaff, for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 1/8 miles.“It was nice and easy, just a maintenance work,” said John Sadler, who trains the daughter of Curlin for the brothers Hronis, Kosta and Peter. Stellar Wind received fractional times of 24.20 and 36.40, with a five furlong gallop out of 1:02.40.“It’s going to be a great race,” Sadler said of the Distaff, “very rare in the sense that it’s high quality with those three in it.”Richard Mandella reported Beholder doing well for the Distaff. “I didn’t let her do too much (in her four furlong work Thursday, 49 flat, breezing),” he said. “She couldn’t look better.”Songbird also worked Thursday, going five furlongs in a bullet 58.60 for Jerry Hollendorfer, who is at Keeneland this weekend.Stellar Wind will work again next Friday under regular rider Victor Espinoza.Also working Thursday was Breeders’ Cup Sprint favorite Masochistic, who drilled a half mile with regular rider Mike Smith up for Ron Ellis in a bullet 45.40, handily from the gate. It was the best of 46 at the distance for the six-year-old California-bred gelding by Sought After. SANTA ANITA STATISTICS Peter Eurton1030030%30%$197,044 Peter Miller3093330%50%$269,620 Richard Baltas2936210%38%$254,650 (Current Through Monday, Oct. 10) Jerry Hollendorfer2333213%35%$168,335 Victor Espinoza2452321%42%$670,105 Norberto Arroyo, Jr.3993523%44%$369,420 Kent Desormeaux2883329%50%$301,275 ENOLA GRAY MAKES GRASS DEBUT SATURDAYEnola Gray will make her first start on grass when she joins stablemate Long Hot Summer in Saturday’s $100,000 California Distaff Handicap for fillies and mares, three and up, at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.“It’s a short field (five entered), she’s bred for the grass, and there wasn’t really any race for her,” explained trainer Phil D’Amato. “The timing’s good for this race and then going in the ($100,000) Betty Grable at Del Mar (seven furlongs on dirt Nov. 13), so that’s kind of the reason we drew in late.”The field for the California Distaff, one in the Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses: Desert Steel, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1, Long Hot Summer, Joe Talamo, 6-5; Enola Gray, Tyler Baze, 9-5; Out Of the Ordinary, Jamie Theriot, 12-1; and Home Journey, Mike Smith, 3-1. Tyler Baze4163615%37%$210,140 REMARKABLE SIRE UNUSUAL HEAT PENSIONED AT 26Unusual Heat, the all-time leading sire in California progeny earnings, has been pensioned from stud at 26.“It is with great emotion that we have to announce the retirement of Unusual Heat,” said Harris Auerbach, managing partner of M. Auerbach, LLC. “He’s been remarkable and even in his final season at stud in 2016 managed to get 25 of 30 bred mares in foal. It’s been an amazing run and I’m happy ‘Heat’ can now just relax and enjoy the rest of his days just being a horse.”Doug Burge, longtime President of the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association remarked, “He’s been the perennial leading sire in California for over a decade and his influence on California breeding and racing will be prevalent for years to come.”Bred by John T. Jones in Kentucky, Unusual Heat is the son of Nureyev and Danish champion mare Rossard. In 1991, he became the highest-priced horse ever sold at a Barretts yearling auction, fetching $250,000. He went on to race both in Europe and the United States under trainers Dermot Weld, Richard Mandella and Barry Abrams. Unusual Heat was a multiple listed stakes winner who finished with a record of 16-6-2-2 and career earnings of $142,605.Unusual Heat stood his first season at the late Walter Greenman’s farm in Hemet before moving to Old English Rancho in Sanger, where he spent the bulk of his early stallion career. In 2010, he moved to Harris Farms in Coalinga, spending his last six seasons at stud.The impact of Unusual Heat on California breeding and racing was far reaching. From a humble first crop of 15, Unusual Heat had 11 runners, and 10 of them won in their first race, starting a ride never been seen in the Golden State. To date, his runners have amassed $52.4 million in worldwide progeny earnings. He has produced 12 graded stakes winners, five Grade I winners, 53 overall stakes winners, 18 additional graded stakes horses, an astounding 150 earners of over $100,000 and 75 earners of over $200,000 from just 556 starters. He won six California Leading Sire Championships and is still the reigning California Conceived Leading Turf Sire with 12 straight championships (2004-2015).Unusual Heat has also produced 15 California champions, including two-time California Horse of the Year and 2011 Eclipse Award Winner Acclamation. Other notable runners include stakes winners The Usual Q.T., Lethal Heat, Unusual Suspect, Golden Doc A, Gervinho, Burns, Pretty Unusual, Lennyfromalibu, Spenditallbaby, Mensa Heat, Tucked Away, Lakerville and Lightmyfirebaby.He is represented by 2016 stakes winners Cheekaboo, Majestic Heat, Pacific Heat, Boozer and Central Heat. In 2016, Unusual Heat has had 89 runners and 47 winners and leads all California sires in California conceived North American progeny earnings.For more information about Unusual Heat, contact Harris Auerbach at email@example.com or go to www.unusualheat.com . Flavien Prat45105722%49%$911,770 