Packers @ Steelers: Are You Not Entertained?
Photo via Steelers.com
The answer to the question posed in the title depends, I suppose, upon how strong your heart is. I’m guessing this was a highly entertaining game to watch for anyone who didn’t have a dog in the fight. (Actually, I’m guessing most unaffiliated viewers were rooting for Green Bay because, you know, underdog, backup QB, Aaron Rodgers blue eyes and friendly insurance commercials and so on.) For us Steeler fans it was the usual coronary-in-waiting. Although I’m guessing that Steeler fans actually have stronger-than-average hearts, because if they don’t they don’t survive.
And let’s just get this out of the way before the Yinzer Cult of Doom, as Homer would have it, gets started—how often do you win a game with a minus 3 turnover ratio? I would have to look that up, and I’m not sure how. But my guess is, not very often. I know for sure that’s the case with the Steelers, for quite a while. If they win the turnover battle, they usually win the game. And vice versa.
And to carry this thought a bit further, let’s think about the turnovers themselves. One of them was by Le’Veon Bell, who never fumbles. Really. Except for last season, when he had three. He also had one in his rookie year. This was the second this year. Which will probably set off panic in the streets of Pittsburgh.
The other two turnovers, from what I could see, were on the receivers. Ben was accurate tonight, and there were a shameful number of drops of beautifully-thrown balls. If Martavis Bryant and Eli Rogers and Justin Hunter want to know why they aren’t getting more snaps, maybe they should look in the mirror. Bryant and Rogers are getting a pass from me, just for tonight, because they made some big plays when it counted. But dang it, guys, that’s your job. You are being paid what may not seem like much in the NFL but is a lot of money to regular people to do one thing—catch the ball when it is thrown to you. So just do it.
Lecture over. That can count as the Appalling portion of our program. Now for the Acceptable and the Objectionable. I leave it to my gentle readers to determine which is which.
Red zone woes. The Steelers suck in the red zone. Except wait just a minute—every time tonight they got into the red zone, they scored. Mainly touchdowns. And the one score that wasn’t a touchdown was Chris Boswell’s big-time redemption for missing the extra point—tying the record for the longest field goal ever kicked in Heinz Field. 53 yards. In the wind. Way to go, Boz! And a 2-point conversion on the touchdown subsequent to the missed PAT evened things up anyhow. That’s what we like to see—everybody working to bail everybody else out. It would, of course, be even cooler if nobody needed bailing out. Maybe we’ll see one of those games some day.
Antonio Brown. Need I say more? There are only so many superlatives available. Is there anyone, past or present, that you would rather have on the field at wide receiver? I would still rather see someone else at punt returner. Maybe we’ll see a decent alternative some day. But for the moment I will pass the microphone over to someone else:
That dude AB something else! In a league of his own
— andrew mccutchen (@TheCUTCH22) November 27, 2017
Cameron Heyward. Need I say more? Except please, all of you, go to NFL.com and vote for him to get into the Pro Bowl. This man deserves it, big time.
T.J. Watt. Does anyone still think he was over-drafted? He gets my Heart and Hustle Award for tonight.
Ben Roethlisberger. Apparently he’s forgotten he’s old, past it, washed up, and disinterested, with one foot in the retirement grave. Of course, if we extrapolate the curve for how many games it takes him to get going each season, in another few years he won’t be revving up until about Week 14, and that might be a problem. But right now what we’re seeing is pretty exciting. And he looked almost sprightly, the times he took off and ran. I believe he ran for more yardage than Hundley, actually. Let me check—son of a gun. Rushing: B. Hundley—1, 6 yards. B. Roethlisberger—3, 25 yards. Cam Newton had better watch his rushing title…
Next Man Up—Ryan Shazier limps off the field, and who do they send in but Dirty Red? The commentators are all “Now we’ll see Hundley test the middle of the field” etc., and instead we see Mike McCarthy test his Time Out muscles, as the defensive alignment apparently made him fear for the chances of getting his QB back without permanent damage. Love it. And Shazier came back. Let’s hope it isn’t a “little” hamstring “tweak,” because those seem to be rather grave injuries this season…
DirecTV ad. Annoying, but did you notice the first guy looks like Pouncey? Weird.
Martavis Bryant. As my beloved first-born noted in our post-game text exchange, Bryant is frustrating precisely because he can look so amazing, and then make some stupid mistake. But I have to say I did like that initial kickoff return to the 41 yard line or so. That was a refreshing change. On the other hand, he managed not to catch the ball at all on one of them. Fortunately it was a TB anyhow…
Jesse James. Same feeling of frustration. He will make a great catch and pick up some YAC, and then the next time he will drop a perfectly-thrown ball. Quite honestly, I sure would like to see Vance McDonald’s little ankle tweak resolve soon, because the TEs, despite Grimble’s TD “catch,” just aren’t really getting it done.
James Conner. Not because he did anything, at least on offense, but because he was actually on the field and the Steelers passed. So he must be getting enough better at pass protection that they can afford to send him out as a decoy now and again.
Four More Sacks. Had you begun sooner, guys, you could have had twice as many!!!! It was amazing that the defense seemed to get better as the game wore on. I thought defenses were supposed to get all tired ‘n at during the latter part of the game. Now somebody just needs to tell them they can be really good in the first half, too.
That will do it for now. I’m sure Homer J and Ivan will chime in. We can all sleep soundly tonight, knowing the AFC is still safe…