Saturday Night Open Thread: Unleash Hell Edition

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Come and join this merry band of Steelers’ faithful for some lively debate about our Steelers, good food and the merits of the odd cold beverage.

Obviously, tonight we will be discussing many things Pittsburgh Steelers related, the merits of orange Gatorade, and how to properly carb load.

The division of labor, so to speak, will be determined by the comments of those that choose to be here willingly. To be clear, I do not want hostages this evening.

I appreciate that some of you will seek comfort in the fact that Bruce Willis’ movie Die Hard set the standard for all time great Christmas Movies. Yes, I said it, I am not in the business of appeasement or living in my fears that this will upset some of you. To be clear the standard is the standard…

  1. With the news that T.J. Watt has cleared COVID protocols, does this change your thoughts on tomorrow? Does his participation actually impact the Ravens run game more than their passing game?
  2. Coach T has many Tomlinisms and high on the chart is “Above the neck”. Based on his play to date, to whom would this statement best apply? Ben, Chase, Devin, someone else?
  3. If you were in attendance at the game tomorrow would you boo Villy? Or would you cheer him, not necessarily his efforts or actions on the field tomorrow, but simply to recognize his efforts as a Steeler or his service to your country?
  4. I am guessing that most of you, that are into things of that nature, will have decorated your house, apartment, or jail cell for Christmas by now. What is the one decoration that means the most to you? What is the story or meaning behind it?
  5. The ‘standard’ can mean many different things to many different people. What is your standard for ‘must listen to’ Christmas music?

Knicks searching for identity amid 3-game skid

5:45 PM ET

Tim BontempsESPN

NEW YORK — After the New York Knicks lost a third straight game and for the fourth time in their last five against the Denver Nuggets Saturday afternoon, All-Star forward Julius Randle said it’s up to him and his teammates to decide what kind of season they want to have.

“I have to be better. Everybody has to be better,” Randle said after New York’s 113-99 loss to Denver, a deceiving scoreline from a game that saw the Knicks trail by 30 with eight minutes to go. “I’ll take responsibility for the team. I’ll take responsibility for myself. That doesn’t bother me. At the end of the day, I just wanna win. I think everybody … well, I know everybody in that locker room wants to win, too.

“We gotta look ourselves in the mirror and decide what we want the season to be. I know what I

Ben Roethlisberger expects 2021 to be his final season with the Pittsburgh Steelers

Syndication: The Enquirer
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

As if it wasn’t clear to many, it looks like 2021 might be the final chapter between Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It was going to have to come to an end eventually. While those across Steelers’ Nation all have differing opinions about when the career of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could come to an end, it will ultimately come down to a decision between the player and the organization.

While some believe Roethlisberger should have hung it up at least a season ago, others feel he would still be the best answer moving forward beyond 2021. As for Roethlisberger himself, it has been reported he has seen the writing on the wall and feels he is in the final season of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Roethlisberger has been sharing information with both people inside the organization and former teammates that he believes this is his final season in the Steel City.

It should be noted that nowhere in the report does it say that Ben Roethlisberger has used the term “retirement” or that he is wanting it to be his final year in Pittsburgh. Instead, it is specifically phrased that Roethlisberger believes this will be his final season. Whether or not it will be his decision, or that the organization’s, has yet to be determined.

Drafted as the 11th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Ben Roethlisberger has played 18 seasons with the Steelers. Winning two Super Bowls and appearing in another, Roethlisberger has made the Pro Bowl on six occasions. Additionally, Roethlisberger has led the NFL in passing twice, during the 2014 and 2018 NFL seasons. In all, Roethlisberger has over 60,000 passing yards in the regular season with 410 touchdowns to 209 interceptions.

Roethlisberger is also approaching two possible milestones he could reach before the end of his career. First, Roethlisberger needs another 570 passing yards to move ahead of Philip Rivers into fifth place on the all-time list. Additionally, Roethlisberger is 10 passing touchdowns behind Dan Marino for seventh on the NFL‘s all-time list, and 11 touchdowns behind Rivers for sixth.

Coming into 2021, most of Steelers’ Nation believed that this would likely be Roethlisberger‘s last ride in Pittsburgh. With six games still remaining in the season, anything is possible both for a playoff run, or for the first losing season for head coach Mike Tomlin. But with only six games left, it might be time for Steelers fans to take note of the remaining time for one of the franchise’s all-time great quarterbacks.

Stay tuned to BTSC as the Pittsburgh Steelers are slated to face the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday at 4:25 PM at Heinz Field.

Ben Roethlisberger Expected To Retire

Ben Roethlisberger enters Week 13 as the NFL’s longest-tenured quarterback starter, having been in his Steelers QB1 post since early in the 2004 season. But the veteran Pittsburgh passer is unlikely to play a 19th season in 2022.

The future Hall of Famer has informed some within the organization and some ex-teammates he is not likely to return to the Steelers in 2022, Adam Schefter of reports (on Twitter). Roethlisberger has not announced any retirement plans and is unlikely to do so before season’s end, but Schefter adds it is “highly unlikely” the Pro Bowl passer plays for another team.

While Big Ben put retirement on the table years ago, he instead opted to play a few more seasons. He had the Steelers back in the playoffs in 2020, after they had missed the previous two brackets, and did so after suffering the most significant injury of his career. Roethlisberger endured extensive rehab on his surgically repaired elbow, which ended his 2019 season that September. He returned to throw 33 touchdown passes — the second-highest total of his career — in 2020.

