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COURIER PHOTOGRAPHER BRIAN COOK captures Steelers TE Vance McDonald catching a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. A two-point conversion tied the game at 17, before Chris Boswell’s game-winning kick lifted the Steelers to the win over Indianapolis, Nov. 12.

Zzzz, zzzz…

Hey, Steelers, wake up, it’s time for your afternoon snack.

That might sound a bit “pre-school-ish” but it has now developed into a full-blown crisis regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers, time and time again when they are faced with competing against the bottom feeders in the NFL. This past weekend, Nov. 12, Pittsburgh again had to wiggle out of the Pitbull Jaws of Defeat to glean a 20-17 win over the semi-hapless Indianapolis Colts. However, this time around, all of the blame cannot be laid on the doorstep of the offense. Indy scored two touchdowns, a 61 yarder by wideout Chester Rodgers and a 60 yarder by Donte Moncrief! Good grief Charlie Brown what the he__ happened there? Everyone blah, blah, blahs about the Steelers starting slow. The offense and defense seemed to take a power snooze in the hammock on the back porch.

AUBREY BRUCE
COURIER STEELERS CENTRAL

By the way, that starting sluggish crap is a bunch of “malarkey.” Did I say malarkey? Please be patient, I’ll get back to “Mularkey” as in Tennessee Titans Head Coach Mike Mularkey in a little bit. Everyone moans and groans when certain “marquee” players from the Steelers suffer a significant or insignificant injury, but the injury that might cost Pittsburgh the No. 1 seed in the AFC is the broken leg suffered by All-Pro cornerback Joe Haden. Haden, in my opinion, is the prime reason that the Steelers’ defensive secondary went from being ranked 16th in passing defense in 2016 to being currently ranked No. 2 in the NFL. There’s something great going on with this Haden fellow.

Now hear this. The tight pass coverage of Mr. Haden gives the defensive linemen and linebackers of the Steelers a millisecond longer to harass, disrupt the rhythm and sack the opposing team’s QB.

HOW LONG WILL JOE HADEN BE OUT? The Steelers cornerback suffered a broken leg during the game, Nov. 12, but sources say he could return for the playoffs. (Photo by Courier photographer Brian Cook)

Steelers cornerback Artie Burns seemed to whistle rather loudly as he zipped by the cemetery. Burns had this to say about the untimely injury to his partner in the secondary. “We’re going to miss him but we got other guys to step in for the job, next man up. While he’s recovering we got other guys to step in and do the job.”

Yeah, Artie and I would rather eat Vienna Sausages and crackers instead of Lobster Tail and a twice-baked potato drizzled in butter with sour cream and chives. Joe Haden is the cream of the crop as far as NFL cornerbacks are concerned. If he were that easy to replace the Steelers defense would have been ranked in the top 5 in 2016.

Haden tried to put a positive spin on his injury. “We’re going back and going straight from the airport to the doctor to see what’s up,” Haden said. Some of the medical prognosticators are saying that Haden may be out for as little as 4-6 weeks but barring any future setbacks he will be back in the saddle for the 2017 postseason.

With Joe Haden on the sidelines the Steelers offense had better be fully awake and hyped on caffeine for the remainder of the season. Pittsburgh is scheduled to face the Tennessee Titans tomorrow night, Nov. 16 at Heinz Field. Both the Tennessee head coach Mike Mularkey and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau spent years on the Steelers coaching staff and probably know the Steelers on both sides of the ball better than any other duo of coaches in the NFL. If there are any Steelers weaknesses to be exploited defensively or offensively by the opposition, well, let’s just say that the Titans might just have a leg up. There is no more time for snoozing because at this stage of the 2017 NFL season, snoozing means losing.

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

 

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