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Week 9 Was A Good One; Steelers and Ravens Set to Go

It's been a long week of waiting for our Steelers' first MNF appearance of the season. To pass the time yesterday, I tuned in to a bunch of games. Here's the five games I watched most closely:

1) New Orleans played a nearly perfect game of offensive football yesterday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. I'll toot my own here for a quick second here and say I hadn't given up on New Orlean's playoff chances, even when they were 1-4:

Don't count New Orleans out just yet. With their schedule and Carolina's schedule, they both could be 4-4 in early November.
Was Jacksonville's defense exposed for the rest of the season, or was this just a one game abomination? We'll see, but that offense isn't designed to play high-scoring affairs, even when David Garrard does come back from injury. After a promising win against Tampa Bay, JAX now faces a pivotal divisional road tilt at Tennessee, followed by a home game against San Diego. It's make or break time for the Jags. As for New Orleans? They now face St. Louis and Houston. 6-4 heading to Carolina is suddenly a real distinct possibility.

2) The Cleveland Browns and their fans are on cloud-nine after posting their first 3-game winning streak in six years. The Derek Anderson-led Browns have to be taken seriously at this point, especially at home, but why is it they never come to play against us? Anyway, even though Anderson, Kellen Winslow, and Braylon Edwards are all-playing Pro-Bowl caliber football, the defense still leaves plenty to be desired. 30 points and over 350 yards to Matt Hasselbeck, plus a 91-yard punt return by the Seahawks all still have to alarm Browns fans. The good news for Browns fans? They get back-to-back road games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore with a chance to secure control of the AFC North. The bad news? They get back-to-back road games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

3) New England vs. Indianapolis. Meh, fairly entertaining game between two great teams. I'm not going to opine on this one too much. For commentary, check here, and here. Warning: the ridiculous claims made in the second link are not endorsed by BehindtheSteelCurtain. It's so bad it almost seems like a joke. But it's not.

4) Different year same sad tune for the Arizona Cardinals. Each year we hear about different expectations; a few games are won in Setember and October, then the Cards pull their usual disappearing act. This year seems to be no different, as the Cards laid an egg yesterday against a somewhat vulnerable Tampa Bay squad. 9 first downs? 195 total net yards? 23 yards rushing and 2 INTs? That's putrid for a team coming out of their BYE week.

5) Due to a close friend's allegiance to the Washington Redskins, I tuned in to some of their road victory against the New York Jets. Nothing spectacular at all happened in this game, but I wanted to mention two scenarios that seems to show up every week at both the collegiate and professional level.

First, at the end of the fourth quarter, the Jets have the ball at their own 25 with 5:13 seconds left. They march down the filed impressively to the Washington 20. With one timeout still in tow, the Jets throw the ball on 3rd and 1 from the Washington 11. Incomplete. On 4th and I against a tired defense, they opt to kick the FG with one TO still in their back pocket. On to overtime. The Jets get the ball first and move down to the Washington 42 on their first play. After a 3 yard run, the Jets run two unimaginative pass plays, leaving them with a 4th and 7 from the 'Skins 39. No long FG attempt; no attempt to pick up the first down. Instead, they punted away to the Skins, who had been running the ball down their defense's throats all day. The Skins proceeded to take the ball down the field and kick the winning FG.

Sure, those are the 'smart' plays by Eric Mangini. BUT, you're a 1-7 football team with nothing to lose at all. First off, the play calls were terrible in the afore mentioned situations. But it was the conservative nature of the 4th down decisions for a team with nothing to lose that really irked me.


Anyway, yesterday was a nice precursor to what hopefully will be a great game (and victory for us) tonight. I didn't even mention the Adrian Peterson show, or many other highlights from yesterday's action, so chime on in if you'd like on yesterday's excitement.

Go Steelers!