Saturday, February 28, 2009

Two losses, one cause?

Recently the Lakers and Boston both lost games.  

The Celtics lost 93-91 at the Clippers.
Selected quotes:"I thought we played slow all night, we pouted all night, we just thought we could show up and win a game -- and we didn't. I just didn't think we played with the type of spirit we played with on this entire trip.- Coach Doc Rivers.  

"We looked at their record, and not at their personnel."

The Clippers also had guard Baron Davis back, a player known to play up to the level of his competition...or down, as the case may be.  

The Lakers lost 90-79 at the Denver Nuggets.  

The Lakers, who brought the NBA's best record (48-10) into town when they checked into their hotel at 4 a.m., 

"That was a garbage game, no doubt about it," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "I wish we could repay the fans some money for that game. Neither team played very well, but they played better than us."

"Tonight, we [played] as active and as intelligent of a defensive game as I think we've played all year long or maybe ever since I've been here," Karl said. "We challenged a lot of shots, it was a tremendously active defensive game."

Mix this "with our offensive skills, we can be great," Karl said. "This is a playoff type of game for us. I'm not sure they played it that way, but it's going to be a good night and a good sunrise."

Bryant said this was the perfect storm of a fatigued team facing a fired-up team on little rest with little room for error.

"We've got a totally different team, a totally different mind-set."

One he hopes will finally lead to his initial playoff success after five straight first-round flame-outs.

Four nights after suffering a 38-point blowout by Boston at the Pepsi Center, the Nuggets hung tough with the Lakers, leading 66-63 after three quarters before pulling away.

"We really looked forward to playing another team like this after that Boston massacre," Billups said. "They came into town with the best record, best team in basketball, it was a great opportunity for us."

This last quote is especially important.  It shows that after getting embarassed, the Nuggets, a division leader, saw the Lakers as an immediate chance to take on another highpowered team.  And they came out popping while the Lakers were flat.  

Its a quality team rebounding after a bad loss.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Laker Watch Games 3 & 4

Game 3:  At Oklahoma City, Lakers 107, OKC 93.  

Odom was disappointed in how Los Angeles squandered the big lead and said it "wasn't a wholehearted effort at all defensively for us."

Game 4:  LA 132, PO 106

LA raced out to a 15 point half-time lead (scoring 70 points in the first half).  And Phoenix never threatened after that.  

"Tonight's game felt like kind of a trap game because we are at home and Steve's not playing," -Kobe

So what can we conclude from this?  First off the Laker's lows aren't that low.  Phil is obviously aware of trap games and let the team know not to let them down.  Kobe didn't play the entire fourth quarter and they still outscored them.  

So it seems like the Lakers, as they are currently constructed and given their current mentality, aren't taking games off, aren't going to take games off, etc.  So they probably will cover the spread more often than not.  These last four games they were 2-2 ATS.  I would suspect that for the remainder of the season they would be positive against the spread.  They have a great team, a great record, etc.

However the Suns are struggling.  Nash was out as well as Amare.  I didn't know Nash was out but without their two all-stars they don't have much else on the roster that is above average.  

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Genius: How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL Dynasty Chapters 21 to 32

A major theme in the second half of the book is his separation from his family.  Even though he worked close to home (except when the team travelled) his son said "Essentially, I kind of grew up without a Dad" (193).  This is a theme that I have seen repeatedly.  Tony Dungy's son committed suicide from depression.  What did Tony do?  He kept coaching football.  That is drive.  

Also of note, the 49ers defense, coordinated by George Seifert, was very strong during their success in the 1980s.  They would frequently put the clamps down during important games and the other teams found it impossible to score enough points to win.  

great quotes:  
"As always, his fear of failure and his need for approval would energize his quest and turn it into what felt like a life or death enterprise in which his very existence was at stake" (236).
this shows the personality he had, defining himself by the success or failure of his team.

"to visualize each season as an expedition to conquer Mt. Everest.  Some teams made such assaults from base camps far in the valley below, sometimes rising near the peak but then sliding back down to the place they started, where they would often remain for extended periods before summoning themselves for another assault.  The Niners, by virtue of their accumulated accomplishments, now had a base camp far up the slope, within striking distance of the summit, from which they would sally forth every year" (236-237).  

He also felt that defense requires talent and offensive personnel shortcomings can be made up for with a good system.  

