By Michael K. Reynolds
Mired in the swamps of Louisiana are the sinking hopes of Pittsburgh Steelers fans as the New Orleans Saints came into Heinz Field and lathered on some good ol’ Bayou barbecue sauce with a 35-32 victory.
Oh, if only the game was as close as a fluttering 48-yard Shaun Suisham field goal! In truth, once the Saints took the lead at 7-6 they didn’t suffer too many nervous glances in the rear view mirror.
The Steelers incompetence at getting themselves back in the game had the eye-rolling predictability of a car engine not starting in a B-rated horror flick.
The greatest horror of all was the fact most of the Steelers ’74 Super Bowl Champions were forced to watch the carnage from the sidelines, their Terrible Towels rarely having a reason to churn.
So as many fans somberly pull brick fragments from their shattered big screen televisions here are your Rapid Fire Conclusions:
The Song Remains The Same
The 2014 lead zeppelin continues its descent of despair casting a shadow over a season once forecasted for hope and renewal. Steelers fans would be hard pressed to find a more maddeningly frustrating year. For a team of such promise the Steelers continue to serve as the saving grace of underperforming opponents. At one point in the game as the formerly 4-7 Saints were asserting their dominance Fox’s play-by-play announcer said, “I don’t think anyone expected this result” to which the entirety of Steelers Nation replied, “Uh…how about all of us.”
Somebody Please Shoot The Piano Player
Speaking of tired old tunes the following public announcement is directed at the few remaining Steelers apologists whose members include their coaches, the team’s PR department and unbearably Pollyannic fans. We’re tired of hearing you warble melodies like “on any given Sunday”, “the Buccaneers get paid too” and “the Jets are much better than their record”. We beg you. Please don’t jazz up the virtues of the Saints and their defenseless defense. The Steelers just tanked another game to an inferior opponent.
Big Ben and Rob Lowe
Apparently Ben Roethlisberger is petitioning DirectTV to be the next Rob Lowe as he has been auditioning the “painfully awkward” Big Ben for weeks now. The finger has been pointed at Coach Mike Tomlin (with good reason) for losing to losers but the common denominator in all of these disappointments has been under-the-line performances by his star quarterback. Is that being too harsh? Wasn’t this a team loss? Well…when your agent sets your personal price tag at a $100 million you’ll need to deliver some world class customer satisfaction. Sure, Roethlisberger padded his numbers after the game was over at the end of the third quarter, but on an afternoon when the team needed Big Ben to stand toe-to-toe with Drew Brees he had one of his worst first halves of the season (and even before hurting his hand). When he told the front office he wanted a tall receiver, he should have been specific about requiring ones over seven feet tall. In two games this year he passed for 12 touchdowns with no interceptions. The rest of his performances tally up to 14 touchdowns with 8 interceptions. All in all, the man continues to toy with greatness but the lack of consistency in his play is the biggest reason the Steelers have been so schizophrenic.
The Great Unanswered Mystery
Somewhere in the early moments of the second quarter a Saints lineman must have come to the huddle and said, “Hey, isn’t that Cam Thomas playing nose guard?” It was about that time when New Orleans starting running gashers up the middle, poking in the eye of the real Steel Curtain members standing next to Tomlin who were no doubt wondering why they didn’t just watch the game on their home couch. Once the run was on, the play action was in play, and Brees started picking off the Steelers secondary like crawdads in a rusted oak barrel. Why the Steelers brain trust continues to put their trust in Thomas, whose only gear is reverse, defies all logic. Somebody needs to buy Dick LeBeau a few drinks, pop the big question, and then kindly share with all of us.
While Ike Taylor and William Gay were busy getting torched beyond recognition a question glowered through the smoke: Where are the safeties? In the old days, safeties would bail out their corners. How many times did Carnell Lake and Darren Perry save Rod Woodson from public shame when the Hall of Famer often bit on a pump fake? Can you recall a safety covering a corner’s back once this year? Surely it’s happened but too often this year the safeties have failed to be even close to scene of the crime.
Jurassic World Is Now Open
Don’t worry Steelers fans. Despite Pittsburgh blowing yet another opportunity to take a firm grip of their future the season is far from over. The Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens made sure of that with their losses this weekend and there is some joy in knowing their fans are suffering from severe depression as well. Next week, the Steelers have the opportunity to wipe those smiles from Bengals faces. The AFC North is still up for grabs and the AFC Wildcard picture will keep pigskin mathematicians tapping at their calculators until the last day of the regular season. As both Steven Spielberg and Roger Goodell know, Jurassic Park is more interesting to movie viewers if the dinosaurs are breaching the fences and eating a few sunburned tourists. Some of us prefer undefeated seasons and total domination but for those of you who love parity and rampant mediocrity your time has arrived. Get ready to roll camera. The playoffs start next week.