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A conductor is a person who directs the performance of an orchestra or choir. “He was appointed principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.” Or a person in charge of a train, streetcar, or other public conveyance, who collects fares and sells tickets.

On this past Sunday, Oct. 14, the “train” of the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled into Paul Brown Stadium to face the Cincinnati ‘Bungles’…Bengals. The “Bungles” from the “who dey,” jungle had a little cat-like swagger in their step, based on the fact that “dey” were sitting at the top of the food chain in the AFC North. However, when it was all said and done, the Pittsburgh Steelers declawed the big cats in their own backyard by the score of 28-21, leaving the Steelers just a half-game out of the top spot in the division (3-2-1). This was a must-win contest for the Steelers and when the fog clears from the swamp known as the AFC North, the Bengals will realize that they should have also approached the game as a “must-win” game.

It had been alleged since the beginning of the 2018 season, when Pittsburgh limped out of First Energy Stadium in Cleveland, having to be satisfied with a 21-21 draw with the Browns, that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, the “conductor” of the Steelers train, had allowed the passengers to take control of the train and were destined to plunge off the “bridge to nowhere.”

During the time that this train plowed ahead toward destinations unknown, the Steelers lost to both the Kansas City Chiefs and their AFC North rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. At that point in the early season “Big“ Ben Roethlisberger was issuing self-deprecating quotes like this: “I’m not on the same page with anybody right now.” “I’m not playing well enough, I need to play better. (It) was just a bad day at the office. I promise, I will be back to play better.”

In the loss to the Ravens in week 4, Roethlisberger completed 27 passes out of 47 attempts for 274 yards, and scored only 14 points. Against the Bengals, Roethlisberger completed 32 of 46 for 369 yards but scored 28 points. What was the difference in the two games?

The difference was balance, just offensive balance, on the ground and in the air. Roethlisberger completed passes to seven different receivers (eight if you count the one pass that was deflected back to him). Play-action passing also meant something because against Cincinnati, Steelers running back James Conner ping-ponged off, over, around and through opposing tacklers, giving them “cleat-lined” dentures assuring them that they would need to be in concussion as well as “percussion” protocol because Conner beat the Bengals defense as if they were a badly tuned drum.

All aboard! Do all of you that were calling for the head of the conductor, Tomlin, have second thoughts now that beautiful melodies of recent victories are blaring from the sleeping car of the train? It seems as if a “symphonique” of success is now being composed for all the naysayers to listen to and enjoy. The “Hooterville” train of recent failures is preparing to depart from “Petticoat Junction” and all of the “fly-by-nighters” are standing on the platform salivating and waiting to board.

If I were the conductor, I would tell them that the train was completely filled and they would have to redeem their tickets on the next thing smokin’.

All, aboard! It seems as if the Pittsburgh Steelers may now be playing sweet music from the same musical score while riding on the same train.

 

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