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Steelers Spin: Tiger Balm

The Pittsburgh Steelers made it out of Texas with their perfect record intact, but not before taking a few bullet holes in their Stetsons as the reeling Dallas Cowboys gave them all they could handle.

Knowing their star quarterback Dak Prescott was out for the season and with their All Pro running back Zeke Elliot too injured to be effective did you really give the Cowboys a legitimate chance of doing much more than blazing up their own saddles?

And, with the resulting script being such a laugher that only Mel Brooks would have put it to film, how did you enjoy fourth string quarterback Garrett Gilbert lighting up what Steelers Nation unanimously believes is the league’s top defense?

There is no question that Mike Tomlin is in the pole position for this year’s Coach Of The Year honors. But, even he will want to give those digital film files some BleachBit treatment.

I mean…seriously…what was that guys? Abysmal…just doesn’t seem a strong enough word.

Then again, the men on the roster can rightfully light up their Instagram accounts with indignant finger points to the team’s best start since…EVER. Yes, 8-0 is as good as a Steelers squad has ever done out of the gate.

Will the Steelers go undefeated this season? Will they win their seventh Super Bowl trophy? Heck…will they even win another game?

I sure wish I knew. I had all of the answers last week…but it’s back to the drawing board again after what we just endured.

So…let’s give it a fresh Spin to start the second half of the season.

Tricks Are For Kids

Steelers Nation was outraged…outraged I tell you. Or as they say in Casablanca, “Shocked…shocked to know gambling was going on in here.”

How dare the pundits of the National Football League give such muted applause to our history-making Pittsburgh Steelers. Inconceivable!

Folks. Sorry to say, but the so-called experts have actually called it right this time. Pittsburgh has benefited from a weak schedule and in most games have only shown flashes of dominance.

If we’re being honest (and we always are here), the Steelers relied on some…kindly…refereeing to avoid getting pinned with their first loss last Sunday.

You can’t give the Steelers undue credit for what they COULD be, only for what they are.

As in, for instance, how they performed in their last game. I wouldn’t exactly march out your best team of Harvard Law School attorneys to defend that one.

You don’t get a Super Bowl trophy for being listed as number one on the ESPN team rankings, silly rabbits. Tricks are for kids.

None of that matters. What so-and-so says, and who thinks this and who thinks that. Nonsense really. All of it.

What does matter is that the Steelers finished their last game with both their Hall of Fame Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and their star center Maurkice Pouncey covering their eyes with a towel because they hadn’t already packaged up what should have been an easy win against a grossly inferior opponent.

And, the coaching? It was abhorrent. Where do we start? Where do we end?

What about living in our fears so deeply that we pass on a chip shot field goal that would have allowed the roadies to start packing away the guitars and amplifiers.

Yes. They won. I get it. Yahoo.

But, the only undefeated record that matters now is being able to go 3-0 in the playoffs. Ain’t there yet. Not really close.

Then Again…

Who is dominant in the National Football League?

If you insist on putting weight into football influencer’s team rankings, then you can’t do so without observing there isn’t a single team in the NFL who is looking like “the total package”.

The Baltimore Ravens and their superstar Lamar Jackson have sputtered. The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t playing as good as their roster says they should be. The Seattle Seahawks have a pass defense that is indefensible. Of course, the Green Bay Packers have a rejuvenated Aaron Rodgers, but they have their warts as well.

This year? It’s truly anybody’s trophy. That’s why finishing on a roll will be more important than ever.

Moves Like Jagger

Hey…if it sounds like we’re ingrateful, it’s because we are.

You see, we don’t want to just win. We want to dance. We want to use our moves like Jagger.

We expected our team to expose the Cowboys as rodeo clowns, so we could have moonwalked on the bar, trash talked like Oscar The Grouch, and laughed derisively at tear soaked, mascara smudged, pom-pom bearing Dallas cheerleaders.

We want to dance like Mick Jagger. Instead, you forced us to experience the fourth quarter of the game, curled in a fetal position on a sticky, peanut shelled, beer-soaked floor.

We wanted “Under My Thumb” and “It’s All Over Now” and all you had to spin for us was, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”

Get it together, boys! You’re not just in the winning business. You’re in the entertainment business.

And we want to dance.

