Big Lead Sports Bar


Goodnight, Sweet Bengals

STEELERS (9-3) 24

BENGALS (4-8) 10

It was pretty sweet to watch Pitt spoil West Virginia's season on Saturday night. But Sunday night was a different kind of sweet. The Steelers effectively closed the door on Cincinnati's 2007 season, the same season that according to some was supposed to end with the vision of Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh wearing Super Bowl rings. The nation can now see that for the illusion that it was.

In what's becoming a tradition, Heinz Field was the site of an ugly, nationally-televised football game, although this time the field wasn't nearly as sloppy as the play. A gamelog would probably look something along the lines of "Palmer incomplete, Palmer incomplete, Palmer incomplete, Cincinnati punt, Parker fumble" over and over.

If you thought Carson threw a lot of incompletions, you were correct: he finished 17-for-44, a whopping 38.6% completion percentage. Meanwhile, across the field, Ben Roethlisberger managed an effective 21-for-32 (65.6%), with 2 TD passes and a TD run. In the process, Palmer ran his career record against the Ben and Steelers to 2-6, once again proving all the pundits right in saying that he's the better of the two quarterbacks.

Unfortunately for the Bengals, their running game was as ineffective as West Virginia's, with just 74 yards on 23 carries. They were unable to sustain any long drives outside of the opener, and seemed to get worse as the game went on. Chad Johnson put up better numbers than he usually does against the Steelers, with six catches for 86 yards, but affected the outcome of the game very little.

The Steeler side of the ball featured a heavy attack of Willie Parker fumbling and Hines Ward making catches and falling backwards after the catch. Was I the only one who noticed that? Why does Hines always seem to lead with his back? But Hines did have a whale of a game, reeling in 11 passes for 90 yards and 2 TDs and breaking the Steeler record for TD receptions in the process. Now this was a wide receiver who made a difference in the outcome of the game.

This wasn't the most memorable Steeler game you'll see in a lifetime, but it got the job done and really put a stranglehold on the division. With the Cleveland loss, the Steelers have a virtual three-game lead on the rest of the also-rans in the AFC North.

Next Sunday will be the ultimate test, in a game that's currently off the boards in some casinos. But as this season has proved, whether it's Pitt-WVU, Steelers-Jets, Stanford-USC or Michigan-App State, anything can happen.

Game news and notes:

--Funny bit by NBC sending The Bus to Scruffy Duffy's, the Steeler bar in NYC, and staging Cris Collinsworth in a deserted lounge that was supposed to be a "Bengal Bar".

--American Gladiators is coming back on NBC? With Hulk Hogan?

--The Steelers are now 3-0 sans Polamalu and Santonio in the lineup, outscoring their opponents 48-10 in the process.

--Welcome to the NFL, Gary Russell. Wish your first stat line would've looked better than "1-1", but you have to start somewhere.

--Another solid game from Heath Miller. Pro Bowl, anyone?


Unknown said...

Re: Hines leading with his back. Typically he does this when there is going to be contact. It's much much easier to gain leverage and power using your entire back versus the relatively small surface area found when making contact with your front side (shoulder(s), etc). It's a tactic that consistently gains Ward an extra 2-3 yards. He's not going to fake you out, but is also rarely, if ever, driven backwards on a tackle. Ward is one of the all-time great Steelers (if not the greatest). His leadership is palpable, and he is one of the main reasons Pittsburgh will not go without a fight this Sunday. I don't think I've ever been this excited for a regular season game before...and it's only Monday.

Anonymous said...

It also puts his body between the ball and the defender. THis helps protect the ball when it is thrown in tight spaces.

Chris said...

I loved seeing Housyermama crying after every play. Seriously, the guy was ridiculous. Nothing better than watching the Steelers put the Bungles in their place.

Franco's Beard said...

Can someone please tell FWP to please take off the arm condoms in wet weather.

Paul Rupp said...

I also enjoyed the bit with Jerome and Collinsworth. The Cincy fans at the bar (in Dayton) weren't too sure what to say to that one.

As far as Heath goes, he won't make the Pro Bowl, but he very well should. There's a really good write-up in today's Trib about him which makes a bunch of good points about how he's probably the best true tight end in the AFC (as opposed to TG, Gates, and Winslow who are glorified receivers)

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Winslow and Gates can't block, which I thought was 50% of the tight ends role in an offense.

They're just beefy slot receivers, that's all.

The win wasn't really spectacular or anything. Honestly, it would've been hard for the Steelers beating a bad team, at home, in the rain to top what Pitt did Saturday.

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

Agree with Lou Lipps. After that Pitt win, I could have cared less what happened in the NFL yesterday.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Exactly hotdog.

Aside from the Steeler game, I watched maybe 10 minutes of NFL football yesterday.

It seems crazy to say, but everything else just seemed like letdown after Saturday night.

That's the one thing that's special about college football. Sure Pitt sucked and wasn't going anywhere, but a big win over your rival always seems to shed a positive light on your season in the end.

