There was an annoying audio signal in the press box a couple hours and some change before the Pittsburgh Steelers were scheduled to face off with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night. The Steelers limped into Paul Brown Stadium sporting a less than stellar 2-3 record and wanted, no correction, needed this game, their first AFC North Division game to at least keep up with the “young guns” of their division; the newly respected Bengals.
As far as pregame shenanigans, things were pretty much uneventful in the Bengals lair otherwise known as the Cincy press box until an eardrum killing screech pounced on my sense of hearing as a result of an incompetent or uncaring audio tech testing the ref’s microphone. Considering the way that the Steelers began the game I was certain that Pittsburgh had their signals crossed with the boys from the ‘Queen City’.
The Bengals won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. They must have known something about the Steelers defense that the entire NFL has known for the entire 2012 campaign. The Pittsburgh front three seems to have as much push as a marshmallow at a weenie roast.
This contest was a dangerous encounter for the Steelers from the beginning but really turned ominous when Big Ben threw an interception in the end zone trying to force the ball to tight end heath Miller into triple coverage. But on the very next Pittsburgh possession “Big” Ben fumbled inside the Steelers ten yard line. One play later Andy Dalton converted the miscue into seven easy points for the Bengals tossing an eight yard touchdown pass to wide receiver A.J. Green. The Steelers finally caught a break when LaMarr Woodley intercepted a Dalton pass that bounced off of the back of Bengals right guard Kevin Zeitler. After a close first down, Big Ben fired a strike to Miller making the score 14-12. After a bit of confusion between Coach Mike Tomlin and Roethlisberger, the Steelers had a successful two point conversion at the end of the first half knotting the score 14-14.
There should not have been that much drama. Fumbles in your own end and interceptions in your opponents end should not ever be accepted. Without the turnovers the Steelers should have been ahead by at least a touchdown and a field goal, yet they struggled just to tie the game to conclude the first half.
Soul Singer Bobby Womack once sang a tune title; ‘I can understand it’. As far as the Steelers defense is concerned I am composing a new tune. The name of my tune is: ‘I can’t understand it’. This song that I am crooning is a slow, sad ballad about the Steelers defense. You know a sort of bone chilling, spirit rattling tune comparable to folk ballads such as; ‘Hang down your head Tom Dooley’ or Bob Dylan’s classic, ‘All along the Watchtower’. Bob Dylan himself once said; “there must be some kind of way outta here, said the joker to the thief. There’s too much confusion. I can’t get no relief.” There are times when the defense of the Black and Gold cannot get off of the field and confusion runs rampant.
Man oh, man there was hope in ‘Who Dey’ land for the Black and Gold? After all of the penalties, dropped passes and turnovers the Steelers were still in the game. Just think if the Steelers had played without penalties, dropped passes or turnovers for sixty full minutes. All of the hair pulling and ulcers would have become a thing of the past there might not be any doubt as to who controls the rugged and blood thirsty AFC North.
There has been loads and loads of hoopla about all of the high draft picks on the Steelers offensive line but one of the unsung stars in the O-trenches is offensive lineman Doug Legursky. Week after week Legursky stands at the ready to come step in and do what his coaches and teammates need him to do. When I asked “Bronco” Legursky how he approached replacing Steelers All-Pro center Maurkise Pouncey, Legursky had this to say. “If you’re in a backup role you have to be ready at the drop of a hat to go in there and perform. There can’t be really any drop in play. I really take pride to go in there and offer something. Maurkise is still a heckuva player but I still feel that we can get the job done when I am in there.” I asked Doug about his up in the air contract situation and he said that and if he would be a Steeler long term he pointed out; “that is really up to the owners. It may appear that I am changing gears but I am just thinking about the stellar play of Doug Legursky.
One thing that I “dug” was the Bengals and Steelers sidelines had African American head coaches at the helm, battling each other with guile and playbooks as opposed to bullets. However one thing about this game still disturbs me. In 2012 we are still crowing about Black men being head coaches in a game where more than 70 percent of the players are of color, oh well. See ya, see, ya, see ya, bye.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741. He can also be heard on the ‘Odd Couple Sports Show’ as the AFC North and NFL analyst. The show hosted by Adam Ragle streams live on the WCWA Fox Sports Toledo 1230AM.