Steelers Fever – Not On My Watch

Not On My Watch – By Neal Coolong

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

It wasn’t long ago I was in college. Stuck in the primarily Packers and Vikings town, it was hard to catch many Steelers games early in my academic pursuit (if you can call it that). I could get into bar/restaurants, but wasn’t allowed to sit at the bar, even if beer was 30 feet away from my seat. At the bar, of course, was the only place the Steelers were on. I’d pack my freshman butt up and head back in the car I stole from my neighbor to watch whatever regional coverage FOX or CBS had.

Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati was never on. Repeat, never on. Can’t say I blame the networks too much. In 2000, the Steelers were at the swing-end of the infamous coin-toss year (in memoriam of that bush loss to Detroit on Thanksgiving), and the Bengals were…well, the Bengals. I doubt the Cincinnati affiliates even had that game on.

The most entertaining part of draft day is seeing:
 Which unknown player the Bengals will add to their roster.
 The look of extreme disappointment of their choice and the look of relief on the remaining players’ faces.
 Watching Chris Berman, Tom Jackson and Chris Mortenson struggle to come up with a logical reason why that particular choice was made.

I didn’t see either game in 2000. I always caught the highlights on NFL Primetime that night, and the Bengals always seemed to give Pittsburgh a game. Fast-forward to 2001. Pittsburgh has risen to the top of the AFC, and the Bengals were securely guarding the cellar of the NFL. Once again, the two teams split. Cincinnati won the secondgame in overtime after their kicker missed an extra point that would have ended it in regulation. Didn’t see the game once again.

It was at the end of the year, the Steelers had wrapped up home-field advantage, and the only thing really on the line was the cool record of 14-2 (doesn’t that sound exponentially better than 13-3? Something just rolls off the tongue…) Not a big deal, either way. ‘Course, the Steelers losses were at the hands of Jacksonville (Week 1 disaster), Baltimore (I almost put a volleyball through my TV when Kris Brown missed that last field goal) and the lowly Bengals. Those pesky Bengals! And I never saw those games! I saw both of them last year, and both games had several periods of doubt and pain. On the plus side of the first game, It was Maddox’s coming out party, where he got to shred Cincinnati for 216 yards and prove to everyone why his arm is more important than Kordell’s legs (or head). More notably, it was Bettis’ last 100-yard rushing game, probably of his career. Kordell filled in for an injured Maddox, in the second game last year, and proved again why Maddox is the better starter. A win is a win, but short passes might work against the Bengals, but not against anyone else. Both of those games showed one indisputable fact: Cincinnati plays Pittsburgh tough, if nothing else.

It’s trendy right now to drink bottled water, talk about Britney Spears kissing Madonna and talk about Marvin Lewis resurrecting the Bengals. Sunday isn’t going to be about Marvin Lewis. It won’t be about last week, and it sure won’t be about quasi-lesbian interaction on MTV. It’s about the fact that I’ve never seen Pittsburgh lose to Cincinnati. This may not sound like it matters, considering there are probably more people who never witnessed a Bengals victory than drunk fans in Philadelphia.

While the Bengals seem to have Pittsburgh’s number year in and year out, it won’t continue Sunday. Not on my watch.

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