"Better a year too early than a year too late"  (239) when dealing with football players at the end of their career.  Bill also looked for chronic injuries as a sign that the player was getting too old. 

Another theme is how well Bill Walsh drafted.  In the 1986 draft, Walsh drafted eight players.  "All eight would become starters for the Forty Niners - and five would eventually be selected for the Pro Bowl".  

On the comeback in Super Bowl 23:
"In that kind of situation, with the pressure that's on the team, you want to have familiar plays that men are confident they can execute, rather than trying high-risk plays and depending on great individual effort.  In this circumstance, we were going to depend heavily on our "standard of performance'." (337).  They ran "high percentage plays".  

The story of Bill Walsh.  1931-2007

Random thoughts

I was thinking about the movie Two for the Money, a 2 hour film about sports betting and the crazy inhabitants that make up the commercial side of pick-selling.  And the climactic scene is where the main characters have bet all their money and their reputation on one game.  

And it hit me that if that ever happens, you're doing it wrong.  In fact, a successful bettor should never be nervous about the outcome of a game, viewing it instead as a single action of a string of many decisions that make up his portfolio.  

Also, the amount of money bet should never make one uncomfortable.  

The Celtics and Suns have also lost big men.  Should they be watched for upticks and downticks in energy levels?

I think the Celtics are a hard working team as it is.  However, when KG returns, there could be a "relaxation" amongst the players.  

The Suns simply aren't good enough to have high expectations.

A lot of these tricks or patterns can be most easily be measured against the backdrop of high expectations.  It isolates a variable and allows for easier pattern detection.  

Emotions.  Emotions are the lubricants of the brain. They drive decision making and frequently trump logical thought.  

So why are athletes so emotional?  Its because their performance and actions are the most extreme; and the most extreme results require the most extreme motivations.  So don't be surprised when athletes fight each other, blow up, and act completely erratically.  They are more emotional than 99% of the people out there.

They will be prone to higher highs and lower lows.  And a low for a professional athlete can be a very crappy performance and season.  It is these de-motivated athletes who provide the best opportunties.  

When two good teams try hard against each other, the outcome can be decided by the random bounce of the ball or a referee's judgement.  But when a good team plays an unmotivated team, a lot of stuff can happen poorly for the good team and they will still win.  They can overcome more mistakes.  


I just had a very interesting conversation about patterns.  The human brain is a neural network; it excels at picking out patterns.  Musical patterns, visual patterns (think facial recognition), tactile sensations, and abstract numerical patterns.  

But could there be more patterns?  

The hammerhead shark has all the normal senses we do.  However, hammerheads have electroreceptory sensory pores called ampullae of Lorenzin (wikipedia).  ns.  Think about that.  Hammerheads can also detect electrical patterns through pores in their skin.  Through pores in the freaking skin!  

So if I had a conversation with a hammerhead (stay with me) and we discussed patterns, how could he explain an electrical pattern?  I'd have no idea about all these patterns because I didn't have the sensors to detect them.  

Its a common cognitive bias for us humans to think that if we can't see something or feel something, it doesn't exist.  But for a hammerhead, the world is filled with electrical patterns that we can't see or feel.  

There are doubtless patterns out there which we aren't equipped to detect or sense.  

Some patterns, emotional level patterns, psychological patterns, etc., don't readily show up.  

Anything relating to brain chemistry will be nearly invisible by all normal detection methods.  It isn't easy to detect and leaves no physical trace.  But coaches are good at detecting the emotional levels of their players and the best are going to be good at manipulating it.  

So a lot of these things like Laker Watch are simply trying to monitor and detect an emotional pattern in real life that is spread out over weeks.  That is a very difficult thing to track.  

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lakers Watch: Game 2

Tonight the Lakers played game two of Laker Watch at Minnesota.  They were favored to win by ten points and only won by three.  

Notably, they were losing at the end of the third quarter and it was close the whole way.

The question is:  how long will this continue?  

Also: when will this predictably happen?  What was the exact trigger?

I just happened to start Laker watch at game 1.  I saw that the two previous games they had failed to cover the spread.  So since the break they are 2-2 ATS but since I started watching, they are 0-2.  

still, I would suspect they will have trouble on this road trip and for a few more games fail to cover the spread, perhaps even losing a game or two. 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Laker Watch: Game 1

Game one of Laker watch:  Lakers 115, New Orleans 111.

