Last Sunday night the Pittsburgh Steelers were hangin’ out in the “Big Easy” to “party on Halloween night.” That is just my opinion but they partied oops, I meant played like it was 1999 and they definitely ran out of time, at least the offense did. The Black and Gold gave a decent account of themselves, at least for three quarters but in the end, it was very difficult to do anything right in a place where doing most things is supposed to be “easy.” Dem Dere Steelers bit the dust by a score of 20-10.
There are a few “Supreme” haters out there who took offense to head coach Mike Tomlin sanctioning a fifty-one yard field goal attempt by Jeff Reed with time winding down in the first half. I know that the pigskin aficionados with one-half of a brain should be able to figure this one out. After all, Mr. Reed usually has to ply his trade at Heinz Field, AKA “Anchorage Annie” or “The Wind Tunnel,” to name a few penned by yours truly. What’s wrong with attempting to kick a long field goal indoors with no murderous crosswinds to contend with? That strategy seems like a logical step in order to add three points.
When this “hallowed” night began in the land of crawfish and “gumbo” the Steelers defense was giving Saints QB Drew Brees “the willies” but when the game ended Brees had sliced and diced up the Steelers “D” like he was the little brother of Freddie Krueger. In reality it was the Steelers offense and “offensive” play calling that time and time again returned the ball to the Saints, leaving the Pittsburgh defense hanging out to dry.
Why do you hand off the ball to a back in the I-formation when your offense is “bamming” on the door from the one-inch line and when you have a young strapping center you can follow to gain a few measly inches to an almost guaranteed touchdown. A quick snap, a quarterback sneak and “Bingo Long and the Traveling All-Stars” you’re in.
Also, Saints’ starting cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer were out with injuries but instead of Offensive Coordinator (and I do mean offensive) Bruce Arians taking advantage of an injury riddled, decimated New Orleans secondary it was an aggressive Saints defense that pressurized and applied constant heat to Roethlisberger. The Saints continued to put eight men in the box and dared Pittsburgh to throw. When Roethlisberger did get rid of the ball it was almost like it was a “hot potato” and his “hot” reads seemed lethargic and regularly performed like they were “too hot to trot.” Instead dinking and dunking the Saints defense all the way back to Bourbon Street, Arians called the game like he was experiencing a headache and hangover from too much partying in the French Quarter.
The Saints beguiled and mistreated the Black and Gold defense as if they had one of Dr. Buzzard’s “alligator toe” zombie charms hangin’ around their necks. Not only did the Saints “Mojo” work, it performed way beyond expectations. The Saints seemed to even have their swagger back. Drew Brees was lovin’ it. He threw for 191 yards in the second half to finish with 305 yards spread among nine receivers.
Big Ben passed for a very “workman-like 195 yards. What about all of the crap about “Big Ben makes our offense more complete.” There were also a few veiled excuses coming out of the Steelers camp. “It was a hostile environment for us. The fans were into it,” Tomlin said. “We struggled a little bit on possession downs because of it, but that’s no excuse…We knew this was going to be a tough place to play coming into it. I was hopeful that we would perform better than we did.” Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah. Pittsburgh was cryin’, New Orleans was howlin’ and laughing at the moon.
Roethlisberger appeared to take a tad more responsibility for the wretched performance by the offense. He had this to say. “This is definitely a gut check for us. We got knocked down a little bit tonight and now it will be interesting to see how we bounce back.” Hey Ben, methinks that your analogy was a tad flawed. The Steelers did not just get knocked down, they got body slammed.
The remainder of the regular season schedule is as follows: at the Bengals then home to face the Patriots, Raiders and Bills; then to B-More to face the Ravens; back to Heinz to face the Bengals, Jets, and Panthers; finishing up in Cleveland facing the Browns. They could lose four of those nine games, leaving them with a record of 10-6. That will not win the AFC North. Pittsburgh had better get up off the canvas quickly because the playoffs “referee” is always willing and waiting to count them out. They were 9-7 in 2009 and were couch potatoes during the post season. Don’t ask me to pass the dip and chips. I’m fresh out.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412.583.6741.)