Late For Work 10/29: Steelers Fans Upset Steve Smith Got AFC North MVP

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Steelers Fans Upset Smith Got AFC North MVP

Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, J.J. Watt and, yes, Steve Smith Sr.

That's some crazy-impressive company.

So what do they all have in common?

According to NFL.com's Bucky Brooks, they are the four MVPs of their respective divisions midway through the season.

Of course, it would take a miracle for Smith to beat out somebody like Manning for the overall NFL MVP award. But it says a lot for a 35-year-old receiver on a brand new team to get MVP buzz in arguably the NFL's best division.

"The wily veteran has emphatically proved that any reports of his football demise following his release from the Carolina Panthers were a bit premature," Brooks wrote. "The 14th-year pro is having one of the best years of his career thus far."

Smith has notched four 100-yard games this season, and is gaining a reputation for being a deep threat with four receptions of 40-plus yards. He is No. 7 in the NFL with 675 receiving yards, and No. 8 in receiving yards per catch with 16.5.

"He deserves recognition for his efforts," Brooks wrote.

Not surprisingly, Steelers and Bengals fans came out of the woodwork to criticize Brooks' pick for the AFC North.

There are several players worthy of the award, but the biggest gripe was not giving it to Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown beats Smith in major receiving categories, including receptions, yards, touchdowns and catches of 20-plus yards. But Smith may have a greater impact on his team's chances of winning than Brown.

Here are arguments from fans in the comments section of Brooks' article:

"Antonio Brown [is the MVP], sorry," wrote Robert Blackwood. "Smith is having a great comeback year, and is back to being a premier threat. But Brown right now is one of the best in the game, and the focal point of so much of what we are doing well."

Argued Joe Good: "You know what MVP means right? Brown is having a better season but could be the 3rd most valuable player on his own team. Without Smith the Ravens have had no consistent offense."

What do you think?

CB Champ Bailey Decides To Retire

Scratch future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey off the list of potential players to help bolster the Ravens' injury-riddled cornerback corps.

Agent Jack Reale announced Tuesday that the 36-year-old has decided to retire from the NFL, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Reale noted that teams were interested in Bailey's services, but he wants to take his career in a different direction.

"Champ has some outstanding opportunities that he's going to pursue," Reale told The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson. "He's heard from several teams, I'm not going to say who, but this is the way that Champ has decided to go. He's had a great career."

The Ravens reportedly worked out Bailey earlier this month, but opted to sign Dominique Franks instead. With Jimmy Smith (foot) and Asa Jackson (toe) out, Franks has become the No. 2 corner behind Lardarius Webb.

Smith will be out a "few weeks" and Jackson is currently rehabbing while on the injured reserve – designated to return list.  The earliest Jackson can return is Week 14 for the matchup against the Miami Dolphins. He played well before going down, starting four of five games.

The third-year veteran informed fans on Twitter last night that his rehab is going well, and that he is working toward a comeback.

Tomlin Talks Ravens' Comfort Level At Heinz Field

Usually teams loathe playing on the road – especially against a division rival.

But Head Coach John Harbaugh and Ravens players have talked about how much they enjoy playing at Heinz Field. Terrell Suggs says he "loves" playing there and called it his Madison Square Garden. Even Joe Flacco said the Steelers' signature pump-up song "Renegade" gets him fired up.

On Monday, Harbaugh said, "We're very comfortable in that stadium. We understand what it takes to win there. We've won there. We've lost there. We've been in great games there. So, we'll be there. We'll be there right on time."

So how does Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin feel about his greatest rival having a high comfort level at his home stadium?

"I don't care about the opponent. They're nameless, gray faces," Tomlin said.

"If they're comfortable, I'm OK with that. I hope they are. They need to be. I'm more concerned about the comfort of our group."

Where Was Will Hill Sunday?

Safety Will Hill played in his second game back from suspension when the Ravens* *traveled to Cincinnati Sunday. The assumption was the Ravens would slowly ease him in and increase his workload, but his snap count actually decreased.

He went from 22 snaps against the Bucs to just 12 snaps against the Bengals.

Fans asked why Hill wasn't in the game when Bengals wide receiver Mohamad Sanu beat rookie safety Terrence Brooks and Franks on a 53-yard reception on the Bengals' game-winning drive.

"Unfortunately, I don't have the answer, nor can I explain why Hill played so few snaps," wrote The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "Hill obviously is still getting up to speed with the Ravens' defense and working off some rust, but he remains the most talented safety on the roster. I suspect we'll see more of him against the Steelers."

What do you think, Clifton Brown?

"I thought Hill's playing time would increase in his second game with the Ravens," the CSNBaltimore.com reporter wrote. "I'm honestly not sure why it didn't. However, losing cornerback Jimmy Smith on the first series seriously impacted the Ravens' defensive game plan. Without Smith, the Ravens played more zone combinations. Perhaps the coaching staff felt that would put Hill in a tougher spot in only his second game with the team. However, I still think Hill will play more as the season progresses."

Week 9 Power Rankings

The Ravens plummeted down the power rankings, falling as much as seven spots on one list.

ESPN: No. 13 (dropped four spots)
"Joe Flacco was 0-for-2 targeting Torrey Smith Sunday, throwing interceptions on both attempts. Flacco has thrown five of his seven picks this year targeting Smith."

SportingNews.com, Vinnie Iyer: No. 14 (dropped five spots)
"Joe Flacco keeps having those road hiccups, and their offense is hurt without the threat of either Dennis Pitta or now Owen Daniels at tight end. They need their line, backs and wide receivers to all raise their games for their QB to rebound."

Fox Sports, Dan Schneier: No. 11 (dropped five spots)
"The Ravens put together another stellar defensive performance, but they were unable to turn a late turnover into seven points. Joe Flacco was inaccurate on several key throws that stalled the offense throughout the game."

ProFootballTalk.com, Mike Florio: No. 10 (dropped two spots)
"Another game against the Bengals, another late lapse in pass defense." 

CBSSports.com, Pete Prisco: No. 12 (dropped four spots)
"Consecutive road games in the division is tough, and they must go to Pittsburgh after losing to the Bengals. That won't be easy."

NFL.com, Elliot Harrison: No. 15 (dropped seven spots)
"Big drop for the Ravens, thanks to every single team behind them winning (or so it seems), as well as the fact that Baltimore has beaten up on mostly weak teams while losing to the better clubs. That now includes the Bengals (twice) and the Colts, whom Pittsburgh just pounded. Rough outing from Joe Flacco, who has been prone to the occasional clunker. That said, Baltimore's linebackers darn near pulled this sucker out on a couple of hot potato-style who-wants-the-football plays. First, Daryl Smith set up a touchdown with a fumble return on an attempted Andy Dalton shot put. On the next Bengals drive, rookie standout C.J. Mosley -- who also appears on my midseason awards for NFL.com -- plucked a tipped ball out of the air to set up a field goal. It simply wasn't enough on a day when the Ravens' passing game couldn't get going and the club generally didn't play all that well."

SI.com, Peter King: No. 9 (dropped one spot)
"A legitimate OPI call on Steve Smith from being 6-2 and owning the division."

Quick Hits

Second-year safety Matt Elam missed five tackles against the Bengals Sunday. That puts Elam at 12 missed tackles this season, which is tied with Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro for most by an NFL defensive back. [ESPN]

  • NFL.com's midseason Rookie Defensive Player of the Year award went to Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller is one to watch, however.
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