The purpose of Laker Watch is to follow their performance relative to the spread over the next two weeks and see if their performance has been hurt due to Andrew Bynum's injury and the aftermath.  

My theory is that all professional teams respond to an injury the same way:  with increased intensity and effort.  Their are public doubters, players on other teams doubt them, and the overall intensity is ramped up a notch.  

However, there can be no action without a reaction.  The increased effort and intensity helps them in the short term but is followed up by a period of lower intensity where the players are forced to recharge their batteries and will perform at a below-average level.  

Their energy was expended, pshychologically and physically, during their six game road trip.  The trip was right before the all-star break so it gave them a definite end to their push, it was on the road (so they had to focus more), and Bynum is not their super-star, but still a major factor.  And he is a big-man, so the loss is magnified.  

The spread was nine points.  It took overtime (and a late Fisher 3) for the Lakers to even make overtime.  Also of note, the Lakers missed 15 of 16 shots during one stretch in the first half.  This is the type of thing that a fatigued team does. 

Lastly, nobody responds better (or more predictably) to adversity in the NBA than Kobe.  During his rape trial in Colorado, he would fly in from games and be so mad and focused that he would hit game winning shots and have great performances.  

So of course Kobe will ratchet up the intensity and play harder, but he is human too, and that takes a toll.  

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Responding to injuries in the NBA

Good teams in the NBA respond to an injury or trade of a key player by playing better.

Sound ridiculous?  Maybe better is the wrong word; harder is a better choice.  

Last night the Hornets, after trading (or so they thought) their 26 year old center Tyson Chandler to the Thunder, exploded over the Magic for a 117-85.  When Andrew Bynum went down,  Kobe exploded for 61 points at Madison Square Garden.  

When the Suns replaced their coach with Alvin Gentry, they scored 140 points in regulation on back-to-back nights against the same team.   Thats incredible.  The clippers knew it was coming the next night.  They played at home.  Home court gave the Clippers an additional twenty points against the Suns...but they still lost by twenty.  

These are professional athletes.  They are all very skilled.  Often the only difference in performances night-to-night is intensity and effort.  Look at the Celtics.  They brought together a collection of good players from perennial losing teams.  And they won the championship with a focus on defensive effort and sustained superior effort.  

Certain factors trigger superior effort in players; it is almost a pavlovian response.  When the Hornets lost their center and everyone said their championship hopes were dashed, they played their hearts out.  But now Tyson Chandler is back.  The trade was cancelled because he failed a physical. 

So what will happen?  The Hornets are likely to play flat in one or two of the upcoming games and have the favor returned by an opposing team.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Random NBA Notes

All-star game.  I read a great post at Truehoop about the price of Mo Williams replacing Chris Bosh instead of having a big replace Chris Bosh.  Namely, they had no strong interior defense.  Mo Williams is 6'1" and his team campaigned heavily for him to make the All-Star game.  We all know these things work and he finally made it as an injury replacement for Chris Bosh.  

The price was heavy.  Look at these statistics (courtesy of Truehoop)

Points in the paint:  West 96,  East 58

Rebounds: West 51, East 38

Their two bigs (Dwight Howard and Garnett) were both starters, so they were in and out of the game together, meaning there were long stretches with legitimate center for the East, going against Shaq, Duncan, Yao Ming, Pau Gasol, Stoudamire, and David West thrown in for good measure.  

Infact all things being equal in all-star type games in the future, go with the team with the bigger players.  Height still matters, from the local Gym to the NBA all-star game.  

Phoenix Suns demolish the Clippers in the first game under their new head coach.  This was very predictable; I wish I had been playing closer attention.  They are a good team and their number one complaint was they were disjointed and playing with low energy.  Their new coach Alvin Gentry reportedly "took the reins off" and told the Suns to run and push instead of playing their half-court style.  

A couple of indicators for this pick: new coach.  This can sometimes trigger a reaction.  The biggest indicator though is the one about energy levels of the Suns.  They were playing with low energy.  So they are professionals and low energy means they are playing below their average potential level.  With a new coach and a home crowd, their energy level was due to shoot way up.  
My number one rule in the NBA is that intensity and energy matter most.  If I tried hard enough and Kobe slacked off enough, I could beat him.  Mostly Kobe slacking off, but still, the team that plays harder can win a lot of games.  Now we'll see if the Suns can have sustained superior effort, or if they will return to a normal level of effort.  Don't forget, they have Shaq (a notorious slacker).  