You can't really say that about the NFL.

vinnie said...

I just want to give a special shout out to the person (people) who made the sign they shown toward the end of the game that said, "Five Rings * No Cheating"! I Loved it!

(Fortunately, steroids weren't considered cheating in the 70's!)

Will said...

LLIMH - I think it might just be difficult to say that about the NFL because for us, as Steelers fans, we're accustomed to making the playoffs just about every year, and what happens during the regular season is generally not much of a deal at all whatsoever. This is the reason no one I know really gave a shit after the Jets game, and the same reason no one really should care if we manage to knock off the Pats next Sunday.

But imagine if we were in the Browns' position. I go to school in northeastern Ohio, and you can bet your ass that a Browns win over the Steelers would have meant pretty close to as much to the population here as Saturday night's stunner over the 'eers meant to us Pitt fans. Maybe not quite as much because of the sheer amount that was at stake for WVU and the enormous spread and no one giving us any sort of chance to do anything but lose by 35, etc. But the general level of expectation certainly plays a huge role in how much a particular game means to a fan base. We're just really fortunate that NFL regular season games don't HAVE to mean all that much to us, while Pitt's games, at least currently, tend to mean a whole lot more.

Will said...

Of course, I should add that obviously, given the format of college football's ridiculous postseason system, college regular season games will ALWAYS mean a whole lot more than NFL regular season games, but I think I got the general point across.

MattB said...

Unless you're Hawaii. Then none of the games matter.

Meadowbrookalum1 said...

Mondesi briefly touched on it in his article, but I really think that the SNF announcers overlooked just how awful Carson Palmer's accuracy was in that game.
No excuses for weather or a wet ball, because Ben was getting it done under the same conditions.

Russell Lucas said...

"I just want to give a special shout out to the person (people) who made the sign they shown toward the end of the game that said, "Five Rings * No Cheating"! I Loved it!"

There was an even better banner that they showed briefly on the Jumbotron until somebody figured out that it was a double entendre: WE WILL BEAT YOU WITH OUR WILLIE. That was funny right up until he started fumbling the ball on every carry.

And speaking of which, why isn't there more media inquiry into the true nature of Davenport's unavailability? Did he get into a car-related domestic incident or have another unfortunate defecatory misunderstanding? As Sunday proved, the guy's the most valuable dump truck in the Rust Belt.

The Duke from Dukes Court said...

Did anyone hear the Hines Ward postgame comment when he thanked Will Blackwell for helping to make him a better receiver?

Yes, THAT Will Blackwell.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Hines Ward even remembers who Will Blackwell is?

Hell, let's throw some shouts out to Bobby Shaw and Courtney Hawkins as well!!!

(God, I love brining up obscure Steeler players.)

The Duke from Dukes Court said...

props to Russell for the use of the term "defecatory misunderstanding"

The Duke from Dukes Court said...

I still remember Bobby Shaw scoring a meaningless touchdown at the end of a game when the Steelers were getting killed. He spiked the ball and then pull up his jersey to reveal he was wearing a Superman Teeshirt under his jersey and pads.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

I don't recall that.

BUT I do recall a game in 2001 where the Steelers were playing the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens and were hanging onto a slim lead.

Kordell threw a post to Bobby Shaw that went like 93 yards or something ridiculous like that. I think it tied that Mark Malone record for longest reception in team history.

Bobby Shaw and Mark Malone: True legends of the gridiron united by Steelers history.

BTW, I do see a bit of complacency among Steeler fans these days and it kind of bugs me.

okel dokel said...

It is always a joy to beat the Bungles.

@ Chris - Good call about Housyermama. He was complaining all night long. Plus wearing the Terrible Towel before the game is getting old. I guess he is jealous the Bengals fans just have...well nothing.

Old Chad was very quiet. Perhaps he realizes his team is just bad.

@The Duke and Louis - how about these names from the past - Andre Coleman, Malcolm Johnson, Lee Mays, Terance Mathis, Chris Doering (I was actually happy when they picked him up), Jahine Arnold and David Dunn. At least Shaw and Hawkins did something when they were here.

@ Louis - yes, I have noticed some complacency but the fans are still coming out in droves in the Philly area bars; much to the dismay of the Eagles fans. I am thinking that the Patriots game will light a fire under the masses.

The Pitt game was great and I had the pleasure of watching it with some WVU alumni. Even they thought the refs calls were one sided all night.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

I don't think the Steeler fans nationwide are complacent, but it seems the crowds at the games are.

I dunno, maybe it's just all of the terrential downpours!

Lee Mays is probably still on the Steelers speed dial in case someone gets hurt like he's been the last 4 years.

Doering fullfilled the "white wide receiver" quota.

Terrence Mathis was nice to have around. Real good player in his prime, but we had him for his last season before he retired and he was still pretty solid!

Our receivers that year: Ward, Burress, a very old Mathis and a very young Antwaan Randle El. Not a bad group!

Anonymous said...

the Jerome skit was great.