First Call: Rashard Mendenhall insists he shouldn’t be blamed for Super Bowl fumble; stats behind Jack Suwinski’s big day

A former Pittsburgh Steeler is opening himself up for criticism.

An ex-NFL linebacker has an odd opinion about Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Monday’s Major League Baseball schedule could be tough for some MLB hitters.

And a few deep-dive stats made Jack Suwinski’s big day at PNC Park even more impressive.


Help me out on this one

Former Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall took to Twitter on Sunday to pick a fight with anyone who thinks he fumbled against the Green Bay Packers in the team’s Super Bowl XLV loss.

That’s what the box score says. That’s what your eyes told you. But Mendenhall insists that didn’t happen. Now 34 years old, Mendenhall says he didn’t actually fumble. Instead, he was “separated from the ball.”

“That’s the RB equivalent of a strip-sack. There’s NOTHING I could’ve done about it. Respect my career. #Free34,” Mendenhall said in a not-safe-for-work tweet.

I’m not sure what Mendenhall thinks the difference is between “fumbling” and “being separated” from the ball. But as video from the play shows, Mendenhall had the ball secured and took multiple steps before getting blown up by linebacker Clay Matthews.

No, neither David Johnson nor Doug Legursky executed their blocks well, and Matthews made a good play. But Mendenhall had the ball and was running with it.

Until or unless the NFL creates a “separated from the ball” stat and changes Mendenhall’s turnover in the gamebook, Mendenhall fumbled in the Super Bowl.

Period.


Not on board here either

That wasn’t the only ex-player hot take I didn’t quite understand.

Check out this quote from former Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott. He insists that Peyton Manning was tougher to play against than Tom Brady.

Scott suggested that Manning was so good mentally, it’d keep him up at night. But he said Brady’s success was residue of Bill Belichick’s game planning.

“Tom Brady was more about Bill Belichick. The entire team. The execution. Them having a game plan,” Scott said.

“I’d much rather go against Tom Brady every day of the week than go against Peyton Manning,” Scott said on ESPN Radio. “I believe that’s how everybody feels.”

Well, I guess I’m not everybody, then. Because I can’t see how that’s possible.

I wonder if Scott asked guys such as former Steelers Joey Porter, Jason Gildon, Troy Polamalu or James Farrior to get their opinions. Because I sure know what the Steelers did to Manning in the 2005 playoffs. And I know what Brady did to the Steelers in 2001. And 2004. And just about every time he played them.


Jack’s stats

Jack Suwinski was the big story in Pittsburgh sports Sunday. The Pirates rookie had three homers, including a walk-off game winner in the bottom of the ninth to beat the San Francisco Giants.

How unique of an accomplishment was that for Suwinski? Check out these nuggets from ESPN.com.

• Suwinski became the first rookie in major league history to have a three-homer game that included a walk-off home run, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

• He became the first Pirates player with multiple walk-off home runs in a single month since Wally Westlake in September 1947, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

• Suwinski is the second Pirates rookie to hit three homers in a game, joining Andrew McCutchen (Aug. 1, 2009). Josh Bell was the last player to hit three in a game for Pittsburgh on July 1, 2019.

• The outfielder also hit a walk-off homer against the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 4. According to the Pirates media relations department, he and Westlake are two of eight Pirates to have multiple walk-off homers in a season. The others are Jacob Stallings (2021), Starling Marte (2015), Craig Wilson (2004), Mark Smith (1997), Frank Thomas (1953) and Ralph Kiner, who did it twice (1948, 1952).

Those were the ninth, 10th and 11th homers of the season for Suwinski.


K Day

Keep an eye on the overall Major League Baseball strikeout total across all games Monday. It’s likely to be astronomical.

Why? Three of the top five strikeout leaders are pitching. Tampa Bay lefty Shane McClanahan leads MLB with 105 Ks. He’s pitching against the New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole who is fifth with 91.

Also, Milwaukee Brewers star Corbin Burnes has 100 strikeouts to lead the National League. He’s second in MLB behind McClanahan. He’s pitching against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday.

Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola has 99 strikeouts in third place. Dylan Cease of the Chicago White Sox is fourth in MLB with 97.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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