Rafael Bejarano49715614%57%$720,960 Philip D’Amato2930510%28%$297,705 Mike Puype1231025%33%$97,510 Bob Baffert1736218%65%$638,255 Mark Glatt1335323%85%$139,568 JockeyMts1st2nd3rdWin%ITM%Money Won FINISH LINES: It’s on to the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf for Miss Southern Miss, impressive 2 ½-length winner of Monday’s Surfer Girl Stakes for two-year-old fillies at a mile on grass. The daughter of More Than Ready was making her turf debut. “I don’t know if I was super high on her or super hopeful,” trainer Keith Desormeaux said Friday. “We’re definitely pointing to the Breeders’ Cup. Off a performance like that, I think I’m justified. I’d been trying to get her to relax with no success on dirt. When dirt would hit her in the face she would just grab the bit and run off, but there’s no spray on the turf so she relaxed a lot better.” . . . Condolences to the family of former trainer Dominick Manzi, who died on Wednesday of a heart attack in Escondido at the age of 58. He was the son of the late trainer Joe Manzi and was his father’s assistant before going on his own. A memorial will be held at Horsemen’s Beach in Del Mar, 11 a.m., Oct. 29, according his wife, Melissa. Those wishing to donate towards his cremation can do so by going to gofundme.com., typing in dominickmanzi, and following the prompts . . . Vince DeGregory was back at Santa Anita Friday for the first time since undergoing six hours of back surgery 17 days ago. “I’m getting better and stronger each day,” the 84-year-old agent said . . . Agent Nelson Arroyo has appealed the suspension of his brother, jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr., who received a three-day ban (Oct. 16, 20 and 21) for causing interference on victorious Woot Woot in last Sunday’s first race . . . Aron Wellman of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and John Boal, author of Broodmare Sire Rankings, will be Tom Quigley‘s guests, Saturday and Sunday, respectively, 11:20 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Tomorrow, Santa Anita hosts the undisputed party champion, Michelada Rumble 3, featuring live music by Sweet & Tender Hooligans, food trucks and a car exhibition for only $15. A $40 VIP ticket includes two drinks and much more (must be over 21 to attend). TrainerSts1st2nd3rdWin%ITM%Money Won Doug O’Neill4557711%42%$244,788 -30-
RUN OVER A SLOPPY TRACK, SHAM PROVIDES WINNER WITH 10 KY DERBY QUALIFYING POINTS ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 7, 2017)–In what quickly developed into a two-horse race, a short head separated Gormley and American Anthem in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes, with Gormley prevailing under Victor Espinoza in 2017’s first graded prep to the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 8. Trained by John Shirreffs and owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Gormley, a Kentucky-bred colt by Malibu Moon, got a flat mile in 1:35.89 on Santa Anita’s sloppy main track.With Mike Smith gunning favored American Anthem from the rail, Espinoza sat a close second just off the leader’s right hip into and around the Club House turn. As the field made its way into the far turn, the top two separated themselves and “threw down” the final quarter mile in a thriller that looked like it could go either way.“That was a great race,” said Shirreffs, who sent Gormley out to win the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes here two starts back on Oct. 1. “We’re very proud of him. He’s quick. He starts quick, he gets away quickly, but then he checks himself as he gets into the race and he relaxes. It was great to see him pick it back up again and get it done.”Although favored on the morning line, Gormley, who came off a disappointing run in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5, was the 8-5 second choice and paid $5.20, $2.80 and $2.40.A first-out maiden winner going 6 ½ furlongs on Sept. 4 at Del Mar, he now has three wins from four starts. In addition to the winner’s share of $60,000, he also picked up 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.“This type of thing never gets old,” said co-owner Jerry Moss, who also won the 2005 Kentucky Derby with Giacomo. “He’s got a lot of heart and I know he’ll go further than this.”“I expected him to run the way he ran today,” said Espinoza, who’s ridden Gormley in all four of his races. “I know he’s still improving but I think he only gets better and better. Hopefully, he gets a lot better…In the Breeders’ Cup he broke slow but today, he came into the race in really good shape and got into it right away.”A gutty first-out maiden winner at six furlongs on Dec. 3 at Del Mar, American Anthem was faced with a tall order stretching out against the likes of Gormley in only his second start. Ridden by Mike Smith and trained by Bob Baffert, American Anthem got hammered late to even money and paid $2.60 and $2.20.“For only his second time out, that was pretty impressive,” said Smith. “If we’d been on the outside…I think that probably would’ve helped out a little bit getting beat a half a nose.”Ridden by Santiago Gonzalez, Big Hit ran on for third, finishing some 13 lengths behind the top two. Off at 11-1, he paid $3.60 to show.Fractions on the race were 22.54, 45.46, 1:10.13 and 1:22.70.