Steelers Fever – Relax … Don’t Do It … When You Wanna Hurl

Relax … Don’t Do It … When You Wanna Hurl – By John Smathers

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

Yes, my friends, I know it. These are the dark days. No less an authority than Brett Keisel himself said it after the Oakland debacle: “The future is grim and the future is dark.”

The Steelers haven’t gone through such a crappy stretch since, well, maybe the 2003 campaign with gunslinger Tommy Maddox and the promise of riding a high-yield passing game into the playoffs. I know it’s been only two games (some would argue the whole season thus far), but I can’t recall a more depressing stretch even during that ill-fated 6-10 season.

You know, maybe the Steelers are one step ahead of the NFL, because they sure looked like they were playing in a foreign country Sunday. The Steelers offense at least sure looked lost and without a translator. One thing is for sure: We can’t let Al Davis get his hands on weapons of mass destruction. Andrew Walters, by comparison, is more like a wet firecracker.

Ummm, but then what does that make Ben Roethlisberger? The Oakland offense was pathetic and the Steelers defense made sure it stayed that way. Five completions? Ninety-eight yards? One of 11 on third down? Laughable. But four interceptions trumped all that.

They’re doing all the laughing in Raider Nation, like a bunch of foreigners at our illegal immigration problem.

Here’s what I don’t get: Coaches, even Bill Cowher, are keen on telling us that practice conditions don’t compare to game conditions in terms of speed and other factors. So … how in the world can you take a quarterback that is less than one week removed from his second concussion in a just few months and determine he’s ready to play just from a couple of practices? You’re about to play the dregs of the NFL and you have a more than capable reserve in Charlie Batch. What? Why? Why play Roethlisberger? You can’t give him a week off against the lame Raiders? You might create a quarterback controversy? Ben vs. Charlie? Get serious.

In the Raiders’ defense, I didn’t notice them being flagged for any excessive end zone celebrations. Then again, their defense scored all their touchdowns and apparently their d-backs aren’t used to dancing in the end zone. Perhaps Denver’s secondary should start rehearsing now, maybe hire a choreographer.

Hey, now there’s a silver lining. Maybe there’s a good thing about no Steelers wide receivers catching touchdown passes Sunday. They didn’t get a chance to show up their coach again, but you all know how I feel about post-touchdown sideshows, so I won’t go there again.

I just don’t get it. Yeah, it’s been a rough two weeks all right.

I don’t know the condition of Steelers part-owner Jack McGinley in these two weeks before he died Monday, God rest his soul, but assuming he was able to watch his team, it’s a shame he had to bear witness to these last two games.

There are a lot of things about Sunday’s game that are just a shame, not the least of which is the injury list. Who knows when Jeff Hartings will return and Arnold Harrison and Verron Haynes are lost for the rest of the season. Duce Staley might have to trade in his sweats for a uniform this week. God, the apocalypse really is upon us.

No Super Bowl this year, kids, but then maybe we all should have taken a big step back before the season began, surveyed the landscape and lowered our expectations. I saw Carson Palmer’s injury as an omen that the Steelers were meant to run the table last year. I should have seen Roethlisberger’s motorcycle as an omen that the Steelers were meant to run into a wall this year. Cowher foolishly allowing his retirement controversy to even start was another sign. Then you have the appendicitis thing and on and on.

So all is lost? No. If last year taught us anything it’s that anything is possible in the NFL. Anything. We were all wringing our hands at 7-5 last year, asking some of the same kind of questions we’re asking now. They could all be condensed down to this: What’s wrong with the Steelers? No one was asking, hey, do you think the Steelers can win eight straight games and bring home the Lombardi Trophy? That person would have been deemed as just another kool-aid drinking Steelers nut and laughed at by the same media that is now rolling its eyes at the notion of the 2006 Steelers making the playoffs. Maybe I should join them.

I can’t rule out something similar to the 2005 run happening again, though you have to doubt it. You sure can’t expect it. That’s what got us in this bewildered, disillusioned state to begin with.

I had a very loose approach to the playoff game at Indianapolis. I felt the Steelers were going the distance, and if I was wrong, it would have sucked but then it was no great letdown either. It was the high-powered Colts that had already embarrassed the Steelers, after all.

Don’t forget this: I know the Steelers are tied for last place with the Brownies (man, it pains me to even type that), but this might end up being the worst division in the NFL at the end of the day and the Steelers could still actually make a run at the top.

Stop laughing. Baltimore’s win over New Orleans notwithstanding, it doesn’t appear anyone is going to run away and hide with it. Baltimore is probably the favorite right now, but it is one McNair injury away from sucking again. And the Bengals? They are just the Bungles at heart, even if Captain America is the quarterback and Nacho Lame-O is the marquee wide receiver. Sorry, Nacho, but one touchdown does not a comeback make. Talk all you want, but you’re still just an overrated attention whore with clown hair.

My recommendation:

Relax. Breathe in through the nose. Exhale through the mouth. Now, breathe in the aroma of hot sausage, haluski, hot wings and chili – whatever you eat at a tailgate. Smell the Arn City and drink it. Chug it and wait to exhale later.

Relax. Try to enjoy the game this weekend, no matter what happens. If you can’t love the Steelers, love the one you’re with. OK, that might get you in a lot of trouble, but you get the idea.

Relax. I firmly believe Roethlisberger will play his way out of this. Or he’ll end up with this third concussion and his career will be over. But the point is, your life won’t be. The Steelers will play on no matter what happens in these next nine games and they will return to greatness again, sooner or later. Hopefully, sooner.

In the meantime, take heart. If things don’t work out, the Steelers will probably draft higher next year. I wonder if Brady Quinn will still be available.

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