Meat is back on the menu again as the Pittsburgh Steelers served their fan base with a Primanti Brothers-sized portion of domination in their 45-10 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
And as the fellowship of the Super Bowl ring advances into the final quarter of the 2015 season, the winter winds of anticipation grow steadily leading into this week’s massive battle against the AFC-leading Cincinnati Bengals.
With little margin for error, the Steelers have the opportunity to restate their case as a true contender in what should be the defining matchup of the year to date.
Will Ben Roethlisberger and his bevy of 4 x 100 gold medalists known as Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Marcus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey be able to rip seams through the Bengals secondary?
Can the Steelers defense do enough to hold off the myriad offensive weapons of Coach Marvin Lewis’ squad?
For your weekly fix of answers laced with equal parts ignorance and arrogance here are your Rapid Fire Conclusions:
The Average Idiot Fan
After the dismal performance of the Steelers secondary against the Seattle Seahawks the fans had enough and demanded louder than ever that trade acquisition Brandon Boykin get a chance to make a difference. Despite his aversion to acknowledging any outside influences Mike Tomlin finally relented and Boykin earned early on in the game one of the most satisfying interceptions of his career. Following the victory, Tomlin was quick to downplay the importance of the secondary shuffle urging journalists and the Average Idiot Fan not to make that the story. Really? C’mon Tomlin. Just once. Step up to the microphone and say… “Ah shucks…Steelers Nation was right…again.” And when have we been…all…that wrong? You listen to announcers from around the country and they’ll credit Steelers Nation as one of the most sophisticated fan bases in all of sports. And they’re right. If you throw out the lower echelon fans who expect Dan Rooney to escort Tomlin off the field after a missed two point conversion and get rid of those who think General Manager Kevin Colbert has never missed on a draft pick you’ll be left with the common sense expertise of the Average Idiot Fan. No. Most of us have never played “under the stadium lights”. And we don’t call plays to pay our bills. But when you consider we’re the collective opinion of a million passionate minds, we’re not quite as clueless as some would prefer to make us out to be.
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Following the team’s loss against the Seahawks it was painful to hear the Steelers-funded infomercial announcers defend the loss. “You know…the Seahawks did just participate in a couple of Super Bowls after all.” Even worse is listening to these announcers following a Steelers victory as they berate the Nation. How many times do we have to hear them say, “Well…just last week all of the fans were calling for Mike Tomlin’s job.” No…the Average Idiot Fan wasn’t asking for Mike Tomlin’s job. We were asking him to do a better job.
And on the subject of being open to a little unsolicited advice from the fans…coach…how about getting Robert Golden on the field against the Bengals? Didn’t he earn the opportunity based on his performance the last game against Cincinnati? Shouldn’t we do everything we can to continue to improve this mediocre secondary?
The Deebo Is Done Club
It’s amazing how many devout members there are of the “Deebo Is Done” Club. This group sprouted up years ago and have proven resilient despite James Harrison outing the organization as a fraud over and over again. “He’s done,” they say. “He takes away snaps from the young players,” they rant. Yeah? So what? Harrison’s play last week against the Colts was yet another reminder that even at age 37 he remains one of the most dynamic players on the team and one of the greatest Steelers ever to wear the Black and Gold. When you look at edge run defense, Harrison has been the best linebacker on the team. And for all of the claims that he was too slow to be effective in coverage, he’s done just fine in that area. As for his sack production, he’s always been a player that got those in batches. Last Sunday’s performance shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Crush the pocket? Send the tackle into the quarterback. Sack fumble. Diving tackle. That’s just James being James. And why wouldn’t anyone want him to come back next year? His offseason workout leadership with his fellow linebackers will prove as valuable as his play on the field in 2016. Are you in the Deebo Is Done fold? Tear up your membership card, sit back and enjoy the great one. Hopefully for more than just this year.
However, for Deebo, there is certainly some unfinished business in his vaunted career. He’s never had a true payback game against the Bengals following his release by their organization a couple of years back. In subsequent games he’s been pretty well handled by the talented Bengals offensive line. But wouldn’t this be the perfect game to finally settle the score?
The Cincinnati Bengals are 10-2 and in the pole position in the AFC. So why aren’t we scared to death to enter their stadium? Why doesn’t this seem as daunting as entering the Raven’s Nest when Ray Lewis was haunting. Or snow-encrusted Foxborough against the Brady Bunch? It’s because despite the Bengals success through the past few years the Steelers seem to still retain the edge in terms of intimidation. This year’s division championship aside, expect Pittsburgh to come in and reaffirm its proper role as the Alpha Dog of the AFC North.
Out Of Thin Air
And breaking Tomlin’s rule of focusing on one game at a time, how will the Steelers fare against the Denver Broncos? The Steelers should win that one as well. Especially if they are able to enter the game with considerable momentum following a Bengals victory. The Broncos would hold a significant advantage if the game was to be hosted a mile high in their stadium. But in the low lands of Pittsburgh with the fans of Heinz Field at full throttle, the Steelers should prevail in that big game as well.
The Team In The Mirror
So, can the 2015 edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers make it to the playoffs? Could they win the AFC Championship? The Super Bowl? The answer is decidedly yes. They are good enough. If they can keep Ben Roethlisberger in health mode, this offense can be a beast and carry the team on its shoulders. The defense is porous but they have shown a propensity for getting turnovers. The kind that can make a weak unit adequate enough to slow down a superior offense. Special teams could prove to be an asset. The coaching staff has elite talent and only needs to play to its potential. The fan base? The best in the league. Can the Pittsburgh Steelers do it? The answer will be mostly revealed in Cincinnati on Sunday.