Still Ponder-ing A Tough Game - By Neal Coolong

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

I'm about as out of breath as you are. That was way too close for comfort.

You can read my growing anxiety as the game went on, as I was hunkered in front of the comptuer and TV all day. Here's what happened:

1:34 P.M. - Wow...I don't remember the last kickoff for a touchdown I've seen. How did Polamalu miss that tackle? I bet Willie Ponder is just happy to know he just made Sportscenter.

1:41 P.M. - I just texted SteelersBro and expressed my discomfort with Roethlisberger throwing with a glove on. Never a good thing. There's the overthrow to Ward (possibly his worst pass of the year), and the pick. It's a great start.

1:55 P.M. - My life for Keith Wisenhunt (BRILLIANT!). He's overshadowed as far as coordinators go due to the success of Dick LeBeau on defense, but frankly, he's had some ingenious playcalls this season, especially in the red zone.

That's a strong mark of this team. The common perception is a team that is about ready to break; a team that has a loss coming. The fact is, the common NFL fan has only seen dominating efforts against New England and Philadelphia, but the majority of their games have been competitive. It's come down to playcalls like a shovel pass to Verron Haynes that has made the difference. Just beautiful. I'm rambling...

2:05 P.M. - Is anyone else tired of those Capital One commercials? You know, the ones where a husband and wife discuss which credit card to use, and the remainder of William Wallace's army comes flying onto the scene? Oh yeah, Shockey just scored. But I was worried for a second when Tiki Barber was running wild, but then Jim Nantz told us that Ron Dayne was coming into the game. and I thought we had a problem stopping the run.

One of the most traumatic moments of my life is when I read a rumor that the Steelers were in discussion with the Giants about a trade for Ron Dayne. "NOOOOOO!!!!!!" In my head, THE prototypical example of THAT player, the guy who dominates in college, gets drafted WAY higher than he should and settles into a career of borderline mediocrity. Could we make a Hall of Fame for those people? Charter members could include Rashaan Salaam and Ki-Jana Carter, with Joey Harrington being eligible in three years.

2:13 P.M. - It has to be said. I'm absolutely hysterical with laughter over the post-Survivor look Ricky Williams is sporting. He looks like Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon series. Way too funny....sorry.

2:25 P.M. - Barber freaks out about a late hit/throwdown by Troy Polamalu, demanding a flag. When there wasn't one thrown, the Court of Public Opinion stepped in and flagged Barber for being a little bitch.

2:31 P.M. - Good ol' Brent Alexander...never physical when he has to be, but definitely stupid enough to be physical when it hurts his team. Ironic... The sack was nullified by the biggest Sack on the field...

2:40 P.M. - A nice double bonus; ANOTHER long pass to 'Twaan, AND we stopped the return before midfield. "Startin' to come together, Pepper, startin' to come together," says Lou Brown in "Major League."

Halftime - This is the great thing about living in the upper midwest. During the winter, McDonalds has a deal where they sell quarter-pounders at the price of yesterday's low temperature in cents. In other words, because it was ass-cold last night, I just bought one-half pound of heart-attack inducing goodness for 22 cents, which I literally found underneath the floormat of my car.

3:18 P.M. - Is anyone else really pissed at Roethlisberger at this point? It's almost like he takes his defense for granted. Over the last five weeks, he's looking like he feels he can do whatever stupid thing he wants, and the defense will bail him out. It's worked so far, but I cringe thinking of the playoffs.

3:25 P.M. - This is not arguable. If that was Antwaan Randle-El spiking the ball after a three-yard reception, he gets flagged. Jeremy Shockey is the most overrated, protected player in the game.

3:31 P.M. - Is Roethlisberger throwing the game? Honestly? Someone tell me. I won't be mad, I promise. Two passes in a row that should have been picked off in the third quarter. If the Giants secondary was any good, they would have been. I think Steelers fans' honeymoon with the rookie is just about over.

3:48 P.M. - This is insane. Eli Manning has made one play all game (the 49-yard completion) and Roethlisberger hasn't made any. That's the only difference here. Pittsburgh is getting beaten by Pittsburgh.

4:01 P.M. - Barber 1-yard run. This is unbelievable. Larry Foote has come one foot away from ending Eli's season about five times, but he keeps missing. The problem here is he's the only one providing any pressure. He sacked him on the 2-point conversion, but it would have been a lot nicer if he got him on that 3rd-and-8 Eli gunned to Ike Hilliard.

The stat of the game: Pittsburgh 1-for-5 in the red zone (one touchdown, four field goals).

4:11 P.M. - Bus...once again...how can you make an argument against him for team MVP or the Pro Bowl? He'll be the odd-man-out for the latter, but he certainly garners some attention.

I'd hate to be a Giants fan right now. Games like this always even out at the end. Regardless of the score, regardless of a quarterback playing above his ability, the top defense will come true and the shaky quarterback will return to form. Mark my words. (Did I just jinx us?)

4:18 P.M. - Nope. Willie Williams grabs his first pick in two years. Two first downs for Bettis, game over. Twelve in a row.

Should it have happened? Maybe, maybe not. The Patriots rattled off the NFL's longest-ever win streak, but it's not like they blew out everyone they played.

We now have two days to send out as much positive energy to the Dolphins as we can. The No. 1-seed magic number is three (any combination of Steeler wins and Patriot losses), and I would much rather have that last game against Buffalo not matter to Pittsburgh.