Also, they played the Clippers.  The Clippers are a team that is dysfunctional, with numerous players missing games for trivial injuries.  Their season is over and they have no pride or character; teams like that are likely to get blown out badly.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Predicting the Winner and the Loser

I just realized that is sports betting, one often tries to determine who will win.  In fact, for as long as I can remember, my Dad and I would always try to guess the winner of a game.

But that is the same as predicting the loser.  Except we never thought of it that way.  If one can figure out what makes teams lose, what makes them collapse, fall apart, and have struggles and internal tension, one can just as easily figure out the winners.  

Its a cognitive bias.  

I've always focused on the winner of game; what one has to do to win and then trying to figure out how to identifiy which team has more of those traits.  

But identifying teams that have collapsed, don't give a shit, aren't trying to win, etc., and doing it faster than everyone else, can lead to major gains and plays.  

Tyson Chandler Traded: The end of the Chris Paul Era?

Tyson Chandler, the athletic 7'1" big man of the Hornets was traded today to the Oklahoma City Thunder.   And the question is: does this mean the end of Chris Paul's MVP chances and high level of winning?

The answer is yes.  

Chris Paul is a 6'0" point guard known for his aggressive defense and steals.  But steals often come at a price of leaving one's man to play passing lanes.  The steal is a powerful play but when it fails there is often a clear lane to the hoop.  Tyson Chandlers, as an athletic big man who defends and blocks shots, was often able to bail out Chris Paul. 

That won't happen any more.  I think the ramifications of that are that his assists will go down (less lob-dunks) and the team will lose more even though he will probably still get steals at the same rate.  Its his failed steal attempts that will hurt the team and cause them a few more losses than they would have had previously. 

The Genius: How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL Dynasty Chapters 11-20

Chapter 11 describes the 49ers as they started the season in which they would win the season.  

"What matters most is what you expect from yourself.  The players who do the best are those who expect the most.  The Forty Niners didn't play down or up tot he level of their opposition.  They played to meet their own standards and they expected nothing less from all of their teammates" (89).  This quote is a great quote and is most helpful when viewed side-by-side with its antithesis, a back-handed compliment given out to players who can "play up to the level of their competition".  

So when you hear of a player who plays better when he's playing good opponents, if he plays better when matching Kobe Bryant than Scruff McGruff, it should be viewed as a negative.  He's a slacker, not a competitor.  What it means is that player is more suspectible to losing games to average or below average teams because he won't be playing seriously or trying hard.  

Conversely, if one sees a team repeatedly blow out weaker opponents, like the Patriots during the 2007-2008 season or the Celtics in their 2007-2008 season (beating the Knicks by 40 points) one knows that team is a serious contender for playoff performance.  They set their own standards and will be a good pick to cover the spread and also will suprise with a few blowouts of teams that "play up to their opponents". 

A team that doesn't have a problem losing will get beat badly by teams that strive for excellence.  
Bill Walsh also expected precision from his coaches.  He chewed out a coach for saying "nice play" because it wasn't specific enough.  The coach had to complement the player for the specific actions taken.  

"Everyone has a role and every role is essential.  He was still convinced that championships are won with the bottom half of the roster" (89).  I also saw this in a book about the Patriots I read, where Bill Bellichick felt that same players on other teams (the bottom third) couldn't even make the practice squad of the Patriots.  

"You have to be ready to attack the problem and find a way to communicate about it without it being difficult.  We openly talk when tihngs go poorly and initiate a process to reverse adn change the miscalculation.  The Forty Niners are always talking to each other and always listening".  (91).  

Another gem:  "He was convinced that his team would never get better until it knew who it was, and that providing such an identity was the head coach's central function" (92).  

Bill Walsh also placed a premium on character, inspiration, and motivation.  This is a common theme, the idea of a locker room's identity and the people that enforce it.  "Walsh's projection of Young's impact would prove on teh mark, particularly on that last count.  An ordained Baptist preacher, Charle brought character in abundance, leading the team in pregame prayers and offering inspirational sermons to anyone in his vicinity" (107).  