The third quarterback drafted in 2004, Roethlisberger has outlasted both Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. Manning capped his career at 16 seasons, while Rivers walked away after 17. Of the trio, Roethlisberger is easily the safest bet to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. The former No. 11 overall pick started in three Super Bowls, winning two, and led a game-winning drive to defeat the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. Big Ben, 39, is a six-time Pro Bowler whose numbers improved in his 30s compared to playing on defense-powered teams in his early years.

Roethlisberger’s 410 touchdown passes sit eighth all time, while his 62,870 passing yards are sixth in league history. Although injuries have taken a toll on the increasingly immobile passer, he has started 241 career games.

Other than a COVID-19 contraction earlier this year, Roethlisberger has started each Steelers game since returning from elbow surgery last year. QBR tabs him 24th through his 10 starts this season, however. The Steelers revamped their offensive line this offseason and have been inconsistent on both sides of the ball, sliding to 5-5-1 after mounting a run earlier this season.

The Steelers reached a pay-cut agreement to bring Big Ben back this season, and they still have not identified a true heir apparent at quarterback. Roethlisberger retiring would put the onus on the organization to do so, though the team does have backup Mason Rudolph signed beyond 2021. Dwayne Haskins can be retained as a restricted free agent in 2022.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mavs' Doncic out vs Grizzlies with ankle soreness

3:19 PM ET

Associated Press

DALLAS — Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic will miss Saturday night’s game against Memphis, the second night of a back-to-back, with what the team says is left ankle soreness.

Doncic missed three consecutive games last month because of left ankle and knee sprains. Dallas lost all three.

The 22-year-old showed moments of discomfort in Friday’s 107-91 loss to New Orleans, a third straight home defeat. There was no mention of an injury after the game.

Dallas plays the Grizzlies at home to complete a stretch of three games in four nights. The Mavericks will have two days off before hosting Kevin Durant, James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets.

Memphis will be missing guard Ja Morant for a fourth consecutive game because of a left knee sprain. Morant was the second-overall draft pick in 2019, a year after Doncic went third overall.

The Grizzlies will play for the first time since setting

Steelers Activate T.J. Watt 

The Steelers have activated T.J. Watt from the Reserve/COVID-19 list, per a club announcement. This means the star linebacker will be eligible to play in tomorrow’s game against the Ravens. 

[RELATED: Steelers Place Ebron On IR]

Watt, 27, has 12.5 sacks, four passes defensed, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries through nine games this year. Even with the time he’s missed due to hip and knee injuries, his 12.5 sacks are good for second in the NFL behind Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. The Steelers, stationed at 5-5-1, are getting him back at a critical juncture. A win would keep their slim playoffs alive; a loss would virtually rule them out of a Wild Card berth.

Watt has spent the week away from the team in quarantine, but coaches have been keeping him in the loop. The Steelers have been sending him practice footage (Twitter link via’s Aditi Kinkhabwala), getting him up to speed on their plan to contain Lamar Jackson.

While the Steelers will have Watt, cornerback Joe Haden, defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs, and inside linebacker Robert Spillane will not be on the field against Baltimore. The Steelers may or may not have Cam Heyward available — the defensive lineman was held out of practice yesterday with an undisclosed illness.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hornets have four players enter COVID protocols

9:57 AM ET

The Charlotte Hornets have had four players — LaMelo Ball, Jalen McDaniels, Mason Plumlee and Terry Rozier — enter into the NBA’s health and safety protocols, it was announced Saturday.

The Hornets have sent players and staff home from practice facility as there’s concern of more possible positive COVID-19 tests, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

If a player has a confirmed positive test for COVID-19, the NBA mandates a minimum of 10 days of isolation away from his team without any physical activity. After that period, a player must undergo a cardiac screening and reconditioning in order to be cleared to return to the court. A player who tests positive also could clear protocol by returning two negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests within a 24-hour period.

The Hornets (13-11) have four games over the next week — at the Atlanta Hawks (Sunday) and home games vs. the Philadelphia 76ers (Monday

Billups troubled by Blazers' effort in blowout loss

Dec 3, 2021

ESPN News Services

PORTLAND, Ore. — New Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups questioned his team’s effort after a 114-83 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.

The Blazers were without All-Star guard Damian Lillard but still put up little fight against a Spurs team which came into the contest six games below .500.

“My biggest concern, I think, at the moment, is I want us to compete harder, man. I want us to compete harder,” Billups said. “I want us to be competitive in every game. And I don’t feel like every night we do that. We don’t. And it concerns me. And I’ve felt that way in a lot of our wins. This is not just after a loss, me saying this.”

The Blazers fell below .500 with the loss and will be without their superstar for the near future. Portland announced on Wednesday that

Steelers Place T.J. Watt On COVID-19 List

The Steelers have placed linebacker T.J. Watt on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, per a club announcement. His availability moving forward will hinge on his vaccination status and test results. 

[RELATED: Steelers Place Ebron On IR]

Per league rules, vaccinated players who test positive can return after two negative tests, provided that they are asymptomatic. Unvaccinated players, on the other hand, are ruled out for a minimum of ten days.

Watt missed Week 11 against the Chargers with hip and knee injuries but returned on Sunday to face the Bengals. Now, his status for this week’s game against the Ravens is in flux.

Through nine games this year, Watt has 12.5 sacks, four passes defensed, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries to his credit. The Steelers, stationed at 5-5-1, can ill afford to lose him at this stage of the season.

The Steelers still have a 10% chance of making the postseason, per Five Thirty Eight, but a loss to the Ravens would make it a near mathematical impossibility.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.