Pittsburgh Beaten By...Pittsburgh - By Neal Coolong
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|Very strange to watch a team play and get whipped by a shadow of themselves. Defensive stops, turnovers, power running and a nasty offensive line. Characteristics of a Steelers team bound for the playoffs and beyond. However, it was the Chiefs, not Pittsburgh, using those characteristics for a 41-20 win at Arrowhead Sunday. This is going to be a tell-tale story game in and game out; Pittsburgh will not beat quality offensive teams, simply because they don't have enough artillery to engage in shoot-outs.
The ammo they don't have:
A running game. The Steelers of old would have been able to sustain a 17-7 lead by controlling the clock with rushing averages around the four-yard mark. That is why Kansas City won. Priest Holmes and their offensive line established the tempo, while Pittsburgh made good on some huge plays early. Those plays aren't going to be there for four quarters, and they needed the running game to keep Holmes off the field. Didn't happen.
Anyway, my running diary of the game, as painful as it was.
12:00 P.M. - Thank God this game is on national TV. Certainly not in the mood to deal with any Vikings fans in my own apartment, and there's something freeing about being able to watch the game in my underwear. Wait, too much information...
Deion Sanders on CBS, Michael Irvin on ESPN. Which moron do I want to hear more? Michael Irvin was just talking about the Panthers, and he pronounced wide receiver Ricky Proehl (pronounced Prol) name as "parole." Freudian slip? I don't know, but it's highly entertaining.
I can see Rush Limbaugh squirming as Irvin questions a few things about his predictions. Limbaugh's always been outspoken about the rights (or lack thereof) of minorities, and here he is, without a leg to stand on as Irvin grills him over the whole Kurt Warner situation. I would pay to hear Limbaugh's thoughts right now.
12:55 P.M. - They showed a few clips from warmups in Arrowhead, and my rousing screams for Tommy Maddox seem to have angered my neighbors. The pounding on the walls just makes me feel more excited to watch some football. Too bad for them I'll be yelling all game.
1:15 P.M. - With Scott's interception and touchdown, and the way the defense is attacking is eerily similar to the start of the Tampa Bay game on Monday night last year. That's one thing the Steelers are certainly good at; throwing some haymakers early.
1:20 P.M. - After a huge catch by Hines Ward, the Steelers are set to go up 14-0 early. Then, Plex happened.
Plaxico Burress is no doubt a high-quality receiver, but how many passes has he dropped? More importantly, how many big passes has he bobbled or given up on? The ball Maddox threw him in the end zone needs to be caught. No arguments.
To make the situation worse, Bill Cowher decides to challenge it, when even a five-year-old can see he clearly doesn't have possession.
The opponents of challenges and instant replay talk frequently about how often the call stands, even after review. My contention is coaches challenge the stupidest plays. Plex bobbled it while going out of the end zone (and was fortunate enough the refs didn't see his hat-throwing tantrum along the sidelines), and the Steelers are down to one timeout with 10 minutes left in the first quarter, and they came out of first-and-goal from the six with three points.
1:33 P.M. - I think someone may have sneezed on Dante Hall as he burned past all 11 players, but they weren't touching him. He is the classic "I-hate-the-bastard-but-I-wish-he-was-on-my-team" player. That dropped pass looks dangerous right now.
1:35 P.M. - With all the talk about Pittsburgh's dominant linebacking group (myself included), not enough is said about the defensive line. As Randy Cross pointed out several times, Casey Hampton is emerging as one of the best tackles in football, and Aaron Smith and Kimo Von Oelhoffen are both quietly two of the better ends (not pass rushers) in the AFC. They are the ones responsible, right now, for the containment of Holmes. This needs to happen all day.
1:42 P.M. - Shouldn't we get Jesse Jackson down to protest any false start flag on Kendall Simmons? I mean, he's diabetic, for cryin' out loud! He's gonna twitch every now and again!
I think I bashed Plex's hands a little early, as he just made a filthy touchdown catch after a James Farrior interception.
Is Farrior not one of the best free agent acquisitions the Steelers have ever made? Don't argue with me about this.
1:45 P.M. - Okay, here's the thing. I'm glad the Steelers have representation in all those quasi-humorous United Way ads, but I am sick of listening to Dewayne Washington talk about surrealistic movements in art. Does he have any other interests he can share with a kid? Rock climbing or video games? Something so I don't have to see the art gallery one again?
2:04 P.M. - The trouble begins. The battle in the trenches is being handily won by KC, and Holmes is doing whatever he wants right now. That's a highly successful drive (11-plays, 76 yards, 5:38 off the clock.), that will be repeated if Pittsburgh can't keep their offense off the field. Amos, time to step up, bud.
Instead, Pittsburgh punts, and Washington commits one of the stupidest late-hit penalties on earth.
Anyone else psyched about having Washington and Scott locked up for another four years? Anyone?
2:12 P.M. - Someone shoot me if I'm ever one of those guys who brings a large "D" or a fence to a game.
2:15 P.M. - Halftime adjustments? Remember when teams used to make those? Kansas City came out doing exactly what they were doing in the first half, and Pittsburgh still can't stop it. While a Chiefs offensive explosion was eminent, the logic was the Steelers could trade punches, and fight until someone's back broke. Costly turnovers and lack of the ability to stay out of third-and-long situations is choking the Steelers. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Maddox's interception in the end zone is going to seal it.
While I understand and respect the fact Pittsburgh loves going to Ward in the red zone, why not flank him to the wide side of the field and have him try to stretch the linebackers and force a footrace to the goal line as opposed to throwing three passes into the middle of the end zone? That is straight into the teeth of a defense, and a receiver doesn't have much depth to work with. One shallow pass means turnover. Oh wait, that's exactly what happened.
2:25 P.M. - It took until the fourth quarter to stop a Holmes-led drive, but it looks like too little, too late as the offense didn't score in the second half.
A few things came clear during this game:
It's going to take more than 20 points to beat the Chiefs, and I think this win may have put them in the driver's seat in the AFC.
The 2003 Steelers might be proof of the old theory that no team will ever win championships throwing the ball 55 times a game over the course of a season. Maddox won't make many of the throws he made today (two bad interceptions, one was catchable), but without a compliment rushing attack to bring safeties closer to the line, he won't have much to work with down the field.
There won't be a better time to have Cincinnati on their schedule next game than right now. And they better start running the ball in that game.