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10 Things I Think I Thought while falling from a Mile High watching the Steelers lose

The Pittsburgh Steelers saw their winning streak snapped, and it was a long fall from Mile High.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Among the lower 48 states, exactly two aired the Dolphins vs. the Colts Sunday. Because I live in one of those two, it was off once again to B-Dubs. Here are ten of the thoughts that passed through my thick skull along the way.

1. What goes around comes around. I remember a week ago, after the Jags marched up and down the field on us early, and the score was merely 9-0, that that boded well for us. This week we did the marching, but didn’t end up with 9 points. We had 0. Not at all a good sign. This is the NFL, and you just can’t let a team you are able to dominate stay in the game.

2. Why, I wondered, didn’t the X-man cut back inside and into the end zone? I got my answer- Grimble elected not to cut back because he wanted to put the hurt on someone. Look, I love smash mouth football. But it’s smash mouth FOOTBALL. You win the game by getting the ball, in your possession, into the end zone. You don’t win by hurting the other guy. And when you forget that, you hurt the team. Stupid, stupid, stupid. So stupid, in fact, that I don’t even blame Tomlin. He shouldn’t have to remind his players- the object of the game is to score more points than your opponent.

3. Props to Chuks. Von Miller didn’t have a Von Miller against a rookie game; he didn’t even have a Von Miller game. Yes, he beat Chuks a time or two, but even if I could have heard the play-by-play at B-Dubs, I think I would have heard the words “Von Miller” fewer times than “Lite Beer from Miller.”

4. The time to toss the timing patterns from the playbook has long since passed. I understand the need for quick release passes to counter a strong pass rush. But there are ways to do that without timing patterns. When your quarterback has been playing at a Hall of Fame level for a decade and a half, when his greatest strength is lengthening plays by moving in the pocket, when his heroics come forth when he’s playing backyard football, why not, you know, put those strengths to good use? Let the man use his mind, his experience, his feet, his size.

5. That said, even with our amazing red zone performance overall, I’m beginning to wonder if there’s a worse Ben than road Ben- inside the 5 Ben. That last pick gave me flashbacks to last year’s New England game.

6. As did Grimble’s fumble. I remember reading that that stupid rule was on the table during the off-season. It must go. I explained it to my beautiful wife- if we fumble out of bounds on our five, it’s our ball on our five. If we fumble out of bounds on the fifty, it’s our ball on the fifty. If we fumble out of bounds on their five, it’s our ball on their five. If we fumble out of bounds in their end zone, it’s their ball on our twenty. What? How does that make any kind of sense? As with Jesse Jame’s (non-)catch last year, the rule was applied correctly. In honor of Charles Dickens, author of the incomparable Christmas Carol, allow me to quote from Oliver Twist- “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass — a idiot.”

7. Yes, when you’ve been blessed to teach literature in college, it sometimes makes its way into game time. I’ve had commenters grumble about politics in my pieces, and religion. Don’t grumble about literature. Show some class.

8. Ben missed wide open receivers more than once. I wish his rare overthrows would match up nicely with the rare times his guys have no separation.

9. One of my game time thoughts leaked out in a tweet- One thing I never expected to hear- “Boswell finds an open Villanueva for a touchdown.” Way to not live in your fears coach. #steelernation @btsteelcurtain. And how old school is Big Al, gently handing the ball to the ref, “acting like he’s been there before”?

10. Losing stinks so much more than almost losing.


It was a pipe dream to hope that winning the games we should win could help us slip past Kansas City and New England. Now we need to win at least two of the three still ahead of us against playoff teams. Think we can pull it off?