“Once upon a time when pigs spoke rhyme, and monkeys chewed tobacco, and hens took snuff to make them tough, and ducks went quack, quack, quack, O! Presently came along a wolf, and knocked at the door, and said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.” To which the pig answered, “No, no, by the hair of my chiny chin chin.”(Excerpt from the Three Little Pigs)

The Pittsburgh Steelers meandered into Cleveland Browns Stadium (FirstEnergy) this past weekend, Sept. 10, sure of a few things and not so sure about others. There remained a few doubts about the Steelers defense. Their primary concern was in regards to their defensive secondary. Second, in 2016 the Steelers front seven generated 38 sacks, while their O-line only allowed 21. However, you could almost always rely on the Steelers’ D-backs to be the Swiss cheese on your grilled three cheese sandwich. The Browns entered the game with a little bit of swagger. Hey, Cleveland had just given the Steelers (or so they thought) a tainted gift but alas, for the Cleveland “Brownies” boys and girls: “the “Mistake by the Lake” is the gift that keeps on giving.

STEELERS CB JOE HADEN (Photo by Brian Cook)

A little while back, the Browns decided to continue their decades-old rebuilding process by unceremoniously kicking one Joseph Walter Haden III, a unanimous All-American at the University of Florida as well as an NFL Pro Bowl cornerback, to an unnamed curb somewhere on Superior Ave. in “Brownie-land.” And wouldn’t you know it, on a whim, the Steelers had reserved an “Uber” cruising the greater Cleveland area just on “GP” marked; “Destination Pittsburgh.” Normally picking up a “supposedly” used up and slightly finished defensive back is generally relative to buying a used car with a perfect body and interior with low mileage, but having a “tranny,” or transmission, that might be on its last legs. That sort of deal, my friends, generally turns out far better for the seller than the buyer. However, just like in the recent past, the funky decision-making by the Browns rears its ugly head again. See, aside from his great pass-coverage skills, Monsieur Haden can play the run almost as flawlessly and his blanket-like receiver coverage gives the D-line an extra second or two to wrap their “anaconda-like” coils around the opposing team’s QB. Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward pointed out that Joe Haden’s coverage gives the pass rushers extra time to get to the quarterback.

The Steelers showed their appreciation collectively by awarding the first game ball of the new season to their new teammate. The Steelers won, 21-18, but it shouldn’t have been that close. Pittsburgh racked up 144 penalty yards on 13 penalties, and more than one of those flags was “questionable.” Were the “zebras” spooked by picking up the downwind scent of a lion causing them to become nervous and unpredictable? Or were they just a few “homers” pulling for their homeboys?

The Steelers are now getting set to face the Minnesota Vikings in the home opener on Sunday, Sept. 17. The Steelers front seven and their secondary will be tested by Vikings starting QB Sam Bradford, an experienced former first round draft pick. Bradford, unlike the rookie QB for the Browns, DeShone Kizer, will be far more difficult to blitz or to rattle. New Steelers CB Haden will be crucial in causing Bradford to hold onto the ball just a millisecond longer so that Bradford can be hurried, sacked or picked, maybe or maybe not in that order. However, the Steelers must remedy being called for unnecessary penalties, post-haste, because as we all should know, penalties are not called and created equally, because we must always consider the fact that in the perfect fantasy world; pigs speak rhyme, monkeys chew tobacco and hens dip snuff to make them tough.


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