The San Diego Chargers came into Pittsburgh to compete against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hooray…It initially appeared that although the Chargers were here on the east coast at Heinz Field physically, they were performing as if they were operating on Pacific Standard Time as opposed to EST.
There were times during the game that the team from the west coast looked as though the Steelers snatched the lightning bolt that San Diego proudly sports as their logo and zapped them with it, well at least in the first half of the contest anyway.
I am perplexed, puzzled and vexed as to how the Steelers even allowed the boys from “Cali” to even make a game of it. I am fully aware that most of you have little or no naval experience, but you must “now hear this.”
Why should a team have to sweat out a victory when at the end of the first half of the contest, they have more than a 15:44 time of possession advantage and a 20:40 advantage for the game? Why? Because until the Black and Gold fully understand that they are the champions and every team on their schedule, even the McKeesport Tigers, are going to play them tough.
There are going to be a slew of nail-biters during this campaign because the competition realizes that if you beat up the biggest bully in the neighborhood, everyone else is going to fall into place. A game that should have been a cakewalk after the first quarter turned into a pit bullish sort of dogfight in the final period.
Offensive tackle Willie Colon said it best. “We never make it easy, it seems.” The hero of the day, Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall, seemed to put it best. “It was a great day for the offense as a whole. The offensive line did a great job controlling the line of scrimmage all game.”
Colon had this to say about the second year 2008 first round draft pick of the Black and Gold. “He ran hard and he hit the holes hard.”
Everyone kept barking about Mendenhall being in the doghouse of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. It seems as if the only canine dwelling that Mr. Mendenhall inhabited before last Sunday’s game was the imaginary doghouse of the media. Tomlin is not former Steelers headmaster Bill Cowher. If he says he has no doghouse, then we have to take him at his word. And anyway, doghouses are for dogs, don’t ya think?
There are insatiable whiners still standing atop their permanent soap boxes crying about how the defense is continuing to be too permissive by allowing teams to come back. Well, lah-di-dah, Why do the other teams get paid? Just to whistle Dixie?
The Men of Steel faced the same attitudes after they won Super Bowl XL. They came back the year after that championship and fell flat on their faces.
When you sit on top of the mountain there is a roving bull’s eye on your chest, back, neck, and anywhere your opponent can get a shot in. There is definitely some “lead” going to be tossed in your direction. The Tennessee Titans were determined to make a statement before the Steelers eked out a win in their 2009 season opener.
Willie Parker did not play as a result of turf toe and if Mr. Mendenhall performs half as good as he did against San Diego for the remainder of the 2009 season, next year Mr. Parker may have the entire 2010 season to nurse his battered toe.
With cap issues looming and age now becoming an issue for “Fast” Willie, unless he agrees to a sizable pay cut in 2010, Mr. Parker will probably become a Pittsburgh Steelers alumni.
The Black and Gold seem to have a small but dangerous cloud hanging over them. The cloud that I am referring to is the “Tiny Tim” tiptoe through the tulips cloud that continues to permit opponents to maneuver their necks from under the steel-toed boots of the Pittsburgh.
At the conclusion of the second quarter, Pittsburgh had 19 first downs, San Diego had four. The Steelers had converted four of six third downs for a semi-remarkable percentage of 67. There is no way on God’s green earth that the contest held last weekend should have even been close.
If you do not decapitate your opponent when their head is on the chopping block, you should not even be remotely surprised when you hear the executioner sharpening his ax after he slips the black hood over your face before you are forced down on your knees just prior to your $10,000 smile plopping into the head- catching basket below.
Pittsburgh outperformed the over-achieving squad from San Diego in every category but were almost overtaken by the Chargers in the category that counts the most, heart. San Diego was not afraid of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Baltimore Ravens will not be afraid either. Nor will the Cleveland Browns or their counterparts, the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North. All of the teams in the NFL including the 2008 doormat of pro football, the Detroit Lions, have the attitude that; “the only thing to fear is fear itself.”
Teams get an adrenaline rush when they can face and defeat the champions. No team is going to roll over and play dead just because they are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. The hope that the Steelers can win back to back championships is what will be buried in the bone yard of broken dreams if the Steelers are not careful.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)