Insider Only Steigerwald: On Mike Vick, Arians Retirement Tour, NHL Refs, Pirates keeping up with Cubs/Cards

Inside Pittsburgh Sports

Mike Vick stinks.

Yeah, he had a nice finish Monday night and the Steelers are 1-1 with him as the starting quarterback and could easily be 2-0, but he’s just not very good.

He was painful to watch in San Diego and had all of twitter with Landry Jones suggestions as he tried to dink and dunk his way down the field.

He threw four passes farther than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage before his 72-yard TD bomb to a wide open Markus Wheaton in the fourth quarter and three of them were almost intercepted.

Actually, the game was an embarrassment for the NFL, two guys with cannon arms spent all night throwing the ball 20 feet or less.

Philip Rivers threw the ball 11 yards in the air to Antonio Gates for a touchdown in the first quarter and didn’t attempt another pass longer than 10 yards until the third quarter.

That one went 12 yards and was intercepted and run back for a touchdown by Antwon Blake.

That made Rivers open up and he made a great 22-yard throw to Malcom Floyd on a first and 20 that was followed by a 16 yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates.

Before the 72-yard bomb Vick had a total of 87 yards on 17 attempts. If it wasn’t a dink or a dunk, Vick couldn’t complete a pass.

Give him credit for a huge scramble on his first run with 17 seconds left and a great 16-yard pass to Heath Miller at the one-yard line to set up the winning touchdown, but that was only enough to win because of the Steelers’ defense.

Maybe Rivers’ unwillingness to throw the ball farther than 20 feet had something to do with the pass rush that gave him less than three seconds to throw most of the time.

This is a guy who threw for 400 yards against the Lions and was the league’s leading passer coming into the game.

If Rivers had put up points, Vick made it obvious that he wasn’t capable of keeping up.

Vick finished 13-26 for 203 yards.

He put those putrid numbers up against a defense that had allowed future Hall of Famer Josh McCown of the Browns to go 32-41 with 356 yards and two touchdowns the week before.

Good thing Vick had Le’Veon Bell, who had 21 carries for 111 yards, but that kind of day should be expected against the Chargers.

Gio Bernard of the Bengals was 20-123 against them and Adrian Peterson of the Vikings was 20-126. That’s two backs who popped them at better than six yards a carry.

So, the Steelers offense still has a major problem as long as Vick is running it.

I thought that the Steelers had made an upgrade to their backup quarterback position when they signed Vick in August. He still could prove me right, but I’m not betting on it.

Bruce Arians continues his retirement tour this week with a visit to Pittsburgh and his Cardinals have scored almost 40 points a game. Carson Palmer (Remember him?) is tied for the NFL lead in touchdown passes with 13. The other guy is named Rodgers.

There will be just as much pressure on the Steelers’ defense and even more pressure on Vick to put up some points.

— NHL referees seem to be doing a good job of swallowing their whistles again this year. They sure were doing it in Phoenix for the Penguins and Coyotes Saturday night.

And you know what’s most annoying about NHL refs not calling penalties? When you point it out, if you’re a player, in the media or a fan, you’re accused of making excuses or whining.

Just for the record, I am whining about it, but it has nothing to do with the outcome of the games. It has nothing to do with whether the Penguins win or lose or how many points Sidney Crosby gets.

It’s the stupidity.

The NHL is the only league that goes out of its way to ignore rules that, if they were enforced, would make its games more exciting.

And there are way too many enablers in the media and even among the fans who perpetuate the stupidity by accusing anybody who points it out of making excuses.

And that’s even more stupid than ignoring the rules.

— Looks like the hidden vigorish caught up to Jake Arrieta a game too late for the Pirates. Former Pirates announcer Bob Prince used to say, “The longer a hitter goes without a hit or a pitcher goes without a win, the more likely it is that he’ll get one.”

Arrieta finally got knocked around by the Cardinals Monday night. He gave up four runs in 5 2/3 inning, but the Cubs still won 8-6.

The big question now is can the Pirates make it a three team race in the National League Central again next season? The Cubs and Cardinals have a lot more money to use for tweaking between now and April and the Pirates have several key players due for arbitration.

The Cubs won 97 games with a lot of help from rookies.

Are the Pirates prospects ready for a pennant race and are the Pirates ready to bring prospects to the big leagues regardless of how it affects their arbitration clocks?

If the answer to both of those questions is no, don’t expect 98 wins next year.

About The Author

John Steigerwald

TIOPS Columnist

John Steigerwald, a life long Pittsburgher, has been covering PITTSBURGH sports since 1977 as a TV anchor/reporter, columnist radio reporter/commentator and talk show host. He is also the author of one of the best selling local books in Pittburgh history, "Just Watch The Game."

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