BYE WEEK BALONEY (aka, JAGOFF JUMBO): STEELERS-BENGALS
I hate the Bye Week. In fact, in The Manifesto, I included the bye week in the chapter entitled Shit I Hate About the NFL. Up until 1990, we didn’t need no freakin’ bye week. Then, in ’93, we had to endure TWO bye weeks.
Only thing bye week is good for taking care of things like foliage rides, visiting your sister-in-law, or other dislikeable tasks, like raking leaves. So next Sunday, I’ll get out the rake, get out the wheelbarrow, and clean up my yard. Wait a minute!! Bengals-Ravens is at 1 o’clock. Okay…I’ll get to the leaf-raking afterwards, around 4:15. Gets dark around 4:30…quittin’ time!!
The only thing worse than Bye Week is losing going into the bye week. Two weeks to sit with a loss? No thanks. So, at least Steelers enter the Bye Week, not only riding high off of their win at Paul Brown Stadium in a tough AFC North battle, but also knowing that the Ravens blew another one, at Seattle.
*This Steeler team continues to impress me with their ability to answer following opponents scores. This is the 4th consecutive game where the Steelers responded to their opponent putting the ball in the end zone with a touchdown drive of their own. And yesterday, it was the Bengals tying the game, overcoming a 14-point deficit, which the Steelers had to answer.
*Big day for Willie Gay. Four passes defensed, including the one that Timmons picked, as well as his own pick to save the day, with the Bengals 25 yards from tying it up.
*Hines: I was a little surprised, and encouraged, to see the Steelers start the game in a 2-wide receiver set, with one of those wides not being a reportedly healthy Hines Ward. I was even a little more surprised, and even more encouraged, when Hines ceded to Cotchery in 3-wide sets. Hines may not make it to 1000 catches. Coach Tomlin needs to be resolute on making every effort to win ballgames, and right now that doesn’t include many appearances for one of the Steelers all-time greats. My question is, once Manny Sanders and Arnez Battle return, whether Tomlin can still give a hat to the #5 wide who doesn’t play teams. I think he does, but it’s a fair question.
*Shawn Suisham, for all of his shortcomings in his primary job, kicking field goals, does stick his Canadian nose in covering kicks. He made the only kick that was asked of him yesterday, a 39-yarder. Despite his limited range, and his having missed a number of kicks even within that range, he’s made all three of his kicks during the last two games. Despite reports of Skippy having been seen on the SaSide, I’d be surprised if the Steelers made a change in this department….but I hope they do!
*The Wheel of Fortune came up big for the Steelers yesterday. Consider:
-The injury to AJ Green sure helped. I know that Troy & Clark misplayed the TD pass, but Green can play. One of the most comforting images yesterday was every time the TV camera panned to Green on the stationary bike. That’s where I wanted that dude to stay…stationary.
-Anyone else waiting for the flag to drop on the Steelers 1st TD of the game, when it sure looked like Ben was flirting with crossing the line of scrimmage before hitting Cotchery for the score. I was more than a little surprised that Marvin Lewis didn’t drop the challenge flag, and way more surprised that he didn’t get a better look in his own house. That said, the penalty that reversed Cotchery’s 2nd trip to the endzone was unmitigated bullshit.
-It was starting to look like déjà vu all over again, circa 2009. Remember, the Maginot Line season, where on three consecutive weeks, the Steelers surrendered game-tying or winning drives after having their opponent backed up to the shadow of their own goalposts, in the vicinity of their 10-yard line. The wounds of last week’s 92-yard winning drive by the Ravens were still raw, when the Bengals took possession….92 yards away from tying the game, in the 4th quarter. I’m sure we were all saying, “Aw shit,” when they smartly moved out to the 40 and were ready to break our respective TVs when they moved into Steeler territory. Not so fast, the first Bengals penalty of the day effectively killed that drive.
*Going Forward, there’s no reason whatsoever that the Steelers shouldn’t be sitting at 10-3 when they take field in the Bay Area for a Monday Nighter before Christmas. They play a limited KC Chiefs team at Arrowhead (no such thing as a gimme on the road in the NFL), then return home for consecutive contests against the Browns and Bengals. Following the San Francisco Treat (…most of you young’uns may not remember Rice-a-Roni), in a scheduling quirk, the Steelers return home for a Saturday date against the Rams on Christmas Eve. I know the Rams are bad, and they beat an arguably even worse Browns team yesterday that couldn’t manage a long snap for a chippy game-winning field goal, but….keep in mind that the last SIX times, dating back to 2005, that the Steelers came home following an away Monday Nighter, they lost. Add in that this is a West Coast trip, and the short week is made even shorter and, well, I’m glad they’re not returning home to play the Bengals.
AFC North title, 1st Round Bye, Home field throughout, all remain very real possibilities for the 2011 Picksburgh Steelers. Root like hell for the Bengals on Bye Week!! Then, and only then, go rake the leaves.