Ohio New Year's Day: Steelers/Ravens Invasion


First a few thoughts on the Xmas Eve affair at Heinz Field. Steelers, for the first time since the ’02 season, won a home game following an away Monday nighter. That the Steelers were 0-6 in such contests going back to the ’05 season had me a bit concerned. Last time the Steelers managed to win in this spot was in the ’02 finale, beating Baltimore after having won a big one at Tampa the previous Monday night against the eventual Super Bowl champs.

My one and only thought on the game is that the Play of the Game, for my money, was Antonio Brown’s tackle on the fake punt, in Steeler territory, 3-0 margin at the time. If AB doesn’t make that play, things might have gotten a whole lot tighter.

Will the Steelers receive the help they need this weekend in order to win the AFC North and gain the first round bye. The Steelers have historically gotten the help they’ve needed to make the playoffs, this having been the case in ’76, ’77, ’89 & ’93, ironically at the expense of the Bengals in all but the ’93 season. However, when they’ve needed help to earn the bye, they’ve not been so lucky. I forget what fell into place for the Steelers to earn the #1 seed in ’92, but they might have been better finishing #2 and not facing the defending AFC Champion Buffalo Bills. In ’96 & ’02, they needed first the Patriots, and then the Raiders to lose their finales to gain the bye…didn’t happen.

One of the questions facing Steeler fans this weekend is how they’ll choose to handle their viewing responsibilities at 4:15pm New Year’s Day. Personally, I’m considering three different options:

*Travel to a local establishment, Nashua Garden, which serves $2.50 drafts and has five TVs tuned to Sunday Ticket. When I’ve frequented this joint, I’m the first person in the door, at Noon, when the place is still filled with Man U fans watching soccer (they drop more f-bombs per capita than the NFL crowed), and commander multiple TVs for the games I’m hoping to watch simultaneously. They draw a good Steeler crowd, probably as many as all the other fandoms combined. With the 4:15 start though, the early arrival advantage gets negated. Still might do this though.

*Stay at home, tune into Sunday Ticket….keep the clicker at the ready to switch often to Bengals-Raiders. This will be very unsatisfactory, as I want it all…want to see every play of both games, not miss a thing.

*Hopefully, one of the two games gets the network nod from the Boston CBS affiliate. Hopefully, they don’t give a shit about the Tebows and will find the Ravens-Bengals battle more compelling. One could make the case that this one is more relevant to the Patriots as well, should they stumble against Buffalo earlier in the day. If that’s the case, then I’ll be home, one TV tuned to Sunday ticket, another propped atop the satellite tube, tuned into Ravens-Bengals on my cable connection.

Questions for Steelers this week, one relevant and one not…

*What about Ben?

*Any chance Hines catches five balls to reach 1,000?

More importantly, what about the Bungals and beating the Ravens. They damn near beat a healthier Ravens team, in Baltimore, and they didn’t have the amazing rookie receiver, A.J. Green. On the downside, these are the Bengals. Throughout their moribund history, this is not the type of game that this franchise wins.

Let’s say a lot of Orange & Black prayers this week.



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