Once I exhaled following last night’s game, I got to thinking what the scene might have been like at the Rhine River VFW in Akron, Ohio. Was Mildred Harrison putting up her Dukes, willing to left hook any Browns fan that got in her grill? Was she about to administer a severe beatdown to anyone wearing Orange & Brown that dissed her Baby Boy, her young James who’d just knocked out his 3rd Brownie in their last two trips to the albatross of Heinz Field? Understand as well, that Stan Savran told me, last time I called his show, that last year, when James claimed the scalps of both Josh Cribbs and Mohammed Massaquoi, that he found Mildred in the concourse at halftime, directing a volley of vitriol at a TV screen, where the CBS studio boys, like Boomer Esiason, were criticizing her son. Mildred’s one badass Mama, has the rap sheet to prove it, and last showed us once again that the apple falls not far from the tree in the Harrison family.
Don’t get me wrong. Seven is arguably as tough an hombre as has every walked on a gridiron, and his performance last night, his mere ability to play the second half was heroism of epic proportions. But, for my money, the game ball goes to James Harrison. Think about the plays he made. He blows up the Browns 3rd down handoff to Peyton Hills within inches of the goalline on their 1st possession. He knocks their quarterback woozy, so young Colt McCoy doesn’t even remember throwing his ill-fated pick when he had a game-winning touchdown within his sights, and then he puts the rush on the little runt, forcing an intentional grounding call that knocks the Clowns from the Steelers five-yard line back to the 15. Doing the math, I’m figuring that Deebo kept 11 points off of the wrong end of the scoreboard.
As were likely most of you, I was a nervous wreck when the Browns reached the Steelers five. Unlike many of you though, I had faith that the Brownies wouldn’t find the endzone, but rather, particularly when they were knocked back to the fifteen, that they’d narrow the margin to 7-6, then their defense would get the ball back and we’d be sweating out a potential 9-7 loss on a game-winning field goal at the final gun. Don’t know about you, but to me, no worse way to lose than seeing a kick sail between the uprights to end the game, and there’s not a thing anyone can do about it. Trust me; I’ve been there to see the Browns beat the Steelers like this at the final gun. Was in ’99, and my brother Tony had scored tickets in the Auxiliary Press Box at Three Rivers. He told me I couldn’t get loud, couldn’t make noise, as this was a working venue. I abided by those rules, but see, the Auxiliary Press Box also had this spread that included all the beer you could drink. At any rate, that fucker Tim Coach drove the Browns the length of the field in the final two minutes, Don Cockroft kicked the game-winner as time expired, and as the Steelers left the field, I belted out, “I HATE you *#%&$ (expletives deleted)” As you might expect, Tony never scored those seats again….though he didn’t get fired from his job.
The only other thing I’ll touch on from last night’s game is Tomlin’s decision on 4th down at the goal line. The more I think about it, the more I’m okay with it. He had this little convo with LeBeau right before the 4th down play. My astute observational skills tell me that they had jointly decided that if they didn’t score on the 4th down play, that they would rather have the Browns backed up to their own 1, down four points, than down seven points, but having much better field position with which to begin a potentially game-tying drive. This actually played out alright since the Steelers did force a 3 & out, did take possession at the Browns 36, and did move into range where they could have made the field goal that they passed up, if weren’t for the ongoing antics of Chris Kemoeatu, the noted Honor Roll Student of Kahaku (Hawaii) High School. I guess we should feel fortunate that Mensa Kemo didn’t further complicate matters by spearing someone after the whistle.
Actually, a couple more things. Antonio Brown is an absolute delight. I had to laugh when Ed Hochuli jobbed him out of a catch and the very next play, AB made another superb grab, this time on 3rd down, for a first down. Then, seeing that dude on the NFLN put a ear-to-ear grin on my face. All those boys, with the exception of Smug Rich Eisen were obviously enjoying the hell out of him, and Irvin game him a prolonged hug as he left, “Receiver to Receiver,” in the words of The Playmaker.
Our major worry going forward, besides hoping like hell that the Ravens drop another one, is the health of our football team. Remaining injury-free as we near year-end is perhaps the greatest factor in playoff success. Steelers were rounding into shape, but know we’re plagued by these high ankle sprains and other assorted maladies. Well, let’s all drink to SGH (Steelers Good Health) and it’s on to Frisco to whip the Niners.