The Lazarus Effect—or, We the Undeserving
by Homer J.
Homer gave up the Steelers for dead after last week’s loss, simply because any team that loses to the Ravens’ fourth string quarterback in a must-win game hasn’t really earned its way into the playoffs.
But, above all, having been Succoped a couple years ago on the last day of the regular season, he didn’t want to go through another near-fatal case of heartburn. So he decided to say the season was over, barring a miracle to keep an undeserving team alive.
Rex Ryan breathed life into the Steelers’ season and, like Lazarus, they rose from the dead.
Once again, it was against a QB deep in somebody’s depth* chart, against a team playing out the season. And yet Austin Davis managed to possess the football 11:32 in the 3rd quarter, with the game very much on the line.
And Ben threw two more picks and might have had two more, had Heath Miller not twice outfought defenders who had the first touch on those two completions.
The Browns, however, reverted to Full Cleveland mode in the fourth quarter, coughing the ball up several times. And, once the Steelers got those turnovers, they put the game away.
Did they look like a team of destiny to any of you? Not to Homer, they didn’t. Certainly not for the first 45 minutes. They should have feasted the past six weeks against the Bum of the Week Club of second, third, and fourth string quarterbacks.
But somehow, those backups have looked like All-Pros, and it certainly looks like any NFL quarterback can move the ball against the Steelers all day long, so long as he doesn’t turn it over.
To be sure, the D pitched a shutout, but a big part of that was Cleveland’s ineptitude.
The biggest question mark right now is DeAngelo Williams. If he can’t play next week, it’s déjà vu all over again. Limping into the playoffs without your running back.
Actually, this is more like the 1976 Steelers, arguably the greatest Steeler team of them all, who lost both Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier the last week of the season and ended up losing to the hated Oakland Raiders in the playoffs. Fitz Toussaint had better work on his pass protection, because without D-Will, it’s gonna have to be an aerial circus.
Two weeks ago, the Steelers were the team nobody wanted to play in the playoffs. Now, with D-Will injured, Ben having an outbreak of interceptitis, and the EZ-Pass defense, they need to get better in a hurry to avoid being one and done. Other teams have carefully studied Ben’s favorite five-wide quick pass plays and are jumping the routes and doubling coverage.
It took a miracle to get the Steelers into the playoffs. And while it won’t take a miracle to advance to the second round, they could probably use defensive wizard and a faith healer.
Of course, football IS a game of attrition, and many of the other playoff teams are also bruised and battered, also in need of wizards and shamans. Much of what happens from now on depends on heart, and, fortunately, that’s one thing the Steelers have in abundance.
*amended from Homer’s original of “death chart.” Although there is a certain element of that as well…