Hey guys (and girl), your paragon of virtue, your hero, your party host, Chris here. I want to thank everyone who inquired about being this week’s guest blogger. I chose a man whose name will probably be familiar to those of you who frequented the comment section on the Site That Shall Not Be Named. Without further ado, take it away Hennessey…
Well, Steeler Nation, it’s that time of year. We’ve collectively survived a lockout, a stressful salary-cap crunch, and seven gut wrenching (well, most of them) games, including a week 1 loss that humbled fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers from China to Chinatown.
So how good did Monday night feel!?!?
I couldn’t bring myself to watch the Ravens win again, so Tuesday morning highlights were a big treat!
Joe Bert Flacco looked like he strayed from Ernie’s protection and got caught up in a street-corner mugging, Baltimore’s favorite pastime.
We’ve reached that point in the season when rookies become veterans, veterans become leaders, and Bert becomes a one-man interception-throwing tackling dummy. I love a good redemption story and, if “Baltimore’s Future” keeps leading his team of Muppets into slaughter, there’s going to be a great one in two weeks. How can the Black and Gold make it happen?
Week 8 marks the mid-way point of the regular season and the beginning of the end for those teams that weren’t meant to make the cut this year. For the Steelers the next two games are the make-or-break point. As we learned back in 2009 during that woeful five game losing streak (including losses to the Chiefs, Raiders and Browns, boasting a combined 9-26 record at the time they faced the Steelers), the end of a season can really set the tone for what comes after. For a team that prides themselves on contending for championships every year, what must we do to survive the dog days of November and December?
Continue Playing Balanced Football
As any Steelers fan brave enough to remember week 1 may have noticed, this year started off on a very inconsistent foot. That’s not a reference to the mysterious ailment afflicting Big Ben’s iron-plated hoof but rather what Mike Tomlin described as “Not feeding off of each other.” Tomlin’s winning formula has been largely based on an offense producing great drives because the defense prevented big drives. The Steelers followed that script in the pre-season but it all fell apart once people began counting W’s and L’s.
This lack of rhythm and balance was a huge factor in the loss to Bert & Company, as well as struggles against Seattle, Indianapolis and Jacksonville. I suppose we could blame the Seattle game on Bill Leavy’s officiating but we mustn’t go the way of the Latte sippers.
There needs to be more fuel for the fire. Big plays breed big plays on this team. Let’s use an obscure Tomlinism: “You can’t turn the ball over and win football games in the NFL.” The Steelers are topping the charts in a bad way, having made it to week 8 having caused less turnovers than any team in recent memory. Getting the opposing offense off the field prematurely will not only ramp up the defense but will put our team in a better position to last in the survival game that is late season football.
Avoid Stupid Injuries
Does anyone remember when All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu caught a pick in the pre-season against Philly and ran around like a jack-rabbit, as if Bob Saget was narrating his inevitable getaway? Remember when Vick threw a neck crunching helmet-first tackle into his shins to take him down, nearly ending the starting QB’s chance at claiming the Lombardi everyone was giving to them BEFORE THE SEASON EVEN STARTED? Those are the stupid injuries I am talking about.
It’s rumored Vick was also fined for making a phone call to concerned family members after that play, but it was rescinded when Ginger found out it was actually his parole officer.
I love when Troy scampers after a pick like it’s a game of Freeze Tag, but we need to avoid costly injury with the team already running on rookie. We have a great depth chart in most places, and, as Tomcat loves to remind the guys coming off the bench, “The standard is the standard.” Still, I don’t want our A Grade talent going down because of unnecessary chances. Now, tune in next week when I contradict myself by bragging about how awesome Troy’s 80 yard zigging-zagging Pick-6 was.
Lose to New England
That’s right – I said it. Lose to the Patsies.
The Steelers love being the underdog. We play best when we’re expected to lose. We like going through the playoffs the hard way. We like having a point to prove, a title to defend, or a grudge match to be the victors of. I say we lose this one to the Pats and look forward to stacking up wins en route to the post-season.
When I’m having a hot meal and a cold beer in January, preparing for the “BIG GAME,” I want a bunch of pissed off Steelers looking to jump-start Brady’s full-time modeling career. That sort of edge definitely trumps a team that hasn’t lost in 14 weeks trying to psyche themselves up for yet another victory. That’s when we lose rhythm and lose games.
Why lose now? So we don’t lose then. Because there is a chance we’ll see the Patsies again. A chance to make up for playoff losses of old and make up for losing this Sunday. I’m hoping a battered yet overconfident Patriots team somehow finishes a few ticks ahead on the scoreboard in the first meeting. Then I’ll be all the more assured we’ll be hearing Peepin’ Bill Belichick fabricate why his infallible team was ousted by the Steelers in the rematch.