Patriots @ Steelers: The Ecstasy and the Agony
Photo via Steelers.com
There was great rejoicing at Greg’s house in Herndon, VA, as a great number of the gathered faithful, including Ivan, Homer and myself hugged, screamed, high fived, and so on according to taste. The Outlaw had won the game! Touchdown! Surely the Patriots couldn’t score in 28 seconds!
But Tony Corrente’s Grinch Crew stole Christmas on a rainy night in Pittsburgh.
The mood (and the language) quickly changed from elation to anger. And to be honest, some of the anger was directed at the Steelers. PaVa Steeler noted, with great passion and great frequency, that all it would have taken was one first down. (That isn’t actually a quote, as I removed a number of colorful modifiers…) There was also the moment in which Sean Davis let the game-finishing interception fall harmlessly to the ground. You could also ask yourself if the fake spike followed by the interception that actually ended the game was a good idea. In short, the Steelers had several opportunities to get the Patriots monkey off their back, and in the end they didn’t.
There is one factor which might be considered mitigating, according to taste. Antonio Brown’s injury relatively early in the game was not as much of a game-changer as we feared it might be, right up until the last few minutes of the game. Does anyone doubt he would have gotten first down yardage on the infamous third down? Or that the attention paid to him would have allowed someone else to do it?
There were things to celebrate in this game. Martavis Bryant had some very nice plays, including an unbelievable touchdown reception. He still seems to struggle with the concept of running in the correct direction, but all was forgiven after that touchdown. It was good to see Eli making some plays. The line gave Ben about as much protection as he could expect. The defense did more or less manage to stop the run. Sort of. And just seeing Ryan Shazier in the stands was heartening.
But James Conner going down with a knee is ominous. We are sall going to be on tenterhooks until we hear about AB. But mostly, the defense hasn’t managed to solve the problem of losing Ryan Shazier. It’s perhaps unreasonable to expect this in less than two weeks, but it is going to be difficult to feel comfortable about the playoffs if something isn’t figured out very soon.
I’m writing this as we drive home from DC. I wasn’t writing it at first. At first I was softly whimpering in the passenger seat. But a goodly amount of chocolate revived me to the extent that I could pen these words. It’s about all I’m capable of at the moment. There will be more in the coming days. But somehow this was even more distressing than I expected a loss to be. To be so close and have it slip out of our hands, rather like the ball trickling through Sean Davis’ fingers. But we have to move on. Now we just have to keep ahead of Jacksonville and hope of the best. Because, as Mr. Momma said, (or perhaps I should say Herr Doktor Professor Momma, now that he has his chair) at least one has the sense the Patriots can be had.
And perhaps in the meantime someone can explain to me why Rob Gronkowski didn’t get a taunting penalty at the two-point conversion. I say suspend him until next season.
I’ll be burning the Lucky Steelers Shirt tomorrow….