Big Lead Sports Bar


JV Steelers Come Up Short

RAVENS (5-11) 27

STEELERS (10-6) 21

The final Steeler game of the season was a perplexing one. In fact, it usually is. In past years, the game was either a glorified preseason event or a last gasp at respectability after a disappointing season. And since the Steelers are actually in the playoffs this year, the last game was a chance to catch up on some R&R. Glorified preseason event indeed.

There's nothing like Baltimore in December. And several Steelers got to take advantage of a free trip to Charm City as a spectator, most notably Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, and Troy Polamalu.

Roethlisberger, nursing an injury presumably suffered when his teammates kicked him in the nuts by naming James Harrison as the MVP, led a squad of high-priced, unattractive and even bearded cheerleaders on this day.

It seemed like the Steelers couldn't decide if they cared or not in this game. They fell behind by deficits of 17-0 and 27-7, then mounted a ferocious comeback that would fall six points short. From a viewer's standpoint, it was as difficult to watch as I had imagined. And that was before I realized that we were getting the added bonus of Phil Simms in the booth.

I'm sure Simms is a smart guy, but he really didn't sound like it on Sunday. Don't get me wrong, he didn't sound as dumb as Bill Cowher asking if Chris Redman was the Falcons' QB of the future, but he was pretty close. Listening to Simms, you would think that Troy Smith was the crown jewel of the Ravens' organization. Of course, nowhere is it written that we have to listen to eem (eem of course being the Simms-to-English translation of the word "him").

To me, the Steelers are a total mystery going into the playoffs. Their quarterback is banged up. The running game is in the hands of the Dump Truck-Gary Russell-Verron Haynes Extra Value Meal, which accounted for an uninspiring 47 yards on 18 carries on Sunday. The offensive line remains a disaster zone. Their defense is the football equivalent of tooth decay, slowly breaking down over time. Nagging injuries linger for key players. Their head coach is venturing into unknown territory. And they just got manhandled by their first-round opponent weeks ago.

Could they win a game or two in the playoffs? Sure, why not. The last time I checked, the Jaguars organization is not synonymous with postseason success. But will they? That's debatable. The team they fielded on Sunday bears only a minor resemblance to the team that will face the Jaguars next week. Sadly, Charlie Batch will be back to holding a clipboard and not overthrowing Santonio Holmes by 10 yards. But fear not, Ike Taylor will still be in the lineup, challenging Nate Washington for the most balls dropped in one NFL season.

All in all, the Steeler game wrapped up what was a pretty disastrous weekend for sports in these parts. The Penguins won, but they lost Gary Roberts. At this point, they'll dress about 10 guys for the Winter Classic. And not only did Pitt get smoked by Dayton, but they lost Levance Fields, adding his name to the "Out For the Year" list founded by Mike Cook last week.

This city's teams have experienced a simply unbelievable rash of injuries this fall. Pitt football lost Bill Stull, Derek Kinder, Gus Mustakas, Chris Jacobson, Dan Matha, Kevin Collier, and Jason Pinkston. Heck, even Wannstache was hobbling around on crutches. The Steelers lost Willie Parker, Aaron Smith, Ryan Clark, Jerame Tuman and Dan Kreider for the season, plus extended absences for Troy Polamalu and Santonio Holmes. The Pens have endured injuries to Roberts, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Malone, Mark Eaton, and Max Talbot. And now the Panthers hoop squad has already lost Cook and Fields. When it rains on Yinzers, it pours. Let's hope our athletes have some better luck in 2008.

Weekend notes:

--Pitt just missed another 3. And another one. And another one. And another one.

--That's five consecutive losses in Baltimore, for those of you scoring at home.

--Despite their best efforts for an apathetic, lifeless performance, injuries were sustained by James Harrison (shoulder), Max Starks (knee), Bryant McFadden (ankle), and Willie Reid (shoulder, butterfingers).

--Which fan base hates the Patriots the most: Steelers, Colts, Dolphins, Jets, or Bills?

--Has anyone at all mentioned that the defending champion Colts are in this year's playoffs?

--Larry Fitz on Sunday: 11 catches, 171 yards, 2 TDs vs. the Rams. Yowza.

--By my count, 13 NFL teams finished with seven, eight, or nine wins this year. Yet only two of them (Washington and Tampa) made the playoffs. 2007 was a very top-heavy year in the league.

--Speaking of 9-7 teams, I can't wait to not watch Washington at Seattle.

--Anyone else surprised by the all-around suckiness of the 2007 Broncos? I thought they would go deep in the '07 playoffs, for numerous reasons:

1. Jay Cutler a year older and wiser.

2. Signing what appeared to be a franchise back after years of failing to invest in the position.

3. The addition of Dre Bly to tag-team with Champ Bailey.

4. A "cause", playing for fallen teammates Darrent Williams and Damien Nash.
Like I always say, there's no such thing as a football prognosticator.
--On the topic of massive disappointments, I'd think the 49ers would have to be near the top of that list, too. Yeah, Alex Smith was a great fantasy sleeper this year.

--Speaking of fantasy disappointments (some through no fault of their own, and in no particular order)...

Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, Matt Leinart, Steven Jackson, Larry Johnson, Thomas Jones, Cedric Benson, Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister, Travis Henry, Javon Walker, Marvin Harrison, Vince Young, Shaun Alexander, Kevin Jones, Ahman Green, Trent Green, Jake Delhomme, Roy Williams (the receiver, not the horse-collar-tackling safety), Laveranues Coles, Lee Evans, Chris Chambers, and of course, Charlie Frye.

My condolences if you had any of those guys on your roster.

--Congrats to the Jets for winning the Herman Edwards Bowl against the Chefs on Sunday. That's something to build on for '08.

--Your 2007 NFL doormats, who will be rewarded with high picks in 2008:

Miami, 1-15

St Louis, 3-13

Atlanta, KC, Oakland, and the Jets, all 4-12.

FYI, Pitt's Jeff Otah is #24 overall on ESPN's big board. And Justin King will be the New York Giants' first-rounder in 2009.

--Can't wait for the Winter Classic. Hopefully no Penguins trip on a snow bank.


Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

I hope that the Steelers weren't trying to tip their hand yesterday, or that the starters that were in on defense (which was most of the defense except Troy) just didn't care.

Because our defense scares the shit out of me in a bad way if that's all they have at this point!

For the first time in forever I have zero confidence in the Steelers heading into the playoffs.

The offense couldn't stay on the field long enough to give the defense a rest. The defense couldn't get off the field on 3rd down (surprise!) to let the offense get in rhythm. Just a complete failure in all phases of the game.

And all the injuries sustained to the Steelers, Panthers (b-ball and football), and Penguins are enough to drive one to drink. Which, being as though it's New Years Eve, we'll all probably be doing tonight!! So happy New Years Mondesi readers, and drink up! We're gonna need it!!

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...


Maybe I'm just a jerk.

But the Browns aren't in the playoffs and Billick got fired! Consolation prizes maybe?