The Sixth Sign Of The Ravens Apocalypse - By Neal Coolong

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

Call me dramatic if you must, but the world is coming to an end. There's no doubt. I can't ignore the signs anymore.

Hurricanes are rocking the southeastern coast like Lawrence Taylor attacked the bars down there in his prime. There's some kind of flu epidemic being passed along in birds, which CNN informs me is a bad thing. A wide receiver ( Carolina's Steve Smith) is the front-runner for MVP.

What's next? A Raven nominated for NFL Man of the Year?

Or perhaps worse.

The Hated Ravens -- dogs by 14 points at kickoff in Vegas -- actually put together an impressive offensive performance highlighted by Alexander Wright's brilliant disguise as an effective quarterback. Alexander the Average nearly stole a game from the Steelers Monday night. The Ravens had Pittsburgh out of rhythm all game, and Wright's jersey was whiter than snow after four quarters due to a Pop Warner Pittsburgh pass rush. Need I say more?

Is the moon blood-red yet? What about the seas boiling? I didn't pay much attention at St. Therese School in junior high, but I remember the apocalypse discussions.

I may be wrong, but I could swear Sister Theresa Jose told me the sixth sign of the Apocalypse is Brian Billick outcoaching Bill Cowher on Monday night in Pittsburgh.

Should I bolt for the underground shelter, much like Ned Flanders when Comet Bart was about to hit Springfield? Call it denial; I'm pretending that next week's game against Green Bay is really not going to be much of anything. It's perfectly ok that future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre just had one of those vintage "Terrible Favre Games" against Cincinnati, the ones after which he turns into Robo-QB and throws for 500 yards and seven touchdowns in his next game.

He'll make Alexander Wright look like, well, Alexander Wright, by comparison. This was obviously too much for the Steelers to handle.

I will concede that Jonathon Ogden shuts Joey Porter down more often than not. Any pass rusher not named Freeney seems to have the same fate. But even with OLB Clark Haggans' return, their trademark blitz was largely ineffective.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tossed two picks, largely to blame on the fact he threw the ball to the wrong team. SteelersBro insists Ben is hurting. I'm not a doctor, but I bet he'd heal up a lot faster if he didn't have to chase interceptors down the field.

It would also probably help if the Steelers wanted to play their game, instead of letting their pained QB throw the ball 30 times.

Looking over a list of the other 31 teams in the league, I never would have answered "Baltimore " to the question "What team will Ben finally break the 30-pass attempts against?" It didn't seem Steelers coach Bill Cowher made a concerted effort to establish the run; a trait he was praised for days after dismantling an over-matched Cincinnati team just a week earlier. The emergence of rookie tight end Heath Miller as a legitimate contender for AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year ( read my column from August on this subject) makes throwing the ball a wonderful option inside the 10, and their opening drive of 8+ minutes was a thing of beauty, but it should have been used as slight-of-hand if nothing more.

Powers unforeseen even by the genius John Madden were at hand at Heinz Field. Cowher elects to NOT try to put the Ravens away with a power/speed running attack of Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker. He decides instead to employ a Cleveland-in-the-early-90s dump-and-chase passing philosophy, which led to Roethlisberger absorbing several hits, two interceptions and a cloud of frustration for fans, given that Baltimore, on paper, should lose every game by 29 points.

Bottom line: A win is a win. Obviously. With the Packers next week, then a game in Pittsburgh against Private, First Class Kellen Winslow Jr.'s Browns, the Steelers have a few lighter games before another showdown with The Hated Ravens.

That is, of course, unless the world ends first. Just look for the Seventh Sign; Mike Sherman out-coaching Cowher next weekend.