I think this factor is more valuable in football than basketball.  

Bill also emphasized footwork and technique.  "He insisted he could always tell the outcome of the play just by watching the quarterback's feet".    Thats a very interesting point.  The faster the QB throws the ball, the more his play call are open on the first read.  The more the offense is winning the battle against the defensive play-caller.  Thats a very important thing to keep in mind when watching a game (110).  

Another common theme is Bill Walsh spending each off-season trying to bring in more talent.  

"this concentration on defense (in the draft) also reflected Bill's theory that his sy stem of offense could cover for talent shortages but not so with defense, where talent was essential and could not be compensated for" (126).  

Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds was legendary for his intensity and work ethic and study of the game. 
He really set the example in terms of work ethic and intensity and a lot of young players keyed in on that.  

Joe Montana after the strike of the 81-82 season: "there were grudges and we weren't playing as a team.  We weren't working together and people weren't talking to teach other.  How can you win under those conditions?  A lot of players heads weren't into the game" (175).

After the season was over, "Walsh identified three things that led to their collapse.  1) Complacency  2)  Distractions  3) Drugs".

Drugs aren't a factor in the NFL (as far as I know).  Complaceny occured because "Its just human nature, especially for a team that hasn't been winning before and didn't yet have a legacy or tradition.  Suddenly you're invited to every golf tournament in the off-season.  Its hard to rekindle the same kind of hunger" (176).  

Complacency:  "We had too many guys writing books, or on speaking engagements, or otherwise enjoying the fruits of the Super Bowl.  We just got so distracted our edge disappeared".  

So lastly, signs of teams losing focus would be coaches writing books, players writing books.  Those are the most visible.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kobe Bryant and a *statement* game at MSG

When Andrew Bynum went down with a torn MCL on January 31st, the Lakers were shocked and disappointed with the news.  Their emerging star center was hurt and it was a serious blow to their playoff hopes.  

The next game Kobe Bryant turned on the power and scored 61 points at New York, setting the single-game record at the modern Madison Square Garden.  They played hard and played well throughout the road trip.  

Now they are back home.  The question is this: when will the sense of urgency wear off?  Has their play been boosted by a temporary feeling of nervousness and a need to prove that they are an elite team even without Bynum?

An injury to a player or being short handed can often spur greater effort from everyone else; but that will wear off as fatigue sets in and players return to their normal level of effort and play, perhaps even dipping lower than normal.  

So as we go forward with the next week or two, can we expect an extra lakers loss or two?  Or at least see them not cover the spread?  

Differences in Contracts between the NBA and NFL

I realized an important difference between NFL and NBA contracts.  NBA contracts are guaranteed, while NFL players can have an enormous contract and still be cut and get none of it but the signing bonus.  

So while Baron Davis can be injury free for one season and play really hard, sign a fat contract and spend the rest of his career in the trainer room, an NFL player has to come hard every day or he could be cut for poor effort.  A chronically injured NFL player will be cut as soon as he heals up, but a player like B. Diddy will remain in the league until his contract is up.  

Here is the link to his wikipedia page, and look at his statistics and games played and try to guess which year is his contract year:

It shouldn't be that hard.  

Monday, February 9, 2009

List of Factors and definitions

Factor 1:  Offensive Bias

Example 1:  When two good football teams with strong offenses and defenses meet, the result should be a lower scoring affair, with a score and format similar to a pro game.  Reason?  The teams have good special teams and defense, so field position will be tough to come by.  There shouldn't be long scores, which is how one puts up so many points.  But for a college team to hang fifty or sixty points on a team, the defense has to be locked on as well.    They must outmatch the opponent in all aspects of the game.

Example: OU Florida championship game, 2008-2009 season.

Precursors: Good offenses hanging tons of points on weak teams: this means their special teams, defense, and offense are good.  When matching a similar team, it should cancel.  The teams are "professional".

Factor 2: Superior Sustained Effort

Description: A team is very driven, beyong the average level for a college or professional team.  With professionals especially, a team on a mission can really perform well and above previous performances.  This has the highest effect in basketball and football, with a diminished effect in baseball, golf, etc.  

Example: Boston 2007-2008, NE Patriots 2007-2008

Precursors: Teams with legitimate shots at winning a championship, with strong leadership in the locker room and coaching. 