Achilles Heel

The Steelers have a legitimate chance to take it all. Some sports computers have already projected them with a 97 percent probability of making the playoffs and a high chance of going all of the way.

Yet, the game against the Cowboys also reemphasized just how fragile this road to greatness is for this year’s team.

When Big Ben headed to the locker room toward the end of the second half with an injured knee it was as if he was taking the team’s Super Bowl hopes in there with him.

When Mason Rudolph came on the field to relieve Ben at quarterback, he looked like a ninth grader who accidentally showed up at the Senior High School Dance.

All the team needed from him at that moment, was ten yards. Ten lousy yards. He looked unlikely to get those even if he had ten downs to do so.

This is a team design flaw. They desperately need a grizzled veteran who can come out the Bull Pen.

There is no Charlie Batch or Byron Leftwich on the roster. Neither of them were the future of the franchise, but they both could be counted on to come off the bench cold and still be able to throw heat and strikes.

Rudolph clearly isn’t that quarterback right now, and he doesn’t have the experience for any of us to expect that from him.

I’m no rocker scientist, but it happens that Josh Dobbs is. Maybe he’s not Goose Gossage either, but at this point I would trust him more at this point to come off the bench and get the Steelers ten yards under pressure than Rudolph. This isn’t on-the-job training time.

Broken Backyard Ball

Roethlisberger loves to describe the offense performing its best when he is in the backyard, dragging his finger in the dirt to dial up some spontaneous play.

But, everyone who’s played in a pick-up game knows there’s only one play in that situation that matters.

“Everybody go deep.”

There isn’t no stinkin’ down and owns, short curls, and drag routes. Those are for the slow kids who can’t catch, and we’re not throwing to them anyway.

The stars? Yeah…they just go deep…and you hit them with all you got.

That’s what is greatly lacking in the Steelers offense this year. The Go Route just isn’t going.

Big Ben isn’t throwing a great deep ball, and those few times when he does, it’s into heavy coverage. It’s not being designed well. It’s not being read well.

As the Steelers learned last Sunday, you can’t play Texas Hold’Em if you can’t at least bluff now and then. Pittsburgh has to find a way to rediscover its deep threat or their offense won’t be taken seriously.

The Cam Cam

There have been players through the course of the Steelers defensive history who could always be counted on when a big play was desperately needed. One that would turn the tide of a game or wrap it up in a tidy bow.

These were the “back in the days” legends like Mean Joe Greene and Jack Lambert. Players like Rod Woodson, Greg Lloyd and surprising ones like Darren Perry. In more modern times, we of course have Troy Polomalu and James Harrison.

Well…add to that list, Cam Heyward. When the Steelers defense needs big plays down the stretch of a game, the Captain flips on his Beast Mode switch almost at will to make things happen. He did it yet again against the Cowboys.

When the game is tight? The team needs a play? Turn on the Cam Cam. You’ll consistently witness rabid desire and high-level skill blending to deliver elite and timely playmaking.

In Times Such As This…

Yet, with all of these heavy doses of Eeyore in the Spin, you would think the team is battling the New York Jets for the rights to Trevor Lawrence next year. We’re not 0-8, we’re 8-0. So why so sad?

It’s just…you know, we see so much promise in you, fellas.

But, don’t let our hard nose approach to bringing out the best in this team get in the way of expressing our gratitude.

I mean, really guys, you couldn’t pick a better year to bring joy into our lives. With 2020 spewing out volcanic gloom, you don’t know how grateful we are to be able to spin a Terrible Towel in your honor.

Tiger Balm

Another soft patch in the schedule this Sunday? Another chance to underwhelm?

What the Steelers could really use is a champion-grade opponent this weekend to snap them out of their doldrums and to make sure we have their full attention.

Instead, we’ll have to settle for a dentured tiger in the form of the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ohioans will most likely be without their star running back Joe Mixon and A.J. Green is still seeking out the shadow of his former self after suffering a few years of injuries.

We can pump this match up, but with a record of 2-5-1 there isn’t much there…there.

Still, there is a young quarterback by the name of Joe Burrow, and it’s a name that we won’t be able to forget anytime soon.

Hopefully, after the Dallas debacle this won’t be another sleepy, under-whelming, anesthetic, Tiger Balmish performance by the Steelers.

‘Cause, we want to dance.

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