It was a big night in San Diego. Steelers fans got to finally see the 2006 version of MartyBall, which I would assume is BeamerBall without all the blocked punts and kick returns; Philip Rivers chose tonight to "come out", according to John Madden; (probably just a coincidence, but it happened in the same year Mike Piazza signed with San Diego); and the Pittsburgh Steelers took another step in their quest for a top 10 draft pick in 2007, dropping a 23-13 Sunday nighter to the San Diego Super Chargers. I think that's their official name, but that's only because I get all my football information from Chris Berman.
Other than football, the game of choice for Pittsburghers is the Blame Game. It's fun. Pick out one or more Steelers or their opponents, and see who you can pin the loss on. The winner of game three was Ricardo Colclough. For his work, he received a round-trip ticket to injured reserve for a "neck injury" (wink, wink). Your candidates for Game Four:
1. Ricardo Colclough. Wait, that was last week. I guess he's not the entire problem after all.
2. Najeh Davenport. Three touches, zero closet-defecation incidents. He has been a disappointment on and off the field this season.
3. Bill Cowher. I don't know how to say this about our beloved leader, but he coached with all the emotion of Art Shell on Sunday night.
4. Ken Whisenhunt. Whenever Bryant McFadden shows up in the rushing statistics, that's not a winning gameplan.
5. Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger's accomplished so much in his career, he's running out of goals. So this year, he set out to top Alex Smith's 2005 TD to INT ratio. The problem is that Smith's ratio was 1 TD to 11 INT.
6. The Offensive Line. 68 yards rushing? The Raiders had more in week one, and I think they play in the PAC-10 now.
7. Troy Polamalu. He hasn't been himself this year. I'm convinced that he really injured his shoulder in that Briscoe High game when he tackled Ladainian Tomlinson out of bounds.
8. Deshea Townsend's parents. Shame on you for having a son that only grew to 5'10". If he were a little taller, he could've defended the touchdown that 6'5" Malcolm Floyd came down with. Congratulations, you've let down an entire city.
9. Marty Schottenheimer. Cowher studied under Schottenheimer, who has lost games so many different ways it has become an art form. So in a way we can lay the blame at his doorstep.
10. The Defense. Dick Lebeau had an interesting gameplan: let's hold Tomlinson to 36 yards rushing and see if we can still figure out a way to lose. Unfortunately, this was the only gameplan the Steelers executed properly on Sunday.
More thoughts after yet another national embarrassment:
...I like the developments of watching the Steelers on national TV every week. We have a new feature, which I like to call the "Ben Flip-Flop". After a good throw early on, "Announcer X" pronounces with vigor, "Now you can definitively say Big Ben is back. Look at that throw. His confidence is restored." Of course, when he throws the inevitable second-half interception, the very same announcer will pronounce (again, with vigor): "Roethlisberger still looks rusty. You can tell he's not fully back yet from the motorcycle accident and appendectomy."
So far, Joe Theismann and John Madden have been able to successfully complete the Ben Flip Flop in front of a national audience. But who will try the Ben Flip Flop next Sunday...Dick Enberg? Randy Cross? Phil Simms? Solomon Wilcots?
...In the spirit of Halloween, here's a ghastly stat breakdown: projected Steeler receiving stats for the season, based on the first four games:
Verron Haynes: 52-264 (5 YPC)
Hines Ward: 52-592 (11 YPC)
Nate Washington: 36-468 (13 YPC)
Heath Miller: 36-672 (18 YPC)
Cedrick Wilson: 24-408 (17 YPC)
Santonio Holmes: 28-292 (10 YPC)
That is some scary stuff.
...Next four games: home vs. Kansas City, at Atlanta, at Oakland (exhibition), home vs. Denver. If by some chance the black and gold can pull three out of four from this group, they'll be 4-4 at the halfway mark. And if they win all of their games, they'll be 13-3. But they have to take it one game at a time right now. There's a chance Kansas City may be missing Larry Johnson and Trent Green next week, which means facing Michael Bennett and Damon Huard. I know it's hard to feel confident about much of anything at this point, but you have to crawl before you can walk. First, the 2006 Steelers need to learn how to crawl. Then they might be able to walk. If not, they'll be on crutches pretty soon.