“I’m a king bee buzzing round your hive I’m a king bee baby buzzing round your hive. Together we can make honey now baby If you let me come inside. I’m a king bee I want you to be my queen. Well I’m a king bee, baby. Want you to be my queen. Well together we can make honey, baby, the world has never seen.” (lyrics by Slim Harpo)
Over the span of the three decades that I have covered the Pittsburgh Steelers, I have seen a few variations of the team uniform. However, when the Steelers took the field for their pre-game workouts prior to their game against the Washington Redskins, I was totally aghast. The combination of the pattern and colors appeared as if the team; 1. Had escaped from a maximum “insecurity” prison without any bars because if an inmate escaped the facility wearing that uniform, he might “bee” in danger of being attacked by a swarm of real killer bees. 2.Was a bunch of guys dressed up for the beekeepers’ convention. 3. Was Dick LeBeau’s idea to cause the Redskins not to take the Steelers defense seriously? Well one thing for certain and two things for sure, the Black and Gold’s defense was not buzzing around the Skins’ offensive line looking for love. They were looking to zap RGIII, the new King Bee, into reality. Skins’ head coach Mike Shanahan brought out his “smoke-pot” in the form of option plays and other “mis-directional” gimmicks in a futile attempt to mislead the Steelers using these “plays” as decoys to confuse the “swarming” defense but the attack of the “killer bees” could not be thwarted. The press corps has dubbed Robert Griffin III as RGIII. The nickname in itself seems to imply that Mr. Griffin III might be a tad more than the ordinary athlete. RGIII looked just a bit perplexed and ordinary when he faced the genius of D-Coordinator LeBeau; especially when he released the bees from their hive, buzz, buzz. Griffin III or his coaches were not able to find an antidote to the multiple fronts employed by Pittsburgh’s stingers dripping with venom that easily penetrated the “skins” play calling strategy.
Now please consider this. The week prior to facing Pittsburgh, RGIII carried the rock 9 times for 89 yards in a loss against the NY Giants. This was a “gouge like” 9.9 yards per carry against a decent NYG defense. Two weeks ago, Griffin carried the ball 13 times for 138 yards against the Minnesota “Vikes” for a whopping 10.6 yards per carry. Theoretically at least RGIII was singlehandedly responsible for 13 rushing first downs against the “gang in purple”. Oh by the way, the Redskins only had 17 first downs against the Steelers Big Nasty “D” for the entire game and “Sir” Griffin III rushed 6 times for 8 yards for a miniscule 1.3 yards per carry and for all intents and purposes less than a single rushing first down. Although severely long in the tooth, the demise of the Black and Gold’s defense may have been a bit exaggerated, ya think? Buzz, buzz.
As far as I am concerned, when Pittsburgh hired ex-head coach of the KC Chiefs Dick Haley as their offensive coordinator it was a positive step forward. Haley’s philosophy and playbook may have just added a few years to the football “shelf life” of Steelers franchise QB, Ben Roethlisberger. “Big” Ben seems to now be more upright than he been in many years, well at least since Jeff Hartings and Alan Faneca were patrolling along the offensive front, charged with protecting and blocking for him. Nowadays, besides having a lethal corps of wide outs to focus on, the running backs and the tight ends are getting in on the passing game. If the Steelers continue to pass the rock around like they have been for the past few weeks, Haley might send a few offensive tackles out to snag a few balls. Against Washington, the Steelers offense looked like a well oiled machine of worker bees out scouting to gather the best pollen, from the most plentiful flowers and plant life so that the final “honey-like” victory would be super sweet. I remain concerned about Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who is arguably Pittsburgh’s most powerful defensive player. Harrison only had 3 tackles and 2 assists against the Redskins. In week seven he was inactive against the Bengals, in week six he had 4 solo tackles and two assists in a losing road effort against the Tennessee Titans. The Steelers are now only one game behind the Ravens in the race for The AFC North title. The life blood of the Ravens defense, legendary linebacker Ray Lewis will most likely be out for the remainder of the season, along with a slew of other injuries dogging Baltimore, the Steelers have an opportunity to gain some ground and even surpass Baltimore in the race for the division crown, buzz, buzz.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741. Bruce can also be heard on the “Odd Couple Sports Show” where he is the AFC North and NFL analyst. The show is hosted by Adam Ragle streaming live on the WCWA Fox Sports Toledo 1230AM. Bruce is featured on Tuesdays from 10-11 a.m. during the NFL season.)