A challenging thing is to distinguish hype and fan expectations from sustained superior effort.  Sustained Superior Effort is seen in who gets back on defense and how quickly, people fighting for rebounds in "garbage time", people not running out of bounds to finish a play, people blocking way down field, etc.  

Factor 3:  Weather Effect

Description:  This effect only applies for football.  Often times teams with indoor practice and playing facilities, teams from warm climates, will be forced to play a very, very cold playoff game in the snow late in the season.  This has an adverse effect on motivation, muscle control, and muscle explosiveness.  It saps their will to win.  Yet some teams have a culture of embracing the snow and the cold.  

Example:  The Steelers and Patriots are the two teams that come to mind.  Also the Bears.  

Precursors: Contained in description.  This can also be anticipated in reverse, when cold weather teams go to play in the warm weather for bowl games.  I believe this is an inherent disadvantage.  

The Genius: How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL Dynasty. Chapters 1-10.

I'm 142 pages into The Genius, a book about Bill Walsh and his coaching legacy.  As a quick recap of his time with the 49ers, he coached from 1979-1988, winning the Super Bowl in 1981, 1984, and his final season 1988.  

A very impressive record.  Thats as many as Bill Belichick, the most successful coach of the current era.  Its a very fun read and exciting for me because I don't know very much about the Forty Niners history.  I remember watching games but very little about what was actually happening.  

The owner of the 49ers at the time was Eddie DeBartolo, who gave Bill Walsh free rein to both coach and be the GM.  This was unprecedented at the time.  The 49ers were performing horribly and had little to no success in any aspect of the game.  Bill Walsh won the Super Bowl in three years after taking over a team that was 2-14.  

The big question is how.  How did he do this?  What did he do differently?  The first trend I've picked up on is his willingness to trust his own judgement.  The corrolary is that his judgement is correct; it does you no good to trust your judgement if you are wrong.  But he also picked up on several inefficencies in the NFL at that time.  He anticipated the success of the "West-Coast Offense" whereby the offense throws lots of short, quick passes underneath the defense and generates significant yards after the catch.  

He was also an excellent judge of talent and was willing to continually cycle through talent to find good players.  

I was not surprised when I found this quote:  "We created an atmosphere in meetings in which a scout or coach was able to express himself completely.  If he overstated or understated in any category, he could change his opinion without being criticized.  We were interested only in results.  They could change their mind without being ridiculed.  Everyone was expected to participate."  This is a common trend among winners.  The simple fact is that one person simply can't be right all the time or know all the important information.  The problem occurs when people don't resolve conflicting views or share information.  Communication is key.

They also stressed positive reinforcement and communication from coaches to players about proper technique.  Bill Walsh stressed technique and would get upset at the assistants during practice if the players weren't displaying proper technique.  That creates a dynamic where the players want to do well because they don't want their assistant coach to be berated by the head coach.

This covers the first ten chapters of the book.  I will cover more later.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Thoughts on the Super Bowl

I ended up betting $500 on the Cardinals to cover the spread of -7.  My Father flew to Reno to make the bet as well and bet some moneys that he had brought of his own and some from a few other people.  

I thought the game was very even between the two teams; I never thought the Cardinals were going to get blown out at any point during the game. 

I thought the Cardinals run defense was very impressive.  They Steelers had so many runs for negative yardage it was crazy.  

The Cardinals refused to throw the ball as much as I thought they should; however, they may have just been trying to keep the Steelers from dropping back to much.  Who can tell what chess match was going on  between the playcallers?

Otherwise it was even; I think the warm weather helped the Cardinals: look at their last two drives when Fitzgerald was just running rampant through their secondary.  If its cold slippery he probably wouldn't have made those plays.

I thought Ken Whisenhunt had the team prepared and their passing plays were very effective. 

So two of the three factors I mentioned in an earlier post appear to have worked out.

I thought the Cardinals body language showed they really thought they could beat the Steelers; credit the coaching on that one.  Offensively the Steelers scored twenty points to the Cardinals 23.  It was just that crazy interception that was the difference.  

Ben Roethelisburgers (I don't know how to spell it) scrambling ability is very under-rated.  He is so big and he scrambles but he always looks to pass out of the scramble.  That is a very strong skill in the NFL because defenses will stop the run but they can't cover all the receivers.